October 30, 2015

Five For Fighting: Possible Opponents For Fedor Emelianenko on New Year's Eve

By Adam Martin

As you already know, the great Fedor Emelianenko is due to return from a three-year hiatus from mixed martial arts this New Year’s Eve in Japan when he competes in the main event of former PRIDE FC boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara’s first show with his new, yet-to-be named promotion. Although it was announced that Fedor would be returning, it wasn’t announced whom he would be fighting against . A report came out recently that Indian kickboxer Jaideep Singh would be the man to welcome Fedor back to MMA, but after failing to impress in his recent win in Japan’s DEEP promotion, he is no longer being targeted as Fedor’s opponent, and for most fans, that’s good news since not too many people have heard of him anyway.

So Singh is out, but Fedor still needs an opponent. Here are some fighters who could step into the cage with Fedor when he returns in two months time:

Ken Shamrock

The UFC legend and current Bellator fighter makes for a solid opponent for Fedor. He’s a huge name, he’s an active fighter, and he knows how to sell a fight. He did lose to Kimbo Slice in his last outing by knockout, but prior to being KO’d, he had some success with his grappling. Fedor likely beats Shamrock easily, but this is the type of fight between two old-school veterans that makes a lot of sense for Fedor in his return, so long as Bellator gives Sakakibara the green light to book it.

Bob Sapp

Back in the day, when Fedor was ruling PRIDE, Sapp was a huge name in Japan. His fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at PRIDE Shockwave was a classic (who can forget that slam?) but after starting his MMA career 11-6-1, he’s since lost 12 straight fights and hasn’t fought in MMA in two years. He has also admitted to giving up in fights just to collect a paycheck. However, Sapp is still a big name, especially in Japan, and given that he’s 42 years old and coming off of a long layoff just like Fedor, perhaps this is the type of opponent Sakakibara would be interested in as an opponent for Fedor. I think fans would look at this fight as a joke “freakshow” affair, but it’s not like Fedor hasn’t fought in freakshow fights in the past, so don’t rule Sapp out.

Shawn Jordan

Jordan recently completed his contract with the UFC, and he’s made it known publicly that he welcomes a fight with Fedor. Although Jordan is a solid athlete with explosive knockout power, he is quite small for the heavyweight division – height-wise, at least – and so is Fedor, so that makes for an intriguing fight. His chin is also somewhat questionable, so if Fedor lands, he has the chance to win in highlight-reel fashion. Still, Jordan has so much power that Fedor and his team would likely decline a fight against him at this point in time, even though from a competitiveness standpoint a fight with Jordan would be a tough one to call, given Fedor’s layoff and Jordan’s improvements over the last few years.

Kimbo Slice

Bellator bossman Scott Coker has already confirmed the promotion has other plans for Slice, but we all know promoters lie, and would it shock anyone if Slice was sent over to Japan to fight Fedor? After all, the card is being broadcast on Spike TV. Slice vs. Fedor would be a huge fight ratings-wise (who wouldn’t want to watch it?) and it would be a fun fight to watch given the styles. It probably doesn’t happen, but don’t rule it out just yet, as it wouldn’t be the first time Coker has said one thing and done another.

Randy Couture

A pipe dream, since he is still under contract with the UFC, but imagine Couture vs. Fedor? Any MMA fan would love to see that fight. It probably makes more sense if this is a pay-per-view headliner rather than given out for free on Spike, but hey, anything can happen in this sport. Couture has recently been filmed training and it appears he is in great shape and ready to fight again. If Quinton “Rampage” Jackson can fight in the UFC despite having a contract with Bellator, there’s a chance Couture could do the opposite. It’s a pipe dream for sure, but it’s nice to be a dreamer sometimes.

We expect to find out soon who Fedor will be fighting on New year’s Eve. Perhaps it’s one of the men on the list, or maybe it’s someone completely out of left field like Singh. But regardless of who Fedor is matched up with, it’s great to have “The Last Emperor” returning to the sport he was once king of.


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