A heavyweight clash pitting Fedor Emelianenko against Quinton Jackson will serve as the headliner for Bellator: Japan on Dec. 29.
The California-based promotion confirmed the contest in a release on Wednesday. Bellator: Japan takes place at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, and will air live on Paramount Network. The card will also include three bouts pitting Bellator athletes against Rizin athletes in special “challenge matches.” Those matchups will be announced in the coming weeks.
“For Bellator’s debut in Japan, we wanted to bring a massive event and fighters that the Japanese fans really connect with,” said Bellator president Scott Coker. “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 recently made it to the finals of the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix, besting Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen before falling to Ryan Bader via technical knockout in 35 seconds at Bellator 214 on Jan. 26. “The Last Emperor” was a major star in Japan as the former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titlist, where he posted victories against the likes of Mark Coleman (twice), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, Mirko Filipovic and Mark Hunt, to name a few.
Jackson, meanwhile, lost to Sonnen in the opening round of the heavyweight grand prix but rebounded with a second-round stoppage of Wanderlei Silva in his most recent appearance at Bellator 206 in September 2018. The eight-fight Bellator veteran was also a popular figure in Japan due to a successful stint in Pride, where he defeated notable foes such as Ricardo Arona, Chuck Liddell, Murilo Rua, Randleman and Igor Vovchanchyn, among others.