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Could Shootboxer RENA's Popularity Help FEG?

RENAI'm not sure if what I'm posing at this point is a rhetorical at this point or if it actually has value. Recently SHOOTBOXING Girls S-Cup 2009 and 2010 champ Rena Kubota (simply called RENA) made a television appearance on the Female Athletes TV show on TBS, and the ratings she scored for her segment were quite positive. The overall rating for the show was 11.8%, with RENA's segment where she embarrassed three male comedians in the ring received a staggering 16.8%.

RENA, to say the least, has proven that she has the attention of Japan's fickle audiences, and once again on a show featuring female athletes from different sports, was able to prove that combat sports can be seen as "cool." This is immensely important for combat sports. Recently, @DanHerbertson, @Kuri_Kinton and myself (@LiverKickdotcom) had a discussion about the future of combat sports in Japan. Stuart Tonkin (Kuri Kinton), of course, for the uninitiated has been in Japan for ages and does work for K-1, while Herbertson is MMAFighting.com's Japan reporter.

The talk came on the heels of Herbertson and myself discussing TBS and FEG's future, which at this point is a big unknown. TBS had a two year deal with FEG that expired at Dynamite!!, which means as of right now the future of K-1 MAX and DREAM are uncertain on television. This of course could all be idle talk and TBS picks FEG programming back up and simply alters the contract a bit, but if they opt out it is incredibly uncertain for the future. K-1 MAX was the brainchild of FEG and TBS, used mainly to capitalize on the popularity of Japanese Middleweight kickboxer Masato. Masato scaled back his participation and soon retired, leaving MAX in a bad spot.

Then there is DREAM. DREAM is essentially a venture between FEG and what we all knew as DSE. If you don't remember DSE, think back to PRIDE. K-1 currently resides on Fuji TV, who killed off PRIDE's programming after the yakuza scandal DSE had and refuse to associate with that again. This means even if Fuji TV, who have a great relationship with Kazuyoshi Ishii, pick up K-1 MAX, DREAM might be without a home.

Are you following where RENA comes into play yet? Satoshi Ishii's popularity is in the balance right now, and if he disappears again for a prolonged period of time or says something ridiculously stupid in interviews, well, that is it for Ishii. Ishii really needs better handlers, but then again, that won't change anything now. With proper management from the beginning we wouldn't have these issues with Ishii. K-1 has used RENA before, in 2009 she participated in their Korean MAX show where she had a tough extra round decision loss to Su Jeong Lim after being promoted as one of the show's headliners.

RENA has rebound, though, having an incredible 10-fight win streak after that loss and taking two SHOOTBOXING tournaments, which is nothing short of spectacular. For TBS to feel comfortable with further FEG programming, they need some sort of star to push, a Japanese star, and there have not been any outside of Ishii that have presented themselves. If you think back, since the fall of PRIDE there have been no stars created, everything has been left over from PRIDE and earlier K-1 success. Using a female fighter like RENA might not attract the crowd that Japanese broadcasters and sponsors are looking for, but it will bring in viewers. At least until they finally find that "next Masato" they are grasping at straws for. There is a very, very good chance that K-1's KOSHIEN division, which we all laughed at years ago, can provide that next big star for them. There have already been a few fighters not named HIROYA who have come from the KOSHIEN program who have gone on to have success and could be huge stars. [source]

Video of RENA's appearance after the break.

 

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Alistair Overeem NOT Defending Strikeforce Heavyweight Title in Heavyweight GP

StrikeforceThere were a few minor announcements on today's Strikeforce conference call, like only the final of the tournament will be a five round fight. Wait a minute, doesn't that fly in the face of the interviews Scott Coker had been giving about every fight being five rounds and every fight with the title being a title fight? Absolutely.

As it turns out, the title is not on the line at all, the winner of the tournament walks away the Strikeforce 2010 Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion, but not the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. That means none of Alistair Overeem's fights will be for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship. Honestly, this does not bother me. When it comes down to it, one of my main criticisms of the tournament was the inclusion of the Heavyweight Champion and only his fights being five-round affairs. Many would note some of the "special rules" used in the earlier PRIDE GPs, and I'll be the first to point out that while we got Royce vs. Sakuraba, otherwise the special rules were a waste of time and things probably should have been uniform.

There was some other strange stuff that went down on this conference call (if you've never been on a Strikeforce conference call count yourself as lucky, they are a mess). Some of the other announcements were that there would be a "fourth judge" in case of a draw. This judge? Strikeforce-appointed. I can almost hear the squishing sound of your eyes rolling back into your head, but we'll give it a pass as the chance of a draw is very rare, outside of UFC title fights, apparently. The other announcement was that there will be a five-person committee to decide which reserve fighter to use in the case of a draw. I'm not quite sure why you just wouldn't have two reserve bouts, one for each side of the bracket, and if you reach the finals and neither side has been used, have the winning fighters face off for a 'finals reserve' or something similar.

Can't win them all, folks. The tournament will still be incredible. We still get a tournament featuring Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Brett Rogers, Sergei Kharitonov and Antonio Silva.

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Petrosyan vs. Sudsakorn, Cosmo

Giorgio PetrosyanK-1 MAX champion and all around fighting genius Giorgio Petrosyan has two exciting upcoming bouts scheduled.

First up,on January 29, he faces Sudsakorn 13 Coins (formerly Sudsakorn Sor. Klinmee) for Thai Boxe Mania.  Despite the event name, this is not a Muay Thai fight, and will be 3 rounds under K-1 rules.  Sudsakorn is our #18 ranked fighter at 70kg, and really made a name for himself in the international scene in 2010.  He started last year with a decision win over K-1 MAX fighter Chahid Oulad El Hadj in It's Showtime, and followed that up with a tournament win where he defeated Andrei Kulebin in the finals.  He's currently set to face Khem Sitsongpeenong in just a few days, and if he can pull off a win there, it will give him great momentum heading into the Petrosyan fight.  Other notable fights on the Thai Boxe Mania card: Andrei Kulebin vs. Kaopon Lek, Abdallah Mabel vs. Kostantin Serebrennikov, and Armen Petrosyan vs. Miodrag Olar.  Kulebin's fight is Muay Thai rules, the rest are K-1.

After that, Petrosyan faces former It's Showtime champion Cosmo Alexandre at another Italian event - Oktagon 2011 on March 12.  It looks like that fight will be again under K-1 rules, and at 70kg, which puts Cosmo at a distinct disadvantage.  Alexandre has spent the last year fighting primarily at 77kg in It's Showtime, and will be dropping a lot of weight to make the 70kg limit.  At 72 and 77kgs, Alexandre has found tremendous success lately, winning the It's Showtime belt and 2009 Thailand King's Cup among other notable victories.  He's not ranked at 70kg due to his inactivity in that division, though at 77kg he would easily be in the top 5.  He's an interesting challenger for Petrosyan, as the two men share a very cerebral, technical approach to the game.  He also possesses a great flying knee, which he has used to win fights by opening up cuts.  And no matter how good a fighter is, a  cut can always end a fight.  Petrosyan is the favorite here undoubtedly, but I think Cosmo will challenge him.

I had some questions about these fight due to Petrosyan's broken hand suffered at the K-1 MAX finals, but as we draw closer, new reports are coming out that indicate these fights are in fact going to happen.  Assuming they do, these are two fantastic chances to see the pound for pound best kickboxer in the world in action.  And unlike some other fights, these are not just Petrosyan being trotted out to face an overmatched opponent - both Sudsakorn and Cosmo provide interesting, and very different challenges to the champ.  Of course, Giorgio is so good that he may make these fights look beyond simple, but isn't that part of his charm?

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It's Showtime Opens New Web Store, It Rules

Badr Hari Rules.Some might question the newsworthiness of kickboxing promotion It's Showtime opening up a web store in English, but for the hardcore kickboxing fans out there, it is pretty cool. If you want K-1 gear you have to bug someone who knows someone in Japan or just become an elite kickboxer and get invited to compete in K-1. This way is a lot easier for those of us whose better days have passed them and their dreams of kicking people for a living have been dashed through strings of injuries or pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

If you are a fan of the UFC or Strikeforce you have a lot of options, from official clothing to walkout gear from various companies like TapouT, Affliction, Silver Star or Hitman. But for those of us who prefer to idea of Badr Hari gear to Brock Lesnar gear, this is a great solution. The only catch is if you are like me and live in the continental United States, shipping costs around 22 Euros, which is basically $30. So buy in bulk or do a buy with a friend or two if you are just looking to snatch up an awesome kickboxing t-shirt.

How many other web shops have Anderson "Braddock" Silva, Melvin Manhoef, William Diender, Gago Drago and Badr Hari as models? Find me a web store that bad ass and I'll shop there. So if you are interested, head over to http://itsshowtimeshop.com/en/. Yes, that is a picture of Badr Hari in a shirt that says "Kickboxing Couture." You know you need it.

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