Issue 201

January 2024

New Years Eve has been synonymous with mixed martial arts in Asia, with the region's big organizations hosting huge events to end the year in style. And no fighter delivered the goods better than Fedor Emelianenko.

Fedor fought seven times on New Year's Eve through his 23-year career, awith "The Last Emperor" going 7-0, with six finishes. In the mid-2000s he became a fixture of the big Japanese New Year's Eve events, fighting on that date for five straight years from 2003 to 2007.

The photo above shows Fedor making the walk at Pride Shockwave 2005, where he faced then-undefeated Brazilian Vale Tudo star Zuluzinho.

Almost 50,000 fans packed the Saitama Super Arena for an event that is generally considered the best New Year's Eve event in Japanese MMA history.

The main event saw Hidehiko Yoshida defeat Naoya Ogawa in a battle of Japanese Olympic judokas, while in the co-main event, Wanderlei Silva defeated compatriot Ricardo Arona via split decision in their middleweight title rematch. 

The event also saw a split decision between heavyweight striking legends, as Mark Hunt edged Mirko Cro Cop, while Japanese MMA icon Kazushi Sakuraba claimed a buzzer-beating first-round Kimura submission of Ikuhisa Minowa. Pride also crowned a pair of Grand Prix champions, with Takanori Gomi and Dan Henderson winning their respective tournaments at lightweight and middleweight. 

But the fastest finish of the night came from Emelianenko, who needed just 26 seconds to force Zuluzinho to tap to strikes in their heavyweight showcase.

Fedor Emelianenko on New Year's Eve

  • Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003: Def. Yuji Nagata via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:02
  • Pride Shockwave 2004: Def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via unanimous decision
  • Pride Shockwave 2005: Def. Zuluzinho via TKO (submission to punches) – Round 1, 0:26
  • Pride Shockwave 2006: Def. Mark Hunt via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 8:16
  • Yarennoka! 2007: Def Hong Man Choi via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:54
  • Fight For Japan - GDKO 2011: Def. Satoshi Ishii via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 2:29
  • Rizin World Grand Prix Finale 2015: Def Jaideep Singh via TKO (submission to punches) – Round 1, 3:02