Editorial Column by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
1. ungentle and unpleasant in action or effect: harsh treatment; harsh manners.
2. grim or unpleasantly severe; stern; cruel; austere: a harsh life; a harsh master.
3. unpleasant to the ear; grating; strident: a harsh voice; a harsh sound.
4. physically uncomfortable; desolate; stark: a harsh land.
How do you destroy your new poster boy? You suspend him indefinitely. Harsh? Some may say ‘yes’ while others will respond with a resounding ‘no’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend Yoshihiro Akiyama. The ‘greasing’ incident on New Year’s Eve was unacceptable, regardless if we can or cannot prove it was done with the intent of malice. I’m simply pointing out the significance of FEG’s decision to indefinitely suspend the Judoka a week after he was already disqualified and required to forfeit his fight purse. I think it looks bad on the organization’s part to render an additional punishment as it seems like they’re second guessing themselves.
You don’t have to like Akiyama; in fact, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan. However, the man was winning and had a very good year in 2006. Yoshihiro has fought for K-1 his entire career and his sole loss was to Jerome LeBanner back in 2005 where he gave up a sizeable weight advantage to the French kickboxer. With “Kid” Yamamoto off pursuing his wrestling dream and Genki Sudo’s recent retirement, K-1 may be reaching a point where they are running low on stars to market/showcase.
Personally, I thought Akiyama could have beaten Sakuraba handedly without negligence or malice. Sakuraba is just a shell of the great fighter he used to be but his popularity remains intact. It’s easy to speculate that the “Gracie Hunter” has some influence in the K-1 organization. I’m sure FEG paid good money to attain the services of the former Pride star and I believe they would want to protect their ‘investment’. Some members of the MMA community have been clamoring that Sakuraba has too much influence on K-1. It’s hard to say if Akiyama’s suspension was issued in order to appease Sakuraba or the many fans angered by the scandal. Regardless, I’m elated that some action has been taken.
Will Akiyama fully recover from the biggest scandal of the New Year? It’s possible but highly unlikely. His image has been tarnished greatly and I really can’t see K-1 successfully rebuilding Akiyama. What happens in MMA can unpredictable so who knows, maybe the Japan-born Korean can revive his career. If all else fails, he could fall back on a career as a spokesperson for body lotion.
Cage Force Lightweight/Welterweight Tournaments
Cage Force has put together a pair of tournaments with some talented fighters. I’m very excited about these two events. Two words: Killer Bee. I think I share the same sentiment with fans who would love to see Akira Kikuchi and Koutetsu Boku fight in the UFC. If they win their respective tournaments, there’s a chance they could make their debut in the octagon. Although there are still a few participants to be named, the Killer Bee fighters are the apparent favorites. With these upcoming events, the World Cage Network has made its mark and I hope this is the beginning of great things to come.
Below is a list of expected participants in both tournaments.
British fighter from Cage Warriors
American fighter from Pangea
British fighter from Cage Warriors
American fighter from Pangea
Monteiro Gets No Love…
DEEP 28th Impact
February 16, 2007
DEEP Middleweight Championship: Ryo Chonan vs. Ryuta Sakurai
DEEP Lightweight Championship: Nobuhiro Obiya vs. Kazunori Yokota
DEEP Welterweight Championship: Jutaro Nakao vs. Hidehiko Hasegawa
Takeshi Yamazaki vs. Miki Shida
Like fellow MMAWeekly writer Ricardo Mendoza, I too am dumbfounded as to why Hidehiko Hasegawa is getting a shot at Jutaro Nakao’s DEEP Welterweight belt instead of Fabricio Monteiro. The Gracie Barra fighter decisively defeated Nakao at DEEP 26. Unfortunately for Monteiro, it was a non-title match. The Brazilian fighter has won two fights since defeating Nakao. Hasegawa may prove to be a formidable opponent for the DEEP Welterweight Champion as long as he has worked on his conditioning.
“Back to our Roots.”
2/17 Shooto ‘Back To Our Roots’ card so far:
Shooto Middleweight Championship fight:
Shinya Aoki (Paraestra Tokyo) vs. Akira Kikuchi (Killer Bee)
Shooto Welterweight Pacific-Rim Championship fight:
Mizuto Hirota (GUTSMAN Shooto Dojo) vs. Takashi Nakakura (Shooting Gym Osaka)
Shooto Lightweight Pacific-Rim Championship fight:
Tenkei Fujimiya (STG Yokohama) vs. Akitoshi Tamura (Tsudanuma Dojo)
Yusuke Endo (GOKITA GYM) vs. Ganjo Tentsuku (Purebred Omiya)
Koutetsu Boku (Killer bee) vs. Kenichiro Togashi (Paraestra Hiroshima)
Takeshi Inoue (STG Yokohama) vs. Hiroyuki Abe (AACC)
Takeya Mizugaki (Shooting Gym Hakkei) vs. Atsushi Yamamoto (Killer Bee)
Keita Nakamura was next in line to face 167-pound Shooto Champion Shinya Aoki but “K-Taro” chose to pursue a second fight in the UFC, paving the way for a rematch between Aoki and Akira Kikuchi. Personally, I think this fight is happening a bit soon. Kikuchi successfully rebounded from his loss to Aoki with a submission win over Ronald Jhun back in October. Aoki has been on a roll, displaying his grappling prowess with wins over his four subsequent opponents that included an impressive submission victory over former Shooto Champion Joachim Hansen. Next month can’t come soon enough as I eagerly wait in anticipation for this rematch.
I’m really disappointed that Tatsuya Kawajiri was forced to vacate his Shooto Welterweight belt. The “Crusher” broke his left thumb during his last fight against Gilbert Melendez at Pride Otoko Matsuri. Due to his recovery time, Kawajiri won’t able to defend his belt in a timely manner according to Shooto’s title defense guidelines. Hopefully he will recover soon and begin his quest to regain Welterweight title in the future.
It’s nice to see the return of Koutetsu Boku. The Killer Bee fighter had only one fight in 2006, defeating Alexandre Franca “Pequeno” Nogueira. Boku has been working on improving his grappling game and will face Kenichiro Togashi in a rematch. The two first met back in 2003 and Togashi walked away with an armbar victory. Since the loss, Boku has won six straights fights including big wins over Hermes Franca and the aforementioned Nogueira. The former Shooto Pac-Rim Champion will bring his momentum with him as he looks to get revenge in February.
“Lion” Takeshi vs. Hiroyuki Abe … hahahahahahahahaha.
The Greatest 160-pound Tournament Ever?
List of potential participants*:
Pride’s 2007 Lightweight Grand Prix has the potential to be one of the best tournaments in the organization’s history. All three rounds of the GP are expected to be held in Japan so fans of soccer kicks will rejoice. Obviously not all of the names on the list will participate and there will probably be more participants named.
*[Note: This is a list compiled by myself; it is not an official release from Pride.]