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Tag: Tokyo

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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Must-See: A Night in Tokyo With Rampage Jackson

There’s a lot to like about this new 45-minute video feature from MMAFighting.com. First of all, it’s nice to see that Quinton Jackson and Ariel Helwani have squashed their beef. Also, it’s nice to see Rampage out in public in Japan without humiliating the locals.

So here we have Quinton and Ariel on the streets of Tokyo four days before UFC 144, walking and talking, and walking and talking, and walking and talking until they finally arrive at an arcade to play Tekken Tag. Along the way, they discuss Rampage’s first trip to Japan fighting Kazushi Sakuraba, the different kind of racism in Japan, the unmatched atmosphere of PRIDE in its heyday, how a person’s personality is determined by their blood type, fight fixing, his betrayal by you-know-who and subsequent reckless driving arrest. Then they walk some more, and Quinton talks about parenting, matchmaking, his greatest career triumph, privacy, retirement, and how he won’t be fully appreciated until he’s gone.

It’s probably the most in-depth interview with Rampage you’ll ever see. Give it a look.

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It’s Official: Fedor vs. Aoki in “Sparring Exhibition”


(The hoax match-up the world has been talking about since never.)

It’s a crazy rumor no more.  Now Fedor Emelianenko vs. Shinya Aoki is a crazy fact, according to press release sent out today by M-1 Global.  The two will square off in a "five-minute special sparring exhibition" at the "M-1 Challenge Presented by Affliction" on April 29 in Tokyo.  So what will the lightweight and the heavyweight try to do to each other over the course of the most bizarre and pointless five minutes in MMA history?  According to the press release:

Complete rules of the Fedor vs. Aoki sparring exhibition are still being negotiated, but it will be presented as a special attraction during a 19-bout event scheduled to feature head-to-head M-1 Challenge matchups between host country Japan vs. England, Team USA West vs. South Korea, and Spain vs. France.

Well, that’s appropriately vague.  I guess this is what happens when you start to run out of credible opponents (who won’t ask for a lot money to fight you) but you still want to get out of the house and break a sweat: you spar with a skinny guy in tights.  Sounds reasonable.  Oh, wait.  No, it’s completely insane.  But what do we expect at this point?

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Sengoku II Results + Videos

(Babyface Barnett sticks it to the Snowman.)

World Victory Road’s “Sengoku II: Second Battle” event was held today in Tokyo, with Josh Barnett dominating Jeff Monson to a decision victory, Kevin Randleman winning a decision in his first fight since October 2006, and heavyweight rising star Roger Gracie scoring a first-round submission win in his second pro MMA bout. Props to Sherdog. More vids after the jump.

Josh Barnett def. Jeff Monson via decision
Roger Gracie def. Yuki Kondo via submission (rear-naked choke), round 1
Kevin Randleman def. Ryo Kawamura via decision
Yoshihiro “Kiss” Nakao def. Jim York via KO, round 2
Jorge Santiago def. Yuki Sasaki via submission (armbar), round 3
Eiji Mitsuoka def. Kwang Hee Lee via submission (rear-naked choke), round 1
Mike Pyle def. Dan Hornbuckle via submission (triangle choke), round 1
Satoru Kitaoka def. Ian Schaffa via submission (guillotine choke), round 1

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