Cooperation Makes for New Year’s Eve Cards

By Taro Kotani Dec 13, 2007
TOKYO, Dec. 13 -- Three additional fights were announced Thursday for New Year's Eve at a joint news conference held by Fighting Entertainment Group and the Yarennoka! executive committee.

Representing the Yarennoka! committee, Keiichi Sasahara introduced Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) versus Hong Man Choi (Pictures), and Kazuo Misaki (Pictures) versus Yoshihiro Akiyama (Pictures). Both fights will take place in the Yarennoka! show at the Saitama Super Arena.

Choi said he had been surprised at the offer. He has fought only once under MMA rules but said he would make the best of the opportunity.

"I talked with Choi about this fight after the K-1 Grand Prix," said FEG President Sadaharu Tanigawa. "He was probably surprised, but we felt that opportunities to fight the best in the world do not come often. It will be a tremendous opportunity for Choi, and I am sure he felt the same. I am anticipating a real battle between the two. Fedor has never fought a fighter as big as Choi. Choi was the Korean sumo champion, and his striking is improving."

Together, Sasahara and Tanigawa explained that Yarennoka! and FEG have committed to forming a coalition in order to bring life back to MMA in Japan.

"In addition to [Gesias Calvancanti], we have decided to send Akiyama and Choi to Yarennoka!," Tanigawa said. "I really believe that these actions show that we are serious about the coalition.

"As for Akiyama, he was hoping to fight Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures), but we could not make it happen. Instead he will be fighting against Kazuo Misaki (Pictures), the winner of last year's PRIDE welterweight grand prix. It will be a battle of champions and it will be a difficult fight for Akiyama.

Akiyama, in his comments, showed respect for his opponent.

"Misaki defeated Denis Kang (Pictures) fighting full rounds, and he is the PRIDE tournament champion," Akiyama said. "I felt my win over Denis Kang (Pictures) was lucky. His win over Kang did not come by accident. I feel he is a much [more] skilled fighter than I am."

Misaki responded by asserting that Akiyama has "a sharp sense of fighting."

Tanigawa also announced Bob Sapp (Pictures) versus Bobby Ologun (Pictures) for Dynamite!!, which will be held at the Kyosera Dome in Osaka.

The rules for the events have not been finalized, but Tanigawa said Yarennoka! show use rules close to PRIDE's and the MMA bouts at Dynamite!! will use HERO'S rules.

Other fighters who will be fighting on New Year's Eve were also in attendance. Hayato Sakurai (Pictures), Shinya Aoki (Pictures), Tatsuya Kawajiri (Pictures), Mitsuhiro Ishida (Pictures) and Hidehiko Hasegawa (Pictures) represented Yarennoka!. Masato, Kazuyuki Miyata (Pictures), Ikuhisa Minowa (Pictures), Yosuke Nishijima (Pictures), Hiroya, Musashi and Masakatsu Funaki (Pictures) were on hand to represent Dynamite!

K-1 Max star Masato spoke on behalf of all fighters at the news conference.

"It is obvious that the market for martial arts as a whole has lessened over the past couple of years," he said. "It is time for promoters and fighters to cooperate and bring back the enthusiasm."

Tanigawa confirmed that he has made offers to Kazuyuki Fujita (Pictures) and Kiyoshi Tamura (Pictures) for Dynamite!!.

Yarennoka!, now with six fights, is scheduled to add another fight or two for its card. The New Year's Eve card will air live on HDNet starting at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT, and will rebroadcast later in the day. Also, Sasahara explained that there has not been any progress in negotiations with Takanori Gomi (Pictures).
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