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Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA

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Vol. 27 Continued...

Next up is Kiyoshi Tamura in the way that we all desire to see him,  in a singles match, this time against newcomer Mark Silver. The last  event showed a good debut from Silver, who seems like he could be a good  hand, if properly cultivated. The first couple of mins sees the two  cautiously feel each other out, until itís Silver that draws first blood  with a body-lock takedown. Once the fight is on the mat, Silver seems  somewhat unsure of how to proceed, and awkwardly goes from a headlock to  an armbar attempt that eventually sees Kimura take a rope escape on.  Once on the feet, Silver is loosening up a bit and is starting to strike  Tamura with some confidence. Tamura then shows an interesting counter  to Silverís punches by putting him in something akin to an inverted  full-nelson, which stopped the striking but allowed Silver to taken  twist him back down to the mat. Tamura quickly slithers out, and after  standing back up, hits a nice rolling kneebar, which evens the score.   The rest of the match showed a more subdued Tamura, as he put Silver  through his paces before winning via a neck crank at 13:13. This was  understandable as Silver needs a match like this to gain experience, as  he is still very green. This wasnít great, but not terrible either, as  Silver did have some explosive moments, and Tamura did a good job of  feeding him some opportunities to score some offense. Passable.

ML: This was decent, but obviously disappointing at the same time.  Tamura made Silver better, but Silver did more to make Tamura worse.  Silver can really only wrestle at this point, but he's also not very  fast or agile, so Tamura couldn't really utilize his speed the way he  normally does. Silver didn't have much in the way of submission holds or  counters either, so once they got to the mat, he did something remedial  or just watched Tamura rather than helping him or setting him up.  Tamura's back was almost entirely taped up, so this wasn't his greatest  effort, and probably everyone was just content to give Silver some time  to figure things out.

Now we are heading into what could be the unexpected gold mine, with  Yoji Anjo vs Yuko Miyato. Miyato is the one wrestler, that more than  anyone else, has changed my perception of him compared to when we first  started. This is due to his putting a lot more urgency and intensity  into his matches lately, which is something that he only seemed to do  sporadically before. The match starts and the atmosphere starts to gain  an intense energy again, as these two are going right at it. Anjo keeps  trying to push Miyato back with various kicks but keeps eating slaps to  the face for his trouble. After a protracted leg-battle that didnít  yield any results, Anjo decides to go for some flying knees, and clinch  work, to try and get his point across. He then eventually gets Miyato  down and gains a point from forcing Miyato to take a rope escape off a  rear naked choke attempt.  The match then took on a disjointed flow that  wound up making me like it less than I had wanted to. The stand-up  portions where great, with a lot of energy and verve, but the intensity  would immediately stall out whenever it hit the ground, mostly from Anjo  just kind of chilling until it got back to the feet. The finish was  cool though, with Anjo following up a nice throw with an instant  straight armbar. A solid ***, but this should have been better, and  probably a few mins longer.

ML: I really liked this match. It was realistic and intense, and they  really did a nice job of escalating the tensions. The stand up here was  quite impressive. They really put the extra effort into their footwork,  showing some nice entries and exits, as well as feinting, and generally  trying to keep each other off balance. The grappling may not have been  quite as impressive from a 21st century standpoint, but that's from lack  of proper BJJ training rather than giving anything less than 100%  effort on their part. They definitely had some nice counters, and made  some nice transitions. Miyato is really on fire the past 6 months, and  after seeming rather dated at the start of '91, I'd currently rate him  as the most improved veteran overall, as well as the third best worker  in UWF-I behind Tamara in Kanehara. The only downside with this match is  it was way too short. The 9 minutes felt like 4 because it was so good,  but it would have been much more reasonable to give this 5 minutes from  the Silver match, or better yet don't waste our time on the junk food  man. ***1/2

Now Kazuo Yamazaki must take a break from the illustrious tag-team  scene, to take on the unenviable task of getting a good match out of Tom  Burton. Things are underway, with Burton trying to bait the usually  patient Yamazaki by verbally goading him to attack him. This didnít  work, as Yamazaki wisely just chipped away at Burtonís thighs with some  well-timed kicks, which prompted Burton to go for a takedown off a back  body-lock, which Yamazaki instantly tried to counter with a standing  Kimura. This serves to illustrate that before Sakuraba was breaking  Renzo Gracieís arm years later with this same technique, this counter  seemed to be in the lexicon of every UWF fighter. Burton was able to get  the fight to the ground, but could not seem to manage anything once it  got there, as he quickly found himself defending various submission  attempts from Yamazaki. The ne-waza finally ended when Burton was  fishing for a toehold while Yamazaki was sitting behind him, and in a  cool move, Yamazaki took an escape, not because he was in danger, but  simply to get the fight back on the feet.

Yamazaki then does what we all adore about him and starts setting up  feints by offering his hand to try and initiate a tie-up, only to  instantly send nasty kicks to Burtonís thighs. He then gives us a nice  sequence when he takes Burton down with a shoot-style schoolboy, and  transitions off that into a straight ankle-lock. As nifty as it was, it  didnít work as Burton simply stood up, and muscled his way into his own  standing ankle lock, forcing Yamazaki to take another escape. The end  began when Burton hit an explosive tomoe-nage (monkey flip), but  Yamazaki wound up landing on his feet like a cat, and this surprising  technique from Burton prompted Yamazaki to stat wailing away with kicks,  before finishing the fight with what can only be referred to as the  shoot-style version of the Million Dollar Dream. I was pleasantly  surprised. While the Miyato/Anjo match was a bit of a letdown, this  wound up being a lot better than I would have anticipated, thanks to  Yamazakiís subtle and crafty ways. He always looked like the best  fighter in the ring, but still wound-up making Burton look like a legit  threat due to his size, and power. *** Ĺ

ML: A pleasant surprise. Probably the best performance we've seen  from Yamazaki since the restart, combined with quite a bit of  improvement from Burton, seemingly out of nowhere. Somehow, Burton was  actually flowing here, and Yamazaki managed to pull some pretty nice  sequences out of him, whereas the match would normally stall out as soon  as Burton got it to the ground with his wrestling. Yamazaki  incorporated a lot of nice little touches, such as his ankle momentarily  giving out after he escaped from Burton's ankle lock. Burton started  off with some annoying cartoonish taunts, but Yamazaki was really on his  game here, and played off everything Burton did very well. While this  was by far the most pro wrestling oriented match so far, Yamazaki at  least set up the fake spots pretty well. Again, the match was somewhat  rushed, seeming to just end rather randomly because they suddenly had  too many matches to squeeze in. ***

The $100,000,000 Yen Dream

Vol.27 Continued...

Now it is time for a westerner that will be a most welcome addition  to the roster, Lou Thesz protťgť, and future head instructor of his  wrestling school, Mark Fleming. Much in the same way that Billy Robinson  took Billy Scott under his wing and looked over him and his career,  Thesz did the same for Fleming. Fleming is coming into this with a  wealth of experience, as outside of the Thesz connection, he is also a  long time NWA veteran, and had a stint in New Japan Pro Wrestling before  stopping here in the UWF-I. Oddly, he will be facing Takada  straightaway, which I can only imagine is due to them waiting to book  the Albright/Takada match at a larger venue in the future. The match  starts with Takada peppering Flemingís legs with kicks, and Fleming does  not really seem to know how to deal with this, but to his credit, when  the 2nd volley comes in, he just grabs Takadaís kicking leg and throws  him down to the ground where he then tries to put Takada in an  ankle-lock. His inexperience showed however, and it wasnít hard for  Takada to simply put Fleming in a heel-hook of his own, while Fleming  struggled to finish.

Once the fight restarts, Fleming easily gets Takada back down to the  mat, but like many pure wrestlers, doesnít know what to do after thatís  accomplished. He obviously has a good base in wrestling, and is  athletic, but would need a lot of work on his submission and striking  skills before proceeding further in this style. Eventually, he goes back  to what he did the first time, which is dive for an ankle lock, and  while it took longer this time, Takada was still able to counter with  another heel-hook, forcing the 2nd rope escape. Not long after this, the  match ends with Takada getting the win via armbar. Taken in isolation  this match wasnít particularly noteworthy, but I do believe that it  shows that with the right training, and some time, Fleming could wind up  being a solid asset for this company. While he is older than the  missing Billy Scott, he still has a few more solid years left in him.

ML: Fleming showed good potential here, and Takada seemed interested  in trying to impress Thesz. Fleming did a nice job of trying to defend  Takada's kicks and transition to the takedown off of them. I liked the  urgency he showed in catching a kick, tripping Takada up, and applying  the Achilles' tendon hold. Takada was actually motivated for this match,  moving around a lot, trying to keep away from Fleming in stand up so he  could land his big kicks, and even doing more than "thinking" on the  ground. While the outcome was never in doubt, this was neither dull nor  completely unrealistic.

Possibly, the most impressive thing about Gary Albright was his  articulate, and soft-spoken interview style. Here he tells us that he is  impressed with Kakiharaís style of fighting, in which he aggressively  fights in flurries, but feels that his experience in international  competition will be enough to put him over. The magic ended there  however, because as soon as the match started, Kakihara took a one-way  trip on Air Albright, where he was smothered by the gargantuan beast,  until having to take a rope escape from a full nelson. Shortly after  this, Kakihara was flatlined by a couple of suplexes, and that was the  end. The crowd was going nuts the entire time however, and that  infectious energy helped to elevate this past the silly squash match  that it was.

ML: What a waste time! Kakihara got in 3 strikes that Gary didn't even bother to sell.

Conclusion: Probably the best UWF-I show yet. We got another great  match from Kanehara/Maeda, a good standing bout from Ohe/Kane, a decent  match from Miyato/Anjo, and a good match between Yamazaki/Burton. Even  the lesser moments of this card were more forgettable than abysmal, not  only making this a recommended event, but also clearly puts the UWF-I as  the front running promotion. RINGS are surely not far behind from being  a threat, once they get solidified, but in the meantime they only thing  standing in the way of this outfit is Takada, and the threat of bad  booking derailing them. Until that happens, there is simply too much  talent here to be ignored, as the PWFG struggles to even have two  dynamite matches on their events.

ML: Unquestionably the best UWF-I show so far. We got 4 recommended  matches, and amazingly Tamura wasn't even one of them. Though another  Albright disgrace left something of a bad taste in my mouth, the  undercard was so exceptional that it was hard to get too annoyed. Almost  everyone in this promotion seems to be going in the right direction,  except the two fighters they actually push.

*This entire event, along with many other rare treasures, can be found over at *

    *In other news*

ML: Ramon Dekkers,  a regular in Lumpinee Stadium since 1990, once  again traveled to Thailand on 2-28-92 for his third match against former  world champion Coban Lookchaomaesaitong, this time for the vacant IMF  World Welterweight title. They split their previous bouts, with both  ending in first round knockouts. This was a much more measured contest,  where the first round was mostly kicking each others block. Dekkers was  the more or explosive fighter, with more speed and certainly power, but  he just couldn't break through Coban's defenses. Surprisingly, Coban was  the better puncher, usually the weakness of the Thai fighters, and that  was how he won this fight. Early on, Dekkers was beating him in the  kick exchanges, but Coban began to take over in the second round  countering with big hooks and overhands. Coban really made his mark in  the fourth, when Dekkers backed him with a 1-2 then put out a right hand  with his head fake to set up a big left, but Coban instead leveled him  with a left hook for the knockdown. With the crowd going nuts, Coban  made a big push for the finish including a right hook and a left high  kick, leading to a seond knockdown through the accumulation of damage.  Dekkers caught something of a break, in that his right eye was so bloody  that he got a rest while the doctor took a look at it, which allowed  him to stabilize and survive the round. Dekkers was obnoxious throughout  the fight in is taunts for Coban to bring it, trying to get Coban out  of his counter punching mode that was winning him the fight. That being  said, Dekkers not only showed great heart and determination in refusing  to give up, but was shockingly able to turn things around and win the  fifth round, landing one stunning punch that almost got him the only  throw of the match. Coban won a unanimous decision. Good match.

*You can see Ramon Dekkers running amok in Thailand, along with many other rare events, over at *


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