Friday, December 13, 2013

Will Chope interview

After the Tohoku earthquake happened in 2011, there were many people who stood together in a charity effort and that included the MMA community. Many Japanese and international efforts helped Japan. I assisted with Tony Loiseleur’s report on how Shuichiro Katsumura stood for Tohoku earthquake charities.

On November 8, typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines and more than 5000 people became victims. The city's many structures were crushed by the storm. I know that Shuichiro Katsumura already donated to the Philippines and many fighters including Shinya Aoki and Ryo Chonan have talked about donations for the Philippines on Twitter. Mark Munoz and Brandon Vera have also tried to help their fellow countrymen.

I thought about who is the best fit to encourage people to support the Philippines and I realized that one person stood out from the rest: Will Chope, who recently got picked up by the UFC. He is the first UFC fighter ever who has a primary gym based in the Philippines. He is not Kababayan (Filipino), but he is based in South East Asia and has matured his skillset. He talked with me about his career in South East Asia and about how the people of the Philippines need help. Will has taken a new step in his career with the UFC and Filipino people need new steps for their lives as well, but they need help in order to do so.

(note: After We know Will Chope had incident when he was young, we decide close link to donate for red cross.I say there is nothing wrong with donation. But I don't want people misunderstand what we intent. We really thankful about what people did when link exist and hopefully continue to support natural disaster's damage for future. )

You are the first UFC fighter whose training is based in the Philippines. As an American, what motivated you to train in the Philippines or elsewhere in Asia when the United States has larger MMA events and bigger gyms?

I have been living in South East Asia for the last 3 1/2 years. I first came to Thailand to learn Muay Thai, then ended up traveling around and have based my camps out of Malaysia, Taiwan, as well as the Philippines also. I consider Baguio City, Philippines, my home in Asia, but I am constantly traveling around. The Muay Thai in Thailand and Boxing in the Philippines is the best in the world, so I have always enjoyed living and training in these parts. I prefer living in South East Asia because the people are just more warm, and the cost of living is low enough to where I can live off of my fight purses.

What is your life like when you are not training and fighting? Do you enjoy other sports or sightseeing when flying to other countries for training? Please talk a bit about your life outside of MMA.

Outside of training, of course I enjoy traveling and seeing the sights and experiencing the cultures in the different places I live. Also, I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife is Thai and we have a son, so it is good to travel to new places with them. She has taught me a lot about Thai culture and the language, so I feel every day I learn something new about life in Asia.

Please tell us about your team and your coaches who teach you striking and grappling, as well as your teammates whom you spar with. You, Mark Striegl, A.J. Lias Mansor and Yuji Hoshino all come from different countries. How did you meet them and form your current team?

I am originally from the United States but have spent the last 4 years living in different parts of Asia. My training camps vary, but I spend most of my time at Phuket Top Team in Thailand or training with Mark in Baguio. Here in Phuket, I have Andrew Leone who coaches my wrestling and BJJ, and I have two striking coaches. Piotr Leib, I work my boxing with. I am lucky also to do a lot of Muay Thai work with Thai trainers here, and I have Boyd Clarke who works with me to put everything together.

As far as Team Buffet, we are like family. Mark Striegl started the team and I joined when I went to live with him in Baguio City for 9 months. Then when we went to Malaysia we met AJ Pyro, and Yuji Hoshino was Mark's long-time coach from when he grew up in Tokyo. We are four very different fighters, each with unique skillsets, and we’re all based at different camps/countries. Every couple of months, two or three of us will meet up and train together and we always have at least one member helping to coach or corner us in a fight.

Who is the best prospect in South East Asia besides you, and which part of his or her game impresses you the most? 

Mark Striegl and Andrew Leone. Both guys have phenomenal wrestling and ground games. I expect them both to be signed by the UFC very soon.

You had six fights in 2011, ten in 2012, five in 2013, and you’ll have your 25th career fight when you make your UFC debut on January 4th. That is quite a large number of fights for someone still early in his career. How has that affected your skill improvement? Experience is obviously beneficial, but what about other factors such as damage taken? Also, do you need to fight that often in order to make a living in MMA in South East Asia?

When I first started training Muay Thai and MMA, it was back in 2010, and after a couple months of training I had my first fight and went pro. Looking back, I was very naïve and overeager to fight and was not ready at that time, but at the same time I believe my experience fighting has definitely made up for the time I have spent training compared to other fighters. I have had 52 pro fights total in MMA, Muay Thai, K1, Sanda, and Boxing combined. I love to fight and wanted to fight, but also living out here young and on my own with no college education, it was the only way I could earn money. I fight for mine and my family’s income. I am lucky to make my passion a career, but in doing that it also adds extra pressure. For when I lose, my whole family fills the impact. And as far as injuries, I would be lying to say that 52 fights in 3 1/2 years hasn't taken a toll on my body, but at the same time I am lucky to not have suffered any severe injuries.

In your last fight against Pancrase champion Takumi Nakayama, you showed that you could adapt well by using your frame and strength when grappling offensively and defensively, but Nakayama managed to get inside of your range and he landed some solid shots on the feet. What do you feel are your primary strengths as a fighter and which areas do you feel that you need to improve upon now that you are fighting in the UFC?

I need to improve everything, to be honest. I have won a lot of fights just by fighting awkwardly and by being the tallest fighter in the world in my weight class. I am blessed with a decent chin and a willingness to engage and always walk forward, but I do need to improve my boxing, wrestling and BJJ a lot.

Your upcoming opponent, Max Holloway, is a striker who likes to throw combinations and flying knees. What is your opinion of Max and how do you see this fight going? Without giving away your game plan, what would be an ideal scenario for you in victory?

Max is an interesting fighter. He is super tall and lanky like me and has crazy standup. Ideally, I'd like to choke him out fast and make a statement and show everyone I am ready for the UFC.

The Philippines was recently devastated by Typhoon Haiyan and the country still requires a large amount of support for citizens who were affected. As the first fighter based in the Philippines to fight in the UFC, could you please talk about what the Philippines means to you and what the MMA industry and audience can do to aid in the relief and reconstruction efforts?

I have Filipino family in Baguio City and many close friends in different parts of the country. I am grateful that none of them were affected by the Typhoon, but there were so many people who were affected and many who lost their lives. Filipino people are some of the nicest, warmest and most welcoming people you could ever meet. The Philippines to me is my home in Asia. So I ask that if anyone is interested in helping the Philippines and the affected families of the Typhoon, please donate to the Red Cross so that they can continue their ongoing support in rebuilding.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Japanese MMA had rough monthes from September to October

This year, September and October had many large local MMA shows in Japan such as Pancrase 252, VTJ 3rd and Tribe Tokyo Fight, but I have found many recent faults in JMMA.

First, we saw ridiculous decisions with Shinji Sasaki vs Bogdan Cristea and Marlon Sandro vs Yojiro Uchimura. If you see the fights, there seems to be no way to justify those decisions, but honestly I can find logic behind them.

Damage is always favored in the judging criteria in Japanese MMA. That started with Pride. When compared to the United States, Japanese fighters generally have a tendency to take and land more damage because it is essential for the judging criteria.

I won't go into balancing damage versus point-scoring here because it is apples and oranges and everyone has a different opinion. Also, it is true that sometimes judges don't judge by damage.

Pride era fighters went forward to brawl or take opponents down after suffering damage from strikes because it erased the impression of receiving damage in the judges' minds. Each attack has a degree of damage, but how can we compare different kinds of damage or completely different things like positioning?

In the one example, Sasaki jabbed Cristea for the entire fight, while Cristea knocked Sasaki down once and otherwise landed no major attacks at all. Sasaki's jab was effective and he bloodied up Cristea, but I think the judges gave the fight to Cristea based solely on damage during the one brief time period.

Shinji Sasaki

With Sandro and Uchimura, it was a nearly even fight in the striking, but I gave a slight edge to Uchimura because of his middle kicks. However, Sandro took Uchimura down for scoring purposes, and while he did not mount much offense from the top, it was enough to win him the round. The judges totally ignored the takedown and gave the round to Uchimura.

The extreme focus on damage in Japanese judging criteria does not work for MMA, and that was confirmed after watching those two decisions. I even thought that Sasaki's jabs did more damage than Cristea's one knockdown did, so if damage was so important, Sasaki still should have won.

Also, at Pancrase 252, Jordan Currie choked out Shungo Oyama by arm-triangle. Referee Ryogaku Wada did not hear the bell ring for whatever reason and he did not separate the fighters until after extra seconds had elapsed. When Wada finally separated them, Oyama was out cold. The officials realized that extra time had passed, so they discussed the situation.

Check out Dean Marchand's report for more details about this problem.

After time had passed, Pancrase officials announced the result of their discussion and declared that Jordan Currie had won by TKO at 5:00 of the first round. They confirmed that Oyama appeared to be unconscious at 4 minutes and 58 seconds

As well, many fighters missed weight during September and October. At Pancrase 252, it was Dom O'Grady and Daniel Swain.

Hayato "Mach" Sakurai realized that he could not make weight before his fight at "Mach" festival and tried to make a catchweight contract with Shamar Bailey two weeks beforehand. After his flight and the rule meeting, Bailey demanded that Sakurai cut weight and that resulted in the immediate cancellation of the fight.

In Shooto, Brian Choi missed weight against Akitoshi Tamura. Akitoshi got angry about this and pointed out that, unlike other organizations, Shooto does not have any rules in place to punish overweight fighters besides warning them that they will be suspended if they do it again.

Akitoshi Tamura

At Deep Jewels 1, Sadae Numata defeated Celine Haga. The problem was that Numata came in overweight for that fight and still got a title shot against Seo Hee Ham. Fighters who miss weight should not get that.

From my standpoint, I blame the fighter who missed weight when it leads to controversy and arguments with others because it is the source of the problem.

Lastly, at VTJ 3rd, Megumi Fujii fought Jessica Aguilar in a rematch. Aguilar thumbed Fujii in the eye twice in the first round and that was enough for Megumi to lose sight in her eye for the rest of the fight.

After more than 15 minutes of rest, Megumi strongly appeared to want to fight on and the fight did eventually continue. She said she knew that if the doctor said the fight should stop then there was no other way, and she understood that, but I was against it that day.

I think the fight should be a no contest since there was no fault by Megumi. Audiences are supportive about whatever injury conditions there are, and organizations shouldn't go against the laws of sports for any reason because that defines part of the value of sports as a whole.

I don't think that all Western MMA sports perspectives are better than Japanese MMA perspectives, but the past several months have been too tough for Japanese MMA lovers. I have never witnessed this many rough months from a sports perspective during all of the years that I have followed JMMA.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

DEEP Cage Impact 2013 get international IPPV

DEEP Cage Impact 2013 IPPV official purchase web

Finaly Japanese MMA organization DEEP which have one of most enthusiastic JMMA fans for organization made international ippv debut.UFC veteran Yoshiyuki Yoshida will fight Won Sik Park. Hiroshi "Iron" Nakamura who is only Japanese fighter contract with Bellator will fight Yusaku Nakamura."Iron" Nakamura is stull on Bellator contract but he get accept for this DEEP appearance.Toshiaki Kitada who is most known for submit former Bellator champ Zach Makovsky face Takafumi Otsuka.Also we get UFC and Pride veteran Akihiro Gono and Kazuhiro Nakamura for this card.Price is 1500yen (approx 15 USD) If you want get it continue, enjoy live event and chat with other JMMA fans, no chnace to miss it.

Hiroshi "Iron" Nakamura

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Details of the deal between WSOF and Pancrase

Pancrase just announced a new business deal with World Series Of Fighting, the third-largest MMA promotion in the United States, which means that Pancrase CEO Masakazu Sakai will start up WSOF Japan with the new license agreement. WSOF Japan will hold WSOF events in Japan, and they can also run events like "Road to WSOF."

Pancrase Fighters

Also with this deal, Pancrase has changed itself. The promotion will use a WSOF-style cage and Unified Rules for its numbered series events. Kings of Pancrase (champions) automatically have the right to fight for WSOF. Upper-tier ranked fighters can also fight for WSOF with permission from Pancrase.

Japanese fighters must go through Pancrase in order to fight for WSOF, but Pancrase fighters will still have the freedom to choose to fight for another major organization (UFC or Bellator) in the United States if there is an offer.

Explain deal at video (Japanese)

I examine this type of decision because, in Japan, most organization leaders aren't willing to risk trying to expand their promotions' notoriety to fans and other promoters outside of the country.

Sakai is working hard in that regard both inside and outside of Japan. That should earn him praise because most Japanese MMA promoters normally don't even try to do so. They just continue to shrink their organizations.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tribe Tokyo Fight get international IPPV

Tribe Tokyo Fight IPPV official purchase web

Suddenly Ryo Chonan's retirement event decide do international iPPV.I hope if Japanese organization do such a thing, announce it earlier and send press release to major MMA web.Price is 1500yen (approx 15 USD) But that Ustream channel name as DEEP's official channel.So if you want increase chance to watch DEEP at real time,I think its not bad investment.Also It have one of later year's flyweight battle. You know Mamoru Yamaguchi vs Yoshiro Maeda will be fun.

Ryo Chonan

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

VTJ 3rd get international IPPV

Vale Tudo Japan 3rd IPPV official purchase web

For a long time, I have hoped that Japanese MMA promotions would provide an opportunity for international audiences to directly watch JMMA events in real time. I know that the fans are passionate about JMMA even if they can't always show their support for it.

I do think that better competition makes for more fun, but I also like the history that details the evolution of a fight. Megumi Fujii, who has had a long fighting career, is a representative of that theme. She struggled to get recognition for Japanese fighters among the international MMA world, and that situation made her more determined to make her own career even stronger.

Megumi Fujii

Fujii had a winning streak (22 fights) that no other WMMA fighter has ever had. She is also known for her extraordinary submission skills. Fujii continued to develop herself by adopting States-side MMA techniques and styles. She improved her striking skills dramatically and began using her jab to properly pressure her opponents, which is something that is sometimes not even seen among male fighters.

VTJ and Shooto promoter Sustain has finally decided to do an international iPPV for Megumi Fujii’s retirement fight against Jessica Aguilar on October 5. This will hopefully lead to regular iPPVs for future events. Watch and tweet during the event to show support and enjoy yourself.

VTJ Fight Card (Include Aguilar Uno, Campuzano, Tokoro, Sasaki)

SKILL MMA's Jessica Aguilar interview (2011)

SKILL MMA's article about Female MMA History

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Japanese MMA fighters' title history in the international scene

Japanese local MMA's history well achieved compared to other countries.But what they done at other countries.Unfortunately, Japanese MMA fighter never achieve major MMA title outside of Japan.But they did get belt at local organization.If you're hardcore long time MMA fans.You can feel nostalgia and discover at this list.

Masanori Suda Super Brawl MW champ against Egan Inoue

Takumi Nakayama King Of The Cage LW champ against Charlie Kohler

Takumi Nakayama

Hatsu Hioki TKO FW champ against Mark Hominick

Hatsu Hioki

Masakazu Imanari Cage rage FW champ against Robbie Olivier

Mamoru Yamaguchi King Of The Cage Junior Flyweight champ against Frank Baca

Shinya Irei Fury MMA LW champ against Ryan Dunstan

Shinya Irei

Shungo Oyama Road FC MW champ against Hae Suk Son

Yusuke Kawanago Legend FC FW champ against Xian Ji

Yusuke Kawanago

Kotetsu Boku One FC LW champ against Zorobabel Moreira

Kotetsu Boku

Shinya Aoki One FC LW champ against Kotetsu Boku

Koji Ando Legend FC LW champ against Jadamba Narantungalag

Michinori Tanaka PXC BW champ against Crisanto Pitpitunge

Koji Oishi One FC FW champ against Honorio Banario

Koji Oishi

Kengo Ura MMA World Series WW champ against Brad Terry

Shunichi Shimizu Bushido FC FW champ against Yerzhan Estanov

Hirotaka Yokoi HOOKnSHOOT AFC Absolute Fighting Championships LHW champ against Wilson Gouveia

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Richer Flyweight Scene for Latter Half-Year of Japanese MMA

Japanese flyweights have received attention for quite a long time because no such division existed in other countries, and the quick movement that is only provided by lighter weight fighters has charmed audiences recently.

We've regarded Shinichi Kojima, Yasuhiro Urushitani and Mamoru Yamaguchi as the "Top 3" flyweights in the local scene. No other Japanese fighters could threaten them, but now foreign flyweight divisions have grown and developed to become more challenging.

Shinichi Kojima

Shinichi Kojima lost to Jussier Formiga. Yasuhiro Urushitani entered the UFC with confidence and said that he would match up well against Demetrious Johnson, but he went winless in the UFC.

Urushitani also became upset when Mikihito Yamagami said that he wanted to compete in the UFC next year after Yamagami choked out Junji Ito, but after watching this year's VTJ 2nd when Yamagami won a decision against Mamoru (Urushitani's long rival), Urushitani became more interested in Yamagami and said that he was a good fighter.

Mikihito Yamagami

As I watched DEEP 63 Impact, I was curious about how Yuki Motoya would fight. Compared to opponent Tatsumitsu Wada, who has already fought major names like Daiki Hata and Takafumi Otsuka in DEEP, people saw Motoya as untested against highter level opponents.

Yuki Motoya

When I watched the fight, however, I was certainly impressed by Motoya's performance and his ability to use a variety of kicks and combinations against a better boxer. He lost a close decision, but when we think about his age (23), we can still expect him to be a solid prospect.

Tatsumitsu Wada is young (24), too, and he will have many challenges from veterans. Yoshiro Maeda, who beat Wada in August 2012, will drop to flyweight. As will leglock-oriented fighter Masakazu Imanari. With those moves, I feel that flyweight will become DEEP's most interesting division.

Masakazu Imanari

On October 20, at Ryo Chonan's retirement event "Tribe Tokyo Fight," Yoshiro Maeda debuts at flyweight against Mamoru Yamaguchi. Hideo Tokoro also makes his flyweight debut against Will Campuzano at VTJ 3rd at October 5.

Hideo Tokoro

Many veterans have chosen to move to flyweight in order to find new success, but younger talent has begun to rise up there as well. This makes for interesting matchups in Japan during the latter half of 2013.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sneak Peek into the Alliance Square with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka

What are you reminded of when you hear the name Tsuyoshi Kohsaka? The win over Fedor by cut stoppage? His fight against Bas Rutten with a prejudicial referee during the SEG era?

I must point out that with "The Alliance," Kohsaka made up the very first MMA team that was comprised of fighters from different backgrounds, like Maurice Smith and Frank Shamrock. They taught each other how to be complete MMA fighters.

I was asked about personal grappling training in Japan, and my customer was interested in catch wrestling grappling when I suggested a Japan-esque training opportunity. So I recommended the "Alliance-Square Gym," which is run by Tsuyoshi Kohsaka.

Kohsaka offers quite a few services in personal training. He teaches details of leg locks, as well as his created and trademarked move, the "TK scissors," which he used to escape from mount position against Kimo.

Kohsaka is also known for his technical commentary during Japanese UFC broadcasts, where he can teach details of both catch wrestling and cage fighting at the same time.

Big Thanks to my anonymous customer, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka for cooperate.Robert Sargent (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Japanese MMA video list by organization

There are many free fight videos available online that have been posted by Japanese MMA organizations in order to increase their presence in the rest of the world. These are legal to watch. Some are classic fights, while others are designed to build up new prospects.

Normally, people's primary interest is in bright prospects who have the potential to win fights on the international scene. At the same time, fighters who compete locally for many years and finally win a Shooto or Pancrase title can also produce excitement and drama for fans who may not have seen them before.

Also, local JMMA organizations' belts have history within them and fighters want to be part of that. It may not be top league on the local scene, but the basic fun of watching MMA is always there, and watching fights from other countries can sometimes compel us to plan trips to travel there.

Hopefully people will watch these videos and buy event DVDs or come to Japan in the future to watch a JMMA event.

Official Event Videos:
Deep - Nagoya Impact: Kobudo Fight 2012/03/25

DEEP Flyweight Tournament Fights Takeshi Kasugai vs. Takumi Murata

DEEP Flyweight Tournament Fights Yuki Motoya vs. Akito Sakimura

DEEP Flyweight Tournament Fights Akira Kibe vs. Takashige Hirukawa

DEEP Flyweight Tournament Fights - Naoyuki Kato vs. Hirotaka Miyakawa

Deep - Nagoya Impact 2012: Kobudo Fight 2012/07/22

DEEP Flyweight Tournament Semi-Finals: Akira Kibe vs. Akito Sakimura

DEEP Flyweight Tournament Semi-Finals: Yuki Motoya vs. Naoyuki Kato

DEEP Flyweight Tournament Final: Yuki Motoya vs. Akira Kibe (starts at 1:05:00)

Deep - Nagoya Impact: Kobudo Fight 2013/05/05

Sotaro Kojima vs. Akira Kibe

Deep - Nagoya Impact 2014 2014/2/9

Naoki Inoue vs. Gaku Sakamoto

Shooto - Border: Season 3 - Roaring Thunder

Akihito Ishihara vs. Kenji Yamamoto

Shooto - Border: Season 4 - First

Akihito Ishihara vs. Jong Hoon Choi

Shooto - Border: Season 4 - Second

Kenji Yamamoto vs. Kosuke Eda

Kentaro Watanabe vs. Nam Jin Jo

Shinji Sasaki vs. Kota Shimoishi

Shooto - Border: Season 4 - Third

Masaaki Sugawara vs. Junya Kodo

Shooto - Border: Season 5 - First 

Yosuke Saruta vs. Kentaro Watanabe

Shooto - Gig North 6

Bae Young Kwon vs. Daisuke Ishizawa

Shooto - Gig North 7

Fumihiro Kitahara vs. Junya Kodo

Shooto - Gig Central 20

Yuta Sasaki vs. Shinji Maeguchi

Shooto - Gig Central 24: Love and Courage

Takasuke Kume vs. Shane Nelson

Pancrase (Miscellaneous Fights)

Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs. Takuya Eizumi

Satoru Kitaoka vs. Paul Daley

Carlos Condit vs. Tatsunori Tanaka

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sex and Death in a Man's World

When I watch interviews on TV, fighters often talk about their parents' deaths and about having a rough life. This is set up by TV producers to try to target the audience's emotions.

Of course, we have an interest in what a fighter's life is like. A fighter being human is why we take an interest in MMA. Fighters aren't robots, and covering their training, philosophies and sacrifices is an essential part of what MMA media does.

Lately, it has become more common for MMA media to cover emotional fighter stories on a regular basis. If there is an opportunity to use a personal story to make money and further one's career, whether about the death of a relative or about who dated whom, many fighters will take it.

People are interested in sex and death, which is natural because everyone is born because of sex and everyone will die in the future. I'm not surprised that many female MMA fighters do sexy photo shoots, but they are mostly just catering to the demands of male fans.

Martial arts create violence and injuries. Because of that, sadistic and masochistic emotions are quite common. When fighters and the audience face emotions like that, sex and death become more frequent talking points in the media.

I don't think that fighters must act like "normal" men and women. Human beings can develop any image for themselves that they like. MMA already provides enough interesting personalities that we don't normally see.

We encounter female MMA fighters with a variety of personalities in MMA, but those fighters are surrounded by a male audience in a man's world.

I want competition and performance to have a greater value because that is the core of sports, but demand for sex and death results in fewer discussions about competition. In that regard, I don't think that fighting sports are the same as other other sports and I know that there can be a lack of humanity in this community.

I feel that media should be prudent about how much we talk about sex and death. Websites, TV and MMA organizations can affect how fans perceive fighters and that can have a significant impact on the fighters' careers.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Marlon Moraes interview

I recently interviewed Marlon Moraes, who is a World Series of Fighting rising star. In this interview, I asked about the use of kicks. Recently in MMA, with good sprawls and footwork, kicks have become a bigger part of the striking game. After watching Josh Thomson vs. Nate Diaz, I became more interested in that.

I asked Marlon several questions with that in mind. Some answers were as I expected but others were not. That is the fun of an interview. I hope you enjoy how my outlook and Marlon's intersect here. Of course, he surprised me with his unexpected charm.

- You learned striking from Mark Henry and kicks make up a key part of your striking style. You used your kicks often in the Miguel Torres fight, but never got taken down even when he caught them. What are your thoughts on using kicks and still maintaining good takedown defense?

Actually, I first learned striking with my coach from Brazil, Anderson Franca, who was with me for 15 years. I have been working with Mark since my Torres fight and I’m learning a lot every day. He is an amazing coach and person, and he is now my head coach. My thoughts about kicks and keeping good takedown defense are that I’ve kicked all of my life and kicks are a part of my game. How can I stop kicking? We are mixing it up with kicks, boxing, wrestling and BJJ, but for us the timing is very important. The time after the kick; speed and movement.

- Despite Torres’s long reach, you outstruck him by using angles and a variety of strikes. Is being unpredictable an important part of your striking game?

Yeah, it is. I have been working every day, because I know that a good MMA fighter has to be ready in all areas of the fight. If your opponent doesn't know what you are going to do, he’ll be in trouble.

- In recent times, the jab has become a more clear way to control fights on the feet, but some fighters include kicks to control the exchanges because they provide a greater reach than punches. Do you think that this trend will continue in the future?

I don't know. In my opinion, if you have a good jab you can control the fight.

- Please tell us about Valor Martial Arts. In New York where you train with Ricardo Almeida, Mark Henry and Frankie Edgar. In Florida, you train with fellow Brazilian Edson Barboza, but who is your main coach there?

Valor Martial Arts is a new gym in Palm Beach Gardens. I teach kickboxing with Edson and we have Raphael Chaves, who is Checkmat's black belt, running the BJJ program. We are growing and hopefully we can get some more training over here. When I am in New Jersey, I train at RABJJ for MMA sparring and BJJ. At Mark's, I do boxing, and Frankie does help me with wrestling sometimes at Elite, Hoboke and Rutgers.

- You train your grappling with Ricardo Almeida, who is an excellent teacher, but your last loss came via submission in 2011. How much has your grappling improved since then?

I did make a couple of mistakes in the past, but I’m working hard every day here in Florida with Raphael Chaves, Pablo Popovich and Vagner Rocha. And also, when I’m in camp, Ricardo is helping me every day. I’ll be ready wherever the fight goes.

- You got married last year. How has that affected you as a fighter and a person?

We have been together for six years, and living together for three. Izabella is my best friend and she is my number one supporter. I'm so happy and I think without her everything is harder.

- What is your favorite non-sports activity? Favorite book and music?

Movies, the beach and eating good food. Falcao Meninos do Trafico, and my favorite music is Brazilian Rap (Mv Bill, Racionais, Pregador Luo, etc.), Reggae and Gospel. I like lots of types of music.

- You have fought and beaten Miguel Torres and Tyson Nam, who are well-known in the fight world, and you are now one of the World Series Of Fighting’s first stars. However, you have not fought in a WSOF main event yet. Do you think that you deserve main event status when you return to World Series Of Fighting or would you first like to build up a greater name recognition by fighting more former UFC fighters?

I have my dreams and I’ll be training hard to get there! Right now, whatever WSOF decides, I’ll do.

- Joe Murphy, Fabio Mello, Chris Beal and Carson Beebe are all on the World Series Of Fighting bantamweight roster. Do you have a special interest in facing any of them? Is there any other fighter you would like to face in World Series Of Fighting or are you mainly interested in fighting UFC talent in the future?

I don't know. Carson Beebe is fighting on the next show against another guy. I think it makes sense to have me fight against the winner in the August 10 main event. lol.

Marlon Moraes Official Twitter

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sneak Peek into the P's Lab with Yuki Kondo

I received mail again from a customer who was wanting to do some personal training with fighters. Last time, it was regarding a kickboxing gym, but this time it was for MMA.

I brought my customer to P's Lab, which is the gym for the Pancrase organization, and arranged for the customer to train with Yuki Kondo.

P's Lab

JMMA fans commonly associate Rumina Sato as a symbol for Shooto, and Yuki Kondo is that symbolic person for Pancrase. Early Pancrase did not have weight classes and Kondo took many fights against opponents who were much bigger than him.
These days, Kondo's performances look poor because of the damage that he has incurred over time, but he remains an active fighter for the Pancrase organization. Even in the worst of times, he continued to compete for Pancrase and won championships in multiple divisions.

P's  Lab

When I asked Kondo why he didn't make his own gym, he humbly said, "I'm not good at teaching." However, I heard my customer say that he had never been instructed with so much detail before. I was also impressed by Kondo's spirit of service and humbleness while I translated between him and my customer. My customer paid 10,000 yen ($100 USD) for two hours of personal training. $60 USD plus expenses ($40 USD this time) for my guidance and coordination fee. I don't believe that you can get a deal like that in the United States. Kondo teaches striking combinations, takedowns, sprawling, positioning, submissions and a special grappling session.

Yuki Kondo

 I recently talked about Japanese MMA's prospects and future because I felt that it was not discussed enough in the Japanese scene, but I also respect historical fighters like Kondo. Not only for his legacy but also for his personality. I hope that people don't forget that fighters who fall out of major promotions still have a life after that, and many of them still contribute to MMA and local MMA businesses.

Submission Wrestling Greats

Pancrase has struggled financially for long time, but now, finally, Pancrase's new leader Masakazu Sakai has decided to offer Pancrase events on international online PPV at Ustream. This also provides opportunities for foreign fighters to make a name in the Japanese scene like they could in the old Pancrase. Since Sakai is now more inclined to sign foreign fighters with this decision to use online PPV, I hope that international Japanese MMA fans will support it. While I don't think that this first PPV card is the best that Pancrase can offer, international Japanese MMA fans have waited a long time for this opportunity. The PPV (Live May 19. Can watch recorded video until June 18) link is here:

Big Thanks to my anonymous customer, Yuki Kondo for cooperate.Robert Sargent (MMA Rising) for English editing.

Friday, April 26, 2013

End of circus

In Japanese MMA, fighters who are really good at one technique or style tend to receive a lot of support and applause from the audience. As well, fighters who are able to make quick changes to their game that influence how fights go will also receive praise.

I have talked in the past about how the fight game has really changed, with striking pressure now defining how and where a fight goes.

For the most part, Japanese MMA fighters specialize in grappling, and they need striking skills or they will be relegated to "local" status and be stuck fighting on small cards. With the exception of Shinya Aoki (who has a terrible chin, however), no other grappling specialist has really succeeded in changing his or herself into a more complete fighter.

While grapplers have struggled, Japanese strikers like Takanori Gomi and Takeya Mizugaki remain at the top of the sport in the UFC. Both have shown improvement in their striking pressure, sprawling and ability to get back to their feet, and that is simply because they have a core style that can be built upon and developed.

I feel that fighters need to be able to continuously develop their skills and core strength(s). If they can't, and if opponents can shut down their strong points, the fighters will abruptly drop from prominence in the sport.

I have brought this up because local Japanese organizations need to evaluate fighters based on which ones have the potential to move on to bigger shows.

Many fighters take a stand to defend themselves for their own benefit, which is completely understandable, but organizations must judge them based on what they can do in the future. So I mention the need for promotions to gauge how quickly and steadily fighters can improve their styles, and whether they can identify their strengths and weaknesses.

I believe that Japanese MMA needs to invest more in young talent and advise them on how to construct a style that can be continuously developed throughout their entire careers.

That's not to say that I don't respect historical fighters that had skills that were geared more towards entertainment value for the fans, but we need to invest in new fighters and determine which ones will be future stars. This is the time to change our focus towards building the new generation.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent (from MMA Rising) for English editing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 JMMA schedule

Every year in Japan, the MMA event schedule is held in a pattern. At the beginning in January, things don't look very active, and promotions try to build their way up to bigger events during the later part of year.

Here, I will break down this year's JMMA schedule.

First, Dream will stay with Glory at the Saitama Super Arena. Not many details have been released yet, but the kickboxing portion of the event will be separated. Other than that, not much is known.

For Shooto, they have started up VTJ again. I don't know how often they can hold these events in larger venues. They would like to have two or three events per year. If they hold two, April-May would work for the first VTJ and October-November can be used for the second VTJ if old patterns remain.

Shooto holds its annual rookie tournament every year. I recommend that foreigners watch the rookies at Shinjuku Face, where the Shooto Gig Tokyo events take place. Other regional events like Border, Shooto Gig Central and Shooto Gig North also have some of the tournament fights.
Shooto's Shinjuku Face events also include the Infinity tournament, which is designed for Class B shootors to step up to Class A, where fighters compete for three rounds instead of two.

The rookie tournament's early stages are also held in Osaka (Border or Shooto Gig West) or Nagoya (Shooto Gig Central), and the tournament final event at Shinjuku Face showcases the top Shooto rookies from the year.
Shooto rookies like Horiguchi and Tanaka fought at Shinjuku Face, won the tournament excitingly and then stepped up to bigger events at Korakuen Hall. Shooto's Korakuen Hall events still serve as most JMMA fighters' last step before signing with a major promotion.

Shooto can't offer enough money to make a living as a pro fighter only, so most fighters defend their belts a few times and then return them. Still, many young fighters nationally and internationally who love the sport will chase this tradition to become a major fighter.
Shooto's Vale Tudo Japan shows are caged events with unified rules. Last year, they brought in the Tachi Palace Fights champion to face Shooto talent as a test to see how close the Shootors were to being ready to fight for a major promotion.VTJ 2nd will hold on June 22nd, Tokyo dome city hall.

Pancrase normally holds its events at Differ Ariake. I recommend attending events if LW champ Isao Kobayashi and BW champ Shintaro Ishiwatari are fighting on the card.

Isao Kobayashi

This year's Pancrase schedule also includes a bigger event on September 29th that will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pancrase. The event's venue, Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, can seat 5000 people and we should see some great matchmaking for that event.
Pancrase is focused on bringing in foreign fighters in order to keep its events relevant, which is an interesting approach. They cooperate with AKA, Wand Fight Team and Cesar Gracie Fight Team. You can now see talented fighters from those teams in Pancrase.

Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium

DEEP constantly holds shows at Korakuen Hall with Dream dropout fighters. They will also hold a bigger event on April 26th when Satoru Kitaoka challenges for the LW title against Daisuke Nakamura, and Sengoku and Bellator veteran Dan Hornbuckle challenges Yuya Shirai for WW title. Also, Tatsumitsu Wada and Yusaku Nakamura fight in a flyweight title eliminator at this event.

Yusaku Nakamura

Generally, the bigger MMA events in Japan always take place in December. Dream's NYE show, of course, and also local organizations' landmark events. However, if you plan a trip to Japan during the rest of the year, check out the Sherdog Fight Finder for event listings and pick a good time to visit.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent (from MMA Rising) for English editing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Breakdown of Michael Chandler vs Rick Hawn at Bellator 85

When you looked at the Michael Chandler vs Rick Hawn matchup on paper, did you expect that much domination from one fighter?

Looking at the fighters' styles, Chandler is the quicker athlete while Hawn has more power in his hands. In the fight, Chandler pressured with strikes and takedowns before Hawn could get settled. Chandler's striking pressure and takedowns did not blend together quite as well when he fought Patricky Pitbull or Eddie Alvarez, but when he fought Hawn he completely avoided Hawn's jab by controlling the distance at all times.

There are critics who state that Chandler's hands are too low when he fights, but guarding is not the only way to avoid punches. When you control the distance, you can avoid strikes. Also, Chandler having his hands lower had the additional benefit that he could better watch out for Hawn's punches. Because Chandler controlled the distance, it meant that he did not have to be worried about Hawn's striking when he went for takedowns. Chandler had the best motions for takedowns because he did not get hindered by Hawn's striking.

 I've pointed out Chandler's changes, but I also want to point out that Alvarez changed his style against Shinya Aoki for a more distance-based fight in their rematch.

Of course, I am interested to see whether Alvarez can go to the UFC and have fights there, but the changes that both fighters have made will make up an interesting aspect of a Chandler-Alvarez rematch if it happens. Also, Aoki himself recently scored a victory with strikes that were mixed in with a takedown attempt.

The lightweight division is rapidly improving and has the most depth of any weight class in MMA.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent (from MMA Rising) for English editing.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Japanese MMA scene Fighter to watch out 2013

I write annual up and coming Japanese MMA fighters to stay on the look out for. Specifically I focus on those outside of the major MMA organizations.

Kyoji Horiguchi

Horiguchi went 3-1 in 2012, including his biggest win to date against Ian Loveland. His game is not without holes, however. When he's taken down, he normally tries to defend against submissions and works at his opponent's pace.He's a bantamweight with a flyweight frame, so it's harder for him to defend takedowns with a sprawl. He either has to control the distance completely or bank on his opponent having poor takedowns.

Michinori Tanaka Vs Russell Doane

Michinori Tanaka

From a grappling perspective, Tanaka is ahead of all other Japanese MMA rookies. His 2012 campaign saw him fight just two times, as many Shooto Class B opponents and even some Class A fighters did not want to fight him.Because of that, Tanaka and his management chose to sign with Pacific Xtreme Combat. Tanaka defeated Russell Doane with chain grappling in his PXC debut in November. He has power, but he needs to work on making fewer mistakes while he builds up cage experience. He'll next face Joe Taimanglo at PXC 35.

Shintaro Ishiwatari

One of the most enjoyable local fights of the year took place in September when Ishiwatari faced veteran Caol Uno. Ishiwatari knew how to control the fight. His distance, takedowns and striking were all well-coordinated.Ishiwatari's style most closely resembles the current American fighting style. His gym, Cave, is worth checking out and is also home to standouts Mizuto Hirota and Ryuichi Miki.

Ayaka Hamasaki vs Lacey Schuckman

Ayaka Hamasaki

Hamasaki was active in 2012 and picked up a big win against legendary opponent Yuka Tsuji. While it is unfortunate that the fight happened so late in Tsuji's career, Hamasaki still dominated with better wrestling skills.Hamasaki was also successful in her cage debut at Invicta FC 2 in July. She tested herself in the cage environment and that was a smart decision. Previously, her career had been developed in Jewels, where a ring was used for all fights until very recently.
Hamasaki closed out the year with a win against Emi Fujino, who had more power than her, but Hamasaki showed a nice variety of wrestling and positional skills. She was able to counter Fujino's strikes with takedowns and controlled the grappling exchanges.After a strong 2012 campaign that included the two fights in a cage, it is likely that Hamasaki will continue to have a bright future in international competition.

Mizuki Inoue

Known for her sensational striking skills as a rookie, Mizuki Inoue had two MMA fights in 2012 and also won the 53.5 kg division of the Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup. She is still best-known for her striking, but has also worked hard to improve her ground game.All of Inoue's MMA victories, including 2012 wins over Hyo Kyung Song and Alex Chambers, have come by way of armbar submission. Whether she stays in Japan to face the upper tier of Japanese female fighters - such as Mei Yamaguchi and Kyoko Takabayashi - or travels abroad, we will see interesting challenges ahead for her.

Isao Kobayashi

"Isao" debuted in 2008 and belongs to the Sakaguchi Dojo, which is led by Yukio Sakaguchi. Because Sakaguchi's father, Seiji, is a pro wrestler, fans were skeptical about how serious Yukio and his gym really were. After Yukio's hard-fought bout against Kotetsu Boku, however, the Sakaguchi Dojo attracted more attention.At the time, Pancrase had interesting lightweight prospects and they staged a grand prix for a lightweight title shot. Kobayashi won the tournament and went on to defeat champion Koji Oishi in a rematch, avenging his only loss in the process. He also holds a TKO win over Kazuki Tokudome, who will join the UFC this year.
The UFC offer to Tokudome first went to Isao, but Sakaguchi Dojo has a conservative plan for building Isao. Ideally, he will get more experience training and fighting in a cage if he chooses to maintain a conservative plan before joining a major promotion like the UFC.

DEEP Flyweights (photo is Tatsumitsu Wada)

Last year, flyweight Yuki Motoya was crowned as the youngest DEEP champion at 22 years of age, but he has tough oppositon ahead of him in the near future. DEEP bantamweight contender Tatsumitsu Wada has indicated that he plans to drop to flyweight and he has his sights set on the championship.As well, another bantamweight contender, Yusaku Nakamura, is also considering making the move down to flyweight. This means that there is a strong division developing. We must see where these flyweights become ranked on the regional scene, but it is shaping up to be quite interesting.

SKILL MMA : Japanese MMA scene Fighter to watch out 2012

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing.