Maybe you don’t know this about me, but I really feel that the only thing better than kicking someone in the head, is watching someone else you know do it successfully.
Everyone knows that MMA and kickboxing in Japan have taken a big hit in the last few years. Pride saw a bright light and heard heavenly trumpets in 2007, and K-1 was unable to pay fighters after what was possibly the most dynamic heavy weight tournament ever in 2010. Throw in a massive earth quake, an economy in the toilet and the general hardships associated with producing a quality event in Japan, and well, it’s been a pretty dismal few years here on the Japan scene.
But while UFC’s legion of the tackiest fans on earth have all been buying yet another TAP OUT t-shirt, some of us have been sitting quietly, having meetings at undisclosed locations and generally have watched the current change. The consensus amongst those who know is as follows: While Dos Santos and Velasquez are illustrating to me once again why I don’t care in a fight more predictable than an African hookers AIDS test, over here in Japan shit is going down.
New Year’s Eve
December 31st is traditionally a huge night in Japan for combat sport events. Although an attempt was made with the Fight for Japan: Genki Desu ka Omisoka 2011 event last year in which Fedor irreverently tucked Satoshi Ishii into bed after fluffing up his pillow with something the Russians call pain but the Japanese medical establishment referred to as “a career threatening brain injury”, all in the first round literally as the clock struck midnight, the event largely was just a warmup for what we are looking at this year.
INOKI BOM-BE-YE 2012
I happened to be hanging around Shinjuku two nights ago and passed by the location of the press conference held outside the East Exit. Peter Aerts was there smiling like an idiot and it was pissing rain and there were about ten people and one sad-looking camera man hanging around by a homeless guy. That having been said they have a deal with Fuji TV and the card has some big names.
INOKI BOM-BA-YE 2012
Date: December 31st, 2012
Place: Ryogoku Kokugikan (~13,000) in Tokyo, Japan
10. IGF Singles Match: Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Naoya Ogawa
9. IGF Special Tag Match: Atsushi Sawada and Hideki Suzuki vs. Ray Sefo and Hiromi Amada
8. IGF MMA Rules Match: Shinichi Suzukawa vs. Mirko Cro Cop
7. IGF MMA Rules Match: Satoshi Ishii vs. Tim Sylvia
6. IGF MMA Rules Match: Minowa Man vs. Bor Bratovz
5. IGF MMA Rules Match: Yusuke Kawaguchi vs. Rolles Gracie
4. IGF Tag Match: Kendo Kashin and Shogun Okamoto vs. Bob Sapp and Erik Hammer
3. IGF Kickboxing Rules Match: Masayoshi Kakutani vs. Prince Ali
2. IGF Singles Match: Masked Genome Jr. vs. Kouhaku Kamen
1. Akira Joh 10 Bout Toukon Series (Bout 7): Akira Joh vs. Kotaro Nasu
Yeah, I know; Fujita and Ogawa? Seanbaby said it well enough here, there really is no medical explanation for Fujita still being alive. Ogawa however is simply a buffoon with all the combative skill of a bran muffin. I had the “luxury” of training with him a couple of times years ago at Ihara Gym, and it occurred to me then that I once met a cripple that kicked harder and he was a girl.
Despite the event poster giving me diarrhea of my sensibilities, there are some silver linings and these would be the oldie-but-goodie big name match-ups like Cro Cop and Suzukawa, Sawada/Suzuki vs. Sefo/Amada (however the hell that works) and they are even throwing in some Bob Sapp for comic relief.
It’s a very old-looking card but it’s a big one. What’s more, it’s not the biggest thing going on that night…
Dream 18 and GLORY 4
TWO events, ONE night, Multiple reasons for ORGASM.
The Card is sick.
Dream.18 – Special NYE 2012
Date: December 31, 2012
Venue: Saitama Super Arena
Location: Saitama, Japan
-Shinya Aoki vs. Antonio McKee
-Melvin Manhoef vs. Denis Kang
-Bibiano Fernandes vs. Yoshiro Maeda
-Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Michihiro Omigawa
-Hayato Sakurai vs. Phil Baroni
-Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Georgi Karakhanyan
-Satoru Kitaoka vs. Will Brooks
-Marloes Coenen vs. Fiona Muxlow
GLORY Grand Slam Tournament:
-Semmy Schilt vs. Brice Guidon
-Sergei Kharitonov vs. Rico Verhoeven
-Gokhan Saki vs. Raomoru
-Anderson “Braddock” Silva vs. Igor Jurkovic
-Remy Bonjasky vs. Filip Verlinden
-Errol Zimmerman vs. Jamal Ben Saddick
-Peter Aerts vs. Mourad Bouzidi
-Daniel Ghita vs. Jhonata Diniz
-Mutsuki Ebata vs. Sang-Jae Kim
-Matsumoto Toshio vs. Jason Wilnis
-Yuichiro Nagashima vs. Robin van Roosmalen
-Jerome LeBanner vs. Koichi
So, what do we have here? In one word: Everything.
The Dream 18 MMA card is stacked with fresh talent yet still has some old school flare (Baroni/Sakurai). In addition to that we have Coenen vs. Muxlow, and who doesn’t like seeing two woman try to murder each other for money?
The Glory 4 part of the card is ridiculous. It’s all genuine with no fluff. Schilt, Saki, Ghita, Zimmerman, Aerts…nothing would please me more than seeing Ghita and Saki go to war again like they did in 2010; possibly the greatest kickboxing match I have ever seen.
The super fights though are where it gets personal for me. In 2006 I took my protest in Meguro at Fujimoto gym. To everyone’s shock and horror, particularly my own, instead of some mitts and a couple of light rounds with a new pro-nobody, I did five nightmare rounds with the current Heavy weight champion, Toshio Matsumoto. I made it out alive and got my pro-license. I then needed my friends help climbing the stairs out of the basement to hobble back to the train station and cry myself to sleep that night.
Matsumoto has a well deserved super-fight on the card against Jason Wilnis. Toshio tried his hand at K-1 Max ten years ago and did not fair well, however during these years he has gradually gotten bigger, stronger and has dominated Shin Nihon Kickboxing with absolutely beastly elbows and strong ring general ship.
In addition to seeing my former torturer on the big stage, my former “cohei” Mutsuki Ebata is also fighting. Mutsuki is one of the “Champion Twins”. He and his brother Rui, whom I met years and years ago when they first started coming during summer vacations to train at Ihara gym, have both become champions and both punch harder than Dana White sucks. Mutsuki will be fighting Sang-Jae Kim and while I don’t know much about this kimchi, I know Mutsuki is a bad-ass with the work ethic of a Jew at a home foreclosure; he gets every last drop out of training, every time. I’m really looking forward to seeing him kill it with the big boys.
Yes, looking forward to seeing it, LIVE, because Gaijinass will be at Saitama Super Arena on the 31st. Is this the reemergence of combat sports proper in Japan? I don’t know, but something’s about to pop off.
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