If you wanna understand a little bit why big-time MMA in Japan is in such a rut, look no further than a fight that was just announced today for DREAM.16 on Saturday: Minowaman, known for his red tights and mullet, versus Satoshi Ishii, known for winning an Olympic gold medal and being a former national hero.
Okay, truthfully I’m not 100% sure about the ‘former’ hero bit … he did recently announce his plans to basically defect to the USA so he can join the Olympic judo team, which I assume is like telling a Japanese person you’re planning on tying up their kid and raping them with an octopus. Actually, I’m not 100% sure that would upset a Japanese person either. But you get the point.
On a purely entertainment level, the fight ain’t bad. Ikuhisa Minowa is one of Japan’s last decently hot MMA fighters, based completely on his pro wrestling shtick and his willingness to fight giants. But Satoshi Ishii was the guy who was supposed to save Japanese MMA. Having him fight your go-to sideshow attraction is … well, it’s just stupid.
Ishii is a heavyweight. Minowa is generously listed at 190 pounds, which if he actually fought in a serious promotion would have him competing as a welterweight. If Ishii loses (and hey, Minowa is a 84-fight veteran versus Ishii’s 2-fight record), he looks even worse than he did when he lost to old jowly judoka Hidehiko Yoshida. If he wins, then he’s just a big bully who just smashed one of Japan’s most likable guys.
And then there’s the fact that this fight has literally come together 3 days before the event. Minowa’s original opponent, James ‘Puss Ear’ Thompson, was in a plane somewhere over the Pacific on the way to Japan when it was announced. The fight is obviously a last second hail mary to draw interest for the event, but as usual DREAM is so late at putting it together you have to wonder who’s even going to find out about it before the damn thing happens.
It’s just so frustrating. We all remember PRIDE and how awesome big dumb freakshow MMA can be. But when it’s mismanaged to the point DREAM is mismanaging it, it’s no surprise the company is at the mercy of some random Chinese capital firm for it’s survival.