Fedor Emelianenko had an opportunity to fight a bevy of former heavyweight champions, including ex-UFC titleholder Junior dos Santos. Instead, Bellator MMA booked “The Last Emperor” against 36 year-old journeyman Tim Johnson.
Safe to say the Brazilian is unimpressed.
“I know a little about Tim Johnson — in fact, almost nothing,” Dos Santos told MMA Fighting. “Not trying to sound disrespectful or anything like that, but at first I was very hopeful that I would be a great option for Fedor, to close his career. My idea is that he wanted a great fight, a fight that really interested the fans and made people excited to watch. That would be the case with options like myself, Overeem, and even Werdum. I was imagining something along those lines, something that made sense in my head, but it was completely the opposite of what I was imagining.”
Dos Santos, along with fellow heavyweight veterans Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum, among others, recently parted ways with UFC and have been looking to continue their careers at the highest possible level.
And Emelianenko is still one of the only big-money fights outside UFC.
“He ended up choosing Tim Johnson,” Dos Santos continued. “I don’t know how the fight will go, I’m not judging anything, but I believe it would be way more interesting, or at least would get a bit more attention, if it were Overeem, Werdum, me, Josh Barnett. He’s the greatest champion in heavyweight history, I’m a fan of Fedor, but, for his last fight, [I thought] he probably wanted to gift fans with a super fight, one that called the attention of the entire world, but it wasn’t the path he followed. I don’t understand why, but it was a bit disappointing, I can’t say it wasn’t.”
Emelianenko, 44, battles Johnson in the Bellator 269 main event inside VTB Arena on Oct. 23 in Moscow, Russia. As for Dos Santos, 37, he continues to explore his options, which may (or may not) include a transition to bare-knuckle boxing.