It goes without saying that Japanese fighters have had a rough go of it in the last few years… but I’m gonna say it anyway. Pride is a distant memory, and the two major shows that replaced it (Dream and Sengoku) are currently missing and presumed dead, with their rosters fleeing like rats from a sinking ship. Most of the Japanese fighters who previously tested the waters in America have already flunked out and returned home… some are now getting another kick at the can, and the rest are more or less unemployed (unless Deep’s hiring). And if all that wasn’t bad enough, a good-sized chunk of the country is now washed away and/or mildly radioactive.
Three (former?) Dream stars will fight on this weekend’s “Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley” card: Dream’s last LW title challenger Tatsuya Kawajiri gets a shot at SF champ Gilbert Melendez, Dream LW champ Shina Aoki kicks off the main card against fellow gaypants aficionado Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm, while the poor Dream FW champ Hiroyuki Takaya is left slumming it on the undercard against some dude you’ve never heard of. Dream still had enough breath left in it to put together the above video to promote them, but though my Japanese is a bit rusty, I gather it’s not a good sign when the screen says “DREAM ????” about a minute in.
It’s no surprise that these guys come bearing heavy hearts and a vague sense of needing to do their nation proud… well, except for Aoki, who apparently gives not a single shit about all that. Since his home was closer to the death-zone (and because he’s not a complete prick like some people) Kawajiri’s feeling it a lot more, and showed up to the open workouts wearing a shirt that read: “pray for Japan”. I’m not gonna lie, I’d enjoy seeing Aoki reduced to tears again, but here’s hoping Kawajiri and Takaya leave the cage on Saturday night feeling at least as good as when they stepped in.