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Japanese Scene Weekly Recap: April 22nd - 28th

News

The biggest news this week came from RISE, who announced a big 61kg matchup between LiverKick #5 ranked Lightweight Yuki and RISE 60kg champ Kosuke Komiyama at RISE 93 on June 9th. Also announced were 4 matchups featuring 2012 RISING ROOKIES Cup winners, most notably Yuya Fujita vs Shohei Asahara. Full write-up here.

The Hoost Cup added a pair of fights to their next event on June 16th, though they still haven't announced opponents for big names Saenchai, Yoshihiro Sato and Yuichiro Nagashima. At 59.5kg, DEEP*KICK 60kg champion Yuto Tsujide takes on Fukashi. Neither man has scored a signature win in his career, though Fukashi is coming off of a draw against Hikaru Machida. In the other matchup, 2012 K-1 Koshien champ Sho Ogawa takes on HIROKI. Ogawa is 6-1 in his last 7 while HIROKI is 3-0-1 in his last 4.

This weekend's GLORY 8 Tokyo had a small change, as Ryoji was forced to pull out of his bout with Yu Hirono. Replacing him is HEAT 70kg champ Danilo Zanolini. Although Zanolini is a late replacement, I feel like this is a more competitive matchup. Zanolini has won three in a row, most notably picking up a win over Soichiro Miyakoshi. Hirono has quietly been one of the better 70kg fighters in Japan with a 6-1 record since 2011 including wins over Takuro Moriya, Asami Zaurus and most recently Ichiro Morimoto at Road to GLORY Japan in March. The loss was a competitive one to Yasuhiro Kido.

Krush announced some participants for Krush.29 on June 16th, which already has the 4-man ISKA Lightweight tournament. Recently crowned 63kg champion Hideaki Yamazaki will participate in a non-title fight while MA Kick and WBC Japan Super Bantamweight champion Keisuke Miyamoto will take his second fight  under the Krush banner. Brothers HIROYA and Taiga will also participate on the card, while 58kg tournament semifinalists Yuzo Suzuki and Shota Kobe will fight on the card, possibly against each other.

M-FIGHT added another WPMF Japan title fight to their already impressive Fist Kick X card, pitting Hikaru Machida against Takahito Fujimaki for the vacant WPMF Japan Super Featherweight title. Both men have struggled lately, with Machida winless in his last 5 at 0-3-2 and Fujimaki at 1-3-2 in his last 6. However, two of Machida's losses were by cut and the two draws came at a higher weight while Fujimaki split a pair of fights with MA Kick champ Yoshito Kajita and managed a draw against SHIGERU, though he lost in a rematch.

K-Spirit returns with K-Spirit 6 on June 9th, headlined by an RKA Super Bantamweight title match between Kunihiro and Tomo Arimatsu. Kunihiro opened a lot of eyes recently as he pushed MA Kick champion Keisuke Miyamoto to the edge in their title fight, but was only able to manage a draw. Arimatsu lost his most recent fight by 1st round knockout at RISE/M-1MC Infinity. These two fought once before in October of 2011, with Arimatsu winning a unanimous decision.

Results

Muaylok 2013 1st: The main event saw WPMF Japan Super Flyweight champion Kiminori Matsuzaki defend his title with a 4th round cut stoppage against Nagata Haryi. Matsuzaki opened up a cut under Haryi's left eye and targeted it throughout the fight, causing the doctor to stop it. The win snaps a 3-fight losing streak for the 37 year old Matsuzaki and saves him from falling out of relevancy in one of Japan's most  talented divisions. The co-main event saw Yuji Uwasawa claim the vacant WPMF Japan Flyweight title with a close majority decision over Yasuto Furuta on scores of 49-49 and 49-48(x2). Uwasawa bounces back from a loss to Ryuji Kato and although he won, this was Furuta's 4th straight loss, so it says more about Uwasawa than it does Furuta.

NKB - 2013 Human Bullet 2: The main event saw Yuhei Sato knock Taiji Yamauchi down three times in the 2nd round to win the vacant NKB Featherweight title.

Miscellaneous

K-1 veteran Masaaki Satake hinted that he may be running for a seat in the House of Councillors as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party in this year's elections, which are expected to be held in July. The House of Councillors is the upper house of the bicameral Japanese legislature, commonly known as the National Diet, and consists of 242 seats. The Liberal Democratic Party was in control of the government from 1955 to 2009, aside from an 11 month period from 1993 to 1994. It regained control of the government in the 2012 elections, gaining 175 seats and pushing their coalition majority to 325 of the 480 seats in the lower House of Representatives. Should he win a seat, he will serve a 6 year term and be up for re-election in 2019. I don't believe there are term limits for the House of Councillors. Satake should be well known to K-1 fans around the globe and especially in Japan. He competed in the inaugural K-1 Grand Prix in 1993 and in each one until 1999, excluding 1996, making it to the finals in 1994, the semifinals in 1993 and 1995 and the quarterfinals in 1997 and 1998 before passing the torch to Musashi in 1999 with an opening round loss. He also won the first two Japan Qualifying GPs in 1997 and 1998 without so much as breaking a sweat, going 6-0 with 4 knockouts across the two tournaments. MMA fans will also remember him for his ill-advised MMA career, where he went 1-8-1 in PRIDE and the 2001 and 2002 Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye events, largely due to his lack of a ground game. Some of his losses came to PRIDE stars Mark Coleman, Igor Vovchanchyn, Hidehiko Yoshida, Semmy Schilt, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Guy Mezger. Since his retirement, Satake has been managing a human resources development company in Kyoto. Satake is not the only celebrity who has been rumored to be running, as former prosecutor Masaru Wakasa, actor Daisuke Shima, newscaster Jun Ogura and gold medal Olympic gymnast Mitsuo Tsukahara have all either openly announced their intention to run or have been speculated to run. 

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Legendary Trainer Thom Harinck Retires

HarinckWhen it comes to Dutch Kickboxing, few names are as important as Thom Harinck. Harinck is best known for founding the Chakuriki Gym as well as being one of the pioneers of the Dutch kickboxing style that has swept the planet over the past twenty or so years. His style mixed in Kyokushin Karate, Boxing, Judo, Jujitsu and wrestling before he cultivated it more towards Kickboxing and Muay Thai.

His contributions are not difficult to name, as all you have to do is look at some of the notable fighters that have trained under him; Peter Aerts, Branko Cikatic, Badr Hari, Hesdy Gerges, Melvin Manhoef, Jerome Le Banner, Sergei Laschenko and a whole lot more. It is a sad day as the 70 year old trainer has announced his retirement from training fighters. His impact is one of the biggest on the world of Kickboxing and we'll miss him being at ringside, but hope that he enjoys his retirement. [Source]

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Kosuke Komiyama vs Yuki Headlines RISE 93

After announcing a lineup of planned participants for RISE 93 on June 9th, RISE has announced one of their biggest matchups to date, pitting their current 60kg champion Kosuke Komiyama against recently dethroned 63kg champ Yuki. Both men have flourished in RISE over the last couple of years, beating top foreign and domestic competition. Komiyama is currently one of the hottest fighters in Japan, riding a 9-fight win streak that includes winning and defending his RISE title and 3 straight wins in Shootboxing, two of which came over Shootboxing champions. His biggest win came in an albeit abbreviated fight over Sergio Wielzen, with Komiyama opening a cut over Wielzen's eye that forced the referee to stop the bout in the 1st. Until recently, he was LiverKick's 10th ranked Lightweight, but dropped out of the top 10 after the emergence of Yuki and Sun Hyun Lee. Despite just an 8-5 record since 2010, Yuki is LiverKick's 5th ranked Lightweight due to fighting one of the toughest schedules at the weight. He was RISE's first 60kg and 63kg champion and holds notable wins over Javier Hernandez, Koji Yoshimoto, Yuji Takeuchi and Yuto Watanabe, among others. He most recently competed in the Road to GLORY Japan 65kg Slam, defeating Mohan Dragon and Zen Fujita before falling to Masaaki Noiri in the finals. He also has a pair of losses to 4th ranked Lightweight Sun Hyun Lee, losing his RISE title in their most recent encounter.

I would peg Komiyama as the favorite here due to his hot streak and it being a very good style matchup for him. Yuki has struggled with more technical fighters, especially recently, falling to Masaaki Noiri and Sun Hyun Lee while needing a dramatic comeback to beat Yuto Watanabe. That being said, Komiyama has never faced anyone with Yuki's power, nor has he faced anyone with such ferocious leg kicks. The fight is only 3 rounds which favors Komiyama, as I doubt he'll be able to put away Yuki, who has tremendous heart. A win for either man is big and will probably determine if Yuki stays in the LiverKick top 10 or if Komiyama reenters. 

RISE also announced four other matchups, showcasing some of their 2012 RISING ROOKIES CUP winners. At 63kg, Lightweight winner Yuya Fujita will move up to 63kg to battle 4th ranked Shohei Asahara. Some may be quick to point out Asahara's 5-fight losing streak, but those losses have come in extension rounds to Koji Yoshimoto and Yuto Watanabe, close, one point losses to Yusuke Sugawara and Sun Hyun Lee, and most recently, a split decision loss to Sho Ogawa. Although he has not been able to win any of these fights, he has stayed competitive with top competition, so he is no pushover for Fujita, who has won 5 in a row, including a stoppage win over Motochika Hanada. At 60kg, Super Featherweight winner Masanobu Goshu, who has headlined back to back RISE ZERO cards, puts his undefeated record on the line against KING, who was stopped by Sho Ogawa in his last outing. At 55kg, Bantamweight winner Yuta Murakoshi looks to rebound from a loss to Seiya Rokukawa against Hikaru Fujikashi. Finally at 63kg, Super Lightweight winner Keisuke Niwa faces All Japan Karate champion Shunji Miyata. 

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Japanese Scene Weekly Recap: April 14th - 21st

News

In preparation for their second trip to Japan, GLORY announced a pair of fights for GLORY 8 Tokyo this week. First at 70kg, K-1 and GLORY veteran Yoshihiro Sato is set to take on RISE 63kg champion Sun Hyun Lee. Sato last competed in GLORY at GLORY 3 as a late replacement for Albert Kraus in the 70kg World Tournament, but lost to Sanny Dahlbeck. He is 1-1 since then, with a loss to Kenta and a win over Henri van Opstal. Lee, who is LiverKick's #4 ranked Lightweight, will have to overcome a 6+ inch height advantage in this fight, but this is not his first time competing at 70kg. Back in February, he won a K-1 MAX 70kg tournament in Seoul, despite being much smaller than many of the other competitors. Regardless of the outcome, I'd like to see GLORY have him fight at 65kg next time. GLORY also announced RISE 55kg champion Dyki's opponent for the card, South Korean Jang Yong-ho. Jang fought in Japan once before, losing to Masaaki Kadota for the GLADIATOR Lightweight title. I don't know much about him other than that he trains out of CMA Korea, but if Sun Hyun and Chang Hyun Lee have taught us anything, it's not to underestimate Korean fighters.

Perhaps the biggest news this week came from the Hoost Cup, who announced a card for June 16th with an all-star lineup. Although there is only one matchup announced so far, a rematch between Ryuya Kusakabe and Sota Ichinohe for Kusakabe's WPMF Japan Super Bantamweight title, the list of participants includes Saenchai PK Saenchaimuaythaigym, Yoshihiro Sato, Yuichiro Nagashima, NJKF Super Featherweight champion Daichi Yamato and Jemyma Betrian. 

RISE also laid out the plans for their next event, RISE 93, on June 9th. Scheduled to participate are 60kg champion Kosuke Komiyama, Yuto Watanabe, Raoumaru, Seiya Rokukawa, Motochika Hanada and Shohei Asahara, among others. J-Network Super Bantamweight champ Hiroaki Mizuhara is also expected to compete for the first time since last July, when he won the now defunct It's Showtime Japan's inaugural 55kg title. 

After making their first trip to Nagoya last year, Krush announced that it would be making its first trip to Hiroshima on August 25th to host Krush.31. Already announced for the event are Hiroshima natives Yuya Yamamoto and Nobuchika Terado. On top of that, Krush announced a pair of fights for Krush Ignition vol.4 on June 2nd. At 70kg, Hiroki Nakajima takes on NJKF's KEN and at 67kg, Makihira Keita fights NJKF's Tae-yeon. Nakajima and KEN both recently lost to Yutaro Yamauchi. 

REBELS made a pretty big announcement this week as well, scheduling two title fights for their June 9th card. At 67kg, WPMF Japan champion T-98 looks to bounce back from his upset loss to Tsukuru Midorikawa with a win over MA Kick champion Jun Nakazawa, who was upset by Yuma Matsui in his last outing. At Flyweight, divisional kingpin Ryuji Kato looks to prove that he can hang with both the old guard and the new guard as he will defend his title against the winner of the Eisaki Ogasawara vs Hiroyuki Yamano fight, both of whom have scored big upsets early in their careers. Also competing on the card is NJKF Welterweight champion Kenta, who will compete at 67kg, and MA Kick Super Welterweight champion Hiroshi Fire.

Finally, DEEP*KICK announced a pair of fights for their May 12th card. At 60kg, DEEP*KICK champion Yuto Tsujide takes on RISE's Tatsuaki in a non-title bout. At 65kg, Krush veteran Yuya looks to bounce back from his loss to 65kg champion Hiroto Yamaguchi with a win over 2012 RISING ROOKIES Lightweight runner-up Yasuhiro "TOKAREV" Shimizu.

Event results from this week as well as a couple other miscellaneous announcements after the break

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