Bellator 269 is set to go down TODAY (Sat., Oct. 23, 2021) live from inside VTB Arena in Moscow, Russia. Headlining the SHOWTIME-televised event will be a heavyweight bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Timothy Johnson. In the co-main event, Vitaly Minakov will face Said Sowma, while Usman Nurmagomedov takes on Patrik Pietila in further main card action.
265 lbs.: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Johnson
It’s been two years since Fedor Emelianenko stepped foot inside an MMA cage, but “The Last Emperoro” is ready to resume his retirement tour. That’s right, the former PRIDE FC champion has stated he only has two fights remaining in his career. That said, he recently said that depending on how he feels win, lose, or draw against Johnson, Saturday could be the last time we see him fight.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Emelianenko has done pretty well over for himself over the last decade. Following a horrid three-fight losing streak, Fedor racked up straight wins and has gone 8-2 since. scoring wins over Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir and Quinton Jackson along the way. Against Johnson, though, he will be facing someone who is still fighting at a high level. Johnson came up short in his bid to win the interim heavyweight title in his last bout against one of Fedor’s pupils, Valentin Moldavsky. Before that, he was the No. ranked fighter in the division and was on a three fight win streak.
It’s hard to pick against Emelianenko out of respect and — let’s face it — people’s desire to see him end his career on a high note. But I just don’t see how he beats Johnson. The big man is younger, stronger and at this point of his career he is simply better all the way around. Emelianeko may have him in the grappling department, but “The Last Emperor” will have to deal with the size once they clinch. In Fedor’s last two fights he was knocked out in the very first round by Ryan Bader — a light heavyweight — and Matt Mitrione. Bottom line: Johnson hits harder than both of them. It won’t be a feast for the eyes for the hometown crowd because Emelianenko will likely end up seeing stars.
Prediction: Johnson via second round knockout
265 lbs.: Vitaly Minakov vs. Said Sowma
Former Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov will return after a length 26-month hiatus in search of his second straight win. Interestingly enough, his last fight and win came against the aforementioned Timothy Johnson, knocking him out in the very first round at Bellator 225 in Aug. 2019. The lone loss of his career came against Cheick Kongo, so he still has an outstanding pro record of 22-1. It's important to note that Minakov never lost the title, he was stripped of it due to a contract dispute, prompting him to leave the promotion for five years. One can only imagine what type of run he would’ve had as champion had he stuck around. But there’s no point in dwelling in the past, he is looking to cement himself as a contender for the title, though his upcoming task will be a tough one.
Though not as experienced as Minakov, Sowma has racked up some decent wins during his three-year run, including taking out longtime veteran Ronny Markes at Bellator 262 earlier this year, nabbing him his first win inside the Bellator cage. Defeating Minakov would be huge for his career moving forward. I just don’t see it happening this time. Despite his layoff, Minakov is too good everywhere and will ultimately overwhelm Sowma.
Prediction: Minakov via third round TKO
160 lbs.: Usman Nurmagomedov vs. Patrik Pietila
Nurmagomedov may only have two fights under the Bellator banner, but already he’s impressed the masses. Thanks to his perfect 13-0 record, Usman has earned the No. 7 spot on the official rankings, elevating him closer to the Top 5 at a rapid pace. He will be facing off against Patrik Pietila in his third bout with the Viacom-owned promotion and if we look at it on paper, Nurmagomedov should have no problem taking home the “W.” And that’s no disrespect to Pietila, we’re just trying to keep it 100, as the kids say.
Pietila came up short in his Bellator debut in 2019, and he hasn’t competed since. Ring rust is very real and Nurmagomedov has been staying active, competing five times in the last 20 months. Sure, Pietila has a puncher’s chance to pull off the upset, but at this stage of Nurmgoemdov’s career, it is going to take more than that to catch him on an off night. I don’t see this fight going past the first round. Nurmagoemdov will be the hometown hero and will obviously want to put on a statement-making performance to continue his ascension up the 155-pound ladder.
Prediction: Nurmagomedov via first round submission
185 lbs.: Anatoly Tokov vs. Sharaf Davlatmurodov
Two heavy-handed Middleweights will kick off the main card action on Showtime as Tokov and Davlatmurodov will face off in what is sure to be a fireworks-filled bout. Tokov is on a five-fight win streak and has won 22 of his last 23 fights. Impressive to say the least. Along the way he has taken out the likes of Gerad Harris and former Bellator 185-pound king, Alexander Shlemenko. Of his 29 wins, 23 have come via stoppage so the man knows how to get in and take care of business as quickly as possible to avoid the judge's scorecards. In Davlatmurodov, he will find an equally aggressive opponent who isn’t exactly known for stalling. “Wolfhound” will be making his debut for the promotion after winning six straight in various organizations around Russia. while there may not be a lot of tape on him and may not be as well-known stateside, Davlatmurodov is as skilled as they come, make no mistake about it. And with it being his first fight for the promotion, he would love nothing more than to put the 185-pound on notice from the jump. Tokov, however, is more than ready to give his foe a rude awakening to the cage where he’s won all five bouts with the company. And if you’re a betting person, picking Tokov to get his sixth straight is a good bet.
Prediction: Tokov via unanimous decision
See you then!