Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix will be decided on Saturday night as Ryan Bader looks to beat Fedor Emelianenko to become the Bellator heavyweight champion.
It has been almost a year since Bellator’s heavyweight tournament began and it all comes to an end in The Forum in California this Saturday night as the final two in Ryan Bader (26-5) and Fedor Emelianenko (38-5-1NC) come head to head in the main event of the evening.
Emelianenko, the former Pride and Strikeforce veteran fights for the fourth time under the Bellator banner and despite a debut loss to Matt Mitrione, he has come out victorious against Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen respectively to reach the final of the grand prix.
Fedor’s finishing power has been on show in these last two bouts with first round finishes coming by way of the Russian’s heavy hands.
Ryan Bader on the other hand is riding a six fight win streak leading into Saturday’s bout and the 35 year old is hoping to be in seventh heaven once it’s all said and done.
Bader’s path to the final has been an interesting one considering he is stepping up from light heavyweight and dispatched of Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal and Matt Mitrione making his heavyweight stint a very successful one.
FEDOR FORMALITY OR WILL RYAN BE THE BADER MAN?
Fedor’s following in MMA is something that often gets overlooked. There is always a buzz in the air whenever the veteran is about to step into the cage to do battle. While his aura of being one of the most difficult fighters to beat has lost some of it’s shine, Fedor still has what it takes to put on a show and the 42 year old has shown glimpses of what he has in his locker.
With 29 finishes in his incredible career, the Russian is still someone to fear but it could be argued that “The Last Emperor” has fought guys who had been on the way out of the sport in Mir and Sonnen. Big names in their day but perhaps not holding the same skillset that saw both men strike fear into their opponent’s hearts in their heyday.
Conversely, Ryan Bader has been putting it up to fighters who are still in their pomp and still searching for supremacy of their own such as Matt Mitrione, Ilir Latifi and Linton Vassell.
Win streaks, while important don’t always play a factor in how fights are going to go but they sure do help but with both men winning impressively in their last two bouts, it could be anyone’s guess as to how this fight goes down.
Bader’s hands are his weapon in this fight but he knows that he can’t just initiate a fire fight with one of the best knockout artists of all time in Fedor and playing the long game may be key to winning this fight.
Fedor’s wrestling game is incredibly strong and has shown that he can throw up sneaky submissions from most, if not all angles that present themselves throughout the course of the fight.
It’s likely that Bader will be the quicker of the two men and if he can use his footwork to make Fedor miss, there’s a good chance that the counter will be there for him all day. However, if Fedor can take Bader to the canvas, there’s definitely an advantage for Fedor despite Bader’s own wrestling credentials.
Clinching would be the operative move for Fedor and chop away with some short shots to distract Bader from an attempted takedown.
However, if Bader can land short shots of his own, Fedor’s chin has certainly been tested lately and isn’t the same as it once was.
The odds are certainly in Bader’s favour and rightly so but it could be a lot closer than the odds would suggest.