Fighting Fedor Emelianenko has long been on the bucket list of most heavyweights. So when Bellator MMA announced it would be touching down in Moscow, Russia for the first time with an event to be spearheaded by “The Last Emperor,” every big man’s hand on the roster went up.
In the end, it was No. 2-ranked Timothy Johnson who got the nod to face the former PRIDE FC heavyweight kingpin in the main event of Bellator 269, which goes down this Sat. (Oct. 23, 2021) in Moscow. For Johnson, fighting Emelianenko is an honor, but he won’t get caught up in the aura of the man many still consider the best heavyweight of all time.
“I think if you allow yourself to, you can get wrapped up in that pretty quickly,” Johnson told MMA Mania during a recent media conference call. “When the fight was announced, for the first couple of weeks I was like, ‘I am fighting Fedor!’ And didn’t allow me to think that this is the fight.”
“So for the first couple of weeks I allowed myself that type of thinking, but for the last month or so it’s now, ‘this is a fight and this is what I do,’” he added. “This is what I get paid to do and this is for my and my family’s future. So I cannot go out there and think ‘I am fighting Fedor!’ This is just another opponent in front of my goals.”
Johnson is coming off a tough loss to Valentin Moldavsky — a protege of Fedor’s — at Bellator 261 earlier this year in what was an interim heavyweight title fight, snapping his three-fight winning streak in the process.
While he isn’t sure a win over Fedor — who is unranked at the moment — will put him back in the championship picture, Johnson is okay with Plan B, which could be a potential trilogy fight against Cheick Kongo after splitting their first two encounters.
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