Fedor Emelianenko suffers first-round loss to Ryan Bader in retirement fight in Bellator 290 main event


Fedor Emelianenko called his shot for the final fight of his legendary career but there was no storybook ending after he fell to Ryan Bader in the Bellator 290 main event.

Win, lose or draw, the 46-year-old Russian had plans to retire after Saturday night regardless of the result but he wanted the opportunity to go out on top with a request for a rematch against Bader with the Bellator heavyweight title on the line. His night ended after Bader connected with a single shot behind the ear that sent Emelianenko crashing to the canvas.

Bader continued with some brutal ground and pound, until Emelianenko realized that he was only absorbing the damage without any real chance of escape. The fight was stopped at 2:30 in the opening round with Bader retaining his title and Emelianenko laying down his gloves afterwards to officially signify the end of his career.

“I’m sorry, of course, that I failed to deliver in this fight,” Emelianenko stated after the loss. “But on the other side, I’m so happy all these people are here cheering for me and all these veteran fighters that have walked the path with me for the last almost 20 years are here to greet me, so I’m very happy.”

Emelianenko was joined by a number of MMA greats, including Quinton Jackson (Rampage), Randy Couture and Dan Henderson.

As for Bader, he was obviously happy with the win while still paying tribute to Emelianenko after sharing the cage together in his final fight. Bader also became the only fighter in history to hold two wins over Emelianenko in his illustrious career.

“It was bittersweet,” Bader said. I idolized him as every other MMA fighter and fan growing up. He was a champion of the sport. That is a legend right there. I’m so glad I could be a part of his story so thank you very much, Fedor.

“It’s not even the wins, it’s being able to compete against that man. This fight is the same as that first one. It’s such a buildup when you’re fighting Fedor and standing across the cage from him. It is surreal to have done it twice. I do not care about beating Fedor twice or whatnot, but I care about being in the same cage as him. It was a good run.”

The heavyweights got on board quickly with Bader engaging the legend heavyweight champion and Emelianenko seeking to establish his famous overhand right-hand.

The first big shot landed early in the opening round but it was Bader who clipped Emelianenko with a huge right hook of his own that sent the Russian down to the ground. Bader did not invite fate to tempt Emelianenko by inviting him back to his feet. Instead, he dived to the canvas and continued to attack.

It didn’t take long for Bader to start slipping through Emelianenko’s defense as his punches started finding a home with more and more precision. Eventually, Emelianenko was forced to turn to his side and Bader just continued hammering away with punishing shots.

With Emelianenko showing no signs of escape and Bader continuing to unleash a barrage of punches, the referee had no choice but to call a stop to the fight.

Despite his defeat, Emelianenko managed to remain positive as he welcomed all the fighters to the occasion to enjoy the moment together.

“I’m so happy to see all the fighters that are here to come and support,” Emelianenko said. Thank you very much, Emelianenko. I’m [now] going to dedicate my time to my coaching and to my team.”

Emelianenko’s career ends at 40-7 with one no contest while widely being considered the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.

As for Bader, he continues to reign at heavyweight in Bellator while moving his record to a perfect 6-0 with one no contest through seven fights in the division.

Source: https://www.mmafighting.com/2023/2/4/23586267/fedor-emelianenko-suffers-first-round-loss-to-ryan-bader-in-retirement-fight-bellator-290-main-event?rand=96749