TOKYO -- Strikeforce
veteran and Japanese MMA mainstay Kazuo Misaki
surprised fight fans at Friday evening's Deep 60
Impact Impact when he announced his intention to retire from
active competition. The former
Pride champion declared December 22’s Deep Haleo Impact at
Korakuen Hall his final appearance in the ring.
“One reason is that I feel limited in progressing further,”
explained the “The Hitman.” “Another reason is that someone I trust
very much advised me that I should probably stop while I can,
before I become too physically damaged.”
Over the course of his decade-long career, Misaki has been in more
than his fair share of memorable wars. However, he is perhaps most
remembered for his epic 2009 and 2010 Sengoku Raiden
Championships title tilts with
UFC vet and former SRC middleweight champ Jorge
Santiago. Though close-fought, Misaki sustained significant
damage in both losing efforts. Misaki has claimed to have no memory
last and bloodiest encounter with Santiago, a bout that
required his cornermen throw in the towel to save him in the
fight’s final seconds.
Misaki has since gone on to string together three wins--one of
which was the retirement bout of Pride-mainstay-turned-referee
Shoji in April 2011’s Deep 53 Impact, and the latest of which
was a close decision victory in a March 2012 Strikeforce match with
Daley. Perhaps owing to his current involvement in the
Zuffa-owned, Showtime-based promotion however, the former Pride
champ is uncertain whether or not he can actually participate in an
official capacity in his December retirement event.
“I'm not really sure if I can actually fight because of contract
matters, but I want people to be satisfied when they come to see my
retirement,” admitted Misaki, implying that he may participate in
an exhibition bout instead.
Despite leaving active competition, Misaki promised to continue
being involved in the sport, though he did not specify in what
“I don't have any regrets. I'm really happy now,” he said. “As a
fighter, of course it's rough to be leaving, but I really am happy
Go Yamamoto contributed to this report.