Fedor Emelianenko Vs. Tim Johnson To Headline Bellator Moscow On October 23

A frontrunner for Fedor Emelianenko’s homecoming bout has finally emerged.

Bellator MMA announced Thursday morning in a press release that “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) will take on No. 2 ranked heavyweight Tim Johnson (15-7) in the main event of Bellator Moscow on Saturday, October 23 at the VTB Arena.

Emelianenko announced his return on June 25, but it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, numerous fighters took to social media and interviews, naming themselves as potential opponents including past matchups Fabricio Werdum and Matt Mitrione; Bellator heavyweights Hosh Barnett and Jake Hager; promotion president Scott Coker even mentioned free agents Alistair Overeem and Junior Dos Santos.

But it ultimately came down to Johnson.


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Johnson, a UFC veteran. notched three wins with first-round finishes over Mitrione and Tyrone Fortune. He also earned a decision victory over Cheick Kongo during the first-ever major MMA event in France.

The 36-year-old most recently fought at Bellator 261 in June where he lost a narrow unanimous decision to Valentin Moldavsky in a five-round interim heavyweight title fight, ending a three-fight winning streak.

Meanwhile, some may argue that Emelianenko, 44, is the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.

The Russian fighter – who is also the former PRIDE FC heavyweight world champion — is returning after a first-round TKO victory over Quinton Jackson in 2019. He’s racked up 30 stoppages in 39 wins.

Since 2017, he’s fought just four times but is 3-1 over that stretch. The fighter advanced through two rounds of the Bellator heavyweight grand prix, topping Chael Sonnen and Frank Mir.

October 23 is expected to be the second-to-last bout of Emelianenko’s career as he has two fights left on his Bellator contract.

The Bellator Moscow lineup includes: 

  • Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Johnson 
  • Tyrell Fortune vs. Vitaly Minakov 
  • Usman Nurmagomedov vs. TBA 
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