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Inoki Genome Federation Videos; Jienotsu vs. Sapp, Aerts/Lashley vs. KaShin/Fujita and Barnett vs. JLB

  • Published in Video

The internet is a marvelous place where international borders mean little like they used to. If something happened in Japan ten years ago, eagerly reading the results online and waiting for a few weeks before you could have someone send you a DVD (or even -- GASP -- VHS tape) of the event to check out for yourself was commonplace. Now there are ways to stream events live as they happen, and if they aren't available to be streamed, they are shared around the internet at the blink of an eye. That is magic, folks. As someone who has been ordering K-1 and Japanese MMA tapes since the mid-90's, it is mind-boggling how much better we have it now and how easy it is to follow your favorite athletes.

All of this is a lead-in to this; Inoki Genome Federation is Antonio Inoki's pro wrestling promotion in Japan. The catch is, Inoki has a good relationship with many professional fighters and he fancies himself one of the true pioneers of Mixed Martial Arts. This means his brand of pro wrestling is a lot different from when he promoted New Japan Pro Wrestling and more resembles the style that he attempted to introduce to New Japan that nearly ran the company into the ground; Shoot Style. It is the kind of action that blurs reality from fiction and is entertaining. Sit back and watch as your favorite K-1 and MMA fighters go toe-to-toe in pre-scripted drama that is pro wrestling. Also note that wow, Nagashima is big, one source has claimed he is as high as 90kg. That is 198 pounds. [source]

Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima vs. Bob Sapp

Atsushi Sawada vs. Minowaman

Peter Aerts/Bobby Lashley vs. Kazuyuki Fujita/Kendo KaShin

Jerome Le Banner vs. Josh Barnett

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Mirko Cro Cop vs. Jerome Le Banner Possibly on Tap for Genki Desuka 2011

  • Published in Kickboxing

In a ridiculously awkward turn of events, Mirk Cro Cop's recent retirement from MMA has made his name pop up more and more in the news than it ever did in his UFC run on an international level. What we know so far is that Mirko plans on returning to the Kickboxing world and it seems that March is his projected return date against a fearsome opponent in Errol Zimmerman. There is also negotiations ongoing with Dzevad Poturak for a bout in June. Both of these fights are incredibly tough fights for an aging Mirko who has been competing in MMA for years without competing in Kickboxing. He also has been away from training for Kickboxing, which can be a giant problem for a fighter coming from Mixed Martial Arts.

Then there is this piece of news, where Jerome Le Banner is set to be in action. His proposed opponent? Mirko Cro Cop. This would be a spiritual successor to their 1996 K-1 bout where Cro Cop walked away victorious, the only difference is that this would most likely be a professional wrestling bout contested under the IGF banner. According to Nikkan Sports Antonio Inoki has offered Cro Cop a spot on New Year's Eve against Le Banner, the current IGF Champion. IGF will also most likely have pro wrestling contests featuring Naoya Ogawa and Tadao Yasuda, both former professional wrestlers and MMA fighters. [source]

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Strikeforce Heavyweight GP in Japan Will Air Live in the US

  • Published in Kickboxing

Alistair Overeem (C) FEGWe've had a lot of rumors lately about Strikeforce moving over to promote a show in Japan, with an arbitrary date tossed around of April 9th. It turns out, from sources close to Real Entertainment who spoke with our good friend and former contributor Mike Hackler of MMA-Japan.com, that the show will be April 10th in Japan during the afternoon.

What this means is that the show will take place in the mid-afternoon in Japan on April 10th so that it can air live in the United States on Showtime. This has been one of the main criticisms that I've seen towards the Strikeforce in Japan show; that it probably would be airing on tape delay in the United States and as most fans are antsy to get the latest news, the event would be spoiled and viewers would not tune in to watch the event. This has been an ongoing issue for UFC when they have international cards and do not adjust the show to be live in the US.

I feel as if a lot of people are not giving Scott Coker the proper credit here, as he has a handle on promoting cards internationally and what needs to be done to make it all work out for everyone. The event will host a few fights from the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP, most likely Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum as well as Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers. M-1 might also be thrown into the mix, as Fedor Emelianenko is rumored for the card, making it a co-promotion between Real Entertainment, Strikeforce, Showtime and M-1 Global.

There should also be a few Lightweight bouts in place, possibly from the rumored Real Entertainment and Strikeforce Lightweight GP we mentioned previously. There are lots of names of top Japanese Lightweights being thrown around, including Tatsuya Kawajiri and Shinya Aoki, considered two of Japan's top Lightweights. But for now, we'll wait and see, as with anything in Japan, things can change in a heartbeat. [source]

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Michael Schiavello's Cry: Good Night Irene

  • Published in Kickboxing

Our good friends at HDnet have been working hard to make their website all sorts of new, and a part of that is their blog section, which has brought us some great Michael Schiavello content. Schiavello has been one of those love him or hate him characters in the MMA community. Many of us love the absolute passion he brings to every fight that he calls, loves the way he puts himself right there into the action and makes the fights come to life. Other people enjoy more subdued commentary and want the fights to speak for themselves, to each their own I guess.

Schiavello is known for his now legendary cry of "Good night Irene!" whenever a fight has the pace pushed so hard that you have to reach a spectacular conclusion. Well, for those of us that have wondered the exact origins of the cry, he fills us in. For those who missed the part of their childhoods that involved professional wrestling, it involves Adrian Adonis and Gorilla Monsoon.

For a big man Adonis had an amazing repertoire of techniques including a sleeper hold finish called “Good Night Irene.” Nothing gave me more pleasure during my days of wrestling fanaticism than seeing Adonis put an opponent in a sleeper and hearing Gorilla Monsoon announce “he slaps on Good Night Irene.”

To this day Iʼm not really sure what caused those words to come out of my mouth while commentating the APS Track and Field Championships as a 16 year old. I would later use the phrase when commentating Victorian Premier League soccer on radio, and eventually made it my fight sports catch-cry when I began commentating Muay Thai and kickboxing as a 21 year old on Fox Sports.

To find out how a track and field meet plays into a sleeper hold, read the rest of the entry and support every fight fans' best friend, HDnet.

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What Exactly Is Going on With K-1? Fight for Japan and K-1 Tournament Updates

  • Published in K-1

Fight for JApanI feel like I get asked this question a few times a day now, and I'm not sure that it is unwarranted. Over the past few months we have all but stopped talking about K-1, and for good reason. K-1 has been anything but active, outside of Tanikawa putting pictures of cats on Twitter and telling people there will be a "press conference soon" and nothing happening. That has been the state of FEG over the course of 2011.

There have been enough rumors to choke a boa constrictor, but most of that is simply not worth getting worked up over or "reporting."

A few days ago, whatever is left of FEG held a press conference to make a big announcement. Many were excited, many spoke of secret meetings and last minute ideas, we yawned. When it comes to information coming out of Japan, you need to treat it as such; show me the money or it doesn't exist.

What was announced is that K-1, DREAM, DEEP, ZST, Pancrase, Jewels, Sustain (they promote Shooto), New Japan Kickboxing Federation, RISE, J-Network and KRUSH have decided to support the upcoming DREAM show to be held on May 29th under the guise of "Fight for Japan." That does not mean that it will be a giant co-promotional card, as you'll note a lot of those promotions are kickboxing-specific and DREAM is MMA. DREAM will hold the "DREAM Japan GP - 2011 Bantamweight Japan Tournament" on May 29th in the Saitama Super Hall Arena (the 7,000 seat hall behind the actual arena), more details on possible bouts from Nightmare of Battle.

The first week of May is when to expect a K-1 announcement, but right now it is expected there will be a June event, and that it'll either be MAX or -63kg, most likely -63kg Japan tournament. There should be "World" tournaments for MAX and -63kg and they plan to run events in China and Europe. It was confirmed that K-1 has no TV deal as of right now and they'll begin looking for one after they run events again.

Basically, don't expect too much from them, and until something is officially announced and we have a card, wait and see. [source]

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Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima Fighting at Genkidesuka NYE 2011... In Mixed Rules

  • Published in K-1

The good news for K-1 MAX and Jienotsu fans is that the Genkidesuka NYE 2011 event being promoted by Real Entertainment (co-promoters of DREAM) and IGF (Inoki's pro wrestling organization) has finally announced a K-1 bout for fans. The bad news is if you remember last year's Jienotsu vs. Shinya Aoki fight, we are in for more of the same with the same Mixed Rules. This means R1 is K-1 rules for the first round, which is three minutes long and a second round that lasts five minutes and is full MMA rules. If there is no winner after those two rounds the bout is ruled a draw, there are no judges. The biggest catch is that they do not switch gloves in between rounds, instead MMA gloves are used throughout the bout. For a fighter like Jienotsu this proves to be a tactical disadvantage and an offensive advantage.

Jienotsu's opponent for this fight will be Katsunori Kikuno, a fighter who DREAM fans will recognize. What is interesting is that unlike in the fight last year, Kikuno is not a submission ace like Aoki. Kikuno only holds one professional submission victory and is known more for his rather unorthodox striking style. I actually took a look at this fighting style and his crescent kick, to be exact, last year on Bloody Elbow.

I think that it is safe to say that both men have a desire to keep this fight standing up, but Kikuno would feel a lot less like a fish out of water if this fight does go to the ground in the second round. Personally, I am not a fan of these rules as someone like Jienotsu should be fighting in full K-1 rules against other top competition in 70kg. Of course, part of the problem is that Jienotsu has bulked up for pro wrestling this year and hasn't had to make 70kg, in his lone Kickboxing fight this year he weighed in at a whopping 78kg. If you aren't that familiar with KG, he went from 154lbs to 172lbs. That is nearly twenty pounds.

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Tanikawa Claims All Fighters Paid, Ray Sefo Disagrees

  • Published in K-1

Sadaharu Tanikawa went on a talk show the other day to clear the air about a few persisting FEG/K-1 rumors. The FEG camp has been notoriously quiet and hard to deal with during their period of restructuring, which has included fighters not being paid their promised purses. One can say that this is simply "business as usual" for the Japanese company who is known to put clauses in their contracts that they might not pay fighters for a full six months after they fight.

There have been many voices that have spoken out over the past year, but one of the most surprising has been Sugar Ray Sefo. Sefo is a K-1 legend and has had a very good working relationship with them for many years now. If any fighter were to know how business is done with K-1, it would be Sefo. It all started when the American contact within FEG, Mike Kogan, parted ways with FEG. For many fighters, Kogan was who they would directly deal with, who would be the go-between and make everything a bit easier to deal with. People have given Kogan flack over the past few years, but he is a veteran of the martial arts world and knows the ins and outs very well.

Tanikawa told fighters they were to deal with him directly now, of course, Tanikawa does not exactly speak English very well. This interview with Tanikawa is really a must-read, as it contains a lot of information about the future of K-1 and DREAM on top of the usual fluff. Some of the topics are just out there, like Spike TV was in negotiations with K-1 until the manager they were in talks with was fired and Spike TV went with UFC. He also fired another blow over the bow at main rival It's Showtime, claiming that K-1 has "no rivals" and that It's Showtime does great in Amsterdam but not well outside of there, which we know is a lot of hot air.

There is a key word coming up in regards to the World Grand Prix, and that is if. IF K-1 decides to run a World Grand Prix, it won't start until late summer, and he also states that there will not be any large scale shows until later on in the year, fall or later.

Then comes the bit about pay, where he claims that all fighters, including Ray Sefo, have been paid. Our good friend Mike Hackler at MMA-Japan.com reached out to Ray Sefo to ask if he had received the $700,000 he was owed, and the response was that no, he was not paid yet. There is still a lot of uncertainty right now and while the public face that FEG is pushing out is one that is fixing itself, one has to wonder what is really going on behind closed doors.

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Why You Shouldn't Be Worried about K-1 or DREAM "Dying"

  • Published in K-1

Sudaharu TanikawaFighting Entertainment Group was formed in 2003, it came from the fallout of K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii's massive tax scandal that left K-1 financially in ruins. The company's public image had also taken a hit, so the only thing to do was change. Fighting Entertainment Group (FEG) was formed, with a former pro wrestling writer, Sudaharu Tanikawa at the reigns. It was implied that the entire organization was put together by Ishii, it was to be the parent company of K-1 and all of K-1's other ventures into combat sports.

It is now 2011 and it looks like Fighting Entertainment Group is ready for the chopping block. Since this initially came out, there have been articles posted with speculation that this "clearly" means that K-1 and DREAM will go the way of the dodo. I've even seen one article go as far as to say that the UFC should swoop in and purchase their assets. I urge you to not give these articles any mind and ignore them, wholesale. The headline that NightmareOfBattle used was enough information as you'll need; "The Event Name Will Be Left, But the Promotion Will Change."

Mike Hackler of MMA-Japan.com uses his business acumen to point out why this is actually the best case scenario:

Now there are many possible scenarios here.  The way I take this comment, is similar to corporations restructuring their operations when taking bankruptcy.  They do so to shed debt, to boost liquidity, and reduce liabilities.  When this is done, the company most likely comes out smaller, yet fine tuned, able to run more efficiently.
FEG is running on a business model that was working ten years ago.  Ten years ago, they were huge.
FEG needs to model themselves after World Victory Road.  They are not what they were ten years ago.  They need to shrink and position themselves in a way that, when and if things take off again, they will be able to grow.

FEG was bloated and signs pointed to bankruptcy for a while now, shooting FEG into the ground, restructuring and coming forward as a new company could very well be exactly what they need to move forward. This would be like if Zuffa fell on rough times, would that mean that UFC would die with it? No, it has too strong of a brand and name value, think of K-1 and FEG like this.

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GLORY Announces the Signing of Hesdy Gerges, Ben Edwards and JZ Cavalcante

  • Published in Glory

 

Glory

As we reported earlier on, GLORY had added Heavyweights Ben Edwards and Hesdy Gerges to their rankings and roster a while ago, which meant that them fighting for the organization was imminent. Well, it looks like they've finally made the official announcement and included a surprise in the mix as well of former DREAM and Strikeforce Lightweight JZ Cavalcante signing with the organization as well. JZ currently competes with World Series of Fighting, but has fought Kickboxing in the past, acquiring an 0-2 record in fights with Masato and Shootboxing's Hiroki Shishido.

Cavalcante makes for an interesting signing as he's been struggling in his MMA career since his knee surgery a while back, but a revival in the GLORY ring could be just what he ordered. The addition of Gerges and Edwards has been noted and only helps to bolster GLORY's already huge Heavyweight roster.

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Highlights Going Into Dynamite!! 2010 For Japanese TV

  • Published in K-1

Dynamite 2010 is fast-approaching, and while the entire card hasn't been finalized yet, for the most part, it has. It is safe to say that the card is epic, featuring 15 fights. This goes against FEG's wishes to tone down Dynamite!! this year into a 10-bout affair, but things did not work out that way. There were issues with TBS possibly not airing the card, financial woes and internal struggles at FEG. Since the PUJI deal finally came to fruition, Dynamite!! has once again become a mastodon of an event.

We are going to split our pre-show coverage up into two parts: this first part is what is of key interest to the Japanese crowds and why they are, the second is what is of key interest to Western audiences.

If you are Japanese, the highlights of the evening will most likely be some of the more odd fights. Katsuaki Furuki vs. Andy Ologun might sound like a terrible freakshow, and to a degree it is, but Ologun is a legitimate fighter. His MMA and K-1 record are not entirely impressive, but he is skilled enough to put a hurting on Furuki. Furuki was a popular baseball star, playing most of his career for the Yokohama Bay Stars. 2003 and 2006 saw him look extremely impressive, but from there he fell off a bit. He finished out his career with the Orix Buffaloes and retired after the 2009 season before taking up martial arts. He looked to make his debut at DEEP 50, but instead held off for Dynamite!!

The other freakshow for ratings is an "IGF" rules bout. IGF is Inoki Genome Federation -- professional wrestling -- and both men have a history of professional wrestling, with Sapp being a one-time New Japan Pro Wrestling competitor, holding the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, a belt originated by Inoki. His opponent is shamed sumo Wakakirin Shinichi. Wakakirin was kicked out of sumo for possession of marijuana, basically, which in Japan is very, very shameful (see: Kid Yamamoto). Wakakirin has wrestled for Inoki before and basically works as stiff (read: real) as possible. The IGF rules are essentially old Pancrase rules of no closed-fist strikes to the face, and as of right now it isn't clear how real or worked this will be. I don't think it matters, honestly, as it is a throwaway bout for Japanese audiences.

Minowaman will most likely take his place opening up the televised portion of the show like he is known to do, and do so in a bout against Judoka Hiroshi Izumi. Minowa was the only MMA fighter in Japan to make the Nikkan Sports list last year, with Masato at the top and assorted K-1 fighters and boxers rounding out the list. To say that Ikuhisa Minowa is a national treasure is maybe taking it a bit too far, but he is immensely popular. He will never be the favorite fighter in Japan, but he will always have a following and name for his accomplishments. He faces a tough challenge in Izumi. Izumi will at least not be dwarfing Minowa in weight.

Last but not least is Satoshi Ishii vs. Jerome Le Banner. JLB finds himself in the unenviable spot of facing Japan's only prospect to be a breakout star in a post-KID Yamamoto and post-Masato world. Jerome Le Banner of course has trouble defending against takedowns and throws, which are Ishii's specialty. Le Banner has what many will call a puncher's chance, but the truth is, Ishii has shown a tendency to "stand and bang" in his fights, which against JLB is a death warrant. In his last fight with Katsuyori Shibata, Ishii wisely took him down and submitted him, something he did not have luck against Ikuhisa Minowa with (although he did dominate Minowa). This is a big deal for Ishii, as he has gotten in some practice, he has tasted defeat, is he ready to carry Japan's fight scene on his shoulders, and is Japan ready to make him the next big star? Or is he just not enough of a pretty boy and not witty enough?

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