When Bellator announced the tourney’s opening round match-ups and brackets several months ago, more than a few folks noted that a Bader – Emelianenko fight would be very interesting. After all, Emelianenko is one of the sport’s greatest legends, and Bader is Bellator’s 205 champ and a UFC vet.
Well, fast forward to today, and that match-up will headline Bellator 214 tonight. Recently Coker was asked if Bader – Emelianenko is the most intriguing bout that could take place in the finals, and Bellator’s President said this (quote via MMA Junkie):
“Absolutely (it’s the most intriguing final). When you think about Fedor being the GOAT, being the greatest fighter of all time and has really looked good in his last two fights. What I mean by that is not just the way he’s won, but he’s looked really fast to me. Very explosive. Ryan, to me, arguably could be pound-for-pound one of the best fighters right now, and he’s in his prime. It’s going to be a tough fight for Fedor, but that guy has always stepped up over and over, and we’re going to see something really spectacular on Saturday.”
It certainly seems like a win-win situation for Bellator. If Fedor wins, then the Russian star will have done the unexpected, by winning the promotion’s heavyweight belt at the age of 42. If Bader wins, then Bellator will have a champ-champ, who Bellator can promote as a pound-for-pound contender. Coker also noted that provided Bader can stay busy, and commit to title defenses, Bellator will allow him to defend both belts.
Here is the complete line-up for Bellator 214, which will take place in Inglewood, California.
MAIN CARD (Paramount Network)
Vacant Bellator Heavyweight Championship
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Ryan Bader
Featherweight: Aaron Pico vs. Henry Corrales
Heavyweight: Jake Hager vs. JW Kiser
Bantamweight: Juan Archuleta vs. Ricky Bandejas
Featherweight: Brandon McMahan vs. Adel Altamimi
PRELIMINARY CARD (Bellator.com)
Catchweight: A.J. Agazarm vs. Jesse Roberts
Lightweight: Chris Gonzalez vs. Henry Mendez
Bantamweight: Weber Almeida vs. Odan Chinchilla
Featherweight: Jay Jay Wilson vs. Tyler Beneke
Heavyweight: Sean Johnson vs. Art Rivas
Lightweight: Jorge Juarez vs. David Pacheco
Welterweight: Jesse Merritt vs. Thor Skancke
Catchweight: Osman Diaz vs. Christopher Reyes
Bantamweight: James Barnes vs. Ryan Lilley
Welterweight: Ian Butler vs. Craig Plaskett
Bantamweight: Steve Ramiez vs. Desmond Torres