In this edition of Nippon Weekly: Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto sees no challenges in the UFC, Michihiro Omigawa has been training like a man possessed, Shinya Aoki apparently likes MMA again, Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima is a butt-kicking incarnate, managers get drunk and presidents get angry.
Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto declares that Dominick Cruz is not a challenge.
In an interview with Japanese outlet Daily Sports, recent UFC signee and Japanese superstar Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto spoke on his career and how he evaluates the rest of the field in UFC's new bantamweight division.
"It's all right, there aren't really any guys at my level," Yamamoto commented. As for UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, "[He's] nothing special... not at all. I'll bring him down."
"KID", who is currently 33 years old and turns 34 in March, also revealed that he plans to fight for another two or three years and would like to have his last fight in a Japanese ring.
Yamamoto makes his promotional debut against Demetrious Johnson on Feb. 5 at UFC 126.
Sad note: KID's dog, Sonny just died.
Michihiro Omigawa diversifying training for UFC debut.
As Michihiro Omigawa revealed in an interview with MMA Fighting just prior to his UFC signing, the dramatic reinvention of the Japanese featherweight was largely due to his work with world-class boxers at the highly regarded Watanabe Gym (and the fact that he doesn't party all the time now). In his preparation for his Feb. 5 meeting with Chad Mendes though, the Yoshida Dojo judoka has taken things a step further.
In addition to training boxing at the famed Watanabe Gym, Omigawa has also been training at former Japanese welterweight and middleweight boxing ace Toshiharu Kayama's K's Box gym with Deep featherweight champion Koichiro Matsumoto, wrestling at Waseda University, is training at Yoshihiro Akiyama's Cloud Dojo on Monday and notably has reunited with Kazuyuki Miyata.
Miyata, who is riding a six-fight winning streak at featherweight and will most likely be the first challenger to Hiroyuki Takaya's throne (a fight that is currently being discussed), is a freestyle wrestling Olympian and also owns one of the few full cages in Japan at his BRAVE Gym in Misato, North of Tokyo. Omigawa, Miyata and Hayato "Mach" Sakurai all went to Tsuchiura Nihon University Secondary School together and used to train MMA in a padded out apartment owned by Omigawa.
Miyata and Sakurai often work together and share trainers but this marks the first time since graduating that Omigawa and Miyata have trained.
Hayato "Mach" Sakurai spoke to MMA Fighting about his secondary college days prior to his bout with Nick Diaz in May 2010.
An exclusive look at Omigawa's non-stop two-hour private workout at Yoshida Dojo will be up on MMA Fighting in the coming days.
Shinya Aoki refocused and looking to the West for inspiration.
The Shinya Aoki emotional roller coaster is a wild ride. Although we heard last week that the DREAM lightweight champion was considering retirement, this week sources close to the fighter indicate that he is once again positive about his MMA career and is making inquiries about training in America.
A possible spanner in the works (or perhaps a motivator) for Aoki's travel aspirations will be the birth of his child in late March.
Sapp and Tanikawa continue the war of words.
FEG President Sadaharu Tanikawa has gone on a Twitter rampage at Bob Sapp in response to allegations that the purse for Sapp's Dynamite 2010 pro wrestling bout with Shinichi Suzukawa (whom Kimbo Slice is now fighting in IGF) was changed on his arrival in Japan.
"No one cares anymore, but the Sapp incident had NOTHING to do with the fight money," said Tanikawa via FEG's English writer Stuart Tonkin. "You can ask IGF about that. That guy is such a loser. He is one lonely man...."
Someone then suggested that perhaps Sapp and Tanikawa should settle their issues in the ring. His reply, "I wouldn't lose to that hairless prick."
Bonus: Video of a Shinichi Suzukawa sumo match. No, that is not normal sumo. Video of Suzukawa "pro wrestling" match with Mark Coleman. No, that is not how it was supposed to happen. Kimbo better be ready.
More FEG Drama.
I wrote earlier this week on my speculations regarding the health of FEG but power manager Koichi Kawasaki aka "Booker K" has responded (while drunk) to the media's interpretation of the rumors surrounding the leading Japanese fight sport promoter.
"Regarding FEG, unfortunately the media doesn't know any of the specifics. They don't have a clue!! They don't have even the faintest idea. You're stupid if you believe the crap being tweeted. I'm drunk now: this is my honest feeling!!"
Not that it helps to add fuel to the fire, but rumors are now flying in Japan that Chinese backer PUJI has withdrawn from its deal with FEG. Nothing concrete on that though, we will need to be patient it seems.
Shooto Drama too...
In late December former Shooto world champion Noburu Asahi lodged a formal request to see the tax records of the backbone of Japanese MMA, amateur Shooto. Taro Wakabayashi, the man behind amateur Shooto, was unable to produce satisfactory records and so then resigned. The loss of Wakabayashi was a major blow for Shooto but perhaps was best for his health as he suffered a stroke in late 2010.
The news now comes this week via the official Shooto blog, that the entire board of directors has resigned. Shooto President Yuki Nakai is now in the process of appointing a new board which is expected to be announced on April 1.
Shooto is an organization that prides itself on its squeaky clean image and so the resignations are most likely an attempt to keep that image rather than any sinister money laundering scheme.
Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima wants to be more macho.
In an interview posted to K-1's official website, K-1 champion Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima spoke in detail about his shocking win over DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki at Dynamite!!
Along with breaking down his New Year's Eve match and discussing his hope to be more "macho" with muscles like a MMA fighter, the 2010 K-1 MAX Japan champion also talked on his autobiography which was released prior to his bout with Aoki.
The book called "JiDENotsu" is targeted at people who are lost and confused and details how he made the transition from a shut-in to a champion.
"If you're stuck in your shell, you can't escape your own narrow way of thinking. By stepping out of that shell, you can broaden your mind and horizons." Nagashima explains. "That's how I got my break and I hope there is someone out there that will read it and find the courage to take a chance."
The interview also features one of the greatest quotes in the history of fight journalism.
"My power of my positive thinking became ass-kicking incarnate."
Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa is in the Japanese mafia...
... in a movie. Osaka Fuki Iinkai (Osaka Discipline Committee) is out Feb. 18 on DVD. Catch the trailer here. Yes, he is credited as "Minowaman".
A look inside the legendary kumite.
HDNet commentator Michael Schiavello has posted a thrilling recount of his experience attending a kumite in 2009 with K-1 greats Glaube Feitosa and Francisco Filho. Disappointingly, Frank Dux didn't seem to be there.
Note: For pictures of Girlfight Monsters in caves or Shooto Champion's bakery preferences, follow me on twitter at @DanHerbertson.