The bells of nostalgia are calling and have summoned a Bellator heavyweight grand prix that will drop early next year. Among all of the UFC veterans and MMA legends involved, former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir will take on the illustrious Fedor Emelianenko. Despite being far removed from his prime and experiencing some devastating losses, Mir believes Fedor is just as dangerous as ever, it’s just everyone else who has changed.
“I think [Fedor Emelianenko]’s still extremely dangerous. He did everything he does normally. You see how fast he threw the right hand on [Matt] Mitrione. The difference is everyone else just have gotten a lot better. If Matt Mitrione would fight 10 years ago in Pride, he would have been one of the best fighters in Pride, if we grab Mitrione we are seeing now and put him back there. Back then guys were either good boxers, wrestlers, jiu jitsu guys. You didn’t have a lot of guys who were good at everything. Which Fedor is. He’s good at everything. And now he has to deal with the fact that everybody now is good at everything.”
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 17, 2017
“There are very few guys that fight at the top level of MMA, that you can say that ‘oh he has zero stand-up’ or ‘oh he has zero ground,’ or ‘he can’t wrestle.’ We don’t really use those terms anymore. Everybody has different athleticism, different mindsets, backgrounds, different personalities. Just like in boxing – not everybody fights the same, even though everybody boxes. [Guillermo] Rigondeaux and [Vasiliy] Lomachenko fight differently, but they’re still boxers. So within MMA, we’re all MMA artists now. And you don’t really have people with blurring holes. So to underestimate Fedor would be a crazy mistake. Watching him on the countdown [videos] to that [Mitrione] fight, hitting the bag, working out. What I’ve seen him still doing, I still think he’s a great fighter. I just think that the rest of the world has caught up, so he is not light years ahead of everybody, like he was 10 years ago.” — Frank Mir speaking to Denis Geyko of RT Sport.
All of the tools that Fedor Emelianenko implemented to become the emperor of the MMA world back in the day are still alive and present, but that was a reign that started 16 years ago and ended ironically near the start of Scott Coker’s last heavyweight grand prix from Strikeforce. Fighters have changed and so has the sport, but Mir shares the same era with Fedor. It may have no happened in their hey day, but this Bellator tournament will allow us to finally see these two titans of the sport fight each other for the very first time.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 11/21/2017.