'Mr. Pride' Shoji to Rematch Misaki in April Retirement Bout


Akira Shoji will have his last bout April 23 against Kazuo Misaki. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com


One of the most recognizable fighters of the Pride era is finally ready to call it a career.

At Deep "52 Impact" on Friday in Tokyo, hard-luck veteran Akira Shoji announced he would fight once more before officially ending his professional fighting career. Shoji offered an open invitation to opponents, which was quickly accepted by former Pride grand prix champion Kazuo Misaki.

Misaki and Shoji will meet for the second time at Deep's "53 Impact" on April 23 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Shoji and Misaki originally met in February 2006 at Deep's "23 Impact," where Misaki floored Shoji with brutal striking before eventually finishing the fight via guillotine in just 2:32. Shoji has not competed since the last-ever Pride event in April 2007, when he was knocked out by Gilbert Yvel in the first round.

Perhaps realizing their second encounter is one in which a win would be difficult, a somber but determined Shoji claimed, "This is my retirement fight, and I don't want my career to end with any regrets, so I want this fight to end in kaishaku."

By "kaishaku," Shoji refers to the Japanese ritual suicide, “seppuku,” in which the person committing suicide has a second individual assist in chopping off his head, provided he is unable to completely disembowel himself.

Falling in line with the drama, an intense Misaki said, "We fought in February 2006, and that fight made me who I am today. I want to show a fight with a samurai's soul. I will crush him."

Shoji, a former Chukyo University judo standout, started his MMA career in 1996 after joining Wajutsu Keishukai. The undersized Shoji went on to compete 23 times for Pride, where he developed a reputation for his gameness in challenging much larger and more talented foes, earning the nickname "Mr. Pride."

Shoji faced a "Who's Who" of MMA, including Igor Vovchanchyn, Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua and even giant multiple-time K-1 World Grand Prix champion Semmy Schilt. The perpetual underdog also pulled off several upsets, taking wins over the likes of Guy Mezger and Alex Stiebling.

More recently, Shoji has served as a professional wrestler with Pride-linked professional wrestling organization Hustle, while also embarking on his career as an MMA official, regularly serving as a judge for both Dream and Deep in the last two years.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.
From Around the Web

Related News

  • 27 days ago
  • 1 views

Bellator's lightweight champion Will Brooks will finally get the chance to defend his title. ESPN.com first reported on Wednesday that Brooks' first title defense will come on April 10 against vetera read news >>

  • 24 days ago
  • 162 views

Cody McKenzie's retirement was shorter than most fighters' time in between bouts. The idiosyncratic UFC veteran has accepted a fight on short notice and will meet Andrew McInnes in the co-main event read news >>

  • 16 days ago
  • 35 views

Is Donald Cerrone vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov about to finally become a reality? Cerrone won't say much other than he has signed a contract to fight. read news >>

  • 16 days ago
  • 7 views

That didn't last very long. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Bellator MMA, and Strikeforce veteran Renato Sobral, who called it quits in June 2013 on the heels of back-to-back technical knockout read news >>

  • 10 days ago
  • 3 views

The end of the Bjorn Rebney era in Bellator arrived in June 2014, at least officially, when Viacom executives rang the death knell on the tournament format and cast Rebney off into his self-imposed e read news >>

  • 7 days ago
  • 35 views

On the second episode of UFC 184 Embedded, several of the fighters get in their final primping and prepping before making the trip to Los Angeles. read news >>

  • 6 days ago
  • 14 views

Fedor Emelianenko hasn’t fought since June 2012 and, barring a significant change of heart, he has no plans of ever fighting professionally again.Filed under: Bellator, Featured, Featured Videos, New read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 31 views

The April 4, UFC Fight Night event in Fairfax, Virginia has a new co-main event. Al Iaquinta faces Jorge Masvidal in a lightweight bout with implications in the 155-pound rankings. read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 24 views

Ultimate Taunting Championship! CB Dollaway who? Perennial Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Michael Bisping may already be scheduled to fight CB Dollaway at the UFC 186 pay read news >>