Last weekend, during the Bellator 165 broadcast, we learned that heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko had signed with the promotion. The Russian great will debut at Bellator 172 on February 18 in San Jose. He’ll make this Bellator debut against dangerous UFC veteran Matt Mitrione.
By the time Fedor makes his Bellator debut, it’ll have been eight months since his last fight. That fight, which pitted him against former UFC light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado, occurred under the Eurasia Fight Nights (EFN) banner in beautiful St. Petersburg, Russia. It will be remembered as one of the most entertaining – and controversial – fights of 2016.
Despite the fact that Maldonado struggled against mid-level light heavyweights in the UFC, he gave the aging heavyweight legend all he could handle. In fact, he very nearly finished him with a barrage of punches in the first round. Despite being punched to the brink of consciousness in the first frame, however, Fedor was able to rally in the second and third, during which time he landed plenty of meaningful offense of his own.
The end result was an incredibly close fight. In fact, the majority of media outlets scored the contest as a draw. Despite the razor thin nature of the fight, however, the end result was a controversial majority decision for the Russian legend.
In the wake of this controversial outcome, the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) moved to change the result to a draw, spurred on not only by the bout’s competitive nature, but also by the fact that the sanctioning Russian MMA Union was headed by Fedor himself. Unfortunately, this move was a strictly symbolic one, and the Russian MMA Union chose not to acknowledge it. As such, Fedor’s competitive win over Maldonado stands. He’ll enter his battle with Mitrione on the heels of a victory, rather than a draw.
Watch Fedor and Maldonado’s whacky war in full at the top of this article!
Given the way he was pushed to the brink by a middling light heavyweight in Maldonado, do you think Fedor has any chance against a top-flight heavyweight like Mitrione? Sound off, PENN Nation!