09 October 2006
HERO'S 2006: Middleweight & Light Heavyweight Tournament Final
Given that I had so much fun writing up the Pride show a few weeks ago, I thought I might as well do the same with their Japanese Mixed Martial Arts competitors - Hero*s. The latter company was near the end of two tournaments, at Middleweight (154lbs) and Light Heavyweight (187lbs) - the semi-finals and finals of both tourneys, as well as selected other fights, would all be on the one show. So, without further ado, here we go.
October 9th, 2006
Doors Open: 14:30
Fights Start: 16:00
Antonio Silva (FIGHT CO.) vs. Georgi Kaisinov (Marupro Gym)
Antonio Silva has a very large face. I proper would not mess with him ever. Feeling each other out. Russian on the offence. Quite messy, but hard hitting stand up. And a biiig left hand from Silva drops the Russian like A-level Chemistry – a left hook staggered him, and it was one of those slow-mo knock outs after just a couple of minutes. Guess we’ll be seeing Silva again.
Sweet, ‘Creeping Death’ on the Tokoro pimping video.
Ken Kaneko (Freelance) vs. Hideo Tokoro (Reversal Gym)
Ken out first. Can’t really go wrong with ‘Axel F.’ Tokoro makes like Ultimo Dragon and trips on his way out. I hope that’s not an indication of the fight to come. Ken in fast, with a guillotine attempt, Tokoro deals with it and goes for side mount. Gets it after a short struggle. Rolling about, quick arm bar attempt by Tokoro. Another juji gatame attempt gets Tokoro the win by tapout with 3:10 remaining in the first.
Even Better. ‘Enter Sandman’ for the Calvancanti (or ‘JZ Calvan’, according to the show) video.
Middleweight Tournament Semi Final:
Gesias Calvancanti (American Top Team) vs. Rani Yahira (Ataida Jr. Jiu-Jitsu)
Yahira jogs out to the ring; obviously does not want to waste any time. Without the frenzied rope-shaking, this is only a .3 on the Woyyah Scale. JZ (rather that nickname than J-Lo) with flags and entourage for the traditional excellent Brazilian intro. Err, wowowow. Quick scuffle, with Calvancanti stuffing a takedown attempt, a few seconds of messing around and Calvancanti gets the guillotine choke very, very quickly. I guess he’s winning the tournament.
I swear, we've had about four minutes of actual fighting at this stage.
Middleweight Tournament Semi Final:
Caol Uno (Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo Headquarters) vs. Ivan Menjivar (Tristar Gym)
This should be a very nice fight. I just hope Uno has upped his skills a bit, because the 2006 model hasn’t impressed me too much. Menjivar with the glasses – guess this makes him the real fight professor, yukyukyuk.
Big pop for the start of this. Nice bit of kickboxing to start, and Uno decides to stretch for a bit. Clinch, and Menjivar gets the better of the punching. Uno fires back, and they clinch a bit more. Every time Uno really tries anything, Ivan just unloads. Uno takedown attempt goes nowhere. Long clinch, and Ivan throws sporadic knees. Solid left kick to body from Uno, and a spinning kick misses. Ivan low kick sends Uno off balance, but he stays up, and this has been a decent K1 first round. 10-9 Ivan, if I must.
Ivan high kick, and Uno responds with a kick that gets caught. Uno gets himself free, after a struggle and a lot of hopping. They are laying in the shots now, as Uno catches Ivan’s leg. Again, kicker gets free. Decent, decent kicks from Uno are the difference in this round thus far. Uno kick caught again and Ivan counters with a spinning back fist that goes nowhere. Lots of clinching, but not much really happens in the clinch – Ivan gets the better of that by virtue of throwing some knees to the chest at least. They finally hit the ground, and Uno has Ivan’s back. Ivan stands up with Uno on ion his back, and they go down again. Quickly back up. Ref chats with Ivan in the corner. They restart, but it’s the end of the round. Second round Uno, and he ends up with the decision.
Light Heavyweight Tournament Semi Final:
Kestutis Smirnovas (Audra Gym) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (Freelance)
Let’s see if Smirnovas can make the most of his wildcard position - he lost to star Kazushi Sakuraba in the last round, in a very controverisial fihgt. Sadly, Sakuraba could not continue in the tournament due to a brain condition that is now hopefully under control. I am informed that he’s entering to Nobuhiko Takada’s old theme tune, but the rhythm sounds more like ‘Electric Head part 1: The Agony, by White Zombie. As the music kicks in, it gets less White Zombie, it has to be said. Akiyama wins the theme tune battle with ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. Yes I am a big softie. Smirnovas looks dangerous, and we get a shot of the inordinately beautiful female commentator. Akiyama sheds his gi, and we’re ready to go!
Smirnovas staggers Akiyama with a punch, and these names aren’t easy to shorthand. Ten minute round, eh? Lots of feeling out. The occasional low kick from Akiyama and the odd one-two from Smirnovas. Smirnovas catches a kick from Akiyama, but then just staggers. Smirnovas, expecting another low kick, ducks into an Akiyama right high roundhouse, then quite literally falls for a one-two punch combo. Small bit of Akiyama ground and pound ends it in a frenzy, after an uneventful first three minutes or so.
Light Heavyweight Tournament Semi Final:
Melvin Manhoef (IT'S SHOWTIME) vs. Shungo Oyama (Freelance)
Manhoef is never getting beaten on the pimping video stakes, as his soundtrack is no less than the classic ‘Holy Wars’ by Megadeth. God I love that song. Based off the theme tunes for the entrances, Manhoef is going to steamroll in this one. Can Oyama avenge the beating he took at Hero*s 4?
Time out just as the bell starts the fight. Weird. Start proper, and Oyama throws a decent low kick. There have been about two strikes in the first minute, but Manhoef sees to that. He avoids an Oyama takedown, and just EXPLODES on Oyama. High kicks, punches – he’s going nuts. Oyama dropped with punches, and it seems the ref stopped it before Melvin could unleash a stomp. It will take a lot to stop Manhoef tonight. Oyama is hurt, possibly from when a missed roundhouse dropped onto the back of his head on its way down.
Middleweight Tournament Reserve Bout:
Kazuyuki Miyata (Freelance) vs. Ian James Schaffa (Five Rings Dojo)
So, if Tokoro is ‘Humble Hero’, Uno ‘Fashionista Hero’, Sudo is ‘Showboat Hero’ and Yamamoto ‘Badass Hero’ – does this make Miyata ‘Hero With Insane Pecs’? It’s either that or Family Man. They hit the floor, and Miyata gets on top quickly. Throws plenty of punches, but nothing looks overly dangerous. I say that, but then they have a cut time out, so there must have been some decent connection. Miyata does have a solid chest, it has to be said. After a minute or so, the time out is permanent.
Light Heavyweight Tournament Reserve Bout:
Carlos Newton (Warrior MMA) vs. Tokimitsu Ishizawa (TEAM JAPAN)
It is so good to see Newton again; my fandom of him is just silly. He’s looking slightly big, it has to be said. After a few seconds of circling, Newton hits a gorgeous uppercut, and Ishizawa heads earthward. He gets another in as Ishizawa is falling, and ‘Ka Shin’ is out after half a minute. He even tries grabbing Newton’s leg, he’s that out of it. Positive return for Newton, but we can’t really tell much from it, other than he has decent hands. Sure, I didn’t get any Newton grappling magic, but certainly not about to complain. Now he’s ready for a proper opponent.
Don Frye (Freelance) vs. Kim Min Soo (RINGS Korea)
I get the feeling the Kim Min Soo prayer before entering the ring was more a hope he doesn’t get Takayama-d more than anything else. Don Frye looks, now more than ever, as though an old carny fighter stepped into a time machine in 1904 and came out today. I love it. Lots of acrimony during the stare down, and I don’t know what that was about.
Very quick, nervous striking to begin. Surprisingly even striking belies Frye’s composure compared to Kim looking terrified. Kim ends up committing to an attack, and gets a takedown, not much happens, and they are stood up. Frye is warned about something. They restart, and end up hugging in the corner. Kim with another takedown and mount. Ground and pound is largely stifled, but Frye is under pressure. Kim channels Macho Man Randy Savage, as he goes for a double axe-handle. Round ends, and Frye is a marked man.
Second round, and it is more of the same, though Frye looks a tad more focused. I suppose that’s because his corner told him off during the break. Kim has him in the corner again. Ref shouts for action a couple of times, ad they are separated. Frye has been slyly throwing leg kicks through the fight, and they finally seem to be taking a toll. Kim drops, Frye gets on top, and the fight is stopped. He’s proper out. Ah, replay shows he got smacked hard in the side of the head. That’ll probably send you down.
Middleweight Tournament Final:
Caol Uno (Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo Headquarters) vs. Gesias Calvancanti (American Top Team)
After the disaparity in how long each man has fought tonight, combined with overall recent form, this has to go to Gesias on paper. Uno heads to the ring with determination all over his visage - but will it be enough?! We get an NWO entrance from the Brazilian crew, as Calvancanti’s entourage gesture to the entrance before he comes out. Gesias is the picture of confidence here, and I don’t blame him one bit. I hope, for his sake, that he does not get too complacent. We get the anthems, and this is really classy. I love the Brazilian national anthem so much.
Excitement! Uno is throwing all manner of kicks, from roundhouse to axe, but JZ is avoiding easily. They clinch, and Uno is bullied into the corner. Back into the centre, and it is not JZ throwing the kicks. Clinch again, a knee from Calvan, and they get broken up for not doing enough. JZ really gets aggressive and, after a decent connection or two, really smells blood. Uno goes down, JZ on top. Uno defending well, as the crowd swells in a passionate chant of his name. JZ has his back,and they get to their feet in that position. Broken up again. Uno spin kick, but he goes down and starts getting pounded again. Defends well, but Calvancanti is all over him, and the round ends. Advantage in this round clearly goes with the Brazilian.
Lots of clinching to begin the second, and Uno is throwing little punches. JZ with a big takedown, and he’s going for side control. Switches to mount, but Uno is slippery. JZ gets guillotine position, but lets it go. Uno throws a low kick, but it’s too little too late. Just avoids a JZ rush, but then gets taken down. JZ on top, but lets Uno up again. Smart move as he then throws good punches, and throws Uno down. Big slam from JZ, and he’s just doing what he wants. Mounts Uno’s back, and throws grounded shots from behind to finish. I’m surprised it went to a decision actually. Calvancanti with a majority decision? Madness – that was a clear win.
Light Heavyweight Tournament Final:
Melvin Manhoef (IT'S SHOWTIME) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (Freelance)
In the absence of any injury, therefore ruling Newton out of the tournament, I am very much rooting for Melvin here. Make it so, Manhoef! I am shamed by my lack of recognition of the Dutch national anthem; I’ve seen too many world cups for that to be the case. At the same time, my guilty pleasure for ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ increases.
Manhoef is like a dervish, as he whirls around the ring throwing punches and low kicks. Akiyama does well to survive the frenzy for a minute or so, and they hit the ground. Back up to the feet, and Manhoef sort of has Akiyama’s back. They go back to the ground, Akiyama gets himself in a decent position, and gets with the arm bar. It’s sunk in well, and the Manhoef tap is only a matter of time. The short fight might have been a disappointment, had it not been so exciting. Hero*s gets another native champion. Final was actually reminiscent of the Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott confrontation from a few years back.
After the fights, the winners get some very nice belts (Akiyama even gets a white strap on his, to match his gi... coincidentally enough), and the losing finalists get commiserated. Poor Uno comes out with a pack on his shoulder that is so big, he looks like a high school American Footballer. Oh, you lie, there's a third place match?
Light Heavyweight Tournament Third-Place Bout:
Kestutis Smirnovas (Audra Gym) vs. Shungo Oyama (Freelance)
Bloody third place match! Feeling out from Oyama and Smirnovas, neither of whose hearts really seem in it. And it’s not hard to see why. After a lot of nothing, Oyama suddenly catches Smirnovas with a punch, who goes down, and it’s quickly finished. Damn, they’re really going all out in avenging Sakuraba, eh?