On Saturday Bellator’s man of many talents, Chael Sonnen, takes on Fedor Emelianenko in Bellator 208’s main event at Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
The fight is one-half of the semifinals of the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix. Sonnen advanced in the bracket with a decision win over Quinton Jackson at Bellator 192 in January.
Sonnen is well aware of Emelianenko’s resume, praising the Russian’s achievements during a Bellator media call on Tuesday.
“I think Fedor’s great,” Sonnen said. “A lot of people say he’s the best heavyweight of all time. I’m one of those people, but the best heavyweight of all time is about to take on the best fighter of all time.”
Sonnen, a natural middleweight for most of his career, is taking on a man who’s never fought at less than heavyweight. Many expect the Russian’s size and power to be a big advantage over the smaller Sonnen. The West Linn, Ore., native doesn’t really believe the size difference will be a factor.
“I think it’s interesting,” Sonnen said of the matchup. “I had one faceoff with Fedor and he was shorter than me. More than anything for me, Fedor brings a power I’ve never had to deal with before. I’ve been stunned at how hard he can hit, particularly with his right hand. That’s the biggest obstacle I’m going to have to deal with. I think he can get a takedown, I don’t think he can keep me down. The biggest standout I’ve seen from him is his explosive power.”
For Sonnen, Fedor’s power is the X-factor in the matchup. Emelianenko advanced in the bracket with a 48-second KO of Frank Mir at Bellator 198. Still, Sonnen is confident that he can handle what his opponent brings to the table.
“I think so. Again it just comes back to that power,” Sonnen said. “I’ve only been knocked down once and I’ve never been knocked out. He’s not the most dynamic, I’ve dealt with guys who can do more in more situations, but he’s the most likely to put me to sleep of anyone I’ve been in there with.”
Heading into Bellator 208, Fedor is the only thing on Sonnen’s mind. The tournament and everything else can wait. For Sonnen, this could be the biggest win of his career.
“For me whatever fight is coming up next is the most important,” Sonnen said. “That’s how it feels. I’ve got a real short term memory. It makes me feel good when somebody else brings them up and remembers them. Beating Fedor is very important to me.”