Sengoku Loses Don Quijote, Shooto Reform, and Other News From Japan

Photo by Taro Irei for Sherdog

I'm an information junkie. Before I go to bed each night, I make one last round through my email and message boards and Twitter before I force myself off the laptop. Last night, I read Tony Loiseleur's excellent breakdown of the Shooto tax scandal, and kept the tab open as a reminder to write about it in the morning. Moments later, Twitter broke the news that an earthquake had rocked Japan. 

I stayed up for another two hours watching a news feed from Al Jazeera's English-language website, chatting with Derek Suboticki, and following LIVE UPDATES from Loiseleur, Dan Herbertson, and Stuart Tomkin via Twitter. (I also paid attention to our own Anton Tabuena, whose Philippines faced tsunami waves this morning. Fortunately, early reports indicate the islands are OK.) The images were striking. Mudslides creeping over farmland. People stranded on top of an airport observation deck. Cars and trucks floating aimlessly down rivers and streams. It reminded me of the stock footage used in TV specials with psychics and Nostradamus-wannabes that scared me as a child.

This morning brings conflict. One of the unfortunate aspects of writing for the web in 2011 is the slavish demand toward SEO, and, in turn, its focus on keywords. I don't want to exploit (or come off as exploiting) a natural disaster in return for a hand full of page views. (I won't name names, but the usual suspects are at play here.) At the same time, there's an obligation to post interesting and engaging MMA news, and ignoring the biggest news story from that same part of the world seemed just as unfortunate an option. 

I hope you understand.

All news provided by Tony Loiseleur via the Sherdog article above or Dan Herberton's official Twitter account unless otherwise noted.

  • Japanese discount retailer Don Quijote has pulled out of Sengoku. Sengoku recently let go of a variety of talent -- including middleweight champ Jorge Santiago -- and Don Quijote's decision likely starts the process of their ultimate demise. Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion reports the note from Sengoku's official website indicates that fans should prepare for the demise of the organization in the event that they cannot find a replacement sponsor.
  • According to Herbertson and Stuart Tomkin, upcoming Shooto, Pancrase, and JEWELS events have all been canceled. Herbertson believes most/all MMA events this month will be canceled.
  • I've said it before, but if you have any interest in Japanese MMA, Tony Loiseleur and Dan Hebertson's works are a must. The article linked above is a fantastic look at the current tax scandal surrounding Shooto. I don't feel qualified summarizing the piece with zero knowledge of the Japanese tax system and only a base understanding of the Shooto system, so check it out.
  • I can, however, comment on some proposed changes to Shooto. Hayato Sakurai is pushing for reform in the amateur system including adding greater range to the competitive classes, the application of Vaseline to the face, and the allowance of ground-and-pound in all bouts. Noboru Asahi, who has lead the petition for public release of Shooto's finances, would like to see Shooto adopt the Unified Rules, replace the Shooto ring with a cage, introducing five-round title fights, and abolishing the Shooto "pillow" gloves. Asahi told Loiseleur, "The best are in the UFC now, so why not create our best fighters here and send them over to the United States? Someday, we'll have an MMA version of Ichiro [Suzuki] or [soccer player Shinji] Kagawa."
  • Fight magazine Kamipro looks to be shutting its doors as well.
  • In the most cryptic news, Herbertson noted to Josh Gross that "the Apr. 18 event will not be a DREAM event. My source made a point of that." 
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