Fedor Emelianenko explains how he'll prepare for Ryan Bader in tournament final

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Fedor Emelianenko intends to give plenty of attention to the ground skills of Ryan Bader during his preparation for the Bellator tournament final in January.

Emelianenko (38-5 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) will fight Bader (26-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) for the vacant Bellator heavyweight title on Jan. 26 after both men advanced past the semifinals with wins at Bellator 208 and Bellator 207 this weekend. The matchup is the result of the eight-man tournament being narrowed down to two athletes, with Emelianenko punching his ticket with a first-round TKO of Chael Sonnen, and Bader beating Matt Mitrione by unanimous decision.

With all his focus going into the fight with Sonnen, Emelianenko said he didn’t watch Bader’s victory from the night prior. He knows what “Darth” is good at, though, and he intends to put specific attention on the strengths of his opponent the same way he does every other.

“We take into consideration the specialities and the features of all the opponents we meet,” Emelianenko told reporters, including MMAjunkie, post-fight at Bellator 208. “We’re preparing for this fight, and we’re taking into considerations the very strong sides of Chael. The same will happen, actually, for the preparation for the fight for Bader. Me and my team will make the next conclusions. Certainly there will be a lot of attention given to all the work on the ground, on the canvas.”

Bellator 208 took place at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Emelianenko vs. Sonnen headlined the Paramount-televised card following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Emelianenko said he was “not surprised” by anything Sonnen did in their bout because he was able to see “all his movements” coming after thorough preparation. The win put the former PRIDE champ back in position to claim another world title that would add even more prestige to an already illustrious career.

Many already consider Emelianenko to be one of the sports all-time greats, but he said he’s not thinking about what winning Bellator gold would mean to his legacy, because he hasn’t done it yet.

“First of all, I’m not the champion of Bellator,” Emelianenko said. “First of all, you have to fight and you have to earn it, and we’ll have to get together and discuss that if we win.”

At 42, Emelianenko clearly has less time ahead of him in the sport than he does behind. He’s already retired from competition once, and riding off to the sunset by winning gold would seem like the perfect ending for the Russian legend. He said walking away from sport with the belt around his waist is not a consideration yet, and it’s only something he will think about after the fight.

“Everything depends on how I’m feeling, how my health is,” Emelianenko said. “I will be able to answer this question after the fight.”

For complete coverage of Bellator 208, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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