December 30, 2019

Fedor's Retirement Tour: Who the Last Emperor Should Fight Next

By Adam Martin

The legendary MMA heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko added to his incredible resume this past weekend with a first-round knockout win over fellow former PRIDE star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at Bellator Japan. At age 43, Emelianenko is almost at the end of his MMA road, but he doesn't plan on hanging up his gloves just yet. If all goes to plan, Emelianenko will end his retirement tour sometime near the end of 2020 after fighting twice more -- once in the United States and once in Russia.

So now the question on everyone's minds is: What should those two fights be? Well, here are some of the options:

Ryan Bader

Even though Emelianenko lost to Bader in the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, a rematch is still a big fight that makes sense. Let's face it, Bellator doesn't have the deepest heavyweight division, and the win over Jackson put Emelianenko back into title contention, as he's still the biggest name in the division, and Bader is someone who always wants big fights. What better way for Emelianenko to end his career than beating Bader in a rematch to win the Bellator heavyweight title? This fight could take place as his next bout, or, if he beats someone else in his next fight, his final fight in Russia.

Josh Barnett

Emelianenko and Barnett were supposed to meet a decade ago in Affliction, but the bout never materialized. 10 years later, it very well could. These are two of the greatest heavyweight legends in MMA history, and they've never fought before, despite being in PRIDE, Affliction, Strikeforce, and Bellator at the same time. It would be a very intriguing fight if it did happen. Barnett vs. Emelianenko seems to make a lot of sense as the legend's last fight in the U.S.

Roy Nelson

Another fight we haven't seen before would be a matchup featuring Emelianenko against Nelson. These two have never squared off, but it would be a fun fight if it happened. Emelianenko is a big puncher, but Nelson has traditionally been one of the most durable fighters in MMA history. Both guys are in the latter stages of their careers, and it would be a shame if we never got to see these two popular heavyweights fight each other one time. I'd like to see this fight in Russia.

Wanderlei Silva

Silva is smaller than Emelianenko but he is still fighting at heavyweight, so don't count this matchup out just yet. Like the fight with Rampage, this is another fight between two of the biggest legends in MMA history, and two former PRIDE superstars. Though both guys are well into their forties now, fans would expect guaranteed violence if Emelianenko and Silva stepped into the cage against one another. This would be the perfect fight for the Russian audience.

Matt Mitrione

And finally, don't count out a rematch against Mitrione, who handed Emelianenko a knockout loss in his Bellator debut two years ago at Bellator NYC. Both men landed huge punches on each other's chins at the same time for a double knockdown, but Mitrione was able to get up faster and finish Emelianenko off. A rematch would likely produce another highlight-reel finish at the very least. This could be his next fight.

Regardless of who Fedor Emelianenko gets matched up against in his next two fights, it will be a huge spectacle; any time the legendary Russian steps into the cage, that's the case. But if all things go according to plan, 2020 will be the last year that he fights. So let's enjoy watching "The Last Emperor" while we still can.

Bellator 237
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson: Fedor Emelianenko def. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson via KO (punch) at 2:44 of Round 1.

Bellator 237: Fedor vs. Rampage took place December 29, 2019 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Due to time zone differences, the event aired on December 28, 2019 in the United States.

Click HERE for more Bellator Japan Post-Fight Analysis


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