Sunday, March 18, 2007

Big Announcements in April?

photo by Yoshinori Ihara (
By Shu Hirata

In Japan everything starts in April. New TV dramas, new semester, new fiscal year on April 1st, every school, and business in the country holds this ritual called 'enrollment ceremony' or 'initial ceremony.' The place for celebration among winners who fought their way through grueling entrance exams or company entrance examinations. These ceremonies are sometimes bigger than graduation ceremonies because it is the time you get to receive the honor of excellence, or being labeled as mediocre, perhaps B-class. Its the time Japanese generally, tighten their spirit, getting ready for hopefully a good year. Its no different for the MMA industry.

'It is postponed in good meaning.'
On March 15th, at the customary after the general press conference junket session, DSE head Nobuyuki Sakakibara spoke about many touchy issues to reporters including the postponement of the third PRIDE show in Vegas, and Fedor Emelianenko and bodogFIGHT. The first issue Sakakibara talked about was the 'postponement' of the third PRIDE Las Vegas show originally scheduled on April 28th. 'After the successful show in February, we analyzed to see if we can come back to Thomas & Mack Center in two months to do even a better show. But we realized that it would be difficult for us to come up with The Main Event we really want at that time, we have decided to re-adjust the schedule. Beginning with a California show at the end of June, we are looking to do a show in Las Vegas and New Jersey.'

Then Sakakibara shifted to the bodogFIGHT issue, revealing that the DSE staff is now negotiating with Fedor, 'He wants to fight in Russia. I heard he said, 'If PRIDE can come to Russia that would be great.' But on the other end, Fedor's-side is telling us that he also wants to fight in the M-1 show promoted by Red Devil. Normally, under the contract, he would not be allowed to do that but I have already informed Fedorfs-side that we are prepared to discuss the situation.' He then added, 'It's an extreme thought but Fedor could be fighting in The Main Event of the PRIDE show in Russia, that can be a possibility. In about a week also, we should be able to reach some result.'

While PRIDE is maintaining the attitude that they actually do have the exclusive rights to Mr. Emelinanko's service, the posters of 'bodogFIGHT: Fedor Emelianeko vs. Matt Lindland' is already all over the key states of this country such as Miami, Texa, California, and New York.

Then around the beginning of March, another rumor circulated in the MMA story, and it was again about the UFC, but this time regarding the possibility of being the largest shareholder of DSE and therefore influencing decisions of PRIDE matchmaking. Some even analyze that they have reached some sort of agreement and for a year, the current management stays but afterwards, Zuffa, is taking over the DSE management. At this point, all of them are just rumors and maybe its just out there because one of the top officials of DSE told key fight medias in Japan that DSE is making a big announcement in April. A big press conference in April, well what does it really mean? Itfs very customary to do something in April to give a momentum to the new fiscal year. This actually doesn't mean that PRIDE is making any announcement regarding something to do with the UFC. Apparently people in the industry believe itfs going to be big and if it is that big, everyone is just assuming that it has got to be something to do with the UFC. So what is this 'big' announcement going to be? Our source in South America is telling us that DSE staff is in Curitiba trying to negotiate a new contract of both Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua and Wanderlei Silva his week. What does it mean?

Another Announcement in April
Another organization in Japan just mentioned that their big announcement is in April, of course, K-1. FEG head / K-1 Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa told the reporters early this week that they are ready to make a big announcement in April in regards to the first K-1 HERO'S show scheduled for June. This is going to be their first MMA show in the states, and it was originally scheduled for February, and after two postponements, it seems as though they finally settled for June, perhaps in Los Angeles. This is a big move for K-1 considering that their roster is extremely weak at this point. Norifumi KID Yamamoto is still concentrating on, a slim chance, but a possible 2008 Peking Olympic, and on top of that, he is injured. Genki Sudo is not only retired but also left his management company Super Agent, and the rumor is circulating that he may be thinking politics. Bob Sapp looks like he is now with Cage Rage, so what do they have to offer to the states? Also everyone in Japan knows that its almost time for Master Ishii, the founder and the most powerful man in K-1, to check in to the jail cell for tax evasion so K-1 has to do something big and fancy to make a minimum impact of the bad press they are going to receive from the Japanese mainstream media. In a country where now public compliance is a huge issue for national TV stations, April, is a crucial time for K-1.

Antonio Inoki
Does anyone remember this man? He was at the very first show of the IFL, and before everyone noticed, he had some ex-body builder running his team Tokyo Sabres. On March 14th, Inoki officially announced that as of April 1st, he is starting a new martial arts promotion called Inoki Genome Federation. (IGF) The head of organization is none other than Anotonio Inoki but other executives and staff are still unknown till this date. The only prediction we can make at this point is that his son-law, Simon Kelly Inoki, just revealed his resignation from New Japan Pro-Wrestling's president post, probably to join his father in-law's new promotion. Besides this, no one knows what is going to take place with this new project by Mr. Inoki. All we can tell at this point, is that everyone is making big announcements in April.

No comments: