BURBANK, Calif. -- Bellator is hoping to bring a major show to Japan later this year, headlined by Fedor Emelianenko.
Scott Coker, Bellator's president, told ESPN on Wednesday that discussions are underway to hold a card Dec. 29 at Saitama Super Arena with a main event featuring Emelianenko, perhaps the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time.
Talks of a card in Japan were first mentioned on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show.
Emelianenko made his name fighting for Japan's now-defunct Pride FC organization. Coker said the planned opponent for Emelianenko is former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. If Jackson is not available, Bellator could look to recent signee Josh Barnett, the former UFC heavyweight champion, Coker said.
The Bellator card would run two days before the annual Dec. 31 card put on by Japan's Rizin Fighting Federation, which was headlined in 2018 by a Floyd Mayweather exhibition boxing match. Coker said he has a call Wednesday night with Rizin promoter Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the former head of Pride. Bellator and Rizin have a strong working relationship.
"It's heading in that direction," Coker said of Bellator's Japan card. "It's not done yet."
Coker said he'd also like Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader to fight Rizin light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka on the Japan card, if it happens. Coker said fighters like UFC veterans Phil Davis and Lorenz Larkin have expressed interest in fighting at the event at Saitama as well.
"If we go there, we're gonna do a big card," Coker said. "We're gonna bring our best guys that make sense for Japan. What's crazy is you would be surprised how many fighters are like, 'Hey, I want to go to Japan, take me.'"
Bellator and Rizin have collaborated often in recent years. Kyoji Horiguchi, the Rizin bantamweight champion, came to the United States in June and won the Bellator bantamweight title. He now holds both belts. Bellator is sending Patricky "Pitbull" Freire to Japan this fall to compete in Rizin's lightweight grand prix. The next step for Bellator could be a big event in Japan and it could come together soon.
"Time is running a little bit short now, so we've gotta get on it," Coker said. "If we can't get on it now in the next two weeks, then it won't happen. But we'll know in couple of weeks."
Bellator announced Emelianenko had re-signed last month for his "retirement tour."