Fedor Emelianenko suffers first-round loss to Ryan Bader in retirement fight in Bellator 290 main event
from Damon Martin, at www.mmafighting.com/CLICK HERE to see more, and to catch Fight Photos….
Fedor Emelianenko called his shot for the final fight of his legendary career but there was no storybook ending after he fell to Ryan Bader in the Bellator 290 main event.
Win, lose or draw, the 46-year-old Russian had plans to retire after Saturday night regardless of the result but he wanted the opportunity to go out on top with a request for a rematch against Bader with the Bellator heavyweight title on the line. His night ended after Bader connected with a single shot behind the ear that sent Emelianenko crashing to the canvas.
Bader followed up with some vicious ground and pound until it was clear that Emelianenko was just absorbing damage with no real hope to escape. The fight was stopped at 2:30 in the opening round with Bader retaining his title and Emelianenko laying down his gloves afterwards to officially signify the end of his career.
“On one side, I’m sad of course that I didn’t deliver in the fight as I wanted to,” Emelianenko said following the loss. “But on the other side, I’m so happy all these people are here cheering for me and all these veteran fighters that have walked the path with me for the last almost 20 years are here to greet me, so I’m very happy.”
Emelianenko was joined in the cage by a group of MMA legends that included Mark Coleman, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Josh Barnett and Dan Henderson.
As for Bader, he was obviously happy with the win while still paying tribute to Emelianenko after sharing the cage together in his final fight. Bader also became the only fighter in history to hold two wins over Emelianenko in his illustrious career.
“It was bittersweet,” Bader said. “I idolized him like every other MMA fan and fighter coming up. He put the sport on his back. That is a legend right there. I’m so glad I could be a part of his story so thank you very much, Fedor.
“It’s not even the wins, it’s being able to compete against that man. That first fight was amazing and this one same deal. It’s such a buildup when you’re fighting Fedor and standing across the cage from him. It’s pretty surreal so to do it twice — I don’t care about going out and beating him twice and what not, I care about sharing the cage with that man. It was a good run.”
The heavyweights were quick to start with Bader showing no fear engaging with the legendary heavyweight and Emelianenko looking to set up his iconic overhand right hand.
The first big shot landed early in the opening round but it was Bader who clipped Emelianenko with a huge right hook of his own that sent the Russian down to the ground. Rather than invite tempt fate by inviting Emelianenko back to the feet, Bader quickly dove to the canvas to continue his assault.
It didn’t take long for Bader to start slipping through Emelianenko’s defense as his punches started finding a home with more and more precision. Eventually, Emelianenko was forced to turn to his side and Bader just continued hammering away with punishing shots.
With Emelianenko showing no signs of escape and Bader continuing to unleash a barrage of punches, the referee had no choice but to call a stop to the fight.
Despite the result, Emelianenko still managed to stay in good spirits as he greeted all of the fighters who came to the event to share the moment with him.
“I’m so happy to see all the fighters that are here to come and support,” Emelianenko said. “I’m so happy to see you, thank you so much. I’m [now] going to dedicate my time to my coaching and to my team.”
Emelianenko’s career ends at 40-7 with one no contest while widely being considered the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
As for Bader, he continues to reign at heavyweight in Bellator while moving his record to a perfect 6-0 with one no contest through seven fights in the division.