Rizin FF is the combat sports promotion led by former Pride FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara. Thus far, Rizin has held one event, a New Year’s Eve extravaganza to kick off 2016, in which it partnered with Bellator and several other fight promotions.
Silva’s multi-year deal, according to Rizin, includes him initially competing a tag-team grappling match at the promotion’s second live event, which will take place at the 10,000 capacity Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan on Sunday, April 17.
Silva fought Sakuraba under MMA rules three times during their years in Pride. The Brazilian won all three by either knockout or TKO. Following the special rules match, Rizin indicated that Silva would then compete under MMA rules in future bouts.
Although he remains under suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission, Silva has now signed contracts with two fight promotions, so it’s clear that intends to forego his retirement to continue fighting.
Silva retired amidst a battle with the NAC over his fleeing from a random drug test in relation to a scheduled bout with Chael Sonnen in 2014. He was originally banned for life and fined $70,000 by the commission, but a court ruled that the commission had overstepped its bounds by issuing such a severe penalty and ordered it to reconsider the case.
At its February meeting, the NAC revised Silva’s sanctions, reducing his suspension to three years and eliminating the fine. That keeps him under suspension until May of 2017.
While American commissions would recognize the suspension, many other countries, including Japan, do not have a governing body for mixed martial arts.
Although Bellator has not revealed its plans for Silva, it seems more and more likely that he may never return to fighting in the United States, particularly if he fights elsewhere prior to May of 2017, which would likely make it difficult for him to get licensed again in the United States.