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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 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.


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?


Sakuraba Injured at Dynamite

  • Published in K-1

I'm sure I'm not the only one here who holds Kazushi Sakuraba in high esteem.  One of my absolute favorite MMA fighters of all time, Saku is rightly hailed as the God of Japanese MMA.  But tonight was yet another hard to watch loss for the legend.

Facing Dream champion Marius Zaromskis, Sakuraba suffered an early ear injury that brought the fight to a close before it could get going.  The owner of one of the worst cauliflowered ears in all of MMA (and that covers a lot of ground), Sakuraba took a quick shot that popped the ear, causing it to bleed.  A few minutes later, he took another blow and immediately recoiled, holding his hand to his ear.  Doctors stepped in, and it looked like Sakuraba's ear had been partially torn away from his skull, resulting in a much needed stoppage. The stoppage was reminiscent of Kimbo Slice v. James Thompson on CBS, but unlike the Kimbo fight, we thankfully did not get any graphic footage of Sakuraba's ear.

Overall, it was a fight that didn't say much about Zarmoskis, and once again demonstarted that Sakuraba's time is done.  He's had a lot of loses recently, and sadly has looked old in those loses.  The lasting image of him here, with his hand covering his bloody ear, is not the way anyone wants to keep seeing this legend. 


How Don Quijote Pulling Event Support Hurts Kickboxing in Japan

  • Published in Kickboxing

(C) SusumuDon Quijote is a clothing company based out of Japan, that through the support of such DQ board members like former professional wrestler and MMA fighter Tadao Yasuda, has supported kakutogi (martial arts) in Japan in various forms. The most obvious form was their support for MMA promoters WVR, who hosted SRC/Sengoku events. Don Quijote was one of the premier supporters for such a promotion, and over the past few weeks the top foreign fighters from SRC have been in mass-exodus mode. Usually, that is not a good thing.

NOB had a translation up from a Japanese publication, and apparently DQ had made up it's mind; it will continue to support martial arts in Japan. The bad news? They might pull support for live events, such as Sengoku events, which if you'll remember correctly, the Sengoku NYE martial arts festival featured a lot of kickboxing bouts on top of MMA fights. This was just a few weeks ago and now at this point, it appears that DQ has officially pulled their support and Sengoku is freaking out, claiming that they are as good as dead.

Apparently, Don Quijote's support of Sengoku was wholly, everything from Sengoku's offices, fighter contracts and event bookings were at the good graces of Don Quijote, thanks to Tadao Yasuda. For Japan, this means that Sengoku, easily the #2 MMA promotion to come out of the ashes of PRIDE is appearing to be going under. On top of that, there is a whole slew of uncertainty behind the future of their top rival, DREAM, which just compounds how crummy of a situation this is (of course, at the time of this article I'm watching the news showing the aftermath of the Japanese Earthquake, rated at 8.8, as well as a possible tsunami) for the Japanese fight industry.

To pull this all together, consider how this also hurts the kickboxing world. At first glance, losing the #2 MMA promotion shouldn't hurt the kickboxing world, but after Sengoku's New Year's Eve event, it was clear that Sengoku was looking to support kakutogi as a whole, including muay thai and kickboxing. Sengoku's martial arts festival was a lot more than MMA and showed promise for a positive impact in the world of fighting.

This was another bigger promotion willing to promote kickboxing who has fallen by the wayside, this isn't a good day for Japan.


Four Fights Added to Dynamite!!

  • Published in K-1

With Dynamite!! 2010 just a few weeks away, FEG has slowly been trickling out news for the fans and media. As always, things are handled in a hush-hush manner by FEG, but fight camps sometimes spill the goods before they do. FEG held a press conference on Friday to announce a few of the feature bouts for the upcoming card.

After featuring only one kickboxing bout last year (Masato vs. Andy Souwer), they have added a second K-1 rules bout to the card, in the form of K-1 Heavyweight Champion Kyotaro facing off with Gegard Mousasi. Mousasi has not fought in a kickboxing fight since December 2008 at Dynamite!! 2008 where he made short work of the now retired Musashi. Mousasi is the current DREAM Light Heavyweight Champion and has held the promotion's Middleweight Championship as well as Strikeforce's Light Heavyweight Championship. Kyotaro poses a unique challenge for the Dutch kickboxer, as Kyotaro has speed, power and precision on his side.

The colorful Kazuhisa Watanabe will return to MMA action squaring off against Hideo Tokoro, with both men looking to add another much-needed win on their records. Another fight that was long-rumored is now confirmed, as Jason "KC Bandit" High returns to DREAM for the first time since DREAM.10 to face off with Hayato "Mach" Sakurai. Sakurai's back is against the wall against the younger High and High is looking to work his way back into the major leagues after a disappointing UFC debut this year.

Everyone's favorite Super HULK Champion, Ikuhisa Minowa, known as Minowaman, makes his return to the DREAM ring for the first time since his loss to Olympic Judoka Satoshi Ishii at DREAM.16. Minowa's last fight at DEEP 50 saw him get back into the win column with an armbar on Chang Hee Kim, providin some momentum against another Olympic Judoka, Hiroshi Izumi. Izumi is a Olympic Silver medalist from Athens in 2004 and fights for the first time away from the SRC banner.


No K-1 Until at LEAST July, Maybe

  • Published in K-1

Amidst all of the talk of the possibility of Sakikabara, formerly of PRIDE, involved in one of the biggest yakuza scandals in Japanese MMA that led to the death of PRIDE and the Zuffa purchase, returning to promote MMA again, there is some news on FEG's future.

Daniel Herbertson spoke with FEG USA's Mike Kogan, and by the looks of things, FEG is planning on still hosting K-1, K-1 MAX and DREAM events in 2011, as long as things pan out. The voluntary shut down was supposed to last until March, and with March fast approaching, it looks like the new target date is May.

FEG USA's Mike Kogan this week confirmed to MMA Fighting that the leading Japanese promoter's internal restructuring will not be completed until at least May and no FEG events are expected until at least July. 

At the moment, FEG is planning to continue all three of its major events (K-1, K-1 MAX and DREAM), although that is obviously subject to change and it is clear that the events will be scaled down.

The financial state of FEG is still uncertain and Kogan was unable to confirm whether Chinese backer PUJI or any sponsors are still involved in FEG events. It seems as though Dynamite, K-1 MAX and DREAM broadcaster TBS has not signed on for 2011 yet, all signs are indicate that a new contract will be discussed after FEG's restructuring process is complete.

Dan's awesome Nippon Weekly has lots of information about Sakakiraba and what's new in Japanese MMA, so check that out. [source]


Hunt and Manhoef score epic face-plant KO’s

  • Published in Kickboxing

Kickboxing royalty Mark Hunt and Melvin Manhoef were both successful in MMA bouts as they finished off Roy Nelson and Doug Marshall respectively.


Mark Hunt’s unlikely career resurgence continues, as the 40-year old became only the second fighter to knockout the notoriously durable Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson. The bout headlined UFC’s third trip to Japan since the Zuffa takeover and was a seemingly logical match-up of fan favorites.


The bout was relatively even throughout the first round, as both battled to establish dominance over the other with both fighters scoring with occasional punches and a few thudding low kicks from the former K-1 champion Hunt. Nelson was unsuccessful in two attempts at bringing the fight to the mat in the first as he likely lost a very close first round to the New Zealand native.


At the start of the second round Nelson was finally able to secure a takedown and briefly took Hunt’s back however Hunt was able to escape back to his feet shortly after. The two continued to trade on the feet as the momentum began to swing in Hunt’s favor whilst Nelson began to show signs of fatigue. With two minutes left on the clock, Hunt crumbled Nelson with a monstrous uppercut followed by his typical walk-off celebration.


With the victory Hunt moves to (5-2-1) in the UFC and could see himself enter the UFC’s top 5 rankings for the very first time (currently ranked #6), whilst after being stopped for the first time in nearly six years, Nelson falls to (7-6) in the octagon.


Melvin Manhoef, who coincidently was the first man to knockout Mark Hunt, made quick work of former Bellator title challenger Doug ‘The Rhino” Marshall in the Bellator 125 main event from Fresno, California. After a brief feeling out period both fighters began swinging wildly before an inadvertent shot to the groin of Marshall halted the bout temporarily. After the restart the two went back at it, throwing an assortment of haymakers and kicks to no avail. However after stinging Marshall with several low-kicks, Manhoef flattened his foe with a quick overhand right that sent Marshall face-first into the mat in dramatic fashion.


Manhoef immediately moves into title contention with his successful Bellator debut and could be in line for a Middleweight title shot against the winner of Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brandon Halsey who clash next Friday in the main event of Bellator 126. Marshall meanwhile drops to 4-2 inside the Bellator cage as he fought for the first time since his unsuccessful title shot against the aforementioned Shlemenko last November, a bout in which he subsequently tested positive for a banned substance post-fight.



Does Tim Sylvia Get What He's Getting Into Against Jerome Le Banner?

  • Published in Kickboxing

While it is understood that Tim Sylvia has participated in IGF's brand of professional wrestling before and probably has an understand of what to expect, Tim Sylvia's last IGF match was against Josh Barnett. Josh Barnett is a rare example of a MMA fighter who went ahead and learned the art of pro wrestling and participated in pro wrestling for the past few years outside of his MMA obligations. To be brief, Barnett knows how to work with an untrained wrestler and make sure that they don't get hurt.

Jerome Le Banner, who Tim Sylvia will step into the ring against, is a different story. Jerome's run in IGF has involved some absolute maulings. The line between fake and reality is blurred when JLB steps into the ring and starts raining down blows. Sure, he'll pull as many as he can, but when he hits, he hits, and hard. I guess the question is, will this bout remain civil and planned, or will having two professional fighters without a lot of professional wrestling experience end up in two guys trying to legitimately beat each other up? Watch JLB's bout from July against Erik Hammer and decide for yourself.


Dynamite Videos All Week

  • Published in Video

Dynamite!!Under a week until FEG presents Dynamite!! 2010 - the year end super show of the Japanese fight scene.  To get ready, check out the VIDEO OF THE DAY all week as we feature highlights from years past.

Dynamite!! has always, for me, been a show all about the spectacle and joy of Japanese fighting.  It's a chance to kick back, relax, and enjoy some fun fights.  So while a fight like 2008's Kyshenko v. Sato may have been technically great, it doesn't really capture that same crazy Dynamite!! spirit the same way Bob Sapp fighting a comic book character does.

Today's feature: We end with a personal favorite of mine - KID YAMAMOTO v. GENKI SUDO





Your picks for Dynamite!! highlights?


Yamato and Wicky Draw at Dynamite

  • Published in K-1

The final K-1 fight at Dynamite!! 2010 featured K-1's 63kg Grand Prix champion Tetsuya Yamato facing Dream fighter Akiyo "Wicky" Nishiura.  It wasn't a fight that received a lot of hype heading into the show, but turned out to be a very entertaining affair.

Through the first two rounds, the fighters were mostly even, with Wicky perhaps edging out a slight advantage by using his speed and unorthodox style to keep tagging Yamato.  Open scoring was on, and all judges gave the first two rounds 10-10.  With no extension rounds at Dynamite!!, the fight came down to the 3rd.

Both men really stepped up their game in that 3rd round, turning in a fun final stanza.  Nishiura reverted to some of his MMA habits, making things a bit sloppy at times, but both men kept the speed up, working hard to take the win.  In the closing minute, Yamato finally started to land, rocking Wicky and stumbling him.  Great ending to the fight there and some of the best action of the night so far. 

I thought that final exchange earned Yamato the round and the win, but only one judge saw it that way.  The other two again went 10-10, resulting in a majority draw.  That's not a great result for Yamato, who sould have been able to defeat the MMA fighter, but it was the kind of fight that will earn both men new fans regardless of the outcome.

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