Dan Herbertson gives us an update on the new Japanese promotion that seems like it’s supposed to be a replacement for the nearly terminal DREAM and Sengoku:
The new promotion spearheaded by former Pride FC president Nobuyuki Sakakibara and former Pride FC vice president Hiroyuki Kato is gaining momentum as the pair have moved into an office in Shibuya, Tokyo and have started to flesh out the details of their Spring event.
It has been decided that Kato will be the face of the promotion while Sakakibara will be working behind the scenes due to Sakakibara’s past legal issues and the plan at this stage is to have the event at either JCB Hall or Yoyogi No. 2 Gymnasium.
The event will be called something along the lines of “Japan Cup – Bantamweight GP” and will include several fighters that fought under the DREAM banner and obviously a bantamweight tournament. DREAM champions Shinya Aoki and Hiroyuki Takaya and top lightweight Tatsuya Kawajiri were being targeted, but have since been lost to Strikeforce. The loss of Aoki is quite surprising as Kato has personally been paying Aoki for his fights in DREAM.
With his jump to Strikeforce, Aoki seems to have decided to stop entrusting his career to people who make him fight cross dressing kickboxers. He’s set to return stateside on April 9th against our favorite ‘rescued from drug addiction by MMA’ fighter, Lyle ‘Fancypants’ Beerbohm.
As for former PRIDE head Sakakibara, eeeeeeeeh. Yes it would be nice if the same sketchbag promoters who ran Japanese MMA into the ground the first time around would just go away so a new crop of players could magically emerge. But we’re into month three of the year and the Japanese fight scene is still about as active as the front page of Fightlinker. If it’s a choice between nothing and the old gang, then I guess the old gang is preferable to nothing…