By Zach Arnold | December 31, 2010
Today’s Dynamite event at Saitama Super Arena can be summarized by the following: the less said, the better. OK, how about… the show got the “Sengoku” treatment and an attendance figure wasn’t initially publicized? Or, maybe we can talk about Kazushi Sakuraba’s ear. Picture of Sakuraba giving a speech after his ear injury.
(Seems to me we’re on a path for one Japanese fighter to lose an ear each year.)
For what it’s worth, both heading into the event and reviewing today’s show, Sakuraba did not garner a lot of media attention this year. The ‘lead’ story, if you want to call it that, was Satoshi Ishii getting booed by the fans and essentially looked at as an uncharismatic goof. He’s got a Brock Lesnar thing going for him in that some people will watch him on TV but less people will pay a lot of money to see him live. OK, not a great analogy, but you get the point. The day before his fight against Jerome Le Banner, there was discussion of Ishii wanting to get into Hollywood. Yeah, you could see where this was going with the fans. After his win over Jerome Le Banner, Ishii said that he wants to fight anywhere (in Japan or in a foreign country).
According to Nikkan Sports, a Strikeforce offer for Ishii in March (for Columbus) is now on the table. While it’s not expected that Ishii would fight in the 2011 SF Heavyweight tournament, the paper claims that the promotion would be open to have him involved.
Speaking of Hollywood, Tadao Yasuda showed up for an in-ring ceremony with Antonio Inoki. Yes, my friends, this was the second headline in the Japanese press from the show… for Tadao Yasuda doing ‘a run-in’ and Inoki laying on the mat.
The most deliciously absurd story from the fight card was the okama Yuichiro Nagashima knocking out Shinya Aoki in 4 seconds of R2. It was a bizarre fight where round one was kickboxing rules with small gloves and round two was MMA rules with small gloves. Aoki agreeing to take the fight was strange enough, but the fact that he lost in the manner in which he did was karma for some of the things he’s done in his past career. The problem for Nagashima, however, is that Aoki is not a star in the eyes of Japanese fans so while the win is a big moment for him, I don’t know if it’s a star-making moment.
(See: when Kazuo Misaki dispatched of Yoshihiro Akiyama and where that led him, which is nowhere.)
A minor story from the show is that Bob Sapp backed out of his modified rules fight against Wakakirin at the last minute. Since it was a ‘no TV’ match on TBS, it’s not as if a lot of people were shedding tears.
Crusher Kawajiri dispatched of Josh Thomson in a fight that unfortunately was not as competitive as I expected it to be. This fight, along with Hatsu Hioki vs. Marlon Sandro, were the two fights that I was looking forward to watching the most. I bring up Hioki vs. Sandro because the Japanese fans and media treated the fight with the same kind of importance that someone would treat a boxing match on an ESPN2 Friday Night Fights card. Meaning, only a few hardcore fans paid attention and the media either didn’t cover the result (like Daily Sports) or covered it in a very minor fashion. There was even one paper that elected to go with Kazuo Misaki’s win over Mike Seal as a top story over Hioki’s win over Sandro. The Sengoku show at Ariake Colosseum with 28 fights was not set up to financially do well, but I was told the attendance was somewhere between 4,000-5,000. It’s not a great number to have publicly out there if you’re running a building like Ariake Colosseum, but given what Sengoku’s drawn in the past at Ryogoku Kokugikan, they should have just gave out a figure.
10 years ago, promoters couldn’t rush out fast enough to give out attendance figures of 40,000+ for New Year’s Eve shows. Now, you can’t get the media to give you a worked attendance figure.
Truthfully, the one foreign ‘ace’ on the Dynamite show was Alistair Overeem and he was given Todd “TRT” Duffee as his opponent. Alistair wanted the fight for a DREAM Heavyweight title and his wish was granted. If you’re wondering where Alistair’s career focus is, read this amazing article by Tony at Sherdog and let your doubts about his Strikeforce reign be… reassured. Of course, the major flaw in Alistair’s career plan is that it goes out the window if K-1 collapses. Then, Strikeforce becomes the easy one-night-stand to go back to at any time.
Putting that aside, Alistair had an execution to attend and the victim succumbed very quickly. Let’s read what the participants had to say.
First, Mr. Duffee:
How did you feel about your fight? “Well, obviously, I’m extremely disappointed. I feel like I’m a much more talented fighter than I got the chance to show. Not to take anything (away) from Overeem, I think he’s an incredible, incredible fighter. I was just disappointed, you know. I wanted to come out and put on a great show, exciting show for the fans but you know obviously I wasn’t prepared. You know, I think I trained seven days for this fight and it definitely showed.”
Any regrets for taking the fight on short-notice? “No, I don’t regret it at all. It was a great opportunity to fight in Japan. It’s been a dream of mine. I hope that, you know, it maybe opened the door for me to come back here and show that I have a much, much better skill set than what I put on display tonight. There’s no regrets, you know. It happened. You just got to move past it and I’ll definitely be back. I just wish that I could have showed the skills that I know that I have and the people that train me and train with me know that I’m capable of to the Japanese audience. But, you know, I don’t think the seven days notice is even an excuse. I just, you know, for whatever reason I didn’t come out and do what I’m capable of, even close. Again, not to take anything away from Overeem, you know, he’s an incredible fighter. I definitely think I have a lot more to offer than that. I know I do, you know, I think he knows that, too, and you know I think anybody that’s trained with me knows that. It’s very frustrating to, you know, I think I got a little overzealous and I kind of opened up a little too much, got too excited. I was very excited to fight in Japan. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever been through for a fight. The fans here are incredible. They really love and really truly understand the sport and I think I just got so, you know, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had, too, building up to a fight. It’s just one of those things, you know. You make mistakes, you fall down, and you get back up. I’ll definitely, I just I hope I get the opportunity to show what I’m capable of to the Japanese audience and the rest of the world.”
What is your intention next? In the future, you want to keep fighting in Japan mainly? “Yeah, definitely, I want to fight everywhere, but Japan, like I said, it’s one of the greatest audiences in the world. I definitely would like the opportunity to come back and just show my skill set to the Japanese people. Like, you know, I came out there, I haven’t even seen the fight, but I know like I could feel the way that I was doing some things, lack of technique, when I looked you know like I regressed five years from, you know, where I’m at as a true professional fighter and I’d definitely like that opportunity to show them. I’ve had dreams of fighting in K-1, I’ve had dreams of hopefully getting more MMA fights here as well. You know… I just did not do what I’m capable of tonight and it’s very frustrating. I think it’s more frustrating if I had gone out and Overeem would have beat on me for three rounds and shown that he is the better fighter or whatever, but I don’t think I gave myself the opportunity to show the world and Japan what I am capable of and not even what I am capable of but what I am. It’s probably the most frustrating way things could have gone for me.”
In closing, Mr. Overeem:
What did you think of your fight tonight? “Yeah, when I was in the ring, everything was automatic. Of course you know a little what you do and prepare a little bit but it goes really fast and so I didn’t know what the fight looked like, but I saw it back on tape and I was very pleased. It was a very effective fight, very effective knee strike(s) and my knees are hard, nobody can take one of my knee strikes. Not in K-1 and also not in MMA.”
What is your impression of Todd Duffee? “Todd Duffee is a strong guy. He’s very aggressive, in all of his fights I could see that he always goes for the knockout, so in that sense he’s the same as myself. Always want to finish his opponent and I believe he wanted to do that in this fight as well. He came very aggressive, very hard, I felt his strength and his strikes but… I’m too experienced for people to be that aggressive and with my K-1 experience nobody can surprise me with that aggressive attack. I’m just not worried and I know how to handle it and I’m very strong, very strong in the counter-attack and people cannot survive my attack so I just feel really confident and I feel that it shows that I’m confident going into any fight with anybody.”
You won your third title in addition to Strikeforce and K-1. What do you think about it? “Well, I’m very proud, very proud of myself and my team and I do have to stress the fact that it was a team effort. My team is very strong in supporting me on every factor and that pays off. I can focus fully on the fight and fully on training. So, I’m very proud of becoming the DREAM champion today and I’m ready to defend it against anybody. So, anybody in the world, anybody who is listening, please come and challenge me in the DREAM ring and I will defeat you.”
You have any names of people you want to fight? “I don’t have any preference. All my goals for 2010 are met. I became champion for three different organizations: Strikeforce, K-1, and DREAM tonight. There’s nobody who I want to fight. They can come to me. They can challenge me and I will always accept.”