On Saturday 26th January Bellator 214 showcases the heavyweight grand prix final as Fedor Emelianenko takes on Ryan Bader. The winner of the fight will take the promotion’s vacant heavyweight title.
Many consider Fedor Emelianenko to be the best heavyweight fighter of all time. The best to have never done it in the UFC, despite coming close in the past on numerous occasions, such as a potential fight against Brock Lesnar. The Russian has had a long career as he comes into Saturday’s fight at 42 years of age. With this potentially being Fedor’s swansong fight, can he roll back the clock and achieve greatness once again against the younger Ryan Bader. Bader is 35 years old and currently holds the Bellator light heavyweight title.
History will be made if Bader wins the heavyweight championship, as he would become Bellator’s first ever two division champion. “Champ-champ” fights are becoming ever more popular amongst both fighters and fight promoters. It’s a great way to sell a fight and cement a fighter as a key star. Ryan fought in the UFC between 2008 and 2016, during which he picked up notable wins against the likes of Keith Jardine, Antônio Rogério Nogueira, Quinton Jackson, Phil Davis and Rashad Evans. He has also been the Bellator light heavyweight champion since June 2017. He truly believes that he is the best and this champion’s mindset will work in his favour come Saturday night. Fedor has not experienced being a champion for a long time, having last held a championship belt in 2009.
Both fighters share a strong grappling pedigree as Fedor is a Sambo and Judo practitioner, whilst Bader possesses a solid wrestling background. Two grapplers usually cancel each other out and this makes for a stand-up fight. However, Ryan is the taller fighter and coupled with his youth, this could mean that he has the edge in this department. Similarly, both fighter’s posses lightning one-punch knockout power, making the fight an arguably close match up. On the other hand, Fedor’s durability isn’t what it used to be and has deteriorated with age. This is to be expected but Ryan is arguably still in his prime and seems to have adjusted well to the heavyweight lifestyle.
In conclusion, Bader’s youth should gain him the victory. Fedor’s chin is getting weaker and he has never had the best takedown defence. Ryan will look for a takedown early on in the fight and could very easily ground and pound his way to victory.
Prediction: Ryan Bader by TKO.
Other notable fighters to mention who are also fighting on the card include Aaron Pico. Pico is a featherweight fighter with a lot of hype at just 22 years of age. Brendan Schaub described Aaron as perhaps the biggest prospect in MMA on his Below The Belt podcast. The young fighter is 4-1 with each victory coming by way of first round knockout. He is fighting an experienced fighter in Henry Corrales but is expected to get the victory.
Jake Hager is also making his MMA debut this weekend. Jake is formerly known as Jack Swagger and won numerous titles whilst in the WWE. He has a much better chance of succeeding than his former WWE counterpart CM Punk. This is because Jake is a former NCAA Division I wrestler and wrestling is perhaps the best base to have in order to transition into MMA. His opponent is 41 year old JW Kiser and as seen by clicking here, his Sherdog profile showcases an unimpressive MMA record. This has been setup for an easy win for Jake Hager.
For a more in-depth look into Jake Hager and his upcoming fight, please click here.