Wanderlei Silva’s return to competition takes place April 17 in Japan, but it won’t be in a mixed martial arts bout.
The former Pride champion, who recently signed a deal with Bellator MMA, will enter a grappling tag match at the upcoming Rizin Fighting Federation event at Nagoya’s Nippon Gaishi Hall. The promotion has yet to announce the other member of Team Wanderlei, but they will be facing Kazushi Sakuraba and Hideo Tokoro.
Silva is currently suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission until May of 2017, but plans on battling the suspension in the Supreme Court.
"The Axe Murderer", who holds a 35-12-1-1 record in MMA, has defeated Sakuraba three times under the Pride banner between 2001 and 2003, all via knockout or TKO. He hasn’t competed since a second-round knockout victory over Brian Stann at UFC on Fuel TV 8, held at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. According to Rizin FF, Silva will return to the promotion for an MMA bout in the future.
Sakuraba (26-17-1-2) returned to MMA after a four-year hiatus at Rizin’s first event last December, losing a one-sided fight to Shinya Aoki via TKO. The legendary fighter 2-7 in his last nine MMA bouts, scoring both of his wins by submission in 2009.
Tokoro (33-28-2) tapped Kizaemon Saiga in his Rizin debut last December, scoring the 19th submission victory of his MMA career.
Also on the April 17 event, Hisaki Kato (5-2) will battle Yuta Watanabe (19-6-4) in a 180-pound catchweight MMA fight.