Brief excitement turns to inevitable disappointment in Fedor Emelianenko's Bellator debut
It's difficult to not get excited about seeing Fedor Emelianenko, arguably the greatest heavyweight ever, step inside the cage.
In the division where the 'one strike can change the course of a fight' mentality is most prevalent, Fedor Emelianenko went on a 28-fight unbeaten streak.
The Last Emperor went nine years unbeaten, defeating the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Coleman (twice), Big Nog (twice), Mark Hunt, Kevin Randleman, Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, in one of the scariest eras of pure domination in the history of the sport.
For crying out loud, all you have to do is say 'Fedor' and every fight fan knows who you're talking about. Try referring to other great martial artists by their first names to a group of MMA fans. It may take a few seconds for them to realise who Anderson, Georges or Jon is.
Not with Fedor, though. Everyone knows Fedor.
— Coach JK (@John_Kavanagh) June 25, 2017
Although there was a lot of buzz when the Russian put pen to paper on a contract to fight Matt Mitrione in Bellator's New York debut at Bellator 180, there was also a great sense of worry.
Time waits for no man, not even an emperor, and the Fedor we all knew as the baddest man on the planet is no more. We got that feeling when Dan Henderson, a natural middleweight, handed him his third successive loss in a row back in 2011. We got it again when he scored that massively controversial majority decision victory over Fabio Maldonando, who went 5-5 in the UFC's light heavyweight division, in 2016.
Insane 'win' for Fedor https://t.co/cXD6tKx2Kc
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) June 18, 2016
However, for on brief moment in the wee hours of Sunday morning, it looked like Fedor might just have that one stellar finish left in him, when he floored Mitrione just over a minute into their fight. Unfortunately, Fedor was sent backwards to the canvas too, as both fighters landed their hands at the exact same time.
Mitrione was quicker to recover and rushed towards his downed opponent to finish him off with strikes on the ground.
It was the biggest scalp of his career. For Fedor, it was just a first-round knockout loss.