By Zach Arnold | December 27, 2011
…surprisingly not Viacom purchasing Bellator. In the years to come, this will be a story that has impact.
For 2011, the non-UFC story of the year is the end of K-1 and Kazuyoshi Ishii’s reign as emperor of the Japanese fight game.
You must understand how much this has got to be eating at him right now. I said that last year’s NYE event at Saitama Super Arena felt like a public execution and it turned out to be so. The conventional wisdom in Japanese insider circles is the following — the reason K-1 didn’t get sold to Golden Glory or other parties is because of Barbizon, a real estate company that makes its money largely in Tokyo. One person claimed that Barbizon loaned money to Mr. Ishii and that due to company debts, the trademarks and IP went to Barbizon.
It reminds me of what happened with Gen’ichiro Tenryu’s WAR promotion in the early 90s when the shell company had some problems (resulting in abandonment) and a new company was created with different IP/trademarks. When former FMW President Shoichi Arai committed suicide, he left behind a note saying his death would activate an insurance policy to financially take care of his family. Teikoku Databank, a large financial analytical firm in Japan, didn’t show the name of the creditor listed in records on television even though the debt was allegedly in the $3M USD range. The FMW logo and IP went to the creditor.
Five years ago, the foundation of PRIDE was on shaky ground due to Shukan Gendai’s negative campaign that was largely aided by admitted K-1 yakuza fixer Seiya Kawamata. The golden plan post-PRIDE was for K-1 to control the network television pipeline. If you wanted on network TV, you had to go through Ishii. The plan was simple in theory — you promote a show and assume the liabilities on that front, you get TV access but share the TV revenue with him. However, there were many flaws with the plan.
K-1 had been a strong live house promotion for kickboxing in the 90s and early part of last decade. They knew how to promote mega-kickboxing events. Kickboxing, after all, is not hard for a casual fan to understand in terms of rules. K-1 was never intended to be an MMA play and they tried to capture those PRIDE fans when the promotion collapsed in 2007. Unfortunately for K-1, they failed miserably at attracting the old PRIDE supporters. HERO’s was what it was. Then DREAM came along and it’s backed by former PRIDE employees/supporters. DREAM never pulled in substantial ratings for their broadcasting TV shows, which in turn meant that K-1’s access on network television was tenuous at best. Once K-1 started losing leverage with the TV networks (Nippon TV & Fuji TV), the game was up. A combination of not being good at promoting house shows combined with a lack of new native star power resulted in the outcome that we have today.
It was never supposed to end this way. Sure, Godfather Ishii will come back in one way or another with a new venture… but K-1 was his meal ticket into the world of Japanese celebrity. He loves the limelight and being a socialite extraordinaire. Within the time span of a decade, he’s gone from having Norika Fujiwara & Kyoko Hasegawa hosting his shows on Fuji TV to not even being in the ball game today. He thought the death of PRIDE would permanently solidify his status as King of Japan. Instead, he went from the penthouse to the outhouse.
The larger question in regards to the Japanese scene is whether or not a network television station will ever make a serious commitment to an MMA, kickboxing, or pro-wrestling league ever again. With heavy pressure being exerted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police department, I have some serious doubts about the future role of Japan in the global fight scene (outside of boxing).
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This week’s MMA Link Club featured stories
Five Ounces of Pain: Cameras go behind the scenes with Wanderlei Silva during TUF Brazil announcement
I’m very happy to see that he and his brethren from the PRIDE days are doing well still. I can’t imagine, even five years ago, that those guys would have believed that what’s happening today in Brazil was going to happen. However, that’s what happens when you have a lot of cash to spend and you are backed by the country’s wealthiest man.
With Japan all but finished as a major player, Brazil is the main international playground for the sport.
This is what happens when you run too many damn cards and don’t have enough guys to fill the slots. I’m happy that some of the lower-level Strikeforce guys are getting a paycheck but you can’t ignore what the realities are right now in terms of matchmaking.
The bettors agree, so far, because Nick’s a -140 favorite (7 to 5).
Most ‘crimes’ in MMA take the form of inept judging and flagrant rule breaking, but this past year many professional fighters were caught up in activities that landed them inside of a very different sort of cage. Get ready for a trip down memory lane in our most depressing “booking roundup” of the year. Here’s your run down of 2011’s biggest arrests, convictions, acquittals, and sentencings.
Junie Browning had quite the Christmas in Phuket, Thailand as well.
25 runs… 13 in favor of Alistair, 12 in favor of Brock. That sounds about right.
I’m glad that the mortgage man figured out the numbers and calculated that Jones is the next guy up behind Brock in terms of drawing PPV buys now with GSP on the sidelines. I’d thoroughly enjoy watching Jones thrashing another victim.
“The record is very cool to have, because it separates me from every other human being past, present and very possibly future,” said Ludwig, who will someday explain the importance of his record to his children with pride. “That’s some pretty cool stuff. Each athlete wants to stand out and this is a very big way to do so.”
You should have seen the mob mentality in Indianapolis for the Jordan sneakers. It’s almost as bad as a riot at a Sports Authority store for a Tim Tebow jersey in Denver.
That is fine that people consider Fedor the favorite. And it does not bother me at all that everyone thinks that I am the underdog. Less pressure for me. He is the one who has the most to lose going 1-3 in his last 4 fights.
Trust me, he has as much to lose in this fight as Fedor does. I said this fight would be his golden ticket if he accepted it and he did, so that was at least the right move. However, he has to win. If he doesn’t win and he gets booed out of the building or laughed at, his career in Japan is over. It should have never come to this predicament.
He says his goal is to make it into the UFC and become a champion. OK.
Having the Japanese fans support means everything to me. They are the ones who supported me throughout my career in Judo from the beginning all the way through me winning the Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics. As a Japanese fighter I still want to make my Japanese fans proud along with the rest of my fans around the world.
One year ago, you were booed out of your own country. The fans cheered for Jerome Le Banner fiercely. They saw him as more indicative of Japanese fighting spirit and honor than you… and he’s a gaijin. For the fans that show up this year at Saitama Super Arena, it’s basically in support of Fedor and not in support of Ishii.
His prediction that he will be win by decision is both refreshingly honest and excruciating stupid. He wants to win the fans over and if he wins by decision, people will be pissed at him.
The Fight Nerd: Epic illustration of Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Don Frye is… epic
If you’re looking for newer photos of one Mr. Takayama, click here. He’s got photos of him with one John Stanley Hansen. Plus he has photos of his new restaurant opening called ‘Stomach Hold.’ Yes, it’s in English, and Minoru Suzuki heartily recommends you pay a visit.
On the same night as Shogun and Dan Henderson… November 19th will go down as one of the best dates ever for guts and hearts in the sport.
The decision by Spike to sabotage Bellator on MTV2 by airing old UFC footage on Friday nights opposite Ultimate Fighter on FX is one of the most headscratching moves ever. It’s silly. The only kind of logic you could manufacture for justifying the decision is rather tortured logic in saying that MTV2 attracts teenie boppers while Spike draws from 18-34 year olds, therefore meaning there are different MMA audiences at play. It makes little sense.
As for Fuel and Fox trying to get clearance for the station by making it Zuffa programming all the time… good luck.