Rizin FF still in negotiations with Fedor Emelianenko, says he won’t fight in April

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Fedor Emeliankenko

Following his return to action in a win over Jaideep Singh on New Year’s Eve in Japan, Fedor Emelianenko said he wanted to return in April. He’s currently negotiating with Rizin FF for that next bout, but it appears the April booking won’t happen.

In an interview with ESPN.com, Rizin VP Jerry Millen said that they’ve got plans for Emelianenko, but April isn’t one of them right now.

“We don’t talk publicly about contract negotiations, but Fedor will continue to fight for Rizin,” Millen said. “He won’t fight in April, but we have a couple cool things Fedor could be involved in. It could go one of two ways, but fans won’t be disappointed.”

As far as who Emelianenko could face, Rizin boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara said they’re looking to build on “The Last Emperor’s” name with a younger generation of fighter, but could go for a more well known name if that’s the desire.

“The whole concept with Rizin and Fedor’s agreement is to give opportunities to a younger generation,” said Sakakibara. “Our goal is to create a new character, a new star, to face Fedor.

“If by the time Fedor fights again people are more buzzed about him fighting an older name like [former UFC champion] Randy Couture, we’ll have to consider trying to put that together — but as of right now, our main goal is to create new stars for Fedor to pass the torch to.”

Penick’s Analysis: It’s a smart move to use Emelianenko as a transitional name, if they actually have someone to which they can transition. I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case, so we wind up with a fight like the one he had with Singh. Hopefully they find something more interesting for the next event when they get it together.

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