On January 11, FEG held a press conference to announce that Sakuraba x Akiyama would be ruled a no-contest
, instead of the non-referee executive stoppage victory for Akiyama that everyone saw on TV on New Year's Eve.
FEG said that television footage revealed the slick substance that Sakuraba may have been complaining about. Akiyama said that the substance was just a skin cream, not vaseline or any other oily material that he knew to be forbidden by the rules.
As for the mysterious glove, it was explained at the press conference that the logo tends to fall off easily, and Akiyama must have lost it while warming up.
This is all FEG's official explanation. Of course, fight fans are not obligated to believe everything.
It seems that many American fight fans have not heard too much about the glove debate. To summarize, several observers in Japan have identified photographs or television stills that suggest that Akiyama's right glove (if not both) was larger than the official, standard glove. Some have argued that the glove was stretched out, or that a different glove was used to begin with, that contained sufficient space for Akiyama to "enhance" the glove. The pictures posted by Burning Spirit
are interesting especially, although I think the brass knuckles are overboard. See also this crazy website
. In any case, it was very possible for Akiyama to have had a cast-style wrap on his knuckles underneath the glove.
What about the logo falling off? It seems there were 10 Hero's rules matches on Dynamite, and to my knowledge all 9 victors who had their hands raised managed to keep the logo on not one, but both gloves. That's exactly what Edwin, the logo sponsor, is paying for after all. In fact, all 10 losers of those matches managed to keep the logo on their gloves too. So besides Akiyama, at least most of the other 19 fighters must have warmed up and then fought with the FEG-issued gloves that night, but not 1 of the 19 lost a glove logo in doing so. Perhaps those logos don't fall off as easily as they indicated in the press conference.
THE MEDIA CENSORSHIP
If my memory is correct, Tanigawa first indicated that FEG would reconsider the Sakuraba x Akiyama ruling in his conversation with reporters on January 8. The FEG meeting was scheduled for January 10. Sportsnavi reported Tanigawa's January 8 comments on the same day. Daily Sports reported them on January 9. But Tanigawa supposedly told the media not to talk about this issue.
Afterwards, the articles at Sportsnavi, Daily Sports, and every other media outlet disappeared. This happened due to pressure and a strong reprimand from Tanigawa and FEG, according to most sources. Was it right for Tanigawa to impose such conditions on the press?
Another set of problems center around Umeki, the referee of the Sakuraba x Akiyama fight. Umeki has been a referee for a very long time, with Pancrase, kickboxing, etc. The question about Umeki, like with Okabayashi in Sakuraba x Smirnovas, is whether he was under orders to do something, or to guide the fight in a certain way.
Umeki did not help things by the way he handled his personal blog
. In a blog post from about 1 week before Dynamite, Umeki said that he returned late to home after a "referee camera test" for Dynamite and luxurious Korean dinner. He does not live in Tokyo, so he was given a taxi voucher to cover the more than $100 USD fare. Of course, he was not specific about who paid for his food and drinks and taxi, and nothing about what was talked about over dinner. To make things worse, when angry fans hijacked his blog by writing comment after comment, Umeki deleted this earlier blog post. The original post did not look "clean" to begin with, but Umeki probably made it look more incriminating by getting rid of it.
There was an old post on his blog too about getting a friend's TV for free, and that this would be the first time he has a TV in his apartment. Sometimes I agree that TV is bad and makes you stupid, but in this modern age, it's hard to imagine that someone does not have a TV at home. Besides, doesn't he have to watch videos once in a while as a referee, or even as a fan of fighting? Many of his blog hijackers conclude that referees must not get paid too much money. Are poorer people more vulnerable to bribes?