Rizin Fighting Federation reportedly tried going all out for its inaugural event this New Year’s Eve, after the Japanese fight promotion attempted to lure former UFC heavyweight champion Randy “The Natural” Couture out of retirement to face Fedor Emelianenko, according to “The Last Emperor.”
Emelianenko wrote on his Facebook page in response to a comment:
“After the initial fan reaction to Singh in October, Rizin tried everything they could to find a suitable replacement, Randy Couture even went back into training to see how his body would respond, but it wasn’t to be, and unfortunately, Singh was the only option available for this fight.”
While Emelianenko has not competed in mixed martial arts since 2012, Couture has been retired since 2011. “The Natural” last fought against Lyoto Machida at UFC 129, suffering a devastating, highlight-reel knockout against the former UFC light heavyweight titleholder. He’d gone 3-0 in his previous three bouts, one of which was a victory over former three-division world boxing champion James Toney. Couture is 52 years old.
Long seen as a dream matchup between two of the most experienced heavyweight fighters in MMA, a bout with Couture likely would have garnered more attention than one with Jaideep Singh. A decorated kickboxer, Singh has only competed twice as a mixed martial artist.
He takes on Emelianenko on Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Emelianenko last fought against Pedro Rizzo in 2012, knocking the Rio de Janeiro native out in under two minutes of competition. He has won three consecutive contests prior to his match with Singh.