Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix has its two finalists as Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko will enter the cage against current Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan “Darth” Bader at The Forum in Inglewood, California on January 26. The light heavyweight champ is a -360 favorite with Emelianenko coming back at +270.
I’m a little surprised by these Sportsbook odds – not that Bader is the favorite, but by how much he is favored. Darth has a smothering wrestling style that was on full display in his semifinal bout with Matt Mitrione. However, Fedor has been through the ringer in his career and has extremely fast hands that can put anyone to sleep as quick as a hiccup. I do think Bader should be the favorite but much closer to -200 rather than -360.
Breaking down Fedor vs Bader
Bader (-360) hasn’t been hit through his first two fights in the heavyweight grand prix, finishing King Mo in a matter of seconds in the quarterfinal and grinding Matt Mitrione into oblivion in the semis. The 35-year-old has a fantastic wrestling pedigree with an aggressive ground and pound on the mat, although against Mitrione he maintained great pressure and controlled the fight on the mat but failed to capitalize on his usual ground and pound. Bader does have three knockout losses on his record, but two of those T/KOs came against heavy hitters Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira.
Fedor (+270) has experience on his side as he is competing in his 45th career fight, sporting an impressive record of 38-5 with one no contest. The Last Emperor is extremely dangerous as he has legit knockout power in both of his hands and he unloads his punches very fast, with 14 of his 38 career wins coming via T/KO. However, the Russia native’s cardio has been an area of concern as he was looking a little tired in his semifinal bout with Chael Sonnen prior to the late first-round finish.
This is a classic striker vs grappler bout as Bader will do his best to drag Fedor down, while Emelianenko will look to use his explosive combos to end the fight. I’m not sure that Bader will be able to hold Fedor down for five rounds and each fight starts standing, so I think Darth is a little bit of a risky bet, especially at -360.