Akebono pushing forward, but has his hands up covering his face. He forces Sapp to the ropes until the referee separates them. Sapp fires off a combination and Akebono again just pushes him over to the ropes. Akebono goes for a guillotine and attempts a very low kick. Sapp gets in a couple more shots and they separate again and stare at each other for a bit as Akebono’s cor-ner is clearly upset. Blood starts pouring out of Akebono from the back of his head. They both sqaure off but neither throw any offense, just moving in towards each other very slowly with their hands up in front of their eyes almost. Blood continues to pour as the referee orders a timeout to check on the blood. Both fighters go to neutral corners as Akebono is treated.
Eventually, they restart and Sapp throws more wild punches as Akebono just takes them and walks forward, shoving Sapp to the ground. Sapp swinging wilding with hooks while Akebono pushes him around. Akebono just pressing Sapp against the ropes and trying to throw one-handed punches. Doctors on the outside with white towels are following the fighters every-where, trying to deal with the cut behind Akebono’s ear.
The referee gives Sapp a yellow card for punching Akebono behind the head in round one. The doctors take a long time to fix Akebono but finally he is ready to come out for round two. Sapp comes at him with wilding swinging punches, but Akebono presses him against the ropes. Akebono just keeps taking these wild swinging punches from Sapp, who is now connecting with right hands over and over while Akebono just leans on him. Akebono’s bleeding again badly and they pause the fight again. The blood is too much but the doctors temporarily stop it and the fight resumes again. Much of the same again, wild punches from Sapp and Akebono just taking them and walking forward into Sapp and pushing him back into the ropes. Sapp’s only defense it swing wildly and he connects with some more shots to the back of the head, as Akebono leans in almost inviting Sapp to hit there. Akebono has Sapp trapped in the corner and Sapp cannot escape, so he just throws more punches. Akebono not doing anything, no offense or defense, just holding Sapp in the corner and taking these shots. He does manage to sneak in one right to the body and Sapp again hits him wildly in the back of the year and they continue to lock up in the corner. Sapp trying to get him off him. The referee eventually pauses again and orders Akebono to get more treatment but the blood is just too much and the fight is stopped.
An Interview with Bob Sapp
Looking back on the fight, how do you think it went?
I feel great. It was a fight that really got the blood flowing.
The fight was stopped quite a few times because of blood. You were eventually awarded the fight.
Of course I would have liked to have won differently. Neither of us are young, and injuries do happen, it’s a part of the fight game. Either way, it was a TKO.
How is this different to 12 years ago?
I kept coming forward hard I think tonight. I think I’m more leaner now and I punch harder. Any other opponent and I would have knocked him out, but this time I couldn’t.
And what are your thoughts on being awarded a yellow card?
I have no idea what that was about. Akebono was holding his head in his corner and the referee was right to stop it, but for to be given a yellow card is a strange decision.
What are your feelings on shoot booking rules, and also Takeshi Caesar refereeing the match?
I’d like more time to train under the shoot boxing rules, and when I’m used to them I’d like to fight under the rules again. Someone like Andy Souwer is a good example of being used to the rules. Caesar’s refereeing was sexy, he’s a very cool guy.
If there was an offer for a third match between you two, would you accept it?
Sure, I’d like to fight him again. I’d like it to be in Japan, another one off match.
An Interview with Akebono
Looking back, how do you think the fight went?
I attacked way I wanted to, the way I trained. I pushed forward and attacked him, and he was worn out but until all the blood came, the fight went the way we had trained for.
What are your thoughts on your opponent, who you haven’t fought for 12 years?
As usual, very strong. But to be honest, today is hard to take. I wasn’t knocked out, and I feel like the fight wasn’t decided properly.
Would you like to fight him again?
If I can, yes.
Did you discover the neck lock at Caesar’s gym?
He didn’t really “teach” it, it was more like a “there is also the neck lock option”. After I learnt that, the way I attacked really changed.
Did you think Sapp’s punch to the back of year head was a foul?
It didn’t really bother me too much. However, I started bleeding and my corner guys started yelling, which I noticed. I didn’t know anything had happened though.Kazunori Yokota (from Akebono’s corner): It’s obviously that Sapp punched him in the back of the head, and he’s gotten a yellow card for it. We’ll take a look at the tape once more, but I think the referee has made the wrong call and I think we’ll be looking to take this up with the refereeing committee.
Where was the blood coming from?
The back of his head.
Was that an old wound?
That spot has bled before, but nothing as serious as this ever. The doctor told me that I was bleeding from about three different places.
What are your feelings on shoot booking rules?
Much more different than I thought. I got him with a really good strike that affected him, and went forward to lock up but the referee broke it up. It was a little different than what I heard when explained to me, but I think these rules suit me the best. I was able to really push forward today.
What are your thoughts on Takeshi Caesar refereeing the match?
Such an honor. The thing I am disappointed in most is the finish, it’s not what the fans would have wanted. As I was going back to the locker room, I still didn’t know what was going on. It was only in the locker after that another fighter told me what had happened. The way it ended is hard to take.
Would you like to fight in the “Outo” ring again?
I don’t know if I’ll make another “Outo” lol. That’s another story all together.