Bellator MMA to make CBS debut with Fedor-Bader showdown

Sports

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Bellator mixed martial arts promotion will make its network television debut on CBS with Fedor Emelianenko taking on heavyweight champion Ryan Bader on Feb. 4.

Bellator announced the headline bouts Friday for the landmark show, which will be held at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

The light heavyweight belt also is expected to be on the line at Bellator 290, with Yoel Romero scheduled to take on the winner of champion Vadim Nemkov’s meeting with Corey Anderson.

CBS is getting back into MMA with Bellator, the promotion owned by the network’s parent conglomerate, Paramount Global. From 2008 to 2010, CBS aired a handful of shows from the Strikeforce promotion, which was founded and run by Bellator’s current president, Scott Coker.

The 46-year-old Emelianenko (40-6) remains one of the biggest names in MMA despite fighting just once since 2019. The longtime star of Japan’s Pride FC promotion and Strikeforce has been with Bellator since 2017, and Emelianenko claims this rematch with Bader will be his retirement bout, although he has retired before.

Emelianenko lost to Bader (30-7) in just 35 seconds during their first meeting for the heavyweight title four years ago. The 39-year-old Bader went on to defend his heavyweight belt twice in 2022.

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