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Farewell to a Legend: MMA Great Fedor Emelianenko’s Retirement Fight

Saturday night’s Bellator 290 event in Inglewood, Calif. was an emotional one as MMA fans and legends alike gathered to witness the retirement fight of Fedor Emelianenko, one of the greatest fighters of all time in mixed martial arts. Emelianenko, 46, was challenging Ryan Bader for the Bellator Heavyweight Championship in the main event at the Kia Forum.

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The fight was a mismatch from the start, with Emelianenko unleashing wild punches and missing badly. Less than a minute in, Bader dropped him with an overhand right and a bludgeoning followed, leaving Emelianenko face down on the canvas, bloodied and helpless, until referee Herb Dean stepped in to wave him off. The fight lasted 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and ended in a TKO loss for Emelianenko.

Despite the loss, the night managed to end gracefully, with Bader paying tribute to Emelianenko. “I idolized him like every other MMA fan and fighter that comes up,” Bader said. “Get up and help this man for what he’s done for the sport.”

Emelianenko was a dominant figure in the formative years of MMA, going undefeated in 28 fights from 2001-2010. During this period he defeated many of the top heavyweights in the world and won the Pride and WAMMA Championships. Legends of the sport were present to honor him on Saturday night, including Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Frank Shamrock, Dan Henderson, Matt Hughes, Josh Barnett, Renzo Gracie, and Rampage Jackson.

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In the co-main event, Johnny Eblen successfully defended his middleweight title with a unanimous decision win over Anatoly Tokov, a 32-year-old Russian coached by Emelianenko. After a back and forth for the first round and a half, Eblen (13-0) took over and wore Tokov down, amassing double-digit takedowns to reach a unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46). Tokov (31-3) saw a seven-fight win streak come to an end.

Emelianenko’s retirement fight may not have gone as planned, but it was a fitting end to the career of one of the greatest fighters of all time. He will be remembered for his dominance in the formative years of MMA, and for the respect and admiration he received from the MMA community.

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