Bellator 290 will see Fedor Emelianenko make his last stand against Ryan Bader.
Bellator 290 will officially be the end of the road for the Last Emperor himself, Fedor Emelianenko. Emelianenko is among the greatest fighters in combat sports history and is largely seen as not only the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time but maybe the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport’s history.
He’s done it all in the sport and on Saturday, Feb. 4, he says goodbye; win, lose, or draw. The stakes couldn’t be higher as he’s taking on Ryan Bader, the defending heavyweight champion, and a promotion great. If Bader retains on Saturday, he’ll end up surpassing Patricio “Pitbull” Freire as the longest reigning champion, regardless of weight, in Bellator history. He’ll also be the only man in history to defeat Emelianenko twice.
See, the bout on Feb. 4 is a rematch from their first fight, four years ago. In that fight, Bader tagged the PRIDE legend with a left and ended the fight in shockingly fast fashion. This time around, Emelianenko is hoping to pull off the upset and take Bader down and walk off into the sunset with the title.
Will Fedor Emelianenko secure a win in his retirement fight?
Bader and Emlianenko have very similar styles. Both prefer to grapple but both have heavy hands if called upon. More so for Emelianenko than Bader. Yet, Bader has shown to have a tougher chin these days, while the Russian is someone who has been put down fast with a good shot to the chin.
If Emelianenko can show off that deceptive speed one more time and pressure Bader against the cage, he may be able to pull off the upset. He’s got fast hands still and he’s still a lethal knockout artist, and we saw from fellow Fedor Team member Vadim Nemkov, that the best way to beat Bader is to pressure him with a flurry of strikes.
Bader, however, is not going to just let people hit him. He’s among the greatest wrestlers in heavyweight history and will use that to his advantage. For Bader, it’s not just about winning either, he stands to go 3-1 against Fedor Team, giving him an almost Kasushi Sakaraba-like aura about him.
Bader of course defeated Valentin Moldavsky in January of 2022 to retain the heavyweight title. A measure of revenge for Bader, who lost his light heavyweight title to Nemkov in 2020.
When it’s all said and done, however, expect Emelianenko to catch Bader for the shocking upset.
Winner: Fedor Emelianenko by KO