Fedor Emelianenkoone of the most celebrated mixed martial artists of all time, will achieve the final touchdown of his career in 2023.
Emelianenko, 46, will challenge the Bellator MMA heavyweight champion Ryan Bader at the address at Bellator 290 on February 4th. The event will be held inside the Kia Forum in Englewood, California and broadcast on CBS. Bellator MMA officials broke the news with CBSSports.com on Friday.
“We’ve worked tirelessly to grow this brand into the global powerhouse it is today, and a slot on CBS has always been one of our main goals,” Scott Cocker, president of Bellator, said in a statement. “With a healthy roster filled with many of the best fighters in the world, along with rising elite prospects and legends of the game, I am very excited to bring this event to America’s most-watched network.”
The heavyweight title fight will be a rematch that took place in January 2019. Bader won (30-7) via TKO in just 35 seconds and became a two-division Bellator champion. He’s held that heavyweight belt since 2019, though he lost his 205-pound heavyweight title Vadim Nemkov the following year.
Emelianenko (40-6) has been fighting professionally since 2000. He was once considered the greatest fighter of all time, having started his career with a 30-1 record. He is mostly known as the former Heavyweight King of the Pride Fighting Championships, although he also won titles in Affliction and Strikeforce. The UFC made several attempts to sign Emelianenko during his legendary career, but the two sides could not come to an agreement.
Emelianenko fights outside Stary Oskol, Russia. He previously retired from MMA in 2012 but chose to return to the sport in 2015. He won his previous two matches by first-round knockout against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tim Johnson.
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