Tokyo, Japan — During his reign as PRIDE heavyweight champion, Fedor Emelianenko was one of Japan’s most recognizable fighters. However, Wednesday’s exhibition vs. WAMMA lightweight champion Shinya Aoki during the M-1 Challenge’s Tokyo event will be the first time he has competed in the country since a first round submission victory over Hong Man Choi on New Year’s Eve 2007 during the one-off “Yarrenoka!!” event.
While many members of the Japanese media were intrigued by Fedor’s upcoming special grappling exhition vs. Aoki, one reporter asked the current WAMMA heavyweight champion what his plans were regarding his next sanctioned MMA fight.
When posed the question during a Tuesday press conference at the 21 East Hotel in Tokyo, Emelianenko quickly referred the question to his manager Vadim Finkelchtein.
While Finkelchtein was careful to indicate that nothing has been finalized, he did reveal that talks are currently taking place regarding Emelianenko fighting “an opponent ranked in the top ten” sometime in July or August. Finkelchtein also seemed rather certain that the event would take place in Japan.
Seated next to Finkelchtein on the dais was Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio, who also appeared in St. Petersburg, Russia during last weekend’s M-1 Selection event, a year-long team competition featuring fight gyms in Russia competing for the opportunity to represent their home country during the 2010 M-1 Challenge.
Emelianenko is still under contract to Affliction for one more fight, and while Atencio offered no hints regarding a third Affliction event, speculation was running rampant at the press conference that Affliction could look to partner with M-1 and DREAM in regards to a possible July or August event in Japan.