So now it's official: Former baseball star Jose ‘Can’seco will be making his professional mixed martial arts debut on Tuesday May 26. He’ll be taking on 7’ 2" gargantuan Hong Man Choi at DREAM 9 from the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.
Your average Japanese freakshow bout, right? Well almost, but not quite. This match up just doesn’t sit right with me for an abundance of reasons.
Mainly because Canseco isn’t a trained mixed martial artist. He’s more of a civilian if you will. DREAM’s obvious reason for having him compete is to boost the daunting ratings they’ve faced as of late. DREAM 9 will air primetime on Japanese broadcasting channel TBS so it’s important that lots of eyeballs are glued to the set.
And it may pay off. The Japanese have a strong infatuation with the sport of baseball. And Jose’s identical twin brother Ozzie had a short stint with Japan’s Kintetsu Buffaloes and proved to be quite popular, though that was in the early 90’s.
But still, I'm not sure that can justify this booking.
Canseco claims to have a background in a variety of disciplines, but I‘m not convinced he should be fighting. I’m not saying he hasn’t trained in what he claims -- just that I don’t believe he has the adequate skill or efficient training to be competing at this level.
If his short lived boxing career was anything to go off at least, when he faced off against fellow "celebrities" in two bouts. After getting brutally knocked out by former Philadelphia Eagles return man Vai Sikahema in 2008, he then went the distance with putrid Partridge Danny Bonaduce earlier this year.
With that kind of resume, expect a gruesome ending in his squash match against Choi.
While Hong Man Choi is certainly no world beater and what skills he does have seem to be diminishing, he does have skills, more so than Canseco does. And couple that with his size and what does Canseco really have to offer?
Freak shows of this magnitude in the past have often consisted of an undersized but highly skilled fighter against a larger opponent but one who didn’t rely too much on technical prowess.
This Jose Canseco vs. Hong Man Choi bout seems to have taken that premise but switched it up, which is my main issue with this fight.
It pit’s the smaller, lesser skilled against the larger, higher skilled fighter and that to me is not going to be particularly entertaining to watch. Think of Kalib Starnes vs. Nate Quarry -- only ramp it up to the speed of a Benny Hill skit.
The result of this fight seems like a foregone conclusion, in fact I don’t think Canseco himself thinks he really has a shot at winning, he’s just turning up for the pay check.
What has made some freak shows in the past great viewing was seeing the smaller opposition use technique to overcome the size disadvantage they faced.
One of the most notably being when Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira triumphed over Bob "The Beast" Sapp at PRIDE Shockwave 2002, using superior technique to submit his foe with an armbar. It was made more enticing after witnessing Nogueira viciously piledrived and mercilessly beaten, only to come back, overcome the odds and claim victory much like he’s done his whole life.
The interesting thing about that besides the underdog story was seeing the martial art (in this case Brazilian jiu-jitsu) on display for the world to see, demonstrating its effectiveness.
This freak show between the "Techno Goliath" and the "Steroid stool pigeon" at DREAM 9 doesn’t offer anything like that. It’s not going to be pretty, it’s a train wreck waiting to happen though I could see why that would interest some.
But there’s no competitiveness to it which I think is one of the main reasons we all watch mixed martial arts. Is it not? Canseco doesn’t have anything to fall back on skill-wise like so many smaller opposition have when faced with the task of challenging a "Goliath."
Another factor is that Canseco is 44 years of age and unless your last name is Couture, that doesn’t usually bode well for highly trained mixed martial artists, let alone a former baseball player without much fighting experience -- against a 7’ 2" kickboxer.
And though Canseco isn’t the most liked person in the world by any standards, I’m sure most of us wouldn’t want to see him get seriously hurt (cough). If not for compassion for your fellow human being than at least for the black eye it could put on the sport we all hold dear.
With that the "Super Hulk" Tournament does have a couple of other intriguing match ups. One that should present an exciting showdown is Gegard Mousasi up against heavy handed kickboxer Mark Hunt.
Mousasi recently relinquished his DREAM Middleweight title because he desired a move to Light Heavyweight.
He’s the favorite, but what does winning the DREAM "Super Hulk" Tournament really do for him? Certainly a step down from being DREAM Middleweight champion. He was considered by many to be one of the few who could pose a threat to UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva, but them now ever tangling seems unlikely.
Also his opposition Mark Hunt, though tough, is 5-5 in mixed martial arts and on a four fight losing skid. A win over him won’t really do much for his stature. And a loss to Hunt would be worse, and it’s certainly a possibility with the weight advantage and the great stand up Hunt boasts.
Then after that, other likely candidates he’ll be facing could be Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, who has recently fallen out of favor in the eyes of many fans with his recent poor performances seeing, him come out on the losing side three times out of his last four.
Then there’s Ikuhisa Minowa, who could be a possible future opponent but is a middleweight, the likes of which Mousasi vacated his title to not face off against in the first place.
All this meaning Mousasi’s involvement in this tournament doesn’t make much sense, but it’ll still be joy to watch him compete nonetheless.
However if freaks hows aren’t your thing than no worries, that shouldn’t stop you from tuning into HDNet on Tuesday, May 26 at 5:00am ET. The DREAM 9 card has a whole heap of other stellar fights to offer.
The card will play host to the promotion’s featherweight Grand Prix Tournament.
The focal point of which will boast the long awaited return of 139-pound superstar Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, who was offered a first-round bye in the tournament in hopes that he will have recovered from a previous injury in time to compete.
He’s coming off a long 16-month layoff, but now he’s finally ready to compete and will take on wrestling stud Joe Warren.
In non-tournament action will be highly regarded lightweight standout Gesias "JZ" Calvancante who is set to throw down with Japanese mainstay Tatsuya "Crusher" Kawajiri, in a bout that has 'Fight of the Year' potential written all over it.
And grappling phenom Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza is slated to once again do battle with the charismatic Jason "Mayhem" Miller, in a bout that will be contested for the vacant DREAM Middleweight title.
So come showtime, the good should outweigh the bad, hopefully.
Here is the official line-up for ‘DREAM 9’:
Featherweight grand prix quarterfinals:
Norifumi Yamamoto (17-1) vs. Joe Warren (1-0)
Masakazu Imanari (16-6-1) vs. Bibiano Fernandes (4-2)
Yoshiro Maeda (24-6-2) vs. Hiroyuki Takaya (10-6-1)
Abel Cullum (14-2) vs. Hideo Tokoro (21-16-1)
"Super Hulk" Openweight quarterfinals:
Ikuhisa Minowa (41-30) vs. Bob Sapp (10-3-1)
Jan Nortje (2-5) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (5-4)
Gegard Mousasi (24-2-1) vs. Mark Hunt (5-5)
Hong Man Choi (1-2) vs. Jose Canseco (0-0)
DREAM middleweight title:
Ronaldo Souza (10-2) vs. Jason Miller (22-6)
Gesias Calvancante (14-2-1) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (23-5-2)
For more on DREAM, check out our archive by clicking here.
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