Kickboxing legend Jerome Le Banner will return to mixed martial arts competition for the first time in five years when he takes part in Rizin Fighting Federation’s New Year’s Eve show in Saitama, Japan.
Rizin officials on Monday announced that the French striker will take on debuting sumo wrestler Kaido Hoovelson, a.k.a. “Baruto Kaido,” in a super-heavyweight MMA rules bout at Saitama Super Arena on Dec. 31. The same card will feature the return of famed heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, who is still without an opponent.
Le Banner’s last MMA contest took place on New Year’s Eve 2010, when he was outpointed by Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii under the K-1 banner. Since then, the 42-year-old has competed in kickboxing and pro-wrestling but has seen multiple attempts to return to MMA derailed by injuries.
Hoovelson, 31, will make his MMA debut two years after walking away from sumo competition due to injury woes. The 6-foot-6 Estonian has been training for his upcoming bout with the help of Peter Aerts and Akira Shoji.