Even as his career comes to a close, “The Last Emperor” still wants to test himself.
Fedor Emelianenko was once considered by many as the best fighter on the planet. At 45-years-old, it seems Emelianenko’s fighting career should be coming to an end soon. Yet, even as the curtain closes on a historic run that saw the Russian win 27 bouts straight, Emelianenko doesn’t want easy wins.
Speaking with MMA Junkie, Emelianenko details why he chose to fight Tim Johnson.
“Tim Johnson had quite a winning streak going on,” Emelianenko told MMA Junkie at a virtual news conference. “That obviously shows he’s quite a good fighter. Fighting someone who is spearheading the (division) is always a great opportunity.”
One man whose name was tentatively linked to a bout with the former PRIDE heavyweight champion is Junior dos Santos. After parting ways with the UFC, dos Santos began calling to fight Emelianenko in Russia. The match-up briefly seemed like a possibility, but it was soon announced that Johnson would be the man flying to Moscow.
Johnson, at least for Emelianenko, made more sense as an opponent.
“Aside from Tim Johnson, Dos Santos, for example, had a serious streak of losses alongside,” Emelianenko said. “He was also fighting for the UFC, as well. That is why I don’t think it would’ve been much suitable to fight him compared to Tim Johnson. Not to mention the fact that Bellator came up with a bunch of options and Tim was the obvious choice.”
dos Santos ended his long tenure with the UFC with four straight losses. While Johnson doesn’t have a “serious streak of losses,” the heavyweight has gone 3-3 since signing with Bellator. His most recent outing ended in a loss to Valentin Moldavsky.
Emelianenko finds himself 3-2 since signing with Bellator in 2017. In 2019, Emelianenko knocked out Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the first round. Since the victory, he’s been absent from the cage due to border closings and his own bout with COVID.
Bellator 269: Fedor vs. Johnson takes place this Saturday, October 23, 2021, from Dinamo Lev Yashin Stadium in Moscow, Russia and will air live on Showtime.