As the legendary Russian prepares to retire after one more fight, he has named Bader as his ideal opponent as he seeks to avenge one of the most devastating losses of his career.
On that night in 2019, Bader blasted Emelianenko with a punch early in the first round, and the fight was over before it ever really got a chance to begin. The win gave Bader the Bellator heavyweight title along with a victory in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, and he considers it one of the crowning achievements of his entire career.
It’s also why Bader pauses when hearing that Emelianenko wants a rematch, because he’s not sure what he has to gain from it.
“I love Fedor,” Bader said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I think he’s a great competitor and a great person, too. I have nothing but great interactions with him. But on your line of thinking, it’s kind of the same way. I knocked him out in, what, 36 seconds in the grand prix finals for the heavyweight championship. It can’t get any better than that. So will I fight him? Yeah, if it makes sense.”
To further explain his reservations in just blindly accepting the challenge, Bader acknowledged that beating arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time was a huge part of why he wanted to get involved with the Bellator Grand Prix in the first place.
Since he’s already conquered that mountain, Bader understands that no matter the result, in a rematch, he gains far less than Emelianenko, especially if that fight takes place in his home nation of Russia.
“You go into that fight, it’s definitely a lose-lose situation,” Bader said. “Yeah you beat him, you’re supposed to beat him. You lose, you lost to him in Moscow in his final fight. It’s always a big fight with Fedor.
“We’ll get with Bellator and see what we can do to make it a little win for me to go to Moscow, to fight Fedor in Russia, all that kind of stuff. There’s always an upside somewhere. Just need to find that.”
If the accomplishment of adding a second win over Emelianenko isn’t all that enticing, Bader said there’s still a way that Bellator could convince him to take that fight, and he fully admits – it’s partly financial motivation.
“I’m talking around it, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about,” Bader said when asked if more money would get him interested in the rematch. “That’s the one win out of that situation.
“It’s a big fight regardless but with that being his final fight, get a lot of eyeballs. It would be fun, but make it make sense.”