Emelianenko in Talks with Dream for New Year’s Eve Appearance

By Mike Whitman Nov 22, 2011
After a four year absence, Fedor Emelianenko is in talks to return to Japan for another of his once-annual New Year’s Eve bouts.

HDNet’s “Inside MMA” first reported on Monday that the former heavyweight king, as well as world-ranked lightweight Shinya Aoki, will likely compete on Dream’s year-end card. Sherdog.com confirmed with a source close to the Russian on Tuesday that Emelianenko remains in negotiations for a potential appearance, though no contracts have been signed.

From 2003 to 2007, “The Last Emperor” was a staple of Japan’s year-end “kakutogi” extravaganzas, competing first at Antonio Inoki’s “Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003” festival and later in Pride Fighting Championships’ “Shockwave” series. The 35-year-old last appeared in the Land of the Rising Sun on New Year’s Eve 2007, when he armbarred South Korean giant Hong Man Choi under the banner of one-off, post-Pride group Yarennoka.

Featuring a featherweight title bout between champ Hiroyuki Takaya and challenger “Lion” Takeshi Inoue, Dream’s Dec. 31 event will take place at Saitama Super Arena. The card will also showcase the semifinal and final rounds of the promotion’s 2011 world bantamweight grand prix. The event will air on HDNet, though it is currently unknown whether the show will be broadcast live or via tape delay.

Emelianenko snapped a three-fight losing skid on Sunday by outpointing former UFC title challenger Jeff Monson in Moscow. The victory marked Emelianenko’s first win since November 2009, when he knocked out Brett Rogers. Following that victory, Emelianenko was finished by Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson via submission, doctor stoppage and technical knockout, respectively.

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