Kazushi Sakuraba's Blogs
Japan’s Big Plans for New Year’s Eve
By: Jake Rossen
How desperate is Japan’s fight scene right now? In addition to repeated reports of foreign fighters getting slow or no-paid, events being postponed or cancelled, and big stars either fading or retired, there’s mounting evidence that promoters are increasingly becoming dependent on the success of one show; FEG, which houses K-1, is rumored to be chasing mostly-retired Sumo Chad “Akebono” Rowan for a New Year’s Eve fight with Kazushi Sakuraba. This is the kind of thing P.T. Barnum would have a moral objection to.
The micro issue in Japan is that Pride is no longer around to drive competitive matchmaking, salaries, or employment -- and without that pageantry, few fight fans in Japan are getting excited about the content of Dream, Deep, Sengoku or Shooto. MMA is a fringe sport in the country that once hosted fights compelling to a mainstream audience: that was thanks to pro wrestlers, Judo players, and actors. But in the wake of Pride’s Yakuza scandal, networks aren’t falling over themselves to strike up relationships with promotions. There’s not much of a pay-per-view market, and live shows aren’t so spectacular that they can fill up 40,000 seat arenas.
It’s no coincidence that Japan’s slip from the international scene coincides with the sport’s popularity growth in the States over the past three years. Many of Japan’s favored athletes --Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Filipovic, Fedor Emelianenko -- were able to get competitive salaries here; those that stayed (like Sakuraba) are operating in decline.In business, a lack of consumer demand usually means scaling back operations. In the case of the UFC’s pre-Zuffa blackout period of the 1990s, it meant running only a handful of shows a year with low-watt undercards. But FEG continues to pursue the big-budget plans. If Akebono were a Band-Aid until other funding comes in, that’s fine. But Japanese promotions don’t tend to be long-term planners. Read more
All Dream 16 Fighters Hit Weight; Mayhem Touts Magic
By: Tony Loiseleur
NAGOYA, Japan -- All fighters on Friday made weight for Dream 16, set to take place on Saturday at the Nihon Gaishi Hall. A middleweight attraction between two fan favorites in Strikeforce veteran Jason Miller and Kazushi Sakuraba will be prominently featured in the promotion’s first primetime effort on the Tokyo Broadcasting System.Read more
In typical “Mayhem” fashion, Miller goofed around at the public press conference by belting out mangled Japanese words and phrases in response to fan questions. In not so many Japanese words, Miller asserted that he had magic in his hands and arms, indicating a confidence in his submission prowess and striking.
In somewhat of a break from the persona, however, Miller respectfully gave the legendary Japanese mixed martial artist his due, commenting to local media about how Sakuraba’s bouts against the Gracie family in the early 2000s were a personal revelation of the paradigmatic shifts in store for the sport’s future. Despite his respect for the Japanese veteran’s creativity and “magic,” Miller asserted he has no qualms with beating Sakuraba, jokingly likening the fight with the storied vet to beating up his own father.
A Long, Slow Bleed: Sakuraba, Liddell and the Business of Fading Fighters
By: Jake Rossen
File Photo: Sherdog.com
There is an enormous amount of knowledge to be found inside the heads of fighters like Kazushi Sakuraba and Chuck Liddell.
Unfortunately, they’d both have to be dead to retrieve it.
Eventually, neurologists will be able to autopsy a number of brains taken from deceased mixed martial artists and evaluate the damage done by spending a life immersed in loosely-organized violence. Already, the hints are not encouraging: football players, boxers and pro wrestlers whose brains have been studied post-mortem have physical deformities in line with Alzheimer’s patients. While MMA has virtually no mortality rate to speak of, this does not mean its participants are necessarily going to enjoy their old age -- particularly when fighting remains a constant in their lives well past any reasonable cutoff.
In that department -- and others -- Liddell and Sakuraba have obvious similarities. Both men were perceived as the top-lining star of their respective companies; both men spent a period of time where their skills were so far elevated above the competition that they appeared capable of sustaining that status; both were beaten into new roles as aging attractions. Neither man appears ready or willing to enter a new phase of life, even as they each turn 41 before the end of the year.
Liddell has been knocked out in three of his last five fights. Thanks to his headhunting style, he has undoubtedly absorbed significant punishment even in winning efforts. On the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” his speech runs loose. Words become coagulated and his tongue slips in unintended directions. Because he is persistent, he will fight again June 12. Because he is famous, no one will tell him no. Read more
Dream 12: Sakuraba, Overeem, Alvarez Get Cagey
By: Jake Rossen
If you had trouble sleeping Saturday night and happened to possess the attention span of someone with a gun to the head, you could’ve watched virtually eight hours of prizefighting with a tandem UFC 104/Dream 12 marathon. One session like that and you’d be ready for a job as an EMT: nicely desensitized.
Dream aired on HDNet in the early-morning hours Sunday with big names throughout, but none in any particular mood to be fighting one another. Alistair Overeem, looking like he has ingested the 2003 Alistair Overeem for the proteins, sunk in a trademark guillotine choke against James Thompson; in the newest chapter of the world’s slowest public execution, Kazushi Sakuraba took another few years off his life by eating several flush punches to the head courtesy Zelg Galesic before securing a kneebar. Not an even trade; Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez survived a demoralizing first round -- and gave Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney some slight palpitations -- before getting an arm-triangle submission against Katsunori Kinuko.
Bouts for the event were held in a white circular cage, a departure from most Japanese events using a ring: eventually, Dream will adopt Michael Buffer and possibly ring girl Edith, and the bizarro world will be complete. Read more