‘GOAT!’ Plaudits roll in for Emelianenko as he destroys Sonnen at Bellator 208
Emelianenko earned a comprehensive TKO win over Sonnen, ending the fight with a vicious ground and pound with 4:46 gone in the first round amid a raucous atmosphere at the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night.
‘The Last Emperor’, 42, progresses to the Grand Prix final against Ryan Bader in January, with the Russian veteran gaining his first title shot in almost a decade.
After the fight, praise poured in for Emelianenko – whom many believe to be among the greatest ever to grace MMA.
Bellator president Scott Coker simply tweeted a goat emoji in respect for a fighter who has picked up 7 wins in his last eight fights and looks to be gathering momentum.
FEDOR 🐐.— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) October 14, 2018
Yes!!!!!!! Great performance by Fedor 🙌 pic.twitter.com/HW9ACmxfIp— V (@Motel_Hell_Girl) October 14, 2018
Fedor looking like a beast tonight!— Karyn Bryant (@KarynBryant) October 14, 2018
Others lauded what seemed like the unlikely prospect of Fedor clinching the Bellator heavyweight crown despite his advanced years.
Could you imagine if FEDOR MOTHERFUCKING EMELIANENKO wins this whole damn tourney?! Oh my god. What a warrior. #Bellator208— Robbie Fox (@RobbieBarstool) October 14, 2018
Rapper 50 Cent, who recently partnered with Bellator, was also cageside – just a day after offering Emelianenko’s fellow Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov $2 million for the lightweight king to switch to the promotion amid the fallout from his win over Conor McGregor.
This is my first time seeing Fedor Emelianenko fight in person I’m excited. 🤨get the strap #Bellator208— 50cent (@50cent) October 14, 2018
Emelianenko’s meeting with Chael ‘American Gangster’ Sonnen, 41, saw two veterans of the MMA world face-off – although the action belied their combined age as they engaged in an action-packed and entertaining encounter right from the off, when ‘The Last Emperor’ put Sonnen on his back with his very first punch.
If you're wondering how good MMA can be when the combined age of the fighters is 83 years old, there's your answer.Fedor and Sonnen are remarkably good for their ages and longevity in the sport, and they deserve applause for that. Much better than one could reasonably expect.— The Naked Gambler (@NakedGambling) October 14, 2018
That fight was wildly fun. Let’s only have Fedor fight old ass middleweights from now on. GOAT— Dr. Jed Meshew II (@JedKMeshew) October 14, 2018
There was also a touching moment after the bout when Emelianenko presented Sonnen with his team tracksuit, before the pair embraced. Sonnen was heard to joke, “why do you have to hit so hard, and so fast?” with the Russian victor.
Current UFC heavyweight king Daniel Cormier had words of praise for Emelianenko – although he predicted his meeting with Bader in the final could be a bridge too far for the Russian veteran.
Bader, 35, beat Matt Mitrione by via unanimous decision on Friday to book his spot in January’s showdown.
No doubt in my mind that @ryanbader wins this tournament. I love Fedor, but he gets taken down by Bader and he doesn’t get up. And he can’t get tired and be so reckless. Gonna be fun to watch.— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 14, 2018
Former UFC champ Michael Bisping was among those to praise a game Sonnen for even going up against the heavier Russian.
Regardless of whatever opinion in the world you have of Chael Sonnen -- you can not say this guy doesn't have serious courage. Anderson Silva twice. Jon Jones. And now he's locked in a cage with heavyweight Fedor.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) October 14, 2018
With Nurmagomedov making the headlines in the UFC, others simply joked that the Russians are taking over MMA.