After nearly 23 years, Russian combat sports legend ‘The Last Emperor’ Fedor Emelianenko will retire in 2023.
Stepping into the cage one more time, Emelianenko will take on reigning Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader at Bellator 290 on February 4th, 2023. Emanating from the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California, the card will air live on CBS. It will be the first time Bellator will feature on network television and the first time CBS has aired an MMA event in over a decade.
The fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Ryan Bader will be a rematch of their January 2019 bout during the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix tournament final. Bader scored a 35-second knockout against ‘The Last Emperor’ to capture the then-vacant heavyweight championship. Already the holder of Bellator’s light heavyweight title, ‘Darth’ Bader became a two-division champion with his destruction of Emelianenko.
Scott Coker Comments on Fedor Emelianenko Retirement Fight Airing on CBS
Bellator MMA president Scott Coker issued a statement following the announcement, explicitly discussing the promotion’s debut on network television.
“We have been working tirelessly on growing this brand into the global powerhouse it is today and a primetime slot on CBS has always been one of our key objectives,” Coker said. “With a healthy roster full of many of the world’s very best fighters, along with elite up-and-coming prospects and legends of the game, I’m very excited to showcase this event on the most-watched network in America.”
In his prime, Fedor Emelianenko went on a 27-fight win streak across multiple promotions including Rings, PRIDE, Affliction, and Strikeforce. Time eventually caught up with ‘The Last Emperor’ and he found himself dropping three straight under the Strikeforce banner. Emelianenko recovered winning five in a row before signing with Bellator in 2017. In the last five years, ‘The Last Emperor’ has gone 4-2 with wins over Frank Mir, Chael Sonnen, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, and Tim Johnson.
His last loss inside the cage was the 2019 meeting with Ryan Bader. If Fedor Emelianenko gets the victory in his final MMA appearance this February, he will not only avenge the last loss of his career, he will walk away as a world champion.