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Bellator announces Fedor Emelianenko return bout on Oct. 23 in Moscow, opponent to be determined

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“The Last Emperor” is back in the Bellator cage.

Bellator President Scott Coker announced at a press conference Friday that the legendary Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) will fight at an Oct. 23 card at VTB Arena in Moscow against an opponent that is still to be determined. This marks Emelianenko’s first fight since December 2019, when he defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 237.

The Oct. 23 event will be Bellator’s first event in Russia.

Emelianenko returning to fight in October was first reported by Ariel Helwani shortly after Bellator announced yesterday it would be holding a special press conference for the former PRIDE heavyweight champion.

Regarding a potential opponent, Coker said they are “going through the process” and that a number of names have “popped up,” though nothing has been decided.

In five fights with Bellator, Emelianenko has compiled a 3-2 record with first-round TKO victories over Jackson, Chael Sonnen, and Frank Mir. He has also lost in the first round to Matt Mitrione and Ryan Bader, the latter for a vacant Bellator heavyweight championship and a grand prix crown.

According to Emelianenko, he has two fights remaining on his current contract. Asked about his future plans, he mentioned that he expects his final fight to likely take place in the U.S. or Russia.

Emelianenko, 44, joined Bellator in 2017 on a five-fight win streak, which included a three-year gap from 2012-2015 in which the Russian star was retired from the sport. He returned in December 2015 to compete for RIZIN and Russia’s Fight Nights Global promotion.

“In 2012, I had a couple of injuries that were not letting me perform as well and I thought I was done for good,” Emelianenko said. “But now I’m ready and I understand that my career isn’t going to be lasting for too much longer, so I wanted to make the best of it.”

In his prime, Emelianenko was recognized as one of the most feared fighters in all of MMA and is widely hailed as an all-time great of the heavyweight division. From 2000-2010, Emelianenko amassed a 28-fight unbeaten streak, knocking off the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, Mark Coleman, Mark Hunt, and Kevin Randleman, among many other notable names.