Friday, March 7, 2014

What lies ahead for Japanese MMA in 2014

Shooto's main promoter, Sustain, runs Vale Tudo Japan (VTJ) as an upper-tier MMA promotion now, and the most interesting bout at their recent event, Yuta "Uruka" Sasaki vs. Teruto "Yashabo" Ishihara, became Fight of the Night. Uruka scored a choke-out win over Yashabo. After the fight, Uruka called out Shintaro Ishiwatari. On the other hand, when Kim Soo-Chul knocked out Motonobu Tezuka, his training partner Yashabo said he was going to fight Kim. I am curious to see whether a match will be made between them.

Yuta Sasaki

Hideo Tokoro vs. Will Campuzano became a controversial decision at VTJ 3rd. After an official argument against the decision was denied, Tokoro and his team refused to fight for VTJ in the future if the problem was not resolved. This argument also led to Shooto's official authority, Toshiharu Suzuki, refusing to referee at VTJ 4th because that judging problem hurt the Shooto Commission's image. Therefore, VTJ invited Larry Landless to come to VTJ 4th not only to referee but also to open a seminar to explain the Unified Rules to Japanese officials.

Hideo Tokoro

We learned recently that World Series of Fighting has affiliated with Pancrase. If you follow Japanese MMA news, you can watch the press conference with SRC Entertainment. WSOF Japan will be run by Pancrase president Masakazu Sakai, but SRC Entertainment is also involved. So will the new organization perhaps be known as a revived Sengoku or SRC?

At the press conference, we were informed that SRC Entertainment is no longer related to Don Quijote, which was the main sponsor for Sengoku, but SRC Entertainment will take part in running events for WSOF Japan and will also distribute classic Sengoku and SRC fight videos. At same press conference, Ray Sefo announced that the first WSOF Japan event will be in August or September, and Emi Fujino will participate in that event.

Finally, DEEP promoter Shigeru Saeki has said that he wants to hold a New Year's Eve event because right now only IGF does a NYE event with MMA in Japan and it's not a pure MMA event.

Shooto, Pancrase and DEEP are each trying to hold bigger upper-tier events and adapt more to American ideals, and that is the theme of 2014's Japanese MMA scene.

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