Morning Report: Shinya Aoki set to meet Toshikatsu Harada at IGF's New Year's event in Tokyo

Daniel Herbertson, MMA Fighting

We learned last week that ONE FC lightweight champion Shinya Aoki would be competing at Inoki Genome Federation's Tokyo New Year's Eve show but now we have a confirmed opponent. Although Aoki recently made the move to featherweight, he'll be returning to 155 pounds to face fellow Japanese veteran Toshikatsu Harada at IGF - Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2013.

Harada (11-9-2) has bounced around the Japanese MMA scene since 2004, putting together an incredibly streaky resume along the way. While going just 3-7 to begin his career, Harada has gone 8-2-2 since turning it around in 2010. Likely earmarked as a layup for Aoki, Harada has been stopped in eight of his nine losses. Most recently, Harada was submitted via first-round armbar to the statistically unspectacular Isamu Sugiuchi at Gladiator 61 - Bushido on Sept. 29.

Aoki, who returns to Japan a year removed from his strange TKO of former MFC champion Antonio McKee at DREAM 18, recently made his 145 pound debut scoring a lackluster unanimous decision over Cody Stevens at ONE Fighting Championship: Total Domination on Oct. 18. Now three weeks removed from reports he had declined joining the UFC, Aoki was allowed by ONE FC to participate in the IGF event after the two promotions reached an agreement.

While traditionally more of a Japanese professional wresting organization, IGF have been known to scatter MMA bouts into their events. Last year's NYE event saw Mirko CroCop armbar former Sumo wrestler Shinichi Suzukawa while Olympic gold medalist judoka Satoshi Ishii earned a decision nod over former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

The rematch. Chris Weidman knows he needs another dominant performance against Anderson Silva to drop the stigma of being a 'one punch wonder.' "Like I said before, I need to win this fight to solidify me as champion, and to achieve my other long-term goals I need to win this fight."

Bad news. Antonio Silva has failed his post-fight drug screening from his bout with Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 33 and has been suspended nine months.

Hunt's win. As a result of Silva's failed test, Mark Hunt will take Silva's 50K fight bonus. Hunt also had some interesting comments on the news.

Snowball's chance. Brazilian promotion Shooto says it has booked a fight between a man and a woman for this Friday's event, but regulators aren't convinced it will actually happen.

Mix-up. Apparently Rafael dos Anjos, currently slated to face Dagestani lightweight Rustam Khabilov at UFC 170, believed he had accepted a bout with top 10 Dagestani lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov instead.

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MEDIA STEW

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More Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva predictions.

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UFC 168 Weidman vs Silva and Rousey vs Tate Pre Fight Conference Call.

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Chris Weidman vs. Renato Laranja at Renzo's.

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Paul Daley talks BAMMA 14 KO and possibly fighting for GLORY.

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Highlights from Cage Warriors 61, which actually took place after Cage Warriors 62.

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Knuckle Up with Eugene S. Robinson.

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Random MMA:

Joanne Calderwood teammate Doni Miller vs. Arnold Allen at Cage Warriors 61.

Andrew De Vent vs. Danny Tombs at ECC BANNED 2.

Claudiere Freitas vs Lucas Mascena at Circuito Talent de MMA 4. (Skip to 6:00)

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TWEETS

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A promoter's work is never done.

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Interested?

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Get well soon.

Click through for the pic, but be warned.

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Busy day for Anderson.

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These two.

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This needed more Einstein references.

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Lets hope so.

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Dec. 17 2013)

Neil Magny vs. Gasan Umalatov at UFC 169

Rashid Magomedov vs. Tony Martin at UFC 169

Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley at UFC 171

Luke Barnatt vs. Mats Nilsson at UFC Fight Night London

Brad Scott vs. Claudio Henrique da Silva at UFC Fight Night London

Jessica Aguilar vs. Alida Gray at WSOF 8

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes via watercoolermma.com.

The McGregor Effect

Conor McGregor may not be the UFC Champion quite yet, but that's not stopping him from acting like he has been for years. You'd be hard pressed to find a better combination of charisma, fashion sense, and a quick wit in all of mixed martial arts. Now add in the soon-to-be iconic stance, unparalleled technical skill, and unteachable toughness and grit, and you've got one of the most entertaining and promising prospects the UFC has ever had.

McGregor is truly one of a kind in every sense of the phrase. His microphone skills are among the best in the world, with the possible exception of Chael Sonnen, and he has talked his way into a war of words with nearly every fighter in the division (and even a few in other divisions as well). He's being called out by guys ranked higher than him; South Africans are giving away cars for matching his number of twitter followers; he has been indefinitely sidelined and is still one of the most talked about fighters in the world. In less than a year, he has gone from Irish standout to international superstar and he's yet to fight on a UFC main card. He even received the blackout treatment in just the second UFC fight of his career, an honor usually reserved exclusively for main eventers.

Check out the rest of the post here.

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Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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