Fedor Emelianenko wants to end his career as Bellator heavyweight champion.
Bellator president Scott Coker will mull over granting Emelianenko (40-6 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) his wish, but some key moments have to align before he gives it serious consideration.
Coker is currently planning an event in Moscow for summer 2022 that will serve as the retirement match for Emelianenko. The Russian recently inquired about a rematch with current Bellator champ Ryan Bader, should he happen to beat Emelianenko’s teammate and interim titleholder Valentina Moldavsky in their unification bout at Bellator 273 on Jan. 29.
“That’s what Fedor asked me,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “He’s like, ‘If Ryan beats Moldavsky, I want to fight Ryan Bader.’ That’s what he said. I said, ‘Well, let’s talk about it and I’ll give you some other possibilities in the beginning of January, then let’s see how the fight unwinds and we’ll make a business decision, Fedor. How about that?’ And he said, ‘OK.’ And that was it.”
Emelianenko, 45, has fought for Bellator gold once before, but Bader shut him down with a 35-second TKO at Bellator 214 in January 2019 to win the belt and heavyweight grand prix. Emelianenko, who has thrived in rematches over the course of his career, seemingly would like a chance at redemption and a storybook ending.
The scenario hinges heavily on the result between Bader and Moldavsky, though, as Emelianenko would seemingly have no interest in fighting his protégé.
Even if it doesn’t materialize, Coker promises Emelianenko’s retirement fight will be a monumental moment.
Emelianenko got superstar treatment in October when he earned a first-round knockout of Tim Johnson at Bellator 269 in his native Russia.
Coker plans to take his retirement fight back there, and allow the former longtime PRIDE FC champ to exit the sport on the appropriate stage.
“We have one more fight with him and we’re going to do something really big in Russia,” Coker said. “He deserves a king’s sendoff with the career that he’s had, and we’re going to give it to him.”