I've returned from my mini-pilgrimage (read: girlfriend and myself) to the Pacific Northwest to rock out and have been catching up on the overload of fight news from the past few days, and let me tell you, a lot happened. Thankfully, you've been reading LiverKick.com and your needs are fulfilled for SRC and FEG stuff. So, much to my dismay, before I've even had a chance to watch Dynamite!! from the comfort of my DVR, the word seems to be that while the show was incredible as always, the Japanese press were not so happy with it. As always, the Japanese care about things that not many else do when it comes to their national programming.
Japanese headlines coming out of Dynamite!!? They are scary. Essentially, the headlines all revolve around Satoshi Ishii and his poor performance. Ishii was booed at Dynamite!! The hype around Dynamite!!? Gone. SportsNavi, a popular news outlet run by Yahoo! has headlines about UFC 125, with the feature story about Clay Guida choking out Takanori Gomi and how Nagashima's KO of Aoki made him MVP. NikkanSports is similar. All of the more fight-oriented websites were obeying the unwritten rules of don't trash in public, the mainstream media? No such luck. Headlines about the boos that Ishii received were deafening. Ishii the ace of Japan is all-but-dead. The goofy interviews, the terrible performance, the inability to make press conferences and so forth have done him no favors. He needed a dominant win and a solid post-fight interview, ala Sakuraba and Minowaman. Of course, he did not deliver.
The Japanese ratings were out a few days ago, and TBS pulled in an average of 8.8% (9.8 and 7.8 for each hour). Last year had a peak of 16.7% and an average of 13%, over 3 points higher overall. The help of Ishii and Inoki were simply not enough for the fledgling Dynamite!!. It is just proof that Japan needs new star power. Zach Arnold takes his usual, exhaustive look at the implications of it all. If you care about Japanese MMA and kickboxing, I feel like Zach is a must-read when he writes about it. The point Zach makes is a strong argument as to why Ishii is a giant failure, basically, and he breaks down FEG's situation.
FEG announced that by the end of January they would announce their future plans for the year, which includes restructuring the company from the inside out (much-needed) and to incorporate funding from Chinese and American investors. For those expecting gloom and doom, expect this funding to last for a while. From all that I've heard and discussed with insiders, FEG will be healthy for at least 2011. Their television deals are possibly in limbo again, though. With the poor ratings on TBS, TBS might cut loose the FEG shows they carry (K-1 MAX, DREAM and Dynamite!!). Understand that these shows are the brainchild of TBS to assault other strong network programming, and don't think they like losing. It has nothing to do with fighting, MMA, kickboxing, etc., everything to do with star power and roping in fans. Sapp's fight being barred from TV didn't help matters, as he is a yearly staple and ratings draw, nor did the younger Ologun brother only fighting. Ishii's aura is gone and no Masato means TBS cannot be happy right now. For those concerned, K-1's heavyweight shows are affiliated with Fuji TV, who is happy with K-1's programming.
What this means for DREAM, though, is unsure. Fuji TV has a strong relationship with Kazuyoshi Ishii (K-1 founder and tax evader), so don't be shocked if FEG's relationship with Fuji TV increases over the next year. I also expect a really strong push internationally, as K-1 has always built strong foreign stars and Alistair Overeem is a huge, hot prospect right now and could help propel DREAM and K-1 into the stratosphere in the USA over the next year.