Bellator MMA teamed up with Rizin Fighting Federation and took their cage to Japan for the first time on Saturday. Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan hosted Bellator 237: Fedor vs. Rampage featuring former Pride FC Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko taking on former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as the main event bout.
Emelianenko is widely considered the greatest heavyweight fighter ever, and he solidified his legacy in Japan holding the Pride FC heavyweight title from 2003 until the fight promotion was purchased by the UFC in 2007. Jackson also rose to stardom in Japan in the early 2000's. He was the 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix runner-up before becoming UFC champion in 2007.
Emelianenko had previously fought 13 times at Saitama Super Arena and was undefeated in the venue. Saturday would be no different. The Russian took the fight to Jackson, who came in the heaviest he's ever competed in his career. "The Last Emperor" unloaded combinations and leg kicks while Jackson missed with counter punches. Midway through the opening round, Emelianenko connected with a right hand that face-planted Jackson ending the fight.
"I'm very happy that one more time I was here and I was able to entertain you guys," said Emelianenko following the win. "This is where I became a real fighter, here in Japan. That's where I got your love guys and I'm very happy that I entertained."
With the victory, Emelianenko rebounded from a loss to Ryan Bader in his last outing. It was a homecoming for the 43-year old and the perfect ending to his storied career. After the win, Emeianenko announced his retirement.
"Unfortunately and regretfully I want to say that perhaps my career stops here on my win in Japan where I started and I'm finishing my career here. Thank you very much for supporting me over the years. That's the end of my tour," he said.
In the co-main event, former three-time lightweight champion Michael Chandler scored a first-round knockout over late replacement Sidney Outlaw. Chandler was originally slated to face former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson but an injury forced Henderson out of the bout on Dec. 5. Outlaw stepped in on three-weeks notice.
Chandler targeted the body of Outlaw and dictated the pace of the fight. Outlaw was game, landing leg kicks and an uppercut that snapped Chandler's head back, but it was a one-sided fight. Just past the halfway mark in the opening round, Chandler stepped in with a right hand that crumbled Outlaw. After losing the title in his last fight to Patrício Freire, Chandler put himself right back in the title mix.
“My hats off to him. If it weren’t for Sidney Outlaw stepping up after their was an injury a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t have had a dream come true to come fight in front of a Tokyo crowd," said Chandler after his eighth career knockout win.
“There’s obviously some big fights here. I’m still hungry for belts. I’m still hungry for world titles. Three world titles isn’t enough," added the 33-year old. "My wife deserves it. My son deserves it, so I’m excited about the future.”
Bellator & Rizin: Japan Results:
Fedor Emelianenko def. Quinton Jackson by KO (punch) at 2:44, R1
Michael Chandler def. Sidney Outlaw by KO (punch) at 2:59, R1
Michael Page def. Shinsho Anzai by KO (punch) at 0:23, R2
Lorenz Larkin def. Keita Nakamura by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Kana Watanabe def. Ilara Joanne by TKO (punches) at 4:39, R3
Goiti Yamauchi def. Daron Cruickshank by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:11, R1