On New Year’s Eve of 2015, MMA icon Fedor Emelianenko made his highly anticipated return to the Octagon when he fought Singh Jaideep at Rizin Fighting Federation’s inaugural event in Saitama, Japan. It took ‘The Last Emperor’ just over three minutes to secure a TKO win, picking up his first win since retiring in 2012.
Following the win, Emelianenko returned to the Octagon in June to fight former UFC fighter Fabio Maldonado. While the fight was an extremely close one, with Emelianenko nearly being finished early on, Emelianenko was ultimately awarded a majority decision win in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Several months after the win, it was announced that Emelianemko would be making the jump to Bellator MMA to fight former UFC fighter Matt Mitrione in a highly anticipated clash.
During a recent interview with Submission Radio, Bellator MMA CEO Scot Coker recalled negotiations with The Last Emperor:
“Fedor Emelianenko, come on, that’s the greatest heavyweight of all time,” said Coker during a recent interview with Submission Radio. “Let’s be real. People say, ‘oh, maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t.’ Listen, I remember what it was like back in PRIDE. He went undefeated for how many years, fought all the killers over there. That was when PRIDE had the best fighters in the world. Let’s face it, they were the premiere organization. And that’s why the UFC bought them. They bought them because of all those great athletes. So to me, that was the time when I said look, this guy fought everybody and ducked nobody and was killing everybody. So to me it’s like look, he had a great run there and he had fights with Strikeforce and I built a relationship with him there and so we became friends and started working together.
“So when I heard he wanted to fight again, I said let’s talk about it and eventually it evolved into him coming to fan fests and signings and he spent time with our fans. But I said, ‘okay, let’s go for it now.’ And we sat down, we cut a deal. It wasn’t easy, it took three, four months, maybe five months to put together. But now that that part’s over, the business part’s over and him just fighting, I’m really excited. Because when he walked down that ramp in San Jose and we announced the fight, people were going nuts. I mean, people still know (him) and he resonates (with them). This guy’s a big star and we’re excited to have him come fight in Bellator. And Matt Mitrione. You know, that’s a guy that’s gonna bring it too. Matt said something that night. He said, let’s just throw hammers and see what happens. And that’s exactly what’s gonna happen. This is not gonna be a fight that goes, dances for four or five rounds. This is gonna go (till the) end of the first round. Someone’s gonna hit somebody and then I think it’s gonna be over.”