Shinya Aoki's Blogs
Primer: Strikeforce 'Nashville'
By: Jake Rossen
With the dissolution of Pride and much of the big-ticket Japanese scene, the UFC has experienced virtually no major defections of talent in the past five years. Tito Ortiz threatened, but eventually relented; Fedor Emelianenko, the highest-profile missing person, was never theirs to begin with.
What is remarkable about Saturday’s Strikeforce card (their second for CBS) is that it will feature the first Zuffa-endorsed, highly-visible, highly-competitive athlete to walk away from that promotion.
Dan Henderson, while not nearly the draw of major UFC stars like Brock Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre, has still benefited enormously from the UFC’s promotional pull. His appearance against Michael Bisping at July’s UFC 100 was seen by a record 1.5 million pay-per-view households; The Wrestling Observer estimates 16 million people in total watched that event. He also notched a free-TV title merger (a loss) with Quinton Jackson in 2007. The only thing he missed was “The Ultimate Fighter” coaching position. To some minds, that’s probably a good thing.
Henderson now becomes a rare entity for a competing promotion: a face already familiar to fans. If he draws attention and becomes a dominant champion, Strikeforce’s investment will be seen as strategic and worthwhile. If he siphons energy from the crowd and tosses a brick, they’ll be mocked -- especially by Dana White -- as free-spending failures. It’s a lesson in how fragile the MMA business really is: any executive lauded for their deal-making is still at the mercy of the guys in the ring. Read more
Poll: Aoki-Melendez Outcome
By: Mike Fridley
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CBS Adds Strikeforce Promos to Weeklong Programming
By: Loretta Hunt
File Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
CBS will step up its efforts to advertise its Saturday broadcast of Strikeforce “Nashville” with additional 30-second promo spots airing in commercial slots around its top-rated shows all week.
A 30-second “I Am a Fighter” spot featuring Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will air during breaks for Sunday’s “Undercover Boss,” which has been the No. 1 rated show in its timeslot for the last month, averaging 13 million viewers each week. Additional spots featuring middleweight champion Jake Shields and his April 17 opponent, Dan Henderson, will be added throughout the week.
A CBS official told Sherdog.com that the commercials will promote the “human interest” angle of all three fighters. Melendez’s spot will focus on his close relationship with his father, who has managed and cornered his son for years in the sport. Melendez defends his Strikeforce title against Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki on Saturday.
CBS began airing advertisements for its second Strikeforce broadcast during the NCAA basketball tournament, which began on March 16.
Strikeforce “Nashville” airs on Saturday live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., beginning at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST. Read more
In Defense of Aoki
By: Jake Rossen
Photo Courtesy: FEG Inc.
I do not envy fighters, who are expected to be barbaric enough to twist and torque each other’s limbs until screaming or surgery is imminent, but not so barbaric they can’t hug afterward. The line between respect and sadism is a mile wide, yet they’re expected to navigate it in a matter of moments. Tough gig.
Occasionally, some deeply disturbing behavior will leak through. We’ve seen it in B.J. Penn (licking an opponent’s blood off his gloves), Renato Sobral (holding on to a choke for a beat too long), and Mike Kyle (hitting after referee intervention). The post-fight adrenaline dump responsible for these actions is also at fault for last week’s display of callousness by Shinya Aoki, who bent Mizuto Hirota’s arm until it snapped and then pranced around the ring in glee --stopping only to hover over Hirota and shove a middle finger in his face. This is not the kind of footage you hope ends up on “SportsCenter.”
And yet I suspect that some of us were entertained by it because it broke up the banality of post-fight camaraderie: hugging, smiles, hand-raises, back-patting. Aoki did not cause any further harm to Hirota after the fight was called; Aoki’s body -- like most fighters -- was racked with endorphins. He was more or less intoxicated. If he spent two or three days reflecting, then traveled to Hirota’s hospital room to fling a bedpan at him, I’d be more inclined to assign fault.
The upside for those disturbed or annoyed by Aoki’s juvenile reaction is that he’s the minority: most fighters are respectful and congratulatory. (Some, like Fedor Emelianenko, appear to have no chemical reaction at all, which is almost equally alarming.) So what if Aoki’s a big jerk? It’s all part and parcel for this sport’s appeal: you can like the villains, or you can wait for someone to kick their tail. In an arena where you can get your face caved in at any time, no bad deed goes unpunished for very long. If you think Aoki has got one coming, you’ll almost certainly be satisfied. Read more
Dream 11 Preview: Hansen vs. Aoki
Dream 10 Quoteworthy
By: Tony Loiseleur
TOKYO -- Below are some choice quotes post-Dream 10 that were not included in the notebook on the front page:
“I respect Aoki very much. I like his style of eliminating his opponent’s strengths while asserting his own to get submissions. I’d like to face him -- my striking techniques against his grappling techniques. It’ll be one-hit kill meets certain death grappling. If the fight happens, it’ll be very exciting. I think that the next goal is to participate in the New Year’s Eve event. If I need to fight one more fight before New Year’s Eve, I’ll do it. I think it might be rude of me to challenge him, so maybe I should fight and win a few more fights before I face him. But if this fight is indeed offered to me, I would certainly take it.” -- Katsunori Kikuno on the prospect of fighting Shinya Aoki
Aoki Faces Hansen Oct. 6; Kawajiri Looms
By: Tony Loiseleur
SAITAMA, Japan -- Shinya Aoki defeated Vitor Ribeiro by unanimous decision at Dream 10 on Sunday at the Saitama Super Arena and did so largely on the strength of his stand-up.
“Muay Thai is interesting, right?” Aoki asked the crowd to a chorus of boos. “Yeah, I expected boos. In October, I’ll have a title fight, and on New Year’s Eve I will have my revenge.”
Aoki’s cryptic remarks were later confirmed by Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara, who revealed that Aoki will meet Dream lightweight champion Joachim Hansen on Oct. 6 in what will serve as the rubber match between the two.