Organizers for the Yarennoka! event in Japan have announced the first pairings for the Dec. 31 event at Saitama Super Arena.
With Fight Entertainment Group’s Sadaharu Tanigawa, DEEP president Shigeru Saeki M-1 Global CEO Monte Cox, and former Pride executive Nobuhiko Takada in attendance, it was revealed that Gesias “JZ” Calvancante would face Shinya Aoki at the event. Also announced was a bout between Hidehiko Hasegawa and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai.
Calvancante is the two-time winner of K-1 Hero’s 154-pound Grand Prix Tournament. He is currently ranked as the No. 6 lightweight in the world by MMAWeekly.com. Holding a 14-1-1 professional record, Calvancante has not lost in more than three years.
Currently the No. 5 ranked lightweight in the world, Aoki is on an eight-fight winning streak, but hasn’t fought since Pride’s farewell event in April of this year.
Hasegawa is the current DEEP welterweight champion despite a precarious 2-1-2 record over the past year.
Although the Ultimate Fighting Championship had been pursuing Sakurai earlier this year, a rumored bout with Diego Sanchez never materialized. Amassing a 7-1 record over his past eight bouts – the lone loss to No. 1 ranked lightweight Takanori Gomi – Sakurai hasn’t fought since defeating current “Ultimate Fighter” contender Mac Danzig at a Pride event in February.
Currently ranked No. 2 in the world at lightweight, Sakurai is likely to face Hasegawa in a welterweight showdown though promoters have not yet disclosed that information.
Also confirmed for Yarennoka! is the participation of M-1 Global’s Fedor Emelianenko, though no opponent has been named.