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Emelianenko has the résumé of the heavyweight GOAT, but Cain Velasquez was the best: Ryan Bader

Bellator 290 is anticipated to be a thrilling night. On February 4, Ryan Bader will face MMA icon Fedor Emelianenko to defend his heavyweight title. The Forum in Inglewood, California will host the event.

The fight is a replay of their first meeting at Bellator 214, where Bader won the heavyweight Grand Prix and vacant Bellator heavyweight championship via first-round TKO over Emelianenko.

Bellator 290 will be a momentous experience as well because after putting together a ridiculous 28-fight, eight-year unbeaten streak, "The Last Emperor" will be staging his final appearance. Considering his dominance in Pride, where he defeated several former UFC champions, he is acknowledged as one of the best heavyweight fighters in MMA history.

On the other hand, Ryan Bader, who will be Emelianenko's final opponent, has steadily established his history at heavyweight but hasn't quite assembled a record that would qualify him as one of the greatest anyway.

Almost everyone agrees that Emelianenko's accomplishment sets him in front of all fellow heavyweights in history. The current heavyweight champion in Bellator, however, considers a former college wrestling colleague, whose tenure was tragically cut short by several devastating injuries, to be the most skilled fighter he has ever witnessed perform in that category.

“I would say Cain Velasquez [was the best] when he’s healthy, but the only problem is Cain couldn’t stay healthy for so long and didn’t have the résumé and the fights that Fedor did,” Bader told MMA Fighting. “I would say Cain could go out there and be the best heavyweight of all time.

“If you’re going to put a label on somebody, I would say Fedor would be [the one]. He didn’t come over to the UFC but it’s not taking anything away from him. He built a legacy. He fought those guys [in Japan], beat a lot of those guys. But if you were to put [on a fight] on their best night, Fedor versus Cain, I’m going to take Cain.”

Even with a professional career littered with lengthy absences due to injury, Velasquez nevertheless succeeded in winning the UFC championship twice and overcoming notable opponents like Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Velasquez endured numerous losses throughout his career and was forced to sit out for extended periods when he was unable to compete because his body literally couldn't handle it.

Nevertheless, Bader maintains that at his very peak, Velasquez was completely dominant, and even during the infrequent intervals when he was capable of remaining fit, Velasquez often demonstrated this claim.


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