Koubousen Companion: Weighty Issues
If you thought Gary Shaw and ProElite were the only ones waging war
on the weights and measures of MMA, think again.
DEEP big boss Shigeru Saeki has announced that he is set to make a
plethora of changes in an effort to remodel DEEP in 2008. Perhaps
most interesting, he is strongly considering revamping DEEP's
weight classes to suit those of the unified rules of mixed martial
arts used in North American regulation and sanctioning.
Currently the only promotion in Japan that uses the unified rules
in any form is Greatest Common Multiple, which employs the full
unified rules for its Cage Force series. Although Saeki has not
elaborated on his desire to move toward the unified weight classes,
it would appear that he is intent on keeping the current rule
structure of DEEP, which includes stomps and soccer kicks while
In a recent interview regarding upstart company World Victory Road
and the establishment of the Japanese MMA Association, Saeki said
he loathed the idea of homogenizing the rules of MMA in Japan. He
feels rule structures are essential in providing the "flavor" of
DEEP currently has championship titles at 143, 154, 168 and 181
pounds, and at106 pounds for female competition. The promotion's
weight classes are less defined, however, as there are a
considerable amount of both open-weight bouts and bouts contracted
at catch-weights. Though that may not change, under the unified
rules the divisional titles would be revamped to 145, 155, 170, and
185, and to 105 in the female case.
Saeki also revealed that he wanted to add another weight class in
the neighborhood of 132 pounds -- a weight class used in amateur
and pro Shooto competition. Furthermore, he hopes to jumpstart the
division with a tournament in early 2008. However, if Saeki does in
fact revamp DEEP's divisions according to the unified-rule weights,
the division would be 135 pounds.
On the topic of championship reform, Saeki also revealed that as
181-pound champion Ryo
Chonan (Pictures)'s new UFC contract is exclusive,*
the 181-pound title will likely be on the market early next year.
Saeki stated last month that he planned on having a 181-pound
challenger tournament next year. But in light of recent events,
that same tournament, which will likely begin in February or April,
will probably be for DEEP's divisional championship.
Saeki is not alone in his vision of weight class reform in
Pancrase officials have also announced that they are very
interested in the idea of using the weight structure provided in
the unified rules of mixed martial arts, to "aim at a more
Much like DEEP, Pancrase apparently wishes to keep its own in-ring
rule structure, which currently eschews elbows and allows soccer
kicks and stomps. However, Pancrase authorities say that by next
February at the very latest, they hope to officially alter their
weight classes, likely in the pattern of the unified rules.
Pancrase runs weight divisions at 141, 152, 165, 181, 198, 221 and
221-plus pounds. Under the unified rules, these weight classes
would become 145, 155, 170, 185, 205, 265 and 265-plus. Current
Pancrase titlists would retain their titles under the altered
One of Japan's strongest gyms just got a little stronger.
Grabaka -- home to the likes of Sanae Kikuta (Pictures), Akihiro Gono (Pictures), Kazuo Misaki (Pictures) and Kazunori Yokota (Pictures) -- recently welcomed Riki Fukuda (Pictures) as an official team member.
Fukuda, who made his home at Killer Bee in addition to spending
time stateside at American Kickboxing Academy, has trained at
Grabaka in the past. His gym change is reportedly under amicable
Fukuda is coming off a controversial split-decision loss to
(Pictures) at EliteXC's Hawaiian
venture in September. The former Japanese collegiate wrestling
standout will now join the Japanese gym that has perhaps the most
depth north of the lightweight division, with Kikuta, Gono and
Misaki, in addition to Eiji
Ishikawa (Pictures), Keiichiro Yamamiya
(Pictures) and Yuki Sasaki (Pictures).
Also, Grabaka will welcome a crop of youngsters from Chute Boxe
Japan, as the gym's Nakano, Tokyo, branch, which is in the same
neighborhood as the main Grabaka gym, recently closed.
Sanae Kikuta (Pictures) has revealed that no less than
three up-and-coming fighters from the former Chute Boxe Japan gym
have opted to join the Grabaka team, and that he has been in talks
with Chute Boxe representatives in Curitiba to potentially foster a
relationship that could see collaborative training and fighter
exchanges between the two gyms in the future.
Hatsu Hioki (Pictures) will have an opportunity to atone
for his recent embarrassment in front of his hometown crowd in
Coming off a massive upset loss to unheralded South Korean Jong Man Kim (Pictures) in front of his home audience,
the 24-year-old Hioki will take part in the next Heat card in
Nagoya on Nov. 25 at the Nagoya International Convention Center
Event Hall. No opponent has been named for Hioki in what figures to
be a tune-up fight.
Hioki was originally scheduled to be a part of the Heat card in
August against Brazilian import Gustavo "Coelho" Franca. However,
due to a broken toe sustained in training, he was forced to pull
out and be replaced by Katsuya Toida (Pictures).
Also announced for the card, Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and NEX
Sports leader Hiroshi
Umemura (Pictures) will compete against a
yet-to-be-named opponent. The 35-year-old Umemura is 7-0-1 in his
last eight bouts and undefeated in the last three years. At the
last Heat card in August, he made short work of South Korea's
Seo Su In (Pictures), notching a first-round
One of Japan's influential MMA sites is about to celebrate its
first anniversary. What better way to celebrate than with an MMA
card of its own?
Later this month will mark the one-year anniversary of Kingdom of
Grapple, a mobile MMA Web site created by Broad Media Casting Co.
Ltd. In commemoration of the event, Broad Media Casting has
announced that it will hold an MMA event, Kingdom of Grapple Live
2007, on Nov. 25 at Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo.
The event will work in cooperation with a host of Japanese
promotions, including Pancrase, DEEP, GCM, Zendokai and Smack Girl.
The two-part bill will feature two four-man tournaments for
up-and-coming fighters at 143 and 154 pounds in the afternoon show.
It is expected that Pancrase, DEEP, GCM and Zendokai will each
provide a representative for each tournament to flesh out the
The evening portion of the card is scheduled to have eight
individual fights. With cooperation from Smack Girl, there will be
at least one female bout on the card. Pancrase competitors Hikaru Sato (Pictures) and interim welterweight King of
Pancrase Katsuya Inoue
(Pictures) are also being sought to
compete. Japanese MMA pillar Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (Pictures) is expected to provide some
talent from his Alliance-Square gym for the evening lineup.
Leading Shooto promoter Sustain has revealed the preliminary lineup
for the year's final pro Shooto card, which will crown the 2007
Shooto rookie tournament champions.
The Dec. 8 card at Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo will crown six of the
seven Shooto rookie champions for the year. The only final that
will not be contested on the card will in fact not be contested at
all. The 154-pound final was slated to match Hiroshi Shiba and Yu Ueda, who
are both teammates at Purebred Kyoto. The fighters decided among
themselves that Ueda would pull out of the tournament, allowing
Shiba to become the 2007 rookie champion by default.
In the 115-pound tournament, All Japan amateur champion Hiroyuki Abe (Pictures) (Hiroyuki Abe
class='LinkSilver'>Pictures) of K'z Factory, who is
undefeated as a pro, will look to repeat his first pro win against
(Pictures) of Paraestra Tokyo. Abe,
who dominated Tomohiko
Yoshida in the semifinals last month to advance, knocked off
Ikeda in his pro debut last November, choking him out in the second
round. Ikeda notched his first career win in September, stopping
(Pictures) with strikes on the feet to
advance to the final.
In the 123-pound final, 2006 All Japan amateur champion Tatsuro Kamei (Pictures) of Paraestra Hiroshima will try
to close out the tournament against Wajyutsu Keisuikai Tokyo's
Kenji Hosoya. Hosoya, who got a bye into the semifinals, took a
majority decision over Yosuke Ebihara (Pictures) to advance in May. Kamei defeated
Kenya Kayo and Suguru
Inoue (Pictures) in the quarters and semis to
advance, defeating both via triangle choke in less than a combined
Undefeated 20-year-old Paraestra Matsudo prospect Hiromasa Ougikubo
(Pictures) hopes to add a rookie
championship on top of his 2005 All Japan amateur title. Ougikubo
knocked off Satoru Ota in
May before steamrolling Kazuya Tamura (Pictures) and choking him out in the first
round in September.
His opponent, Purebred Kyoto's Yasuhiro Kanayama
(Pictures), also won a title at the
All Japan amateur championships in 2005 at 143 pounds. However,
Kanayama has not fared as well as a pro, with a 1-2-3 record.
Kanayama drew both Nobuhiro Hayakawa and
Junya Kudou (Pictures) earlier this year, and he
advanced in the tournament both times via lottery, picking the
lucky envelope after the draws were announced.
The 143-pound leg of the tournament will feature two turnaround
fighters vying for the title. Tomonori Taniguchi
(Pictures), a pupil of Hayato Sakurai (Pictures), began his pro career 0-3 before
impressively stopping both veteran Yohei Suzuki (Pictures) in a non-tournament bout and
(Pictures) to advance to the finals in
In the finals, he'll meet TK Esperanza's Kazuhiro Ito (Pictures), who after being dominated in his
pro debut last November, rattled off two sensational stoppages to
make it to the tournament finals. The heavily-tattooed Hiroshiman
armbarred Takumi Ota
(Pictures) in a mere 26 seconds in
May, before smashing Toshihiko Yokoyama
(Pictures) unconscious with a vicious
knee in September in only 32 seconds.
Submit Shizuoka's Akihiro
Yamazaki and Shooting Gym Osaka's Tomokazu Yuasa (Pictures) will do battle in the 168-pound
semifinal. The slick submission specialist Yamazaki quickly
submitted BJJ black belt Mateus Irie Nechio
(Pictures) in March, then knocked off
Daisuke Okumiya in
September to punch his ticket to the final. The powerful brawling
Yuasa picked the lucky envelope in March after a pitch-fight with
(Pictures) was judged a draw, and then
he bested Toshihiko
Sugimoto (Pictures) last month to advance to the
At 183 pounds, Hiroki Sato
(Pictures) of Kakuto Circle OZ will
meet Takaaki "C-Boy" Oban in the final. Sato crushed Atsushi Matsuki (Pictures) in last month's semifinal bout
with a first-round KO, and Oban made short work of Seiji Furukawa in May, tapping
him out in less than four minutes to reach the final.
For cards such as this, it is typical that Sustain uses a single
Class-A bout or an important Class-B bout with promotion
implications as the main event. No main event has been announced,
but the card's headliner could very well follow the aforementioned
While 2007's Shooto rookies attempt to make their mark in the pro
ranks, two of last year's rookie kings have earned their Class-A
After their wins at the Oct. 20 Shooting Disco card at Shinjuku
FACE in Tokyo, last year's 115-pound rookie champion Shinya Murofushi (Pictures) and 123-pound rookie champion
Ryuichi Miki (Pictures) have both been officially
promoted to Class A in Shooto.
Murofushi, 4-0-1, took a split decision over Atsushi "ATCH Anarchy"
Takeuchi, and Miki, 5-2-2, defeated Toshimichi Akagi (Pictures) via unanimous decision after an
action-packed 10 minutes.
The extremely lanky 24-year-old Murofushi dominated his way through
last year's rookie field en route to winning the 115-pound
tournament. He seemed bound for Class A from the beginning.
Miki's match with Akagi was essentially an eliminator bout between
two Class-B competitors fighting for a Class-A promotion. Miki, who
is now undefeated in his last six bouts, was an underdog throughout
last year's 123-pound rookie tournament, but he showed marked
improvement in each successive bout before defeating Ayumu "Gozo"
Shioda in the final.
There is no MMA action in Nihon this weekend, but a crop of female
fighters will cross the Pacific for Saturday's Fatal Femmes
Fighting card in Ontario, Calif.
With FFF champion Roxanne Modaferri sustaining a shoulder injury in
training, Hitomi Akano
(Pictures) has stepped into the main
event against rising Brazilian star Vanessa Porto (Pictures). Akano is coming off a September
loss to former adversary Takayo Hashi (Pictures), in which she lost her Smack Girl
128-pound title in a hotly contested decision.
The streaking Porto has emerged as one of the best up-and-coming
females in the world and gained a measure of publicity recently
with her public challenge of Gina Carano (Pictures). Because Porto-Modaferri was
scheduled to be for Modaferri's organizational title, the winner
will likely be Modaferri's next championship challenger.
Returning to FFF will be female-fighting pioneer Megumi Yabushita (Pictures), who will take on FFF titlist and
female stalwart Lisa Ward
(Pictures), who will be making a
considerable jump in weight to meet the former judoka and
pro-wrestler in a non-title affair.
Yabushita typically competes at 135 pounds. She fought at the last
FFF card in July, where she was destroyed en route to a unanimous
decision loss by the Josh
Barnett (Pictures)-trained Ginele Marquez (Pictures).
Ward, who usually campaigns between 106 and 110 pounds, last saw
action at the BodogFIGHT Vancouver tapings in August, where she was
submitted in the first round by female superstar Megumi Fujii (Pictures).
Two of Yabushita's Tomoegumi teammates will also make the trek.
Hard-luck veteran Yukiko
Seki (Pictures) will look to get into the win
column against novice Brandy
Nerney (Pictures), and FFF and BodogFIGHT veteran
Keiko "Tama Chan" Tamai will return stateside, trying to snap a
four-fight losing streak against Cindy Hales.
* Sherdog.com reported that Ryo Chonan's UFC contract was
non-exclusive, when it fact it's exclusive.
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