Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the President of Japanese combat sports promotion RIZIN Fighting Federation, has no objections to promoting an unconventional fight here and there. Look no further than last year’s wild exhibition boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Tenshin Nasukawa for proof of that fact.
From the sounds of it, the RIZIN boss is plotting another strange attraction for the promotion’s big New Years Eve show this year.
Speaking at the conclusion of last weekend’s RIZIN 18 event, Sakakibara hinted that there’s something “quite strange” in the pipeline. He said it’s neither MMA nor kickboxing nor pro wrestling, but a new form of competition altogether.
He added that while it’s unlikely to involve Floyd Mayweather or even Manny Pacquiao, it could potentially involve Conor McGregor or Oscar De La Hoya (h/t Karaev_Fan on Twitter).
BJPenn.com can confirm that the promotion has reached out to both men.
RIZIN CEO Sakakibara says he is planning something 'really weird' for NYE "that's not MMA, kickboxing or prowrestling but a new type of competition"
He says he's not working with Mayweather or Pacman but is in contact with McGregor and Oscar De La Hoyahttps://t.co/NDy9hepiY0
— Karaev Fan@Don'tduckOUTSIDERTenshin (@Karaev_Fan) August 20, 2019
“It’s quite strange,” the RIZIN boss said of his plans (via Tokyo Sports). “It ’s a new innovation. I feel like creating a new competition that is different from mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and professional wrestling.
“Mayweather had a surprise appearance last year, but it is difficult to develop something new from there. Pacquiao is also an active title holder. It’s more of a stakeholder who contributes to mixed martial arts and innovation than the two [boxers], like Connor McGregor or Oscar De La Hoya.”
“We can do something together,” Sakakibara added of McGregor, touting the Irishman as “the most famous mixed fighter in the world”.
Oscar De La Hoya, a former boxer and long-time boxing promoter, recently entered the MMA bubble as the CEO of Golden Boy MMA, which has seemingly already met its end.
Conor McGregor, meanwhile, is currently on hiatus from competition, and it’s currently not clear if the Irish star will fight again. He has not stepped into the cage since last October, when he was submitted in a lightweight title fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is currently under contract with the UFC, but could conceivably compete in another discipline of some kind.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that, whether it involves McGregor or De La Hoya or not, Nobuyuki Sakakibara is thinking way outside the box for the final RIZIN show of the year. Stay tuned for updates on what’s sure to be a wild show.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/20/2019.