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.