The mystery over who Fedor Emelianenko will face on his return to MMA at Rizin FF has deepened with the news rumoured opponent, Tsuyoshi Kosaka, will instead square off against James ‘The Colossus’ Thompson.
Kosaka, 45, was the first person to hand “The Last Emperor” an official defeat when an accidental elbow in the opening exchange of their bout at King of Kings 2000 opened a cut which meant the Russian was unable to continue.
Elbows were in fact against the rules of the promotion but, due to the tournament nature of the bouts, a fighter had to advance to the next stage and the match-up could not be declared a no-contest. It was to be the last time Emelianenko would record a loss until he fought Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce in 2010.
Thompson should be a strong favourite for the match-up on New Year’s eve, despite the fact he is coming off a loss to Bobby Lashley at their rematch in Bellator. Although Kosaka has a respectable professional MMA record of 28-18-2, the Japanese fighter hasn’t competed since he lost to Mark Hunt in 2006.
There are now less than six weeks before the former Pride FC champion takes to the ring with the pool of potential opponents seemingly shrinking by the day, it is unclear yet if he himself knows who he will be facing.