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Fedor returns to Japan: What we know so far

Here is what we know about the return of Fedor Emelianenko.

Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images

To the delight of a few and the dismay of many, Russian heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko announced on Saturday night that his first fight will not be for the UFC.  Instead, Fedor will fight for a start-up Japanese promotion headed by former Pride FC boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara. The event will take place in Tokyo on New Year's Eve and will take place on Spike TV.

Given that the Last Emperor's return has been shrouded in mystery since the initial announcement regarding his return, there has been much misinformation being spread. Even following his announcement, it remains unclear who Fedor's opponent will be, whether his fight contract is for one or two fights, and whether he will be allowed to shop around once his contract is done.

BloodyElbow has compiled the latest information on Fedor in one convenient location:

  • Fedor is expected to headline the inaugural show for a new Japanese organization run by former Pride President Nobuyuki Sakakibara. The organization's name is not known yet but an official press release stated "Bellator will partner with Mr. Sakakibara on the MMA extravaganza and will have fighters from its roster participating."
  • According to's Ariel Helwani, Fedor's contract is for two fights. However, a spokesman for the Russian Union of Mixed Martial Arts, of which Fedor holds the position of president, stated that the deal is only for one fight.
  • Fedor is scheduled to begin his pre-fight training camp over the coming days. He will be reunited with his longtime striking coach Alexander Michkov and will spend the next few months training in Moscow. Fedor is expected to bring in heavyweights from across Russia in preparation for his first fight.
  • According to M-1 Global founder Vadim Finkelchtien, Fedor is currently being managed by his wife, Oksana, for all his non-fighting engagements. The M-1 Global president added that Fedor was largely responsible for most of the negotiations along with a small team, but that he helped out when requested. Vadim later clarified that his official role as Fedor's manager ended three years ago when he originally announced his retirement.

There has been much speculation as to why Fedor has chosen to return to MMA. While some have argued that it was to add to his legacy, or to pocket some extra income while he still can, Fedor's himself claims that his only goal is to improve his skill set and return to competitive form.

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