In his prime, Fedor Emelianenko had a mystique about him that other fighters could only dream of. First of all, many believe that he’s the greatest athlete never to fight for the UFC. Considering he’s arguably got the body of a light-heavyweight and spent over ten years crushing people bigger than him, there’s some truth there.
Of course, he’s 42 now so he’s getting on. ‘The Last Emperor’ is no longer the indomitable force that he once was, but he’s still a massive draw. During his time with PRIDE in Japan, he had legendary status. In short, it made perfect sense to headline a co-promoted event between RIZIN and Bellator in Tokyo.
He took on another legend of the sport in Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. The former UFC champion is a shadow of his former self, but in terms of name-value, they’re two of the most recognisable in all of MMA. Fedor ran through ‘Rampage,’ but the bigger story is that he’s finally retiring from fighting.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) December 29, 2019
There really isn’t much to say about this one. Jackson weighed in for the fight heavier than he has ever done before. The warning signs were there because he’s been notoriously unmotivated in the past. He loves the good things in life, namely videogames, food and women but that’s not going to help you in an MMA fight.
It was quickly apparent that Fedor was the faster fighter. He unleashed quick combinations with his hands that left ‘Rampage’ rattled. He offered nothing in terms of offence and was eventually dropped by the Russian legend in the first round. The referee intervened to stop him from taking punishment, but in all seriousness, he never looked like he wanted to be in there.
Fedor got the 30th knockout win of his career, but ‘Rampage’ really disappointed. He looked more like Bob Sapp than a former UFC champion. Some fans have even accused him of taking a dive because he appears to tap out too. The fastest he moved was to photobomb Fedor’s postfight photo with his teammates.
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) December 29, 2019
Finally, it looks like Fedor is going to retire from MMA. His legacy will see him go down as one of the greatest fighters of all-time, but there will always be regret that he never fought for the UFC. In his post-fight interview with ‘Big’ John McCarthy, he made it clear that this will probably be the last time he steps into a cage with bad intentions. He said:
“Unfortunately and regretfully I want to say perhaps my career stops here, on a win in Japan where my career started. I’m finishing my career here.”
It’s always possible that Scott Coker lures him back with another payday, but it does seem like he’s finally finished. We’re happy to see him walk away in Japan, where he made his name holding his head high.
— Byron Craig (@TheByronCraig) December 29, 2019
Elsewhere in the Saitama Super Arena, Michael ‘Venom’ Cage won by knockout against somebody you’ve never heard of. More frustratingly, Lorenz Larkin was also on the card. He came in overweight but won in style. It would have made total sense for those two men to fight but that’s Bellator for you.
Former lightweight champion Michael Chandler also got his name on the winning sheet as he looks to surge back into contention. This was a very strange event in Tokyo. It had more of an exhibition feel than an actual competitive fight card. Apart from the main event, none of the big names had serious opponents.