The first Bellator MMA card of 2023 also marks the swansong for a heavyweight legend.
Bellator 290 will see Fedor Emelianenko hang up the gloves presumably for good, but not before he gets once last shot at gold in a major promotion. In a rematch years in the making, “The Last Emperor” will run it back with heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, who defeated Fedor in the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix final to capture the title.
Since then, the Russian has competed twice, defeating Rampage Jackson in Japan in 2019, then battling his way through a bout with COVID. He returned to action in 2021, knocking out Tim Johnson in less than two minutes in his native Russia.
That stunning return to form set up talk of a big farewell fight, potentially for the title. Another date in Moscow was discussed, with the possibility of a fight in the famed Red Square floated. All that was for not, however, with Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine leaving it a global pariah.
And so the final walk of Fedor Emelianenko instead comes in the U.S., at the Kia Forum this Saturday, February 4, with a shot at retiring as champ. Ryan Bader, once the promotion’s double-champ at both light heavyweight and heavyweight, will look to do again what he was able to pull off in 2019, and beat one of the best of all time.
Ahead of the fight, the key players will assemble for the Bellator 290 pre-fight press conference. The live stream of the affair is available in the embed above.