An “emergency” press conference set for Wednesday in Tokyo is expected to announce Bellator’s debut in Japan.
Rizin FF CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara broke the news of the gathering on Monday, touting a “historical” cross-promotional event between the Japanese promotion and its American counterpart on Dec. 29 at a location to be announced.
A Rizin FF official confirmed Sakakibara’s announcement to MMA Fighting. Coker could not immediately be reached for comment. The Bellator executive has long teased a trip overseas to the promotional home of its partner, with whom it shares talent.
Over the summer, Coker said the promotion was working on a major show with Rizin and teased the possibility of a heavyweight fight between Emelianenko and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, both of whom who once served under Sakikibara in the now-defunct PRIDE FC as major company stars.
Twelve years after Pride folded, Emelianenko and Jackson are now colleagues under the Bellator banner, and Jackson, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, is now firmly committed to the big-man division.
Coker also presented the possibility of rekindling a long-dormant rivalry between Emelianenko and veteran heavyweight Josh Barnett, who recently signed with Bellator. The standouts were set to meet at Affliction: Trilogy in 2009 when a positive drug test scratched Barnett from the card, leading to the promotion’s rapid implosion.
Rizin and Pride are known for promoting blowout events on New Year’s Eve. Emelianenko has been a regular fixture of the year-end shows throughout his decorated career.