Misaki Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice


TOKYO -- Kazuo Misaki pleaded guilty Thursday in Tokyo District Court to obstruction of justice, and his scheduled Aug. 2 Sengoku bout against Kazuhiro Nakamura is in jeopardy.

“To the many people I have caused trouble for, I would like to deeply apologize,” a reserved Misaki said Friday at a news conference held by World Victory Road. “I will reflect upon this occasion. I truly am very sorry.”

Misaki potentially faces up to one year in prison and was given a three-year suspended sentence by judge Iwao Maeda. According to WVR’s Tomohiro Iida, the sentence is a probationary one: Should Misaki not commit further crimes, it will likely be commuted to a lesser sentence.

On March 19, Misaki was ordered to pull over when a Tokyo Metropolitan policeman noticed him talking on his cell phone while driving. As the officer approached the car, the 2006 Pride 183-pound grand prix champion ignored his request to stop and drove away. Misaki's driver side mirror also struck the officer's left wrist, causing injury.

“It was for selfish reasons,” said Misaki, citing his mindset while fleeing from the officer. “I wanted to get to training quickly, and at the time, I didn’t think talking on a cell phone was so serious.”

Misaki was not arrested until over two months later, when the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department arrested him on an unspecified date in the last week of May. The Pride and Strikeforce veteran then posted bail on June 4.

WVR company director and Sengoku event producer Takahiro Kokuho was firm in his comments regarding Misaki’s lapse of judgment.

“It was really a thoughtless act,” Kokuho said. “It’s something that you simply can’t do. Obstruction of justice is a serious crime.”

Kokuho stated that the news had come as a surprise, having only learned about Misaki’s troubles with the law on Thursday, despite the fact that Misaki’s camp, Grabaka, was well appraised of his situation. Misaki’s manager at Grabaka, Motoki Osako, claimed responsibility, stating that he “didn’t think [Misaki’s subpoena] was a very big matter at the time.” The oversight earned Osako and the Grabaka camp a stern reprimand from Kokuho via Grabaka leader, Sanae Kikuta.

Despite his sternness toward Misaki and his camp, however, Kokuho expressed doubt regarding the circulated account of the March 19 incident.

“Misaki was not aware that his side mirror had struck the officer’s hand, nor was there any damage or indication on the mirror itself,” Kokuho said. “The police officer wasn’t injured and it may not be the case that he was actually struck.”

WVR’s news conferences on May 22 and June 4 were aimed at announcing the Aug. 2 Misaki-Kazuhiro Nakamura bout and the Satoshi Ishii signing respectively, but Misaki was noticeably absent on both occasions. Kokuho explained that he understood Misaki’s absence as being related to his requested three-month break after his loss to Jorge Santiago in January.

“We put out a release believing that Misaki would attend, but I had heard that his condition wasn't good,” Kokuho said. “And at any rate, because the decision to hold the press conference was made directly beforehand, I didn’t think I could urge him to show up if he truly wasn’t well. I thought maybe [his absence] was because of this.”

Misaki’s more immediate concern is whether he will be able to fight on Aug. 2 at Sengoku “Ninth Battle.”

“As for my upcoming bout, since I don’t have the ability to decide whether I can participate in it or not, I would like to defer to the judgment of Sengoku,” he said. “However, as a fighter and a person, in order to regain the trust that I’ve lost, I want to work hard and fulfill my responsibilities.”

Citing concerns over the public perception of MMA fighters in light of this latest incident, Kokuho said they would have a commission meeting soon to decide on whether the bout should proceed.

“I personally think he should fight,” Kokuho said. “I believe proper atonement would be for him to train hard and step up into the ring to show us a Misaki-like fight.”

WVR official Tomohiro Iida stated that Sengoku’s nine-person commission (Yukihiko Inoue, Kyosuke Shinozawa, Kenshiro Matsunami, Kazuko Asai, Tokio Otaka, Seiichi Furumura, Kazuo Hara, Masaharu Hino and Tomiaki Fukuda) would likely convene and come to an official decision early next week.

Jordan Breen contributed to this report.

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