Bellator MMA is going to Japan with a nostalgic fight.
Fedor Emelianenko, one of the best heavyweight fighters in MMA history, will take on fellow legend Quinton Jackson in the main event of Bellator’s Japanese debut Dec. 29 at Saitama Super Arena, it was announced Wednesday at a press conference in Tokyo. The bout is being billed as Emelianenko’s final fight in Japan. Both Emelianenko and Jackson built their names in the country with the now-defunct Pride Fighting Championships.
Emelianenko (38-6, 1 NC) is the former Pride heavyweight champion and regarded as the best fighter of the early aughts, holding a 10-year undefeated streak from 2000 to 2010. The Russia native returned from a three-year retirement in 2015 and has gone 4-2 for Bellator and Japan’s Rizin. Emelianenko, 43, advanced to the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix final in January, where he lost by knockout to Ryan Bader.
In June, “The Last Emperor” re-signed with Bellator on a multi-fight contract for his “retirement tour.” The plan is for Emelianenko to fight in Japan and once more in his native Russia before hanging up the gloves. Emelianenko owns victories over the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Coleman and Andrei Arlovski. He is possibly the best ever to not have fought for the UFC.
Jackson (38-13) is a former UFC light heavyweight champion who had memorable rivalries with the likes of Jon Jones, Rashad Evans and Wanderlei Silva. “Rampage” is coming off a second-round TKO of Silva in September 2018. Jackson, 41, is 2-2 since moving up to heavyweight with Bellator in 2016. He owns victories over the likes of Chuck Liddell (twice), Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson.
Rizin will supply fighters for the card, as well, and hold its own event Dec. 31. MMA on New Year’s Eve is a tradition in Japan. Bellator and Rizin have a cross-promotional relationship and frequently share talent.