Fedor Emelianenko: ‘The Last Emperor’ Finally Has Opponent For MMA Return On New Year’s Eve But Will Anyone Care?

Earlier this year, MMA news outlets reported the monumental announcement that Fedor Emelianenko would be returning to MMA action. Many fans of MMA, especially those whose fandom is well-seasoned, were surprised to hear that “The Last Emperor” was planning a return to action given the fact he announced his retirement three years ago. Nevertheless, Emelianenko announcing his return caused quite a bit of chatter in the MMA community. There were many who thought Emelianenko would finally appear in UFC. However, others believed there was too much of a divide between Emelianenko and Dana White. Because of this, they thought Emelianenko would instead appear in Bellator MMA.

After all the negotiating, Fedor Emelianenko will be making his return to MMA in Rizen FF at their first event titled Rizin Fighting Federation 1. The question is, did he sell short his return to MMA already?

Many may be wondering what exactly is the reason for Fedor Emelianenko to supposedly be selling his MMA return short. According to 5th Round, there are actually two reasons. The first is the venue. As mentioned earlier, Emelianenko will make his triumphant return to MMA action at Rizin Fighting Federation 1. The underlying issue is that it’s the debut venue for the Rizin FF promotion. Second is his opponent. Emelianenko will be taking on Jaideep Singh, a newbie in MMA with two wins and no losses. Fedor Emelianenko is fighting in an MMA promotion nobody has ever heard of against an opponent nobody knows about.

However, if one were to dig even deeper to read the fine details, there may be more to Fedor Emelianenko’s debut after all, as reported by Yahoo! News. Starting with Rizing FF, it is indeed a new MMA promotion, but it is a global one headed by former Pride FC founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara. Not only that, many other combat sports promotions are partnering with Sakakibara to bring Rizing FF to life including BAMMA, KSW, Bushido, Jungle Fight, Desert Force, and Bellator MMA (which Emelianenko may actually already be signed to).

Fedor Emelianenko’s opponent isn’t just some scrub with no fight experience either. Jaideep Singh is a former K-1 kickboxing champion with a record consisting of 40 wins, 10 losses, and one no contest. As for his MMA career, Singh is training with four-time K-1 World Grand Prix champion Peter Aerts and Rudimar Fedrigo. The latter is known for being the founder and head trainer of Chute Boxe, the MMA camp responsible for training many notable names in MMA including Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, and Mauricio Rua. Also, Singh won both of his fights via TKO within the first or second round, which is not a bad start for a MMA career.

Actually, Jaideep Singh may be the kind of opponent Fedor Emelianenko needs to face for his return to MMA. Even if Emelianenko were to still be training, three years away from combative MMA is a long time. His last fight was against Pedro Rizzo back in 2012 (fight attached above). Emelianenko is sure to have a bit of ring rust to shake off. In some ways, Emelianenko might actually be the one at a disadvantage going into the fight despite his storied career spanning more than a decade.

Rizin Fighting Federation 1 will span two days starting on Tuesday, December 29, 2015, skipping over Wednesday, December 30, 2015, and concluding on New Year’s Eve. Spike TV will air the New Year’s Eve card on tape delay along with highlights from the first day. Other broadcasters to air Rizin Fighting Federation 1 include SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation and Fuji Television.

[Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images]