‘The Last Emperor’ has already returned from one retirement, but this week, he may make it final.
The man considered an all-time great in MMA will be taking on a new challenge in an oversized surging contender that swings heavy leather, which is a risky proposition for any aging vet that’s taken a lot of punishment.
But that’s one thing about this sport, you gotta love the ones that bet big on themselves.
Fedor Emelianenko (39-6) has faced a who’s-who in this game, and has opted to face Timothy Johnson (15-7), a tough big man that does horrible things to people. Fedor is a tad slower, more vulnerable than ever and well... just older. Not to disrespect the man, it’s just that guys get figured out and Fedor is no exception. Johnson is a veritable threat here, given his power and handspeed, as well as his knack for closing distance at just the right moment.
But Fedor is still Fedor. His grappling is still fun to watch with his Sambo background. He’s still giving up just over thirty pounds to a taller guy that can put it on his chin. But he can still crack, and he can still fight smart as well as dig deep.
Vitaly Minakov (22-1) will also be in action in this Russia vs The World event, as he meets Florida’s Said Sowma (7-2). Sowma is a bit slower on his movement but has quality farm strength, as exhibited by his melting of Ronny Markes back in July. Minakov was Bellator champ for a reason, though. He makes opponents carry his weight and makes them eat punches while keeping them at range and drawing them in for impressive counters.
But there’s more! Usman Nurmagomedov (13-0) faces Finland’s Patrik Pietilä, because... reasons. Patrik has some submission chops, but it’s an odd choice of opponent for Usman at this stage in his development and career.
Anatoly Tokov (29-3) remains undefeated in Bellator with five straight wins, and remains one of the smartest and most fun middleweights in the division. A win here might put him closer to title contention against Gegard Mousasi, but he’ll have to get past Sharaf Davlatmurodov (18-3, 1 draw). Sharaf is an impressively violent fighter, but may get dragged into deep waters by a wilier veteran with some tricks up his sleeve.
Oh by the way, remember the lady that beat up that big dude? The one that got signed shortly thereafter by Bellator? Well, she’s gonna be on the card as well, but not against someone that weighs about four times as much as she does. Darina Mazdyuk (3-1) meets Poland’s Katarzyna Sadura (4-4) at flyweight.
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
And as a bonus, here’s the press conference for the event:
Fedor Emelianenko (233.5) vs. Tim Johnson (264) - Heavyweight
Vitaly Minakov (265) vs. Said Sowma (243) - Heavyweight
Usman Nurmagomedov (160) vs. Patrik Pietila (158.5) – 160lb catchweight
Sharaf Davlatmurodov (186) vs. Anatoly Tokov (185) - Middleweight
Kirill Sidelnikov (264) vs. Rab Truesdale (247) - Heavyweight
Darina Mazdyuk (125) vs. Katarzyna Sadura (125.5) - Flyweight
Nikita Mikhailov (135.5) vs. Brian Moore (136) - Bantamweight
It’s early action for this Bellator event as Bellator 269: Fedor vs Johnson kicks off at 12:30 PM ET EDT with prelims on YouTube. Main card starts at 3:00 PM EDT.