“The Last Emperor” just proved he’s still got some reign left in him.
Fedor Emelianenko spent nearly a decade at the top of the sport as the No. 1-ranked Heavyweight mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter in the world, going 31-1-1 over the first nine years of his career. His second decade of fighting was less perfect, but still impressive at 8-5. And now he’s started off the third decade 1-0 after knocking out Tim Johnson in 1:40 at Bellator 269 in Moscow, Russia (watch highlights here).
“I’m really happy everything worked out the same way we were thinking,” Emelianenko said through an interpreter following the event. “I’m very happy for the fact we made happy the audience, and we delivered really such great joy to our fans, to those who follow our career and Bellator events.”
Fedor has never been a man to talk too much, and left the virtual post-event press conference without confirming whether he’d fight out the last bout on his Bellator contract or walk away at age 44 with this latest victory.
“I will answer this question tomorrow,” Emelianenko said.
But, if he does return, it sounds like he’d prefer his next fight to be in America because of all the extra attention he got fighting in his home country this time around.
“It is a lot easier for me to perform in America,” Emelianenko admitted. “I don’t have such huge, huge attention. I do get attention, but all of the events are strictly planned. At home, all our camp and our preparation for the fight, they took place under the supervision of media, journalists, and so on and so on.”
Bellator President, Scott Coker, wasn’t willing to make any hard declarations on Fedor’s future following the event, but made it clear that the current plan was to have Emelianenko compete stateside in early 2022.
“We have scheduled one more fight for him,” Coker revealed. “I know him. He’s looked really good and beat a contender, but let him enjoy the victory. Let him really savor this thing, and we’ll revisit with him maybe in a month. I think the next event we’ll have, we’ll probably schedule it early next year or maybe Spring of next year. That’s when you’ll see Fedor fight again.
“I just want to enjoy this moment and I think he just wants to enjoy this moment,” he concluded. “So talk to us in maybe two or three weeks and we’ll have an answer for you.”
Fedor looked fast and furious in his first fight since a Dec. 2019 victory over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
“I was like wow, at 45 he can still bring it,” Coker gushed. “He threw combinations at Tim that I haven’t seen for a little while, honestly. I think the pressure of him being at home really helped him. When I saw him yesterday he seemed so focused and I think a lot of it was riding on the line for him. He’s here and he’s proud to be here, all his people here, it was just an amazing night. Unbelievable.”
“I can’t remember the last time Tim was knocked out or if he’s ever been knocked out like that,” Coker continued. “Fedor, he threw some combinations at Tim that I was like, man, his hand speed is still there. His twitch speed is still there. He proved it. He proved to me he’s still the greatest of all time ... I was sitting around David Green, and Javier Mendez, and Khabib, and we were just talking about how, ‘Jesus. Unbelievable at 45 he can still bring it like that.’ It’s unbelievable, it’s like time just stopped for him.”