UNCASVILLE, Conn. –The last time Bellator visited the Mohegan Sun back in February, a few of the sport's legends were in attendance. Among them was Fedor Emelianenko, whom Bellator president Scott Coker brought out as a brand ambassador. At the time, Emelianenko was happily retired.
Five months later, Bellator visited the same venue, this time without Fedor. And this time, Fedor isn't so retired.
Considered the greatest heavyweight of all time by many, Emelianenko announced this week that he was returning to fighting, three years after retiring from the sport. Though the news stirred up a lot of headlines, it didn't shock too many people -- including the man who never got his shot at "The Last Emperor," Randy Couture, who was actually on hand for Bellator 140 Saturday night.
"I wasn't surprised," Couture told MMA Fighting. "He was on a bad streak, and I don't think he gets a lot of support from the people that represent him. I'm surprised it's take this long, frankly. But, who knows? He's 38 years old, certainly not outside the realm of possibility for him to make another strong run at it."
As a free agent, Emelianenko will fetch interest from every promotion that has deep enough pockets to sign him. In the past, the UFC was unable to work out a deal with Emelianenko in large part due to his relationship with M-1 Global, who wanted to co-sponsor an event. That was back when Emelianenko was riding a 28-fight unbeaten streak.
Since that time Emelianenko has lost three times -- consecutively, from June 2010 to June 2011 -- before winning three in a row heading into retirement. His last fight on record was against Pedro Rizzo in June 2012.
His remains currently unknown, but speculation as to whom he might face is already well underway. One name that keeps getting kicked up is the 52-year old Couture's. Back in 2007, when Couture was the UFC's heavyweight and Emelianenko was the king of Pride, the fight would have been one of the biggest events ever put together. Yet it never materialized. Their paths never crossed.
"You never say never -- you never say 'no, I'm not going to do that,'" he said. "But I'm very, very happy being retired doing all the other stuff I'm doing. If the stars align and the right situation came up...you know, Fedor's not a cheap ticket. So I don't know who's going to pay that price right now. Especially considering how things ended for him, so I'm not sure it will be Viacom or Bellator, which seems like the most logical place. I know there's new organizations coming out in Japan in the new year, and he's built a huge name there. Maybe they have the pockets for it. I know the UFC would like to get it done, and more than likely I'm out if that's the case."