Could a Fedor Emelianenko comeback be in the works? | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Scott Coker is making it abundantly clear that he isn’t simply content with being No. 2.
Since the day he took over as president of Bellator MMA, Coker has outlined an an aggressive and far-reaching strategy when it comes to signing free agents and pursuing new talent for the promotion.
By New Year’s Eve, Coker hopes to have had a discussion with one very prominent former employee: retired Russian heavyweight superstar Fedor Emelianenko. The ex-Strikeforce head plans on attending Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2014 in Tokyo on Dec. 31. At some point, he expects to cross paths with “The Last Emperor.”
Emelianenko, now 38, retired from mixed martial arts following a first-round knockout victory over Pedro Rizzo at an M-1 Global event on June 21, 2012. Could a comeback be in the offing? Coker thinks it’s at least worth the effort to find out.
“I’ve heard mixed signals. The last time I talked to [his people], they were basically saying he’s retired and he’s working for the government supporting MMA, the growth of MMA in Russia,” Coker said during a recent interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I’m going to the New Year’s Eve show in Japan, so I’ll be over there and I’ll be talking to him and seeing if there’s any interest.”
While contract talks with the UFC fizzled, Emelianenko would go on to compete four times for Strikeforce when Coker was at the helm. Three of those cards were co-promoted with M-1 Global, something the UFC was not willing to do. Emelianenko was released by Strikeforce following a loss to Dan Henderson in July 2011; by then, the promotion was under Zuffa control.
The Russian ended his Strikeforce tenure with a 1-3 mark, beating Brett Rogers in his debut before falling to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Henderson in succession. Emelianenko went 3-0 following his release, posting triumphs over Jeff Monson, Satoshi Ishii and Rizzo.
While the former Pride Fighting Championships star has been quiet in retirement, rumors have swirled constantly around WWE talent Brock Lesnar, who was once rumored as a potential dance partner for Emelianenko when the Russian was still in negotiations with the UFC. Lesnar retired from MMA following a loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 in December 2011.
However, that hasn’t prevented the former heavyweight champion from remaining a constant source of speculation. According to report from MMAFighting.com on Friday, Coker has already reached out to Lesnar, something he said he would have no hesitation doing during his appearance on “Beatdown.”
“He’s [Lesnar] a guy that could definitely move the needle,” Coker said. “If he wants to come back to MMA, I’m sure him and his manager will want to meet with everybody and get the best deal. To me, we’re gonna be in that bidding process.”