Fedor Emelianenko Content with Retirement: ‘That’s How It Has to Happen’

When it comes to combat sports, legends rarely get a happy ending.

 That was again the case in the Bellator 290 headliner, when Ryan Bader defeated Fedor Emelianenko via first-round technical knockout in the Russian’s farewell fight at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Saturday night. While there was some hope coming into the bout that “The Last Emperor” could turn back the clock one more time, Bader dispelled that notion in short order, as he floored his opponent with a right behind the ear before sealing his victory with a series of unanswered punches on the canvas.

 While the ending was bittersweet, Emelianenko was content with his decision to retire. Ultimately, Father Time is a reality that even the heavyweight GOAT can’t escape.

 “I feel great. He hit me a few times, but I didn’t lose consciousness. I felt everything,” Emelianenko said at the post-fight press conference.

“I’m getting older, my age [helped make my decision]. Plus all my injuries from the past, they start to remind me of them,” he added. “My body doesn’t feel the same way as it used to. The only thing [I’d do differently], I could have beat Ryan Bader, but it didn’t happen.”

The event felt like a celebration, and numerous MMA legends were in attendance to help commmemorate Emelianenko’s farewell. The typically stoic Russian was appreciative of the support.

“I was really happy to see all the legends, all the fighters,” he said. “With some of them I shared the ring, with some of them I was watching and learning from them. It was great to have them come and support me.”

Ultimately, Emelianenko hopes to be remembered more for how he carried himself than his results in the cage and ring.

“I take everything as it happens. If I win, lose, it doesn’t really matter. That’s how it has to happen,” he said. “You saw today, the whole arena was cheering for me. I get my popularity and my fan base based on my actions inside the cage, not because I was doing trash talk and talking bad about my opponents.”

Meanwhile, Bellator president Scott Coker had nothing but praise for Emelianenko. Coker was able to promote the Russian’s fights across two different organizations, and over the years he forged a respect for the legendary heavyweight. One loss doesn’t change anything in that regard.

 “When I think about Fedor and his accomplishments…Fedor has already done it all. He didn’t need to fight. He doesn’t need to do anything,” Coker said. “Anytime he fights another fight for the last three or four years it’s really been a special occasion — it’s an event. You can feel it, when he fights it’s an event. He doesn’t need to prove himself. To me he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time.

“Would I have liked to see him and Randy [Couture] fight? Sure. Him and Josh [Barnett]? Of course. If you look at the string of fights he had in Pride during his heyday run, it was just incredible. … He’s the legend.”

Coker believes Emelianenko’s legacy is secure — and that comes from far more than fighting.

“I was telling him when he left, I said, ‘It’s such an honor for me to promote you.’ Not just because of how he fights and his popularity, but really how he carries himself,” Coker said. “To me he’s a true martial artist. I’ll always be a Fedor fan.”

Latest News


Dana White said Colby Covington is next for Leon Edwards; who you got?