This Saturday in San Jose, "The Last Emporer" Fedor Emelianenko makes his U.S. return against Matt Mitrione in his Bellator debut. As a part of the recent crop of impressive signings by the organization, Bellator undoubtedly has a lot riding on the 40 year old Russian... but is a win from Emelianenko really the best case scenario for Coker and company?
A win against Mitrione, while albeit not necessarily the most impressive name on his resume, would re-solidify his status as someone who can compete against high-level talent at this stage of his career. Fedor hasn't recorded a win on U.S. soil since November 2009 against Brett Rogers, and much of the casual MMA audience probably hasn't seen him fight since losing to Dan Henderson to cap off a 3-fight losing streak in Strikeforce. Beating Mitrione would improve Fedor's win streak to 6, and while most hardcore fans know some of those wins aren't exactly noteworthy, it is something the Bellator promotion team can sell to the casual viewing audience.
On the other hand, could a win for Matt Mitrione work out better in the long run for Bellator? While he may only be 2 years younger than his opponent, it would seem he has a few more years left in his tank than Emelianenko. A loss in his Bellator debut to an aging, lesser version of Fedor would do a significant amount of damage to whatever drawing power he holds.
All things considered, one would think that the Bellator brass will be rooting for Fedor when the cage door locks on Saturday. While they have to understand the likelihood that Mitrione will be the one with his hand raised, the drawing power of even a significantly less dangerous Fedor beats that of Mitrione's. Check back on Saturday morning to see who our staff picks as the victor between "The Last Emporer" and "Meathead", as well as the rest of Bellator 172 and UFC: Halifax. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UntitledMMA, and like us on Facebook as "Untitled MMA"
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