Rizin Fight Federation’s promotional debut on New Year’s Eve in Japan just got bigger.
After spending some time in the rumor mill, a rematch 12 years in the making between Bob Sapp and Akebono was confirmed late Friday by Nobuhiko Takada, a public figure involved with Rizin FF (h/t MMAFighting).
A giant of a human being, Sapp was a spectacle to the mixed martial arts world. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in (according to Sherdog’s latest metrics) 329 pounds, “The Beast” first made his pro debut under the PRIDE banner in 2002. He had a relatively successful career as a super heavyweight through 2008, but has since undergone one of the worst stretches you’d see for any fighter who consistently gets booked. Sapp is 1-15 since 2009, with his only victory coming against Sascha Weinpolter in 2010. All but one of his losses in that stretch occurred in the first round and 13 of them came in two minutes or less. Sapp is 11-18 as a professional fighter.
Akebono, born Chad Rowan, has had an even less successful career as a fighter, going 0-4 in mixed martial arts and 1-8 in kickboxing. The 46-year-old super heavyweight last measured at 6-foot-8, weighing in at 484 pounds. The Japanese fighter has not competed since December 2006, so those measurements could be off.
A sumo legend facing off against a well-known figure in Japan, a seemingly curious pairing has the potential of providing solid numbers for the new fight company.
Headlining the card is the return of Fedor Emelianenko, as the former heavyweight king comes out of retirement to face an opponent that has yet to be named.