Tim Johnson received the golden ticket to face the legendary Fedor Emelianenko in Russia, headlining Bellator 269 at Moscow’s VTB Arena on Oct. 23. But fellow heavyweight Marcelo Golm expects nothing but a boring showdown.
Golm, who faces short-notice replacement Billy Swanson at Friday night’s Bellator 265 in Sioux Falls, S.D., spent 15 minutes inside the cage with Johnson back at UFC Belem in 2018, the night he suffered his first loss in the sport.
The lackluster contest resulted in Johnson’s departure from the UFC despite the victory, and Golm predicts the same “boring” showdown when he meets “The Last Emperor.”
“He’s the guy that gave me my first loss, and it was a boring fight without much action,” Golm said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “He put me against the cage and stayed there, stalling. He will definitely [try the same against Emelianenko], especially because of the size difference. He’s way bigger than Fedor, so I think he will use his weight to at least spend some time against the cage.
“He knows Fedor is very explosive. It’s not the same Fedor of old, of course, but it’s still Fedor. He’s still dangerous and explosive. I think [Johnson] will try to keep him there for at least the first and second rounds to tire Fedor out. The same thing. If he’s strategist, he’ll do that.”
Golm admits he was “surprised” when Bellator announced the pairing, especially with names like his teammate Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem in the mix. Emelianenko hasn’t fought since a knockout victory over Quinton Jackson in December 2019, but Golm is picking the former PRIDE heavyweight king to lose.
“I won’t be the guy that underestimates Fedor,” he said, “but I think Tim Johnson will end up winning by points.”
Golm, an American Top Team product, was originally scheduled to make his Bellator debut against Linton Vassell. He was then booked versus Steve Mowry and Kelvin Tiller in August, but ultimately was paired with last-minute replacement Billy Swanson. The Brazilian heavyweight admits “it’s a bit frustrating” to see many fights fall out, but is happy to be given an opportunity to showcase his talent after all.
Weeks away from turning 29, Golm just hopes to land a big-name foe next in Bellator.
“At first I wanted a rematch with Tim Johnson,” he said. “Nothing against him, nothing personal, but I would like the chance to do something more when what I did in the first fight against him. But since he’s fighting Fedor now, it would be good if they booked me against [Vassell or Mowry] again next.”