SAN JOSE -- After hours of back and forth negotiations, Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker finally got his girl.
Hitomi Akano relented and agreed to take on Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, despite the fact that Santos could not come close to making the 145-pound contracted weight.
Akano’s manager Shu Hirata spoke to Sherdog.com about their reversal of an earlier statement that the fight was off and Akano’s decision to ultimately take the fight.
“All I can say is that Strikeforce and Mr. Coker offered her something very reasonable and we appreciate his effort as well,” said Hirata at the conclusion of negotiations at 2 a.m. PST. “Of course as a fighter she always wants to fight but she wanted to get the right conditions to make that happen, that’s all.”
About an hour before the deal was struck, Coker, showing his unwillingness to concede despite Hirata’s earlier statements that the fight was off, quipped to the assembled media that “it isn’t over till it’s over.”
As for the concessions he made, the Strikeforce boss kept things rather cryptic.
“I don’t really want to say what the deal is but I think that, let’s put it this way [her] gym will have a much better relationship with Strikeforce than just one fighter,” said Coker.
“Cyborg” was weighed once again after midnight local time and according to Coker, her camp informed him she was at 158 pounds. For a natural 135 pounder like Akano, this is a huge weight discrepancy.
Hirata was quick to point out the importance of full disclosure during the fight’s broadcast.
“We felt that maybe fans and [the] public should know what really happened, and by her fighting it relayed more of a message to the public and also gives her credit for having the heart of a warrior, because she will step in even though it is a big disadvantage now,” stated Akano’s manager. “I asked Mr. Coker to do that and he promised it will be addressed on the broadcast and I think it’s important to tell the story behind it.”
As for the sanctioning of the bout, Coker made it clear that they had signed off on the fight when Santos made 150.5 pounds at her second weigh-in attempt at 6:30 p.m. PST.
“The athletic commission said this is a legal fight,” declared Coker. “It’s legal in the state of California and we’re going to have a fight.”
The fight may be legal in the Golden State, but that has done little to assuage the feelings of disillusionment felt by Akano’s camp. They were adamant in their belief that Santos never really tried to cut the extra weight and that her camp took it for granted that they would just cave in and allow the fight to go on.
“I hope from this instance people understand that making weight is very, very important,” lectured Hirata. “That is one of the professional rules you are going to have to follow to be a professional fighter.”
Loretta Hunt contributed to this report.