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« | Home | »

Hitomi Akano’s camp publicly unloads on Cyborg & Chute Boxe

By Zach Arnold | April 21, 2009

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Update (4/21): Shu Hirata talks to MMA Weekly.

Original post date: April 16th

Josh Barnett posted this note on Thursday in English about what took place last week.

However, Josh did not touch upon about 80% of what transpired at the weigh-ins between Cris Cyborg & Hitomi Akano. Shu Hirata and Megumi Fujii, in an exhausting manner, have issued several articles in Japanese talking (in excruciating detail) about what exactly happened all day last Friday and Saturday as far as the behavior of the Chute Boxe camp in San Jose and what Hirata-san called dirty tricks by CB, Rudimar (the boss), and their interpreter.

Adding a unique twist to this story is this Fighter’s Only Magazine report that Rafael Cordeiro has split from Chute Boxe.

All I can say is that if Shu or someone ever translates these posts fully into English and conveys the emotion 100% right, it will provide you with some incredible reading. Simply put, my summaries won’t be able to do the articles justice.

First, let’s address this post by Megumi Fujii. Understand that shame is still a big part of the Japanese culture, so what she says here may not necessarily register any emotion out of an American fight fan but it will with fight fans from other cultures. Fujii talked about the process that Akano had to go through to bulk up and what it’s like for every female fighter to have a responsibility to show pride in their work ethic, both in and out of the ring. The highlight of Fujii’s article revolves around allegations of weigh-in stunts according to Akano’s camp.

A major point of contention from Akano’s camp is that Chute Boxe used dirty tricks with the scale. CB had been contending that they were using a scale from another gym (Frank Shamrock’s gym?) and that when it came time to getting the right measurement, they were upset with how everything went down. The ‘dirty tricks’ portion of the weigh-in situation revolves around a story that Hirata-san tells in great detail, but Fujii skims over… There was a point where Cris Cyborg failed to make weight and according to Akano’s camp, Cyborg and CB were telling them that they needed her to get weighed in naked and that in order to do so, her bikini top needed to come off. This drew a laugh from the Japanese because how could Cyborg’s bikini top really effect whether or not she made weight? The CB camp claimed, according to Fujii & Hirata, that the bikini was wet and that this would impact her weight.

Meanwhile, in order to do this, the removal of clothing would take place in a bathroom. The inspector at the weigh-in was a man, so in order for this to come about a female inspector from the commission was needed. Fujii didn’t specify this (but Hirata does), but the implication is the following — when Cyborg was in the bathroom with the scale, there was a time period in which there was nobody there to examine because the California commission was scrambling to get a female rep and then Akano’s camp would have Shannon Hooper as their rep. Fujii notes that after all of this chicanery and stripping of clothing that Cyborg still failed to even come close to making weight.

“Magic!”

Over the course of several days, Shu Hirata has posted his virtual diary of what happened took place last week in San Jose. Here are the links:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Part 1 – Shu talked about how California had the strictest athletic commission when Armando Garcia was in charge, but now things are more flexible and it’s a calmer atmosphere for the fighters. He pointed out that the CSAC didn’t allow foreign fighters to bring foreign medical test results (unlike Nevada & New Jersey) for validation and that medical tests had to be taken in the state. The CSAC was adamant that any fighter over six pounds in weight could not fight. Shu noted that with Garcia not in power, the commission is more flexible in regards to fighters having drinks and powerbars. When Cris Cyborg failed weight, she ended up failing at 6.6 pounds on the final attempt.

As noted up above, this is when Shu relayed the story about the bathroom stunts involving the stripping of clothing and any sort of potential dirty tricks happening. Even if something did happen, Cyborg was 150.1 pounds.

Part 2 – Shu focused on his accusations of dirty tricks by Chute Boxe and how he classified their behavior as unprofessional and childish. Hitomi Akano was devastated when Cyborg didn’t make weight because she (Akano) spent all tha time training and traveled all the way to San Jose just to end up not fighting? It was a very emotional situation.

Part 3 – Shu says that Chute Boxe was in a dirty tricks mode for the weigh-in re-attempt. Hirata talked about what an idiot and how insulting the Chute Boxe interpreter was, laughing at the concept that removing a wet bikini top would somehow make pounds disappear. “Is there such a bikini that weights more than 3 kg?”

Part 4 – There was discussion over how seriously Chute Boxe actually took the second weigh-in attempt and whether or not Cyborg would cut more weight. According to Shu, CB was pushing the angle that Cyborg was risking dehydrating herself and therefore creating a dangerous situation if it got any further. There was more anger for Chute Boxe’s interpreter.

Part 5 – When the fight was canceled, everyone was surprised. The business dilemma was that this was Strikeforce’s debut with Showtime and there was a focus on Cyborg winning to set up a fight with Gina Carano. Shu discusses his observations about Rudimar and how CB’s camp kept making excuses for Cyborg having woman problems, which promptly brought up the question, “Isn’t Akano a woman, too?” There was a look of embarrassment. Shu noted that the media was told about the situation developing for Akano and that what they were prepared to do was a brave situation, but nobody in the media used the word brave.

Part 6 – Shu said that he doesn’t discuss negotiation details publicly as far as why Akano accepted the fight under the conditions she was put in, but he noted the lack of professionalism and a horrible attitude by Chute Boxe as what should be focused on. The attitude, according to Akano’s camp, is that Cyborg never truly cared about making weight or not and that the attitude was, “Ah, the Japanese fight will never turn down the fight.”

When the fight happened last Saturday in San Jose, Cyborg used her power and predictably overwhelmed Akano’s technical ability. After the fight, Cyborg didn’t check on Akano and didn’t care, showing a low level of class.

Akano’s camp thought it was pathetic that Cyborg and Chute Boxe continued to use the “she had a woman problem” excuse for not making weight when talking to Gus Johnson in the post-fight interview.

Given the reputation and name value of Chute Boxe in Japan, Shu focused on Rudimar and wondered whether or not he understood what kind of shame there should be for the team’s actions and behavior. In other professional sports like MLB and the NFL, this kind of behavior would have not been accepted and MMA is supposed to be a professional sport, after all.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 24 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

24 Responses to “Hitomi Akano’s camp publicly unloads on Cyborg & Chute Boxe”

  1. ttt says:

    will this have an impact on chute boxe bookings in japan?

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    None of this would have been a problem if Strikeforce didn’t allow this fight to happen.

  3. Ivan Trembow says:

    I agree with 45 Huddle. Once it was clear that Cyborg was not going to make weight, the California State Athletic Commission should have never agreed to still sanction the fight, and once they did that, Strikeforce should have stepped in and refused to put on the fight. That’s a fight that wouldn’t necessarily have been a mismatch if Cyborg had to drain to make weight, given Akano’s previous wins at higher weights and Cyborg’s tendency to get tired late in fights. But with Cyborg not even coming close to making weight, it was not a fight that should have gone forward at that point.

  4. robthom says:

    Sounds like something chutebox would do.
    I get the impression that they’re kind of thugs sometimes.

  5. Chuck says:

    Chute Box, Cyborg, and Strikeforce should be ashamed of themselves over what transpired.

  6. JStein says:

    I got to talk to the translator, and he seemed like a nice enough guy. Didn’t realize the Japanese would be so offended.

    I almost wished the Japanese coaches had stepped away from this fight (as they said they were going to initially, until about midnight), because it would have sent a message that it’s not alright to miss weight for a bout like this. It’s very disrespectful and very unprofessional.

    I understand the whole “woman issues” thing from a physiological standpoint (hard to have more, not being a woman), but there’s still a sense of responsibility to make that weight, and you can’t be subject to Murphy’s Law with something like that.

    I have a few friends at Showtime who would probably have taken a big hit if they hadn’t been able to use this to hype the Gina fight, but the truth is, sometimes life’s a cold hard b*tch.

  7. Zack says:

    It seems weird to take the fight and complain about it. It should be one or the other. Of course the fight was a joke, and Akano would have made a great stand by not taking the fight, but she took it and was reportedly compensated for it. Seems weird to agree to the terms then complain.

  8. robthom says:

    “It seems weird to take the fight and complain about it.”

    Thats definitely a legitimate ‘nother angle.

  9. liger05 says:

    Whether it be MMA or Boxing I hate seeing fighters not make weight and then the fight continues. Rememeber when Castillo failed to make twice v Corrales. Was a disgrace!!

  10. frankp316 says:

    It’s been reported that Coker paid Akano 20 grand to take the fight and he hinted that he promised Fujii that AACC would have an ongoing relationship with Strikeforce. So Akano took one for the team.

  11. Alex Davis says:

    CSAC is amazing! Such a serious and strict comission, touts themselves as being the Comission above all others…and lets something like this happen?

  12. Zack says:

    “CSAC is amazing! Such a serious and strict comission, touts themselves as being the Comission above all others…and lets something like this happen?”

    Somewhere in CA, Armando Garcie weaps.

  13. Zack says:

    Garcia, even.

  14. Mark says:

    I don’t know, this looks pretty melodramatic to me. If it was that big a deal don’t take the fight (or subsequent extra compensation.) You didn’t see Katlin Young getting all emo like this after Gina beat her with the unfair weight advantage.

  15. frankp316 says:

    You missed the point. The CSAC’s duty and responsibility is to protect the fighters. You can’t leave it up to fighters or promoters. Ivan pretty much said it. Cyborg’s husband was concerned about Akano’s versatility. Akano won over a 170lb opponent last year. But they didn’t anticipate that the CSAC wouldn’t sanction the fight if the weight difference was too large. They knew that Akano would take the fight if the CSAC rubber stamped it. Initially they took the choice away. The CSAC’s mistake was giving in to Coker’s begging to sanction the fight. He needed the fight to happen. The CSAC screwed up.

  16. brashleyholland says:

    What else could Akano do but take the fight. It\’s not like there are 10-15 different promotions where she can fight and make good money, hell, there aren\’t even three or four.

    If she\’d have said no to the bout (which I agree she had every right to do and wouldn\’t have faulted her) then she could have kissed any possibility of a repeat booking goodbye. Her other choice was to take the fight, take the extra cash and potential for her and her camp to come back to Strikeforce for a couple of good paydays.

    That said, if the deal was done, the deal was done. Akano and her camp have every right to be aggrieved at the situation, but to make a deal and then blast everyone on a public forum is in pretty bad faith.

  17. Mark says:

    Well, all that goes without saying. But the point stands that since they do allow you the option (apparently up to 9 pounds difference, which is insane I agree.) Then having your camp do SIX PAGES worth of pissing and moaning about a decision you made, and were compensated for well beyond what your win bonus in a even fight would have been. I don’t have any sympathy for your plight.

    And plus, everything is directed at Chute Boxe, not Strikeforce or the CSAC. So it really sounds like sour grapes IMO.

    Plus Santos was going to win anyway. Much like BJ Penn getting his reputation saved by the vaseline, at least she now has an excuse to save her standing.

  18. frankp316 says:

    Well, that was mostly Hirata. Fujii didn’t do that. She was more discrete. You have to understand that Hirata, Josh & Shannon maintained that she shouldn’t take the fight and it was only after Coker met with Fujii & Akano and sweetened the pot that she took the fight. Did Hirata go overboard? Yup but Chute Boxe deserves it. And considering that Akano recently was married, she may be ready to retire and looked at this as her last big payday.

  19. frankp316 says:

    One other thing. Like Zack said, shame is a big part of Japanese culture so that Chute Boxe didn’t show any shame for their behaviour would be outrageous to the Japanese. I don’t expect fans here to understand that but I don’t find Hirata’s outrage surprising for that reason.

  20. Mark says:

    I’m not defending it. But since the weigh ins are around 24 hours before a fight, it’s completely unreasonable to think a fight promoter would ever seriously consider canceling a high profile fight. Even if it costs an extra 20 grand.

    And I am not blaming Hitomi Akano, as she’s handling this respectfully. It’s Shu Hirata who is showing no dignity in his whining. And since he’s her mouthpiece on the issue (notice she got a few sentences and he got 80% of the MMAWeekly article) I feel bad for her that he’s making her look bad. Hopefully she’ll tell him to shut up before he puts together an edited video on YouTube about the fight.

  21. Mark says:

    And also, what’s with the double standard a lot of people have between Santos doing this once and Gina doing it several times?

    By the logic used, shouldn’t Gina Carano be completely discredited as a fighter? She didn’t tamper with a scale in the ladies room, but who is to say she wouldn’t if they let her go there instead of strip behind towels?

    The truth is there was no intentional malice behind either fighter. Gina is just lazy in the gym and Cris had some kind of issue this time.

  22. frankp316 says:

    That doesn’t change the correct answer. The CSAC shouldn’t have sanctioned the fight. They can’t leave it to promoters and fighters. They didn’t do their jobs. And the issue was more with Mr. Cyborg than Mrs. Cyborg. She does what he tells her.

  23. robthom says:

    “And the issue was more with Mr. Cyborg than Mrs. Cyborg. ”

    And which one would that be exactly?
    🙂

  24. frankp316 says:

    Her husband, Evangilista “Cyborg” Santos. Read what Ivan said. There was some concern about Akano’s versatility and stamina as opposed to Mrs. Cyborg possibly gassing. They decided to do this intentionally not realizing that the CSAC wouldn’t sanction the fight. He’s telling her what to do and she does it.

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