Fedor returns to Japan to fight Ishii on NYE

Steve Cofield

Fedor Emelianenko is heading back to the place that made one of the biggest stars in MMA history. The long rumored fight against Satoshi Ishii is on. DREAM just confirmed its Dec. 31 fight card via email.

Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri are also featured on a card that is loaded with Japanese stars. Bibiano Fernandes, Rodolfo Marques Diniz, Masakazu Imanari and Antonio Banuelos will also finish off the DREAM bantamweight tournament.

Fedor was released from his deal with Zuffa/Strikeforce back in August after a loss to Dan Henderson. Including that loss, he'd dropped three straight. He returned on Nov. 20 to defeat Jeff Monson in Russia.

In Ishii, he faces a fighter with just six pro MMA fights under his belt. Ishii, the heavyweight Judo gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics, was the prize of a bidding war between Japan and the UFC. He chose to turn down the American promotion's offer. Since then he's fought a slew of underwhelming opponents. His most recent fight was down at light heavyweight, where he fought Paulo Filho to a draw in Brazil.

FIGHT FOR JAPAN "Genkidesuka!! Oomisoka!! 2011!

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Satoshi Ishii

Shinya Aoki vs. Satoru Kitaoka

Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Takeshi "Lion" Inoue

Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Kazuyuki Miyata

*Yuichiro "Jien-Otsu" Nagashima vs. Katsunori Kikuno

Bibiano Fernandes vs. Rodolfo Marques Diniz

Masakazu Imanari vs. Antonio Banuelos

Hideo Tokoro vs. Yusup Saadulaev

Hayato "Mach" Sakurai vs. Ryo Chonan

**Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Peter Aerts

*Mixed rules match (1R - 3min kickboxing rules, 2R - 5min MMA rules)

**IGF rules