After a huge period of speculation, the ink has dried. Fedor Emelianenko will be returning to MMA as a member of Bellator MMA’s roster…well, sort of.
Fedor was linked to reports that he’d signed with the UFC earlier this month, which ended up not being true. Fedor Emelianenko stated this on Inside MMA past week that he would announce which company he was signing with. He did that on Saturday night.
It was announced that Fedor would be fighting in the main event of the next Bellator Dynamite show on New Year’s Eve, although he won’t be a member of Bellator’s roster. The show will be broadcast by Spike TV, and an opponent for Emelianenko has yet to be announced.
The announcement was made in an unusual fashion, as one of Nobuyuki Sakakibara was on hand, and introduced as PRIDE FC’s founder, although that isn’t the case. Sakakibara then announced that he was getting back into MMA. It is to be assumed that he’ll be involved in Bellator’s next Dynamite show, co-promoted by his yet-to-be-named promotion. Spike issued a press release following the announcement.
“Emanating from Tokyo, Japan, the event marks the debut of a new global MMA promotion run by former Pride President Nobuyuki Sakakibara.”
“Bellator will partner with Mr. Sakakibara on the MMA extravaganza and will have fighters from its roster participating. The event will be broadcast to Spike’s 93 million homes in the United States.”
“Fedor’s opponent and further details on the event will be announced at a later date.”
“‘We are thrilled to join forces with Nobuyuki Sakakibara and our partner Bellator President Scott Coker to give MMA fans a big reason to celebrate this New Year’s Eve – Fedor fighting FREE on Spike!’ said Kevin Kay, Spike President.”
Nothing outside of Fedor competing and the Spike broadcast from Toyko have been announced, but it’s unlikely that Bellator will be bringing their one-night tournament format back for the New Year’s Eve show, as it was a failure Saturday Night. “King” Mo Lawal was forced out after his first round victory, which led to Francis Carmont replacing him.
Fedor last fought in the Summer of 2012, completely obliterating former UFC title contender Pedro Rizzo. Emelianenko would take three years off after the death of his father, nursing a hand injury before announcing his intent to return to MMA earlier this summer.
A prime opponent for Fedor would have been up-and-coming heavyweight Blagoi Ivanov. Ivanov defeated Fedor in a sambo bout several years ago, and developed into a pretty good heavyweight MMA fighter. Bellator MMA later signed Ivanov, before inexplicably releasing him, allowing him to sign with competitor World Series Of Fighting.
Fedor was also briefly linked to a huge fight with former WWE and UFC Champion Brock Lesnar. According to UFC President Dana White, the two were almost set to fight in a main event in Dallas, Texas, for the UFC’s first American stadium show. Lesnar, who was contracted to WWE at the time, had accepted the fight, while Fedor was deciding. After the death of Emelianenko’s father, Fedor instead decided that retirement was the best option. Emelianenko noted that he hasn’t spoken to Dana White personally.
Emelianenko has evaded the UFC, with UFC President Dana White criticizing his management in the past.
[Photo by Tomokazu Kozawa/ Getty Images Sport]