Shinya Aoki's Blogs
Strikeforce Post-Mortem: Shields, Melendez and the Brawl to End it All
By: Jake Rossen
One of the best get-out-of-jail free cards is tenure. The longer you’ve been around, and the more you’ve dug your heels into a relationship, the more leeway you have to screw up.
A fart on a first date is bad. A fart after three years into marriage is just another Thursday.
What happened in the closing moments of Strikeforce’s second CBS telecast Saturday comes without the security of long-term placement. CBS, burned once by the bizarre behavior of EliteXC employees, found itself devoting primetime minutes to Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, and a dozen other Cesar Gracie shirts descended on Jason Miller after shoves were exchanged and egos bruised. It was awkward, ugly, and hard to recover from.
This kind of schoolyard stuff is not at all out of character for impassioned athletes who are running high on macho-bravado posturing and adrenaline. Baseball teams have swarmed one another; some get rushed with a bat. NBA players have elbowed, kicked, and occasionally assaulted fans in the stands. (Never with bats, but give it time.)
Ball sports, however, have the benefit of history. We’ve never known a world without basketball, football, or boxing, and the idea that any few individuals could sink a national pastime is never given any thought. The sports columnists will scold the offenders, the footage will get some airplay, and it’s business as usual within the week. Boxing can even kill its participants (three in 2009 alone, if you’re keeping track) without much fuss.
MMA does not have this luxury. As a result, scenes like this -- which, if we’re being honest, are entertaining in their absurdity -- do nothing to enforce the idea this is an activity that deserves to occupy the public consciousness. Instead of offering perspective on his impressive, gutsy comeback win over Dan Henderson, Shields is instead left to explain why his site of victory turned into a scene from “West Side Story.”
MMA is still very much in the courtship stage of its relationship with the sports world. As of Sunday morning, it ran out of gas on a pretty major highway. Read more
Aoki: Result ‘Says Everything’
By: Brian Knapp
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki did not mince words when asked how his lopsided defeat to Gilbert Melendez reflected upon the state of Japanese mixed martial arts.
“The result of the fight says everything,” Aoki said through his translator.
Dominated for five rounds, Aoki had no answer for Melendez in the Strikeforce “Nashville” co-main event on Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena. A 28-year-old Cesar Gracie protégé, Melendez bullied him standing and on the ground, shredding the guard of one of the sport’s most feared ground fighters with tactical offense and savvy positioning. Aoki entered his stateside debut as the consensus number two lightweight in the world, the weight of a nation resting upon his shoulders.
“A lot of people may say Japanese MMA lost,” Aoki said. “I will train hard and hopefully be back. I lost completely.”
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker called the matchup, which resulted from a co-promotional effort with Japan’s Fighting and Entertainment Group, a “milestone” in mixed martial arts history. Aoki’s immediate future carries with it some certainty, as he expects to defend his Dream crown against Tatsuya Kawajiri this summer. Beyond that, he admits he would welcome a second crack at Melendez, perhaps in Japan.
“At this moment, I’d like to face Gilbert again,” said Aoki, who had not lost a decision in nearly five years. “I want to be a better fighter, so Gilbert will say, ‘I want to fight against Aoki again.’” Read more
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.