Author Topic: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA  (Read 4918 times)


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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #50 on: August 22, 2020, 03:35:19 PM »
Kakutogi Road Presents: "Stranger in a Strange Land" The Billy Scott Interview Part 1

We at Kakutogi HQ recently had the pleasure of sending over one of our cub reporters to track down UWFI legend, and catch-wrestling icon, Billy Scott, as he was nestled deep into the impenetrable forests of western Kentucky. Our plucky agent was able to transverse mountains, ford rivers, and endure many hardships, before finally getting the pleasure of meeting Scott, who was nothing but gracious and pleasant throughout this entire interview. We would like to publicly thank him for generosity in freely spending this time with us and agreeing to be interviewed. What follows is only the first part of this interview, a lot more is till to come, and I hope to have the rest of it up very soon!

MB: What were your first memories of wrestling, whether it was professional wrestling, or wrestling in general?

BS: My first memories of it? I guess my first memory of it was my first time going to Japan. How I got into the Japan episode was Shinji Sasazaki. Do you know who he is?

MB: Yes, from what I understand, and you can correct me if Iím wrong, he was originally part of New Japan, and he was living in Tennessee. Wasnít he working at a restaurant?

BS: Yes, now when I first met him, I didnít know what he was doing, or what restaurant he was working at, but later on I knew what he was doing. He was working at a restaurant, and Iím not sure if he was married at the time, or if they were just together, but his partner was helping a lot with getting the visas together for the wrestlers.

MB: So were you just a patron of the restaurant?...

BS: No actually, I went to a gym where my brother was getting ready for a Tennessee amateur wrestling event. My brother and I were both decent amateur wrestlers, and he was training for amateur wrestling in high school, so we were going to this gym to train, and there was a Japanese guy in there, that got to watching us, and I thought it was kind of weird at first, but it wound up being Shinji Sasazaki, and he asked us what we were training for, and thatís how I got involved in it.

MB: Ok. Thatís interesting. I know that the PWFG had a similar thing going where they had Masami Soronaka, who was living in Florida at the time, scouting talent for them.

BS: Yeah, pretty much.

MB: That leads me to my next thingÖ you really impressed me with your debut, because you werenít the first one there, I mean, I think that JT Southern was there, and Tom Burton was there before you arrived, and Iím assuming that they were recruited by Sasazaki as well?

BS: Yes.

MB: But you could tell, that while they could probably be fine in an American style of pro wrestling, they werenít really clicking in the paired down shoot style, and what really impressed me was that even though you could tell that you still had some ways to go, you really took to it way more than those before you.

BS: Yes, I was more aggressive, and I enjoyed it, I loved it. My first match was against Yamazaki, and they loved it.

MB: Ok, so letís back up a little bit. You meet Sasazaki in the gym, and he tells you about this. How does he explain it, how does he pitch it to you?

BS: He called it ďshoot wrestling,Ē and he showed me some scars that he had on his knees. I didnít know much about his background, and he spoke in broken English, so all I really knew is that I loved to train, and that he loved to train, and he showed me his drivers license where he was something like 300 pounds, and the time that heís talking to me heís around 185 pounds, and I was really impressed that someone that had his kind of knee injuries was able to lose that kind of weight.

MB: Did he tell you that this was going to be a work upfront, or did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into?

BS: No, this is what people donít understand. Over the years when people say it was a workÖ.some of it was, some of it wasnít. A lot of the matches that you see that you might say, ďthat was a work.Ē No, it wasnít. I was there. I was one of the guys that was inside there, now I have to say that there was some that was worked, I know that.

MB: Ok. Let me try and rephrase that. Did he ever explainÖ

BS: No, what he did to me was tell me that it was a shoot style of wrestling, and he wanted to know if I would train with him for a little while and try and pick up on some moves, and stuff like that. He took an interest in me, because he liked my style of wrestling, and I liked it because it was similar to the amateur style that I was used to, and some of the drills that we did. And I also did pro wrestling before that. Me and my younger brother did pro wrestling before this. Did you know that?

MB: No, I didnít know that.

BS: Yes, a little bit, but it was short-lived, but what I liked about this, was that it was more like a shoot, and it was more authentic, and when people talk about works, I knew what a work was, because of my involvement in American pro wrestling. But when a lot of these matches come up on the internet, and people say things like, ďoh they were working,Ē I donít pay any attention to it, because some of it was, and some of it wasnít, and it bothers you, because the training that you did, was the same kind of training that you would do if you were having to fight every day. There were times they would say to us, ďOk, now this is going to be a shoot.Ē

MB: Ok. Now would the average situation, or the average match be something like, ďOk we want you to go in there, and youíre going to pretty much spar, youíre going to be shooting, more or less, until you have the ending, this is who we want to go over, and this is how we want the match to end?Ē

BS: Well, sometimes over there in Japan, they would have you spar one with another. They would have you shoot, to determine the winner.

MB: I know that Ken Shamrock mentioned something similar to that. He said that when he first met with Duane Koslowski, that Koslowski didnít want to put him over, because of his Greco-Roman background.

BS: Right, right.

MB: So, I guess Fujiwaraís solution to this was to have the two of them go shoot in the back to see who wins.

BS: Yeah, thatís how they did some things, depending on who you were, they did that a lot of times.

MB: So basically you have the idea that itís going to be pro wrestling, but more in the vein of a shooting style?

BS: Yeah.

MB: Did you get to meet anybody before this? Before your match with Yamazaki did you get to meet Takada

BS: No, I never got to meet Takada.

MB: So, they were just like, ďThereís the ring, have a go!Ē

BS: Actually, the first time I met Takada I was in his corner, and I knew that he was a big figure, but I didnít get to meet him the first time I was there. What they did was take the Americans to the gym, so we could train, or do whatever we were going to do, and then take us back to the hotel.

MB: So, they had a handler that spoke English?

BS: Yeah, a handler, or you could call them a ďgreen boy,Ē someone that was supposed to pick you up. *Laughs*

MB: *Laughing* Yeah, there are always lots of stories about the ďgreen boys.Ē Ok, so going in, was this only supposed to be a one off, where you would wrestle Yamazaki and thatís it, or did they have plans on using you more?

BS: Their only plans were to put me in with Yamazaki and see how I did.

MB: Well, I have to say that you did a lot better, not that I want to say anything bad about him, than JT Southern. You could tell that he was not in his element.

BS: Yeah, he was on a different avenue, basically.

MB: Alright, so they did show you some submissions before you got into this? Did they show you any ankle locks, or leg-locks?

BS: No, they didnít show me anything. The only ankle locks I knew, were from Sasazaki.

MB: So, he showed you a few things?

BS: Yes, Sasazaki and I trained together, and we did stuff together. Basically, he was my coach before Robinson.

MB: Ok, so going in there against Yamazaki, (it was a great debut btw), what were your thoughts on this, were you nervous going into this?

BS: Yes, I was nervous and excited, I mean, I had never been outside of the country, and for me to go over and experience that, I was as excited as you could get.

MB: Did you know anything about him going in?

BS: Actually, I got invited over to Yamazakiís place for dinner, and he showed me a video of him, and I was like ďHoly shit! This guy is awesome!Ē And that was all that I had seen of him, thus far.

MB: How well did he speak English?

BS: He didnít speak English, hardly at all. The majority of them spoke broken English, though they spoke better English than I spoke Japanese! *Laughs*

MB: Well, obviously they must have liked you, because they brought you back. Now Iím going off of memory here, but I believe your next match was a tag match, but your third match was against Yoji Anjo, and that was your first win I believe, so they must have saw some potential in you.

BS: Yeah, the training we were doing with Sasazaki, like when we would lift weights, or when there was a workout, we were there to WORK OUT. He wanted you to jump rope, and when he looked at you, he wanted to see someone that was up to par to being a fighter.

MB: How did that work anyway? After your Yamazaki fight, did they just basically say, ďHey you were great, and we would like you to come back?Ē

BS: Actually, I didnít think I did so well. I mean I didnít think so anyway. I came back to my mother, and my stepdad, who was there with his wife, and they gave us some balloons. I was like, ďWhatís this?Ē And they said, ďTheyíre balloons, that means we would like you to come back.Ē And once they did that, I felt good about it.

MB: So for your 2nd, 3rd, match, etc, did you fly to Japan, and get some time to train, to prepare for a match, or did you pretty much have to just show up, and be ready to go?

BS: Usually they gave you a three-day window. That three days was what you had to work with, and you needed two of those days to deal with jet lag! They would pick you up, take you to the gym, have you train, feed you, and take you back to the hotel, and it was never more then 6-7 days before I had to head back home, so it was a quick trip.

MB: Ok, so you didnít get any prolonged times to train at this stage?

BS: No, when we first went, I can remember some of these guys, like Tom Burton, and Steve Nelson, people like that, what we did when we got there to deal with the jet lagÖ Have you ever been to Japan?

MB: No, I havenít.

BS: Ok, so over in Japan it didnít matter what kind of hotel you went to everything was always really nice as far as the tile, there was never any kind of drywall, everything was tile, or some kind of stone, and it was always really nice, so because the rooms were small, we would turn on the hot water and put towels under the door, and try and turn it into a steam room before going to bed, and we would try and stay up as long as we could to try and recover from the jet lag. It was crazy, but thatís what we did.

MB: What was it like working with Anjo in the ring, what were your thoughts on that first win?

BS: I thought he was pretty slick at the time. I thought he was an all-around decent guy, and he actually spoke pretty good English out of all of them. Actually, I think he spoke really good English because at one time he lived in England, up until he was 5 years old, or something like that.

MB: At the end of 1991, at the giant end-of-year show that the UWFI had, you faced James Warring, and this show was interesting for a number of reasons, because not only was there all the press due to Takada facing Trevor Brebick, but also you facing Warring, who was still a champion at that time.

BS: He had won all 4 kickboxing titles and was the current IBF cruiserweight world champion.

MB: I watched that match, and I have to ask, what happened there?! That was one of the strangest things Iíve seen.

BS: Well, this is the way they did itÖ If you look, Iíve got some old posters in the back *Editors Note: Scott is referring to a promotional poster that had hanging up in his gym. James Warring pulled out of this fight temporarily and was briefly replaced by Ernest Simmons* This was one of the few matches were they offered me a chance to come to Japan and do some more training there, so I got to go and train for six weeks, to prepare to face this guy. At the time, me being young, and me liking challenges, I wanted to do it. But the person they wanted was James Warring. When we got to New York to do a press conference kind of thing, he didnít show up, but he was the one that they were trying to get, and they wound up filling him in with another guy, heís one the board back there (Ernest Simmons). Then two weeks before the fight was supposed to happen, James Warring comes back into the picture, so to me they were trying to pull one over on me, because they both had the same promoter, or the same manager. The whole time they wanted James, because he was an accomplished kickboxer, and the current IBF cruiserweight champion, but they had this other guy scheduled instead.

Original promotional poster for the 12-21-91 UWFI event. This poster showed Billy Scott slated to face Ernest Simmons, but that didnít come to fruition.


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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #51 on: August 22, 2020, 03:36:42 PM »
*Billy Scott Interview: Part 1 Continued....*

MB: Ok, so if Iím understanding this correctly, there was some apprehensiveness on Warringís part?

BS: There was. They came to me and said ďHey, this is what we want you to do, weíre going to have this big fight, and would you be willing to come here and train for it?Ē And I told them that I would, and they told me that James Warring is the one that they wanted to put me in there with, but somewhere along the way, things didnít work out, and Iím now fighting someone else. I donít know if it was money, or what, but when I get to Japan and start training, they started advertising this other guy, (Ernest Simmons), so I think that Iím fighting him, and two weeks before the fight they came to me and said, ďYouíre going to fight James Warring now.Ē So, to me they were trying to protect peopleís images.

MB: Ok, so basically they said, ďWe want you to fight James Warring,Ē and then they were like, ďNo heís backing out, we got someone else,Ē and then at the last minute, ďItís Warring again?Ē

BS: Yeah, they couldnít get things worked out with who they wanted in Warring, so they had this other guy, which to me, after looking back on things, and Iíve looked back on this a lot, Iím like, this was crazy, because all that time, you are training to face one guy, now all of the sudden you have to fight someone else.

MB: I watched the fight, and I donít know if you ever saw, or heard about this, but during one of the early PWFG shows Takaku Fuke fought Lawi Napataya, who was a Thai boxer, and he actually had two fights there, the first one was with him, and the 2nd one was with Minoru Suzuki, but both were shoots, and the first one was hilarious because obviously they didnít really think the rules through, because that ring was even smaller than the one you had to fight Warring in. Here you had a very small ring, and you have a very skilled Thai kickboxer in Napataya, who was completely lighting up Fuke in the standup. Now Fuke had very good takedown skills, but he would constantly get caught up in the ropes, every time he would take Napataya down, and this would just keep going on and on, and to make matters more hilarious, Napataya was having his cornermen grease him down inbetween rounds! Now my question is, were you frustrated during this fight? For one things, it seemed like he was using his reach and his height to good effect, and he also seemed very apprehensive, and cautious, and you would have to keep taking some shots before you could take him down, and when you finally get that takedown, he gets the rope escape, and you have to do that all over again.

BS: Yeah, it was aggravating, because thatís how the rules were set up. Thatís the only way that him and his manager would take the fight, is if the rules were like the way they were. They wanted rounds, and we didnít use rounds, but they insisted on having rounds for this fight. The judges were supposed to deduct points when we used the ropes to escape, but what he was trying to do (because he said that he was going to knock me out in the first round) and he did knock me down in the first round, and if you remember from watching it, I got the heel hook, but he rolled, and he was long enough to get to the rope. I remember feeling something pop when I had him in that heel hook, but he was still able to stand back up. During that fight he always stayed close to the ropes, and thatís because of his reach. He made it to where I had to get close to him, to try and pick him up and take him down and submit him, or use palm strikes, or whatever, and as a fighter, Iím getting aggravated because Iím trying to FIGHT. Iím trying to go to him with the palm strikes, heís punching, and as soon as I get ahold of him, he gets a rope break, because his whole idea was that he was going to knock me out.

MB: Now while youíre in the middle of this are you thinking, ďWow, having unlimited rope escapes, is the stupidest idea in the world.Ē

BS: *Laughs* Yeah, I thought it was silly.

MB: Yeah, I thought the same thing, of course, at this time weíre breaking new ground. I donít think anyone is thinking about the problems that are going to come up, but had there been letís sayÖ I donít knowÖ ten rope escapes, just pick a numberÖ now obviously he would have lost eventually because he would have ran out of rope escapes.

BS: Yes, first off, it should have been set up that way, but where they were, at that time, they were trying to do a mix style of fight. In those days if you went to a karate tournament, you saw karate, jiu-jitsu, you saw jiu-jitsu, boxing, you saw boxing, and this is really how mixed martial arts started to come about. Now the thing with Trevor Berbick against Takada, I do know that when we were in New York at that press conference, Trevor mentioned that he didnít want to have anything to do with kicks below the waist, and thatís why during that fight you could see him waving his arms, and looking shocked. Now this is how bad people areÖ.when we were at Mickey Mantleís restaurant, where the press conference was being held, his own people kept telling him that they would take care of it, and make sure that the fight had the stipulations that there wouldnít be any kicks below the waist, but the Japanese didnít want any of that, they wanted their style of fighting, against a boxer like that. They saw Trevor, and they saw someone with a big name that they could use, but had Trevor known that the fight was going to have kicks below the waist, he never would have taken it.

Scott vs Warring

MB: So, you think that Trevor went into this with the wrong understand, that he probably thought he was going to have an American style kickboxing fight with no kicks below the waist allowed?

BS: Yeah, he thought that he was going to be able to go in and just punch with Takada. His people were the ones that did this to him, because if he didnít fight, they didnít get paid either.

MB: *Laughs* I didnít think of that, but that makes sense. I wonder if a lot of fighters get screwed like that, especially when thereís communication issues.

BS: When I was in New York, Trevor was adamant that there was to be no kicking below the waist, and his lawyer was there as well. He was some guy that had a doo-rag on his head, and looked like he just came in off the street, but anyway, to make a long story short, to me his crew lied to him so he would fight and they could make the money, and they didnít give a rats ass about him.

MB: Iím glad you shed some light on that, because when you watch that fight you can see that Trevor doesnít seem to know whatís going on.

BS: Yeah, thatís why at one point in the fight you can see him yell back to his corner. One of the people in his corner was his attorney, and the other one was his coach.

MB: As this is going on, are you aware of some of the other promotions out there, like RINGS, and Akira Maeda, Shooto and Sayama, Fujiwara, etc?

BS: Sure.

MB: Did they ever express any interest in you, or did you get to see what they were doing?

BS: No. I guess you could say that Iím old fashioned, more so now, but even then, my upbringing was that unless you have some type of a conflict that you stick with what you start. I didnít have any kind of conflict with the UWFI, and I was treated right, so I had no reason to move on, at that time. But I did know about rings, and of course Tamura went to Rings later, although I didnít know what the ordeal there was.


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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #52 on: August 30, 2020, 09:59:32 AM »
Kakutogi Road Presents: "Stranger in a Strange Land" The Billy Scott Interview Part 2

MB: If my notes are correct, this was your last show for a while (referring to the 12-21-91 show) and it looked like you were out of action for all of 1992, and all the way into September of 1993.

BS: Yes, the reason for that was a contract dispute. You saw my matches, and saw what I was wearing?

MB: You were wearing a singlet, right?

BS: Yes, a singlet, red, blue, or whatever, but after that they came to me and said we want you to wearÖ *trails off* Ö My idea was to agree to come over for a certain amount of money per fight, and everything was going to be paid for, and they were going to take care of everything, and Sasazaki said ďIf thereís something you donít understand, you come back to me, and tell me, and Iíll take care of it.Ē He told me that in case there was any kind of misinterpretation with anything. So, I get over there about three weeks before the fight, and they told me that they want me to have a different outfit, so thatís where the green came in at, and the trunks, and shinpads. So, I agreed to it, but when they went to pay me, my pay was short $500. So, I went to them and asked them way my pay was short, and they told me that they took out half of out my outfit cost, and I was like, ďNo. You pay all of it. This is what you wanted, not what I wanted. Also, this was around the end of 91, and I had a very young son, that I was paying child support on. They had decided that they wanted me to stay over, and I told them that I couldnít stay, and I already had a return ticket, and I told them that I had to go home. They then told me that I had to stay, and I told them no, and they told me to come back around January 10th (of 1992)

MB: Ok, letís pause there for a second. Now when these guys were dealing with foreign talent, did they typically try and pay per appearance, or did pay a contracted amount per month?

BS: Well, at that time, as far as I know, all foreign talent was paid per fight, there were no long-term contracts at the time. 

MB: So, they pretty much told you, ďWe want you to come in this day, and this is how much weíll pay?Ē

BS: Yep. They pay was per the date, and you could come back or not.

MB: Now, did you see that pay go up as you started becoming more prevalent in the company?

BS: Now after all this, I made a mark for myself. I enjoyed it, and I had made a mark for myself. For me it came down to how I was raised. It wasnít about the $500, rather it was the principal behind it. They were supposed to pay for everything. So, I came back and spoke to Shinji, and told them there was a misinterpretation, and something was wrong, and I was out $500 from my pay, so he told me that he would take care of it. Now at this point I have no contract to return, I donít have anything, because they had per fight contracts at the time, and so Shinji called the main office and they said, ďNo.Ē They insisted that I pay half, so I said, ďFine.Ē They wanted me to come back January 10th, and I already had my ticket to come back on that date, and Iím like, ďI donít have to go back,Ē and theyíre like ďNo, you have to come back.Ē But not without a contract! *Laughs* So what happened during the year of that breakage, and why it was broke for so long, was because we were going back and forth butting heads. Well, finally I had moved over here to Kentucky, and they had kept trying to call my mom, and they got ahold of my mom, and then she tried to contact me, telling me, ďHey I got someone from Japan trying to get ahold of you, thereís someone from Japan that keeps calling over here asking about you.Ē She didnít know why they were calling though, and I blew it off, but after a while I wondered who was continuing to call, so I got in touch with them, and they said that they wanted to meet me and talk to me. So thatís when we met, and they told me that they were interested in me coming back long-term. I agreed, but I told them that they still had to pay me the money that they owed me. They paid me my money and gave me a 3-year contract, too.

MB: Now in the meantime were you thinking that, ďOK. Iím done with professional wrestling, this is over, Iím going to have find something else to do with my life?Ē Or did you think that they were going to break?

  BS: No, to be honest I was at a point where I was in no hurry, as I had set myself up in a good position, and I didnít feel like I was in the wrong, but I still trained, and still did whatever, but what really made everything better for me, is that they also offered to provide a coach for me. A different coach. This was in the contract, and this is where Billy Robinson comes in.

  Billy Scott with Billy Robinson and friendsÖ

MB: Interesting, so when you say coach, are you talking about a coach that is going to be presiding in Japan, or a coach that was going to be in Kentucky?

BS: No, he was going to be in Tennessee. They brought him in from Vegas to Tennessee. (Billy Robinson)

MB: Wow, they actually paid to have him relocate?

BS: Yes, they relocated him, and paid for everything, so that they could have him coach me.

MB: Wow, I was going to get to Robinson later, but this is really fascinating. I had heard about the UWF Snakepit in Japan, but that must have been later.

BS: Yeah, that was later.

MB: Ok, so Robinson is basically living in Vegas, and then they relocate him to Tennessee?

BS: Yeah, the relocated him to Tennessee after I agreed. I donít know when the negotiations took place, but if everything worked out with me, it was going to work out with him.

MB: What was your schedule like training with him? Was it 5 days a week?

BS: We trained 5 days a week, 3 hours a day. That was my life.

MB: Thatís amazing.

BS: And he wasnít just a coach, as far as just coaching wrestling, he was a coach in life. When I first met him, he shook my hand, said he was glad to meet me, and that we are going to be like father and son. When he said that, Iím thinking in my head, ďThis crazy old man, who does he think he is?Ē At the time I thought he was crazy, but as time went on, I learned that what he told me was true.

MB: Well, thatís really awesome, too because there arenít too many people, especially in this country that got to train at the feet of someone that was really was the last in the line of these old catch-wrestling icons of times past.

BS: It was awesome, I enjoyed it. I didnít realize at the time, how lucky I was, and how if I hadnít did what I did at the time, and not refused to come back over the $500Ö..because I could have went, but if I did, then that deal with Coach Robinson, may have never worked out.

MB: So, Robinson was basically your personal trainer 5-days a week?

BS: Yes, 5-days a week, and sometimes, during certain parts of the year, we would train twice a day. It was brutal.  Shinji Sasazaki, he liked to do a lot of running, and in those days, when youíre young, you just do whatever. Whatever Shinji told me to do I did. He was like my boss. I had to look at it that way, because they were paying me for training, and that was my life.

MB: Now when this was happening, did you have any concept of how much of a pedigree this man had with catch-wrestling?

BS: You mean Robinson?

MB: Yeah.

BS: Shit, I had no idea.

MB: So, itís safe to say that you didnít realize how amazing this opportunity was at the time.

BS: No, I did not. When they told me that my coach was going to be Billy Robinson, I was like, ďHuh, whoís that?Ē They told me that they were going to get me the best coach ever. Now Shinji used to watch Robinson when he was a boy in Japan, so Shinji was apeshit about Robinson. So now I have Shinji, and Robinson, and I had another coach named Terry Farr (SP?) he was an American boxing coach who also taught Keith McKnight, who at one time was ranked 6 in the world, and I think that he was even ranked above Mike Tyson, and some of those others at one point in time. So, I we also got to work against boxers, sometimes, so it wasnít like American pro wrestling. A lot of us were busting our assess every day, so we should legitimately shoot if we had to. Sometimes when you were going over, you didnít even know who you were going against. Did you ever see them do the ball thing in the UWFI? Where they put names in.

MB: You mean like a lottery to see who was going to face who?

BS: Yeah, like a lottery. Did you ever see this? So what they did, it was like a celebration thing, they would put all these balls in a sack, and when the ceremony was done, they would toss it out to their fans, as kind of a collectible type thing.

MB: I donít remember a lottery, but I do remember seeing Takada and Yamazaki toss the balls out into the crowd. Now as this is progressing, do you start having more actual communication with Takada?

BS: Oh, no. I never dealt with Takada. He was always in the back. I just dealt with mainly the green boys.

MB: OK, let me back up a second, now the whole Trevor Berbick, and James Warring thing, to your knowledge, were the people behind the scenes pissed at the whole thing? Did they feel like it was a disaster, or were they happy with everything?

BS: No, they were happy with it.

MB: Well, when the Warring match was over, did you find someone and say, ďHey, this is BS!Ē

BS: No, it was already over. To me it was just part of the fight, and now itís over. But at some point I had heard that Warring was favored to win a ten-round fight, and he couldnít understand how he lost the fight, but he understood the rules. The rules were if you didnít engage with me, you would be penalized. All he had to do was engage and stop touching the ropes. Why do you think I threw his ass over the ropes, like I did?

MB: *Laughs* Yeah, it seemed to me that you were getting frustrated more and more as the fight went on.

BS: I was getting frustrated because he wouldnít engage and I was young, and I didnít bust my ass for seven weeks, for nothing, and I was there to prove a point. To me at that time, it was an opportunity for me step up. I was 20 or 21 years old, and I wanted to take advantage of it. Now looking back on it, it was an opportunity from no mans land, but at the same time, my mental state at the time as a competitor was that I busted my ass in training.

MB: Well, youíre a competitive person. You donít want to lose. Especially for the wrong reasons.

BS: Sure, and when somebody comes in there, and the rules were set up that way, and the guy is really not engaging with you, itís just me going in and taking punches, just to grab ahold of a guy, and then all of a sudden you grab the ropes, it becomes a situation where you donít have any satisfaction out of it.

MB: Sure, and the problem was made even worse because he had a lot of reach, as he was a very long guy, and he could pretty much reach the ropes wherever he was. So, I could see why that would be frustrating. Ok, so your next appearance is 9-18-93. Now I tried to do as much research as I could, and I donít know if Iíve been looking in the wrong places, but I couldnít find any footage of it, but apparently the UWFI had an event in Tennessee as part of a boxing event? Is that correct?

BS: Yes, that was club knockout, it was an event that Terry Farr (SP?) did. They used to promote fights, and bring boxers in.

MB: Ok, so it was a boxing event, and they decided to have a couple of UWFI matches as a special attraction?

BS: Yeah, yeah.

MB: Did anyone even have any clue what this was?

BS: No, they didnít but when we went on, the people went apeshit for it! It was crazy, and to be honest with you, that was the first night that I got to meet Coach Robinson.

MB: So you actually got to meet him there?

BS: Yes, I met him there, and it was his birthday.

MB: Now you fought Anjo again, correct?

BS: Yes

MB: And you won?

BS: Yes

MB: Do you know if Anjo had ever been to the U.S. by this point?

BS: Yes, I believe that he used to go and stay with Gene Lydick and Steve Day, out in Atlanta, and Anjo had been to the states, because he had to visit Shinji.


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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #53 on: August 30, 2020, 10:06:42 AM »

MB: Ok, so the UWFI didnít have any intentions of breaking into the U.S. market? This was just kind of a one-off event?

BS: Well, actually when we were doing the mixed fight with Warring, they were wanting to break into the U.S. market. When we were in New York, they went over to Madison Square Garden, and looked at using it as a venue, and we went to a Goldís Gym to do a photo shoot before the fight. They were talking about doing this worldwide, they didnít just want to stay in Japan.

MB: Thatís interesting, not to get off into the weeds here, but I think that has been something that has been a hindrance to other Japanese promotions, for example K1, as there was a time that K1 could have been more worldwide, but it seemed like they wanted to stay in Japan, and so for UWFI to have the ambition to be worldwide, is interesting.

BS: Well, you know the owner of K1?

MB: The original owner?

BS: Yeah, the original owner.

MB: *Thinks for a minute* Kazuyoshi Ishii! *Laughs* He was a good friend of Maeda, too.

BS: Yes, he was. I met him.  Now the word was then, that HE wanted to control everything related to fighting in Japan. He also owned a lot of disco clubs in Japan at the time, and he was using military bases, and using some of the military personnel for security.

MB: Did you ever feel any animosity because you were a westerner, or any bad attitudes or did you think that anyone ever looked down on you?

BS: No, anybody and everybody that I ever met in Japan, they all treated me great.

MB: You never felt like there was any weird politics that you had to deal with?

BS: No, at least if there was, I was never aware of any.

MB: So, the UWFI had global ambitions. Why didnít it go any further, than that match in Tennessee?

BS: Well, right after that match in Tennessee, thatís when the first UFC startedÖ I thought that the UWFI was going to do well, I really thought they would do good with it, but the 93 thing, I think maybe that was just promotional material for the magazines in Japan, and a way to introduce Coach Robinson, and I believe that Danny Hodge was there too, because the first time I met Robinson, I met Danny Hodge, and for my first two weeks of training with Billy Robinson, he had Hodge with him as well.

MB: So, does the UWFI have any executives at this show in Tennessee that are observing it to see what its potential was, outside of Sasazaki?

BS: Iím not sure.

MB: Ok, so this was probably just Sasazaki observing all of this and giving feedback to Japan. When did you first become aware of the UFC, do you remember? Was it when Severn went over?

BS: I think I saw the first UFC cardÖ wasnít Ken Shamrock on that first card?

MB: Yes, Shamrock was in the first event. He defeated Pat Smith in his first match and lost to Royce Gracie in his 2nd.

BS: Ok. So that was it, because I was going to something with the guy that did SavateÖ.Gerard Gordeau, because his brother Nico Gordeau, also fought for UWFI, later on.

MB: Ok, when you saw the first UFC, did that register with you? I mean here we have Ken Shamrock, wom I donít know if you were familiar with him at the time.

BS: Yeah, I had heard of him, because he had did some UWF beforehand.

MB: Yes, he was in the NEWBORN UWF before we went to the PWFG.

BS: Yes, for a short time. When I got to the UWFI, they said something to me about him, and showed me a video of him, and they also showed me a video of Bart Vale.

MB: Did that register, because you had Shamrock, who was a very imposing physical specimen, and he was also trained by Funaki, and Karl Gotch to some extent, and that first fight with Pat Smith, he just obliterated him, but he tried that same move against Royce Gracie while in his guard, and Gracie just used that momentum to ride with him, and then just got off to his side and put him in a lapel choke. When you were watching this, were you like, ďHoly crap! There is something going on here.?Ē

BS: I thought it was neat. I thought it was really interesting it was now MIXED martial arts, because in the years before this, it was only starting to come together. Now back in 93 when this was going on, and I was with Coach Robinson I was now in a long-term contract, so the UWFI was my bread and butter, and they controlled who I fought, and when I fought, and what I did, or didnít do. Like when we went to Israel, and stuff like that.

MB: Now conversely Pancrase started shortly before this UWFI event as well, now were you kind of keeping tabs on what was going on with Fujiwara, and with Pancrase, did you have a feel for what was going on there?

BS: Well, I knew that there was another group going, but I also knew that being an American in another world, you try and make sense of a lot of stuff, and you donít know if your interpretation is correct. Because you would hear different stories, about Maeda, or Suzuki, or Fujiwara, or Takada, or whoever, and you would hear different things about where they were before, but I had no friggen idea about any of that, but over the years you put together the different pieces, and I got to look at some of the stuff you did (referring to the Kakutogi Road columns).

MB: Well, let me put it a better way. When was the first time that you got to see a Pancrase match?

BS: Actually, me and a younger Japanese fellow went to see a Pancrase event with a bald-headed guy that I metÖ *thinking*

MB: Bas Rutten?

BS: Yes! We were all together, and we were near the venue, so we went to meet some guy that brought in fighters from different promotions.

MB: So, did your contract actually end in 1996?

BS: Actually, it was going on even after the UWFI was finished. I didnít find out about the final event, until the day I got there. Can you believe that? *Laughs* Now what happened was they kept paying me even after the promotion ended. They told me just to keep training in case something came up. So I kept training, and they kept paying me.

MB: So, when you saw that Pancrase event, did you think that it was a lot different than what you were doing, or did you find it to be similar?

BS: I thought it was the same, really. You might have people that jump around, and go from one place to another, but that wasnít the way I was.

MB: This now leads to what may be one of the most interesting stories of the UWFI. On 6-29-94 the first Vale Tudo Japan event took place, in which Shooto invited Rickson Graciem as well as other fighters, to compete in a tournament, and he wins, and as I understand it, this prompts Takada and Anjo to what to capitalize on Rickson newfound stardom, and they wanted to book a match with him. The legend goes that they kept trying to broker a deal with Rickson, unsuccessfully, because Rickson didnít want to do a worked match, and felt that is what would be expected of him, and not only that, but Rickson wanted A LOT of money.

BS: A million dollars!

MB: So Anjo decides to go down to Los Angeles to challenge Rickson at his dojo, and to be fair, from what I can gather, I donít think he was intending to actually get into a fight with Rickson, but was hoping that by his showing up, he could goad Rickson into coming into Japan, but it didnít work that way of course. Rickson isnít at the dojo at the time, but he hears about whatís happening, and decides to rush down there, and long story short, he beats the crap out of Anjo. Were you aware of any of this as it was going on, or the lead up to it? How did you hear about this?

BS: Actually, I didnít hear about this until after Anjo went down there. I do remember before this happened though, Sasazaki said something to me about going him planning on going to California, but thatís all I heard, and then sometime laterÖ.. Wait, wasnít Sasazaki with him, when they went down there?

MB: I didnít know that Sasazaki was with him, but I do know that he had some other Japanese people with him.

BS: Originally, they wanted me to go to California, but I didnít know what they were planning. I didnít go, because I didnít know that I needed to go. I didnít hear about it later, until I was back in Japan, and it blew up, and everyone was talking about it.

MB: Well, the story goes, that Rickson had one of his students tape the fight, and of course Anjo loses, and was a bloody mess, but then when he gets back to Japan, he told the press in Japan that he was sucker punched, and jumped, to save face, is what it sounded like. At least that is what has been reported. Supposedly, Rickson hears about this, and has someone contact the press in Japan, to set up a press conference, where he has a copy of the beatdown he gave Anjo played for the press, to dispel Anjoís comments.

BS: Actually, at that time, I think that he thought that Rickson was going to fight Takada.

MB: Yes, I donít think that he ever wanted to challenge Rickson, I think that his intent was just to try and broker a fight between Rickson and Takada. Of course, thatís where the money would have been. These events wind up leading into the formation of Pride FC. Did Anjo come back to Japan, and repeat this story? Was he like, ďHey Rickson was an asshole, and he jumped me.Ē Did you hear anything like this?

BS: No, I never heard him talk about it. All I remember was some of the guys talking about the incident, but I never heard anything about it from Anjo.

MB: Did you think that there was any immediate loss of face to the Japanese public over this? Do you think that this hurt the company?
Billy Scott Interview: Part 2 Continued...

BS: Iím not sure. I donít know what really hurt the company. As an outsider, I couldnít really understand what was going on. You would think as someone that was under contract with them, that there are things that I would hear, or be privy to, more so than any normal person, but not necessarily. *Laughs* Itís like anything else, there could have been something going wrong in the office, or there could have been some problems with the finances. When youíre in that kind of position, you are only going to know what they are willing to tell you.

MB: So, you didnít see or hear anything that would indicate to you that something isnít right here?

BS: No. You have to understand, that time that I went over there, and they told me this was going to be my last fight, I was totally surprised. They didnít tell me anything about closing down. I was like, ďAre you kidding me? What?!Ē It really flipped me out, but it tells you how much they kept us in the loop.

The Aftermath of the Anjo Dojo Storm...

MB: The legend was that supposedly Yoji Anjo had a reputation as a strong shooter behind the scenes, so they had some confidence in him going to California. Do you think there is any truth to that?

BS: No. Anjo was a good shooter, but he wasnít the best shooter.

MB: I think that he proved that with his UFC fights. So in your opinion who were the best shooters in the back?

BS: Tamura was good, but so were all of them. When those guys trained, they trained to shoot. This is what was tough. You saw guys that would do a worked match one week, and then another week over here, he is going to have to do a shoot. Thatís how good some of those guys were.

MB: Yes, the more that I get into this, the more blown away I am by Tamura, that guy was really good.

BS: Very good.

MB: He was one of the few that could excel at a worked match and he could excel at a shoot. When you look at someone like a Sakuraba, here was someone that was great as a shooter, but was ok as a pro wrestler, but Tamura could do it all.

BS: Even when they would do shoots against each other (Iím assuming he means in training), somehow he would pull a rabbit out of his hat and beat Sakuraba. I wouldnít have thought that.

MB: So Anjo didnít have a reputation in the back as being a great shooter?

BS: He was good, but no, he wasnít the best.

MB: And the thing with Anjo, was at least he was still a mid-card guy, so even though he got beat up by Rickson, it shouldnít have killed the company, it wasnít the same as Takada losing, but I still wonder if it wound up hurting the company.

BS: Iíll tell you that I was very surprised with Takada when I saw him and Rickson fight. Going into it I thought it was going to be an awesome fight, but it wasnít the Takada I thought. He was hesitant, and to me it seemed like Rickson was already in his head, long before the match started.

MB: Iíve noticed that with MMA in general. There are times where your watching someone, and you know that they are a good fighter, but you can see them become hesitant, and apprehensive, and that always costs them the fight. Itís not enough to be good, but you have to be good under pressure.

BS: And Rickson is friggen awesome, and Takada was too, I thought, but when it came time for the clash of it, and youíre sitting back as a spectator, and youíre expecting it to be awesome, and it was like, ďShit, that isnít what I expected to see.Ē He didnít kick Rickson like I thought he was going to. Anyone that punches and kicks is going to have enough sense to know that you arenít going to try any kicks above the waist, because you know that your going to have a grappler that is going to take that, and take you down. Of course, you have to stick to low-kicks, and he didnít even do any of that.

MB: I think that he was really nervous.

BS: Yeah, it showed.

MB: Ok. My next question is about Billy Robinson. Did your 5-day a week training regimen with him last for the entire duration of the UWFI?

BS: Yes. Even after the UWFI shut down they still paid Robinson for a while, and they paid me too. Then at some point later, Robinson went back to Japan to do the Snakepit.

MB: When did the UWF Snakepit start in Japan?

BS: Iím not exactly sure on the date, but whenever Robinson left to go to Japan, and Iím not sure when that was, but it had to be around 2000, or maybe shortly before, because thatís the time that Black Belt Magazine contacted me about doing a catch-wrestling video, so they sent me to Tony Cecchine, and some of the moves that he was doing were not freakin realistic at all. Maybe he was a great guy, but some of the stuff he displayed was not realistic. As a salesperson he could sell himself, but the moves he was showing were BS. At least thatís my take on it after having trained with Coach Robinson.

MB: This might be an interesting question. You saw the first UFC in 1993, and you got a glimpse of BJJ, even though it was only a glimpse of it, now by the time 1996 rolls around are you more familiar with it, or is Billy Robinson more familiar with it? What were your guysí opinion of BJJ? In the beginning you had Royce Gracie beating everybody, and Rickson had success, and for most of the 90s BJJ was a force in MMA. Did you ever see this, and think to yourself that you needed to learn it, or that you need to start incorporating it into your game?

BS: No, because thatís working off of your back, and Robinson didnít want you working off of your back. Also, I was in love with catch-wrestling because when I did collegiate wrestling, I loved it, and it was similar to catch wrestling.

MB: Did Robinson have any tools, or contingency plans if you did find yourself on your back? Did he have any concept of a guard, or was that even a thing in Robinsonís world?

BS: Back in the gym we used to have guys come over that did Jiu-Jitsu and different things, and sometimes they would send people that trained in different kinds of martial arts to Japan, to be our sparring partners, and when we sparred with those guys, they were usually supposed to stay with us for seven weeks, and they would only wind up staying with us for seven days, and run back. The majority of guys that came in, couldnít handle it because of the way that Coach Robinson trained, as it was very hardcore.

MB: What was Robinsonís answer to when you wound up on your back, not that you wanted to be there, but did he have any submissons from that position, or what did he teach.

BS: Robinson had submissions, but he really wanted you to stand back up or go for a sweep, and this is when sweeps were not as common as they are now. Sometimes, he would have you overhook the shoulder and get your hips out, and stand back up with your opponent, or push on his head and try and control him that way.

MB: So, in other words, get off your back.

BS: *Laughs* Yes, get off your back.


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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #54 on: September 06, 2020, 07:57:29 PM »
Kakutogi Road Presents: "Stranger in a Strange Land" The Billy Scott Interview: Part 3

Welcome back to the final installment of our interview with Billy Scott. We'll be picking up, right were we left off last time.

  BS: Like I was saying before, we were in a boxing gym, so we would spar with boxers, they wouldnít wrestle with us, but we would spar boxing. Coach Robinson would always tell me to relax. You know, Coach Robinson had an uncle that was a European world champion, too. (Iím assuming that he is referring to Alf Robinson.) Coach Robinson used to box as well, until he was ten years old. He was blind in one eye; did you know that?

  Billy Robinsonís uncle, Alf Robinson, seen here at a boxing booth, with the Lonsdale belt, possibly in Blackpool in the 1930s. Alf was known as a ďcombinationĒ man, as he was able to win money in both events. *Photo taken from the De Braco Archives*

MB: No, I did not know that.

BS: Yes, he was blind in one eye, thatís why he got into wrestling. Also, did you know that Karl Gotch and Coach Robinson used to live together?

MB: No, I didnít know that. Did you ever get to meet Karl Gotch, or did you ever get to train with Fujiwara? The reason I ask, is because to me it sounds like Fujiwara had the same relationship with Gotch, that you had with Robinson. Gotch really took him under his wing.

BS: He was very lucky, I didnít know that, but as far as Fujiwara, I went over and did a thingÖ *Pauses* I forget the name of it, but it was USA against JAPAN, (editors note: I didnít realize it at the time, but Scott is referring to an event from the short lived JPWA promotion that featured a stable of wrestlers on Yoshiaki Fujiwaraís team vs a team of wrestlers on Nick Bockwinkleís side.) They had different guys from different places, they had one or two guys from Dan Severnís Dangerzone, they had me, and somebody out of Texas. Anyway, Fujiwara was the Japanese coach, and Coach Robinson was in Japan during that time, I suppose that was the time he was doing the Snakepit thing, but he came there, and I was the only American that won in that entire event, because they did a shoot before hand to determine the winner. Thatís how they did it. Coach Robinson was there with Fujiwara and I was placed with a guy whoís name I canít remember. (Mamoru Okamoto. He was a Japanese pro wrestler that wrestled mainly for the FMW and Battlarts promotions) I remember that the fighters that fought in the last match really wound up beating the shit out of each other. It was America vs Japan, and Fujiwara was the Japanese coach, and the American coach was Nick Bockwinkle, and that was the first time that I met Nick Bockwinkle.

  MB: Itís funny you mention that, because that leads to my next question. You had a layoff in 1992, but Nick Bockwinkle had an exhibition match with Billy Robinson in the UWFI, in 1992. Were you aware of that, or did you see it?

BS: Iíve never seen it. I heard them talk about it, but I never saw it.

MB: Yes, it was an exhibition, and it was fascinating, because even though you could tell that physically they couldnít do everything that they wanted to do, you could still see how sharp they were mentally. They had so much experience, and were amazing at what they did, and you could tell that their bodies didnít want to quite do what their minds wanted them to do, but mentally they were very with it, so it was really good. Ok, so you never got to meet Gotch, did you ever meet Fujiwara over the years, or any of those guys, like Funaki, Suzuki, etc?

 BS: I met Suzuki when I went over in 2011, (referring to his final match at the Hiromitsu Kanehara U-Spirits event) and he seemed like a nice guy, but crazy with the haircut.

MB: In a nutshell, and I realize that this is a complicated question, but how would you describe the difference between catch-wrestling and other grappling systems? For example, catch vs BJJ, or catch vs sambo?

BS: Well, I think you have to go back to the actual individual. You canít say ďcatch is all like this,Ē or ďBJJ is all like this,Ē because you might have one coach over here that is really good at one thingÖ

MB: Like one BJJ coach being really good at leg-locks?

BS: Yes, and actually BJJ didnít really do any leg-locks until the 90s or somewhere in there.

MB: Well, funny story. You know Enson Inoue?

BS: Yeah, I know Enson!

MB: He started out in Shooto, and it was kind of funny, because how he got into it, was he first tried to get into RINGS, or UWFI, or whatever, and he would call these places and they would say things like, ďHow big are you?Ē or ďHow much do you weigh?Ē He didnít realize at the time, that there was a worked element to it, so he was like, ďWhat difference is it, how big I am? Iím good, I can fight.Ē So, he wasnít getting anywhere, so he finally contacted Shooto, and Sayama had him roll with some of his guys to test him out, and outside of getting caught with an occasional leg-lock (because he wasnít used to training in leg-locks in BJJ) he was mostly beating the Shooto guys in rolling. Then Yuki Nakai took a liking to him, and started training with him, and of course Sayama felt like he could use Enson. That planted the seed of BJJ in the mind of Yuki Nakai, although he wasnít really willing to fully devote himself to BJJ, until Noboru Asahi lost to Royler Gracie at VTJ 96, and from there I think he realized that Judo alone wasnít going to be enough, and thatís how he wound up becoming the first BJJ black belt in Japan, and of course he brought a large knowledge of leg-locks to the BJJ game at the time, and of course the Luta Livre guys in Brazil liked leg-locks, and there always seemed to be your random Brazilian BJJ guys that liked leg-locks, so there was always outliers, but for the most part they were looked down upon, by the BJJ community. Helio Gracie thought it was low-class, like it was cheating basically. Only a peasant would lower himself to do this. *Laughs*

  Yuki Nakai: Shooto legend, and the first Japanese fighter to gain a BJJ black belt.

BS: Itís like these tournaments nowadays. For years, when Iíve been here, I would train my students, and they would go to these no-gi tournaments, they couldnít do ankle locks, unless they were at a certain ranked level in BJJ, or you couldnít do anything below the waist, even though you could still do triangles, and armbars, and that really takes away the weapons of a lot of guys. But I donít think you can really say ďBJJ is this, or Judo is this, etc,Ē I think that it really comes down to the individual, if someone is good, theyíre going to be good no matter where they are, because itís all grappling. Itís going to really come down to who is teaching you, and if youíre on your game or not, because any kind of grappling, is good for you. Sometimes Iíll watch different catch wrestling videos, from different people, and some of them, when I compare it to what Coach Robinson taught me, are putting together two moves at the same time, what I mean is that theyíre showing a move as one move, but itís actually two different moves thatís been mixed into one, so thatís why it goes back to the coach.

MB: In my personal opinion, and when I say this, I mean in the context of this time, because nowadays everything is so blended together, so it would be silly to now say that ďBJJ is this, or this art is that,Ē but in the context of the early 90s, to me, and what I saw, was that the Japanese mindset was attack, attack, go, always look for the submission, and it was never too worried about finding and maintaining a superior position, where BJJ had a much more position first approach, and then once your position is correct, then go for a submission.

BS: Yeah, I agree with you.

MB: And a really great match to watch, in terms of this conversation is Allan Goes vs Frank Shamrock from Pancrase.

BS: Yes! Iíve seen that.

MB: Cause, Frank Shamrock is going 100mph looking for submissions, and he cared less about his position, and sometimes that cost him, and sometimes his athleticism got the better of Goes. So, it really seems like a matter of what are your physical attributes, what are you good at, etc. For example, some people are going to be really good off of their back, and I was never one of them, I was like a turtle off of my back, I donít want to be there.

BS: *Laughs*

MB: But some people are really flexible, and are really crafty down there. There is never a one size fits all approach to this. You really have to figure out what your good at, and really kind of play to that. Back to the early 90s though, if you watch some Shooto from that time period, they had the guard, but when someone was using their guard, they were looking for submissions, they werenít stalling, or hanging out there, they were always going for something, and thatís something that I wish was more common in modern MMA. A mentality of ďIíve got to win this fight.Ē

BS: Yeah, now itís a matter of once you got your position, you can just kind of hang out there, and now youíre winning the fight.


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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #55 on: September 06, 2020, 08:00:26 PM »
Billy Scott Interview: Part 3 Continued...

MB: Do you think that Ken Shamrock was a good representation of catch-wrestling?

BS: I think that he was. Sure, them, Funaki, and a lot of those guys were good with the submission wrestling. There were things that were taught a little bit different with them, but again, that goes back to your coach, and how you were taught.

MB: What do you think of Erik Paulson?

BS: I think that heís awesome. I think that heís brilliant, to be honest with you.

MB: He was a fascinating character to me, because he was in Shooto before the first UFC, and he actually got his start, I think, in Jeet Kun Do, or Tae Kwon Do, so he had a striking base, but then he started training with Rickson Gracie, and then he goes to Shooto, and learns from Sayama, so he has all this different knowledge, from all these different places.

BS: And he puts it into perspective, I think he does really good with it. There has been so many times, where I just go through stuff, and thereís Paulson. So, yes, he has a great background in everything. Iíve never met him, so he could be an awesome guy, but technique wise, heís great.

MB: What are your thoughts on Dan Severn? Did you get to hang out with him in your UWFI days?

BS: Yes, Dan and I are friends. Iíve brought him over here for seminars, and heís a really great guy. To me heís a great wrestler and a great guy.

MB: And from what Iíve seen of him, he seems like a good teacher.

BS: Yes, he is good, from all that heís done over the years. Also, as a big guy he knows how to do the big guy stuff, too. He knows how to ride, and put his weight on you, and how to wear you out, and he doesnít get in a hurry, and that comes with experience. Once he gets a good position, he is going to try and keep it and wear the other guy out. He was a great teacher too. So was Steve Nelson.

MB: What was Lou Thez like? Did you ever get to meet him?

BS: I met Lou Thez a few times, mainly on a plane. I didnít really get to talk to him much, though. He would speak at some of the UWFI events, and his belt was over there for a while. I saw Danny Hodge more than I saw Lou Thez.

MB: What was Billy Robinsonís opinion of Karl Gotch, and Lou Thez?

BS: He always spoke well of both of them, but Robinson was someone that would tell you up to a point, how he felt about you, but at the same time he wasnít someone that would speak ill of someone that he didnít like. From what I recall though, he always spoke well of Thez, and Gotch.

MB: Did he ever speak in terms of something like, ďHey, one-time Gotch showed me this move right here,Ē or ďI learned this from so and so?Ē

BS: No, not really, he just mentioned things like how he lived together with Gotch at one point, or how he got his eye injury. I never got met Gotch, I would have liked to.

MB: Like I mentioned earlier, you remind me a lot of Fujiwara, because I just watched an interview that was put out recently, where Fujiwara just talked about his relationship with Karl Gotch, and how he was like a 2nd father to him. It didnít start that way, but over time, they built that kind of relationship.

BS: Yeah, thatís what I had with Coach Robinson.

Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch, taken from a match in 1971.


MB: You were one of the very few people to have worked with both Kiyoshi Tamura, and Kazushi Sakaraba. Which person impressed you more in a pro wrestling sense, and who impressed you more in a MMA sense?

BS: To me, as individuals, Tamura was the quickest as far as getting positions, and stuff like that, and to a point I would put him above Sakuraba, as far as quickness, but either way, it was going to be good.

MB: Did Sakurabaís future MMA success surprise you? Were you surprised when he started beating all the Gracies?

BS: No. I worked with him, and did some stuff with him, and I knew that he was special. Sometimes you just know when you have a guy thatís special. A lot of guys are special, but sometimes, like Coach Robinson used to tell me and Gene, ďYou guys are ten years ahead of your time,Ē so what that meant to me was that you can be good now, but four or five years later, times can change, so you just never know. Sakuraba made a hell of a career out of himself, and Tamura has done the same to, to an extent, but maybe not to those from the outside looking in.

MB: For people that really know MMA, they know that Tamura is amazing, but he doesnít have that name recognition with casual fans, but he beat Renzo Gracie, and he beat Pat Militech, and those are big wins! I guess to me, and this is just my opinion, I think that Tamura was probably more well-rounded in MMA, Sakuraba really had the number of other grapplers. He beat Carlos Newton, several Gracies, but he always seemed to have a problem with strikers.

BS: To be honest with you, the majority of the time, standup seemed to be the weakness of the Japanese. It was their kryptonite, but grappling was like 2nd nature to them. 

MB: Well, letís ask you this. Itís 1996, and you have to have a full-blown vale tudo match with either Sakuraba, or Tamura, who do you choose? Which one do you think you would have a better chance against?

BS: Pick a stick of dynamite, either one. *Laughs*

MB: *Laughs* Fair enough. How did Kingdom come about? Who started it?

BS: Actually, my contract was still in effect when the UWFI ended, so they told me not to worry, that they were still going to pay me, and they told me that they were going to open up another league, so I continued to train, and when I came back I fought Larry Parker, who was doing quite a few things at the time as well.

MB: Yes, and later on, he became a bit of a journeyman in MMA. Ok, at this point are you weighing your options, I mean Kingdom is rising up, but Tamura has gone to Rings by this point, and heís having success there, and you have the UFC going on. By this time, were you interested in trying the UFC?

BS: No, because around the time of the Larry Parker fight, I was close to 30 years of age, and around 30-31, I began thinking about longevity, and this is what I had been doing for my whole life, so why stop now? Also, I had always wanted to open up a gym, and I knew that I had to find something that I could do. So, I started a job around the year 2000, and that gave me medical insurance, and then I opened up a gym in 2007. So I go to work at my main job, and then I come here, and I get to deal with my students and teach what Coach Robinson taught me, and I can make a difference in their lives.

MB: Did the UFC ever reach out to you, or make any offers?

BS: No, they never reached out to me.

MB: What about the pro-wrestling side? Did New Japan ever say that they would like to do something with you?

BS: Not New Japan, but there was another group that reached out to me, that I did something for, but I canít remember the name of itÖ

MB: Do you mean U-Dream?

BS: Yes, U-Dream.

MB: I have that event, but it seemed like it was only a one-time thing.

BS: Yeah, one event, that was it.

MB: Yeah, you were there, and Enson Inoue was there, but I guess it was a one-and-done kind of deal.

BS: Yes, and after you do something like that, you realize that you are beginning to get up in age, even though I was only 30-31, I knew that I had to start thinking about myself, because I knew that if I kept trying to do this for several more years down the road, that I could get injured. At this point, I just started looking at things differently.  Now if I was 21 years old, or 23, or 24, then I would have loved it.

MB: I donít know if regret is the right word, but do you ever look back and wish that you didnít come on as soon as you did? Do you wish that you were able to get into MMA more into the late 90s or early 00s?

BS: Itís like anything else. You talk to boxers that used to box in the 80s or 70s, and you show them MMA now, and theyíre like, ďHoly Shit, I wished we had that then!Ē Of course, you say that, until you actually get in there, and start getting hit! *Laughs* Then youíre like, ďWhat the hell did I just get myself into?Ē

MB: Until your orbital bone is broken? *Laughs*

BS: *Laughs* Yeah, like ďMaybe, I should have thought this through!Ē You know what, though? Out of this whole thing, in my experience of getting in front of over 50,000 people, and to be able to experience walking out to that, or to experience meeting the people that Iíve met, and to be able have the best coach, that I could have ever had in my life, and not just about wrestling, but about lifeÖ It was awesome.

MB: Yes,and hopefully, and maybe you already have, but youíll get someone in your life down the road that you can mentor, because depending on the circumstances, you can reallyÖ.. I donít want to say something clichť like you could save someoneís life, but maybe if you have someone that is going the wrong way, you can help give them something, like discipline, or by being a father figure in their life.

BS: Yes, Iíll tell you right now, that Iíve been here 13 years, and over those years Iíve gotten to meet with so many different kinds of people, and Iíve even had therapists send me people that have issues with their anger, and they go through a program with me, and if I can do something to change, or help them, then that is really rewarding.

MB: Absolutely. Now, what was the philosophy behind Kingdom? To me, when I look at Kingdom, I see the shoot-style taken to its extreme, and probably pushing that concept as far as it could go, without getting into full-blown vale tudo. Did any of you guys prefer to be shooting at this timeÖ *pauses* I guess what Iím trying to say, is that Kingdom was still mostly worked right? There was still a lot of pre-determined outcomes?

BS: If anything was pre-determined, I didnít know about it. As far as I know, it was a straight shoot.

MB: Ok. Let me put it this way. Funaki left Fujiwara because he wanted to shoot. And towards the end of his run in the PWFG, they were going hard, and for lack of a better word, I would say doing what I like to call a ĺ shoot, where they are sparring, and not everything is choreographed, but there is still a pre-determined finish, and they still chose who they were going to put over.

BS: Anything that has to do with money, and I donít care what it is, if itís baseball or basketball, or whatever, if it has to do with big money, there is going to be some kind of fix, or setup, at some time or another.

MB: Sure, even pro wrestling, going back to the 20s, was real, until they figured out that they could make more money by controlling the outcomes. But Funaki started Pancrase, because he wanted to be in an environment where he could shoot, and Shamrock was the same way, he thought that what they were doing in the PWFG was fun, but he really wanted to test himself, and other guys like Takahashi, and Fuke, and some of those other guys, also left. It seemed like they wanted to prove themselves. Did anyone in any of these other promotions, that you know of, feel the same way? Did you guys ever feel like you really wanted to just go out there and go 100%?

BS: Let me put it like this. You had Tamura, and Sakuraba, and Nakano, and when they trained, they TRAINED. Let me put it like this, when we went to Israel, they brought a female Judo player, who I think was a gold medalist (possibly Yael Arad?) We were at a TV Show where they were interviewing us, and when they interviewed her, she said that she really doubted some that some of the throws, or some of the things that we were doing could be done, and when they asked me what I thought of that, I told them, that even though she was very talented, that anyone can do different things at different times, and just because she canít do it, doesnít mean that others canít do it. But there were things that were set up, and there were fixed fightsÖ

MB: Iím not saying ďworkedĒ in a derogatory way at all. To me, part of this project is trying to see how this all started and how it morphed into where it is now. A good example would be RINGS. When it first started, with a few exceptions, it was mostly worked, until about 95, and then from 95 forward, they would have at least one, and sometimes more, shoots on every card and then by the time 98-99 rolls around itís a whole new promotion, but there was that entire weird evolution where it went from one thing to another.

BS: Well itís like this. When they started doing fights around here, I had amateur fighters, and we would go to different venues, and the regulations are a lot better today then it was then, as back then sometimes you would show up to an amateur fight, and the other guy would have no training at all, and was probably going to get hurt, but they wanted to have tournaments, they wanted to structure it in a way that pleased the crowd.

MB: I remember reading, that one time the Dynamite Kid, when Sayama was talking about his shooting concept with him, told him that no in in their right mind was going to pay just to see them shoot, and roll around on the floor, and from what I understand, Funaki, and Shamrock were told the same thing, that no one would pay to see people shoot.

BS: Do you remember when that one guy came down? *Pauses and things* I think he was a WWF world championÖ

MB: Bob Backlund?

BS: Yes, Bob Backlund. Do you remember when he came down, and faced Takada?

MB: And the fight lasted a minute? Yes, that was horrible.

BS: Yeah, it was horrible.

MB: They almost rioted, didnít they? Didnít Yamazaki have to go out, and calm them down?

BS: Yes, it was. They had to send out Yamazaki to kill it. I think that might have been one of my first times over there. I remember it happening, and it goes to show that they expected more, and they got less, just like when Takada and Gracie were fighting, you expect more, but you got less.

MB: Sure, but at the same time, I suppose they got more with Sakuraba, because no one could have expected him to become a superstar Gracie-killer.

BS: No, but he would do crazy stuff like cartwheels, or stuff just because he could.

MB: Yes, he was very creative.

BS: Yes, very creative. He would do things, and you would be like, ďWhy the hell did he do that?Ē Like just chopping somebody. *Motions with a double karate chop* Just clowning around.

MB: What are your thoughts on current MMA? Do you like it, or do you watch it?

BS: I watch it sometimes, but I donít buy the PPVs. Sometimes I see fighters, or fights that Iím really impressed with, but I donít pay to see it. I like Bellator better than the UFC.

MB: Do you think that Japanese MMA could ever be big again?

BS: I think it could, but when the UFC bought out Pride, it would have made more sense for the UFC to keep Pride around the Japanese equivalent to the UFC , and have them build up their fighters throughout the year, and at the end of the year have the champions from the UFC and Pride face each other. That would make money.

MB: Sure! Of course, there was the Yakuza scandalsÖ Were you aware of the Yakuza in your UWFI days?

BS: Yeah, you could see them. Definitely. Anytime you were at a big event, or anytime there was money involved, you could see them. Or you would be at a venue, and they would say that itís sold out, but itís only ĺ full, and you wonder where everybody is at, and then you go outside, or go somewhere to get something to drink, and they are out there scalping tickets, so yeah, it was a big thing over there.

MB: Ok, so when Kingdom was trying to get off the ground, they had a brief partnership with the UFC, for the first UFC Japan event, and from what I understand Hiromitsu Kanehara was supposed to be in the tournament that night, but was injured in training, so they substituted him with Sakuraba. Did you know about any of this, or did they approach you, and ask if you were interested in being part of this?

BS: No, I didnít know about any of that. I knew that Sakuraba had a fight over there, against Conan , right?

MB: Yes, he fought Conan (referring to Marcus ďConanĒ Silveira) in one of the strangest occurrences in MMA history, because as he was fighting Conan, Conan was really laying some hard punches into him, and honestly to me it looked like he was going to put Sakuraba away. As Sakuraba was getting wailed on, he dropped for a low single leg, like he always did, and the referee John McCarthy thought he was knocked out, and he called the fight. Then Tank Abbott wound up breaking his hand on Yoji Anjoís face, so he couldnít continue either, so it was just a big mess, so they wound up putting Sakuraba back in there against Conan again, and this time he armbars Conan, no problem.

BS: That was pretty much how he got started wasnít it?

MB: Yes, although it wasnít his first MMA fight. His first MMA fight was against Kimo Leopoldo, at a Shootboxing event, of all things, and Kimo pretty much dominated him, but that isnít taking anything away from Sakuraba, as Kimo was huge, and roided.

BS: And thatís another thing, is you have people say that was his first shoot. It may have been his first shoot in the UFC, but there have been many a shoot between those guys over the years.

MB: Yeah, losing to Kimo, who outweighed him by a ton, is no shame, but yes, UFC Japan was his first claim to broader MMA fame.

BS: Oh yeah. I remember seeing that, and I thought it was awesome. He was given an opportunity, and he made the best of it.

MB: Well, thank you for your time. It was an absolute pleasure!

If any of you out there would like to learn from someone that was a direct disciple of catch-wrestling legend Billy Robinson, then please go check out his gym, located in Smithís Grove KY at 126 N Main St, Smithís Grove KY.

He can also be reached for seminars at (270) 392-6759

Note: If you head over and join our Patreon, you will get access to some goodies in this interview segment, that are not available here. It can be found over at


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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #56 on: September 10, 2020, 06:43:05 AM »
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.18 "Pistols at Dawn"

At one point in Dostoevskyís excellent short story, White Nights, the nameless narrator muses, ďBut how can you live and have no story to tell?Ē This question is deceptive in its simplicity, as we the more we ponder how we got to where we are today, the more we realize that we must continue to mine  the past in a quest to find our shared history. So, we return to the embryonic stages of modern MMA, seeking answers, hoping to one day alleviate our existential quandaries. In this case, we have arrived at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, an indoor sporting area that goes back to the year 1952, and is perhaps best known for their annual sumo tournaments, though they do hold numerous pro wrestling events, and even hosted Rizin as recently as 2019.

It is 11-7-91 and the UWFI is flirting with disaster once more, as they insist on giving Bob Backlund a chance towards redemption, putting him the in main event with Nobuhiko Takada. It wasnít quite two months back that we saw one of the most brazenly awful matches thus far, when Takada/Backlund didnít even last a full two minutes before Backlund collapsed in agony, feigning an injury to one of Takadaís kicks. This was such a disappointment, that they somehow managed to inspire the usually reserved Japanese audience to the point of a near-riot with its ineptitude. Thankfully, this debacle set the bar so low that anything they do this time around is bound to be a stark improvement.

We are greeted to an opening montage of Takada solemnly preparing for his bout with Backlund, as a song that I can best describe as what would happen if Vangelis had collaborated with Kraftwerk, for the Chariots of Fire soundtrack. This effort may have been effective had they not completely squandered any good will, or possible heat, that a matchup like this could have generated with their farce of a previous outing. After a 14min, strobe-light laden introduction, we are ready to begin our first bout, between the seemingly unstoppable Makato Ohe, vs David Cummings. This is shaping up to be a possible treat, as Cummings is the first opponent that Ohe will face in the UWFI that is already an established veteran of the sport, having started his career around 1984, and over the course of 22 years, won titles in 8 different organizations, including the ISKA, WKA, and KICK. His 7 years of professional experience is sure to be helpful here, but Iím still concerned about his chances, as most of that experience is presumably in the shiny-pants American style, where kicks below the waist are forbidden, and must only be spoken of in hushed tones.

Multiple Time Kickboxing Champion: David ďThunderĒ Cummings

Cummings doesnít waste any time going right at Ohe, and is predictably met with some low kicks, but they donít seem to phase him. Cummings backs up a bit from his initial assault, and tries a low kick of his own, but it is easily checked by Ohe, who is sure to have much more experience in such matters. We are seeing a good contrast in styles as Cummings is showing some good boxing combinations, and fast footwork, whereas Ohe is employing the traditional Thai Rock Emí Sock Emí Robot approach. Cummings is doing a good job dancing around Ohe while getting some punches in from a distance but canít seem to stop any of Oheís kicks. This goes on for a few more moments, when out of nowhere Cummings hits a beautiful jumping/spinning back kick that floors Ohe and knocks him out completely. Cummings obtains victory over the so-far undefeated Ohe, in only 1:25 into round 1.

Score this as a great win for American kickboxing. This took place in a brief era before the rise of K1 (89-93) where we were just starting to see more of the American Karate styled kickboxers fight under Japanese/Thai rules, and most of the time it would consist of the American fightersí style looking superior, until they were just demolished by the inability to deal with low thigh-kicks. Here Cummings seemed to face the same problem, but it didnít matter, as he still had Oheís number, and pulled off a great victory. Good (albeit short) fight.

 ML: Cummings isn't the usual greenhorn UWF-I feeds to Ohe, he began  training in karate & boxing at age 4 and wrestling at age 5,  wrestling in college even though it was secondary to his striking  ambitions. Despite being an American fighter in the dark kicks above the  waist era who has an extensive background in the limited art of boxing  (almost 90 amateur fights), he specialized in muay thai, where he relied  heavily on knees and elbows. He wound up winning something like 13  "world" titles and being inducted into the WKA Hall of Fame. To me, this  whole fight was just him setting Ohe up. He knew Ohe was going to be  focusing on his own offense, and trying to work him over with low kicks,  so Cummings focused on using his speed and footwork to create distance  then score from the outside while forcing Ohe to chase him, thus pulling  him into his strikes. The first time Cummings  landed the jump spinning  heel kick, Ohe was stationary, but because Ohe was so concerned with  closing the distance and getting his own shots in, Cummings was soon  able to time Ohe coming in, and the added momentum on the jump spinning  heel kick put his lights out. Cummings was really impressive here. I  mean, Miyato doesn't land 2 of these kicks from a standing position in a  minute and a half, and that's with the opponent just letting him do it.

The Kick That Ended EverythingÖ



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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #57 on: September 10, 2020, 06:46:17 AM »
*Vol.18 Continued....*

So, despite my many lamentations and wailings throughout the night, the UWFI continues to be a harsh mistress and insists on giving us more tag-team matches, if for no other reason then to give their roster something to do. In this case itís Kiyoshi Tamura/Yuko Miyato vs Tom Burton and Yoji Anjo, but at least this is off to a fast clip as Anjo and Miyato immediately go at each other with a sense of urgency, with Anjo giving Miyato plenty of kicks, and even a nice Ippon-seoi-nage (or one arm shoulder throw, if you prefer).

Not long afterwards, Tamura was tagged in, and we got to see further evidence why he was a once in a lifetime kind of talent. Shortly after getting in the ring, Tamura wasted no time in engaging Anjo, and in one breathtaking display, shot a beautiful low single-leg takedown (the kind that Sakuraba later became famous for) and was able to convert that attempt into almost taking Anjoís back with a rear naked choke, with such a grace and fluidity, that has to be seen to be believed.  The rest of this match was simply off the charts in terms of entertainment value. Everyone did a great job, and even thought Iím tempted to complain that there still isnít much of a point to a tag match (within a promotion that doesnít so much as have any titles to vie for) such objections would ring hallow, as all the performers here gave a 100% intensity, that was riveting from start to finish, and I suspect that this will be the match of the night.

 ML: Tamura is sometimes criticized in his younger years for being too  showy, but I'd counter that his flashy aspects are actually some of the  most realistic moments in his matches because the scrambles are so fast  and explosive that both fighters wind up mostly just reacting to one  another. Take, for instance, the amazing opening sequence Tamura does  with Anjo where Tamura tries to take Anjo down in stages, first getting  the clinch but with overhooks, so he has to switch to an underhook, but  that high bodylock takedown would now be  too predictable, so he drops  down after the leg instead. Meanwhile, Anjo keeps pivoting and  scrambling, and tries to counter with a knee to the face, but Tamura  avoids by dropping down to the right, and continuing to scramble until  he gets behind Anjo and sweeps his leg with his arm. Other than that  amazing sequence, the match has a lot of feeling out and thwarting one  another early, establishing the strategies that Anjo & Miyato want  to strike, while Tamura & Burton want to grapple. The action picks  up during Tamura & Anjo's 2nd encounter, when Anjo gets a knockdown  with a high kick and Tamura gets trapped in the corner because he's  still not recovered when the ref restarts, with Anjo, who already kicked  him in the balls, getting a somewhat dishonorable knockdown with a knee  in the corner rather than respecting the ropes. A fired up Tamura  answers with this neat hybrid between a swinging neckbreaker and a snap  suplex and starts stomping Anjo's face then soccer kicks him until Anjo  escapes to the floor. Even though the tag match format negates some of  the intensity, urgency, and believability, Anjo's shenanigans and  Tamura's fire help negate that, and this wound up being quite the heated  affair. One problem with the UWF-I is in these matches where they try  to start off showing it's difficult to make things work, they tend to  then go too far in the other direction trying to be super entertaining  in the later stages to make up for it, and certainly by shoot style  standards they were kind of spamming throws in the 2nd half. Tamura vs.  Anjo was great, and the other stuff was fine to good, with the  interrupted flow of the tag format being more of a liability than the  other guys not being Tamura. Burton doesn't have the speed or body  control to work the sort of match these guys were really trying to do,  but he stepped up his game as much as he was capable of. His peak level  is still nowhere near that of the others, but I prefer to credit him for   probably reaching it here, whereas Miyato is actually the one who  could have delivered a little more than he did. The finish was pretty  lame with Anjo countering Tamura's  rear naked choke attempt into a sort  of reverse wakigatame where Tamura was lying on his back. This might  put a little pressure on the wrist or elbow, I guess, but is even that  much less likely than  the regular cornball version to either be a  maintainable  position or actually put enough pressure on an improperly  isolated joint while one has the catch to force a submission.  Nonetheless, while no one is going to confuse this with Ozaki &  Kansai vs. Yamada & Toyota 11/26/92 or Kawada & Taue vs. Misawa  & Akiyama 12/6/96, this was by far the best shoot style tag we've  seen in their brief history. ***1/2


Next up, itís Tatsuyo Nakanoís turn to be thrown into the giant woodchipper that is Gary Albright. Before the match starts there is a lot of mean mugging and posturing from both men, but Iím sure that even Nakano, as big as he is, fears that he could be devoured much like the citizens of Arborville California were in 1988, when a mysterious blob ran amok, killing a confirmed 36 people. The fight starts and Nakano is able to provide one of the first moments of successful offense against Albright as he was able to secure a takedown from one of Albrightís kicks, but it was for naught, as Albright quickly gained side mount, and proceeded to lay on Nakano while looking for a pitiful hammerlock attempt.

The inactivity continues, until Nakano is at last able to break free from the weight of the behemoth but is quickly punished for this by a mighty slam where Albright simply chucks him over his head. As impressive as this looked, it didnít seem to phase Nakano too much, as he simply got right back up, only to have Albright take him right back down again. A funny sequence happens next, when Albright starts palm striking Nakano in the back of the neck, and a voice from his corner (manager perhaps?) starts yelling, ďHit him a couple more times! Hit him a couple in the face Gary!Ē and then a little later he even offered a ďDo a piledriver!Ē Apparently, no one notified Albrightís entourage that this was a work. At the 5min mark Nakano decides he has to go after this monstrosity with some gusto, but for all his rage, he was met with a suplex from hell, and was put out of his misery only a min or so later.

 I wonít lie, I enjoyed this way more than I probably should have. Yes, it was all pro wrestling theatrics, but so far itís working very well, as at a tad under 7mins this was the right length to be entertaining without wearing out its welcome, and they have given Albright a good gimmick with strong booking to make it work. I donít know how long this act will stay fresh, but for now it gets a thumbs up from me.

 ML: Well, this was as lifeless and uninspired as an Arthur Penn flick.  They laid on the mat, barely moving and not seeming to put any actual  energy or exertion into holding an arm or the neck for the majority of  the match. Albright threw one suplex 5+ minutes in, but basically  nothing happened until the final seconds where he landed  an elbow and  a  belly to belly suplex to set up an improperly applied rear naked choke  win. The only positive is Albright was less into his pro wrestling  snarls today. 

  The Suplex From HellÖ.

Speaking of stories to tell, we would be remiss if we didnít take some time out for a moment of silence for Kazuo Yamazaki, as his story would surely be in the vein of a Shakespearean tragedy if made into a major motion picture, as his last chance of being a preeminent player in the wrestling world came to an end at the prior UWFI event, due to a having to job to Takada in what was a glorified squash match, due to the bizarre insistence that Takada must be shown as an unstoppable force. Yes, he will surely be around for a few more years to come, but any real chance for him to rise to the top where his talent should have surely taken him, is now forever in the rearview mirror. Thankfully, we at Kakutogi HQ will continue to document his greatness for future generations to witness, and if their prior match is any indication, we are sure to have a treat on our hands here, as a rematch between him and Billy Scott is about to take place.

Things start off slow as both feel each other out with low single leg attempts, and some cautions circling, until Yamazaki draws first blood with a nice low kick to Scottís thigh. Scott was then able to secure some nice takedowns, including a low single leg, and a firemanís carry, but Yamazaki was simply too crafty to be kept on the ground for long. Shortly after this, Yamazaki scores two knockdowns on Scott in rapid succession, with some beautifully timed kicks, one high, and one to the midsection. The next few mins show us that Scott is very solid with his takedowns, but is lacking some finesse in the submission department, as the only ones he seems to know are variations of an ankle lock or Boston crab. There is one amazing sequence where Yamazaki counters a belly-to-back suplex by grabbing Scottís right leg, while Scott was about to execute the throw, and turned it into a kneebar attempt. The match continues to be hard-fought by both men, until Yamazaki wins at the 20:17 min mark via kneebar.

I would rate this a solid 3 out of 4 stars, as Scott is excellent for a rookie, but needs more depth in his submission and striking games before he can really be a threat to someone as skilled and versatile as Yamazaki. Due to the skill disparity Yamazaki had to carry Scott for a lot of this match, which starts to become more obvious in a 20min format, but Scott has only upwards to go, and is one of the best gaijins that we have covered so far, which is all the more remarkable considering this is only his 4th match.

 ML: I wanted to like this more than I did. While Scott is a great  rookie, going 20 minutes already is a tough ask. Their first match was  better largely because     12:39 is a more reasonable length for a wrestler who is learning. This  was good when they stuck to the obvious story of Yamazaki's kicks vs.  Scott's wrestling, but mostly they defaulted to a battle of leg locks,  seemingly because Scott was still learning the submission game. The  finishing sequence was tremendous with Scott trying  to grab Yamazaki to  stop his kicks, but Yamazaki doing a go behind into a German suplex  attempt. Scott resisted on the way up, so Yamazaki let him down into a  schoolboy then dropped into the motif Achilles' tendon hold, but Scott  stood right out and tried to go into a half crab. Yamazaki tripped him  up though, and finally got the knee bar in solid for the win. The rest  of the matwork was kind of kind of slow, with Scott not being at his  best and Yamazaki not being at his most motivated coming off the  crushing debacle last show. 


Now, the finale. A rematch that absolutely no one was asking for, as the last one was such a fiasco that Sapporo almost had a riot on their hands, but that isnít going to stop Takada and Co. from trying again. The referee spends what feels like ten mins going over the rules with Backlund, who somehow managed to run the gauntlet of human facial expressions in that span of time, and we are off. Backlundís goofy mannerisms aside, this is already better than the last outing (though thatís not saying much) as they spend some time feeling each other out, and Takada shows some impressive sprawling technique as he stuffs one of Backlundís double leg attempts by putting his right arm around Backlundís neck, while putting his right knee on the ground and the same time, and was really shifting his bodyweight into Backlundís neck, preventing his ability to torque, and effectively nullified the takedown.

The rest of the match was mostly both men jockeying for a toehold or ankle lock with a decent crescendo towards the last couple of mins. This match was mostly free from strikes, until the end, which was a positive, as this allowed a format for Backlund to come off credibly, if a bit outdated. Backlundís strikes towards the end looked hokey, but he did hit an excellent double underhook suplex that sent Takada flying across the ring. The match ended with Backlund hitting a German suplex, that Takada shrugged off, and responded with an keylock for the win.

This was ok and had this been the original match between the two, I donít think too many would have complained. Backlund has the amateur wrestling chops to look decent in the grappling portions, but there is only so much you can do with him, as his lack of submission, and striking knowledge, plus age, prevents him from being much more than an occasional special attraction. Still, taking away their first match out of the equation, this was a fine, if forgettable main event.

 ML: Backlund is one of those guys I really want to like because his  skills are based in realism, but can't because his mannerisms are based  in Doinkism, which totally negates that. When you are just acting like a  WWE clown, you are also wrestling like one whether you are doing a  perfect double leg or just poking the opponent in the eyes Three Stooges  style. The first Takada/Backlund from 12/22/88 was the first worked  shoot I saw, it was one of those matches hyped as  so great it must be  seen to be believed, that I ended up with because someone tossed it at  the end of kind of an Ultimo Dragon tape. It didn't really capture my  imagination at the time, still just feeling more like spectacle, and in  that case I'd rather see more of Ultimo doing backflips. I've liked it  more and less at times since then, but nonetheless, it's by far their  most famous match. It's definitely the best for the crowd, which I could  care less about, but it's an electric atmosphere partially because the  outcome is in doubt with Takada having lost to Maeda & Yamazaki  earlier that year before coming back & beating Maeda on the previous  show to finally get a big win in UWF. Though the first half had a lot  of dead spots, there's some things to enjoy in the match as  they did a  lot in the 2nd half to make up for it, with Backlund's bloody nose &  Takada's bruised face giving it some extra aura. I just never believed  in the match for a moment, as it was the same old crap with Backlund  just standing there letting Takada do his bag kicking routine on him.  I'm going to take the unpopular opinion and say that this third meeting  is actually their best match because they shockingly made an effort to  avoid what the opponent was trying to do. One of the biggest problems  with Takada is it never feels like he works for anything, but that's   not the case here, there's movement, there's countering, there's even  some craftiness. While there are less kicks, they are more exciting and  feel more earned. There are still a lot of issues here, but  comparatively speaking, there's a lot more effort put into making an  attack good here, which allows the match to rise to the level of being  interesting even though it's a bit slow and dry compared to Takada's  most famous flashy firework showcases. The usual lazy Takada lockup  instead sees Takada utilizing it to land  fast body punches that open up  the backdrop that he'd normally just go into naked. This is the first  match we've reviewed that Takada actually seemed motivated for, and  Backlund was also easier to take, as he toned down the goofiness quite a  bit. The finish was even pretty good with Backlund  hitting his famous  doublearm suplex then barely getting Takada over for the resisted UWF  style German suplex only to have Takada swing into the chickenwing  armlock upon impact for the submission. *** 

Overall, this was a very solid event, and to my surprise the tag-match was the blockbuster of the evening. In an MMA sense, the only thing that really advanced here, was Billy Scott gaining some more valuable experience, but they continue to provide the goods from an entertainment standpoint.

 ML: This felt like a big show, with even Takada actually, finally  showing up. Only Albright's match was a waste of time, but then it was  really designed that way. Scott, though obviously losing again, showed  enough to earn a martial arts  match against the current IBF  Cruiserweight boxing champion James Warring on the next show. Meanwhile,  Mr. Bob showed enough  that he was soon Repo'd to go back to annoying  the hell out of me with his silly mannerisms in the circus, taking on  the Repo Man who gives Alex Cox & all of pro wrestling a bad name.

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #58 on: September 10, 2020, 06:49:29 AM »
*In other news*

Lou Negila recently hosted a kickboxing event at the Christopherís Supper Club in Brooklyn NY. This night had a capacity crowd as they featured several amateur bouts, and three professional fights under the KICK (Karate International Council of Kickboxing) banner. KICK champion Dennis Schuette lost his title to challenger Henry Nieves, who was able to win by decision after a strong early lead. This now places Nieves record to 15-2-2 and drops Schuetteís record to 13-3. Also, Jimmy Fusaro was able to defeat Mike Sexton and Dimitry Andreyev knocked out Al Jordan in the first round.

Jimmy Fusaro (right) Vs Mike Sexton

We are happy to report that after days of scouring the black markets of Moldova, we were finally able to hit paydirt in one of Chișinăuís back alleys and were able to procure some rare Shooto artifacts. One of them was an original VHS master copy of the 3-17-90 event, and we are excited to be able to report its contents to our readership.

We popped in the cassette to be greeted by this wonderfully soothing graphics title that was probably created with Abacus Softwareís wonderful program: Screen Graphics 64, available at fine Commodore retailers everywhere.

The event took place in the Korakuen Hall, and we are greeted to Satoru  Sayama coming into the ring to give a demonstration while they suit up  one of his subjects in an apocalyptic space mask and bullet proof vest.  After several minutes of giving a general breakdown of this new sport of  shooting, our first official match begins between Manabu Yamada and  Takashi Tojo, and this will be the debut for both men. If you haven't  already, you should go check out our coverage of the 7-7-90 Shooto event elsewhere on this Patreon where we go into a lot more detail about Yamada's career. 


Right away we can see that Yamada appears to be in fantastic shape,  although he doesn't seem to be as carrying as much muscle mass as he  would in later years. Yamada starts the fight by throwing some kick  kicks, but is too aggressive and presses himself right into a beautiful o-goshi hip toss. They both get back up, and Yamada hits Tojo with a stiff jab, and follows up with a tasty koshi-guruma  (hip-wheel) of his own. Tojo tries to get back up, when Yamada puts him in a fireman's carry (or kata-guruma   in judo parlance) but instead of throwing him, he jumps backwords and  slams his Tojo from this position. It looked great, but only served to  make Yamada lose his position and would have probably been a major  setback for Yamada if the refs in these days weren't so quick to call  for a restart after ne waza exchanges.

After eating a harsh spinning backfist from Yamada, Tojo gets the  fight back to the ground, and secures an armbar, but Yamada was able to  lift him up and spike him on his head to counter out of it. Round 2  shows both fighters landing some nice shots against each other, and at  one point Tojo almost locked in a crucifix submission which was very  impressive. Round 3 saw Yamada unload some nasty strikes to Tojo, but  would always be taken down to the ground and neutralized before he could  finish the job. This fight was awarded a draw by the judges, and that  is perhaps the fairest decision that could be rendered here. Yamada got  more strikes in, but he was never able to get more then a few going  before being threatened by a submission from Tojo. Great debut from both  fighters, and Yamada is showing, even at this early stage, that he is a  powerful and dangerous striker.

ML: We can quickly see the difference here between the wrestling  & BJJ based MMA that would dominate the mid 90's, and this prototype  version that was based more around judo & karate, in other words  the combat disciplines that were prevalent in Japan at the time. This  style was fairly entertaining because they would strike their way in  then try to throw each other off the lock up, and if that worked, dive  after submissions on the ground because they didn't understand/care  about controlling. Yamada gave up the reach here, and had even less  wrestling, so while he landed a big shot now and then, what tended to  happen is he'd miss a big shot to get inside, and then if one of them  didn't hit a throw, Tojo would weigh down on Yamada, especially if  Yamada tried a double leg, and wind up coming down on top, with Yamada  on his knees. This didn't stall the fight out though because, like I  said, neither cared about control. I would have given Tojo the decision  based on the way we look at things now, but these early Shooto matches  tended to be ruled draws if it wasn't decisive, which this wasn't.  Overall, an entertaining match with some nice throws.

Next up is Noboru Asahi vs Tomoyuki Saito. The fight starts with  Asahi briefly looking like a proto-Imanari as he goes right to his back  looking for a leglock, but is quickly stood back up by the ref. He then  shoots in with a sloppy single-leg and finds himself in Saito's guard,  and you could see Saito briefly go for a Kimura from the guard before  changing his mind and deciding to attack the leg of Asahi. Now more than  ever, I'm convinced that this totally blows the modern narrative out of  the water that states that only in recent times has MMA been in a  well-rounded advanced stage. This is 1990, several years before the  first UFC, and before Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was known in Japan, and we see  well-rounded fighters with proper conditioning utilizing active  aggressive guards, sharp submissions, and strong judo. The only thing  lacking is the positional mentality of a BJJ player, but arguably your  average guy in Shooto at this stage was way more well rounded then your  average BJJ blackbelt, even though that may not have translated into a  win between the two necessarily.

Most of round 1 saw Asahi being a one-trick pony, as he would  constantly shoot in with a low single leg, and then try and go for a leg  attack off of it. He finally mixed it up, and after another low single,  he baited Saito with a leglock, but quickly transitioned to an armbar,  and caught Saito completely unaware. Slick tactic from Asahi.

ML: Asahi has a much higher level of amateur wrestling than we've  been seeing from the Japanese fighters in the worked shoot leagues.  What's exciting about him though is he isn't sticking to the textbook.  There's a great sequence early where Saito defends his initial single  leg, so instead of adjusting for the 2nd, 3rd, etc. takedown attempt as  you'd see now from fighters whose goal is simply to blanket the  opponent, he instead gets creative and gets off to the side, isolating  an arm and trying to step essentially backwards over Saito's head to  take him down into an armbar. This fails, but as soon as Asahi hits the  canvas, he switches to a leg lock. This fight was one-sided, but Asahi's  persistence and perhaps innovation in setting up the arm & leg  submissions was impressive.

Now we have Kenichi Tanaka vs. Tetsuo Yokoyama. This will be  Yokoyama's third bout as he lost to Kazuhiro Sakamoto at the 5-18-89  event and drew with Tomoyuki Saito on 7-29-89. Yokoyama threw a kick and  was quickly taken down by Tanaka who immediately pulled off a nice  reverse Achilles hold for the win.

Next is Kazuhiro Kusayanagi vs. Kaoru Todori. Sadly, Kusayanagi is  probably best known, if known at all, for his losing effort at Vale Tudo  Japan 94' to kickboxer David Levicki. This would be his third match in  Shooto, and he is coming in to this with a 1-1-0 record. Kusayanagi  quickly took Todori down and although he fought the attempt valiantly,  he eventually succumbed to an armbar, and was never seen in an MMA fight  ever again.

Lastly, we have Kenji Kawaguchi vs. Yasuto Sekishima. It's mind  boggling to think that this will be Kawaguchi's 5th professional MMA  fight, and its only March of 1990. Kawaguchi had a long career, mostly  spanning from 89-99, and was undefeated for the first 5 years of  competition. It's also interesting to note that in 1990 Shooto had a  similar setup to modern MMA in that normal fights were 3 rounds and main  event, or championship fights were 5 rounds (although I believe these  were 3 minute rounds vs the current standard of 5 minutes).

Strangely this fight was a somewhat muted affair. Both fighters  played it very cautious throughout, and while Sekishima was able to get  several throws off of a clinch, he could never really capitalize on  them, and they usually only served as a way for Kawaguchi to lay on him,  for a few moments waiting for the ref to restart them. One of the few  early Shooto fights to be a bit of a dud. The fight resulted in a 5  round draw.

ML: I thought this fight was pretty good. The level here was so much  higher that it was less purely exciting, but it's more interesting when  the fighters really have to work to get things off, use their fakes and  time things well. If there was a downfall of the match it's that  Kawaguchi was the better striker, but Sekishima didn't seem to have many  options in the takedown department. Sekishima knew he had to rush  Kawaguchi and try to make something happen to avoid getting picked apart  by low kicks that would make it that much harder for him to charging  in, but that put him in the position of repeatedly  trying for a belly  to belly suplex. Granted, this  was a lot more exciting than a single or  double leg, but mostly just backfired on Sekishima, especially once  Kawaguchi knew it was coming, causing Kawaguchi to come down on top.   Kawaguchi wasn't really looking to exploit the position because he  wanted to beat up Sekishima's lead leg some more, so the fight would  quickly be restarted. Generally it was Sekishima trying to make things  happen because he respected the danger of Kawaguchi's standup, but even  with Sekishima doing his best to avoid exchanging, Kawaguchi had a  knockdown in the 3rd. I would have given every round to Kawaguchi, but  Sekishima had a lot of heart & determination.

While this won't be confused as a legendary event anytime soon, it  did give us a legitimately good fight with Manabu Yamada, and it also  served as a fascinating look at early MMA. It's incredible to see how  much, and yet, how very little it has really changed over the last 31  years. If anything, Shooto was always on a higher plane of existence for  roughly the first decade of MMA's existence, while the rest of the  world played catch up, but because most of their great fighters were  from lighter weight classes, and not having anyone with direct ties to  professional wrestling outside of Sayama, these factors surely hurt its  ability to really stand out and be given the credit it deserved.

ML: The important takeaway from this show is that it was light years  ahead of UFC 1, and hell probably UFC 10, despite taking place more than  3 years earlier. There were a couple quick fights, but I still think  it's fair to conclude that everyone had trained a good amount both in  standing and on the ground. We saw striking, throws, takedowns,  submissions, maybe not from everyone, but I firmly believe that's  because there was varying skill level not so much varying skill  comprehension. I didn't see one fighter here who was a Neanderthal  completely out of shape barroom brawler like Tank Abbott. There was no  one who was just a boxer like One Glove Jimmerson, just a sumo wrestler  like     Teila Tuli, just a cheater like Gerard Gordeau... These guys all came  from gyms that understood training their entire concept of the game, and  yes, that really didn't include BJJ, but they had their own offensive  oriented system of ground fighting that, while less consistent and  reliable in a real fight, was at least far more entertaining to watch.

Still better than Reebok gearÖ

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