Fedor Emelianenko Now Targeting May or June for Bellator MMA Debut

By Tristen Critchfield Feb 19, 2017

After one false start, Fedor Emelianenko already has a new timetable in mind for his Bellator MMA debut.

“I did tell [Bellator President Scott Coker] that I think maybe May or June, so I will make that time to get prepared again,” Emelianenko said at the Bellator 172 post-fight press conference on Saturday night. “I certainly will be discussing that with Scott.”

Emelianenko was supposed to face Matt Mitrione in the Bellator 172 headliner at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., but the heavyweight bout was scratched just hours before the event when it was determined that Mitrione was suffering from kidney stones.

Once word of Mitrione’ s ailment got out, Coker was deluged with messages from fighters willing to step in on extremely short notice.

“There’s a lot of people that started texting me. Half of them weren’t licensed and there’s no way we could get them licensed in the state,” said Coker, who didn’t relay the offers to Emelianenko. “Chael [Sonnen] was one of the guys that was licensed in the state because he just fought Tito [Ortiz] last month. But there is some paperwork to be done and it just got to the late hour where we had to make a decision. And I made the decision to pull the plug and move forward.”

Emelianenko, who hasn’t fought since taking a controversial majority decision against Fabio Maldonado in June, agreed with Coker’s decision.

“ I think it’s not right to change the opponent a few hours before the fight on such a short notice,” he said. “That’s why my decision and the decision of Bellator was to postpone the fight.”

While an initial press release from the California-based promotion stated that Emelianenko vs. Mitrione would be rescheduled at a later date, that matchup is apparently not set in stone.

“You guys might ask, ‘Is it gonna be Matt?’ I’m not sure of Matt’s illness and how long it will take, or if this will be a continuous situation,” Coker said. “We can talk about the timeline.”

The last-minute nature of the cancellation was undoubtedly a devastating blow to the promotion, particularly in terms of ratings on Spike. Still, Emelianenko is under contract and will eventually compete under the Bellator banner.

“We’re gonna reschedule this fight. There will be another opportunity for everyone to come out and watch Fedor fight,” Coker said. “It is special because Fedor is an athlete that has already done it all. He doesn’t even have to fight, but he’s here because he wants to compete.”

As for Emelianenko, he wasn’t dwelling too much on the disappointment of losing an opponent the day of the fight.

“We have to accept it the way it is,” Emelianenko said. “That can happen with anybody at any moment.”


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