10 Oct - 
Bellator 208 main event breakdown: Sonnen has path to upset Fedor, but can he get there?

MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down Bellator’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for Bellator 208.

Bellator 208 takes place Saturday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. The main card airs on Paramount and streams on DAZN following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Fedor Emelianenko (37-5 MMA, 1-1 BMMA)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 42 Weight: 240 lbs. Reach: 4.5″
  • Last fight: Knockout win over Frank Mir (April 28, 2018)
  • Camp: Alexander Nevsky (Stary Oskol, Russia)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Multiple MMA championships
^ Pride, Strikeforce, Rings, WAMMA
+ FIAS world combat sambo titles
+ 13 KO victories
+ 15 submission wins
+ 25 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Dangerous right hand
^ Coming forward or off the counter
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Good transitional grappler
^ Crafty submissions and scrambles
+ Excellent ground striker
+/-2-1 against southpaws (last 10 years)

Chael Sonnen (30-15-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA)

Chael Sonnen. (USA TODAY Sports)

  • Last fight: Decision win over Quinton Jackson (Jan. 20, 2018)
  • Camp: Gracie Barra Portland (Portland, Oregon)
  • Stance/striking style: Southpaw/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler
+ Multiple wrestling accolades
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 8 KO victories
+ 4 submission wins
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Underrated striking ability
^ Solid boxing technique
+ Strong inside of the clinch
+ Excellent takedown ability
^ Favors power-doubles
+ Good transitional grappler
^ Passes, rides and floats well
+ Serviceable submission game
^ Works well from front-headlock

Point of interest: Southpaw styling vs. supreme timing

The main event for Bellator 208 features two names that you might not have initially suspected would square off. And with both fighters accustomed to being the smaller or faster man inside of the cage, their stylistic approaches could make for a breakneck pace throughout all phases of the fight.

A self-proclaimed “gangster” from West Linn, Ore., [autotag]Chael Sonnen[autotag] is a southpaw who has little issues with confidence when it comes to trading in a fist fight.

Demonstrating solid boxing fundamentals (something he’s had experience in from a young age), Sonnen utilizes strong fakes while working behind a pumping jab. And with his patented left cross not far behind, the 21-year pro will quickly close the distance as he looks to change his level.

This high-percentage approach has served Sonnen well over the years, and it’s even earned him some memorable moments against skilled strikers like Anderson Silva. That said, despite showing an arguable improvement to his striking in his last outing, Sonnen will still have to mind being timed by one of the best in the game when it comes to violently placing shots.

Enter [autotag]Fedor Emelianenko[autotag].

A sambo champion who stormed the Japanese MMA scene in the early 2000s, violence has been the tried and true theme throughout all the iterations of the Russian’s career.

Setting an aggressive pace and pressure that’s almost palpable, Emelianenko will come forward behind feints that make space seem fleeting. Pawing with his left-hand lackadaisically while maintaining a deadpan stare in his face, the 18-year pro keeps his right hand cocked and ready to release.

Once able to get a bite from his opponent, Emelianenko will crash the distance with casting style punches in conjunction with his counterpart, something that helps him compensate for his reach. This approach, however, also makes for unforgiving collisions, a street that runs two ways in MMA. And lest we not forget – despite Emelianenko carrying the perceived edge in exchanges – Sonnen’s looming wrestling threats might open up more striking opportunities than meets the eye.

Next point of interest: Transitioning through chaos