Fedor Emelianenko retirement celebration to include legends Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell, more
Fedor Emelianenko’s greatness will be recognized by some of the greatest to ever do it.
Following of the last fight of “The Last Emperor,” which takes place against heavyweight champion Ryan Bader this Saturday at Bellator 290 in Inglewood, Calif., Emelianenko will be honored with a special ceremony on fight night that has an illustrious guest list, which includes legends Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell and more.
Bellator President Scott Coker announced the full list of attendees on The MMA Hour.
According to Coker, these famous names lined up to celebrate Emelianenko when the news came around that the all-time great heavyweight was announced for his final fight.
“This happened in an organic manner,” Coker said. “We started getting calls from different fighters that wanted to come to the fight and watch Fedor fight. So one of the first calls I got was from Randy Couture saying, ‘Hey, I’d like to attend his last fight.’ I said, ‘Great.’ Then Dan Henderson said, ‘Hey, I’d really like to be there.’ Royce Gracie wanted to come, so he’s there. Mark Coleman will be in attendance.
“All these legends of the sport that really are the roots and the foundation of MMA started calling and we said, look, this is a very special occasion. We’re going to have all these O.G.s, legends from the days that really built MMA, why don’t we do something special? … It’s really the who’s who of MMA from that era. And this is the end of an era, the page is really turning to the next chapter of mixed martial arts. But Fedor is The Last Emperor and this is his last stand and all these gentlemen will go into the cage as Fedor is probably saying his speech and he’s going to retire and they’re going to stand behind him and when Fedor gets up from putting his gloves down, they’re all going to be there to congratulate him. This is a ceremony and a great sendoff to the greatest heavyweight of all-time.”
Emelianenko has crossed paths either directly or indirectly with several of the invitees, including in-cage clashes with Jackson, Sonnen, Henderson, and Coleman. He was also tied to bouts with Couture and Barnett that never materialized.
The other legends set to appear may not have as distinct a connection with Emelianenko, but Coker is thrilled to have them all the same.
“It’s something that’s really special and means a lot to me because I look at this from a martial arts perspective,” Coker said. “These are the greatest martial artists of their time and their era and they really built what MMA is today and they really built the evolution of what mixed martial arts is today. They deserve to be in the cage with Fedor. It’s going to be a magic moment and I’m really looking forward to it and saying hello to all these gentlemen.
“These gentlemen were all so very nice and really respectful and they’re like, ‘I would love to be there.’ I told them, ‘We’d love to have you in the cage after.’ They said, ‘We would love to do that.’ They’re there to pay tribute to Fedor Emelianenko.”
One more added wrinkle to Emelianenko’s retirement bout is that should he defeat Bader, he would hang up the gloves as Bellator’s heavyweight champion. Coker confirmed that the title will be vacated in the event of an Emelianenko victory.
“We have other fighters that we could put in there for a title fight in the future, but when he fights this fight, win or lose or even a draw, he is going to retire,” Coker said. “So that title, if he wins, will be vacant.”