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No opponent for Fedor Emelianenko announced at Rizin FF introductory press conference

Esther Lin

We found out a name. Just not the one everyone was anticipating.

Former PRIDE boss Nobuyui Sakakibara introduced his brand new MMA promotion at a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday. But there was no announcement regarding the opponent for Fedor Emelianenko in the main event on New Year's Eve, though it was promised in a press release.

The new promotion will be called Rizin Fighting Federation and the two-night event in December will be entitled the Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2015. There will be fights at Saitama Super Arena, the former home of PRIDE, on both Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 with a fan fest Dec. 30. The event will air on tape delay in the United States on Spike TV.

One fight for the event was announced: a battle between Japanese MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba and grappling ace Shinya Aoki. Emelianenko was at the press conference and spoke, but no foe was brought out.

MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani reported this week that Emelianenko is likely to face kickboxer Jaideep Singh on New Year's Eve.

Also announced for the grand prix were two female competitors, Gabi Garcia and Rena Kubota. Both women will fight, but not against each other.

Sakakibara said the bouts will take place inside a ring under the former PRIDE rules. The grand prix will have promotional partners in Bellator MMA, KSW, Jungle Fight, BAMMA and King of Kings.

Bellator president Scott Coker and Spike TV executive Jon Slusser both attended the press conference. Coker said that Bellator fighters will compete on the cards and Slusser added that the Bellator broadcast duo of Sean Grande and Jimmy Smith will call the action on Spike.

"There was a time not long ago where the best fighters in the world fought here in Japan four or five times a year," Coker said.

The Bellator boss said his promotion and Spike were fully committed to supporting the Rizin grand prix. That will include shoulder programming for the event leading up to it.

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