Fedor Emelianenko is returning to competition later this year as Bellator heads to Moscow, Russia.
The former PRIDE heavyweight champion’s opponent was recently announced, and it was met with disappointment from many long term fans. Tim Johnson is of course a good fighter and recent interim Bellator heavyweight title challenger, but many just expected a “legends match” when booking Fedor’s homecoming and retirement tour.
Several former champions and big names are now outside the UFC, such Anderson Silva, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, or even Tito Ortiz, but one fighter particularly disappointed in this is Josh Barnett.
Over a decade since their headlining Affliction bout was scrapped, the former UFC heavyweight champion and fellow PRIDE star had campaigned for months to get the Fedor match up. It obviously didn’t get booked, and he expressed his disappointment on social media.
My social media has been inundated seeing so many people confused & disappointed about me not getting the Fedor fight.— (@JoshLBarnett) August 5, 2021
Understand that there's lots of people that are involved in making such a call so it's hard to know who made it and for what reason, but I was game & wanted it.
I'm disappointed too but things keep moving and I hope for a great and entertaining fight for all.— (@JoshLBarnett) August 5, 2021
Prior to this, Barnett said that while he knows there’s not a lot of time left to make it happen, “it would really suck” if the Fedor fight never materialized. Barnett, who considers Emelianenko a friend, has tried for years to get that bout between two PRIDE heavyweight stars. The closest it has gone to happening was during that aforementioned Affliction event in 2009, but plans got botched after Barnett failed his drug test.
Barnett, now 43, last saw action in October 2020, where he competed in bare knuckle boxing and got a TKO win over former KSW champ Marcin Rozalski. His last MMA bout was back on his second stint with the UFC, where he submitted fellow former UFC champ Andrei Arlovski in 2016.
Fedor is currently 44-years-old and has won three of his last four fights with Bellator. He beat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in his most recent bout back in December 2019. Prior to that he lost to two-division Bellator champ Ryan Bader and knocked out UFC stars Chael Sonnen and Frank Mir.