11 Oct - 
Bellator 208's Chael Sonnen clarifies describing Fedor Emelianenko's past fights as 'fixed'

NEW YORK – Chael Sonnen has no doubt there were fixed fights under the now-defunct PRIRE banner. Was Fedor Emelianenko involved in any of those? He’s less sure about that.

In the past Sonnen (30-15-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) has discredited Emelianenko’s (37-5 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) resume and questioned the legitimacy of the what the former longtime PRIDE champion has accomplished. Ahead of their heavyweight grand prix semifinal at Bellator 208 on Saturday, though, Sonnen has changed his tune and called the Russian the “greatest heavyweight in MMA history.”

So, which is it? When pressed about the “fixed” comments, Sonnen provided a more in-depth answer on his stance.

“I’ll clarify it: PRIDE was fixed,” Sonnen told MMAjunkie at today’s Bellator 208 open workouts “That’s not to say his fights were fixed. PRIDE was so long ago I can’t believe people are still talking about it. PRIDE had fixed fights, and that’s the way it goes. If you fix one fight your whole organization is ruined. I think it’s one of the reasons that they’re off TV and they’re out of business and they’re not doing it anymore.

“If Fedor had fixed fights – I’d have to go back and look. I don’t remember thinking Fedor was in fixed fights, I don’t remember thinking a number of those guys were in fixed fights. But they fixed fights. Period.”

Bellator 208 takes place at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Sonnen vs. Emelianenko headlines the Paramount-televised main card following prelims on MMAjunkie.

For Sonnen, 41, a matchup with Emelianenko, 42, is something he’s thought about for a long time. He admittedly never believed it would materialize, though, because Emelianenko is a career-long heavyweight while, prior to the tournament, Sonnen had only fought at light heavyweight and middleweight.

Sonnen advanced to the semifinals of the eight-man tournament in January when he defeated Quinton Jackson at Bellator 192. Emelianenko, meanwhile, punched his ticket the second round with a knockout of Frank Mir at Bellator 198 in May.

Now the two meet in a bout that will determine who advances to the finals to face the winner of Matt Mitrione (13-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) vs. Ryan Bader (25-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), who fight Friday at Bellator 207. Sonnen said he intends on getting that spot, and when fight time arrives, he plans to go out and take it.

“As soon as they say, ‘Go’ I’m going to come across the ring and I’m going to get in a fight,” Sonnen said. “I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked forward to a fight before. I look forward to opportunities and matches and strategizing and planning and training, but the actual competitions, I am looking forward to grabbing ahold of him and seeing what happens.

“I want to see what this power is all about, this explosiveness is all about. I’ve been impressed by him watching him through my television set, but I want to be able to tell you first hand.”

For more on Bellator 208, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.