The MMA community was a bit perplexed when it was announced that heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko would fight Tim Johnson for his Bellator return at Bellator 269, and favored matchups with Junior dos Santos and others.

But Emelianenko has explained why the dos Santos fight was never really in the cards for his return bout.

Emelianenko will make his return to the Bellator cage in front of his hometown crowd in Moscow, RU, in the promotion’s first-ever event in the country. He hasn’t fought since Bellator 237 when he knocked out Rampage Jackson in the first round.

Fedor Emelianenko will make his highly-anticipated return at Bellator 269

Once it was announced that Emelianenko was going to make a comeback this year, there were many opponents who were expected to be in the running for a fight. Dos Santos was a name that made sense to many MMA fans but not to Emelianenko.

“Fighting someone who is spearheading the [division] is always a great opportunity,” Emelianenko said during Bellator 269 media day. “Aside from Tim Johnson, [Junior] dos Santos for example had a serious streak of losses alongside [his record] and he was also fired from the UFC as well.”

“That is why I don’t think it would be very much suitable to fight him compared to Tim Johnson. Not to mention Bellator came up with a bunch of options and Tim was quite an obvious choice.”

Before getting the fight with Emelianenko, Johnson had lost in an interim title bout against Valentin Moldavsky. Dos Santos was among a few big names, including Alistair Overeem, who was cut from the UFC earlier this year due to big losing skids.

Despite his recent struggles, fans wanted a fight between Emelianenko and either dos Santos or Overeem for the name value. But, the promotion ended up booking a fight with Johnson instead.

How do you think a Fedor Emelianenko vs. Junior dos Santos fight would’ve gone?

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Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.