t appears Scott Coker will have options when deciding who to put across the cage from Fedor Emelianenko in his farewell fight.
Bellator president Coker told MMA Junkie in December that he has a big grand finale in mind for Emelianenko’s (39-6 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) illustrious career. It includes putting the Russian in a packed stadium of 30,000 people in Moscow, but the coronavirus pandemic obviously makes that an extremely challenging aspiration.
With the COVID-19 vaccine starting to roll out, though, Coker’s optimism is increasing that he can successfully execute his plan. If it does happens, who will be standing across from him?
The MMA Junkie staff made some choices in the most recent edition of “Spinning Back Clique,” a weekly panel discussion on MMA topics. Two names who weren’t mentioned, though, were former UFC champions Josh Barnett and Tito Ortiz, who threw their names into the hat over the weekend (via Twitter):
Barnett (35-8), who said he’s the “only correct decision” in a follow-up reply on Twitter, has a history with Emelianenko. The pair were supposed to fight in the now-defunct Affliction organization in 2009, but the fight fell apart days prior when Barnett failed a drug test, sparking a chain reaction that in the opinion of many led to the promotion’s downfall.
The years since have seen Barnett repeatedly push to have the fight rebooked, but it’s never come to fruition.
Ortiz (21-12-1), meanwhile, hasn’t fought for Bellator since beating Chael Sonnen in January 2017. He’s had a pair of fights against Chuck Liddell and Alberto Del Rio, but hasn’t competed since December 2019 and has since moved into a career in politics, serving in a well-publicized role on the Huntington Beach city council.
Emelianenko, for his part, last saw action at Bellator 237 in December 2019, finishing Quinton Jackson with strikes in the first round.