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Bellator 208 Heavyweight Grand Prix Semi-Finals: Fedor vs Sonnen

Fedor Emelianenko back in his RIZIN days. Does the Last Emperor still have what it takes?
Fedor Emelianenko back in his RIZIN days. Does the Last Emperor still have what it takes? Photo by MIYAKO Tohdaiji (flickr) [CC License]
  • The Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-finals will take place on October 12th and 13th
  • Chael Sonnen and Fedor Emelianenko meet on Saturday, October 13th at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York for the first semi-final clash
  • Fedor is considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight of all time, while Chael Sonnen is a newcomer to the 265 lb division

There’s no UFC event this weekend, and that’s probably for the best. Every MMA fan should be tuning in to watch Bellator 208 this Saturday, October 13th, when Chael Sonnen and Fedor Emelianenko meet face-to-face inside the cage.

It’s a real Rocky IV moment: a brash American against a brooding Russian. It’s the perfect fight for Bellator to showcase their Heavyweight Grand Prix to fans who usually limit their MMA diet to the UFC. Only one fighter will advance to the finals. Who will it be?

 Bellator 208 Odds: Fedor Emelianenko vs Chael Sonnen

Winner Bellator 208 Odds at Bovada
Fedor Emelianenko -275
Chael Sonnen +215

Naturally, the man they call the “Greatest Of All Time” is the favorite and the man who only started fighting at heavyweight this year is the underdog. But when people refer to Fedor Emelianenko (37-5, 1 NC) as the GOAT, they’re not referring to his recent body of work. And Chael Sonnen (31-15-1) made his heavyweight debut this year with a win against a very heavy Rampage Jackson, so perhaps the weight increase isn’t such a big deal for him.

Both fighters are well past their prime; Sonnen is 41 and Emelianenko recently turned 42. Usually, that would be a reason not to watch the fight. But the fact that both fighters are at the tail-end of their careers is what makes this fight so interesting and unpredictable.

That’s why I’m a little hesitant to pick Emelianenko at odds as short as -275. The Last Emperor came out of retirement in 2015 and his recent fights have all been pretty mediocre. He suffered a first-round knockout against Matt Mitrione during his Bellator debut, and was knocked down and almost finished during his last two wins.

Sonnen got his career back on track with back-to-back wins against Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson, but his real test will be against Fedor Emelianenko this weekend.

Sonnen returned to MMA last year after serving a two-year drug suspension, and lost his comeback fight against a 41-year-old Tito Ortiz. He got his career back on track with back-to-back wins against Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson, but his real test will be against Fedor Emelianenko this weekend.

Fedor Emelianenko vs Chael Sonnen Tale of the Tape

Emelianenko
VS
Sonnen

37-5, 1 NC RECORD 31-15-1
6-4 LAST 10 FIGHTS 5-5
6 ft 0 in HEIGHT 6 ft 1 in
76 in REACH 73 in
240 lb LAST WEIGHT 222 lb
42 AGE 41

The All-American will need to rely on his wrestling pedigree to win him the fight. Emelianenko is at his best when he has top control, and Sonnen has the tools to prevent Fedor from gaining such an advantageous position. We saw him utilize his wrestling against Rampage Jackson, who was far larger and heavier than Sonnen, so we know his wrestling carries through to heavyweight.

Emelianenko’s chin is a little suspect after over 40 professional fights, and Sonnen’s striking is an underrated part of his game. Four of Fedor’s five defeats have come from his last ten fights, and the other loss was a dubious doctor stoppage early in his career. It’s clear to anyone watching that his best years are well in the rear-view mirror.

Sonnen will be the lighter fighter when the pair weigh in, so he’ll have to stick and move all night. If he can use his movement and pick his moments carefully, he could stage another heavyweight upset. At +215 odds, it’s worth picking the American Gangster.

Pick: Chael Sonnen (+215)

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Don Aguero is a man of many talents, writing about nearly anything you can put odds to. Don has been writing for SportsBettingDime since 2015, covering sports, entertainment and politics. You name it, he's covered it! He is also a steadfast West Ham fan, and has learned to embrace that suffering.