Accusations have once again hindered head of RIZIN, Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
This time, it affected a major TV deal, which was scheduled to broadcast kickboxing superstars Tenshin Nasukawa and Takeru Segawa in what has been a fight anticipated for years. It eventually came together for June 19 for Fuji TV, but was announced Tuesday that it won’t be broadcasted there.
Shortly after Fuji TV’s announcement, an emergency press conference was held by Sakakibara and two other promoters from RISE and K-1, who were involved with the event.
The official reason is unclear, but Karaev Paul reported that Sakakibara mentioned tabloids from May – that has accused him of being linked to organized crime – as a possible reason for losing the deal.
Sakakibara handled negotiations with Fuji TV. He has denied the allegations and reportedly offered to resign as producer if that meant securing the broadcast deal.
But talks didn’t advance.
This isn’t the first time Sakakibara has faced accusations.
Back in 2006, when Sakakibara ran PRIDE – which is now defunct – he was tied with Yakuza, or Japanese organized crime, allegations that also cost him Fuji TV broadcast deals and other contracts.
Sakakibara had to sit out a seven-year “non-compete-clause” after an old UFC background check cited red flags that could conclude “some validity” to the accusations.
He returned to MMA with the launch of RIZIN in 2015.
Nasukawa and Segawa’s super fight will still push through, but it is more likely to happen on a pay-per-view with Abema.