Duane Finley is reporting for FloCombat that multiple sources say a fight between Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko is in the works for early 2017. The fight would be promoted by Bellator MMA. Finley described the fight as “close to being a done deal.”
Fedor is the greatest fighter in heavyweight history, and arguably the greatest fighter of all time. Across a ten-year span, from December 2000 to June 2010, Fedor Emelianenko won 28 fights in a row. Critics charge that some of his opponents were cans, selected only to satiate the Japanese fan’s thirst for oddball matchups. And that’s true.
However, during that decade Fedor defeated four former UFC champions, one Pride FC champion, one former K-1 champion, two future K-1 champions, and two former Olympic medalists. He defeated eleven top-10 ranked fighters, two of them twice. And he did so in a division that is so unpredictable that no UFC heavyweight champion has ever successfully defended his belt more than twice.
That said, Fedor is human, and many times was moments away from losing. By 2010, his skills had declined only so very slightly, but what might have staggered him only to see Fedor come roaring back simply staggered him. And it was happening in a sport on the rise.
He lost to future UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, and Dan Henderson, all in a row. Then his management ratcheted the level of competition back, and he got wins over Jeff Monson, Satoshi Ishii, and Pedro Rizzo and retired. It was 2012.
Three-and-a-half years later he called up his big friend Vladimir Putin, asked if it was cool to unretire, and defeated the non-credible Singh Jaideep. Then he won a highly controversial majority decision over the highly-credible Fabio Maldonado.
Mitrione, however, represents a major step up in competition. He did exit the UFC on a two-fight losing streak, but it was to then surging fighters Ben Rothwell and Travis Browne. And Mitrione turned it around in Bellator, winning the last two, over Carl Seumanutafa and Oli Thompson.
The sole question is why? Fedor is 40. What does beating Matt Mitrione get him?