Father time claimed Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko as his latest victim at Bellator 290.
Fighting for one final time before calling it quits on a 23-year MMA career, the legendary Emelianenko came up short in his bid to claim the Bellator heavyweight title, tasting defeat at the hands of reigning champion Ryan Bader.
The finish came via technical knockout at the midway point of the first round.
A star-studded affair at the KIA Forum in Inglewood, CA, Fedor’s retirement fight was an event in itself, with MMA legends like Royce Gracie, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and many more in attendance to watch Emelianenko compete one last time. However, Bader spoiled the celebration, dominating Fedor from the opening bell, dropping “The Last Emperor” and never letting up. Bader threw heavy elbows from the top position, smashing and slicing Fedor before finishing the fight with ground and pound.
Following the bout, Bader – the only man to ever beat Emelianenko twice in professional MMA competition – thanked and congratulated Fedor for the opportunity, before an entire generation of mixed martial arts royalty watched “The Last Emperor” leave his gloves in the center of the Bellator cage.
What was billed as a celebration of Fedor’s career quickly became a somber affair, with the reality sinking in that Emelianenko will never compete again.
Johnny Eblen takes Anatoly Tokov to SUPLEX CITY!
Tune in to @CBS and @paramountplus NOW. #Bellator290 @JohnnyEblen #Bellator #MMA @BellatorMMA @CBSSports pic.twitter.com/bFCHWXjGlt
— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) February 5, 2023
In the evening’s co-main event, Bellator middleweight champion Johnny “The Human Cheat Code” Eblen put on a masterclass, dominating challenger Anatoly Tokov throughout their 25-minute bout.
Dropping the first round on two of the judges’ scorecards, Eblen found his groove late in the second frame, dropping Tokov to the mat, and following up with a takedown before the end of the stanza.
Clinically breaking Tokov down with punches and pressure in the third and fourth rounds, Eblen saved his best efforts for the final frame, landing a jaw-dropping suplex to slam the challenger to the ground.
With the unanimous decision win, Eblen successfully defended his middleweight strap for the first time and immediately called out the winner of a May 12 bout between former champion Gegard Mousasi and Fabian Edwards.
Opening up Bellator’s first card on CBS, welterweights Brennan Ward and Sabah Homasi made good on a fight that was booked with the promise of action. Ward and Homasi delivered the goods, beating and battering each other bloody from the opening bell.
It was actually Homasi who jumped out to an early lead, taking out Ward’s legs with low kicks before landing a near-flush front kick right up the middle. Ward took Homasi’s best shots, returning fire with heavy hands. He also landed a critical takedown midway through the first round, taking Homasi’s back and threatening the rear naked choke.
In the second round, Ward kept his momentum, first cutting Homasi with some powerful elbows before transitioning to ground and pound. Homasi withstood the barrage, eventually returning to his feet, but Ward’s attack was too strong, ultimately landing a head kick to drop Homasi, closing the show with ground and pound, exactly as he had predicted days earlier.
In the Bellator 290 featured preliminary fight, former welterweight challenger Lorenz Larkin needed less than two minutes to deliver an incredible highlight-reel standing elbow.
Clinched with foe Mukhamed Berkhamov, Larkin broke free and instantly threw his right elbow, connecting directly on the temple. Berkhamov stumbled for a moment before falling face-first to the mat.
Not even half the legends here in the building but it's a lot of 'em! #bellator290 for @MMAFighting pic.twitter.com/dVNhVrfjxV
— esther lin (@allelbows) February 5, 2023
Bellator MMA returns to Showtime on February 25 with a welterweight title unification fight between champion Yaroslav Amasov and interim belt holder Logan Storley.
Bellator 290 Results
- Ryan Bader def. Fedor Emelianenko via TKO (punches) R1, 2:30
- Johnny Eblen def. Anatoly Tokov via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
- Brennan Ward def. Sabah Homasi via TKO (head kick and punches) R2, 1:34
- Lorenz Larkin def. Mukhamed Berkhamov via KO (elbow) R1, 1:41
- Henry Corrales def. Akhmed Magomedov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Ali Isaev vs. Steve Mowry ends in a draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)
- Chris Gonzalez def. Max Rohskopf via TKO (punches) R2, 1:22
- Grant Neal def. Karl Albrektsson via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Diana Avsaragova def. Alejandra Lara via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Nikita Mikhailov def. Darrion Caldwell via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Neiman Gracie def. Dante Schiro via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jaylon Bates def. Jornel Lugo via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Isaiah Hokit vs. Peter Ishiguro via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Yusuf Karakaya def. Ethan Hughes via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Dan Shapiro is a writer, editor, musician, and producer currently based in Los Angeles. In addition to covering some of the biggest fights in combat sports history, he’s also hunted down the world’s best sushi, skied the northern hemisphere in July, and chronicled Chinese underground music for publications like CNN, the New York Daily News, VICE, and Time Out. Dan also conjured up a ghost at the Chateau Marmont while out on assignment for RoadTrippers. Follow him on Twitter here.
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