Bellator: Japan will feature two of MMA’s biggest PRIDE-era stars as Fedor Emelianenko and Rampage Jackson will top the late-December card.
Bellator’s return to Japan, co-promoted with RIZIN, will feature a New Year’s Eve spectacle to remember. At a press conference in Japan, Bellator CEO Scott Coker confirmed that the organization would bring Fedor Emelianenko vs. Rampage Jackson to the Land of the Rising Sun on December 29. The heavyweight showdown will top the Bellator: Japan card at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, just outside Tokyo.
The event is being advertised as “powered by RIZIN” and will feature three special promotion vs. promotion match-ups, featuring Bellator athletes taking on RIZIN athletes. That does not include Fedor vs. Rampage, as both fighters are under contract to Bellator.
The six fighters that will make up that field have yet to be revealed, but Lorenz Larkin, for one, threw his name in the hat this past weekend at Bellator 229.
In the meantime, fans can look forward to a pair of PRIDE veterans coming together all these years later. Jackson (38-13), a PRIDE star who would go on to become UFC light heavyweight champion, was one of the most popular fighters in the PRIDE era, and has long professed his love for Japan. Fedor (38-6), meanwhile, built his legacy in the Japanese promotion, defeating some of the best heavyweights of the era.
💥BELLATOR JAPAN 対戦カード💥
— RIZIN FF OFFICIAL (@rizin_PR) October 9, 2019
Things have changed a fair bit since both fighters heyday, however. After retiring in 2012, Fedor returned to action in 2015, competing for RIZIN, FNG, and then signing with Bellator MMA, where he’s gone 2-2 to date. Both wins came as part of the Bellator heavyweight grand prix, which would see ‘The Last Emperor’ defeat Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen before being stopped by Ryan Bader in the final.
Jackson, meanwhile, built a 5-2 record in Bellator with wins over Joey Beltran, King Mo, and Satoshi Ishii. In the midst of his Bellator run, during a contract dispute, he also made a one-off appearance for the UFC, defeating Fabio Maldonado.
In more recent times, Rampage exited light heavyweight and made the jump to heavyweight. However, he was bounced from the heavyweight grand prix by former middleweight Chael Sonnen. He then got his revenge against Wanderlei Silva in September 2018, finishing ‘The Axe Murderer’ at Bellator 206. Jackson has not fought since.