Scott Coker was left in awe of Fedor Emelianenko after his performance against Tim Johnson at Bellator 269 on Saturday night.
Emelianenko returned to the Bellator cage after a nearly two-year hiatus and starched Johnson with a brutal three-punch combination in less than two minutes. The first-round knockout of Johnson was his first win in front of his home country in over five years, and the 45-year-old Emelianenko proved he could still compete at a high level. Coker agreed and praised ‘The Last Emperor’ for such a historical moment during his post-fight virtual scrum with assembled media.
“That was really special,” said Coker (video via MMA Fighting). “I’ve been in the fight game for a long time and for him to really deliver in his hometown in front of all his fans, it was really fun to watch. It was a real special and like I said, being a promoter for so long, there’s a few times that just captures a moment in time and this was that night.
“I was like, wow, at 45 he can still bring it,” continued Coker. “He threw combinations at Tim that I haven’t seen for a little while, honestly. I think that the pressure of him being home really helped him. When I saw him yesterday, he seemed so focus and I think a lot of it was riding on the line for him. He’s here and he’s proud to be here, all his people here, it was just an amazing night. Wow. It was unbelievable.”
Coker watched the contest between Emelianenko and Johnson alongside head of Bellator Europe David Green, head coach of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) Javier Mendez and former UFC lightweight champion and pound-for-pound great Khabib Nurmagomedov. As the action unfolded, the trio was amazed by how sharp Emelianenko looked and said his quick combinations were some of the best they had seen from him in quite some time.
It was not long before one of those combinations found its target and sent Johnson crashing down to the canvas.
“I can’t remember the last time Tim was knocked out or if he’s ever been knocked out like that,” said Coker. “Fedor, he threw some combinations at Tim that I was like, man. His hand speed is still there and his twitch speed is still there. He proved it. He proved to me he’s still the greatest of all time.
“I was sitting around David Green, and Javier Mendez, and Khabib, and we were just talking about how, ‘Jesus. Unbelievable at 45, he can still bring it like that.’ It’s unbelievable, it’s like time just stopped for him.”
Emelianenko has two fights left on his current contract with Bellator, with the fight against Johnson being one of them. He has previously acknowledged that his time as a professional mixed martial artist is winding down and has a retirement plan already set, but that is the furthest thing from his mind right now.
Emelianenko was noncommittal about his future when asked about it during his post-fight virtual scrum, and so was Coker. Both men said that they would speak with each other in the next few weeks and determine the best course of action for the final appearance of Emelianenko under the Bellator banner.
“I’ll tell you, I haven’t talked to Fedor about it,” said Coker. “I just want to enjoy this moment and I think he just wants to enjoy this moment. So, you know. Talk to us in maybe two or three weeks and we’ll have an answer for you.”