Shinya Aoki: Taro Irei | Sherdog.com
TOKYO -- The buildup to New Year's Eve has begun as both Dream and Sengoku Raiden Championship have made official announcements this week detailing their plans for their 2010 finales.
SRC’s offering -- titled “Soul of Fight” -- will take place on Dec. 30 at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo. The Dec. 30 date will keep the event from competing with Fighting and Entertainment Group’s annual kakutogi giant, Dynamite, set to take place at the Saitama Super Arena on Dec 31.
The shift in schedule also appears to preclude a second SRC–Dream crossover for Dynamite after 2009’s co-promotional tie-up on New Year’s Eve. Friday, FEG president Sadaharu Tanigawa claimed that he was still open to cooperating with SRC, and that he hoped to send fighters to their Dec. 30 event.
“I don't think we'll be doing [co-promotion], but since our events are one day apart, I've been told 'Well, if we can cooperate, shouldn't we?' There have been no concrete negotiations between us, but if we can co-promote, I'd like to,” he said.
A possible bout between 2008 Beijing games judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii and 2004 Olympic judo silver medalist Hiroshi Izumi was also dismissed. Izumi had issued a challenge to his fellow judoka-turned-prizefighter after defeating James Zikic in the main event of SRC 15.
According to both Tanigawa and Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara however, should Ishii compete at Dynamite, Izumi is not in the running as a potential opponent.
“We want him to fight a big name opponent for New Year's Eve,” commented Tanigawa.
Sasahara later tempered these comments, reiterating the need to match Ishii appropriately against an opponent that will further the neophyte’s development in MMA. This sentiment is in line with Ishii's activities in 2010, much of which saw the judo heavyweight traveling to the United States to train and gain experience in exhibition bouts in Hawaii.
Ishii's performance against New Zealand's Antz Nansen in an MMA bout on Nov. 8's K-1 Max World Grand Prix Final will be important in determining his Dec. 31 fate, but his inclusion in Dynamite will not rest on a win or loss in the coming bout.
Also mentioned was the Dynamite participation of Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki. Despite rumors of a rematch with Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, Sasahara could not confirm Aoki's New Year's Eve opponent for Thursday's press conference.
“Once it's officially decided, I'd like to announce it the day after,” Sasahara said plainly.
Currently, the proposed bill for Dynamite stands at ten to thirteen fights total, with much of the card devoted to MMA bouts this year. Toru Mukai, president of SRC parent company World Victory Road, has indicated that Dec 30's “Soul of Fight” may feature up to 30 bouts comprised of kickboxing, grappling, and MMA -- some of which will be SRC title fights.
The event, whose kickboxing and grappling portions will be jointly overseen by the Japan Martial Arts Games Association, is intended to be an all-day family-friendly martial arts “festival.”