Kawajiri Warns Ref, Yokota Ahead of Dynamite Bout

By Tony Loiseleur Dec 30, 2009
TOKYO -- Fighting and Entertainment Group's press conference for “Dynamite 2009: The Power of Courage” was a brief and chilly affair as heavily jacketed and scarved fighters from both the Dream and Sengoku promotions fulfilled their promotional duties before retreating to rest up for Thursday's 18-fight card.

As the presser was again held in an open air plaza at Shinjuku station -- the busiest train station in the world -- it attracted a sizable crowd, much of whom gathered up to three hours before the press conference began.

Given that last year's Dynamite event was again eclipsed in the ratings by the Red and White and Song Battle -- an annual New Year's Eve staple in Japan for nearly the last 60 years -- FEG President Sadaharu Tanigawa jokingly requested that they record this year's edition of the popular music festival for later viewing in order to watch Dynamite live. Tanigawa did a little promotional posturing then, vowing that Dream's fighters would crush the Sengoku contingent. Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara echoed these sentiments, but most of the fighters in attendance did not follow suit with the exception of the lightweight participants of the Dream-Sengoku feud.

“My opponent Kawajiri is far more popular than I am, so I want to prove tomorrow that I am in fact the better fighter. Then, after that, I plan to give a hair-raising performance on the mic,” said Sengoku lightweight Kazunori Yokota, referencing his post-fight speech at Sengoku “Eleventh Battle,” where he humorously bemoaned his receding hairline.

The stone-faced Kawajiri, on the other hand, was in no mood for banter, getting right to business by delivering a warning to Thursday’s referees. “Referees, be sure to step in and stop the fight on time tomorrow, because I might get carried away in the moment and my many punches may end up destroying my opponent.”

Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki chose not to comment on the absent Sengoku lightweight champion, Mizuto Hirota, instead reminiscing on previous New Year's Eve events and vowing again to continue putting Japanese MMA on the map.

“I'm sure that I'm not the only one, but whenever I come here, I'm reminded of Yarennoka, two years ago,” he said. “After that, Dream began, and I've been representing Dream and Japanese MMA since then. Tomorrow night, I want to continue showing that difference between Japanese MMA and the rest of the world.”

Conspicuous by their absence, and thus a source of vocal disappointment by many in attendance, were fan favorite Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, and debuting Beijing Olympics gold medalist Satoshi Ishii. In addition, Sengoku featherweight standout Michihiro Omigawa and Sengoku lightweight champ Hirota were also missing. After the presser, FEG President Tanigawa chalked up the Sengoku fighters' absences to weight-cutting, though he was not able to provide any additional information.
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