After beating Satoshi Ishii at this year’s Dynamite show, elderly judo statesman Hidehiko Yoshida said he had one more fight left in him. Many figured he’d save this fight up for next year’s Dynamite and perhaps a giant payday against retiring Yokozuna Asashoryu or something else similarly large. But it turns out that he’s decided to say “Fuck those clownshoe promotions” and basically throw his own retirement party in the form of an event called ~ASTRA~:
The newly-formed promotion, ASTRA, will promote Hidehiko Yoshida’s retirement fight on April 25th at the Nippon Budokan, an arena that has been known to hold up to 15,000 fans. Yoshida, of course, knows how to go out in style in the great arena built for Judo. Over the course of the weekend there have been rumblings of J-ROCK starting their own Mixed Martial Arts promotion, so ASTRA comes with little shock value. Of course leading up to Dynamite!! 2009 Yoshida was quite outspoken with how displeased he was with Sengoku’s compromising of their values and working with FEG’s DREAM promotion. Of course the management changes in SRC and change of sponsor with less money on the table didn’t help, either. This at least confirms that Yoshida Dojo fighters will no longer be working with SRC or DREAM for the time being.
There’s no word yet on who Yoshida will face but one speculation is that he’ll ‘pass the torch’ with a fight against his student Kazuhiro Nakamura. Not something that makes much sense to me, but since when has anything that’s gone on in Japan made sense to us gaijin? As for whether or not Astra will become competition for DREAM and Sengoku, it is currently being talked about as a one off event. That’s probably for the best … Sengoku is still hanging tenuously onto existence and DREAM isn’t exactly killing it either. The last thing Japan needs is another promotion to further split the market … unless of course that other promotion actually runs things in an intelligent and capable manner, in which case it could be exactly what the country needs.