Three-time UFC champion Jon Jones has made no bones of his admiration for Russian great Fedor Emelianeko, and called the ‘Last Emperor’ to congratulate him on his forthcoming return to the Bellator cage in October.
Jones, who in most people’s books can boast one of the most dominant careers in the history of mixed martial arts, knows full well what it takes to ascend to the summit of the sport – but before the fighter known as ‘Bones’ even began his legendary career in the UFC cage, Emelianenko was already held in regard as one of the most impressive champions to have laced up a pair of 4oz gloves.
Back when Jones made his professional debut in 2008, Emelianenko had already wracked up a deeply impressive career record of 29-1 (with one no-contest) as he tore through the now-defunct PRIDE organization’s heavyweight roster, casting aside the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira, Mark Coleman and numerous others in the process.
Jones would eventually carve out his own niche in the sport but has long spoken of his admiration for the Russian fighter still regarded by most as the best heavyweight in the sport’s history – and it seems that Jones’ fandom for ‘The Last Emperor’ remains fully intact after the UFC star called Emelianenko to congratulate him on announcing his cage comeback.
Real recognize real 👊 🐐@JonnyBones FaceTimed Fedor Emelianenko to congratulate the GOAT on his upcoming return to the Bellator cage, October 23 in Moscow. 🇷🇺 #Bellator261 #MMA pic.twitter.com/joSMaIyauP
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) June 26, 2021
Fedor is fighting again?! Well that’s pretty exciting
— BONY (@JonnyBones) June 25, 2021
“I just want to say congratulations and welcome back,” said Jones warmly to the Russian great, 44. “I’m very excited. I’ll talk to you later!”
“Thank you my brother!,” responded Emelianenko, who appeared to be touched by Jones’ gesture.
Emelianenko’s return is slated to take place in the Bellator cage in October in what will be his first fight since a December 2019 win against fellow PRIDE alum Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.
Since inking a deal with the promotion, Fedor has compiled a 3-2 record with the American promotion, beating Jackson, Chael Sonnen and Frank Mir while losing by knockout to both Ryan Bader and Matt Mitrione.
Jones, meanwhile, is likely pouring through reams of Fedor footage as he continues his preparations for his forthcoming heavyweight debut – though there remains no indication as to when that might happen.
The former longtime UFC light heavyweight champion relinquished his 205lbs title last year following a defence against Dominick Reyes ahead of a proposed assault on the UFC’s heavyweight fold.
However, rumblings of a pay dispute with the UFC and Dana White appears to have delayed Jones’ debut in his new weight lass – with White lashing out at his former champion for what he described as unrealistic pay demands to arrange what would be a mouthwatering clash with newly-installed UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
As for Emelianenko, no opponent has yet been confirmed but the early word of mouth is suggesting that fellow veterans Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem (released from the UFC in March) are the most likely names to be cast opposite Fedor in a few months’ time.
But no matter who is standing opposite the legendary Emelianeko come October, you can be sure that Jon Jones will be watching with great interest.
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