Despite being considered one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever to practise the sport, Fedor Emelianenko, most often known to his admirers as simply “Fedor”, is the underdog in his upcoming championship fight with Ryan Bader at Bellator 214. Emelianenko is priced at 12/5 with William Hill, with Bader available at 3/10.
Bellator, the second biggest organisation in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has not had a heavyweight champion since May 2016 when Vitaly Minakov vacated his title. Last year they launched a novel way to find a new champ: the Heavyweight World Grand Prix, an eight man knockout competition which concludes on the 26th January with the fight between Emelianenko and Bader.
Though still much loved, many fans had assumed that Fedor’s glory days were behind him, particularly after losing heavily to Matt Mitrione in 2017. However, he managed to turn things around in 2018, putting together impressive wins in the tournament against UFC veterans Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen.
Described by Fedor as “the strongest and most dangerous fighter in this tournament”, Bader is already Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Champion, and seeks to become the first two division champ in the promotion’s history. His route to the final came via wins against King Mo and Matt Mitrione.
For Bader’s coach Jair Lourenco, the key to the win will come from not giving Fedor too much respect. “Fedor must be respected, always,” he said, “but you can’t respect him if you’re fighting him, you have to face him like he’s anybody else.”