Fedor Emelianenko is scheduled to fight in Japan for the first time in four years when he takes on 2008 Olympic gold medalist judoka Satoshi Ishii.
The bout, announced Monday by promoters M-1 Global and Dream, headlines a traditional New Year's Eve fighting event scheduled for the Saitama Super Arena. Bouts include a mix of MMA, kickboxing and pro wrestling contests. "FIGHT FOR JAPAN Genkidesuka!! Oomisoka!! 2011!" airs live in the U.S. and Canada on HDNet.
Emelianenko, a former Pride champion and longtime reigning No. 1-ranked heavyweight, dropped three straight fights in Strikeforce before out-pointing Jeff Monson in Moscow last month. The 35-year-old fan favorite takes a 32-4-1 record into his contest with Ishii (4-1-1).
The 24-year-old Japanese athlete started fighting MMA professionally in 2009. After losing his debut to fellow Olympic gold medal winner Hidehiko Yoshida, Ishii has taken steps to improve his game with trainers from around the world. Most recently he spent time with Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Also scheduled for the Saitama Super Arena are two Dream championship bouts. Shinya Aoki is set to defend his lightweight title against Satoru Kitaoka, and featherweight Hiroyuki Takaya puts his belt on the line against Takeshi Inoue.
A bantamweight tournament will conclude as well, with the winner required to win twice on the same night.
Josh Gross covers mixed martial arts for ESPN.com.