Category Archives: Fedor Emelianenko

What did we get for our money at Bellator NYC, and would we spend it all over again?

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Filed under: Bellator, News

A double knockdown. A “legends” fight between two 40-year-olds. A title fight that ended with a floppy foot and a “Three Stooges” gag. A hype train derailed the instant it left the station.

This is just some of what we got for our $50 when Bellator returned to pay-per-view on Saturday night. Whether or not you think it was worth the money, you have to admit it was memorable. Weird might be the better term for it, but weird is a type of entertainment.

Considering what Bellator has to work with, it might be a type that the Viacom-owned promotion has to get used to. Of the six fights featured on the pay-per-view portion of Bellator NYC, two were legitimate title fights, two were nostalgia-based old-timers affairs, one was essentially a local shoutout to the Gracie clan, and one was a coming out party for a blue-chip recruit.

So how did it all work out?

The welterweight title fight between champion Douglas Lima and UFC import Lorenz Larkinwas “underwhelming,” according to the not inaccurate assessment of potential future Bellator welterweight title challenger Rory MacDonald. The lightweight title scrap ended in a controversial upset victory for Brent Primus after a strange injury to Michael Chandler gave way to unintentional slapstick comedy.

The old-timers? Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko raced each other to the mat before Emelianenko once again lost his tenuous grip on consciousness, and then Chael Sonnen out-wrestled Wanderlei Silva before lapsing back into self-parody just in time for his post-fight interview.

That Gracie Jiu-Jitsu commercial? It went about like you’d expect, even if it was wedged bafflingly into the latter half of the broadcast to stifle momentum before the main event. The coming out party for Aaron Pico got spoiled by Zach Freeman, who reminded us that having experience matters more than having a Wikipedia page.

But when all was said and done, were you not entertained? Didn’t you feel like you came away with plenty to talk (and laugh and shake your head) at?

If the goal was to give us an event that we didn’t feel like we could miss, yet also one that didn’t feel like a weak knockoff of the UFC, it’s hard not to call this a success.

But coming out of Bellator NYC, it does feel like we’ve seen the glimpses of a workable strategy. Bellator has legitimate, relevant talents on its roster, but they don’t draw the masses. It also has fighters who were talented and relevant a decade ago, but who still put butts in seats, and the best of those realize that with less and less steak to sell, they need to focus more on the sizzle these days.

When combined with the inherent tendency toward the bizarre that exists in a sport like MMA, you have yourself a recipe for some memorable nights. You can get people talking, which is the first step to getting them interested. The appeal of a big Bellator event might never come with the exact same sales proposition as a UFC PPV, but that can be a feature instead of a bug.

What remains to be seen is whether or not it’s a viable way to make money over the long term. A few Bellator PPVs a year, when sprinkled with just the right blend of weirdness and seriousness? Sure, the hardcores will watch that. But are there enough hardcores buying enough events? Will we still want to see this plan in action a few years down the road, or does it only work as a bridge to something more traditional?

These are the questions Bellator is going to have to answer eventually. For now, all it has to ask itself is if we had enough fun – of one kind or another – to consider coming back for more.

And I admit it, I did. Even if I’m still not totally sure how or why.

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Glory days are over for B.J. Penn and Fedor Emelianenko, so why won't anyone tell them?

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC

The circumstances alone tell you how far B.J. Penn has fallen. Sunday night, a relatively lackluster UFC Fight Night event on cable TV, and he’s there opening the main-card portion of the show against a journeyman fighter coming off a two-year layoff.

Even worse, he loses.

This is the reality now for Penn. The UFC keeps giving him more chances to turn things around, lowering the bar each time he fails to clear it, and Penn keeps finding new ways to trip over it. This one – a majority decision loss to Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City< Okla. – wasn’t even as bad as some of the others.

He didn’t get knocked out. He didn’t get embarrassed. In fact, he came closer to winning than he has in at least six years. A solid right hand put Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC) down in the second round, and a few followup strikes from Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC) threatened to finish him off.

But when Siver didn’t roll over and quit, Penn faced a real problem. Whatever he had, he’d just spent. Siver came out for the third round looking to do some work whereas Penn looked like he’d rather go home. Surviving seemed like enough for him then, and he barely accomplished that.

Put that in perspective, would you? The great B.J. Penn, a former two-division champ, one of the best lightweights in UFC history, and now he’s lucky to survive three rounds with an aging and rusty Dennis Siver. If he can’t do any better than that, why do it at all?

It’s a question you could just as easily put to Fedor Emelianenko, another ghost from MMA’s past who added to his list of losses this past weekend. Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA)  got put to sleep by Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) at Bellator NYC on Saturday night, which was his reward for being the slower party in the immediate aftermath of a rare double knockdown.

While Penn’s latest loss added to the worst losing streak of his career, Emelianenko’s snapped an actual winning streak. You know, sort of. Fighting in a string of smaller promotions in recent years has given Emelianenko the advantage of the friendliest possible matchmaking, along with some friendly judging to serve as an extra safety net.

It wasn’t until he signed with Bellator that he was forced to fight a real heavyweight for the first time in several years, and it ended with him laid out on the mat a little over a minute into the fight. Like Penn, he now finds himself a long way from the glory days of 2009.

And those days, they aren’t coming back. Not for Emelianenko and not for Penn. They must know that on some level, but they keep at it because they can. They can still pocket a paycheck for it. There are enough people for whom their names still mean something.

They have not yet been forcibly ejected from the sport, which means that as long they’re willing to take the beatings, they still have a home here. The pain and the public embarrassment is the rent they pay. As long as they regard it as a fair exchange, and as long as no one close to them can convince them to stop making it, here we are.

This is nothing new in combat sports, but that doesn’t make it fun to sit through. The current climate rewards name brands and nostalgia over actual skill and talent, meaning it’s never been a better time to be a past-his-prime fighter willing to trade what’s left of his reputation and brain cells for a few more nights in the cage.

Of course, another way of looking at it is that it’s never been a worse time to be one of those fighters, since those late career letdowns don’t come for free. There’s a price to be paid, and it’s not just in cable bills and pay-per-view dollars.

Penn and Emelianenko both seem eager to keep paying it, even if they might not know for years what the final bill comes to. The rest of us, we seem strangely addicted to this specific brand of sadness. We want to see fighters we know, even when it’s painfully apparent that the name is all that’s left of the man. We get that jolt of recognition, followed by the depressing reminder of their ongoing and inevitable deterioration.

Eventually, maybe we’ll decide it’s not such a good trade. Then again, we keep waiting for guys like Penn and Emelianenko to decide the same thing. So far neither one of us is truly ready to quit.

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and UFC Fight Night 112, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

So, when is Bellator returning to pay-per-view? Scott Coker has a plan

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Filed under: Bellator, News

(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

NEW YORK – Bellator still has a future on pay-per-view, though it differs from MMA’s other top promotion.

Bellator’s second PPV event took place Saturday and featured a mix of familiar names and top prospects. The fight promotion, widely considered the No. 2 MMA organization behind the UFC, offered Bellator NYC, which took place at iconic Madison Square Garden.

Despite some unexpected results, it set up big fights for the future. It also underscored the different PPV strategies for Bellator and the UFC.

The Viacom-owned Bellator is not trying to replicate the UFC’s formula, which includes approximately a dozen major PPV shows per year, with 30 or so smaller events carried by its cable partners and UFC Fight Pass, its digital streaming service.

Bellator, instead, will air 20 or so annual events on Spike, but PPV is still in the plans, according to Bellator President Scott Coker. However, he tells USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie the next PPV show probably won’t come until the first quarter of 2018, and they will remain infrequent offerings. However, he said he was encouraged by Bellator NYC’s success.

“This was the biggest event in the company’s history,” he says. “We’ve got great fighters here, and I think people are seeing the talent on this roster. … This is a worthy (organization), and we’re right there at the top too.”

He says Bellator is focused on being a fan- and fighter-friendly organization with its own matchmaking style and production elements. Its biggest event to date wasn’t perfect, but it had some stunning outcomes and viral moments, both of which help justify a $50 price tag for a product otherwise available for free on basic cable.

Bellator NYC, though, had a stacked lineup, which helped draw an announced attendance of 12,133. Fight-hype specialist Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) earned a decision win over longtime rival Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in the headliner, and heavy-handed Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) scored a 74-second win over famed heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in a co-headliner that featured a rare double knockdown. Two new champs were crowned in three title fights, and unheralded Zach Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) submitted highly touted lightweight prospect Aaron Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in just 24 seconds.

They weren’t all the best outcomes for Bellator’s matchmakers or marketing team, but the unexpected results created buzz and garnered fans’ attention.

“It’s such an exciting time to be a fan of MMA,” Sonnen says. “I thought the card as a whole was outstanding. … We did some pretty good business.”

Although Bellator debuted in 2009, the product has taken its current form only recently under the helm of Coker, who was hired as president in June 2014. The longtime combat-sports promoter knows how to put on an extravagant event, as his company roster attests.

“There’s more of it to come,” says Mitrione, whose bout with Emelianenko quickly became a viral hit. “They know what they’re doing. We’re leading the industry now, so now it’s (a matter of) what they can do to lead from the front, not chase from the back.”

The UFC comparisons are likely to remain, but Coker says he’s focused on Bellator’s own progress.

“People can compare us to whoever,” Coker says. “At the end of the day, we are an organization that’s come a long way in three years. We have record ratings, record sponsors, record international distribution. It’s owned by Viacom. That’s one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world. It’s one of the most powerful. It’s a good day when you have that kind of support.”

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Why Bellator NYC's Matt Mitrione doesn't want a rematch with Fedor Emelianenko

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, Featured Videos, News, Videos

NEW YORK – Matt Mitrione earned his signature career victory on Saturday when he knocked Fedor Emelianenko out cold in the first round of the Bellator NYC co-main event.

Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) has spent his entire career fighting under the Bellator and UFC banners. The brutal 74-second knockout of an all-time heavyweight great in Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) was his most significant to date, and in Mitrione’s mind, it puts him atop the world divisional rankings.

“I do work, (and) I believe I’m the best heavyweight in the world,” Mitrione told MMAjunkie after the event, which took place at Madison Square Garden in New York. “Whoever they say it’s go time with, let’s go for it.”

Although the fight was short and sweet, it was memorable. It nearly ended in a double knockout when the fighters landed simultaneous punches that dropped the other. Mitrione was quicker to recover and pounced for the finish as he jumped on the downed Emelianenko and landed a series of fight-ending strikes on the former PRIDE champion.

“I was able to get on top of him before he was able to get on top of me,” Mitrione said. “He’s easily the best fighter I’ve ever fought. It’s wild to say that (because) I’ve had rounds under my belt before, and I only fought him for two minutes, and I can tell you that he’s that good. He’s very, very good.”

Mitrione shared a moment with Emelianenko following Bellator NYC’s post-event press conference and said they discussed potentially training together. “Meathead” said it’s not a lock, though, and he doesn’t rule out a rematch with the Russian.

With the Bellator heavyweight title currently vacant, Bellator President Scott Coker said it’s possible Mitrione could fight for the belt when it’s reintroduced to the organization.

Mitrione said he’s not sure who matchmakers would put on the other side of the cage in a potential title affair, but after doing consecutive fight camps for Emelianenko (their original February date was called off at the last minute), he’s seeking a fresh opponent.

“As long as it’s not Fedor right now,” Mitrione said of his next fight. “I don’t want to have three fight camps for Fedor back to back to back. If I have somebody else in between, that’s all I really care about.”

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, Featured Videos, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Chael Sonnen (sort of) walks back callout of Fedor Emelianenko, who vows to keep fighting

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, Featured Videos, News, Videos

Chael Sonnen had some pointed words for Fedor Emelianenko after grinding out Wanderlei Silva at Bellator NYC.

Sitting beside Emelianenko at the event’s post-fight presser, Sonnen was a bit more restrained.

“I would never kick a guy when he’s down – I respect Fedor,” Sonnen (30-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) said backstage after his main-event win on pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden in New York City. “That was my way of pulling him back up.”

It didn’t necessarily sound that way when Sonnen used his post-fight speech to call out Emelianenko, a target on the legends butt-whipping tour he’s touted since coming out of retirement to sign with Bellator.

“I made Tito Ortiz tap out in less than a minute,” Sonnen said. “I got Wanderlei Silva out of here in the main event. And when it comes to you, Fedor Emelianenko, I only need one shot.

“Now, you asked me for an autograph in the back. I patted you on your doughy head and told you I would think about it. But I’ve made my decision. I’ll give you that signature, but it’s going to be on the bottom of a contract, and you’re going to find out just like Wanderlei and Tito (Ortiz) – you never piss off a gangster.”

Of course, the monologue was nothing out of character for Sonnen, who’s a master of cutting a promo on the post-fight mic. But this callout came just after Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) had been brutally knocked out by Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), and it wasn’t necessarily the best timing.

After Mitrione and Emelianenko’s first fight was canceled due to Mitrione’s kidney stones, the heavyweights nearly ended their fight with a double knockout before Mitrione recovered and finished Emelianenko.

All too aware of Emelianenko’s legendary status, Mitrione made sure to give praise to his opponent. Sonnen wasn’t going to contradict that, no matter what he might’ve previously said.

“That match that he had could have gone either way,” he continued at the presser. “Mitrione’s a rough son-of-a-bitch, and people just don’t understand that.

“All sorts of a mess was out there. I do want to make that clear, though. I respect Fedor, but I think that he and I’s path are going to cross sooner or later. Fedor gave up 20 pounds tonight to fight Mitrione – the difference between Fedor and I is less than that, so I wouldn’t complain. Fedor didn’t complain about taking on Mitrione and going up in size. I wouldn’t complain about the discrepancy in our weight.”

Asked about whether he’d answer Sonnen’s call, Emelianenko seemed to have more concerns about the scale.

“We’re in different weight divisions,” he said with a smirk via his translator.

But for those who might have expected the Russian former PRIDE champion to be going back into retirement after such a violent loss, Emelianenko is going to disappoint those who want to see him hang it up – and encourage those who hope for a comeback.

“Yes, because I am a fighter,” he said when asked if Saturday’s night’s fight was the end of his career.

And if he’s hesitant about taking on a bloated Sonnen as the bigger man, he’d be happy to take the chance to write a different ending to his fight with Mitrione.

“Certainly, I would love to have the rematch with Matt,” Emelianenko said. “It happened so the movements were just mutual, and Matt used the situation.”

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, Featured Videos, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator NYC highlights: Watch the ridiculous finish to Matt Mitrione vs. Fedor Emelianenko

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured Videos, News, Videos

In Saturday’s Bellator NYC co-headliner, we nearly saw our first double-knockout in a major MMA promotion.

Instead, Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) survived the double knockdown and then pounced to force a first-round stoppage win over famed heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA).

The fight took place at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Check out the highlights above.

Also see:

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured Videos, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Matt Mitrione disses Warriors, lobbies President Trump for White House visit after beating Fedor

If the NBA champion Golden State Warriors want to diss President Trump and skip a traditional visit to the White House by a major title team, Matt Mitrione has made it clear he would like to go in their place.

Mitrione survived a crazy double knockdown against Fedor Emelianenko on Saturday night, popping back up to knock out the legendary heavyweight for the biggest win of his career at Bellator NYC.

Surely Mitrione was on a high in the moments afterward. And so during his post-fight interview, he spoke directly to Trump to make a request while throwing shade at the Warriors.

“Hey, President Trump, (expletive) the Golden State Warriors!” Mitrione said. “I’m a real warrior. I’ll come to the White House. I’ll be good and honorable.”

So, yeah, that happened out of nowhere. Thing is, we probably shouldn’t put it past Trump to grant Mitrione’s request, either, because why not?

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator NYC results: Matt Mitrione KOs Fedor Emelianenko after crazy double knockdown

As if things couldn’t get any weirder at the Garden.

In another bizarre fight ending at Bellator NYC, Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) and Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) knocked each other down at the same time before Mitrione recovered to knock out Emelianenko for good.

The heavyweight bout was the co-main event of today’s Bellator NYC event at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It aired on pay-per-view following the Bellator 180 card on Spike with prelims on MMAjunkie.

The fight was over 74 seconds after it started, with Mitrione pounding Emelianenko unconscious with right hands, violently ending the Russian’s promotional debut.

Mitrione and Emelianenko had just started to warm up when the action got wild. The two threw right hands at the exact same instant and connected simultaneously, sending both back to the mat.

Although the two immediately righted themselves, Mitrione was quicker to capitalize on the exchange, wrapping his left arm over Emelianenko’s head and punching with his right. When Emelianenko went limp and sagged to the canvas, the fight was over.

Mitrione is now 3-0 since signing with Bellator and puts the most notable name of his career on his resume as a win. Emelianenko, meanwhile, is forced to confront his mortality after coming out of retirement in 2015 to beat an overmatched Jaideep Singh and barely escape a previous fight against UFC vet Fabio Maldonado on home soil in Russia.

Up-to-the-minute Bellator NYC results include:

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s Matt Erickson and Mike Bohn contributed to this report on site in New York.)

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator NYC staff picks: Anyone picking Wanderlei or Fedor in their Bellator debuts?

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News

Sonnen
vs.
Silva
Emelianenko
vs.
Mitrione
Lima
vs.
Larkin
Chandler
vs.
Primus
Freeman
vs.
Pico
Davis
vs.
Bader
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 53-40
sonnen2017
Sonnen
(54%)
mitrione2017
Mitrione
(52%)
larkin2017
Larkin
(65%)
chandler2017
Chandler
(92%)
pico2017
Pico
(56%)
pdavis2017
Davis
(53%)
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 63-30
wsilva2017
Silva
mitrione2017
Mitrione
larkin2017
Larkin
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
bader2017
Bader
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 62-31
sonnen2017
Sonnen
mitrione2017
Mitrione
larkin2017
Larkin
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
bader2017
Bader
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 58-35
trophy copy 2015 Champion
wsilva2017
Silva
mitrione2017
Mitrione
larkin2017
Larkin
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
pdavis2017
Davis
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 58-35
trophy copy 2016 Champion
sonnen2017
Sonnen
mitrione2017
Mitrione
larkin2017
Larkin
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
pdavis2017
Davis
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 56-37
sonnen2017
Sonnen
mitrione2017
Mitrione
douglaslima2017
Lima
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
bader2017
Bader
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 55-38
sonnen2017
Sonnen
mitrione2017
Mitrione
larkin2017
Larkin
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
pdavis2017
Davis
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 55-38
trophy copy 2014 Champion
sonnen2017
Sonnen
mitrione2017
Mitrione
larkin2017
Larkin
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
bader2017
Bader
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 54-39
sonnen2017
Sonnen
mitrione2017
Mitrione
douglaslima2017
Lima
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
pdavis2017
Davis
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 53-40
wsilva2017
Silva
mitrione2017
Mitrione
larkin2017
Larkin
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
bader2017
Bader
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 49-44
sonnen2017
Sonnen
mitrione2017
Mitrione
larkin2017
Larkin
chandler2017
Chandler
pico2017
Pico
bader2017
Bader

For just the second time in its history, Bellator is headed to pay-per-view this weekend – and it will do it at the world’s most famous arena.

Bellator NYC takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The main card airs on pay-per-view following Bellator 180, which has a main card on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) and Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) finally have a chance to settle their years-old grudge, which started when both were in the UFC. The light heavyweights meet in the headliner, which has Sonnen a modest -150 favorite. He’s a bigger pick with our MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts, though, who are giving him a 7-3 advantage in the picks.

In the co-main event, heavyweight great Fedor Emelianenko (36-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) meets Matt Mitrione (11-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) in a fight that was delayed from February, when the two were supposed to meet before Mitrione suffered from kidney stones on fight day and was pulled from the bout. The oddsmakers have the fight as a virtual pick’em with Mitrione at -120 to Emelianenko’s -110 – but our staff members are calling it as unanimous for Mitrione, 10-0.

The blockbuster card has a trio of title fights, two of which take place on the main card. Welterweight champion Douglas Lima (28-6 MMA, 10-2 BMMA) puts his belt on the line against promotional newcomer Lorenz Larkin (18-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), who will make his Bellator debut after defecting from the UFC. The challenger is a 2-1 favorite, and eight of our 10 pickers are going with him to take Lima’s belt.

Lightweight champ Michael Chandler (16-3 MMA, 13-3 BMMA) is an 8-1 favorite over Brent Primus (7-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA). To little surprise, he’s also a unanimous pick to retain his belt.

And in the Bellator 180 portion of the event on Spike, just ahead of the pay-per-view, light heavyweight champ Phil Davis (17-3 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) meets Ryan Bader (22-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a rematch – and Bader’s Bellator debut after moving over from the UFC, like Larkin. Bader has a 6-4 edge in the picks, even though it’s Davis who is the slightest of favorites from the oddsmakers.

Also on the card, wrestling standout Aaron Pico (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) makes his pro MMA debut against Zach Freeman (8-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA). Like Mitrione and Chandler, Pico is a unanimous choice at 10-0.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Sonnen, Mitrione, Larkin, Chandler, Pico and Bader are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Famed Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko looking for a little U.S. redemption

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Filed under: Bellator, News

(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

More than 17 years after his legendary mixed martial arts career began, heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko is as stoic as ever ahead of his most important fight in years.

In a sport where the outrageous and arrogant are seemingly rewarded with riches and fame, Emelianenko’s calm, peaceful demeanor has gone unchanged throughout the course of his storied career.

The Russian is soft spoken and rarely displays emotion, but when this otherwise unsuspecting fighter steps onto a fighting canvas, he’s proven to be one of MMA history’s most successful and dominant competitors.

Emelianenko (36-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) is a man of faith who carries a workmanlike attitude into each bout. Scheduled to fight Matt Mitrione (11-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) in the co-headliner of Saturday’s Bellator NYC pay-per-view event at Madison Square Garden in New York (10 p.m. ET), Emelianenko’s perspective hasn’t changed for his first U.S. bout since 2011.

“I’m not a fan of extremes,” he tells USA TODAY Sports through an interpreter. “I don’t have many personal ambitions. Fighting for me? (It’s) a job that’s work. It’s the work that brings wealth to my family.”

Emelianenko’s dominance was at its peak in the mid-2000s, when the 40-year-old was champion of the now-defunct PRIDE Fighting Championships organization. He went undefeated in 15 fights with the Japanese promotion and beat many of the best fighters of his era, often in spectacular fashion.

Once considered the sport’s pound-for-pound king, Emelianenko eventually brought his skills stateside, and his aura of invincibility took a hit. After going 33 career fights without a true blemish on his record, Emelianenko dropped three consecutive contests (all by stoppage) with Strikeforce, the UFC’s chief rival (until an eventual merger), from 2010-2011.

He then returned to Russian and Japanese promotions, and won three straight fights before retiring in June 2012. Like many MMA fighters, though, the allure of competition was too much to resist, and Emelianenko returned to fight in late 2015.

As far as results, Emelianenko’s comeback has been successful. He’s 2-0, and he’ll have the chance to redeem himself on U.S. soil at Bellator NYC.

“Hopefully Fedor is back to being the awesome, badass Fedor that he’s always been,” said Mitrione, who’s facing the most prominent opponent of his career.

Emelianenko says the opportunity to again perform in the country where MMA is most prominent is an honor he doesn’t take lightly.

“Certainly, I enjoy being here because it was here that MMA was developed and it was acknowledged as a big sport,” he says. “It was here much earlier than in Asia. The UFC existed before PRIDE, so it’s a really great opportunity. The audience, the fans are real experts in fights.”

Emelianenko says that despite being older, he hasn’t altered his approach to the sport. He says he always has nagging injuries, but he’s physically prepared for battle. He wants to win “as fast as possible” against former NFL player Mitrione, a longtime UFC heavyweight who has a noticeable size advantage.

Beating Mitrione would mark Emelianenko’s most significant win of the past half-decade. But he’s not looking to reclaim his former prestige and glory. He said he’s simply supporting his family.

Should he win, additional marquee fights are certainly on the horizon, including a potential bout for the currently vacant Bellator heavyweight belt. However, as the story of his career goes, he’s not going to follow the trend of talking trash or calling out someone to advance his position.

Emelianenko wants to continue fighting as long as possible, but as someone who puts his belief in “God’s plan,” he won’t predict his future.

“I have a strong wish to continue fighting,” he says. “But we’ll be making decisions based on my feelings and health after the fight.”

For more more on Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie