K-1 on Monday announced that Bob Sapp will make his return to Japan one year to the day of his last appearance.
Adding him to the Fields Dynamite!! New Year's Eve event at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, Sapp will face Akihito Tanaka in a mixed martial arts bout. Little is known about Mantaro and even the K-1 announcement contained no information about him.
Sapp last fought in Japan -- also for K-1 -- on New Year's Eve 2007. He was successful then, defeating Bobby Ologun by TKO in the opening round. He has fought in mixed martial arts only one other time since then, losing to fellow K-1 veteran Jan Nortje when Strikeforce took its show on the road to Tacoma, Wash.
Sapp was marketed heavily in Japan early in his career by Pride in MMA and K-1 in kickboxing. He hasn't had as much popularity in his recent career, but his return to K-1 in mid-2007 marked the end of a year-and-a-half period of inactivity for Sapp after he and the promotion had a falling out over contractual issues.
Tanaka is a seven-time All Japan Wrestling champion. The bout with Sapp is being sponsored by the creators of the Japanese anime that features Kinniku Mantaro, and Tanaka will actually wear a mask of the character when he fights.