Fedor Emelianenko is now officially a Bellator MMA athlete.
The promotion confirmed during the Bellator 165 broadcast on Saturday night that “The Last Emperor” has signed a multi-fight deal with the California based promotion. He will make his debut against UFC veteran Matt Mitrione at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Feb. 18. The event was announced as Bellator 172 in a release. FloCombat.com first reported the matchup last month.
“I’m happy to be fighting in San Jose. I’m happy to be fighting in Bellator,” Emelianenko told announcer Jimmy Smith.
Emelianenko returned from a three-year retirement this past December to stop Jaideep Singh via first-round TKO at Rizin Fighting Federation’s New Year’s Eve event. The 40-year-old Russian then defeated Fabio Maldonado by controversial majority decision at Eurasia Fight Nights 50 on June 17. Once regarded as the sport’s pound-for-pound best fighter, Emelianenko owns a 36-4 career record.
A cast member on “The Ultimate Fighter 10,” Mitrione joined the Bellator ranks this year following a 14-bout stint with the UFC. He debuted with a first-round knockout of Carl Seumanutafa at Bellator 157 before stopping Oli Thompson in the second stanza at Bellator 158 on July 16. “Meathead” is 11-5 as a professional overall.
“I’m honored. I’m so excited as a fighter. You’re the person everybody guns for their entire career,” Mitrione told Emelianenko. “Welcome to the family. Let’s give them a show.”