Shooto promoter Sustain held its first official press conference regarding Vale Tudo Japan '09 today, and to say that there were some curious developments would be an understatement.
First and foremost: Takanori Gomi (30-5, 1 NC) has been officially announced as a participant, and he told the assembled media that October 30th could very well mark his final fight in Japan. After this, he'll pursue a career Stateside while trying to balance a second gig... as a professional surfer. Seriously - the "Fireball Kid" has apparently become so enamored of surfing in recent months that he's looking to obtain a pro license.
While Gomi's opponent is yet to be announced -- Sustain says they want to bring in a UFC fighter -- it's expected he'll fight in the main event of the show, which will air on Pay-Per-View in Japan via SKY PerfecTV.
As reported earlier today, the rumored bout between 143-pound legend Alexandre "Pequeno" Nogueira (13-5-2) and current divisional kingpin "Lion" Takeshi Inoue (16-3) is on, set as a non-title affair. However, a crucial detail emerged during the presser, as Tony Loiseleur wrote on Twitter:
5 rds and smaller gloves will be on trial during VTJ09. They want to see how they will affect the fighters in considering their future use.
Ooh... Lion slipped and straight up said, "next year, title fights will be 5 rds." So much for trying them out at VTJ.
So if the ISC is "trying out" 5 rounds, does that mean they're "trying out" real MMA gloves too? The world can only hope.
Loiseleur had a lot of great tidbits from the press conference; I suggest reading up. (Thanks BE member capital L for the tip.) Gomi apparently told him "learning to surf means I won't fall from turnbuckles anymore."
One other participant was announced, and this one's not a huge surprise, but Shooto mainstay Rumina Sato (24-14-2) will take part in the show. As rumored, Sato will be dropping to a lower weight after losing his 143-pound title shot to "Lion" in May. Sato said he felt "fast and comfortable" at 135 when he grappled with Ulysses Gomez at the UFC Fan Expo.
UPDATED at 2:50PM ET - Mr. Loiseleur's got a full report up over at Sherdog:
Sustain promoter Kazuhiro Sakamoto confirmed endeavors to contact Zuffa in an attempt to acquire foreign competitors to face Gomi and Sato.
“It’s not an impossibility, since we’ve had some [UFC fighters] come to Shooto before. We’re negotiating now, but of course, it’s all hush-hush at the moment,” he said.