Fedor Emelianenko vs. Rampage Jackson to headline Bellator Japan on Dec. 29

It’s official. Bellator is heading to Japan on Dec. 29, and they’re bringing a throwback heavyweight fight for the main event that tips a hat to the old-school PRIDE FC era.

At a press conference in Japan, Bellator president Scott Coker officially announced Bellator’s debut show on Japanese soil and revealed Russian heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko will take on Quinton Jackson in the main event at the Saitama Super Arena.

“This is something we’ve debated internally within our staff,” Coker told the assembled media from the dais. “We thought of taking it to Los Angeles in January, and we said we had to take it to Japan.”

Fedor (38-6 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) and ‘Rampage’ (38-13 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) were two of the biggest superstars of the PRIDE era in Japan, but the pair never faced off inside the ring. Now that will change, with the two legends of the PRIDE ring going head to head under the Bellator banner in Japan on December 29, though it has not yet been determined whether it will take place in a ring or a cage.

“For Bellator’s debut in Japan, we wanted to bring a massive event and fighters that the Japanese fans really connect with,” said Coker, via press release. “Given the vast history of martial arts and MMA in Japan, and especially at Saitama Super Arena, this will be a very special show that no one will want to miss. This will, unquestionably, be a monumental event for Bellator and I am looking forward to the moment that Fedor and ‘Rampage’ walk out to a crowd that has known them since their careers began.

“I would also like to thank RIZIN for their help in making this event a possibility and we look forward to working together in the near future to showcase the best talent each organization has to offer.”

Emelianenko is widely considered to be the greatest fighter to compete in Japan, and is still revered by many as the greatest MMA fighter of all time. “The Last Emperor” fought 15 times in PRIDE, winning 14 and drawing 1 of his bouts for the Japanese promotion and holding the heavyweight title from 2003 to 2007. His fight with Jackson will be his 26th contest on Japanese soil, having competed there for the RINGS, PRIDE and Rizin promotions throughout his career.

Coker also revealed that the event would also feature three Bellator athletes, who will face off against three Rizin athletes in three specially arranged “challenge matches”. The identity of those fighters, as well as the remaining fights on the card, will be announced in due course.

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