Ever since Fedor Emelianenko announced he is coming out of retirement, the fantasy mixed martial arts booking world has kicked into overdrive with proposing juicy match-ups.
A rematch between Fedor and UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum.
Fedor vs. Cain Velasquez.
There’s even been suggestions of Fedor vs. Jon Jones — a fight that MMA legend Bas Rutten seems to think Fedor could win, which makes me question if ol’ Bas took one too many shots to the head in his career.
But there’s only one fight that needs to be made if Emelianenko returns stateside as part of his MMA comeback. A living legend against a living legend. Fedor vs. Randy Couture.
This is the fight the MMA world needs, and the fight the MMA world deserves. No, seriously. Stop laughing. I’m not kidding.
Couture frequently expressed a previous desire to fight Emelianenko, and there were attempts to make the fight happen in the very short-lived Affliction promotion several years ago. Couture seems to have settled into a happy post-fighting life as an ambassador for Bellator MMA and actor in films such as The Expendables franchise (Otherwise known as the greatest action movie franchise ever. Yeah, that’s right. I said it.).
However, Couture also admits to having the itch to fight at times and only retired four years ago, with Ememlianenko officially retiring not long after. Although Couture is 52, he competed at a high level well into his 40s and even won the UFC heavyweight title at the age of 43. Emelianenko is only 38 years old, which is considered old but not ancient in the MMA world. Unlike other older fighters who lose multiple fights in a row prior to retirement, Couture was 3-1 in his last four fights. Emelianenko sports a record of 3-0 in his last three.
So if Fedor vs. Couture were to happen, where should it take place? Only one organization seems to be a proper fit, but not without some assistance.
Bellator is the only organization that makes sense to hold this fight. I know what you’re saying: “Wait, what about UFC?” The UFC courted Emelianenko before to try to match him up against Brock Lesnar, among others. But now the UFC doesn’t need the Russian legend. It already has enough exposure (good and bad). Bellator is still growing and chasing the UFC’s success. The company is off to a good start so far with Scott Coker at the helm — which would also give them the inside track to Emelianenko, given the preexisting relationship between Emelianenko and Coker from Strikeforce.
Coker loves to put on “big-top” events headlined by marquee fights, such as Tito Ortiz vs. Stephan Bonnar and Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock. Those two fight cards did record ratings for Bellator and Spike TV, and a joint fight card with GLORY Kickboxing in September should do similar numbers. The type of fight atmosphere Coker likes to promote was made for someone of Fedor’s mystique and the hype that comes with it.
Unfortunately, Couture reportedly has two fights left on his UFC contract. But given that UFC President Dana White has no love lost for Couture after he went to work for Bellator, I can’t imagine White would need much convincing to tear up that contract. After all, White let Bonnar out of his UFC contract to sign with Bellator and fight Ortiz.
The UFC remains the biggest game in town. However, if Bellator were to sign Emelianenko and pit him against Couture, it would be the biggest fight in town. It needs to happen.