Overeem and Dos Santos were released by the UFC earlier this year in a series of cuts by the promotion. Both fighters lost their last bouts with the UFC after long tenures that included knockout finishes and heavyweight title runs.
Emelianenko announced his desire to return to Bellator later this year after an 18-month hiatus from the sport. On his way into retirement, he knocked out former UFC champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 237 in Japan.
Bellator president Scott Coker spoke during his Bellator 261 post-fight media availability about possibilities for Emelianenko’s return to the octagon; including Overeem, Dos Santos, and Josh Barnett.
“Believe me, there is no shortage of opponents (for) Russia right now. Listen, the managers of all the free agents are calling. Josh Barnett was texting me today. I talked to (Junior Dos Santos’) manager a couple of days ago. Alistair Overeem. The list goes on and on and on,” Coker told MMA Junkie.
The 44-year-old Emelianenko is widely regarded as the greatest heavyweight martial artist of all time, and one of the greatest overall regardless of division and weight. Despite being past his prime due to his age, he has won three of his past five fights with his only losses to current Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader and Matt Mitrione.
Emelianenko made the move to Bellator back in 2017 after long stints in Fight Nights Global, Strikeforce, and M-1 Global. He has accumulated an incredible professional fighting record of 39-6 over his career since his MMA debut back in 2000.
21 years after making his debut in Russia, Emelianenko will return to compete in his native country for his return to the sport of MMA. Regardless of who his opponent may be for his return bout, all eyes will be on Russia as one of the greatest legends in the sport comes back to compete.
How excited are you for Fedor Emelianenko’s return to Bellator? Who do you think he should fight next?