Despite numerous sources indicating that former Pride FC and Strikeforce fighter Fedor Emelianenko would be joining the UFC, it was revealed during Bellator 142: Dynamite by former Pride FC founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara that the “The Last Emperor” will be headlining an event on New Year’s Eve in Japan against a yet-to-be-named opponent. The event will be broadcast on Spike TV in North America.
Emelianenko last fought in 2012 when he defeated Pedro Rizzo in the first round. He later announced his retirement following that bout. The legendary heavyweight was widely considered to be the best fighter in the world during his prime in the Japanese-based Pride organization. The Russian fighter claimed Pride’s heavyweight title in 2003 with a win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and never relinquished the belt, defeating the likes of Nogueira, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman and K-1 champion Mark Hunt along the way. He continued his impressive run in Affliction, where he topped former UFC heavyweight champions Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski. Emelianenko’s aura of invincibility came to an end under the Strikeforce banner, where he went on a three-fight skid with losses to current UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Dan Henderson. The sambo specialist ended his career on a high note by compiling a three-fight winning streak that included knockouts of Satoshi Ishii and Rizzo.
More details, including Emelianenko’s opponent, are expected to be announced in the coming months.