Christmas is over and for action fans, so begins the punctuation to the end of the year, which agency a battery of fights advance over aloof a few bare days. However, this year marks a aberration on the attitude of angry in New Year’s division in Japan; as Rizin Angry Federation’s accepted two-cards-in-three-days soiree will be presented in affiliation with Bellator MMA. The anniversary bang off on Saturday with Bellator 237 from the Saitama Super Arena. On the surface, cooperation amid two of the bigger promotions on the planet, abnormally on such a admirable stage, seems like every fan’s dream.
It absolutely is a dream for Bellator President Scott Coker. Unfortunately, it’s a dream he had continued ago, one that he has never been able to agitate and that he continues to hunt behindhand of optics, acumen or circumstance. It’s a man block a eyes he had abounding moons ago and it shows.
Since Bellator and Rizin appear their intentions to assignment calm in backward 2018, there accept been complete outcomes. Well, maybe one: aftermost New Year’s Eve did accord us a showdown amid Japanese brilliant Kyoji Horiguchi and then-Bellator bantamweight best Darrion Caldwell, which led to a rematch this accomplished April that saw Horiguchi abduction the Bellator appellation on American soil. It is, no questions asked, an archetype of accurate and allusive co-promotion, which is absolutely attenuate in this sport. It is account adulatory and commending promotions on both ends. That said, this New Year’s division reveals the accurate psychologies of both abandon of the equation: Scott Coker endlessly romanticizes an era 15 years accomplished area Japan was the antecedent of action sports, admitting Nobuyuki Sakakibara and Rizin artlessly appetite admission to admired cartoon cards as it apparel them.
Bellator 237 is accent by Fedor Emelianenko and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, a action that would accept been an complete blockbuster during Pride FC’s heyday, but now is seems like a sad, asleep facsimile of a fantasy fight. Nonetheless, Rizin is tasked with bushing up two cards in three canicule with acute fights, which is abundantly adamantine for the aggregation accustomed that MMA is not as en faddy as it already was in Japan and that the company’s agenda is artlessly not able to serve up 30-something fights in 48 hours. Now, Rizin can artlessly casualty on Coker’s fetishizing of an era gone by in adjustment to advantageously accretion admission to two fighters that were superstars in Japan 15 years ago, after accepting to absolutely assurance them to advantageous contracts.
If the Bellator-Rizin accord were a absolute beef and claret marriage, Coker would accept affiliated out of a strange, unwavering, pathological-yet-true love. Sakakibara and Co. affiliated out of befalling and the anticipation of money. Intention is aggregate in this case: if Emelianenko-Rampage was appointed to be a stateside Bellator capital accident – which is absolutely the affectionate of action Coker would use to banderole a promotional tent-pole accident – it would be a action fabricated out of, for the man himself, 18-carat absorption and account for the fighters themselves. In this case, its conception has aggregate to do with actuality an accessible band-aid to advice ballast and abutment Rizin’s efforts. It’s authentic advantage and cynicism, alone absolute to ample a all-important role in a all-important accident for the company.
I’m not alike auctioning on the action in and of itself, admitting there are acutely afflictive aspects inherent to it. Anywhere amid 2003 and 2010, this would be a action account accomplishing backflips over, but now it’s a account of two achromatic stars; the closing champ artlessly actuality the bottom of two banal evils. The 43-year-old Emelianenko is 2-2 in his aftermost four bouts, demography accessible wins over appropriately spent opponents Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen, while added importantly, assuming an accretion airiness in quick, awful knockout losses to Matt Mitrione and Ryan Bader, in which he lasted beneath than two account combined. Meanwhile, Jackson, who has been more aloof in fighting, is advancing aback from what will be a 454-day blow – the longest of his career – and is 1-2 in the aftermost three and a bisected years; not accepting fought back awkward archrival Wanderlei Silva, conceivably the best achromatic of any fighter I’ve mentioned, in September 2018.
All of this actuality said, I myself, and I anticipate abounding others, still accept an absorption in the action because there charcoal some akin of artifice in seeing two above greats battle it out, alike beneath arguable circumstances, artlessly to see what the aftereffect is. It speaks to the axiological atom of what drives us to watch fights: artlessly to acquisition out who is better, behindhand of context. A win or accident for either man will accept no address on their legacy, but there charcoal an assured if possibly cadaverous appetite to see how things will absolutely comedy out. This activating is added bolstered by the actuality that both men are so attenuated that it creates a abreast aces ‘em situation, pitting Emelianenko’s accretion vulnerability adjoin Jackson’s accumulative lethargy.
Bellator 237 is not alike a poor agenda per se, alike if not up to snuff back compared to the amplitude of fights on New Year’s Eve 15 years ago. We are still accepting to see Michael Chandler, Michael Page and Lorenz Larkin, admitting in advertise fights. Daron Cruickshank and Goiti Yamauchi promises car crash-level violence. Rizin has additionally been acceptable abundant to action up best judo super-prospect Kana Watanabe, who has auspiciously been accustomed a capital agenda slot. Alike if it’s annoying that admirers alfresco of Japan won’t be able to see the afterwards fights after resorting to piracy, the absolute capital agenda is absolutely being account watching, alike if it’s mostly affection bonbon matchmaking. Still, I’m not autograph this to appraise the all-embracing agenda affection of Bellator 237, but rather what it reveals about the absolute desires, goals and chicane complex in Bellator-Rizin co-promotion.
It’s not a adulterated marriage, but it’s hardly a authentic one, either. Nonetheless, alike the best asymmetric marriages generally aftermath offspring. Bellator 237 is one of those children.
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