Heavyweights booked for year-end show in Japan
A pair of former star heavyweights whose careers are going in different directions will meet in Japan at the end of the year.
Tim Sylvia and Brett Rogers will fight on Dream's New Year's Eve show at the Saitama Super Arena just north of Tokyo. Sources close to the negotiations on Wednesday confirmed the fight booking to Heavy.com. The fight has not yet been announced by Dream.
Sylvia (30-7) has won six of his last seven fights following a career-worst three-fight skid that saw losses to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81, Fedor Emelianenko at the first Affliction show and a 9-second loss to boxer Ray Mercer at an Adrenaline MMA show that had critics writing him off for good.
But the former UFC heavyweight champ bounced back and won four straight, all by stoppage, before being knocked out in 32 seconds by Abe Wagner at Titan Fighting Championships 16 in January. After a win over unknown Patrick Barrentine on a regional show in Illinois, Sylvia beat Andreas Kraniotakes on ProElite's second show earlier this month.
According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, Sylvia was considered for a rematch with Emelianenko on the show, but that fight ultimately did not materialize. Emelianenko has been linked to a fight against Satoshi Ishii on the card, though that has not yet been announced.
Rogers, meanwhile, has lost four of his last five fights. But more importantly, perhaps, will be the jail sentence he was given Wednesday in Minnesota following a guilty plea for a domestic abuse situation with his wife in June. As Heavy reported earlier Wednesday, Rogers was given a 60-day jail sentence, but with time already served and an expected early release after two-thirds of his term, Rogers will be out by Dec. 13. Rogers' attorney asked for his jail time to be delayed until after his fight, but the judge denied that request.
After starting his career 10-0, Rogers lost to Emelianenko, then Alistair Overeem for the Strikeforce heavyweight title. After a win outside the promotion, he lost to Josh Barnett in the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament quarterfinals before the domestic dispute complaint and subsequent arrest got him booted by Zuffa. In September, he lost a split decision to Eddie Sanchez at Titan Fighting Championships 20.
Dream's year-end show has been dubbed "Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011," which translates to "Fight for Japan: How are you! New Year! 2011." The event, which will air on HDNet, will include the semifinals and finals of the bantamweight tournament; a lightweight title fight between champion Shinya Aoki and Satoru Kitaoka; a featherweight title bout between champ Hiroyuki Takaya and Takeshi Inoue; and the return of Emelianenko to the New Year's Eve stage for the first time since 2007. The legendary Russian fought on New Year's Eve cards in Japan each year between 2003-07.