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Strikeforce in Japan: Why It'll Work and UFC Won't

(C) Dave Mandel/Sherdog.comThere have been rumors since the announcement of the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP that Strikeforce's head honcho Scott Coker had plans on running a leg of the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP in Japan, of all places. He wants this tournament to have a "global" feel to it, and running in a new market like Japan seems like a no-brainer.

I really haven't given this much thought, as it seemed like big plans with no follow-through. Especially after Coker had all of this big talk about running Cowboys Stadium in Texas, a feat that a Manny Pacquiao fight sold 50,000+ tickets to. A bit of insanity if you ask many, as UFC has yet to even approach such a large stadium. Japan, on the other hand, seems to be a very real possibility. On Tuesday night I spoke with MMA Torch about the announcement from the UFC in regards to their "Japanese expansion" and Jamie surprised me with a question about Strikeforce running Japan.

Honestly, Strikeforce has a much better chance of running Japan than the UFC does, this year next year or after. The logic behind this is very, very simple, but also very solid. The big thing is that to run in Japan, you have to be ready to make concessions and promote in Japan. UFC's expansion is, well, underwhelming. They have an obscure pay-TV network they run on and will now feature some mobile video services, but none of this is very interesting to fans in Japan. Without live shows, a broadcast television network and some star power the UFC has no real hopes. Their attitude of "all or nothing" will be their achilles heel in Japan.

Strikeforce, though, seem to know what it means to do business in Japan, and according to ESPN.com's Josh Gross, Scott Coker is planning to meet with Real Entertainment to discuss an April 9th event. When I spoke with MMA Torch, I explained that the only real way for Strikeforce to promote in Japan would be to work with another company, and with FEG's future uncertain, the DREAM partner company, Real Entertainment made perfect sense. Real has fighter contracts (most of the DREAM fighters), production staff, television partners, sponsors and a lot more.

If you take into account fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva, Fabricio Werdum and Sergei Kharitonov, all of these fighters have established name value in Japan. For Fedor Emelianenko this would be a grand homecoming for him. For Alistair Overeem this would be the K-1 and DREAM Champion fighting in his home away from home turf. Also consider that Satoshi Ishii could have a Strikeforce contract by then and that Tatsuya Kawajiri just defeated Josh Thomson at Dynamite!!, so a possible bout between Kawajiri and Gilbert Melendez could be big for Japanese fans as well.

Strikeforce also seems to be considering working with Real Entertainment even more, says Gross. Real Entertainment is going to take some of those fighter contracts that they have and with Strikeforce's help, put on a Lightweight tournament, with our without DREAM. It looks like Strikeforce is taking Japan seriously and are willing to "play ball." Now, if it will pan out financially for them, that is another story for another day (or another site, like FightOpinion.com).

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Andrei Arlovski Prepares for Sergei Kharitonov, Kind Of

Andrei Arlovski has always been one of the greats in the world of MMA for a reason, and it didn't really have a lot to do with his fighting ability as much as it did his personality. Andrei Arlovski in the UFC was a breath of fresh air in a world of fighters with shaved or buzzed heads, covered head to toe in tattoos. He came into UFC with wild, crazy hair, a beard, chest hair and a mouthpiece with fangs on it. The fact that his fist could cripple anyone that stands in its path was just the icing on the cake.

Over the years we've been treated to the indignity of seeing him getting repeatedly hit in the jaw and taking a nap or simply being far too timid in the ring. Where was the wild man? Where was the Pitbull? The Strikeforce Heavyweight GP is a chance for Arlovski to prove to the world that he is still for real. He takes on stiff competition from Golden Glory's Sergei Kharitonov and is currently training with Greg Jackson's camp in my adopted home of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sadly for me, I have yet to see Arlovski walking the streets of the Duke City like I have with other fighters. I've seen GSP bumping and grinding with some chunky chicks, Rashad Evans in a pretty sharp suit, Melvin Guillard jogging, Greg Jackson almost side-swiped me on the way to work one morning, rolled his window down and yelled "sorry, bro" while I flipped him off, and I did my laundry next to Keith Jardine in the area of town we lovingly call the "student ghetto."

Go figure, one of the coolest figures in MMA history is around and I have yet to bump into him walking the dog. Jackson's MMA released a video on YouTube earlier today that shows why everybody loves Andrei, he is a legitimately fun guy to be around, and apparently a part of his training is running full speed at a bag, doing a push kick and shouting "This is Sparta!" while Jon Jones giggles.

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Jean-Claude Van Damme and Fans Weigh in on Kamsing Fight

There are some topics that are just so strange that you have to say them out loud to believe that they truly exist. The mysterious kickboxing fight between Olympic boxer Somluck Kamsing and action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of them. We've been covering this fight for a while now, almost two years by the time the fight is actually scheduled to take place, which is amazing in and of itself.

JCVD himself has set up a Facebook "event" page for the fight, currently scheduled for April 1, 2011 in Las Vegas. As of this story being published, no one that I've spoken with in Las Vegas knows of this fight and the page itself says that the date and place are subject to change. There have been multiple places named as well as multiple dates floating around for this fight, everything was set to line up with three projects JCVD is currently working on, from a film project, to a reality series, to a documentary on training for a fight. He will also do his first major VO work in the second Kung Fu Panda film and there is talk of him working on a "Muppets" project as well.

His team recently released a video where JCVD publicly speaks about his decision to fight at this point in his career, how he is a normal guy and is doing this because he believes it is the right thing for him to do. Then some of his fans from around the world tell you that JCVD will win or do crazy, JCVD-esque kicks to show you why he'll win (the Hindi dude at 2:33 yells with such conviction).

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If Def Leppard's Guitar Player Can Do Muay Thai, Anyone Can

Phil CollenThere is always a sort of stigma that follows around fight fans, that they can be critical but refuse to learn about the sports they love to criticize. That is often-times untrue, as there are tons of fans who end up jumping into the deep end and training with some of the best trainers available in their area due to their love of fighting. For those of you that might have an inkling of participating, but for some reason don't, here is a bit of a motivational tool for you.

Phil Collen (no, not Phil Collins), the guitar player from 80's hair metal band Def Leppard from about 1982 on in a recent interview with the LA Times talked about his love for martial arts. Collen is a black belt in Kempo Karate and has for years now practiced Muay Thai to keep himself in shape. To understand how weird this is, the dude is 53 years old and maintains a rather rigorous training schedule as well as a touring schedule with the band. He talks a lot about his fitness now, more than he does about his guitar playing (well, I can't blame people there) or the band (ditto).

About 12 weeks before a tour I'll start training, and the last eight weeks I'll work out two to three times a day doing weights, jumping rope, hopping on the spin bike. The rest of the time I work out three to four times a week and try to eat OK. Jean (Carrillo) does come with me on tour, and we work out -- there are so many different ways to do it, and switching it out makes it fun.
We've been in places where there's just a bar or a beam to hang from, but you can do push-ups or pull-ups or do bits on a chair. You can have the most fantastic workout if you use your imagination.

Collen talks about how after sobering up he was looking for ways to get himself into shape, he used to jog until he realized how much he hated it, then started kickboxing and has for the past 23 years loved the sport. While I don't see him stepping into the ring with Badr Hari or Ubereem any time soon, he shows that literally anyone can kickbox. [source]

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