Way back in 2004, Frank Mir became UFC Heavyweight champion in the United States while Fedor Emelianenko ruled the PRIDE promotion thousands of miles away in Japan. And if this fight happened back then, it would have been a super fight to the truest sense of the word. But that never happened.

The careers of Frank Mir and Fedor Emelianenko looked like they were destined to be parallels. That was until Frank Mir was suspended in 2015 for a banned substance he denies he ever used. While serving his sentence, Mir asked for his release from the UFC. When it was granted, he signed with rival Bellator where Emelianenko had just made his debut two month earlier.

On Saturday April 28th, Frank Mir will make his Bellator debut and his return to MMA after a two year suspension at Bellator 198 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Mir’s opponent? None other than Fedor Emelianenko. The bout that has eluded MMA fans for over a decade has been finally booked and it’s happening now. Call it a little too late but as they say, it’s better late than never.

A Legacy Fight

Mir and Emelianenko will face off in the main event of Bellator 198. It will be the third bout in the ongoing Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament which will crown Bellator’s next Heavyweight champion. The winner of the fight will move on to face Chael Sonnen in the semifinal round. Sonnen beat Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson in his opening bout. But more than the tournament and the belt at stake, it’s a part of their legacy that Mir and Emelianenko are fighting for.

Emelianenko has always been regarded as the greatest heavyweight of all-time, owing to his unprecedented run at PRIDE. But Mir revolutionized the heavyweight division with his submissions and he won the title in the UFC twice ( although the other one was interim ). So while he isn’t in the GOAT conversation, a win over Fedor will validate his greatness.

Emelianenko’s legacy is already set in stone and he’s already beaten former UFC champions Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski at Affliction. Beating Frank Mir won’t decide who the best heavyweight is today, but it will have a great effect on how fans, especially in the U.S., will remember the great Fedor Emelianenko.

Fedor’s Power and Striking

Frank Mir is the favorite here at a -145 while Fedor came back at a + 115. Fedor’s strengths have always been his speed and timing as he uses both to set up his big right hand. But those attributes are linked to age and with both men no longer spring chickens when they meet on Saturday night, it’s easy to think why the bookies are slightly leaning towards Mir.

Before Khabib Nurmagomedov, there was Fedor Emelianenko. A former combat sambo champion, striking has been the main theme of Emelianenko’s MMA career. Fedor puts pressure on his opponents by applying an unforgiving pace. He leads with a left hand jab that sets up his powerful right hand.

Since Emelianenko is the smaller fighter in this bout, he will dart in and out while attacking with high volume. Movement should be crucial for Fedor in this fight because he has the advantage in speed. If he doesn’t use it and just chooses to slug it out with the bigger man in a phone booth war, it could end up to be a disaster for the Last Emperor.

Mir’s Submission Skills

While Mir isn’t known for the punching power that Fedor became a legend for, the American can hold his own in striking exchanges owing to his karate background. And being the bigger man, you’ve got to believe that size has the advantage if Fedor chooses to be stationary. So while Fedor has the edge in a stand up battle, he can’t just stand and trade without moving around the cage.

Mir meanwhile wants the opposite. Because of his size, he can easily tie up Emelianenko against the fence and force this fight to the ground where he is most comfortable. Mir is one of the most unique heavyweights we’ve seen because of his submission skills. In fact, he holds the UFC heavyweight record for most submission wins. If Mir gets this fight to the ground, Fedor must force the fight back to a stand-up or he could end up getting submitted.

Ring rust may be a cause of concern because of Mir’s two year layoff but given his vast experience, that may not be as much a factor as one might think. Sure, there is always the possibility that Fedor ends up victorious with a one punch knockout because Mir has always been susceptible to getting laid with power shots. But we think he’s got what it takes to survive Fedor’s early onslaught and once he weathers the storm, he’s going to catch Emelianenko with a submission move after round one.

Our Pick

Fedor should have his moments, but we’re picking Frank Mir to win this fight inside the distance.

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