MMA chief makes call on Russian Emelianenko’s Red Square retirement fight
Plans to hold Russian great Fedor Emelianenko's final fight of his illustrious career in Moscow's Red Square have been derailed because of Russia's attack on Ukraine, Bellator MMA boss Scott Coker has admitted.
Emelianenko, 45, is set to walk away from the sport this year after a glittering career during which he won an incredible 40 of his 47 fights – including a 33-fight run between 2000 and 2009 in which his sole defeat was on a technicality.
Former PRIDE heavyweight champ Emelianenko has confirmed he will finally hang up his gloves this year but had requested to fight one final time in his homeland.
Speaking to the media in Missouri following Saturday night's fight card, Bellator boss Scott Coker revealed that plans had been at an advanced stage for the consensus finest heavyweight fighter in the history of MMA to fight in Red Square this summer.
"It’s definitely not going to happen in Moscow this year," Coker told the media at the conclusion of Bellator 276.
"We’re not going to do Fedor’s retirement fight there for obvious reasons. We will be looking for an alternative site at some point."
Emelianenko last competed for the promotion in October 2021, when he knocked out American fighter Tim Johnson less than two minutes into the first round in the headline fight of an event at Moscow's VTB Arena.
'The Last Emperor' previously planned a three-fight retirement tour which was later revised to just two bouts after the outbreak of the pandemic – the first chapter of which was against Johnson.
Coker added that Emelianeko, who is heralded in his home country as a Master of Sport in both Judo and Sambo, had received the backing of Kremlin officials for what would have been a high-profile swansong.
"We had an amazing show planned in Moscow. I don’t even mind telling you guys this but we originally had approval to do the fight in Red Square, and it was going to be just a great send-off for the [greatest of all time], in my opinion," Coker elaborated.
"But now we have to pivot and create something else that’s great and find another venue and find another amazing site, because he deserves to have a great send-off. We just don’t know exactly where yet."
Bellator are primed to afford Emelianenko the type of exit usually only reserved for the sport's true icons.