Promoted to the front page from the fan posts by Kid Nate. Akiyama is the biggest draw DREAM has, this is big news for worldwide MMA.
For the past several weeks top 10 Middleweight and Korean Judo star Yoshihiro Akiyama has been missing in action at all FEG related events or promotions. It was long rumored that Akiyama was in a bitter contract dispute with DREAM and K-1 parent company FEG and that the talks were not going as planned for both parties. In fact, a few months ago the Japanese fight magazine Kamipro reported that Akiyama was looking at offers from both rival Japanese MMA promotion World Victory Road and American MMA juggernaut the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It was recently learned that Yoshihiro Akiyama has declined a reported ten(yes, that's 10) invitations to fight at the year end FEG FieLDS Dynamite!! 2008. Today NightmareofBattle is passing along the news that Akiyama has indeed confirmed that he is out of his contract with FEG via a blog post:
Yoshihiro Akiyama has made a blog post about his non-participation on NYE. First he writes that in November this year, his contract with FEG was terminated. They talked with FEG about participating at Dynamite!! but no agreement was made. He wanted to participate, so it is regrettable.
Then he writes that for next year he has negotiated on various contracts. He doesn’t know where he will end up, but at that time he will try his best from the beginning/from scratch.
I do have to question the "he wanted to participate" line. Had he really wanted to participate he would have chosen the worst guy they offered him out of the ten. But then again I know nothing about the behind the scenes wheelings and money dealings.
As I said in a previous FanPost this does not bode well for DREAM's popularity. Akiyama, even though he is hated, is one of the biggest, if not the biggest draw that DREAM had going for them. With Akiyama officially out of his FEG contract I expect DREAM attendance and TV ratings to go significantly down after the year end "co-promotion". Up until now I was hoping that Akiyama was going to fight at the year end event, which takes places December 31st, and hopefully re-spark the interest in MMA in Japan. Had Akiyama fought, and he's had ten guys to choose from, it would have definitely helped keep Japanese MMA alive.
At one point there was a rumor (well more so one guy calling out the other) that Shinya Aoki and Akiyama could possibly fight at the year end event. Now that would have been huge for Japanese MMA. In that fight you have had one of the fastest rising stars in Japanese MMA go against the 'guy you love to hate'. It's a pity that he's out of DREAM and FEG. Hopefully for the sake of his fans and himself he signs up with World Victory Road. There is a lot of great middleweight talent in World Victory Road's Sengoku that would provide for some really great fights.