Fedor Emelianenko returns on New Year’s Eve

Fedor Emelianenko will make his return to the Land of the Rising Sun on New Year’s Eve.

Sherdog confirmed with a source close to the event Monday that “The Last Emperor” will return to Japan, where he holds a near perfect record, against Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii at Dream “Genki Desu Ka! New Year! 2011.” The bout had been teased previously by a number of sources, but it remained unconfirmed until today.

Going down Dec. 31 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, the event will also feature the semifinal and final rounds of Dream’s ongoing bantamweight world grand prix. Four men currently remain in the tournament draw, which features Antonio Banuelos,Masakazu ImanariBibiano Fernandes and Rodolfo Marques.

The Dream lightweight and featherweight titles will also be up for grabs, as company 155-pound king Shinya Aoki will put his belt on the line against former Sengoku championSatoru Kitaoka, and 145-pound pacesetter Hiroyuki Takaya will defend his strap against two-time Shooto champion Takeshi Inoue. The event is expected to air live on HDNet.

Ishii, 24, holds but a fraction of Emelianenko’s professional experience. A superior judo practitioner, Ishii took home the gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. After falling by unanimous decision to fellow Olympic champion Hidehiko Yoshida in his MMA debut, Ishii rattled off four straight wins before drawing with former WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho in a controversial verdict at Amazon Forest Combat 1 on Sept. 14.

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