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How the Ghost of PRIDE Haunts K-1 and DREAM

  • Published in K-1

Kazuyoshi IshiiWe are all-but-done writing about FEG's financial woes. At this point what needs to be said has been said, and there is a lot of information on this topic that will never be released to the public. Until FEG makes their move, it is a dead horse that I'm sick of beating. So I've seen some articles and questions floating around that pertain to the future of DREAM and K-1, which of course revolves around television and ownership.

What many people tend to forget is way back to the death of PRIDE, the one-off event known as "Yarennoka" and the formation of DREAM. DREAM is not simple a FEG production. There is a company called "Real Entertainment" that was formed by what was left of DSE, and all of those great video packages on those DREAM events, Lenne Hardt screaming out fighters' names and even lots of the fighters themselves participating in DREAM? Thank Real Entertainment. DREAM is a co-production between RE and FEG, which is why you'll never see DREAM on Fuji TV.

So now, to fully understand how this impacts FEG, I'll hand this over to Mike Hackler of MMA-Japan.com, who did some digging and found out exactly what Real Entertainment's services mean to FEG.

FEG is in debt to Real Entertainment around $7 million USD.  Real Entertainment's involvement is a large reason why there are problems getting a TV deal done, due to the fact they still have management from DSE.  FUJI has no interest in a television deal, solely for this reason.  Real Entertainment is also responsible for paying the fighters (as to what extent, I do not know).  Many fighters contracts are with Real Entertainment and not FEG.

FEG is stuck.  Ishii owns the rights and the brand names with FEG.  This makes reorganizing the company extremely difficult, if not impossible. That said, it has been confirmed that PUJI has backed out of this altogether.  As any private equity does, FEG is reluctant to allow for managerial changes to take place.  This creates a brick wall for outside investors to get involved.

This beautifully articulates how FEG is stuck in a tough position, and some of the power struggles that are going on during this downtime for K-1 and DREAM. Many people I've spoken to have talked about (off the record, as always) Tanikawa wanting to form a new company and leave Ishii out of the business entirely, but as long as Ishii owns the name "K-1" it will be impossible to break away from his influence. [source]

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Rumblings of a RINGS Revival in Japan

  • Published in Kickboxing

This isn't purely kickboxing, but more a general look at the world of MMA in Japan. Sure, FEG has rounded up some of their benefactors to help them with their latest venture, which means that we have at least one DREAM show planned and rumors of something going on with K-1. Outside of that, things in Japan are bleak at best. The sad truth is, for something to be popular in Japan there is a need for a figurehead, a public figure to help generate interest. If you look at someone like Antonio Inoki, he is still able to put on shows using his name alone to get TV contracts, advertising deals, sponsorships, top fighters and professional wrestlers to work with him.

In the same vein as Inoki is Akira Maeda. Akira Maeda was a huge professional wrestling star in the 80's and 90's, and one of the first to really push for martial arts to thrive on its own, outside of wrestling. Names like Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Antonio Inoki, Satoru Sayama and Masa Funaki should roll off of the tongue for anyone who fancies themselves a MMA historian, and the irony in that is that each man made a name for themselves in the pre-scripted world of professional wrestling. Each man can be traced to a certain branch of the MMA lineage; Pancrase for Funaki, SHOOTO for Sayama, RINGS for Maeda and PRIDE for Takada. Inoki is in his own world, as he was the one that inspired everyone else and has had his nose stuck into every MMA and kickboxing venture to make it big in Japan.

Takada was the figurehead for PRIDE, and many will remember Takada as the guy with his ass hanging out, banging on the big drum to open up events. Takada can also be remembered from his early "fights" in PRIDE where ridiculous things happened under the guise of being a fight while it was a professional wrestling bout made to look realistic. Maeda worked closely with Takada for Maeda's UWF vision in the late 80's and early 90's before Takada went off to form UWF-i, when Maeda branched off to form RINGS. RINGS was the more serious endeavor than what Takada did, as it quickly branched off into real fights and left a lot of the Japanese pageantry out. Takada made a public challenge to the Gracies by way of sending Yoji Anjoh to the Gracie dojo to get publicly made a fool of, which sparked the first PRIDE card and one of Takada's many career losses. Regardless, PRIDE was huge and only got bigger.

The thing is, while all of that was happening in PRIDE, RINGS was doing something very real and a lot more serious. A lot of the fighters who fought in RINGS went on to be the absolute, undisputed best fighters in the world. If you are wondering who, here is a partial list of RINGS fighters who went on to bigger, better things; Renato "Babalu" Sobral, Ricardo Arona, Gilbert Yvel, Valentijn Overeem, Alistair Overeem, Elvis Sinosic, Fedor Emelianenko, Renzo Gracie, Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira, Dan Henderson, Matt Hughes and Randy Couture.

So, reading this bit of news earlier today was mind-blowing. Akira Maeda was involved in FEG's "HERO*s" events as the figurehead before that fell apart due to FEG's seemingly constant stream of financial woes, then decided to create "The Outlaw" which serves as an amateur MMA breeding ground, kind of like SHOOTO. The Outsider shows tend to be a bit more gritty than your standard SHOOTO show and the fighters are a very different style from the international SHOOTO style. The thing is, Maeda is not wrong, someone needs to step up in Japan. Don Quijote, the company that was funding and then decided to pull out of Sengoku shows, leaving more uncertainty for fighters in Japan. No one is quite certain what will come of FEG and all of the affiliated promotions and SHOOTO is currently in disaster mode.

Akira Maeda has made a lot of solid, smart moves and is still surviving to this day, if not thriving. If there is anyone that I would trust to help nudge the fighting world in Japan back on the right path, it is Akira Maeda. Maybe he'll even pass on the Capture Suplex to someone other than Josh Barnett.

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Jon Jones Earns Shot at Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128

  • Published in Kickboxing

Jon JonesTonight at UFC 126, Jon "Bones" Jones took the fight to Ryan Bader. Both men were seen as huge prospects for UFC's 205lbs division, and after a slick guillotine choke from the top, Ryan Bader moves down the ladder a bit and Jon Jones moves up. Jones demonstrated some superb ground work against Bader and was able to use his reach advantage to keep Bader at bay.

Jones' stand up still leaves a lot to be desired, with his stance, movement and lack of set-ups. All of the big strikes he threw had a lot of power behind them and looked right on target, but not as many connected as could have if he actually set the strikes up. This includes a left high kick, a few big hooks and a Remy Bonjasky-style flying kick.

So what is the point of all of this? In what was a WWE or even Oprah moment for UFC, Joe Rogan came into the cage to tell Jon Jones that Rashad Evans was injured and at UFC 128 the UFC would like Jon Jones to step in for him and challenge Mauricio "Shogun" Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. It is a huge step up in competition for Jon Jones, and honestly the fight of his life. Shogun's striking, while a bit on the brawling side due to the Chute Boxing style of Muay Thai, is still technically sound and does lots of damage.

Jones has a reach advantage over Rua, but that wouldn't be the first time he has given up reach, and it also isn't the first time he has gone into the fight without a giant hype train behind him. When he challenged Lyoto Machida, Machida had endless momentum and it turns out wasn't prepared for Muay Thai, and now Jon Jones is in the same position. Jones is most definitely a great prospect, but there are serious holes in his stand up that Ryan Bader was able to exploit tonight and not enough time to fix them before the fight.

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The Voice vs. Wanderlei Silva Preview

  • Published in Kickboxing

Yes, it is that time again, as our favorite announcer in combat sports continues his series of interviews on HDnet with The Voice Versus Wanderlei Silva. For many, this is a huge episode, as it should be. Wanderlei Silva is known to be one of the absolute all-time greats when it comes to the 205lbs weight class in MMA. He absolutely dominated PRIDE for years, with his era being right up there with Fedor Emelianenko's. Sadly by the time that he made it to the UFC, his career seemed to be winding down a bit. We, the fans, finally got the dream fight with Chuck Liddell, but it was at the point in both men's careers where the explosiveness and raw power that we came to know and love just wasn't there.

Regardless, any time Wanderlei Silva fights it is a big deal. He has had mixed success in the UFC, but his legend precedes him. So enter Michael Schiavello's interview with Wanderlei Silva. Wanderlei has been living the life of a legend for the past few years, training and living the life in Vegas. On March 25th at 8PM Eastern on HDnet, the latest in the Voice Versus Series makes its debut, and we have two questions between the Voice and Wanderlei, and as always, Schiavello is on point with his MMA internet memes.

Sheer brilliance, as always. MMA needs more of a sense of humor to go with the serious approach, and Schiavello always provides.

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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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Zuffa, Parent Company of UFC Purchases Strikeforce, Monopolizes MMA

  • Published in Kickboxing

We here at LiverKick.com pride ourselves on our kickboxing coverage, but from time to time find it important to discuss the MMA world as well. There is a lot of crossover between the two worlds, and at times, they go hand in hand. Strikeforce has a storied past, as does its promoter, Scott Coker. Coker had worked the kickboxing market in the West coast for years before working for K-1 to bring their USA shows to fans. His baby, Strikeforce, was a kickboxing promotion before it was a MMA promotion. It was local talent like Cung Le and Frank Shamrock working with Coker to put on MMA shows that got the ball rolling and Strikeforce became the best regional promotion in the country. It didn't take much, just using big names on the main event slots with local big names to fill out the rest of the card and young, local up and comers on the undercard.

It worked, and soon Strikeforce was in a position to purchase EliteXC's poison assets. Or so we thought. We all assumed anything affiliated with EliteXC was awful and doomed, but Coker and Co. showed that with a better business plan and some patience, you can make anything work. Today something happened, something big. Ariel Helwani posted a video of Dana White discussing Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce. I had to look twice at the date and make sure it wasn't April 1st, because sometimes time just moves quickly. It isn't, it is March 12, 2011. Remember that date.

People on Twitter immediately freaked out; co-promotion? Will Strikeforce immediately die? Does this mean Fedor, Barnett, Overeem, Diaz, Daley, etc. in the UFC? Watch the video and you get a feel for what is happening. Dana White claims over and over again, "business as usual." This means that as long as Strikeforce has their television deals; CBS and Showtime, it is its own entity. There will be no co-promotion, and fighters stay where they are, of course, unless they decide differently. Scott Coker and his crew are still in control of Strikeforce for the time being. If you are a Strikeforce fighter, you are one until Strikeforce is gone or your contract is up. Same goes for UFC.

If you know how Zuffa works and remember their history with acquisitions, you should understand where the concern comes from. I've heard many herald this move as a great move for the sport and one step closer to the holy grail in fighting; a fighters union. I appreciate and applaud the enthusiasm, but Zuffa is not acting like a sport league as much as it is a corporation, a business.

I worked in the PR world with some of the heavy hitters of modern industry for four years, with some of the biggest companies in the world; AT&T, Apple, Microsoft, Motorola and Boeing to name a few. Before someone calls my BS on this, there were people in each company I was on a first name basis with and spoke to daily for years. I'm simply painting a picture here for people to illustrate a point that I've worked with huge corporations in a public relations and investor relations setting and know how the big dogs do business.

Keep reading.

 

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Welcome the Weekend with Bob Sapp's Fight From Today

  • Published in Video

Here at LiverKick we strive to bring you the best in news and results from the world of Kickboxing and the overlapping Muay Thai world, also taking a look at Mixed Martial Arts and the Martial Arts world as a whole when it fits our needs. One man transcends both space and time just as easily as he defies logic and reason, and that man is Bob Sapp. Bob Sapp is the NFL player-turned-professional wrestler-turned-Kickboxer-turned-MMA-fighter who found his way back to professional wrestling in Japan. Bob Sapp became such a huge name in Japan that he actually became a matchmaker for K-1 and had some political power within the company for a few years.

Sapp's Kickboxing style was a mess, with him fouling left and right but bullrushing his opponents and striking with reckless abandon, picking him up some high profile wins against opponents that should have easily handled him. The same can be said for MMA where his lack of skill and fight IQ led to him doing absolutely insane things, like a deadlift powerbomb against Big Nog that has no real place in MMA but helped make him even more famous. He then became a regular on the variety show circuit in Japan, making him a national hero of sorts and his fights became a necessity for promoters who wanted the big television networks to support them.

The year of 2011 has been an odd year for Sapp, and a really telling year where Sapp, who is actually very good with his money and has saved and invested most of his gigantic earnings, has been cashing in on the European circuit. The only problem for Sapp is that it seems like he has actually been training more and has been honing his skill, which for a fighter like Sapp means strange things. I have theorized that he is now thinking about what he is doing and it is causing him problems. Of course, his other problem is he does not like to get hit. He still wrestles in Japan, which seems to be his best fit, but in professional fighting it does not make sense anymore. Sapp is 0-3 in Kickboxing and with his latest fight today, he is 0-3 in MMA to close out 2011.

It is impossible not to respect Bob Sapp for carving out his place in the world and for being conservative with his money. While we understand what he is doing in Europe, it might be time to cut it out, Bob. This is from Dec. 16 in Croatia. Noc Gladijatora 6. MFC Heavyweight Championship vs. Maro Perak.

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Watch Yuichiro Nagashima Celebrate Post-Fight at Dynamite!!

  • Published in K-1

We all love honesty when it comes in our favorite fighters; a straight-forward attitude, humility and admittance that they are indeed mortal just like you and me. They get scared. Well, most fighters do, not everybody is Alistair Overeem, who knows when he is walking to the ring that it will just be a matter of time before someone lays in a pool of their own blood before him. Going into his Mixed Rules bout at Dynamite!! against Shinya Aoki, Yuichiro Nagashima knew what he had to do; he had to get out there and knock Aoki out in the first round. Aoki used his brain to avoid contact with Nagashima all throughout the K-1 rules round, which lead into the MMA rules portion of the bout, where Nagashima was in deep, deep water against one of the best MMA grapplers in the world. After the boisterous, over-the-top entrance from Nagashima, to lose would be a shame, but when you saw the look on his face and the concern of his trainers going into the second round, you saw a defeated man.

The flying knee that connected not only shocked Aoki, but it shocked Nagashima as well. Watch this video of Nagashima as he heads to the back after the bout and watch him coming down from his adrenaline rush and just how lucky he knows he was for scoring that knockout. He even vows to never, ever do MMA again and that he was "so scared!"

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Watch Generation Evolucao Featuring Andre Dida Amade

  • Published in Video

Andre "Dida" Amade is a MMA fighter who has been on a bit of a losing streak of late, but found a bit of a niche for himself in K-1's MAX division. After scoring a knockown against renowned Thai fighter Buakaw Por. Pramuk, Dida has been in demand for K-1 MAX events due to his exciting fighting style and immense power he packs. This documentary was done for The Fight Network and was Produced, edited and written by Jorge Barbosa and documents Dida moving to Canada to work with his brother and prepare to fight in K-1 MAX again. [Source]

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