Fedor Emelianenko makes New Year’s Eve MMA comeback against former kickboxing champion

Russian fighter of mixed martial arts Feodor Emeliyanenko © Vladimir Astapkovich
Legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, nicknamed "The Last Emperor," makes his MMA comeback on New Years' Eve in Japan against former kickboxing champion Jaideep Singh.

New Japanese promotor RIZIN is hosting the event, which will take place over two nights just outside Tokyo and air on Spike TV in the US.

Emelianenko hasn't fought since he announced his retirement following a knockout win over Pedro Rizzo in June 2012.

The former PRIDE champion revealed earlier this year he wished to return to active competition. After considering several offers, the 39-year-old signed with RIZIN, which is run by former PRIDE boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara.

Emelianenko (34-4, 1 NC) is one of the best fighters to ever compete in MMA. "The Last Emperor" went 10 years without defeat from 2000 to 2010.

The Russian fighter has not fought since 2012 and lost three straight bouts before departing Strikeforce in 2011. He subsequently scored three straight wins, with the last being the fight against Rizzo in 2012.

Singh, 28, is an Indian kickboxer with only two professional MMA bouts on his record. Two months ago, he fought 44-year-old Carlos Toyota under the DEEP banner in Tokyo and won by TKO in the second round. It was his first MMA appearance in more than two years.

Despite his limited MMA experience, the Indian-Japanese fighter has a long background in kickboxing, where he holds a 40-10 record. Singh was the 2009 K-1 World Grand Prix Seoul champion.

Singh says he is in the best physical condition of his life: "I'm excited and honoured to have the opportunity to test myself against a legend like Fedor," he said. "With (former kickboxing champion) Peter Aerts and Rudimar Fedrigo in my corner, I know that I have the capability to stand toe-to-toe with any opponent in the world and emerge victorious."

It was rumoured back in October that Singh would be Emelianenko's opponent, but it was never confirmed and RIZIN have waited until less than two weeks before the event to confirm the bout.

Also on the two-day card, Bellator's Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal will compete in an eight-man tournament, Kazushi Sakuraba will meet Shinya Aoki and Kid Yamamoto's nephew Asen will take on Kron Gracie.

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