Koubousen Companion: News and Notes from Japan

By Jordan Breen Nov 4, 2006
If last week was the calm in terms of organizational activity in Japan, this week is certainly the storm. Left, right and center, promoters are setting the stage for their final efforts of the 2006 campaign.

With the Japanese scene working on all cylinders, November and December may promise a proper punctuation to what was a poignant year in mixed martial arts.

MARS made it through the miscues of MARCHING ON, and now president Yuki Amano has laid out what's next: the second half of the 183-pound tournament. But first MARS has a date in Yokohama on December 22.

ZST has quietly gone about having a great year. It’s developed young talent, imported some of the world's greatest grapplers, and scored a TV deal. But the oddball organization has saved its best for last with a November 23 offering boasting some serious star power.

Shooto has found something special with its G-Shooto Special series. So much so that another card has been scheduled for November 19, with a strong blend of up-and-coming male and female talent. What's more is that Shooto's unisex offerings are gaining both frequency and a facelift for 2007, and it could mean big things for Shooto's up-and-coming femmes.

DEEP is set to make its final impact of the year on December 20, but will it pack the punch the promoter hoped? Two months ago, talk was of a title rematch between Ryuta Sakurai (Pictures) and Ryo Chonan (Pictures), but now there is some doubt on the participation of "The Piranha.” Will Chonan be in the house when DEEP hits Korakuen Hall?

The International Shooto Commission has published their latest rankings. With the fluctuations stemming from September and October, what can we glean from the new Top 10s? The latest ranks may be our road map to some of the big fights early in 2007. Meanwhile, Pancrase has published its latest rankings too, with hardly any movement at all. However, that in itself it just what's so rousing: Is Pancrase snubbing Carlos Condit (Pictures)?

"KID" Yamamoto can never get too far away from the spotlight. Even in his "absence" from MMA, the KILLER BEE bad boy still earned top athletic honors at the MTV Japan Student Voice Awards 2006 this past weekend. He'll be looking for a different sort of token in two weeks time when he makes his official return to wrestling competition in The Big Apple.

What would a week's news be without talk of PRIDE's ongoing plans for Otoko Matsuri? Coming out straight out of left field, the World Boxing Council and Japanese Boxing Commission are none too pleased with WBC 115-pound champ Masanori Tokuyama, who has reportedly been offered to be a part of PRIDE's New Year's Eve extravaganza. Is this manufactured bluster by the bigwigs at Dream Stage, or is North Korea's boxing king really willing to risk his boxing career to step into PRIDE's ring?

And, it is impossible to talk Otoko Matsuri without talking about television deals. Determined to get onto television for New Year's Eve, Japanese sports writer Takao Kondo says DSE want tv asahi for December 31. But, just in case the push of PRIDE doesn't sway asahi, Kondo says DSE has got a surprising Plan B named Tokyo TV.

MARS blueprint 183-pound B-Block; December business

At the conclusion of October 28's event at Ryogoku Kokugikan, MARS boss Yuki Amano outlined the plans for the fledgling promotions in the immediate future.

Amano revealed that despite defeating Myeon Ho Bae (Pictures), Ryuhei Sato (Pictures) and Bryan Rafiq, that Spain's Daniel Tabera (Pictures) wasn't quite MARS' 183-pound tournament king quite yet. Amano said that that the eight-man bracket that Tabera won over the course of two events in August and October was only "Block A" of what MARS hoped to achieve with their 183-pound tournament series.

Amano said that he hoped to start 2007 with another eight-man bracket and determine a Block B champion, who would then face Tabera sometime next year to determine MARS' true 183-pound ace. However, given MARS' struggles and Tabera's soaring stock, it remains to be seen whether the organization can retain the Spaniard's services into the new year.

Amano also indicated that the next MARS card would be held December 22 at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, and would play host to the semifinals and finals of the 154-pound MFC Challenge tournament. Semifinalists Akihiko Mori, Atsuhiro Tsuboi (Pictures), Tashirou Nishiuchi (Pictures) and Do Hyung Kim will all compete to take the tournament crown, with the winner earning the right to compete on the MFC's pay-per-view card in early 2007 in the United States.

Also, while Amano stated that the tournament semifinal pairings and the rest of the card line-up would be announced at a later date, it is thought that South Korean prodigy Un Sik Song will compete on the December 22 Yokohama card, as well.

ZST stars' return rounds out triumphant 2006

It has been a productive and prosperous year for oddball RINGS offshoot ZST, which has worked to develop a solid crop of young pros in their SWAT! program over the course of the year. ZST’s GT-F2 grappling tournament drew considerable attention as well. Having run interesting cards domestically, as well as having lent a helping hand to cards in Lithuania, and Finland, ZST has locked up a cable television deal with GAORA TV. Fittingly so, ZST looks to end 2007 on a high note.

ZST.11 will take place November 23 at the Differ Ariake in Tokyo, and the early announcements for the card indicate that this may be the strongest offering from ZST in recent memory. Thus far, the noteworthy additions include a grappling bout between Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles and eccentric ZST mainstay "The Oriental Mystery" Takumi Yano (Pictures), as well as a third encounter between rivals Shuichiro Katsumura (Pictures) and Kentaro Imaizumi (Pictures).

Katsumura and Imaizumi have squared off twice before at their old stomping grounds in Shooto's 132-pound class. They first met early in April 2002, where they fought to a two-round draw. The following year, when Shooto promoters put together a 132-pound survival tournament, they met again in the semifinals, where the catch wrestling and sambo champion Imaizumi took a unanimous decision victory.

Both Imaizumi and Katsumura are coming off of disappointments at ZST.10, as Imaizumi went to an unsatisfying draw with Wataru Inatsu, while Katsumura, alongside Baret Yoshida, lost in two straight falls in a tag-team match against Takumi Yano (Pictures) and Erikas Petraitis (Pictures).

However, ZST has more in store, with many of the key components to the card still on the participation schedule. ZST stars Hideo Tokoro (Pictures), Remigijus Morkevicius (Pictures), and Naoyuki Kotani (Pictures) are all scheduled to compete, as well as Baret Yoshida, who appears to have refocused himself on MMA competition in ZST.

Coed cards shoulder sudden success for Shooto

Hot on the heels of the second card in the G-Shooto Special series, Shooto promoter G-STYLE has announced that the third installment in the G-Shooto Special series will take place November 19 at Shinkiba 1st RING in Tokyo.

Originally slated to be an all-girl G-Shooto card in the G-Shooto Plus series, it was then altered to a coed feature, likely due to success of the G-Shooto Plus02 card on October 20.

"Success" is relative of course — promoters did not take in big gains from the five-fight offering in the itty-bitty confines of the Tokyo Kinema Club. However, the G-Shooto Plus card was able to blend together up-and-coming male and female Shooto talent for a well-balanced and entertaining card.

In the G-Shooto portion of the card, Wajytusu Keisyukai Tokyo's Kanako Takeshita, perhaps the most outstanding female rookie in all of Japanese MMA, and 106-pound stand-out Masako Yoshida both grabbed submission victories, while three Shooto bouts saw a hotly competitive draw between 132-pound rookies Kazuya Tamura (Pictures) and a quick and dominant submission win for 2005's 114-pound rookie champ Kenichi Takeda. In the main event, Toshimichi Akagi (Pictures) showcased his skills against veteran Shinichi Hanawa (Pictures), taking a unanimous decision win. He now appears to be maybe one fight away from gaining his Class A Shooto license.

The November 19 card will be another five-fight affair, with three G-Shooto bouts and two Class B Shooto bouts. The female side of things pits rookies SACHI and Wakako Sunayama, Nanako Yamazeki debuts against Smackgirl veteran HARUMI, and in the most pertinent bout, G-Shooto up-and-comer Mamiko takes on experienced veteran Tama Chan (Pictures). In the male bouts, 123-pounders Shinichi Hanawa (Pictures) and Yutaka Tetsuka square off, while this year's dismissed 167-pound rookie tournament semifinalists Mateus Irie Nechio (Pictures) and Yoshitaro Niimi (Pictures) meet in the main event.

More importantly, Shooto's unisex featurettes are set to become a staple. G-STYLE revealed that in 2007 it will promote six cards, all to be held at the Tokyo Kinema Club under the new label of Battle Mixs Tokyo. The Battle Mixs Tokyo will apparently replace the G-Shooto Special events, and will be a bimonthly feature with events already scheduled on January 26, March 30 and May 26, and three other yet-to-be-determined dates in July, September and November.

The Battle Mixs Tokyo cards may provide a very wise and practical vehicle for Shooto. Not only does it give them another venue to showcase and groom Class B Shooto talent, but also the use of both Shooto and G-Shooto competitors may allow them to strengthen G-Shooto.

Even in Japan, the popularity gap between female and male MMA competition is pronounced, and utilizing G-Shooto competitors and match-ups on the Battle Mixs Tokyo events could bolster fan interest in G-Shooto. Also, the scheduled frequency of events will produce considerably more female Shooto match-ups in 2007, aiding in the development of the G-Shooto series.

Title impasse for DEEP's 27th Impact?

Continuing behind the sponsorship of All In One Solution Inc., DEEP will return to Korakuen Hall for their 27th Impact card on December 20 in Tokyo.

DEEP is coming off of a successful outing in its last trip to Korakuen Hall, where 143-pound champion Masakazu Imanari (Pictures) successfully defended his title against GRABAKA's Takeshi Yamazaki (Pictures). DEEP president Shigeru Saeki had revealed two months ago that DEEP would hit Korakuen Hall again on December 20, but has now revealed that Ryuta Sakurai (Pictures), Jutaro Nakao (Pictures) and Satoko Shinashi (Pictures) will all compete on the card.

It was originally thought that the headliner for the December 20 card would be a 183-pound title rematch between former champion Ryuta Sakurai (Pictures), and current champion Ryo Chonan (Pictures). Chonan defeated Sakurai for the title on February 5 at DEEP's fifth anniversary 23rd Impact card. Their first bout ended quickly and unceremoniously, especially for a title bout, as the ringside physician called a halt to the contest just under two minutes into the fight.

Chonan broke Sakurai's nose in the opening moments of the fight with a flurry of punches in the clinch, which caused a significant amount of blood to stream from the nose of the champion. While the nasal fracture, combined with considerable bleeding, notched him the doctor stoppage victory and the DEEP 185-pound title, Chonan was wholly unsatisfied with his victory. After the bout, Chonan took the house microphone and declared, "I've got the belt, but I'm not a real champion. Let's fight again!"

It seems uncertain now if the rematch between Chonan and Sakurai will headline the card; if in fact a rematch were to take place, Chonan would have likely been the first fighter announced, as he is DEEP's largest draw. However, Saeki may still be in talks with Chonan to iron out a deal for the fight, so there is still hope for the fight yet.

Shooto ranks set scene for 2007 start

The International Shooto Commission released its World and Pacific Rim rankings, involving all Shooto-sanctioned bouts up to October 28. The primary changes are a result of the October 14 Champion Carnival card in Yokohama, and therefore the most interesting ranking fodder is in the 123-pound class.

After losing his title to "BJ" Shinichi Kojima (Pictures), long-reigning ace Mamoru Yamaguchi (Pictures) has slipped to third in the Shooto world rankings at 123 pounds. Ascending to the top spot in the rankings is former title challenger Yasuhiro Urushitani (Pictures), with Masatoshi Abe (Pictures) in at the second spot. The implication here of course is that in the first half of 2007, Urushitani will likely rematch Kojima in what will be the first defense of Kojima's 123-pound title. The two met previously in September of 2005, going tit-for-tat in a back-and-forth bout filled with technical stand-up, which ended in a draw.

The other particularly interesting jump in the Shooto rankings is that of former 132-pound kingpin Ryota Matsune (Pictures). Coming off of his 18-month hiatus, Matsune had fallen to fifth in the Shooto world rankings at 132 pounds. After easily defeating an unranked, unknown, and wholly unqualified David Lejenas (Pictures), Matsune has made the jump over Kenji Osawa (Pictures) and Miguel Torres (Pictures) in the world rankings.

Ahead of Matsune in the rankings are Daniel Lima (Pictures) at No. 2 and "Louro" Marcos Galvao (Pictures). Given that Matsune has already dominated Lima, and "Louro" hasn't shown his face in Shooto in quite sometime, it appears that Matsune may be positioned to face champion Akitoshi Hokazono (Pictures) in the new year to settle who is the rightful owner of Shooto's 132-pound crown.

Also, budding 154-pound stalwart Ganjo Tentsuku (Pictures)'s draw with Takashi Nakakura (Pictures) has seen him rise to sixth in the Shooto world rankings, which may mean that his next bout won't be another Marius Liaukevicius (Pictures), but rather another bona fide contender in the 154-pound class.

Official Shooto World Rankings, as of October 28:

Bantamweight Division (123.2 Pounds)
C (1) Shinichi Kojima (Pictures) (Japan/Abe Ani Combat Club) – The Second World Bantamweight Champion of Professional Shooto
1 (2) Yasuhiro Urushitani (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW)
2 (3) Masatoshi Abe (Pictures) (Japan/Abe Ani Combat Club)
3 (C) Mamoru Yamaguchi (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Yokohama)
4 (4) Junji Ikoma (Pictures) (Japan/Chokushinkai)
5 (5) Homare Kuboyama (Pictures) (Japan/SHOOTO GYM K'z Factory)
6 (6) Yusei Shimokawa (Pictures) (Japan/SHOOTO GYM K'z Factory)
7 (7) Setsu Iguchi (Pictures) (Japan/Team BADASS13)
8 (8) Yasuhiro Akagi (Japan/ALIVE)
9 (9) Takeyasu Hirono (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai GODS)
10 (10) Daiji Takahashi (Pictures) (Japan/Akitmoto Dojo JUNGLE JUNCTION)

Featherweight Division (132.0 Pounds)
C (C) Akitoshi Hokazono (Pictures) (Japan/Freelance) – The Fourth World Featherweight Champion of Professional Shooto
1 (1) Marcos Galvao (Pictures) (Brazil/Nova Uniao)
2 (2) Daniel Lima (Pictures) (Australia/Five Rings Dojo)
3 (5) Ryota Matsune (Pictures) (Japan/Paraestra Matsudo)
4 (3) Kenji Osawa (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai A3)
5 (4) Miguel Torres (Pictures) (USA/Torres Martial Arts)
6 (6) Masahiro Oishi (Pictures) (Japan/SHOOTO GYM K'z Factory)
7 (7) Takeya Mizugaki (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Hakkei)
8 (8) Naoya Uematsu (Pictures) (Japan/Crosspoint Gym)
9 (9) Jose Aldo (Brazil/Nova Uniao)
10 (10) So Tazawa (Pictures) (Japan/GUTSMAN Shooto Dojo)

Lightweight Division (143.0 Pounds)
C (C) Takeshi Inoue (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Yokohama) – The Fifth World Lightweight Champion of Professional Shooto
1 (1) Antonio Carvalho (Pictures) (Canada/Shah Franco)
2 (2) Rumina Sato (Pictures) (Japan/roots)
3 (3) Katsuya Toida (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai Toikatsu Dojo)
4 (4) Tenkei Fujimiya (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Yokohama)
5 (5) Makoto Ishikawa (Pictures) (Japan/PUREBRED Omiya)
6 (6) Jeff Curran (Pictures) (USA/Curran Martial Arts)
7 (7) Alexandre Franca Nogueira (Pictures) (Brazil/Shooto Brazil Dojo)
8 (8) Joao Roque (Pictures) (Brazil/Nova Uniao)
9 (9) Hatsu Hioki (Pictures) (Japan/ALIVE)
10 (10) Akitoshi Tamura (Pictures) (Japan/Tsudanuma Dojo)

Welterweight Division (154.0 Pounds)
C (C) Tatsuya Kawajiri (Pictures) (Japan/T-BLOOD) – The Eighth World Welterweight Champion of Professional Shooto
1 (1) Mitsuhiro Ishida (Pictures) (Japan/T-BLOOD)
2 (2) Joachim Hansen (Pictures) (Norway/Team Frontline)
3 (3) Gilbert Melendez (Pictures) (USA/Cesar Gracie (Pictures) Academy)
4 (4) Takashi Nakakura (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Osaka)
5 (5) Ray Cooper (Pictures) (USA/Jesus Is Lord)
6 (9) Ganjo Tentsuku (Pictures) (Japan/PUREBRED Omiya)
7 (6) Mizuto Hirota (Pictures) (Japan/GUTSMAN Shooto Dojo)
8 (7) Gesias Calvancanti (Pictures) (USA/American Top Team)
9 (8) Jani Lax (Sweden/Team Scandinavia)
10 (10) Vitor Ribeiro (Pictures) (Brazil/Nova Uniao)

Middleweight (167.2 Pounds)
C (C) Shinya Aoki (Pictures) (Japan/Paraestra Tokyo) – The Eighth World Middleweight Champion of Professional Shooto
1 (1) Keita Nakamura (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo Headquarters)
2 (3) Akira Kikuchi (Pictures) (Japan/KILLER BEE)
3 (2) Ronald Jhun (Pictures) (USA/808 Fight Factory)
4 (4) David Baron (Pictures) (France/French Konnection)
5 (5) Scott Henze (USA/Freelance)
6 (6) Sauli Heilimo (Finland/Team Frontline)
7 (7) Hayato Sakurai (Pictures) (Japan/Mach Dojo)
8 (8) Kuniyoshi Hironaka (Pictures) (Japan/Academia Az)
9 (9) Jake Shields (Pictures) (USA/Cesar Gracie (Pictures) Academy)
10 (10) Shigetoshi Iwase (Pictures) (Japan/T-BLOOD)

Light Heavyweight Division (183.0 Pounds)
C (C) Shikou Yamashita (Pictures) (Japan/Paraestra Sapporo) – The Fourth World Light Heavyweight Champion of Professional Shooto
1 (1) Brent Weedman (Pictures) (USA/Team Jorge Gurgel (Pictures))
2 (2) Edward O'Daniel (USA/Walker Submission & Kickboxing)
3 (3) Dustin Denes (Pictures) (USA/American Top Team)
4 (4) David Bielkheden (Pictures) (Sweden/Brazilian Top Team)
5 (5) Joseph Baize (USA/Team Pedigo)
6 (6) John Renken (Pictures) (USA/Team Havoc)
7 (7) Siyar Bahadurzada (Netherlands/Tatsujin Dojo)
8 (8) Petras Morkevicius (Lithuania/Audra Gym)
9 (9) Kalib Starnes (Pictures) (Canada/Revolution Fight Team)
10 (10) Ivan Jorge (Pictures) (Brazil/Manimal Family)

Official Shooto Pacific Rim Rankings, as of October 28:

Featherweight Division (132.0 Pounds)
C (C) Vacant
1 (1) Daniel Lima (Pictures) (Australia/Five Rings Dojo)
2 (3) Ryota Matsune (Pictures) (Japan/Paraestra Matsudo)
3 (2) Kenji Osawa (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai A3)
4 (4) Masahiro Oishi (Pictures) (Japan/K'z Factory)
5 (5) Takeya Mizugaki (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Hakkei)
6 (6) Naoya Uematsu (Pictures) (Japan/Crosspoint Gym)
7 (7) So Tazawa (Pictures) (Japan/GUTSMAN Shooto Dojo)
8 (8) Jin Akimoto (Pictures) (Japan/Akimoto Dojo JUNGLE JUNCTION)
9 (9) Koetsu Okazaki (Japan/Cobra Kai MMA Dojo)
10 (10) Hiroyuki Tanaka (Pictures) (Japan/Chokushin Kai)

Lightweight Division (143.0 Pounds)
C (C) Vacant
1 (1) Rumina Sato (Pictures) (Japan/roots)
2 (2) Tenkei Fujimiya (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Yokohama)
3 (3) Katsuya Toida (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai Toikatsu Dojo)
4 (4) Hatsu Hioki (Pictures) (Japan/ALIVE)
5 (5) Akitoshi Tamura (Pictures) (Japan/Tsudanuma Dojo)
6 (6) Hiroyuki Abe (Pictures) (Japan/Abe Ani Combat Club)
7 (7) Makoto Ishikawa (Pictures) (Japan/PUREBRED Omiya)
8 (8) Bao Quach (Pictures) (USA/Team Oyama)
9 (-) Akiyo Nishiura (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Yokohama)
10 (9) Hideki Kadowaki (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo Headquarters)

Welterweight Division (154.0 Pounds)
C (C) Mitsuhiro Ishida (Pictures) (Japan/T-BLOOD) – The Second Pacific Rim Welterweight Champion of Professional Shooto
1 (1) Takashi Nakakura (Pictures) (Japan/Shooting Gym Osaka)
2 (2) Ray Cooper (Pictures) (USA/Jesus Is Lord)
3 (4) Ganjo Tentsuku (Pictures) (Japan/PUREBRED Omiya)
4 (3) Mizuto Hirota (Pictures) (Japan/GUTSMAN Shooto Dojo)
5 (5) Gilbert Melendez (Pictures) (USA/Cesar Gracie (Pictures) Academy)
6 (6) Daisuke Sugie (Pictures) (Japan/ALIVE)
7 (7) Kenichiro Togashi (Pictures) (Japan/Paraestra Hiroshima)
8 (8) Jin Kazeta (Pictures) (Japan/Philoctetes Niigata)
9 (9) Yusuke Endo (Pictures) (Japan/GOKITA GYM)
10 (10) Koutetsu Boku (Pictures) (Japan/KILLER BEE)

Middleweight (167.2 Pounds)
C (C) Keita Nakamura (Pictures) (Japan/Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo Headquarters) – The First Pacific Rim Middleweight Champion of Professional Shooto
1 (1) Akira Kikuchi (Pictures) (Japan/KILLER BEE)
2 (2) Ronald Jhun (Pictures) (USA/808 Fight Factory)
3 (3) Hayato Sakurai (Pictures) (Japan/Mach Dojo)
4 (4) Kuniyoshi Hironaka (Pictures) (Japan/Academia AZ)
5 (5) Jake Shields (Pictures) (USA/Cesar Gracie (Pictures) Academy)
6 (6) Shigetoshi Iwase (Pictures) (Japan/T-BLOOD)

Pancrase publish reposed rankings

While Shooto's rankings had something to say by means of movement, Pancrase's rankings speak loudly through their stagnation. The only change to the latest Pancrase rankings is the vacancy of the 181-pound King of Pancrase title, which was recently returned by longtime Pancrase veteran Nathan Marquardt (Pictures). However, the most curious aspect of the rankings is the unaltered 165.7-pound rankings.

Katsuya Inoue (Pictures) and Satoru Kitaoka (Pictures) continue to be ranked first and second respectively in the division, with Carlos Condit (Pictures) beneath them at third. Condit has been ranked third since defeating Koji Oishi (Pictures) in July, despite having defeated formerly ranked opponents in Takuya Wada (Pictures) and Tatsunori Tanaka since then. Moreover, Inoue and Kitaoka have both lost to now-champion Daizo Ishige (Pictures) in the last few months, and since then Inoue has been inactive, while Kitaoka has picked up wins over unranked competitors Paul Daley (Pictures) and Ju Pyo Hong.

If Pancrase has not moved Condit into the No. 1 or 2 spot in the rankings, it seems clear that they intend on giving him at least one more fight, likely against Inoue or Kitaoka, before a potential title shot against divisional King of Pancrase Ishige. A bout with Kitaoka would actually be a rematch of Condit's Pancrase debut in October of 2005, when Kitaoka took a quick submission victory with a heelhook in just under four minutes.

The timeline for such a bout would make sense with Pancrase's announcement that Ishige will face Kenji Arai (Pictures) in a non-title bout in December. A match between Condit and either Inoue or Kitaoka early in 2007 could set up a title bout against Ishige sometime in the early spring.

Official Pancrase Rankings, as of November 2, 2006:

Open-Weight
C (C) Josh Barnett (Pictures) (AMC Pankration) – The Tenth Open-Weight King of Pancrase

Super Heavyweight (+221.0 Pounds)
C (C) Vacant

Heavyweight (200.0 Pounds)
C (C) Kestutis Arbocius (Pictures) (Latvia Shidokan) – The Second Heavyweight King of Pancrase
1 (1) Poai Suganuma (Pictures) (TWIST)
2 (2) Hideki Tadao (Pictures) (Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW)

Light Heavyweight (199.0 Pounds)
C (C) Yuki Kondo (Pictures) (PANCRASEism) – The Third Light Heavyweight King of Pancrase
1 (1) Kestutis Arbocius (Pictures) (Latvia Shidokan)
2 (2) Daijiro Matsui (Pictures) (Freelance)
3 (3) Ryo Kawamura (Pictures) (PANCRASEism)

Middleweight (181.0 Pounds)
C (C) Vacant
1 (1) Izuru Takeuchi (Pictures) (SK Absolute)
2 (2) Yuichi Nakanishi (Pictures) (Freelance)
3 (3) Hikaru Sato (Pictures) (Freelance)

Welterweight (165.7 Pounds)
C (C) Daizo Ishige (Pictures) (SK Absolute) – The Second Welterweight King of Pancrase
1 (1) Katsuya Inoue (Pictures) (Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW)
2 (2) Satoru Kitaoka (Pictures) (PANCRASEism)
3 (3) Carlos Condit (Pictures) (Fighters In Training NHB)
4 (4) Koji Oishi (Pictures) (PANCRASEism)
5 (5) Robert Emerson (Pictures) (No Limits)

Lightweight (152.5 Pounds)
C (C) Vacant
1 (1) Takumi Yano (Pictures) (Ugokai)
2 (2) Takafumi Ito (Pictures) (PANCRASEism)
3 (3) Naoki Seki (Pictures</, a>) (RISE FIGHT CLUB)

Featherweight (141.4 Pounds)
(C) (C)
Yoshiro Maeda (Pictures) (Pancrase Inagakigumi) – The First Featherweight King of Pancrase
(1) (1) Daiki Hata (Pictures) (KIBA)
(2) (2) Miki Shida (Pictures) (P's LAB Tokyo)
(3) (3) Atsushi Yamamoto (Pictures) (KILLER BEE)
(4) (4) Manabu Inoue (Pictures) (UWF Snakepit Japan)
(5) (5) Mitsuhisa Sunabe (Pictures) (REAL)

Students' Voice Awards Athletic Honor To "KID"

Not surprisingly, Japanese superstar Norifumi Yamamoto (Pictures) cropped up in the media again this week. Despite recently having left the world of mixed martial arts temporarily to pursue an Olympic freestyle wrestling bid for the 2008 Beijing Games, Yamamoto has continued to make his presence felt in the fight game, intentionally or not. The 2005 HERO'S 154-pound tournament winner was on hand October 28 at the MTV Japan Student Voice Awards 2006, where he took home the Best Athlete Award.

The KILLER BEE leader's accolade comes not long after the announcement that he would participate on the K-1 Premium Dynamite!! card on New Year's Eve despite his Olympic pursuits, and not three weeks after he was reinstated as an official corner man and manager under Shooto sanctioning by the International Shooto Commission, after his now infamous incident in February in which he assaulted a physician backstage at Shooto's February 17 event.

Yamamoto likely isn't out of the media spotlight yet. "KID" will make his return to wrestling competition in two weeks time at the NYAC Open Holiday International Wrestling Championships, November 17-19 in New York City, where he will compete in the 132-pound Freestyle category. His return to competition is sure to attract some attention from the Japanese media before he sets off to The Big Apple to tackle his first obstacle en route to an Olympics bid.

Otoko Matsuri talk brings turmoil to boxing ace Tokuyama

In one of the more interesting stories leading into the preparations for New Year's Eve fight festivities, Dream Stage Entertainment may not be content to settle for having just one world champion boxer on their card. Even with Mike Tyson scheduled to compete as part of Otoko Matsuri, DSE has reportedly offered WBC 115-pound champion Masanori Tokuyama to compete on December 31 as well.

DSE's plans were revealed at a general meeting of the World Boxing Council in Croatia on October 29. The WBC has decided that in the event that Tokuyama does choose to compete in PRIDE, he will be stripped of his title, and moreover, the Japanese Boxing Commission have made clear their intent to revoke Tokuyama's boxing license should he compete in mixed martial arts.

A native North Korean, born Soo Hong Chang, Tokuyama has a 32-3-1 record as a professional boxer and has been one of Japan's most prominent titlists since the year 2000, when he defeated In Joo Cho to become WBC 115-pound champion for the first time and the first North Korean to ever wear a world title in boxing.

After losing his title in quick and devastating fashion to rival Katsushige Kawashima in June of 2004, Tokuyama regained the title in July of 2005, taking a 12-round decision in the rubber match. Since then, Tokuyama has fought only once, defending his title against American Jose Navarro February in Osaka, Japan.

Moreover, if Tokuyama were to compete in PRIDE, which would surely signal the end of his boxing career, it is unclear whom he would compete against. Tokuyama's diminutive size would leave DSE with very few options for opponents. It would make the most sense if perhaps a 114-pound or 123-pound competitor from the Shooto ranks were selected should Tokuyama were to compete under mixed martial arts rules.

DSE persist with PRIDE TV push … TV Tokyo as Plan B?

Finally, this week's development in Dream Stage Entertainment's quest to snag a television deal for New Year's Eve comes on behalf of Japanese sports journalist Takao Kondo.

In the November 2 installment of his INSIDE Kakutougi column, Kondo indicated on a closing note that Dream Stage Entertainment are now concentrating on working out a deal with tv asahi to broadcast its December 31 Otoko Matsuri card. Both Nippon TV and former PRIDE broadcaster Fuji TV have announced that they will be airing other (i.e. non-combat sport) programming on New Year's Eve, leaving tv asahi as the only of the five major Japanese broadcasters without New Year's Eve programming.

Dream Stage boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara said last week that DSE was in talks with three networks about working out a television deal, beginning with the broadcast of Otoko Matsuri on New Year's Eve.

Prior to that, Japanese television insiders speculated that two networks — Nippon TV and tv asahi — were in talks with Dream Stage Entertainment about a TV deal, which only escalated when DSE announced that Mike Tyson would participate at Otoko Matsuri in a boxing match in the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

However, Kondo also said in his column that if a deal with tv asahi cannot be reached, that DSE may try to work out an agreement with TV Tokyo, another of the five major broadcasters. It was assumed before that TV Tokyo would air standard New Year's Eve programming, with both news segments and variety show themed components.

TV Tokyo is undoubtedly a less attractive offer than tv asahi. Video Research Ltd., Japan's leading marketing and media research company, characterize tv asahi's standard ratings over the course of the 18-hour broadcast day, during Golden Hour (7:00 pm - 10:00 pm) and during primetime (7:00 pm - 11:00 pm) as significantly higher than TV Tokyo's. tv asahi's all-day ratings average just below 8.0%, whilst TV Tokyo's hover between 3.5-4.0. tv asahi generally registers Golden Time averages between 12.0-13.0 and primetime averages between 12.5-13.5. By comparison, TV Tokyo hovers between 8.0-8.5 in Golden Time and 7.5-8.0 in primetime.

Despite being a less attractive offer than tv asahi, TV Tokyo is an outstanding Plan B for Dream Stage Entertainment, especially given that the other alternative would be no television deal at all, relegating Otoko Matsuri to being a strictly pay-per-view affair on SKYperfecTV!

Sakakibara has stated that he will make a statement on November 10 in which he will announce the particulars of PRIDE's television and sponsor situation in regards to New Year's Eve.
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