|(Press Release) RIZIN FF officials announced today that the highly anticipated rematch between Akebono and Bob Sapp will be contested under Shoot Boxing rules.
In K-1 rules action, it was announced that Hiroya Kawabe will face striking phenom Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura on Tuesday, Dec. 29, and Takeru Segawa will square off with Chinese Muay Thai champion Yang Ming on December 31.
Shoot Boxing founder and CEO, Cezar Takeshi joined RIZIN FF ChairmanNobuyuki Sakakibara, General Manager Nobuhiko Takada, Sapp, Akebono, Segawa, and producer Kensaku Maeda at a press conference in Tokyo to make the announcements.
“I have been seeking advice about what rules the highly anticipated rematch should be held under, and Mr. Cezar introduced me to the idea where both fighters will be able to maximize their potential,” said Sakakibara.
“The new K-1,” continued Sakakibara, “has become popular in such a rapid rate, and I am happy that they are going to be sending their top, young talent to our ring. We would like to match both K-1 representatives up with tough opponents.”
Sakakibara also mentioned that Nam Jin Jo has injured his knee during training and was forced to withdraw, so Felipe Efrain from Shoot Boxe Academy will be facing Yuki Motoya.
Sakakibara closed his announcement by describing the details of the three-day, free-of-charge fight expo, which will begin on December 29, and include amateur MMA bouts and an open grappling tournament.
The rematch between Akebono and Sapp and the bout between Segawa and Ming join matchups between Yuichiro Nagashima and Andy Souwer, and Asen Yamamoto and Kron Gracie on December 31st.
“It has been a while since I last fought on NYE, and very excited. And to be facing my nemesis once again. Last time we fought, we made history, and that was a great honor. I would like to aim for making history again, and I assure you it will be an exciting fight.”
“I have been living with grief and defeat for the past 12 years. I have carried a thought of redemption deep inside and got the offer at the perfect timing. I never want to have to feel that way again, so I want everybody to come watch the new Akebono. I’m going in there for the win.”
“I was frustrated because I wanted to fight more this year, but I’m glad for this perfect opportunity. There are many MMA fights on the card, but I would like to show that K-1 fights are the most exciting. I want everybody to be talking about the lightest fighter’s being the most exciting out of all RIZIN fights.”
RIZIN FF General Manager Nobuhiko Takada:
“I am just too excited. One of the reasons is that the fight card is near complete, but more so because of the fact that we will be able to kick of our event on the day where people watch television the most. It needs to be a festivity. We put together various fights for a wide audience. We would like to continue to promote the greatness of this event.”
Takada continued in describing each fighter. “Hiroya has the looks and the skills who reigns as the top fighter in K-1. I can see why he has many female fans. But once the bell rings, he shows his aggressiveness and power. It is always irritating when you know very little about your opponent, but he is determined to show the greatness of K-1 regardless of his opponent.”
He continued on about the legendary fight, “The ratings for that fight was unreal. And that same fight will be coming back. There are many opinions about this fight, but that is what makes it so exciting. Many fighters will be motivated to gather all the attention which will lead to better performance. This fight has many meanings behind it.” Takada added,” If Akebono wins, maybe next year?” and teased everybody about a possible rubber match. Takada announced that Cezar Takeshi was assigned as the referee for this fight and asked him not to trip during the fight.
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