(‘Wait, this Mousasi? The dude that’s been beating the hell out of everybody, that’s the guy ya’ll want me to fight? Gentlemen, I think there’s been a misunderstanding.’)
Greetings from the City of the Rising Sun, Potato Nation. Yours truly is spending New Year’s in Tokyo to attend the Fields Dynamite!! show (you’ll be able to read all about the experience in a future Fight Magazine issue), and already it’s been quite a learning experience. For instance, I just got back from the press conference where I was surrounded by a horde of teenage girls who waited for over an hour just to fawn over Masato. Alistair Overeem, Gegard Mousasi, and Shinya Aoki? To these girls they barely seemed worth the effort to flip open their trinket-laden cell phones and snap a photo.
The event organizers expect to draw at least 35,000 fans to the Saitama Super Arena for the show, and representatives from both Dream and Sengoku did their best to pump up the lukewarm rivalry between the two organizations, though without much apparent interest from the fans. A couple things worth noting:
- Akihiro Gono promised another epic entrance for his fight with "Mach" Sakurai on NYE. The sometimes cross-dresser said he’d been working hard on his walkout routine, and lamented that his evening gown routine wasn’t shared with the world at UFC 94. That makes two of us.
– Kazuyuki Fujita referred to Overeem as "a monster," and that characterization could not have been more accurate. Overeem looks huge, though he didn’t feel much of an obligation to hype the fight for the crowd. While most fighters put at least a little bit of effort into their obligatory remarks, Overeem settled for "Dream is the best," before sitting back down and passing the mic.
– Aoki isn’t happy about fighting Mizuto Hirota. Earlier this week he said that both he and his family were "disgraced" by the fight, and his attitude at the presser was one of a man grimly soldiering on through an unpleasant task. Also, he wore a suit and tie with pink New Balance sneakers, complete with rainbow laces. That’s called style, people.
– On another note, in Japan they sell beer in vending machines. If only someone had told me this before, I would have come here much sooner. Knowing it now is going to make it harder to chant ‘U-S-A!’ without it feeling just a little bit hollow.