Nobuyuki Sakakibara former owner of famed Pride FC recently signed Fedor Emelianeko for one fight on New Years Eve, with the new organization, rumored to be named Samurai, having an option for one more fight.
Sakakibara just spoke with rsport.ru, and opened up on the signing. The following is via Google translate, and thus is subject to error:
Elena Sobol: How important to you was the signing of the contract with Fedor Emelianenko?
Nobuyuki Sakakibara: I am extremely pleased to be able to introduce a new platform for mixed martial arts in Japan. And it is a great honor for me that Fedor chose our organization for his return. I think with him we will be able to create a great show.
ES: What can you say about Emelianenko the fighter?
NS: Fedor – the greatest fighter in history. I think he is still not ready at 100%. But the next three months, I’m sure it will be a lot of training and work, and to be ready, and even better than before. We may even see a stronger Fedor compared to how he was to finish his career.
ES: Who will be his opponent on Dec. 31?
NS: The name of the opponent is not currently confirmed, but Fedor said he was willing to go against anyone. And these days we are still conducting the selection of a worthy opponent. Now we have a lot of fighters from around the world who would like to challenge Fedor. But we would like to select a fighter who will mean something for the future of mixed martial arts.
ES: What can you say about the purse, which will be received for this fight by Fedor?
NS: Oh, I can not comment on it (laughs)!
ES: Everyone is talking today about your plans for a new fighter’s organization. Can you tell us a bit more about these plans?
NS: The event with the participation of Fedor will be the first in our series of tournaments. I think about how to form an entire platform where the best fighters from around the world could act and compete. We would like to create something entirely new and exciting. We would like to invite not only the most famous fighters, but also young talented guys. I know that there are thousands of young men in Russia, who have not yet acted on a global level. And I’d like to see on our platform, unknown until then Russian talents were presented around the world. One of the reasons why Fedor decided to return to the sport is with us, is that he wants to create a platform for young people in Russia who would follow him.
I think it would be great if as many Russians were able to watch our fights. It would be wonderful if President Putin would be able to come on December 31 event and to see the return of The Last Emperor.
ES: Are you seriously going to invite the president of Russia?
NS: I really wanted to ask him! If it means that I have to talk to this with the Japanese government, certainly will. It would be very nice if President Putin was able to visit the show.
I think that the return of Fedor – this is a great and serious decision. I would like to see more people from around the world watched the first fight of his career after the resumption. If I need to make every effort to invite Putin, I’ll do it.
ES: And there are plans of your new platform to hold any tournaments in Russia?
NS: Absolutely it is. If we manage to do so in the near future – it will be fantastic. But for this to happen, we need the assistance of the Russian organizers. And if we can all realize it will be fantastic.
ES: Has already been discussed with Fedor, what will happen after the first fight?
NS: I as a promoter and Fedor as a fighter with built brand Pride. And in the context of our work together, I really sympathize with him. If it is possible, I would really like to continue to work with Fedor and beyond.
ES: Have you discussed it already, or more specifically, a serious conversation on after the fight?
NS: Yes, we talked about it. Not only the future of Fedor, but also about the prospects of young Russian fighters who will be involved in our platform. Yes, some specific things about the future, we have already discussed.
ES: By the way, as will be the name of your new organization?
NS: I still can not answer this question. But in early October, we will be in Tokyo, a special press conference, which will present Fedor. There we plan to announce the name of the organization.
ES: Does not that just love Fedor in Japan?
NS: Of course, the Japanese fans are eagerly awaiting his comeback. Despite the fact that Fedor made the announcement on the resumption of a career in the US, it was a huge news “bomb” in Japan. Fans are delighted that Emelianenko chose this country for his return.
In addition, we in Japan have a good tradition – to make a great show fighting on the eve of the New Year. Behind this is a story for fans of mixed martial arts. This is a great day for the Japanese people, which is why the return of Fedor will take place on 31 December.
ES: What are your expectations for the whole of the return of Fedor?
NS: We’re going to work hard to make our new organization has become really a new word in the world of mixed martial arts. We want to create and build this platform together with Fedor. Of course, it would be great if he continued to serve under the auspices of our organization as long as the will to continue his career. But in any case, while he speaks with us, I would like as much as possible to develop the young Russian fighters. I would like to see our organization has become the platform from which each of the young men could shine.
After all, you know, Fedor has chosen us not only because of money or because of their own careers. He really wants to leave a legacy in MMA for a while, will remain in force until a fighter.
Japanese news sources have reported the show being held at the Saitama Super Arena, which makes sense. They’ve also reported that Emelianenko will earn $2.5 million guaranteed for the show, which tells you why he didn’t sign the UFC, since it’s guaranteed and most likely he’ll face a lesser opponent than he would in UFC. UFC had been negotiating with him and it did seem they were close. UFC sources said they were under the impression Emelianenko signed a two-fight deal with Sakakibara’s group. It is believed the show is being financed by an oil-rich foreign investor who already has a stake in the MMA business. Whether he’s agreed to invest for one show, or a regular promotion, is unknown.