MMA News Written by Monte Dipietro, Photo's courtesy of FEG
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
TOKYO, December 30,
2008 -- As dusk descended on the eve of New Year's Eve, Japanese fightsport
fans braved falling temperatures to crowd Shinjuku Station Square for a glimpse
of the warriors will do battle in tomorrow's FieLDS
Thirty-six fighters, from age 15 to 40,
will step into the ring for the extravaganza, which has become a New Year's
tradition in the land of the rising sun. Tens of thousands will fill the Saitama Super Arena, and tens of millions
will watch on nationwide television.
Most of the fighters
did their final media interviews yesterday, and today the mood was festive,
with hundreds of shrieking fans stretching cameras and mobile phones high above
their heads, shooting photos and videos of their favorite fighters. The
veterans, accustomed to Japanese fan adoration, wore appreciative smiles on
their face; while some the younger fighters, particularly those from overseas,
appeared in awe of it all.
Dynamite 2008 features
a dozen DREAM MMA bouts in a variety of weight classes; a quartet of K-1 Rules
contests; and the culmination of the K-1 Koshien high school tournament.
FEG Event Producer
Sadaharu Tanikawa first took to the stage to deliver some unfortunate news --
French fighter Jerome LeBanner -- stricken with influenza and running a fever
-- will not be able to compete in his bout against Mark Hunt. It's expected
that a replacement fighter will be announced in the coming hours.
remarks by DREAM Producer Keichi Sasahara, the fighters were introduced.
A big cheer greeted
American Bob "The Beast " Sapp, who enjoyed tremendous popularity in
Japan a half-dozen years ago. Hong-Man Choi, the Korean behemoth, elicited
appreciative applause when he made his brief remarks in Japanese.
Not surprisingly, bad
boy Badr Hari's appearance drew a robust response, and a shout went up for
Mirko CroCop. Japanese fighters Sakuraba and Shinya Aoki were also very
Most of the fighters
used their microphone time to thank their fans, and pledged to do their best in
the ring on New Year's Eve. A few waxed poetic:
opponent will face his worst nightmare -- reality!" growled Sapp, who will
meet anime character Kinniku Mantaro in a surreal dance. The masked Mantaro,
who remained silent through interviews this week, did not respond to the
Mirko CroCop revealed
that he prepared for his bout with the 218cm/7'2" Choi by sparring with a Croatian Olympic
basketball player: "He's not a fighter, but he's the same size as
slugger Mighty Mo, meanwhile, pledged to become the first fighter to KO
three-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Semmy Schilt. As always, Schilt was
restrained with his comments, saying only that he would "show a good
mocked opponent Badr Hari's foul at the K-1 World Grand Prix Final, to which an
almost meditative Hari simply responded, "I will hurt him, I will KO him,
I will bring him a lot of pain."
Mousasi, who will mix it up with Japanese K-1 veteran Musashi, told the crowd,
"I have nothing to lose, so I'll do everything to win."
about the cold, while JZ Calvin thanked the fans for their love and pledged to
pay them back in kind from the ring.
Said Eddie Alvarez:
"I'm from Philadelphia, but I love it so much here in Japan that I brought
my family with me this time. Tomorrow you won't be disappointed!"
Shinya Aoki, whose faux-geek image has endeared him with fans, reached out to
the patriots in the crowd: "People say America is the center of the world
today, and even the center of martial arts is in America. I'm honored to have a
fight here in Japan that is gathering world attention. Tomorrow, I hope to
bring the center of martial arts back to Japan!"
The Dynamite Card
Competing under DREAM
Mirko CroCop (Croatia)
vs Hong-Man Choi (South Korea)
(Japan) vs Kiyoshi Tamura (Japan)
(Norway) vs J.Z. Calvan (Brazil)
Shinya Aoki (Japan) vs
Eddie Alvarez (USA)
Mark Hunt (New
Zealand) vs TBA
Hideo Tokoro (Japan)
vs Daisuke Nakamura (Japan)
Semmy Schilt (Holland)
vs Mighty Mo (USA)
"Mach" Sakurai (Japan) vs Katsuyori Shibata (Japan)
(Japan) vs Andy Ologun (Nigeria)
Bob Sapp (USA) vs
Kinniku Mantaro (Parts Unknown)
Minowaman (Japan) vs
Errol Zimmerman (Holland)
Competing under K-1
Badr Hari (Morocco) vs
Alistair Overeem (Holland)
Kozo Takeda (Japan) vs
Tatsuya Kawajiri (Japan)
Musashi (Japan) vs
Gegard Mousasi (Holland)
Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
vs Artur Kyshenko (Ukraine)