As we previously reported, the legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko chose an American Timothy Johnson as his opponent for the fight in Moscow. A US representative commented on this situation.
Johnson (15-7 MMA, 3-3 BMMA), who is coming off an interim title-fight loss to Emelianenko’s (39-6 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) pupil Valentin Moldavsky at Bellator 261 in June, has seen the negative reaction to the announcement he will be fighting the legendary former PRIDE heavyweight champion on Oct. 23 in Russia, but wants everyone to realize he’s at not fault.
Although it was certainly a fight he was hoping to be considered for, Johnson didn’t think he would actually be the man sharing the cage with Emelianenko. He was pleased to get the news, but the MMA community wasn’t quite as happy, as backlash poured in online from fans and media.
The expectation was Emelianenko would face another legend of the fight game. A Fabricio Werdum rematch was discussed, as was pairings with the likes of Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett or Junior Dos Santos. The fight ended up going to Johnson, and he wants to remind the world that it was Emelianenko who made the majority of the call alongside the Bellator brass.
“I honestly didn’t even think I was going to be in the neighborhood of getting it initially,” Johnson told MMA Junkie on Monday. “I heard the same names everyone else did. … Since the announcement there’s been a lot of people – it’s been not received with open arms, I guess you could say. Well, here it is: Fedor watched me fight for 25 minutes up close and personal (against Moldavsky), the same list everyone was talking about Fedor has in front of him. He had a say in the matchmaking.
“This is a status fight,” Johnson said. “Fedor, it’s his last fight – or possible his last fight – I don’t know if it’s confirmed to be his last one. But to be attached to him on his last fight, or maybe his last fight, any heavyweight would take this. I don’t care who it is.
“He’s going to put every ounce of will and everything he has in in his power to win this fight. This is going to be Fedor of 10 years ago. Not Fedor of the last year or two years. He’s going to be retro Fedor. That’s the fight I’m preparing for.”