Rizin FF signs Bob Sapp vs. Akebono II for NYE

Bob Sapp landing on Akebono in 2003
Bob Sapp landing on Akebono in 2003

Rizin FF has officially announced a rematch of a bout that garner 54 million television viewers in Japan. Bob Sapp will faced Akebono under MMA rules. The bout will be part of Rizin FF’s New Year’s Eve event which takes place at the Saitama Super Arena outside of Tokyo.

The two originally faced off at K-1 Premium 2003 Dynamite under kickboxing rules. That night, Sapp defeated Akebono with a right hook in a little under three minutes.

Sapp was a media icon in Japan for several years. He also competed in MMA and kickboxing. He recently retired from combat sports with an MMA record of 11-18-1 and a kickboxing record of 11-17. Over the course of his career, Sapp faced the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Ernesto Hoost and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.

Akebono holds the distinction of being the first non-Japanese-born sumo wrestler to reach the level of yokozuna. He retired from the sport in 2001 due to injuries. From 2003-2006, Akebono fought both MMA and kickboxing under the K-1 banner. He holds a combined record 1-12. Under MMA rules, he is 0-4. In his MMA debut, he was submitted by Royce Gracie is a little over two minutes. Recently Akebono has been working as a professional wrestler for All Japan Pro Wrestling. However, he dropped the promotion’s title and left the company earlier this month.

The main event of Rizin FF’s debut card will feature former Pride FC heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. His opponent for the event has not been announced. The card will air on tape delay on Spike TV in the U.S.