ByRyan Matsunaga, writer at
MMA fan, BJJ enthusiast, and Executive Publisher at Creators Media.
Ryan Matsunaga

Over 800 pounds of fighter will enter the ring on New Year's Eve, with the announcement of Bob Sapp vs Akebono for the highly anticipated Rizin FF card.

The event will also feature the return of MMA icon Fedor Emelianenko.

Sapp and Akebono have fought each other once before, albeit under K-1 kickboxing rules. Sapp won that matchup via 1st round KO. Their rematch in Rizin will take place under Shootboxing rules, a quasi-MMA variant that features takedowns and standing submissions, but no ground fighting.

That's probably fine by these two, as neither of them have shown much of a propensity for the submission game over their careers. For that matter, neither of them have had much luck in the ring lately either.

Bob Sapp will enter the fight with an 11-18-1 MMA record, having lost his last 12 matches. He also holds an 11-17 kickboxing record, and hasn't competed professionally in either sport in over two years.

The former sumo wrestler Akebono meanwhile has lost every one of his four MMA bouts, and holds a 1-8 kickboxing record. He has not competed professionally in over nine years.

So overall, maybe not the most competitive of matchups, but certainly an entertaining booking that you really wouldn't see outside of Japan.

In addition to Fedor's return and Sapp vs. Akebono, the NYE Rizin card is pretty stacked. It will also feature an MMA superfight between Kazushi Sakuraba and Shinya Aoki, both legends in their own right, as well as a heavyweight kickboxing Grand Prix featuring King Mo.


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