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Tag: Japan

Photo of the Day: Rin Nakai and Dana White, or, The Duality of Human Existence


(Photo by Keith Tsuji for Getty Images)

Here we have new UFC acquisition Rin Nakai (left, dressed in white w/tiara) and UFC president Dana White (right, dressed in black w/o tiara) at a press conference for UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson earlier today in Tokyo. I don’t know if they planned those outfits together or what, but it kind of makes Dana look like a comic book villain who kidnapped a princess, and Kyoji Horiguchi has to battle his way up from the prelims to save her. Plus, White’s hand is around Nakai’s waist, which isn’t something that he normally does with his male fighters during photo-ops. I’m just saying. There’s a pretty good chance he called her “sweetheart” at some point.

Your captions, please.

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Just Another Reason Why PRIDE Was More Entertaining Than the UFC…


(Props: hkkaneWM2012 via r/MMA)

NOTE: Okay, the video won’t let us embed it to start at the 35:00 mark, so you’ll just have to go there yourself.

What you see above is the complete video of PRIDE Shockwave 2005, an event that featured Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson, Mark Hunt, Kazushi Sakuraba, Takanori Gomi — should we keep going? alright, then — Minowaman, Ricardo Arona, Aleksander Emelianenko, Hayato Sakurai, Giant Silva, James Thompson, Zuluzinho, Murilo Bustamante, Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett and a main event between two Olympic judokas (Hidehiko Yoshida and Naoya Ogawa) that reportedly earned both men $2 million.

It might have been the most talent-rich MMA card in the history of the sport, and if you have seven hours to watch the whole thing, go for it. But we’ve cued it up to one moment in particular: A six minute tap-dancing presentation that leads directly into PRIDE’s traditional taiko drums and fighter introductions. That’s right, I said tap-dancing. And the crowd loved it!

The spectacle of PRIDE couldn’t possibly be sustained. (I wonder what the total fighter payroll was that night, including Yoshida and Ogawa’s $4 million?) But it’s nice to remember that for one moment in time, in one part of the world, MMA looked like this. PRIDE was wild, unpredictable, a feast for the senses, and willing to try anything to please its fans.

Or as one reddit commenter put it: “Yeah. I mean, the UFC has some videos, lights, and music which are cool and all but Pride choreographed entire fight cards.” LOL…

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Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson to Headline September UFC Fight Night Card in Japan (Yes!); Event to Air on Fight Pass (Crap!)


(“Ohhh, look at that. It’s like an ad for a f*ckin’ weight-loss center. Before, and *way* before.” / Photos via MMAJunkie)

After a month of rumors, it’s finally official: Heavyweight sluggers Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson will be trading bombs in the main event of UFC Fight Night 51, which is slated to take place September 20th at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Hunt hasn’t competed since his Fight of the Year-candidate draw against Antonio Silva last December, which followed a TKO loss against Junior Dos Santos at UFC 160. Nelson is coming off his brain-rattling knockout win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in April, which snapped a two-fight losing streak. Feel free to call this one “The Battle of the Bulge,” as long as you acknowledge that Hunt already made that joke.

The only drawback to this guaranteed slobberknocker is that the event is expected to air on Fight Pass, which means that most of us North American types won’t see it live, and will have to settle for the GIFs that hit the Internet later. Ah well. The Great and Powerful UFC has a plan, and we must always trust in it.

Your predictions, please.

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Yushin Okami on Bridging the East-West Training Divide and Moving Forward After His UFC Release [Tokyo Dispatch #2]


(Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

I got off the Oedo subway line from Shinjuku station at the Kiyosumi Shirakawa stop and waited for a few minutes to meet up with my guide for the night, Stewart Fulton. Stewart is a Scottish ex-pat who has lived in Tokyo for over a decade. He’s also a professional fighter and has bled and sweated with some of the best fighters in all of Japan.

On this Friday night, Stewart is taking me to the gym of the man UFC president Dana White has said is the best fighter to have ever come out of Japan — Yushin Okami. Uncle Dana may very well be right about that.

It’s an interesting time to visit with “Thunder” because, despite White’s lauding of him, the UFC released Okami last fall. Now, the former middleweight title challenger is signed with the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and is expected to make his promotional debut in March against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.

Stewart has told me that I can train with the group of select professional fighters that Okami will lead tonight but also warned me that it is a sparring day and that they go hard. After three straight days of hard grappling at other schools in Tokyo, I’m fine with sitting through tonight’s session as a spectator and leaving with my head still attached to my body.

I wonder out loud to Stewart what kind of mood Okami will be in tonight. He hasn’t done many interviews since being cut by the UFC. Okami’s release shocked some observers since he is still clearly a top middleweight. Surely, it shocked Okami as well. Who knows how eager he’ll be to talk about the topic.

Luckily, there are plenty others to discuss. Namely, training.

Stewart tells me that over the years he’s been amazed that Yushin has never appeared to be injured during training. Injuries happen constantly in training and fighters are almost always nursing several of them that vary in severity.

“I’ve never noticed him favoring an injury during practice,” Stewart tells me.

“Either he doesn’t get hurt or he’s very good at not showing it.”

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Shinya Aoki on Survival, Rebounding From Defeat, And How PRIDE Changed His Life [Tokyo Dispatch #1]


(“I’m honored that anyone would watch me fight, but my goal isn’t to appeal to people.” Photo via MMAWeekly)

By Elias Cepeda

If it wasn’t for his cauliflower ear and your knowing how a person gets such a proud deformity, Shinya Aoki is the type of fighter you’d never suspect was, in fact, a fighter, just from looking at him or speaking with him outside of training or competition. To the untrained eye, Aoki looks like just another Tokyo hipster or backpack kid — slight in frame, stylish, with thick-framed glasses.

Sure, he’s got a gravely, action-hero voice but it delivers extremely humble words, for the most part. Shinya Aoki always appeared to be a mild-mannered, soft-spoken person from the interviews I’d seen of him over the years.

As he sits in a conference room in a Tokyo high-rise on this rainy late December afternoon, nothing I see on the surface changes that perception. For a half hour, Aoki is warm, engaging, quick with a smile and nervous laughter.

In just over one week’s time, however, Aoki will be in a ring, attempting to snap another man’s arm in half. The only reason he will not is because the opponent will smartly tap out before his limb breaks.

Like many great fighters, Shinya Aoki flips a switch, so to speak, from Clark Kent to a kind of malevolent Superman when it comes time to compete. Not only has the ordinarily calm and friendly Aoki not hesitated to break the bones and tear the ligaments of opponents, throughout his career, he also isn’t above standing over their prone bodies and flipping them the bird, as he did to Mizuto Hirota in 2009.

The submission wizard and MMA veteran of over forty professional fights, knows exactly when he makes that shift from civilian to ruthless warrior.

“From the moment I get in line to make my entrance [to the cage or ring],” he says. “That’s when it switches.”

Aoki’s psychology going into a fight is simple and logical. In fact, it is the mindset one could easily imagine would develop in any other skinny teenager who started doing martial arts. Aoki may have developed into one of the world’s best fighters, but when he steps onto the mat, all that is on his mind is survival.

“When I’m out in normal street clothes, I’m a regular person,” he explains. “When I get in the ring, I’ve got to turn on that animal instinct. I’ve got to become a survivor. That’s what switches in my head.”

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‘DREAM 18′ Full Fight Videos: Manhoef vs. Kang, Aoki vs. McKee, Baroni vs. Sakurai + More


(Melvin Manhoef def. Denis Kang via knee-to-the-body KO, 0:50 of round 1. Fight starts at the 3:44 mark, but we’ve got the video cued up to the *real* action.)

From Mirko Cro Cop arm-barring a professional wrestler, to Bob Sapp scoring a massive upset over Alistair Overeem (in arm-wrestling), New Year’s weekend in Japan was loaded with, shall we say, “sports entertainment.” But there was at least one legit event — the hybrid DREAM 18/Glory 4 MMA-kickboxing spectacular that went down December 31st at the Saitama Super Arena. Thanks to Suhwaniya Fight Club, we’ve got complete videos of all eight MMA fights that took place that night, which featured such stars as Shinya Aoki, Melvin Manhoef, Marloes Coenen, Phil Baroni, Michihiro Omigawa, and Bibiano Fernandes. Enjoy, and welcome to 2013 everybody.


(Shinya Aoki def. Antonio McKee via submission due to eye-punch, 0:24 of round 2)

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UFC Plans Four Event Tour of Japan for 2013

At UFC 144, the organization made a triumphant return to the Land of the Rising Sun with an evening full of exciting fights, culminating in Benson Henderson winning the lightweight championship from Frankie Edgar. Add on the way that the polite, educated Japanese fans packed the Saitama Super Arena, and it felt like it would only be a matter of time before the organization returned to Japan for more events.

Today, Japanese sportspaper NikkanSports is reporting (translated by MMAWeekly) that the UFC is planning on returning to Japan with a series of four smaller events in 2013. The events will showcase local, Japanese talent and will take place at a small, yet-to-be-determined venue. The UFC is reportedly aiming for 5,000 people attending each event.

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Must-See: Rampage Jackson’s Rap Music Debut in Tokyo [VIDEO]

A million arigatos to our friends at TerezOwens for sending us actual footage of the rap concert that Quinton Jackson did in Tokyo immediately following his loss to Ryan Bader at UFC 144. We can’t tell if this clip is an excerpt from Rampage’s new “doggy style” tribute, but either way, the lyrics are $kala-caliber. FYI, the performance went down at a club called Vanity in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. (As in, “vanity project.” As in, “My God this vanity project.”) Allow us to half-assedly transcribe:

Rampage:
Get on sowaggichain
Get down with Rampage
We party like we paid
Move! Yo ass, like you wanna get laid
Now shake it, *you* shake it
I wanna see that ass butt-naked

Rampage’s Asian hype-man:
Yo, whassup?
Everybody get down on the floor wuhsay
HALT! Sup?
New York
[Ed. note: You're in Tokyo, idiot.]

The video was uploaded to the YouTube account ShuHirata1968; Hirata is like the Ed Soares of Japan, and he always seems to have his video camera with him. For example, here’s another recent clip from Shu’s account that made us even more uncomfortable than Rampage’s rap show…

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[VIDEOS] Ben Henderson Visits South Korea, Takes Taekwondo With the Children


(All videos courtesy of mfight.) 

After capturing the lightweight title at UFC 144 last Saturday in Japan, Benson “Smooth” Henderson swung over to South Korea along with his mother, where he received a hero’s welcome reminiscent of the glorious ending to Star Fox 64. Sure, it wasn’t quite as grandiose as the trumpet blaring fiesta Junior Dos Santos received in Brazil, but one can only show so much enthusiasm when guards armed with semi-automatic rifles stand just a few feet away.

As you may or may not know, Henderson’s mother is Korean, making Benson the second Korean blooded UFC champion in the promotion’s history (B.J. Penn being the first).

Join us after the jump for more musings from the land of Oldboy, including a heartwarming video of Benson and his mother, and a horrifying look at a group of 6-15 year old children who could whoop all our asses. 

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UFC 144: The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly


(This punch-face that Bendo gave Frankie Edgar? Good *and* ugly.)

By Mark Dorsey

Inspired by the 1966 Spaghetti Western film about three gunmen who set out to find a hidden fortune during the American Civil War, this post-event wrap-up is dedicated to the moments that may have slipped through the cracks or deserve a little bit more analysis. Before we bid adieu to the resounding success that was UFC 144, join us for a look back at the event with a solid, squinty-eyed gaze that would make a macho legend like Clint Eastwood proud.

The Good
The Japanese crowd. As expected, the Japanese crowd was politely engaged in the fights throughout the entire event. There were long periods of respectful silence during most of the action, prompting Joe Rogan to urge Mike Goldberg to take off his headphones in order to soak in the eerie quiet in the arena. Rogan is a stand-up comic who doesn’t often get the opportunity to crack jokes during the fights but it was funny when he said that event was akin to watching “a cagefight in a church.” Despite the reverent atmosphere, the crowd also had its moments of vocal fervor, erupting into chants of Hioki’s name and random “UFC” chants, while also scolding Ryan Bader with boos when he tried to tie-up Rampage from the bottom. The Japanese fans showed a lot of support to non-native fighters such as Vaughan Lee after his impressive armbar victory over Kid Yamamoto, and Tim Boetsch after his shocking comeback win over Yushin Okami. The vibe in Japan was markedly different from the UFC’s amazing shows in Toronto and Rio, but anytime there’s an event when the fans become one of the main talking points, it speaks to their passion.

Referees. Referees usually only get the spotlight if they make a mistake or controversial decision, but sometimes they should get mentioned simply because they did a solid job. That was certainly the case at UFC 144 which saw some great stoppages. Particularly noteworthy was Herb Dean’s reaction time, jumping in to stop Mark Hunt and Issei Tamura from inflicting more damage after their devastating knockouts of Cheick Kongo and Zhang Tiequan, respectively. In a similar vein, during the Lauzon/Pettis fight, referee Marc Goddard was right on top of the action, quickly stepping in to prevent follow-up damage after Lauzon was KO’d.

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