Fedor Emelianenko is sticking around after all.
The legendary heavyweight fighter will put his potential retirement aside after inking a new multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA, per a promotional announcement following the conclusion of last night’s (Fri., June 14, 2019) Bellator 222 event in New York City (h/t MMA Junkie).
The details of Fedor’s new deal are unknown at this time, but “Last Emperor” is expected to return to action later this year.
“It’s a multi-fight deal, multi-year [deal] and this is going to be his retirement tour,” said Bellator president Scott Coker. “I think we’d like to take him to a lot of countries and cities that maybe haven’t seen him in a long time or have never seen him. It’s going to be fun when we roll this thing out.”
Emelianenko, 42, is coming off a disappointing 35-second knockout loss to Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader back in January for the vacant heavyweight title and Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament rights. The loss snapped a two-fight win streak the Russian had compiled over Chael Sonnen and Frank Mir after getting walloped by Matt Mitrione back in 2017.
Despite nearly calling it quits earlier this year, Emelianenko remains one of the better heavyweight fighters in the world today. “Last Emperor” may not be as dominant as he once was under the PRIDE banner, but his skill set still gets the job done.
Emelianenko has only lost back-to-back fights once in his entire professional MMA career (2011) so it will be exciting to see him try to keep that streak alive next time he steps inside of the Bellator cage. Perhaps a meeting with newly-acquired heavyweight veteran Josh Barnett is the next move to make.
“That’s definitely one of the names we’ve approached with Fedor,” Coker said of Barnett. “He’s fine with it. That would be a timing issue. I’m not sure if that’s going to be the very first fight but I think we have a great roster that he can fight.
“I think [Quinton] “Rampage” Jackson versus Fedor, I think of Josh Barnett, there’s a couple other fighters out there that just come to my mind.”
For complete Bellator 222 results and coverage click here.