GCM's Valkyrie, which will hold its first card on Nov. 8, will not be the only all-female fight promotion in Japan, as from the ashes of Smackgirl, newly formed parent company Marvelous Japan has announced its own upstart organization, Jewels.
Yuichi Ozono, an executive from Japanese event production company Archery Inc. will lead Marvelous Japan. After learning of the languishing Smackgirl and its business woes, Ozono formed Marvelous Japan and acquired the assets and rights formerly belonging to Smackgirl parent company Kilgore.
"I always liked the martial arts, especially Smackgirl, and when I read that they were in trouble, I wanted to find out the truth," Ozono said. "I met with [former Smackgirl President Motoki] Shino and heard that it was impossible for the promotion to continue, so I proposed to him to let me take over the promotion. After several discussions, we reached an agreement, and he gave me the management team of Smackgirl."
Smackgirl itself was born out of another promotion's death. The watershed, all-female promotion ReMix lasted only two events but eventually was transformed into Smackgirl in May 2001. Smackgirl went on to promote over 50 MMA and grappling events featuring a large crop of the sport’s top women.
However, over its seven-year run, Smackgirl acquired considerable debt, and, earlier this year, parent company Kilgore was plagued with the unexpected departure of major sponsors and television network deals, leaving the promotion in a terminal situation. Smackgirl was originally set to stage its 2008 ReMix tournament finale card on July 24 but was forced to postpone the event twice before ultimately throwing in the towel.
“Smackgirl's name was tarnished with all the postponements and sponsor troubles,” said Ozono. "I thought if we changed the name and made a fresh start, it would let us develop.”
Jewels will also have a strong working relationship with Deep, which may foster the participation of sterling female competitors, such as Deep female champions Satoko Shinashi and Miku Matsumoto.
"I thought about creating a new female MMA event, but after I heard about this new promotion, I have decided to work with them,” said Deep boss Shigeru Saeki. "The most important thing is that [female MMA] continues. We have to avoid a situation where fighters can’t get paid.”
For now, Jewels will use the same rules once employed by Smackgirl, featuring restrictions on ground-and-pound techniques for most of its bouts. However, Ozono stated that the first priority of Jewels was to build talented fighters, and that rules considerations will come later. The promotion will also, at least temporarily, telecast its events on Japanese combat sports-centric satellite channel Samurai TV.
The promotion will stage its debut offering on Nov. 16 at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo. Four bouts have been announced thus far, pitting Mika Nagano against Saori Ishioka, Misaki Takimoto against Masako Yoshida, Sachi against Kazumi Kaneko and Harumi against Shizuka Sugiyama. At least four more bouts will be announced for the event.
"K-Taro,” Osawa, Urushitani, Monma on tap for Cage Force
Before its Cage Force bantamweight and featherweight tournaments wrap up in December, Greatest Common Multiple will head back to its familiar digs at Differ Ariake in Tokyo with one of its EX-Eastern Bound events, and a sterling line-up will be in tow.
The Nov. 8 card, which will follow the Valkyrie promotion debut in the afternoon, will feature several of Wajyutsu Keisyukai’s bigger names, as Keita "K-Taro" Nakamura, Kenji Osawa, Hidetaka Monma and Yasuhiro Urushitani will all be in action.
While Nakamura’s opponent has not been announced, Monma and Urushitani will see soft touches. Monma -- who was brutally punched out by Hayato “Mach” Sakurai at Dream’s debut event in March -- will take on the debuting Andre “Napao” Mafetoni, the cousin of stalwart heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga. Urushitani, who was shockingly submitted by Yuki Shoujou in the Shooto ring in September, will meet Kiyotaka Shimizu.
Osawa, owner of just one win in his last five fights and coming off of a unanimous decision loss to Scott Jorgensen in the WEC in August, will meet scrappy Deep regular Tomoya Miyashita, who has been beaten just once over his last 14 bouts.
The show was originally set to feature a Cage Force bantamweight tournament semi-final between Takeya Mizugaki and Taiyo Nakahara, which was postponed from the Sept. 27 card after Nakahara sustained an undisclosed injury in training. However, Nakahara will not be healthy enough to compete Nov. 8. As a result, Mizugaki will receive a walkover into the December final against Masahiro Oishi.
Hioki sets sights on Sato at Shooto ‘Tradition 4’
After a nightmarish 2007 campaign, Hatsu Hioki has rebuilt himself over the course of 2008 and will have the chance to end the year with a bang. The young featherweight will finally meet up with Shooto icon Rumina Sato at Sustain's Shooto “Tradition 4” card on Nov. 29 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
Hioki sustained heartbreaking losses to Antonio Carvalho and largely unknown Jong Man Kim in 2007 but is undefeated over his last five bouts, four of them in 2008. His latest victory was a first-round submission of rugged Quebecer Thierry Quenneville on Oct. 3. Sato, Shooto's tragic hero, has lost four of his last five, having been choked out by former Shooto world champion Akitoshi Tamura in a crackling bout this past May.
Sato's May meeting with Tamura was originally scheduled to be against Hioki, but the lanky Nagoyan was unable to recover from a nagging knee tweak after his March thumping of Baret Yoshida.
Sustain has also announced a 115-pound bout between “ATCH Anarchy” Atsushi Takeuchi and Katsuya Murofushi for the bill. Takeuchi has lost three straight, including a split decision to Murofushi's younger brother, Shinya, in September 2007. Both fighters are coming off losses to Noboru “Shinpei” Tahara, who stopped Murofushi on a cut in May and armbarred Takeuchi just six weeks later.
The pair of bouts joins the already announced card, featuring the 143-pound world title fight between champion Hideki Kadowaki and former titleholder "Lion Takeshi" Takeshi Inoue. Bouts pairing Hiromasa Ogikubo with So Tazawa and Jin Kazeta with Yutaka Ueda are also on tap. In addition, Shooto world 154-pound champion Takashi Nakakura will compete against a yet-to-be-named opponent in a non-title affair.
Inoue-Oishi 2 to crown new lightweight KOP
Pancrase has crowned two new kings this month alone, and it will put another fighter on the throne before 2008 is over.
Ryo Kawamura avenged his loss to Keiichiro Yamamiya and won the vacant light heavyweight King of Pancrase on Oct. 1, and undefeated Brazilian prospect Marlon Sandro took a decision win over veteran Masaya "J-Taro" Takita on Oct. 23 to become Pancrase’s featherweight king.
Pancrase has since announced that its Dec. 7 installment of the 2008 Shining Tour at Differ Ariake in Tokyo will crown a new lightweight King of Pancrase, when Katsuya Inoue and Koji Oishi meet for a second time.
Inoue, a former -- albeit undersized -- welterweight King of Pancrase, made the drop to the lightweight division in April but hasn’t found a victory in the division yet, drawing with Russian Djamal Kurbanov before getting spanked by Nick Diaz.
Oishi, another small welterweight who recently dropped to lightweight, was set to fight for the vacant lightweight King of Pancrase throne in August, but his opponent, Shinsuke Shoji, inexplicably announced his retirement shortly before the event. Oishi is coming off a unanimous verdict victory over UFC veteran and ZST torchbearer Naoyuki Kotani on Oct. 1.
Inoue and Oishi met as welterweights in May 2007, when Inoue punched out Oishi in the second stanza.
The Dec. 7 Pancrase bill will also feature the welterweight King of Pancrase eliminator between Hiroyuki Noazawa and Tomoyoshi Iwamiya, and hardluck veteran Daijiro Matsui taking on Ichiro Kanai. Light heavyweight champ Kawamura is scheduled for non-title action, while hot prospects Seiya Kawahara and Maximo Blanco will face yet-to-be-determined opponents, as well.
'DJ.taiki'-Uematsu rescheduled, Obiya un-retires at Deep 39 Impact
As quickly as Deep put its 38 Impact card in the books on Oct. 23, promotional shot caller Shigeru Saeki is already laying plans for 39 Impact.
Saeki got the ball rolling for the 39 Impact bill, scheduled for Dec. 10 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, by announcing the formerly postponed Daiki “DJ.taiki” Hata-Naoya Uematsu bout as the first fight for the card. Uematsu and Hata were originally scheduled to meet on Oct. 23, but a training injury forced Uematsu off the card, and there was not sufficient time to find the charismatic Hata an opponent.
The card will also feature the return of former Deep lightweight champion Nobuhiro Obiya, who has ended a brief retirement to head back into the ring against a yet-to-be-named opponent.
Obiya won the vacant Deep lightweight crown against Ryan Bow in April 2006 but was destroyed by Gilbert Melendez and Luiz “Buscape” Firmino in his follow-up performances in Pride Bushido. After losing his Deep crown to Kazunori Yokota in February 2007, the close compatriot and training partner of Takanori Gomi opted for temporary retirement.
Saeki also announced that the 39 Impact bill would feature one of the promotion's thematic fight series, which will pit Deep mainstays against fighters from the Wajyutsu Keisyukai network. No matchups have been named yet.
Powergate revises rulebook for ‘Paradigm Shift’
After establishing its brand in western Japan over the last three-plus years, quirky Kansai promotion Powergate is switching up its rules for its next event.
Powergate has established its own profile in the Kansai region with quirky aesthetics, including a hexagonal ring, restricted ground-and-pound, a knockdown count, a rule prohibiting closed guard and copious techno music. However, the promotion's Nov. 1 event at the Abeno Ward Hall in Osaka, aptly titled “Paradigm Shift,” will feature the introduction of punches on the ground, the allowance of closed guard and the abolition of the knockdown count.
Atsushi Tanabe, the president of Powergate parent company Versus, explained that, as Powergate fighters begin fighting in other MMA promotions with less restrictive rules, they were unprepared or adversely impacted by their Powergate experiences.
Powergate featherweight champion Daiki Ozaki took part in this year's ongoing GCM Cage Force featherweight tournament but was eliminated by Takeshi Yamazaki in the opening quarter-final round. Powergate poster boy Hiroki “Goodman” Tanaka will compete on the Nov. 8 Cage Force bill.
"This was well thought out,” said Tanabe. "We requested cooperation with all the representatives from major gyms in Kansai, made an independent committee and carried out deliberations.
"But, the greatest features of Powergate -- the six-sided ring and background music -- will stay,” Tanabe added.
The Nov. 1 event will be headlined by promotional regular Fumihiro Umezono, as he takes on former Shooto rookie champion Hiroshi Shiba.