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Fedor Emelianenko: Bellator Grand Prix is ‘right up there’ with Pride in terms of competition

Fedor Emelianenko meets Ryan Bader at Bellator 214.

Fedor Emelianenko believes that Bellator’s heavyweight Grand Prix is every bit as formidable as the legendary tournaments he contested in Japan under the Pride FC banner.

“The Last Emperor” saw off former UFC heavyweight champion, Frank Mir, with a first-round knockout in the quarter-finals of the bracket before booking his ticket to the finals against Ryan Bader with another first-round stoppage of Chael Sonnen.

Speaking ahead of Bellator 214, the Russian claimed that the tournament is “right up there” with Pride grands prix when it comes to level of competitors he has had to face to earn his spot in the Jan. 26 decider.

“He feels as though this grand prix is right up there with the [tournaments] he’s fought in,” Fedor responded through a translator when asked how the field of competitors compared to the Pride Grands Prix he has contested over his storied career.

“It has a lot of famous fighters, a lot of great fighters, a lot of top 10-fighters. He’s very excited to be a part of it, he’s ready to compete in it against the likes of Matt Mitrione and Ryan Bader and Frank Mir and so on. So, it’s right up there with all the [other tournaments] he’s been a part of.”

Emelianenko went on to say that winning the grand prix would mean “everything” to him.

“It means a lot, it means everything. This grand prix is very important,” he said through his translator. “I’m fighting for my country, I’m fighting with God on my mind in this grand prix so it means everything for me to win it and to participate in it.”

He also claimed that defeating Bellator’s light heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader, would be a huge accomplishment for him at this stage of his career.

“This would definitely be a huge accomplishment for me in my career, especially because of my opponent. Ryan is an exceptional fighter and he’s beaten some really tough guys to get to the final. For me, to win the tournament would definitely be a huge accomplishment.”