Thursday, July 7, 2022

Fedor Silences His Critics With KO Win Over Frank Mir At Bellator 198

The main event of Saturday night’s Bellator 198 event was a grand success. After trading heavy blows in the center of the Octagon, Fedor Emelianenko caught Frank Mir on the chin with a vicious uppercut and finished off his opponent with brutal ground-and-pound to move onto the semifinals of Bellator‘s heavyweight grand prix. In his next fight, which should take place sometime this summer, the legendary Russian fighter will take on big mouth Chael Sonnen in what should be one of the biggest fights Bellator has ever put together. On the other side of the tournament bracket is Matt Mitrione, who beat Roy Nelson to advance to the semifinals against the winner of Bellator 199’s Ryan Bader vs. Muhammed Lawal. Though Bellator’s heavyweight tournament has moved slowly so far, it’s quickly picking up steam, and a lot of that can be attributed to this exciting win by Fedor.

The knockout win over Mir was an amazing finish for Fedor, who badly needed a victory after getting starched by Mitrione in his Bellator debut last June in New York City. Now 41, Fedor had many critics and doubters heading into this fight against Mir, and according to the oddsmakers was the underdog in the fight. Considering how badly he lost to Mitrione, plus how poorly he fared in a very controversial decision win over Fabio Maldonado in June 2016, it was fair to doubt Fedor against a bigger, stronger opponent in Mir. But it wasn’t fair to completely write off Fedor, who showed against Mir that not only did he have a huge speed advantage, but also that his grappling technique is still strong with an early takedown, and of course that he still has knockout power in his fists with the exciting finish. The fact Fedor only needed 48 seconds to dispatch of Mir is extremely impressive and the win proves that he still has plenty left in the tank.

Yes, it’s true Fedor was a disappointment in Strikeforce and the fact we never got to see him fight in the UFC is a shame, but that’s in the past. This is now, and Fedor has a great opportunity to run through this Bellator heavyweight grand prix and make a statement that he’s still the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter of all time. He’s still the GOAT in the eyes of many, but with the bad losses he suffered in Strikeforce and the emergence of fighters like Stipe Miocic in the UFC, Fedor’s GOAT status has come into question in recent years. While Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix is no PRIDE heavyweight grand prix, it’s still an excellent tournament with a very solid list of competitors in the field. If Fedor is able to get by Sonnen after taking out Mir, and then get by whoever is left in the finals, it would really help cement his status as the sport’s greatest heavyweight ever. But even if he doesn’t win the tournament, he can change the perception of himself as a washed-up fighter by putting on great shows for the fans, and he got a head start with this incredible win over Mir. One fight down, and now just two more to go for Fedor if he wants to win the whole thing.

It’s easy to look at Fedor’s recent record and think he’s not the same fighter he once was, and while it’s true that he’s much older and less durable than he was in his prime, Fedor is still one of the better heavyweights in the sport. It’s easy to forget he’s won six of his last seven fights, but it’s true. This win over Mir helped Fedor gain back some of the support he lost during his losing streak and should silence the critics who said he was completely done. No, Fedor is not done. He might not be the best heavyweight in MMA anymore, but he’s still a damn good fighter, and you can never count this man out.

The win over Mir put an exclamation point on what turned out to be a terrific Bellator 198 card, and it’s helped build a lot of buzz for the rest of the heavyweight grand prix. Mir was the first domino to fall, now Sonnen is next, and you know he and Fedor are going to put on a show for the fans when they meet later this year. Who knows what will happen in that fight, but at least for one night only at Bellator 198, Fedor showed he’s still an all-time great, and we are all better for having this man involved in this amazing sport.

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