At the start of the century, two MMA promotions stood alone at the top of the mountain, leaders of the pack, promoting the world class talent the sport had to offer almost in its entirety, with rosters that American, English and European organisations could only dream of. They were the pinnacle, the peak, and their events were the magnum opus of mixed rules combat and all its artistry.
Those promotions were PRIDE FC, and Fighting Network RINGS.
After 2002 when RINGS folded (Naseem Hamed too – if Don McLean was a fight fan, he’d have written a song called “the YEAR the music died”) Maeda moved on to manage K-1 Hero*s, essentially running the Mixed Martial Arts side of things for FEG.
After that promotion was abandoned in favour of combining with DreamStage Entertainment (PRIDE) staff to found Dream, Maeda, for whatever reason (probably a masculine, manly one) stepped down and founded his own low-level promotion, The Outsiders. ZST, a quasi-spin-off with its own quirky ruleset (including gloves NOT being mandatory, but if not worn, old-school Pancrase rules apply!)
Now in 2012, Fighting Network RINGS is back, and it’s here to stay.
Tomorrow is the BATTLE: Genesis card, and – assuming you know anyone on the card – it is scheduled as follows:
Main-event, Welterweight contest:
YUKI YAMAMOTO (3-3) vs. VITALI KRAT (3-0)
Shin Takenaka vs. Daiki Miyamoto
4 – 8 – 3 3 – 4 – 0
RINGS even have their own merchandise now. A sign of ambition, reclaiming their place in the upper echelons of the sport, or simply a small-time moneymaker among their Japanese fanbase, and the one or two people worldwide who still follow their progress, dream of revival, and would be willing to pay to have RINGS shirts shipped to Europe or Stateside.
Either way, feast your eyes.
Stay tuned for the fight videos from Fighting Network RINGS: BATTLE Genesis, and any further developments from this fallen giant, and hopefully rising phoenix.