OK, there has been word that FEG is bankrupt, leaving DREAM and K-1 without their parent company. Word spread that a company called FIELDS was backing a New Year’s Eve show under the DREAM flag, and the involvement of legendary pro wrestling promoter Antonio Inoki hinted at a supershow for the New Year’s holiday 2011 in Japan. But the problems run deeper in the Japanese MMA scene, and not all may appear as it seems in the Land of the Rising Sun.
For starters, the match between Fedor Emelianenko and Japanese judoka Satoshi Ishii is unlikely to happen. The bottom line for this match comes down to simple finances. Emelianenko will not come to fight on the cheap, and Ishii also would likely cost big money. There is the overwhelming sense in Japan that the names are being used in the publicity for attention, but that the match is unlikely to happen.
Inoki set up the pro wrestling end of the show, and his company is reportedly not coming out of pocket on any expenses, ensuring a profit for that portion of the card. There are no such assurances for DREAM or the MMA matches, so they may have to cover expenses and purses for the fighters from money coming from the new company they are working with.
And as is typical, there is little real information and publicity about the show. For example, some circles are talking about Joachim Hansen appearing on the card, however his name is not anywhere near the current publicity. Hansen, because of his unique personal philosophy is available, and he has a long history of New Year’s events in Japan.
Another MMA related name is Josh Barnett. Barnett awaits his STRIKEFORCE match with Daniel Cormier to end the Heavyweight Tournament, but there is no date set. Barnett has long ties to Inoki and is a fixture of the Pro Wrestling scene in Japan, so he is more likely to appear on that side of the card.
Finally, there is to be kickboxing on the event, and the word out there is that the K-1 roster of people like Jerome LeBanner and Peter Aerts is likely to be used. Despite some name recognition, there is nothing official about the matches or the exact list of participants. We are roughly three weeks away from the show, so they cannot help but look to be in disarray.
So it looks like the New Year’s event will happen in Japan, however I’m concerned about it being an event that cannot be compared to the rich history of super shows the Japanese MMA scene has given us over the years. Though the build up to some of those has been sloppy at times as well, you can’t help but get the feeling that this year’s show will certainly look worn out. Looks like a lot of retreads and bad promoting taken to the extreme.