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UFC 140 Highlights the Gentrification of Mixed Martial Arts

Over the weekend at UFC 140 the two featured bouts of the evening saw exciting finishes by two of UFC’s bigger stars. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir took the fight to another former [Interim] UFC Heavyweight Champion in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, surviving being knocked out by quickly reversing a choke and applying an armlock and promptly breaking Big Nog’s arm. Current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones put on an equally as impressive finish after recovering from being outpointed on his feet to working the challenger Lyoto Machida over with elbows on the ground before he was able to corner the challenger and apply a neck chancre that rendered Machida unconscious.

As a fan, it is hard to complain about fights at this level being finished in thrilling fashion. So, while it may be hard to complain about the fights being finished in a dramatic, decisive fashion, there are some other, much more troubling trends in both of these fights that have gone largely unnoticed amidst the excitement. Behavior of fighters has changed, as fans have noticed over the past few years, with both of the featured fights this weekend making light of this. Big Nog suffered a broken arm at the hands of Frank Mir, Nog still laying on the mat while Mir quickly pulled on the gear from his sponsors and celebrated. Jon Jones claimed that he “knew” Lyoto Machida was out cold, but quickly let go to strut off while Machida fell head-first to the mat in a heap.

It is a matter of respect and concern for the opponent’s well-being that seemingly melted away over the past few years, being flaunted on-air at UFC 140. It is a paradigm shift that has occured in the rush to help “legitimize” MMA as a “real sport” in the United States.

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Krush Announces Final 4 Competitors for Supernova Tournament and Round of 16 Matchups

After announcing 12 of the 16 competitors for the round of 16 of their Under-22 Supernova Tournament on October 10th, Krush has announced the final 4 participants. The first is Silver Wolf's Shota Fukuda. Next is K&K Boxing Club's Hiroshi Matsui who is an interesting choice considering he's a welterweight and won a J-NETWORK rookie tournament at the weight. Hopefully, he'll be on weight. The last two competitors are Yukimitsu Takahashi and a fighter that goes by the name Violence. Honestly, I know nothing about any of these four, but if any were to make a splash, I'd say Matsui has the best credentials.

Also announced were the round of 16 matchups. The event on October 10th will be split into two segments, with blocks A and B holding their round of 16 and quarterfinal matchups during the day while blocks C and D will hold their two rounds in the evening.

Starting off block A, K-1 golden boy HIROYA takes on NJKF amateur prospect Hiroki Hoshikawa. In the other half of block A, K-1 Koshien product Sho Ogawa takes on Tang Tang Fight Club's Fumiya Osawa. From what I know of the fighters, this might be the hardest quarter of the bracket so it'll be a good test for HIROYA who's one of the tournament favorites. Hoshikawa could give HIROYA problems and so could Ogawa if he makes it past Osawa, but with the way HIROYA looked at the K-1 63kg Japan GP, I don't see him having much trouble.

Block B consists of K-1 Koshien 2009 champ Masaaki Noiri taking on Violence while Team Dragon's Daizo Sasaki takes on Shota Fukuda. Much like HIROYA, Noiri should get through with little trouble. I'd take Sasaki winning his fight over Fukuda, but losing to Noiri in the quarters. If HIROYA and Noiri win thier brackets, it'll mean another semifinal matchup for the two and the first time they've met since the K-1 Koshien 2009 semifinals at Dynamite.

Block C contains tournament favorite Koya Urabe taking on Yuta Otaki while Shimpei Keita goes against Hiroshi Matsui. Urabe should undoubtedly be favored to win his quarter with ease. The winner of Keita-Matsui won't be a pushover, but Urabe's beaten much better kickboxers.

Finally in block D, J-NETWORK Flyweight champion Tsukasa Fuji takes on Kengo Sonoda while Yukimitsu Takahashi fights Kazuma. The winner of Fuji-Sonoda should win this quarter easily. I would be a lot more confident in Fuji's chances if he didn't fight at such a low weight. Despite size, I'd put my money with Fuji to go on and face Urabe in the semis.

The structure of the brackets heavily pushes the odds onto Urabe's side. He was already the favorite heading into the tournament, but with a possible HIROYA-Noiri rematch on the other half of the bracket in the semifinals, Urabe should be the fresher fighter should he make it to the semifinals and win. {jcomments on}

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WBC Japan Announces 2 Title Fights and 3 Playoff Fights

A couple weeks ago, WBC Muay Thai Japan announced an October 2nd card headlined by Tetsuya Yamato taking on WBC Muay Thai World Champion Jomthong Chuwattana, as well as Erika Kamimura vs Denise Mellor and a WBC Japan Lightweight Title fight between Rashata and Hiromasa Masuda. It seems as though WBC Japan is looking to set up a big event with as many title fights as possible in the near future, as this event has been subtitled "Path to the Championship" and will now feature 2 more WBC Japan Title fights and 3 "playoff" matches that could possibly be #1 contender bouts, all of which contain promising, young talent.

First, WBC Japan Flyweight champion Naoki Otsuki will defend his title against WPMF Japan Flyweight champion Ryuji Kato. Otsuki was recently on a 4 fight winning streak before being upset by J-NETWORK #6 flyweight Hiroyuki Yamamo by split decision in July.

The other title fight announced is a match between current Super Lightweight champion Seiji Takahashi and J-Network Super Lightweight champion Yusuke Sugawara.

The first of the playoff bouts is a Super Bantamweight fight between Shootboxing 55kg champion Ryuya Kusakabe and #1 ranked NJKF Super Bantamweight Rookie. Kusakabe was on a tear since leaving the K-1 Koshien system, racking up 7 straight wins before losing in the finals of the Krush 55kg Tournament to Shota Takiya. Rookie put himself in a match for the vacant NJKF Super Bantamweight title by defeating Shinya Haga and will face Hiroshi Senchaigym for that title. The winner will probably face current champion Genji Umeno who is set to take on Thai Utideto Rukupurabato at It's Showtime Japan 3 this Sunday.

The next playoff bout is a Bantamweight contest between WPMF Japan Super Flyweight champion TO-MA and NJKF #2 ranked Bantamweight Kojiro. TO-MA was riding a 5 fight win streak which included him picking up the M-1, J-NETWORK and WPMF Japan Super Flyweight titles until he lost to Arashi Fujiwara at It's Showtime Japan 1. Afterwards, he vacated his J-NETWORK title. Kojiro is currently on a 4-fight losing streak. If TO-MA wins, he will likely face current champion Arashi Fujiwara for the title. However, if Kojiro scores the upset another playoff bout would seem to be a good idea, possibly a rematch against Noboru Yamamoto who is ranked #1, Takuma Ito who is ranked #2 or Hiroyuki Yamano, all of which would be interesting rematches.

The final bout announced will feature one of Japan's most promising prospects and recently crowned NJKF Lightweight champion Keijiro Miyakoshi taking on J-NETWORK Lightweight champion Akihiro Kuroda. Miyakoshi beat former NJKF champion Ikki in a rematch in July, winning by a wide decision. Kuroda was riding a 2-fight losing streak with losses to HIROYA and WBC Japan Super Lightweight champion Seiji Takahashi but just defended his title against Fire Harada in Harada's retirement match. The winner will likely face the winner of the Lightweight title match between Rashata and Hiromasa Masuda. {jcomments on}

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Masahiro Yamamoto vs Kan Itabashi Set for It's Showtime 61kg #1 Contender's Match

It's Showtime Japan has just announced the fight that will likely be the headlining bout of their fourth event on October 23rd, a #1 contender's bout for the It's Showtime 61kg championship, currently held by Javier Hernandez, between Krush 2009 Lightweight GP winner Masahiro Yamamoto and former RISE 60kg champion Kan Itabashi. Like all of the other It's Showtime Japan cards, this will be a co-promotion, and this event is with REBELS.

The two fought about a year and a half ago while both had been on a tear, with Yamamoto on a 5-fight winstreak that included his 4 wins in the Krush Lightweight GP and Itabashi on an 8-fight win streak that included wins over Yuki, Turbo and Keiji Ozaki. The two fought to a draw after 3 rounds and Yamamoto ended up taking a unanimous decision in the extension round. Since, however, it has been Itabashi who has had the better record, going 3-1 with his wins coming over Anuwat Kaewsamrit, Kanongsuk Weerasakreck and the recently retired Genki Yamamoto which put him in this match. His loss came in a RISE Super Featherweight Title Match against Kosuke Komiyama. Yamamoto, on the other hand, just picked up his first win since the Itabashi fight, besting Arito Tsukahara for the right to face Itabashi again. In that stretch between wins, Yamamoto had a shot at becoming the It's Showtime 61kg champion, but lost as a result of a cut to former champion Sergio Wielzen. {jcomments on}

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