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Emelianenko vs. Mir in Bellator tourney opener? Matchups not determined, official says

A heavyweight matchup that’s been discussed for more than a decade could happen in the opening round of the recently announced Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018 tournament – but nothing is confirmed just yet.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir (18-11 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) says he will take on former PRIDE FC heavyweight titleholder Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in the opening round of the eight-man tournament, which is set to determine a new Bellator heavyweight champ.

Mir revealed the matchup during a recent edition of his “Phone Booth Fighting” podcast, but a Bellator official told MMAjunkie that no matchups have been finalized.

“Looks like I’ll probably be lining up with Fedor, probably in April,” Mir said on the podcast (via YouTube). “I didn’t sleep that night with it running through my mind.”

Although both are in the twilight of their careers, Mir and Emelianenko once ruled the heavyweight division from different sides of the globe. Mir was racking up submissions and title wins under the UFC banner while Emelianenko was making an unprecedented run through the now-defunct PRIDE FC organization.

Both men have since landed under the Bellator banner and could potentially face off in the opening round of the tournament. Mir makes his Bellator debut after a 27-fight run with the UFC that ultimately ended with his release from the company. He’s currently still serving a suspension for a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) anti-doping violation, but his two-year term ends in March.

Emelianenko, meanwhile, enters the tournament with hopes of reviving his career after a failed Bellator debut. “The Last Emperor” suffered a first-round knockout loss to Matt Mitrione at Bellator NYC in June.

Mir said he’s wanted to fight Emelianenko for a long time.

“There’s always so many times I heard, ‘Oh, it’s going to happen; the UFC is going to sign Fedor,'” Mir said. “This is the most bang for your buck, and I guarantee we’re going to face off in the opening round.”

For more on the upcoming Bellator schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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