Before we get into the crux of what you all showed up for (news), we want to re-introduce you to the “Insider’s Scoop.”
Every once in and while, our reporters, when enough noteworthy developments have piled up, will release news in an easy-to-digest roundup for the MMA Junkie audience.
From fight rumblings to event locations and dates to roster departures and more, various tidbits will be featured each time “Insider’s Scoop” is released.
So without further ado, here’s the latest edition of “Insider’s Scoop.”
Fedor Emelianenko's last ride
[autotag]Fedor Emelianenko[/autotag] caught everyone’s attention in the MMA world when he quickly put an end to Tim Johnson’s night with a 100-second knockout at Bellator 269. It was an incredible moment. Perhaps one of my favorite MMA moments in recent memory. No offense to Johnson, but Fedor is a legend – and so often we see the all-time greats get smashed in moments like this.
Furthermore, beyond simply proving he’s still “got it,” Fedor showed he’s able to compete despite rounding 45 and heading toward 50 years of age. With one fight left on his Bellator contract, his successful and impressive return earlier this month opens up the door for a tremendous amount of options.
Everyone involved has publicly shied away from stating Fedor definitely has one more left in the tank, but the promotion as a whole is moving forward with the expectation that he will. A target date for early 2022 has been planned since prior to Fedor’s fight against Johnson.
The opponent, is obviously still something that needs to be figured out. If I was in charge of Bellator, I’d take a serious look at the investment that is Anderson Silva. That would be optically incredible regardless of how the fight played out. In reality, however, Ryan Bader certainly seems like the most probable option, considering Fedor specifically chose to fight the No. 1 contender in Johnson last time out.
As for a location, I would be very surprised if the promotion didn’t hold Fedor’s final fight in Russia. He’s obviously a massive draw there and a send-off in New York or Chicago or London doesn’t seem quite apt now, does it?
Where in the world is "The Korean Zombie"?
A whole handful of top contenders in the featherweight division have been booked in recent weeks. Calvin Kattar is fighting Giga Chikadze. Josh Emmett is fighting Dan Ige. Movsar Evloev is fighting Ilia Topuria.
So… where is “The Korean Zombie” [autotag]Chan Sung Jung[/autotag] at these days? Well, he’s still in Korea dealing with the shoulder injury suffered in his fight against Dan Ige back in June. His coach Eddie Cha recently told me “Zombie” received stem cell injections in his shoulder and plans to head to Phoenix to Fight Ready MMA to start working his way back to form.
Speaking of Fight Ready MMA, talk about a gym on the rise, huh? Deiveson Figueiredo and Zhang Weili joined the gym weeks apart. Kelvin Gastelum is headed there soon. And by the sounds of it, other big-named fighters could latch on soon as well. I’ll have a story out about the gym sometime in the near future, so look out for that.
Ray Cooper III free agency confusion
HOLLYWOOD, FL – OCTOBER 27: Ray Cooper III v Magomed Magomedkerimov in a welterweight championship bout during the PFL championships at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on October 27, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Cooper Neill / PFL)
Last night, [autotag]Ray Cooper III[/autotag] thrilled PFL audiences when he won his second straight $1 million championship with a massive knockout in his rematch vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov. After the fight, Cooper and PFL president Ray Sefo both denied free agency. However, just hours prior, Cooper stated he was a free agent on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour.
Where does the confusion and contradiction stem from? It sounds like it stems from the championship. I’m told with his championship win, PFL obtains Cooper’s rights – something that would not necessarily have been the case had he lost. So as of now, it sounds like Cooper will look to win his third PFL championship in 2022.
[autotag]Tony Ferguson[/autotag] is in a bit of a lull when it comes to wins and losses but the promotion is open to him coming back as soon as possible. Two matchups that were considered since his loss to Beneil Dariush at UFC 262 were [autotag]Gregor Gillespie[/autotag] and a short-notice bout against [autotag]Islam Makhachev[/autotag] at UFC 267, I’m told. Neither materialized. We shall see what the future holds.
Alexander Shabliy's next fight
There were some reports on Russia social media that one of the most overlooked fighters in Bellator, [autotag]Alexander Shabily[/autotag], would fight former UFC fighter Myles Jury next. I’m not sure if those reports were accurate or if something simply changed, but a promotion official tells me Shabliy (20-3 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) will instead fight [autotag]Bobby King[/autotag] (10-3 MMA, 1-0 BMMA). The two will fight at Bellator 272 on Dec. 3, which takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Albert Tumenov is on the market
Sticking with the theme of Russian athletes, one fighter who is struggling to find a home for reasons unbeknownst to me is former UFC welterweight [autotag]Albert Tumenov[/autotag]. Since he exited the promotion in 2016 after back-to-back losses to Gunnar Nelson and Leon Edwards, Tumenov has not lost in five straight outings. He’s recently lobbied heavily on social media – and it’s not like he can’t get in the country. He’s been training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. Hopefully some promotion comes to their senses soon.