Scott Coker: Fedor Emelianenko will fight soon – and Junior Dos Santos or Alistair Overeem could be next

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Nolan King
·3 min read
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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Fedor Emelianenko is gearing up for a return to the cage after a battle outside of it, according to Bellator president Scott Coker.

Emelianenko (39-6 MMA, 3-2 BMMA), who has not competed since December 2019, contracted COVID-19 in 2020. The virus landed him in the hospital for a short period of time before he was released.

Coker told MMA Junkie on Thursday that he plans on meeting with Emelianenko during Bellator 256 fight week next week to discuss the specifics, but he’s been told the Russian legend is already back in the gym and preparing for a comeback.

“He’s doing much better and he’s ready to start training and getting ready,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “He will fight here in the next several months, I think. I’m going to talk to him when he gets here next week. He’s coming with (Vadim) Nemkov. I’ll have a chance to sit down and talk to him. I’ll make sure we’re on the same page as far as the timing of it all. I’m thinking late summer or early fall, you’ll see Fedor in the cage again.”

With a couple of high-profile heavyweight free agents on the market, Coker sees possibilities for Emelianenko’s next opponent. Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos and former perennial UFC heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem both are on the market.

Coker confirmed Bellator has been in talks with both. While the promotion isn’t necessarily interested in locking the 37-year-old Dos Santos (21-9) or the 40-year-old Overeem (47-19) up for multiyear deals, Coker said one-fight deals could be an option if the other parties involved are interested.

“We’re not going to sign these guys to, like, a two-year, six-fight deal or build them up,” Coker said. “They’ve done everything. They’ve already proved themselves. They are legends of the sport already. But what I will say is we do have legends of the sport here. If we go down the road, and we think a Fedor opponent will work, Alistair and Fedor will be very interesting to me. Junior Dos Santos and Fedor will be very interesting to me.”

As Coker pointed out, Emelianenko and Overeem have history, too. Both participated in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix in 2011 and could’ve fought one another. But Emelianenko was eliminated by Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem withdrew from the tournament due to contractual issues.

“We put them on opposite sides of the bracket and Fedor lost,” Coker said. “It just didn’t get to the end. Having that fight now might be interesting. We’re still a long ways away from making that happen. But (with) superfights, if they’re open to it, what I told them both is, ‘Look, if you can get a contract somewhere else that is exclusive, then great. If you can’t and you want to fight superfights, the door is always open and we’ll have conversations.'”

Dos Santos is coming off four consecutive knockout losses. Overeem went 2-1 prior to his UFC release. Emelianenko has won three of four, a stretch that includes victories over Quinton Jackson, Chael Sonnen and Frank Mir.

The promotion makes its Showtime debut Friday with Bellator 255 at Mohegan Sun Arena. The entire card also will stream on MMA Junkie.