Image Credit: Bellator

Fedor Emelianenko is no longer the force he once was, but as Chael Sonnen discovered last night at Bellator 208, “The Last Emperor” still has some pop.

Not long into the fight, the former UFC contender was sent to the deck by a booming left from Fedor, and it looked like the bout could be over within moments. Sonnen recovered, however, and was able to score some takedowns, prompting several scrambles on the ground. Ultimately, however, Fedor regained top position as the round neared it’s end, and finished the bout with punches from above.

Following the wild bout, Sonnen had this to say about the legendary heavyweight (quote via MMA Fighting):

“I would call him explosive,” Sonnen said. “With his punches, there wasn’t a ton of set-ups, they just came and they came hard. Even on the ground, I had some good positions on him and he would just explode. It weren’t exactly technique-based. It was impressive. He’s an impressive athlete.”

At one point, it looked like Sonnen could in fact, score a first round win of his own. Fedor appeared to be fading, and during an exchange on the ground, Sonnen took the Russian star’s back. Sonnen, however, attempted to roll Fedor over, but the move backfired and he lost the position. It was an ill timed decision that immediately prompted some interesting discussion online.

“The dive roll, I was going to lose that position anyway,” said Sonnen. “I was falling over the top so I tried to tuck his chin and go. I used to do that move all of the time in college and I always got it. But I missed it tonight. I rolled right over.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been ground-and-pounded like that. I thought there was opportunity there. I was covering up and I thought that he was slowing down. The referee warned me — he said, ‘If you don’t move I am going to stop this.’ But I didn’t think he would because they were gong into my hands. I thought I was blocking them. I thought I was having a rope-a-dope moment. I thought I was luring him in. That was a bad strategy it turns out…”

There you have it. Now Fedor will take on Ryan Bader in the finals of Bellator’s heavyweight grand-prix, January 26th. It’s going to be interesting to see what the odds are for the bout, but don’t be surprised if Bader is a fair sized, favourite.

Bellator 208 went down in Uniondale, New York.