Bellator Japan: Fedor vs Rampage preview


Nothing quite says New Year in Japan like a star studded martial arts show and Rizin once again fills the void left after the demise of Pride. This year offers an additional co-promotional twist with the addition of a Bellator hosted caged fighting event on the 29th to coincide with the traditional Rizin ring on the 31st. Fans will be in for a treat as Rizin and Bellators best lock horns over 2 loaded events.

The biggest bout of Sunday’s card is undoubtedly Fedor Emelianenko vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Both fighters were staples during the golden years of Pride and their fan friendly styles helped solidify their legendary status. While age has taking its toll the anticipation and excitement surrounding the bout is still very fresh.

Stoic and unwavering, Fedor’s modest appearance and lack of emotion in the ring resonated with the Japanese audience and cemented him as one of the biggest stars of the golden era of JMMA. In his prime Fedor implemented a blend of speed, power, timing, balance, positioning and a lifetime of honed fighting instincts to thrive in the chaos, somehow emerging victorious in breath-taking fashion. A style like his does not age well however, and currently he can find himself a split second behind opponents instead of in front, going 2-2 in Bellator, all finishes. One thing has remained constant, Fedor brings excitement, he is a finish or be finished, go for broke fighter and he will put everything on the line once again in Saitama.

Facing off against Fedor is another legend of the JMMA scene, the explosive Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. In contrast to Fedor’s restrained approach “Rampage” is emotional and volatile, his attitude serving as a catalyst for his heavy hitting style. Relying primarily on his boxing as of late Jackson still carries formidable power, something Fedor has fallen to in the past. While also going 2-2 in his latest Bellator stint Rampage has consistently shown a toughness and durability to carry him through fights. He is at his best when fighters take the fight to him, which Fedor will almost certainly do, and counter punching is where Jackson is at his most dangerous. Fedor will come out firing on all cylinders and Jackson will look to land one of those counters. Regardless of the outcome it may be a short fight when both legends collide, it will certainly be memorable and entertaining though.

The co-main event sees one of Bellators finest, Michael Chandler, match his powerful wrestling game against a strong submission grappler, Brazilian JuJitsu black belt Sidney Outlaw. Outlaw is stepping in on late notice for an injured Benson Henderson and will be facing a huge challenge in a fighter with the stature and reputation of Chandler. Relying on his wrestling backbone Chandler can play wrestling offense or defense to dictate where he wants the fight. Outlaw really needs to get the fight to the ground to increase his chances of keeping his 9 fight win streak going, something easier said than done with Chandler testing his chin.

Another one of Bellator’s elite, Michael “Venom” Page,  steps on to Japanese soil to put on a show. Standing opposite him as the cage door closes will be durable heavy handed wrestler Shinsho Anzai. A decorated wrestler who loves to stand and trade, Anzai’s chin and heavy hands have kept him in many fights that he was seemingly outgunned. Against Page his lack of concern over his chin and tendency to keep swinging will cost him. “MVP’s” slick smooth striking will find the holes and turn the lights out in stunning fashion. Anzai has the wrestling credentials to make the fight competitive, the big question is whether he will resort to grappling or go out guns blazing.

In another Bellator vs. Rizin match up, a grappler vs. striker showcase pits 47 fight veteran Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura against Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin. A notoriously slow starter K-Taro likes to slowly chip away at opponents before dragging them into deep water in the later rounds. His striking is accurate and technical, with little wind up and solid fundamentals. On the ground though is where he truly shines, a very dangerous back-taker and choke finisher. By contrast Larkin’s striking is like dynamite, he covers distance fast, surging in with loaded hands, feet, knees and elbows as he blitzes opponents. The Monsoon will aim to run through K-Taro early, bouncing in and out with crisp combinations. Should K-Taro weather the storm and survive to later rounds he will have opportunities to turn the tide.

Action next moves to a women’s 125lb bout as Rizin representative Kana Watanabe meets Bellator’s Ilara “Arya Stark” Joanne in what promises to be a grappling extravaganza. A decorated Judo medalist in Asia and Europe, Watanabe transitioned to mma with considerable expectations. At 8-0-1 she has been physically and technically overpowering opponents. With Ilara she faces a stocky, strong flyweight who wont be intimidated and is very dangerous on the mat. Watanabe will likely be initiating the throws but will need to tread carefully, Ilana can make her pay for mistakes, something other other opponents have been largely unable to do.

Goiti Yamauchi is a submissions highlight reel, getting the tap in 8 of his 10 finishes in Bellator. His opponent, Daron “Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank would appear to have the cards stacked against him but cannot be counted out, he has the kind of power and technique that can cause big upsets. While Goiti is no slouch on the feet it is no secret he wants the fight on the ground. Cruickshank has shown lapses in concentration in the past that have cost him, he has little to lose though in going out on his shield and may just land something magnificent.

With post-lims featuring an additional 8 fights featuring the likes of Yusuke Yachi, Kanna Asakura, Jarred Brooks and more the cross promotional event from Bellator and Rizin this Sunday is sure to deliver!

Full line up and fight order.

  1. Yusuke Yachi vs. Hiroto Uesako

  2. Kanna Asakura vs. Jayme Hinshaw

  3. Haruo Ochi vs. Jarred Brooks

  4. Ren Hiramoto vs. Takahiro Ashida (Kickboxing)

  5. Yusaku Nakamura vs. Makoto “Shinryu” Takahashi

  6. Andy Nguyen vs. Ai Shimizu

  7. Ryuichiro Sumimura vs. Jon Tuck

  8. Shoma Shibisai vs. Sergey Shemetov

  9. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

  10. Michael Chandler vs. Sidney Outlaw

  11. Michael “Venom” Page vs. Shinsho Anzai

  12. Lorenz Larkin vs. K-Taro Nakamura

  13. Ilara Joanne vs. Kana Watanabe

  14. Goiti Yamauchi vs. Daron Cruickshank

About the Author

Peter Leghorn
Writer and photographer sharing my passion for Martial Arts.

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