The legendary career of former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko will come to an end in 2023. Emelianenko will fight for the last time when he faces heavyweight champion Ryan Bader for the title at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California at Bellator 290 on February 4. Postcard will air live on CBS, the first time the promotion has aired live on the network, and the first time MMA has aired live on CBS since 2010.
The fight, which will be the promotion’s first for 2023, is a rematch of the fight between the two in January 2019. Bader won that fight via TKO in just 35 seconds to win the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix and the then vacant championship. The win made Bader, who was also a light heavyweight champion, a two-weight champion.
“We have worked tirelessly to build this brand into the global powerhouse it is today, and a prime time slot on CBS has always been one of our key goals,” said Bellator President Scott Cocker. “With a healthy roster full of many of the world’s best fighters, as well as elite up-and-coming prospects and legends of the game, I’m thrilled to be showcasing this event on America’s most popular network.”
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Bader lost the light heavyweight title to Vadim Nemkov. He also lost to Corey Anderson in the light heavyweight division of the World Grand Prix. After losing to Anderson, Bader defended the heavyweight title against interim champion Valentin Moldavsky and Cheick Kongo.
Emelianenko became an MMA legend during his tenure with PRIDE FC. Debuting in the Japanese promotion in 2002 by defeating Semmy Schilt and Heath Herring, Emelianenko became the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion by defeating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the first fight of their incredible rivalry.
After a 27-fight winning streak in Rings, PRIDE, Affliction and Strikeforce, Emelianenko lost three fights with Strikeforce. After five victories, Emelianenko signed with Bellator and made his promotional debut in June 2017. Since then, he’s gone 4-2, losing to Bader and Matt Mitrione, with victories over UFC veterans Frank Mir, Chael Sonnen, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Timothy. Johnson.
Emelianenko remains the greatest fighter in MMA history to never fight in the UFC. His career record is 40-6.
In the co-main event, Yoel Romero will take on the winner of the World Light Heavyweight Grand Prix final between champion Vadim Nemkov and challenger Corey Anderson for the light heavyweight title. The Nemkov vs. Anderson fight will take place at Bellator 288 on November 18.