Ok, so the good news is that DREAM isn’t actually dead. The bad news is that it is a far cry from what it used to be. It was announced today that the organization will return with another New Year’s Eve show this year AND THERE ISN’T ONE FREAK SHOW FIGHT SCHEDULED ON THE CARD.
“Glory Sports International (GSI), owner and operator of the Glory World Series…will be responsible for presenting ‘DREAM 18 – Special NYE 2012’, a New Year’s Eve MMA mega-event taking place at the Saitama Super Arena on December 31,” a press release reads.
The press release also says that the card will have ten MMA bouts and three kickboxing ones. Featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya, Tatsuya Kawajiri and lightweight contender Satoru Kitaoka are the only three fighters confirmed for the event. Great fighters all, sure, but we had better see a Giant Silva or Zulu Jr. thrown into the mix before things are done or we will be incredibly disappointed. Does Minowaman have anything scheduled these days?
I’m going to level with you for a second, Potato Nation. Last Friday, around 1 p.m. EST, I sat down for a twenty minute phone interview with none other than former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. As you may or may not know, Rampage has a series of IPhone/Android video games coming out, the first of which is aptly named “Rampage Punch.” You can learn all you need to know about the game in the above video, and you can download the apps for IPhone here and for Android here.
Much to my chagrin, when I tried to pry into Quinton’s beefs with everyone from the UFC to Chael Sonnen, I was pretty much denied any worthwhile answers, and told by MEDL Mobile’s publicist, who was also on the line, to keep the questions within the realm of video games. I’m not sure how many of you consider yourselves “gamers,” or care to hear what Rampage has to say about video games, but needless to say, I was at a loss for words. I do not own a smart phone, and the last console I ever purchased was an N64, because there is no point trying to find a console that will top perfection. I understand that Mr. Jackson is a busy guy, and probably has to do hundreds of interviews with low-level bloggers/writers like myself, but considering how vocal he has been about all of the goings-on in his MMA career as of late (ie. the stuff you’d actually be interested in), the fact that I was more or less relegated to a puff piece on a video games, for an MMA blog nonetheless, was disappointing to say the least.
This is in no way a jab at Quinton, because I was more than appreciative to be able to talk to him, but rather a truthful statement of how the interview went down. So it is with this fair warning that I present to you my conversation with Mr. Jackson as it played out, and allow you to decide upon it’s merit. There are definitely some interesting things to take away from this interview, but if you are not a gamer, most of it will likely not be your cup of tea.
CAGEPOTATO.COM: So I’ve been playing your Rampage Punch app for the past few days and I was wondering, could this game actually help the keyboard warriors of the world improve their punching power?
Rampage: “I’m sure it will help a lot of people. It’s just basically a game showing you where [your punching power is] at. You might need to go back and work on it some more if you’re not getting high numbers.”
What does it take for a person not to eagerly anticipate the next time one of his favorite fighters competes? When that fighter should have retired years ago due to the damage he’s endured over the years. That’s the way I’ve feel each time Kazushi Sakuraba gets a new match — not with excitement, but with genuine concern for his well-being. The legendary “Gracie Hunter” may be the best MMA fighter the warrior-nation of Japan has ever produced, but he’s lost four fights in a row, hasn’t won a bout since 2009, and has suffered enough beatings for 12 lifetimes. (This guy knows what I’m talking about.)
What makes Saku’s situation worse is that so many of his early losses were the result of savage abuse at the hands of much larger opponents (Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Ricardo Arona, etc.), leaving him completely broken down at the age of 42. Sakuraba competed just once in 2011 — getting choked out at Dream 17 by unheralded Brazilian prospect Yan Cabral — and has yet to fight this year, while venturing back into pro wrestling just to stay active.
It is now being reported that Sakuraba will return to the ring at Dream’s next event, for a welterweight match against Shinya Aoki. If there’s a silver lining to rolling out Saku for another pay day, it’s that Aoki is foremost a grappler like Sakuraba, so it’s possible that we could see a technical wrestling and Jiu Jitsu match with minimal blunt strikes hitting the legend. Also, Bloody Elbow’s Anton Tabuena is reporting that the fight, now signed according to him, could be Sakuraba’s final MMA appearance.
(Human speed-chess: Kazushi Sakuraba and Kiyoshi Tamura put in work at a UWFi show in March 1996. Video via theperfectone)
If you’re a student of Japanese MMA history like we are, you know that legendary fighter Kazushi Sakuraba got his start as a professional wrestler in the 1990s, honing his grappling chops in the UWFi and Kingdom Pro Wrestling leagues. But once he tasted success at the UFC Japan tournament in December 1997, Saku’s career shifted away from worked matches, and he soon became PRIDE’s most beloved native hero.
A 5’1 ball of solid muscle, Rin Nakai isn’t the first woman you’d expect to become an MMA sex symbol. And yet Nakai has become an object of fetishistic interest in her native Japan due to the risqué photos that she regularly posts to her blog. The 24-year-old judoka has racked up a 10-0-1 professional record (seven wins via stoppage) as a 145-pounder, competing in Pancrase, Smackgirl, and Valkyrie, and was crowned the Valkyrie Open Weight Women’s Tournament champion last November. Check out our gallery of Rin Nakai photos below, and let us know in the comments section — would you or wouldn’t you?
(“…In situations that the Planeteers cannot resolve alone, they can combine their powers to summon ‘Prime Sakuraba‘, a magical entity who possesses all of their powers magnified.” / Photo via BloodyElbow)
The UFC held a press conference earlier today in Tokyo, formally announcing their plans to host an event at the Saitama Super Arena on February 26th, 2012. No matchups were announced, but Japanese stars including Yushin Okami, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Takanori Gomi, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, Hatsu Hioki, and Michihiro Omigawa were all mentioned as likely participants. Former PRIDE stars like Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Quinton Jackson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are also possibilities.
Though the UFC held four events in Japan from 1997-2000, this will be the first Japanese show organized by the UFC while under Zuffa ownership. The prelims will begin at 10 a.m. local time (with the main card starting at noon) so that the event can be broadcast live at the usual time slot for North American viewers. It’s not clear yet whether UFC Japan 2012 will be a pay-per-view or “Fight Night” card, and no details were given regarding the event’s local broadcast plans.
Following a recorded video message from Dana White at the press conference, Zuffa LLC Asia Executive Vice President and Managing Director Mark Fischer addressed the media in attendance, saying:
(Imanari and Aoki: The [lady-]boys are back in town.)
While Sengoku’s tail-spin has been widely publicized, news about DREAM has been almost non-existent since Dynamite!! 2010 on New Year’s Eve. The silence was broken today at a press conference in Japan, where DREAM organizers announced a May 29th event at the Saitama Super Arena — the promotion’s first show of 2011.
DREAM.17 will feature the quarterfinals and semifinals of their Japan Bantamweight tournament, which will feature the following native competitors: Hideo Tokoro, Masakazu Imanari, Kenji Osawa, Darren Uyenoyama, Keisuke Fujiwara, Atsushi Yamamoto, Takafumi Otsuka, and Yoshiro Maeda.
According to Nightmare of Battle, the finals and third-place fight (between the losing semi-finalists) will take place at a subsequent event in July. The winner and loser of the final match and the winner of the third-place fight will advance to the DREAM World Bantamweight Tournament (date TBA). N.o.B passes along even more details…
As Japanese MMA seems to slowly dwindle away from the glory days of the sport, hardcore fans like myself shed a tear for our great loss. It wasn’t just knowing those obscure 135-pounders whose names had syllables our gaijin tongues could barely pronounce, or the fact that it was the land where stomping and soccer-kicking a human being in the face was perfected into a sweet science. More than that, it was the stars that were produced that we came to know and love, whether they were fighting someone on their level or tearing open a tomato can — and that is where this list begins.
Blatant mismatches aside, JMMA gave us so many beautiful fights with men like Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko “Crocop” Filipovic (go tell your favorite TUF noob that his last name is not Crocop and relish in their confusion), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Ikuhisa Minowa and Kazushi Sakuraba. For every epic bout that went into the history books for their unbelievable drama, we had other fights that we remember for less than pleasant reasons. Yes, the freak show fights! What would a JMMA event be without a match worthy of a 1930′s carnival? The big question here was how do I rank something that is mediocre to begin with? Well, I’m as clueless as you are, so let’s get started on this journey down “Freak Show Lane,” across the street from “What Were They Thinking? Boulevard”…
10. Daiju Takase vs. Emmanuel Yarbrough
Pride 3, 6/24/98
This was the first freak show fight in Pride history, and earns a place on this list for that merit alone. It pit 169 lb. Daiju Takase against 600 lb. Emmanuel Yarbrough, who most fans will recall was clobbered into submission by Keith Hackney and his broken hand at UFC 3 (Yarbrough has no luck in any event associated with the number three). The sumo plodded around the ring tossing his hamhock arms at Takase, while the smaller Japanese fighter fled and slowly wore down Yarbrough.
Takase makes the mistake of going for a lazy single leg on Yarbrough, which results in the large fighter flopping onto his belly and absorbing Takase into his flesh. As Stephen Quadros lamented, “This is horrible! This is like “Jaws!” Eventually, Takase slid out from the greasy underside of Manny, and in an ending eerily similiar to his UFC 3 fight, Takase went to town with clubbing hands to his exhausted opponent’s face, leading to a tapout in the middle of the second round.
Full results from today’s New Year’s Eve event in Saitama, Japan, are after the jump, along with a few must-see videos courtesy of ZP420MMA. Note: Bob Sapp apparently backed out of his IGF slap-fight-rules bout with Shinichi Suzukawa at the last minute.
Some highlights from today’s stoppage-heavy Sengoku show. Above, Ryo Chonan gets put to bed in just 19 seconds. After the jump: The brief but ferocious slugfest between Yoshiro Maeda and Masanori Kanehara, which ended in an unfortunate early stoppage, and the welterweight GP final match between Keita Nakamura and Yasubey Enomoto.
("A bunch of dudes got knocked dead this morning! Yaaaaaaaay!" / Photo courtesy of src-official.com)
Spoilers after the jump to protect your delicate feelings. Click through for full fight results and a rundown of some notable moments from today’s World Victory Road: Soul of Fight event at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo. Videos to come.
Marlon Sandro vs. Hatsu Hioki (for Sengoku Featherweight Championship) Soul of Fight’s main event is easily the most important featherweight bout possible outside of the WEC. Since debuting in Sengoku last March, reigning champion Marlon Sandro has become one of the most vicious knockout artists in all of MMA, dispatching his last three opponents in a combined fight time of 3:20. In his last fight, the Nova Uniao standout starched Masanori Kanehara in 38 seconds to win World Victory Road’s featherweight strap. Hioki, who is the reigning 143-pound champ of Shooto, might be the last elite-level challenge that Sandro will find in Japan, and brings an Aoki-esque grappling style that’s as creative as it is aggressive.
As first reported by MMA Junkie, Japanese MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba will return to action on New Year’s Eve at Dynamite!! 2010, where he’ll challenge Marius Zaromskis for DREAM’s welterweight title. Though the 41-year-old vet has generally competed as a middleweight, he’ll be dropping to the lighter division following back-to-back losses against Ralek Gracie and Jason Miller.
The match will also serve as a comeback attempt for Zaromskis, who’s coming off of a disastrous Strikeforce run this year which saw him suffer first-round knockouts against Nick Diaz and Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, then eye-poke his way into a six-second no-contest against Waachim Spiritwolf last month. Zaromskis went 4-0 under the DREAM banner in 2009, with three of those wins coming via head-kick knockout.
As of now, the only other fights booked for this year’s Dynamite!! card are a featherweight title fight between Bibiano Fernandes and Hiroyuki Takaya, and a lightweight feature between Josh Thomson and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Shinya Aoki, Melvin Manhoef, and Gegard Mousasi are also reported for the event, but their fights haven’t been finalized. But hey, the show’s not for another three weeks. Plenty of time.
A $200 million deal that was in the works with Japanese capital investment firm PUJI has collapsed according to Fighters Only and it seems that the reason the agreement fell through was because the popularity of kickboxing and MMA in The Land of the Rising Sun" is waning.
Some red flags that signalled to PUJI that Japan’s interest in combat sports is on the decline were a dramatic drop in advertising dollars, live gate revenue and FEG’s inability to secure a television deal for its K-1 Dynamite! New Year’s Eve show this year. Investors weighed the risks of the deal and decided that FEG had grossly exaggerated the value of the company and the potential revenue that could be made in Japan, given the current state of the sport in the country.
Here’s the Reader’s Digest condensed version: According to DH, Grachan is a Japanese promotion that (as you can see) uses a cage and prides itself on its "hardcore" image. In the vid, the dude in tights (Takeo Shiina) gets clowned by the dude in board shorts (Jung Hyun Lee) during their prefight stare down at Grachan 5. Lee does some head-waggling and kiss-blowing and then comes out of his corner at the opening bell with a Mitrione-esque grin on his face. Shiina doesn’t take too kindly to it. At all. Just a minute or so into the fight he KOs Lee with a left and then goes absolutely ape shit. When veteran referee Samio Kimura dives into the line of fire to call for the stoppage he gets a hammerfist to the back of the head and a knee to the ribs for his trouble. Shiina is eventually restrained and in the aftermath we can’t help but notice some important cultural differences …
During his long and storied career, Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa has made his reputation off fighting much larger opponents. The reigning Super Hulk champ‘s list of victims includes Eric "Butterbean" Esch (400+ pounds), Giant Silva (385 pounds), Bob Sapp (340 pounds), Imani Lee (330 pounds), Hong Man Choi (320 pounds) and Jimmy Ambriz (285 pounds). On October 24th at Deep 50 Impact, Minowa was able to add another pudgy pelt to his collection — Chang Hee Kim, a South Korean 300-pounder who came into the fight with an 0-1 record. Would Minowa be able to overcome his opponent’s tremendous size and utter lack of skill, as he has so many times in the past?
Short answer: Yep. Kim shows a hint of capability in the beginning, defending a takedown attempt and sneaking in a knee from clinch. But once Minowa flips that big body over — very impressively, we might add — it’s pretty much a wrap. Minowa goes from mount, to side-control, to a slick little armbar-variation that he sets up with a kind of leg-crucifix. Proving once again, Minowaman ain’t gonna lose to no guy with titties.
According to TATAME, five months after he won the DREAM featherweight tournament, Bibiano Fernandes hasn’t been paid his contracted fight purse. Unlike the Impact FC fighters who haven’t been paid for their July fights by the Australian promotion, Fernandes has something over the Japanese promotion he is contracted to for one more bout: his belt.
The report says that Fernandes has turned down a title defense on the September 25 DREAM 16 card and maintains that he won’t fight for the organization until he receives his check for his win over Joachim Hansen at DREAM 13 back in March.
As impressive as Takanori Gomi’s knockout win over Tyson Griffin was last night at UFC Live on Versus 2, I think it might be somewhat premature to jump on the bandwagon that a lot of reporters have seemed to have piled onto since last night by making claims like Fight! Magazine’s Danny Acosta that the "old Takanori Gomi is back" and that he was "the biggest star in PRIDE."
Even Gomi, seems like he wants to further prove himself and obviously he feels that he has improvements to make, which he thinks will only come to fruition if he trains Stateside to learn the "American style of fighting" he referred to in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan after his win last night.
In the beginning it was anything goes, with 200-pound karate stylists taking on 600-pound sumo wrestlers and Brazilians feverishly jumping up and down shouting “Vale tudo! Vale tudo!” as they beat opponents with sticks. For a new American promotion called the Ultimate Fighting Championship this made for some serious pay-per-view buy rates, but it also made the general public somewhat upset, so rules were introduced. Suddenly gone was the wrestler’s ability to run down his foe with a tractor. Also gone was the kickboxer’s ability to use a prison-shiv. With a new list of fouls and weight classes, “no-holds-barred fighting” became the MMA we know and love today. Unfortunately, over the course of ten years the evolution of the sport has created a new set of problems, and the time has come to implement some very necessary additional rule changes. Here, in no particular order, are the six most important:
A Two-Round Limit on Dry-Humping When ground-and-pound turns into lay-and-pray and it becomes painfully obvious that the guy on the bottom can’t stop takedowns and the guy on top couldn’t out-grapple a passed-out teenager on prom night, then watching what transpires is akin to torture. At the last Strikeforce/CBS outing, we learned by round 3 that Gegard Mousasi knew no wrestling and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal knew nothing but wrestling. Every round after that was like watching Twister ™ night at the retirement home: boring, horrifying and sad. There needs to be a two-round limit on dry-humping — maybe stand them up immediately or let them duel with pistols at 20 paces. Anything is better than five rounds of man-loving-man.
Heavyweight Fighters Are Forbidden From Punching in the First Round Props to CP reader Dan W. for suggesting this crucial rule change. We’re tired of paying big money for heavyweight interim title-fights and headliners, only to have them end abruptly in the first round due to excessive punching. Look, you guys are just too damn strong, and it gives you all an unfair advantage against each other. (Yes, that makes complete logical sense, just trust me.) Since we can’t shrink the size of their 7XL hands, we’ll instead ban heavyweights from throwing leather in the first frame. Wrestle, try some kicks and flying knees, work for submissions — that’s all good. But Shane Carwin‘s uppercuts represent the kind of brutality that this sport doesn’t need right now.
Whenever Masakazu Imanari steps into a ring, there’s always a good chance that something crazy will go down. Case in point: His fight against Justin Cruz at Deep’s latest event in Tokyo on Saturday. After getting the crowd in the right spirit by walking out to Sade’s "No Ordinary Love," Imanari stalked Cruz around the cage until he had an opportunity to pull guard. Once on the ground, he quickly set up an omoplata, then climbed around to Cruz’s back and cranked his neck, stretching out his opponent’s body in a very unpleasant-looking way. Imanari then hooked an arm under Cruz’s neck and immediately forced the tap. Boom — add it to the Ashikan Judan‘s highlight reel.
Imanari then accepted his trophy from a schoolgirl who looked like she was randomly pulled from the audience (see the 7:25 mark), and pretended that it was enormous penis, turning to each side of the arena so that everyone could see how clever he was. If a fighter did that in the UFC, it would be considered extremely offensive. But with Imanari — well, it’s a Japanese thing, and you just wouldn’t understand.
(Even in the artist’s rendition nobody shows up for this.)
Behold, the hexagonal cage that will make its debut at Dream.12 on October 25.Sure, it seems to have geometrical peculiarities that the Octagon doesn’t have, such as the two sides of the fence that are way longer than all the other sides, but at least they had the good sense not to refer to it as The Hex, which is still the most profoundly bad MMA marketing idea this side of The YAMMA.According to Dream’s announcement, this cage won’t become their go-to surface for all events from now on.Instead, they plan to hold one special cage event each year, presumably to keep that wrathful God(zilla?) from destroying their island nation.
In addition to their new cage, Dream.12 will supposedly feature fights that are three, five-minute rounds.Right now they’ve got a pretty sweet lightweight fight between DEEP champ Katsunori Kikuno and Eddie Alvarez, along with a group of “planned participants” that includes Alistair Overeem, Marius Zaromskis, and crazy ass Paulo Filho.In other words, it could be a pretty solid event if those guys all actually show up.So why is Dream trying to become a half-assed version of the UFC?