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Is Japan an MMA colony now?

Daniel Herbertson isn’t just an awesome photographer, he’s also become a great addition to MMA Fighting’s ever growing dream team of correspondents. His role there is to break down the Japanese scene so us gaijin can understand wtf is going on over there, and he’s been doing it with interviews – first a two parter with Sengoku’s former matchmaker (he was pretty full of shit), DREAM’s executive producer (also quite full of poo) and now with fight agent Shu Hirata. A lot of these conversations revolve around what’s wrong with Japanese MMA scene, and here’s Shu responding to Shinya Aoki’s claim that his loss in Nashville makes Japan an ‘MMA colony’ of America:

You know, I’ve had dinner with Aoki so I know him and I think he is a good guy but I am going to say something very critical because I like the guy. Who the hell do you think you are? Really, who said that you are the representative of Japan?

While he was taking a safe path, the guys like Yushin Okami, Ryo Chonan, Akihiro Gono, Yoshiro Maeda, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, Keitaro Nakamura, Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Mitsuhiro Miura, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Takeya Mizugaki and recently Takanori Gomi, and of course, many others, bravely stepped up and went to the real “Major League” called the UFC/WEC. Sure only few of them are still surviving in there but these guys are the fighters that carried the Japanese flag on their shoulders.

All Aoki did was, walked on a safe, glorious path created by DREAM and fought in Strikeforce, which is not necessarily the certified “Major League” of MMA. He is not walking on the tough road. Its like while Ichiro and Matusi are playing in the MLB, he was making a special appearance in some Canadian or Carribean baseball league. So for him to say Japan has become a MMA colony of the States just because he got beat by Melendez is a big insult to guys like Okami, Mizugaki and Yoshida who are still fighting and winning enough to stay in the big leagues.

That’s such a surprisingly honest assessment that we can let slide the fact that Yoshida isn’t in the big leagues any more (he just got cut yesterday). Plus it’s worth noting that all the Japanese guys left in the ‘majors’ are toiling around in the middle. Aoki was the only Japanese guy topping people’s rankings – he was like Japan’s last great hope that their best was on par with America’s best. Melendez routed him so it did kinda officially put Japan in the colony / bitch / whatever role.