Bellator: Bader vs Fedor Preview
By Alex Conway
The UFC is taking a weekend off, but not exactly by choice. The world’s biggest MMA promotion was going to stage a fight in Anaheim but postponed its event so that they could bump up last weekend’s flyweight title fight between Henry Cejudo and T.J. Dillashaw to the first event on ESPN.
That development was also significant because the UFC was heading to the greater Los Angeles area to stage an event in the same city, on the same night as their biggest competitor, Bellator.
The postponement means that Bellator will run unopposed on Saturday night and they are bringing a heavyweight main event with them.
The event is headlined by Fedor Emelianenko taking on Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader in the finals of Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix. The winner will be crowned the Bellator heavyweight champion and for Bader, it’s the former UFC light heavyweight’s chance to become Bealltor’s first double champ.
This could be the last hurrah for Fedor. He spoke with media outlets this week and let it be known that he is thinking about hanging them up after this fight. He’s 42-years old and has retired once before in 2012 before making a comeback in 2015.
He’s got a decent record since re-joining the MMA landscape. He’s 4-1 with his lone loss coming against Matt Mitrione via knockout that was actually a double knockdown that could have really gone either way.
That’s the optimistic way of looking at Fedor’s recent run. Here’s the pessimistic view.
Fedor beat a guy in Japan from India who nobody has ever heard of and I have no interest in Google searching to remember. But if memory serves me correctly he had a losing record heading into the fight, or at the very best he was 1-0.
Then he almost got bludgeoned to death against former UFC light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado, a fight in which an overweight Brazilian most likely would have seen a referee stoppage had the fight not been taking place in Russia for a promotion that uses giant spider props as part of its in-ring experience.
Fedor ultimately got a highly suspect decision win, but Maldonado was successful in getting the World MMA Association to overturn the victory but not the Russian MMA Union, who coincidentally was headed by Fedor himself.
Then the Mitrione fight happened and Fedor got his lights shut off. He did get a pair of impressive wins over Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen, but Mir is way past his prime and Sonnen is a blown up middleweight.
Bader is by far the best fighter he’s faced during his latest chapter. He’s an All-American wrestler with knockout power and despite spending most of his career at light heavyweight, he’s gigantic even at heavyweight.
Bader will have the speed advantage (mostly), the grappling advantage (mostly) and the athletic advantage.
What he won’t have is the crazy veteran savviness that Fedor possesses. I would still pick Fedor if it weren’t for his highly suspect chin. Despite all the attributes that are seemingly in Bader’s favor, Bader has shown suspect fight IQ in the past. Running head-on into Lyoto Machida, one of the best and most deadly counter-strikers in the game is a prime example. Getting into a firefight with Glover Teixeira is another. He also lost to Tito Ortiz during one of Ortiz’s biggest career ruts. Bader isn’t the most reliable fight pick in the world.
But I am picking him here. He could get armbarred by Fedor if he gets to reckless with his ground and pound. He could get clipped on his feet if he doesn’t respect the sneaky quickness the Russian still possesses. If there is one thing Fedor hasn’t seen a huge decline in, it’s the power in his hands.
I just don’t like Fedor’s chances not to have his lights turned off. I am intrigued by this fight, but I don’t think it ends well for the legendary fighter from Stary Oskol.
The pick is Bader.