Akiyama Stops Sakuraba Amidst Controversy, Sudo Retires

By Masa Fukui Dec 31, 2006
OSAKA, Japan, Dec. 31 — Nearly 52,000 fans filled the Osaka Dome tonight to watch six hours of K-1 and mixed martial arts bouts during FEG’s all-important New Year’s Eve Dynamite!! card.

Yes, it’s true. After defeating Damacio Page (Pictures) (dubbed Jackson Page by K-1) early in the opening round by triangle choke, Genki Sudo (Pictures) announced that he’s going to step away from fighting in the ring.

“The Neo Samurai” made the statement during his post-fight interview, and didn’t make it clear what he’s planning on doing next.

He mentioned something about traveling overseas to see how human beings solve their problems and live happily together. But nobody is sure what he’s going to do. One thing everybody knows is Sudo has written a book and recently debuted as a singer. He’s been on many TV variety shows, so it’s natural to think that Sudo could find a home in the TV talent business.

When asked why he decided to change his career, Sudo said he found his revelation while making use of a urinal.

“When I went to the bathroom there was a sign on the wall right in front of me saying: ‘ONE STEP FORWARD!.’ … I felt I needed to start something else.”

Thank you Genki for your very entertaining fight style and dreams that you gave us.

Until a few fights ago, I thought Yoshihiro Akiyama (Pictures) was a tough guy, but not a great fighter. But now I, and many others, have to give him full credit.

The Japanese fighter has a full set of tools to beat down opponents. He’s possesses calmness, sharpness, and quickness all in one. He changes ranges very quickly when the fight is on the feet. His balance is great on the ground. And he’s trained in the grappling game for a long time now.

Needless to say, his takedown offense and defense is excellent. That’s where he’s from. I won’t say he’s the best in his weight class in the world right now, but it’s clear that he holds big potential to be a star, like Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures), whom Akiyama beat today at 5:37 of the first round.

A low-kick battle ensued in the beginning. Then slowly Akiyama took over the pace of the fight by landing some heavy punches. Sakuraba took them, but it wasn’t long before the former PRIDE star, who doesn’t like taking many punches, attempted a shot.

Akiyama defended and then dropped more bombs on Sakuraba. Saku took another series of strikes on the ground and Akiyama glanced to the referee to see if he would stop the fight.

The referee shouted at Sakuraba to move, but the veteran Japanese didn’t, even though he was appealing something to the official.

As soon as the fight was stopped, Sakuraba claimed strongly to the referee that Akiyama’s body was too slippery, like there was some sort of grease on it. A group of K-1 officials took Akiyama’s gi and checked his body, and nothing suspicious was found.

The stoppage was official and Sakuraba took another loss on his record. After all fights were finished, FEG president Sadaharu Tanigawa told the media that Sakuraba was very upset, and thus was not in condition to come out to the interview space and talk.

Sakuraba’s claim sounds like nothing but an excuse. He didn’t say anything about it when he was doing fine, only when he was pounded. This fight looked a bit one-sided if I look back. A new era has begun.

Akiyama finished his post-fight interview with these brisk comments: “2007 will be a very tough year for me. I feel it for no particular reason. I just sense it from my heart. So, I will reset my mind as a challenger for this sport. And want to keep on winning in this event as a judoka.”

Full Results

MMA
Yoshihiro Akiyama (Pictures) def. Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures) TKO (strikes) 5:37 R1
Hong-Man Choi def. Bobby Ologun (Pictures) TKO (strikes) 0:16 R1
Norifumi Yamamoto (Pictures) def. Istvan Majoros TKO (strikes) 3:46 R1
Genki Sudo (Pictures) def. Damacio Page (Pictures) submission (triangle choke) 3:05 R1
Paulo Cesar Silva def. Chad Rowan (Pictures) submission (Kimura) 1:02 R1
Hideo Tokoro (Pictures) def. Royler Gracie (Pictures) unanimous decision 3R
Taiei Kin (Pictures) def. Tokimitsu Ishizawa (Pictures) KO (head kick) 2:48 R1
Katsuhiko Nagata (Pictures)def. Shuichiro Katsumura (Pictures) TKO (strikes) 4:12 R1
Andy Ologun def. Ken Kaneko (Pictures) unanimous decision 3R
Yukiya Naito (Pictures) def. Dong Wook Kim submission (strikes) 1:11 R3

K-1
Masato def. Satoru Suzuki KO 2:22 R2
Semmy Schilt (Pictures) def. Pete Graham unanimous decision 5R
Musashi def. Randy Kim KO (punch) 0:33 R3
Badr Hari def. Nicholas Pettas KO (kick) 1:28 R2
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