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Bellator 290 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Fedor Emelianeko vs. Ryan Bader: How to Bet Fedor’s Retirement Fight (Saturday, February 4)

Bellator 290 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Fedor Emelianeko vs. Ryan Bader: How to Bet Fedor’s Retirement Fight (Saturday, February 4) article feature image
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Masashi Hara/Getty Images. Pictured: Bellator heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko of Russia

  • Famed Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko fights for the final time as part of Saturday's Bellator 290 main event.
  • The legendary fighter meets current Bellator champ Ryan Bader, who won the duo's first meeting.
  • Below, Billy Ward breaks down the matchup and offers his best bet for the CBS-televised title fight.

Fedor Emelianeko vs. Ryan Bader Odds

Emelianeko Odds +280
Bader Odds -340
Over/Under 1.5 (+195 / -240)
Venue Kia Forum in Inglewood, California
Time 9 p.m. ET (main card)
Channel CBS/Paramount+
Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings

It’s the last ride (again) for “The Last Emperor” as MMA’s best-ever heavyweight makes his final walk.

Fedor Emelianeko had a three-year hiatus between 2012 and 2015 before returning to compete primarily against other elder statesmen of the sport.

Including Ryan Bader, whom he’s squaring off with in his final fight. Bader knocked out Emelianeko in 35 seconds in 2019, a loss the Russian apparently wanted to avenge before laying down his gloves.

This fight (9 p.m. ET, CBS) is for the Bellator heavyweight championship – which would of course be vacated if Emelianeko were to emerge victorious.

Tale of the Tape

Emelianeko Bader
Record 40-6 30-7
Height 6’0″ 6’2″
Weight (pounds) 233 lbs. 232 lbs.
Reach (inches) 76″ 74″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 9/28/1976 6/07/1983

While we’ve grown accustomed to a seemingly endless wave of scary Russians with sambo backgrounds, Emelianeko was the original. Arriving seemingly out of nowhere in Japan, he used his combat sambo grappling and unorthodox “casting” punches to amass a 30-1 record in the 2000s. His lone loss was a fight stopped due to a cut he suffered from an accidental headbutt.

Many of his PRIDE-era fights were legendary. He took on – and beat – a who’s who of early MMA big men, with notable wins over Ricardo Arona, Mark Hunt, Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro Cop and many more.

Equally notable was his participation in the occasional freak fight that was emblematic of the era. He once fought 350-pound sumo fighter Zuluzhino, knocking him out in less than 30 seconds despite the 100-pounds-plus weight discrepancy.

At his peak, Emelianeko was seemingly indestructible while capable of ending fights at any time. He has massive power in his looping right hand, and he’s one of the top submission artists ever to wear four-ounce gloves.

Of course, this is not Emelianeko at his peak. He’s 46 now, with a few knockout losses to his name – and a shocking submission at the hands (well, legs) of Fabricio Werdum.

Since his hiatus, he’s reimagined himself as a knockout artist, with all of his victories coming via strikes. The evolution of jiu-jitsu and other grappling arts seems to have passed him by to a degree, as modern-era grapplers are unwilling to play the bottom game while he looks for his signature assortment of armlocks and chokes.

More importantly, he has major questions surrounding his chin. He’s taken a  tremendous amount of damage over the 22 years he’s been fighting. Chins tend to not age well, and he’s suffered four knockout losses in his last 13 contests.

Including one to Bader, a former UFC light heavyweight who’s found success at both light heavyweight and heavyweight in Bellator.

After winning the eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Bader had a 20-fight UFC run. He went 15-5 for the promotion, including a loss to Jon Jones just prior to “Bones'” championship run.

Bader has held gold at both 205 pounds and heavyweight for Bellator, winning the latter via the final round of Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix against Emelianeko in 2019 to simultaneously hold both belts.

He’s since lost to current and former champions Vadim Nemkov and Corey Anderson at light heavyweight, but he remains undefeated as a heavyweight.

Originally a wrestler, Bader has developed huge power in his hands, using his wrestling to keep opponents off base while loading up on big shots. Which is essentially Emelianeko’s late-career game, as well.

He too has a slightly questionable chin, with knockout losses to Nemkov and Anderson. However, both of those fighters had considerable speed and youth edges over Bader – neither of which Emelianeko will enjoy.


Emelianeko vs. Bader Pick

While it’s tempting to believe Emelianeko can work his magic one last time, I can’t in good conscience suggest putting hard-earned money on it. The moneyline odds for this fight are roughly the same they were for the first meeting between the pair, despite Bader’s decisive win and Fedor’s advancing age.

While Bader’s chin has some reasonable question marks, it’s hard to see Emelianeko finding it. Both men are better hammers than nails at this point in their careers, but Bader is considerably younger and more athletic.

I’m expecting mostly a standup battle, as neither man has relied much on their grappling in recent memory. The first clean shot from either side probably gets things done. Unfortunately, Emelianeko has lost enough speed and reaction time that it’s hard to see him landing it.

With all that said, current Emelianeko fights like he’s double-parked. Win or lose, he hasn’t seen a second round since 2016. The current odds of under 1.5 rounds of -240 at DraftKings are better than Bader’s moneyline anywhere, so that’s the pick.

If and when DraftKings offers their “same game parlay” option on this fight, Bader and under 1.5 is a solid option. I’d take that at -150 or better. However, I’m not sure they’ll offer it for a non-UFC bout.

The Pick:  Under 1.5 Round -240 (DraftKings)

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