It’s time for Bellator to sign the greatest of them all: Fedor Emelianenko.
Bellator signed UFC icon Tito Ortiz a month after signing another big UFC star, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. These guys aren’t the best in the world, but they are big names in the sport and will fuel some diversity into a sport that is dominated by the UFC. And don’t forget, Bellator has already signed UFC and MMA legends Randy Couture and Frank Shamrock.
If Bellator really wants to make an impact, it needs to go after Emelianenko. The former pound-for-pound best fighter in the world is the biggest star to never fight in the UFC. He ruled Pride Fighting Championship and consistently thrilled fans with an undefeated streak that lasted a decade.
Emelianenko finally lost three fights in a row in Strikeforce, but then won two before retiring. Hardcore MMA fans, not the goobers who drool on themselves every time Dana White speaks, regard Emelianenko as one of the greatest of all time, if not the greatest.
His ability to rally when behind in fights, submit guys larger than him and knock out fighters with his wicked counter-punching made him an icon in MMA circles. His losses at the end of his career were seen as a reflection of time catching up with him, more than getting beat by younger, better-skilled fighters.
Even if Bellator only signs Emelianenko as an ambassador for the sport, and not to fight, the buzz around the deal would bring tremendous credibility to the company that is trying to take on the bigger, badder playground bully.