When the Worldwide Cage Network formed last September, there was considerable intrigue over the international union and its goals of cross-promotion. Would we really see the exchange of talent between Greatest Common Multiple and England's Cage Warriors? Australia's Warrior's Realm and Hawaii's Rumble on the Rock? California's Pangea Fights and Finland's The Cage? Could the WWCN accomplish its goal of fostering international talent with the hope of promoting elite fighters to the UFC?
With GCM and the Worldwide Cage Network having revealed plans for 2007, the answer would appear to be a resounding yes.
At a press conference held Wednesday at GCM headquarters in the Ginza district of Tokyo, GCM Communications announced that in cooperation with the Worldwide Cage Network two tournaments would be contested in 2007 on CAGE FORCE cards. The tournaments will be held at 155 and 170 pounds, and GCM and the WWCN are currently in negotiations with Zuffa for the two tournament winners to compete in the UFC, effectively realizing the goal of the Worldwide Cage Network.
"Many fighters want to use this event as a stepping stone to fighting internationally," said GCM official Gen Isono. "If a fighter has good results, we want to recommend [them] to a foreign promotion."
Currently, 10 fighters are officially announced for the 155-pound tournament, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 17 during GCM'S CAGE FORCE card at the Yonago Industrial Gymnasium in Tottori.
Isono told the media that GCM is also currently in talks with Cage Warriors, Pangea Fights and Total Combat to bring in additional tournament competitors.
Confirmed for the tournament are former Shooto 154-pound Pacific Rim champion Koutetsu Boku (Pictures); Cage Warriors tournament winner Tomonari Kanomata (Pictures); former KOTC 155-pound champion Takumi Nakayama (Pictures); PRIDE veteran Eiji Mitsuoka (Pictures); Yasuyoshi Kanehara; Wataru Takahashi (Pictures); and Wataru Miki (Pictures). The international contingent of the bracket is highlighted by fast-rising prospect Artur Oumakhanov (Pictures), a former Spetsnaz agent in his native Russia who has turned heads in his young career fought exclusively in Japan. Also confirmed for the tournament are 18-year-old Australian standout Jacob Sidic and Finland's Jarkko Latomaki.
The 170-pound tournament is scheduled to begin on March 17’s GCM CAGE FORCE card at Tokyo's Differ Ariake. Already confirmed for the tournament are former Shooto 167-pound world champion Akira Kikuchi (Pictures); former 165-pound King of Pancrase Katsuya Inoue (Pictures); Noboru Asahi disciple Yoshiyuki Yoshida (Pictures); Finnish pounder Janne Tulirinta; and Australian upstart Justin Turtle. GCM is still in negotiations with other WWCN members to bring in 170-pound tournament competitors, and hopes to have between eight and 12 participants come March 17.