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4 reasons why Fedor Emelianenko could beat Ryan Bader

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
7.15K   //    05 Jan 2019, 17:06 IST

Ryan Bader faces the legendary Fedor Emelianenko later in January
Ryan Bader faces the legendary Fedor Emelianenko later in January

January 26th will be a major date for Bellator MMA, as the UFC’s biggest rival promotion will put on Bellator 214 from Inglewood, California – and the main event will feature the finals of Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, a fight to decide the new Bellator Heavyweight champion, as the legendary Fedor Emelianenko takes on former UFC title contender Ryan Bader.

Most observers seem to be expecting Bader to win the fight comfortably – Fedor is years past his prime now and despite his wins over Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen, he appears to be more vulnerable today than he’s ever been in his career. Bader meanwhile is on a hot streak and hasn’t lost in 6 fights – he’s also the reigning Bellator Light-Heavyweight champion.

There’s no doubt that Bader should be the favourite here, but can you really count Fedor out? Personally, I don’t think so, and here are 4 reasons why.

#1 Bader isn’t invulnerable

Bader's chin has struggled to hold up against even less notable strikers like Tito Ortiz
Bader's chin has struggled to hold up against even less notable strikers like Tito Ortiz

There’s no denying that Ryan Bader is on a hot streak right now. He’s unbeaten in Bellator competition after winning their Light-Heavyweight title in his debut there, and he left the UFC on a two-fight run as well. Few observers would argue against him being one of the best five 205lbers in the world right now.

Having said that, only a fool would try to claim Bader is almost impossible to beat, in the same way that fighters like Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier are. We’ve simply seen Bader beaten or badly hurt too many times in the past for him to have that invulnerable aura. Bader has only lost 5 times in his career, but ignoring his loss to Jon Jones – everyone loses to that guy – all of those bad results stem from one issue; a questionable chin.

Sure, there’s no shame in being knocked out by Anthony Johnson, who was one of the hardest hitters in all of MMA, but Bader was also knocked down by Tito Ortiz prior to being submitted, and Tito’s never been known as a great striker. He also lost to Glover Teixeira in a fight that he was winning, essentially because his chin couldn’t hold up to Glover’s power.

Bader’s striking has admittedly improved hugely since he literally ran into a knockout punch from Lyoto Machida in 2012, but he’s still a wrestler by trade rather than a kickboxer, and he’s now got over a decade of damage from professional MMA to contend with, too.

Fedor might be miles past his prime, but as everyone who follows combat sports knows, the last thing that a top fighter loses is his power. We saw that in Fedor’s 2018 fights with Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen. And the Russian has always been known as one of the hardest hitters in MMA. Bader might have some success in this fight, but if Fedor hits him cleanly, it’s hard to believe Bader’s chin will hold up.

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