A crew of UFC and mixed martial arts legends are assembling to attend Fedor Emelianenko’s retirement bout this Saturday at Bellator 290.
“The Last Emperor,” who is simply known by MMA enthusiasts as Fedor, will make his final walk to the cage on February 4 when he attempts to secure the Bellator heavyweight championship. He’ll take on the division’s current king, Ryan Bader, in a rematch. They first battled in January 2019 as part of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Final, and Bader took out The Last Emperor via first-round TKO.
Fedor — who is regarded by many as the greatest heavyweight mixed martial artist ever — has put together back-to-back wins since then. And the 46-year-old fighting icon will have one more opportunity to hoist gold before riding off into the sunset.
Bellator president Scott Coker was featured on MMA Fighting’s “The MMA Hour” on Wednesday to reveal a list of fighters who will be at The Kia Forum in Inglewood, California, to celebrate Fedor’s illustrious career. The names include Josh Barnett, Mark Coleman, Randy Couture, Renzo Gracie, Royce Gracie, Chael Sonnen, Frank Shamrock, Chuck Liddell, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Matt Hughes and Dan Henderson.
The Legends Will Join Fedor in the Bellator Cage After the Heavyweight Title Fight Concludes
Win or Lose, the names listed above will enter the Bellator cage after the heavyweight title tilt concludes to help send off The Last Emperor, Fedor told host Ariel Helwani.
“This is the end of an era,” Coker said. “The pages are really turning to the next chapter of mixed martial arts, but Fedor is, I think, the last emperor, and this is his last stand. And all of these gentlemen will go into the cage as Fedor is probably saying his speech, and he’s going to retire.
“They’re going to stand behind him and when Fedor gets up from putting his gloves down, they’re all going to be there to congratulate him. This is a ceremony and a great sendoff to the greatest heavyweight of all time.”
Coker Said the Ceremony Came Together Organically
Bellator originally didn’t plan a ceremony featuring mixed martial arts icons. But, Coker started receiving phone calls from the likes of Couture and Henderson, and that created a snowball effect.
“This happened in an organic manner,” Coker said. “We started getting calls from different fighters that wanted to come to the fight and watch Fedor fight. One of the first calls I got was from Randy Couture saying, ‘Hey, I’d like to attend his last fight.’
“And then Dan Henderson then said, ‘Hey, I’d really like to be there.’ Royce Gracie wanted to come, so he’s there. Mark Coleman will be in attendance. So, all of these legends of the sport that really are the roots of the foundation of MMA started calling and you know, we said this was a very special occasion. We’re going to have all these OGs, legends from the days that really built MMA — and why don’t we do something special?
Bellator 290 will mark the promotion’s first event on CBS. The co-headliner will feature Johnny Eblin’s first middleweight title defense since taking the belt from Gegard Mousasi in June 2022. He’ll fight Anatoly Tokov.