A good chunk of MMA fans past and present would easily consider Fedor Emelianenko as the sport’s greatest. But for Ryan Bader, the man whom “The Last Emperor” will face in his swan song this weekend, there is another name that deserves the “best of all-time tag.”
“I would say Cain Velasquez [was the best] when he’s healthy,” Bader told MMA Fighting. “But the only problem is Cain couldn’t stay healthy for so long and didn’t have the résumé and the fights that Fedor did.
“I would say Cain could go out there and be the best heavyweight of all time.
Velasquez had two stints as the UFC’s undisputed heavyweight champion before leaving MMA competition to pursue professional wrestling. Now 40, the AKA representative likely won’t be mounting any comeback any time soon, if at all.
But if Velasquez and Fedor were ever booked for a fight, Bader is picking the former.
“If you’re going to put a label on somebody, I would say Fedor would be [the one],” he explained. “He didn’t come over to the UFC but it’s not taking anything away from him. He built a legacy. He fought those guys [in Japan], beat a lot of those guys.
“But if you were to put [on a fight] on their best night, Fedor versus Cain, I’m going to take Cain.”
Bader and Fedor will be meeting for the second time on Saturday at Bellator 290, where they will fight for the organization’s heavyweight title. The two first fought each other in 2019 with Bader winning via TKO inside 35 seconds.