Confirming original rumors set off by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani in October, Fedor Emelianenko will, in fact, be facing Jaideep Singh in his return to mixed martial arts.
The promotion, Rizin Fighting Federation, announced the matchup late Thursday at a press conference in Japan. The two are set to headline the promotion’s inaugural show on Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
The New Year’s Eve contest marks Emelianenko’s first MMA bout since 2012. “The Last Emperor” enters the contest riding a three-fight winning streak, having defeated Jeff Monson, Satoshi Ishii and Pedro Rizzo. He most recently defeated Rizzo via first-round knockout.
Emelianenko’s victory over Monson was his first since suffering the first three-fight losing streak of his professional career. Previously going undefeated for more than a decade, Emelianenko suffered stoppage defeats to UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Dan Henderson — all while competing under the Strikeforce banner.
A former K-1 World Grand Prix champion, Singh comes into the contest with over 50 fights worth of experience in kickboxing. He holds a record of 40-10 as a kickboxer, but has only stepped into an MMA fight twice in his career — both contests of which he won.
Emelianenko first announced plans for a comeback over the summer, surprising many by opting out of a potential contract with either the UFC or Bellator MMA to reunite with his former PRIDE boss, Nobuyuki Sakakibara. “The Last Emperor” has long been considered one of the best fighters in the history of the sport.