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 no less, 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.”
When does a person not 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 excited, but filled 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.