Bellator NYC: The Last Emperor, Fedor, Hits The Big Apple
Bellator NYC: The Last Emperor Hits The Big Apple
By: Larry Goldberg
“It’s been quite a journey to get to this point,” Bellator MMAs president Scott Coker said at a Tuesday press gathering at Madison Square Garden to promote the organization’s big June 24th pay per view card from the world’s most famous arena. The top fight that evening is ostensibly between mixed martial arts stars Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) and Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1-1) who will throw down in a light heavyweight clash. The true main event, however, will feature Fedor Emelianenko (36-4-1) as he battles Illinois’ Matt Mitrione (11-5) in a heavyweight contest.
Why is the Emelianenko fight such a big deal? Because the man himself is a big deal. Bellator’s website describes the fighter as “an MMA legend that many consider to be the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time.” No small praise. Yet it’s not just the Bellator organization that has rave reviews for the Russian warrior. Many people call him “the greatest heavyweight in MMA history,” while the UFCs Joe Rogan has called Emelianenko “the baddest mo—-fu—er on the planet.” And while the veteran brawler is now forty years old, he is, simply put, a legend – and deservedly so.
For he is a man who has spent his career being nothing short of a destroyer. While well over half of the guy’s fights have been finished by knockout or submission against such names as Tim Sylvia and Mirko Filipovic, Emelianenko’s reputation has deservedly proceeded him. Still, Emelianenko’s last fight, against Fabio Maldonado, was regarded as being far from impressive. What’s more, the guy’s only fought twice since 2012. These facts are probably giving Mitrione a bit of confidence. Not that the hard hitting American would say as much.
“I think Fedor’s a bad ass,” he said frankly during Tuesday’s press conference. Mitrione even went so far as to thank Emelianenko for giving him such a golden opportunity after an initial February fight date had been postponed. “Thank you very much for accepting the fight again,” he told his soon to be foe. “I really appreciate it.” As for the individual known as The Last Emperor, Emelianenko remained subdued and polite during Tuesday’s gathering. “I feel very good after the cancelled fight,” he said through a translator (whose microphone worked in fits). “I’ve been keeping the form and staying in top shape for this fight.” Then again star clearly wasn’t going to let a fight delay set him back.
“Upon the return home I started training harder,” he said.
It’s claimed that Fedor is planning to fight at least twice more. That could be very good news indeed for Coker and team at Bellator, for it was made clear Tuesday that pay per view cards would be in the organization’s future. “We’re not gonna do monthly pay per views just to do pay per views,” said Coker, clearly taking a shot at MMA competitor, UFC. “We’re gonna build up fights, like the boxing model.”