Image Credit: Bellator / YouTube

It’s been over three years now since Fedor Emelianenko ended his retirement, but as he gets set to throw hands at Bellator 214, signs are there the legend’s last bout could be tonight.

Back in 2012, the Russian star hung up the gloves for the first time, following a KO win over Pedro Rizzo. But, in 2015, Emelianenko announced he was returning to the cage, and since then “The Last Emperor” has gone 4-1. After scoring wins over Chael Sonnen and Frank Mir, Fedor will face Ryan Bader in the finals of the Bellator’s heavyweight grand-prix.

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Well, since Fedor is now 42, he’s fielded questions about retirement as Bellator 214 approaches. Case in point, while speaking to the media recently, he had this to say in response (quotes via MMA Fighting):

“To tell the truth, at the age I’m at right now, more and more I am thinking about retiring,” Emelianenko said.

“I cannot answer this question at this moment,” Emelianenko added. “But I am willing to take some rest and then decide.”

“It is not because I don’t want to fight. Definitely it is because of the age, you know, and injuries that I have.”

So, the fact Emelianenko hasn’t said there’s no way he’s going to retire in say 2019, or that he plans to fight for Bellator a few more times, certainly points to the possibility of him calling it quits. Especially, you would think, if he loses badly to Bader tonight.

Recently Bellator boss Scott Coker was asked to weigh-in on Fedor’s future, and he said the following (quote via MMA Junkie):

“We’ve had a brief conversation about that. I think that it just depends on what happens. If he comes out, looks great, does great, I think he’ll head in one direction. If it doesn’t work out, I think he might have another direction. That’s something that only he knows, and after the fight he’ll know, and you can ask him after the fight.”

“A fighter should not fight past the time a fighter is supposed to stop. That’s been us, the trainers and the fighter himself. From what I saw his last two fights, he (Fedor) looked pretty good to me. His twitch speed looked better than I’ve seen it in a long time. When Matt (Mitrione) and Fedor both hit each other a couple of years ago, and they both went down, Matt got up a little sooner than Fedor did, and the fight stopped. That fight within a millimeter of a second could’ve gone the other way if he had got there first. At heavyweight, one shot and it’s over…”

So, it will be fascinating to see what happens tonight. Who knows. Maybe Emelianenko will decide to walk away even if he wins the Bellator heavyweight title. Closing out his career, armed with the Bellator belt, would be an amazing way to exit from the game.