“After Cyborg missed her weight at the second weigh-in, I rejected the fight. Then, while my manager and Josh (Barnett) were talking to athletic commission and promoter, I went back to my room with Shannon (Hooper) and Megumi Fuji, and waited. After while, the promoter asked me to reconsider, was called to come down to the lobby, then we began talking again….At that point, I have expressed my thought to the promoter, which was, in a sport called Mixed Martial Arts, if you allow a fighter to break rules, then from that point on, it will become something other than sport…Even popular fighter like Gina Carano missed the weight in the past, and her opponent had to fight under the weight disadvantage. If this kind of things gets accepted in women’s MMA then this no longer is a sport, it becomes a sport where competitor can ignore the rules. So as a competitor of this sport, I felt, this needs to be stopped, therefore, I rejected to fight her and asked promoter to put an effort on preventing this type of incident. And I kept saying that I would fight as long as Cyborg can bring her weight down to the agreed weight, but this was rejected. In any world, it’s wrong that a competitor who broke the rules gets protected.”
–Hitomi Akano, via MMA Weekly, talking about what went down behind the scenes during the Cyborg weigh-in fiasco, and voicing her concerns about what women’s MMA will become if the rules aren’t enforced.
I haven’t said much about this, or at least not as much as others have, but I will say I completely agree with Akano on this one. Unfortunately, mixed martial arts is a business, and that sometimes gets put before the pureness of the competition. That said, this fight should have never been booked from the start. Even if Cyborg had made weight on her first attempt, Akano was always too small of an opponent for Cyborg.
Cyborg deserves all the heat she’s getting for missing weight, but the blame shouldn’t fall squarely on her shoulders. Strikeforce and their matchmaking team deserve just as much heat for putting the fight together in the first place. Perhaps, you can also place a little blame on Akano, a 135lbs fighter, for initially taking the fight knowing she was too small to begin with, but like she said in the story, she’s running out of places to fight.
Hopefully, a lesson was learned from this, and we never see another gross mismatch in women’s MMA again. And just as important, let’s hope when the biggest fight in women’s MMA does take place, Cyborg and Carano do whatever it takes to make the weight class they sign their name to fight at. They’re never going to be taken seriously if they keep this charade up.
Image courtesy of AllElbows.com