Fedor Emelianenko’s return to MMA has been confirmed, as the former heavyweight champion will return on New Year’s Eve in Japan.
Emelianenko will compete on a card promoted by both Bellator and a new MMA promotion run by former PRIDE president Nobuyuki Sakakibara. The Japan legend appeared inside the Bellator cage to make the announcement along with Emelianenko, Scott Coker an Kevin Kay, the president of Spike.
“I am fighter,” he said, about returning to MMA after several years away. “I am ready. We will see you New Year’s Eve on Spike TV.”
Many believed that “The Last Emperor” would finally sign with the UFC, and Dana White even hinted on social media a few weeks back about a possible deal. In more recent interviews, White has been honest about nothing being complete between the sides.
Emelianenko, who turns 39 years old later this month, announced his retirement from fighting in 2012 after a first round finish vs. Pedro Rizzo. It marked the third straight win for the heavyweight after suffering three consecutive losses in Strikeforce.
Along with finishing Rizzo, the Russian also stopped Satoshi Ishii and earned a decision over Jeff Monson in 2011. He lost via finish to Dan Henderson, Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum between 2010-11 after a lengthy win streak was put together.
Between 2000-2009, Emelianenko went 31-1 with a no-contest, as the loss was via doctor’s stoppage in 2000 to Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. He also fought Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to a no-contest four years later, avenging that with a decision win. He also avenged the Kohsaka defeat in 2005 with a first round TKO victory.
Emelianenko is a former PRIDE heavyweight champion and won the 2004 PRIDE Heavyweight World Grand Prix. He’s also held the RINGS openweight title, WAMMA heavyweight belt and is a well-decorated Combat Sambo fighter.