Bellator 290 results: Fedor Emelianenko says farewell after quick loss to Ryan Bader in retirement fight
INGLEWOOD, Calif – Ryan Bader said all week that he didn’t mind being “the bad guy” against Fedor Emelianenko in his retirement fight. A man of his word, he ran through “The Last Emperor.”
Bader spoiled Emelianenko’s final appearance in an MMA cage by making quick work of him, winning by first-round TKO after just 2 minutes and 30 seconds to retain his heavyweight title. The fight served as the headliner for Bellator’s debut on CBS at Kia Forum..
The speed difference between Bader, 39, and 46-year-old Emelianenko was evident from the start. It didn’t take long for Bader (31-7 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) to clip Emelianenko (40-7 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) with a right hand that staggered him back onto the canvas. Bader pounced, then settled into position before unleashing punches and hammerfists while controlling one of Emelianenko’s wrists. It left referee Herb Dean no choice but to step in.
Afterward, Bader admitted he didn’t exactly enjoy what had to be done.
“It was bittersweet. I idolize him like every other MMA fan and fighter coming up,” Bader said before addressing the crowd and Emelianenko directly. “First off, get on your feet and give that man a hand for what he’s done for the sport. He put the sport on his back. That man is a legend right there, and I’m so glad I could be a part of his story – so thank you very much, Fedor. You’re the man. But I had to come in and do my job at the end of the day. I got the win, and then you’ve got to move on.”
Fedor Emelianenko lays down his gloves surrounded by legends!
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Moving on is what Emelianenko will be doing as he announced before the fight that he would hang up his gloves. To honor him, Bellator invited a who’s who of MMA luminaries who were in attendance, including former opponents Mark Coleman and Dan Henderson, as well as Josh Barnett, Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Matt Hughes, “Rampage” Jackson, and Frank Shamrock.
Emelianenko was touched by the show of appreciation by his peers and the adoring crowd.
“On one side, I’m sad, of course, that I didn’t deliver in the fight like I wanted to,” Emelianenko said. “But on the other, I’m so happy that all these people are here cheering for me, and all these veteran fighters that walked the path with me for almost the last 20 years are here to greet me. I’m very happy. I’m so happy to see all the fighters that are here to support me. Thank you so much.”
Farewell to Fedor: 'The People's Forever Heavyweight Champion'
Emelianenko, who made his professional debut in May of 2000, was considered the pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter in the world during his heyday when he competed for Pride FC. Although he never fought for the UFC, he holds victories over a number of former UFC champions. He leaves the sport as one of the greatest fighters of all time and is considered by many as the greatest heavyweight.
The fight between Bader and Emelianenko was a rematch of their 2019 Bellator heavyweight grand prix final, which Bader won in 35 seconds to first claim the title. He expressed an appreciation for being part of Emelianenko’s stories career.
“It’s not even the wins. It’s being able to compete against that man,” Bader said. “That first fight was amazing, and this one – same deal. It’s such a buildup whenever you’re fighting Fedor and standing across that cage from him. It’s pretty surreal, so to do it twice – I don’t care about beating him twice. I care about sharing the cage with that man. It was a good run.”
Complete Bellator 290 results:
Johnny Eblen def. Anatoly Tokov via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
Brennan Ward def. Sabah Homasi via TKO (head kick and punches) – Round 2, 1:34
Lorenz Larkin def. Mukhamed Berkhamov via knockout (elbow) – Round 1, 1:41
Henry Corrales def. Akhmed Magomedov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ali Isaev vs. Steve Mowry ends in a unanimous draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)
Chris Gonzalez def. Max Rohskopf via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 1:22
Grant Neal def. Karl Albrektsson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Diana Avsaragova def. Alejandra Lara via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Nikita Mikhailov def. Darrion Caldwell via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 290.
Bellator 290 salaries: Ryan Bader, Johnny Eblen lead disclosed purses