Coker: Heavyweight Grand Prix Built For Fedor
Fedor Emelianenko’s Bellator tenure did not begin the way the legendary fighter wanted. Now he’s looking to end it the way he wants, as a champion.
Fedor debuted at Bellator’s first event at Madison Square Garden, where he was knocked out in 74 seconds by Matt Mitrione, many people questioned if Emelianenko would continue fighting.
That was answered when Emelianenko was announced as a competitor in Bellator’s 2018 Heavyweight Grand Prix. While some question the move, Bellator President Scott Coker thinks his tournament is the perfect setting for Fedor.
Speaking with Kevin Iole recently, Coker claims he put Emelianenko in the tournament despite coming off of a knockout loss because of his resume. Coker told Iole that the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix is “perfect” for Emelianenko because of the level of competition.
“When you talk about heavyweights, like with Mitrione, they both punch each other in the face, knock each other down, Mitrione got up a little faster . . . and then he finished Fedor,” said Coker.
“But it could easily went the other way. Yes, guys that are fighting into their thirties should not be fighting 21 year old kids like he was doing in the past but this is the perfect tournament for him.
“He wanted to come in. He said to me – through Jerry, the translator – I know that this is the fourth quarter for me and I want to compete, and I would love to be Bellator’s heavyweight world champion. When Fedor asks you that, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna say no? You have to say yes so we did and we gave him that respect and he’s gonna have an equal shot just like everybody else.”
Emelianenko is set for an April battle against UFC champion Frank Mir, in the opening round of the tournament. Mir who was granted his release from the UFC following two losses and a suspension by USADA for a failed drug test stemming from his fight with Mark Hunt in 2016, is also looking to redeem himself.
“If you look at him and Frank Mir, Frank Mir’s coming off some losses, Fedor’s coming off some losses. This is kind of an equal fight in my mind and it’s gonna be great.”
Emelianenko retired from MMA in 2012, following a few poor showings for Coker’s “Strikeforce” promotion, but returned to the sport three years later and has been competing steadily since then. Coker believes Emelianenko may retire after the Grand Prix, depending on how the tournament goes for him.
“I believe that he hasn’t decided yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if he fought the tournament out and won the tournament, that he would retire the tournament champion and the heavyweight champion,” said Coker. “What a way to have a great send off.
“Or if he loses the first fight to Frank Mir and gets stopped, he might call it a day too.”