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Title: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:08:30 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.1 "Genesis"

Welcome to the beginning of what may be a long and winding story, as we begin a quest to (almost) completely document the history of modern MMA. Over the course of many chapters I hope to expose myths, answer questions, raise new inquires, and shine some light on how the way of the fist intersected with the art of the armbar, and how we got to be here today. I intend to go through every mma event, (within what is available), in chronological order, from the early 90s-00s, and highlight the various highs and lows, that have led us to where we are today.

Because modern MMA is such a relatively new phenomenon, such an undertaking, while potentially arduous, is possible. The main thing is really deciding on where to start. I debated starting at UFC 1, but the fact is, that so much of modern Mma has roots in Japanese pro wrestling, it seemed like I would be doing a disservice on just skipping over all of the Shoot leagues/events that gave us many of the stars and concepts that would wind up becoming important later on down the road. Although the main point of this project is to cover Vale Tudo/NHB/MMA, to not give a solid look at the events that proceeded it, is to really leave out giant pieces of its tapestry. Therefore, I have decided to start in 1991, right after the collapse of the UWF, in which several pro wrestling organizations sprouted up, in an effort to sell, "real fighting," to a thirsty audience that didn't know any better.

So consider this a prologue of sorts, and thus we will begin in the realm of shoot- wrestling, (which as we will see had their share of actual shoots as well), and we'll also make some detours into K1/Kickboxing, Bjj, etc, since by this point in time the Mma world was so small and blurred that there is a lot of natural overlap within these separate undertakings.

Also, I hope to include media, and interviews from the time period in question, to try and add some of the perspective that was current at the time. I also encourage all of you to add, whatever you know, be it anecdotes, media, interviews, etc, so perhaps we can get a clearer picture together.

So, without further ado, let us look back into the depths of a "sport" with a murky past, and no clear future. A culmination of events that has one foot in the Budo spirit of Samurai long dead, and the other in the more recent shenanigans of carnival performers.

Yes, let's take a journey through time and see what led us to where we are today, as we glimpse down the Kakutogi road, that is simultaneously, both one of the noblest of pursuits, and one of the most vainglorious, (in that it rewards ingenuity, creativity, sheer force of will, and sacrifice, but at the end of the still an endeavor that reduces it's practitioners to a spectacle, fighting to prove oneself has led to many sorrows, as men vainly chase their identity and self-worth in something that can never provide such a thing.

We find ourselves on 3-4-91 as the very first PWFG, (Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi), event is set to take place. Before this took place it's wise to note, (for those reading that might not be familiar with the history), the initial cataclysm that led to Japan's interest in mma, which was the birth of the original UWF. A pro wrestling promotion that started in 1984 as fairly straightforward Pro Wrestling fare, it later evolved into something never seen before, once several key members migrated to it from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Nobuhiko Takada, Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask) and Kazuo Yamazaki, found a home with this fledgling promotion, and this prompted the change the orientation of the UWF's wrestling to a more martial arts >

They became the hottest ticket in Japan for a brief period, until infighting over the essence of the product, and a clash of egos between Sayama and Maeda led to it's demise. The contention between Sayama and Maeda arose partly due to philosophical disagreements over what the essence of the UWF should be, with Sayama wanting more of a kickboxing flair, (he had a background in kickboxing), and Maeda wanting it more rooted in submissions.

They would eventually come to blows, when on 9-2-85 the two began what started out as a worked pro wrestling match, but quickly devolved from there. After starting somewhat benignly enough, they started to stop pulling their punches/kicks and were striking each other for real. Eventually they seemed to regain their composure and things went back to normal, when towards the end of the match, Maeda simply gave a super hard kick to Sayama's balls, and forced a disqualification from the ref. Maeda was fired for this, and Sayama quit pro wrestling in disgust. He would later go on to form Shooto, which was the first true Mma organization, and who's history we will be exploring in greater detail down the road.

*Match starts at 7:51*

*The first Shooto event took place in 1989, and while I would love to start this project from there.... I simply have yet to get my hands on any Shooto pre 92. I own most of the Shooto from 94 onward, but if anyone can help provide Shooto materials from 89-93, for the sake of this project, then please get in touch with me.

After the initial collapse of the UWF in 85, most of the roster went back to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling, for the next few years. This was until 1988 when Maeda, yet again, couldn't keep his temper under control and decided to deliver a shoot Muay Thai kick to Riki Chosu's face, supposedly due to jealously of his position within the company. This left NJPW in an awkward spot, as how do you punish someone for doing something that was "legal," within the world of pro wrestling? They opted to punish him by insisting that he be banished to a tour of Mexico for a period of time, but Maeda refused, and opted to restart the UWF, taking a chunk of the roster with him.

They had initial success until an economic downturn in Japan, coupled with disagreements on inter-promotional booking with more traditional pro wrestling companies, led to yet another demise for this promotion. Only this time, several key players splintered off to start their own promotions/vanity projects, and thus the shoot boom was born, and as we continue this story, we will see how this led to forming much of what modern mma is today.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara was a Judoka that transitioned into pro wrestling in the early 70s, and has the distinction of being the first graduate of the New Japan Dojo system. He continued to wrestle for New Japan until the first Uwf incarnation and tried to stay in their good graces after Maeda initially left to restart the promotion in 1988. However, in 1989 he felt the need to continue in the ways of Shoot only this time he brought young talents Masakatsu Funaki, and Minoru Suzuki with him. Perhaps this decision, more than any other, led to mma being around today as we know it, because if it wasn't for Funaki taking an interesting in shooting, (or at least fake shooting), and in turn training a young Ken Shamrock, the Ufc might not exist today. (More on this later).

The beginning of a destiny

So here we are at the Korakuen Hall in the early days of March circa  1991. The show starts of with the seemingly ancient tradition of having  all the performers/combatants enter the ring with much music and  fanfare, as a way to kick off the show. Only this has the legendary  German wrestler extraordinaire, Karl Gotch, as a guest of honor. They  give him a microphone and he said a few kind words about wishing success  upon this promotion. Karl Gotch was a legend in Japan at this time, and  also trained many of the Fujiwara crew, so having his blessing upon the  promotion was surely seen as a badge of realism by the audience.

The  first man out to the ring is Wellington Wilkins Jr, better known  perhaps as the former tag team partner of Chris Benoit that mysteriously  died of a heart attack on the same day that Benoit was found dead after  committing suicide. Wellington started his career in Canada at Stampede  wrestling, but by the time the 90s rolled around was mainly an opening  performer on the Japanese circuit, wrestling for various promotions. He  hit a bit of a skid, when in the mid-90s he was busted with marijuana  while working for Michinoku Pro Wrestling, and subsequently thrown in a  Japanese jail, and deported. He worked a bit in the states after that,  but never really took off.

Here his opponent is Takaku  Fuke, who wound up being a Pancrase mainstay in a few short years,  amassing a rather abysmal 16-29-5 record, though to his credit was able  to get victories over the great Manabu Yamada, Jason Delucia, and Vernon  White.

The first couple of mins set the overall tone of  what was to come with this promotion. An emphasis on having realistic  looking matches, but perhaps done at the expense of entertainment value,  (certainly when compared to its rivals at the time.) These two worked  well together and, there was a good flow between the two that saw them  obtain and reverse positions on the mat several times, but it was a  fairly dry affair that wasn't going to light any fires. It also was a  bit odd that they chose the ever so realistic "leg-split," as a finish.

The legendary Leg-Split

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Johnny Barrett.

Fujiwara is up  next, and has always had the unenviable ability to look like he was  pushing 70, regardless of what decade he happened to be in. He was  rather slow and unathletic, but he was someone that you had to have a  certain amount of respect for, as he always patterned his after realism,  (at least realistic by pro wrestling standards), and could sometimes  turn sadistic and become way too stiff in the ring.

His opponent  here is Jonny Barrett, who I'm assuming only was able to find work here  due to his connections to Dean Malenko, because his physique wasn't  doing him any favors here. A huge guy that could have been a replacement  for a Heel of the Month in the Wwf, his size was really the only thing  about him that was of any note.

Not much to say here... Fujiwara  wisely kept most of this on the mat, as Barrett had no discernable  skills on his feet, but that isn't really saying much. After a few  uneventful mins of rolling around on the ground Fujiwara put us all out  of our misery but ending the bout with an Achilles hold. The match was  fairly believable, and thankfully brief, but really wasn't pushing the  needle in any significant way.

Now we get to the first glimpse of  magic in this shoot- world. Ken, "Wayne" Shamrock vs Minoru Suzuki.  Fujiwara should get a lot of credit here, as he was willing to put  himself in the mid-card and allow some of the younger talent a chance to  shine, which was something that eluded a lot of the young Japanese  talent in those days.

Here we find a very young Suzuki facing an  incredible looking specimen in Shamrock, and it's rather amazing to see  that right from the jump, Shamrock was an awesome performer that really  shined in this kind of format. One has to wonder if he had jumped back  into Japanese pro wrestling instead of the WWF in 1996 how his later  career would have turned out, as all he really seemed to get out of his  tenure there, (outside of a fat stack of cash), was a lot of injuries.

This  match opened us all up to a whole new world of possibilities that  "shooting," could provide. While this match was not the smoothest and  being a 30min draw it did have it's fair share of dead spaces, both  fighters did an excellent job of parlaying intensity and frustration,  throughout. They constantly looked for submissions, even in bad  positions, and you could really see an example of a grappling mentality,  before the positional thinking of a Bjj influence crept in.

The  match also had a nice progression to it, as it was mostly submission  orientated in the beginning , saving the flashier stuff like a belly to  belly suplex, and much nastier striking until later in the match, which  gave it natural feel, as if the stakes were getting higher, and it was  time to pull out all the stops.

A little dry in spots, but a  great start to this and a great insight into the fact that maybe...just  maybe.. there was a future paying audience to be found in real fighting.


Next up, is Masakatsu Funaki vs Bart Vale, and was unfortunately  something that was never going to be able to cut it as a main event, let  alone trying to surpass the great match that came before it. Vale was  someone that was already a bit past his prime when PWFG came around, and  while his striking was decent, and his overall work passable, it lacked  crispness, and he wasn't someone that had the stamina to have a long  high-intensity match. Also, his was best served by placing him with  another striker, and it didn't do anyone any favors, by placing him with  a grappling wizard such as Funaki. This match would have been fine had  it been placed early in the card, but as it was, only served to be  anti-climatic.

As it's all said and done, we see a  couple of things. Namely that this promotion had some great talents in  the top end, (such as Funaki, Suzuki, and Shamrock), some passable ones  with Fujiwara and Vale, but the mid to bottom tier of the roster looks  like they all came from the Acme Jobber unemployment line. It makes  perfect sense why they weren't able to make it once most of their  serious shooters left to form Pancrase in 93, as there was really no  point in the promotion any further. Pancrase was probably what this  promotion should have tried to be from the get go, but perhaps that  wasn't possible until this group, and others like it, paved the way, and  opened a door for real Mma to prove viable.

Miami’s favorite son

Here is the event in full:

Now after reading all of this, you were probably wondering, "Yeah, this  is all great, but what was Maurice Smith up to during this time?" Well  I'm glad you asked. Here he was fighting Kees Bessems in Japan at an All  Japan Kickboxing event during 3-30-91 *Mo's fight starts around the  30:00 min mark.*

In other news:

Don  Wilson lost a breathtaking 12 round split-decision loss to Marek  Piotrowski at Odem Arena before a sellout crowd of more than 5,000  people. Wilson's World Kickboxing Association crown was unaffected,  however only the Professional Karate Council's and the Fight Factory  Karate Association's 180-pound vacant titles were at stake.

Piotrowski,  who also recently defeated Rick Roufus, won by a half-point margin on  the judges' cards after a thrilling seesaw bout. Wilson, who normally  fights in the 175 pound class has extended an invitation to Piotrowski  to fight him for his WKA title.

In Modesto California two  kickboxers and a passing pedestrian met in a dangerous way recently. The  two martial artists, sparring at the North Bay Martial Arts Clubm got  into a clinch, then rolled each other out of a third floor window,  landing directly on an unfortunate passerby. The pedestrian was treated  at a local hospital and released, while the two kickboxers were  hospitalized with more serious injuries.

Former Kickboxing  champion Louis Neglia recently hosted the first of several pro-am  kickboxing competitions, featuring three professional and seven amateur  bouts. In the professional matches, Dennis Schuette knocked out Robert  Shandrick in a cruiserweight fight, Roger Heidlebaugh, and Brad Morris  fought to a draw in a middleweight bout, and Anthony Salerno scored a  technical knockout of Peter Olanich in a super-welterweight battle.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:09:10 PM

The Mighty Mike Lorefice, (MMA, Kickboxing, and Puroresu scribe  extraordinaire, who's work can be found at, has decided to weigh in, and offer his astute  commentary before weighing in on the 9-2-85 match that we already  covered.

 Here is what Mighty Mike has to say: 7/25/85 Tokyo Ota-ku  Taiikukan: Akira Maeda vs. Super Tiger 16:01. While this has much more  in common with their 1/7/85 match as a conventional worked pro wrestling  match, and is actually far less interesting, I feel it pairs more with  their 9/2/85 sort of shoot as the battle of wills between Sayama &  Maeda was coming to a head outside the ring, even though they still kept  it together inside the ring.


Maeda exerted his will throughout this contest, making it very  submission oriented match, and not a very good one, leading to Sayama  getting his way in the standup oriented rematch. Sayama was largely on  the defensive trying to stay on his feet & then get back up, though  he obviously didn't try very hard at the latter because with Maeda doing  nothing to actually control him on the ground, he could literally stand  any time he wanted to.

The problem with this match is Sayama  needed to make the match interesting, but by just being the good soldier  & telling the story of why he's losing as best he could, he wound  up just going along with Maeda grounding him & putzing around with  his feeble contortions. Maeda had a number of exciting matches during  his career, but was never a particularly good or credible ground fighter  even though that was the that he enjoyed, it was always the guys who  actually knew what they were doing like Yamazaki & Han making the  match, both pulling a few things out of him as well as putting him in  the better role for the audience where he provided some fireworks with  his strikes & suplexes rather than grinding things to a halt as he  did when just left him to his devices.

The match still started  strong as Maeda's efforts to engage in a grappling match with Sayama  were so much more fervent here than on 9/2, actually getting Sayama down  early with his idea of (a very poorly executed) double leg takedown,  after catching a kick, with his captured suplex after catching one of  Sayama's clinch knees, etc. Sayama used more footwork in this one, in  part because Maeda showed little interest in striking with him, but also  didn't deliver on his early promise. Instead of playing the small man  vs. big man game, he increasingly served himself up on a platter by  fighting on the inside with Maeda so Maeda could get him down off a  suplex.

The bout hasn't aged that well because they just keep  going for submissions while displaying no real knowledge of how to get  them, focusing 99.9% on cranking a limb while just laying across the  opponent not doing anything to control any other portion of their body  or help them actually isolate their joint of choice.The match eventually  ended in oh so credible fashion when Sayama missed an enzuigiri &  Maeda clumsily secured that most credible of pro wrestling standbyes,  the Boston crab!

There was very little striking in this match,  and consequently, even though these were the two biggest stars in the  company, the crowd was pretty much dead throughout, which supports  Sayama's tract that the kickboxing base was necessary to the success of  the This was better than watching Hogan flex his muscles or Flair do  another spot for spot performance of his one match, but it's close to  the least interesting Sayama match of the 1980's.

*Match starts around the 16min mark*

Here is is take on 9-2-85:

9/2/85 Osaka Rinkai Sports Center: Akira  Maeda vs. Super Tiger 18:57. A truly fascinating contest where the  clashing alpha personalities of the two dominant forces in the promotion  came to a head inside the ring as they probably battled with some vague  notion of deciding the future direction of the company, and instead  just decided that the company had no future.

Though the U.W.F.  had grown increasingly shoot oriented in the year and a half it existed,  morphing from the humble origins of luchadors & WWF show wrestlers  into something more & more hardcore & legitimate, Maeda &  Sayama were two huge stars that always wanted to win, both in front of  the audience & behind the scenes. It would surely be reductive to  say it came down to a matter of tastes, styles, egos, or whatever, and  that even kind of comes off in the bout they wound up having. Even  though they had something of a shoot, the supposed rift between Sayama's  kickboxing & Maeda's submission grappling still actually didn't  play out, as they ultimately did a match that was essentially in Maeda's  version of Sayama's style.

By that I mean, Sayama wasn't using  the footwork that elevated his worked shoots toward the realm of  believability, nor was Maeda really doing his remedial matwork. It  really looked like Maeda's usual style of striking, except that as they  pretty much stood in front of each other & bombed away, they were  much more violent & aggressive in putting their whole bodies into  throwing faster & harder shots that they weren't pulling as usual.

Actually,  rather than the art of kickboxing that Sayama managed to bring even  though the opponents stood around flatfooted, this fight still  exemplified that main problem with pro wrestling striking, except they  did try to avoid & defend themselves in a basic sort of way, not  exiting the pocket, but at least reacting to the blow they saw coming  & blocking it or maneuvering their body out of the primary damage  range/zone if they could. It's possible Maeda was unhappy that they were  doing Sayama's standup match this time instead of his submission match  as we saw on 7/25/85, but the bout definitely didn't devolve into a  shoot as someone got prickly, as had been the case in the past with  Maeda, they clearly were wailing on each other from the outset.

One  could say this was one of the first Pancrase matches, as they were not  pulling their strikes, but they not only didn't use closed fists, they  were clearly cooperating to some extent at points even though they were  putting each other in danger & trying to legitimately damage each  other most of the time. I shouldn't make it sound like Sayama wasn't  fighting with strategy, he was surely giving up at least 50 pounds and  even though he had superior striking technique & more explosion, he  couldn't just stand toe to toe with Maeda.

He tried to land the  middle kick and circle off to maintain some space, but he was going  backwards too much & clearly didn't have the stamina to fight what  Lyoto Machida would later establish as a karate style MMA fight, so  instead of capitalizing on his speed and movement advantages, Sayama  spent way too much time covering in the pocket while he withstood  Maeda's onslaught & poised for his next offensive. The striking  portions were legit, but neither had any kind of a wrestling base, so  getting the fight to the ground was rather awkward, and that's really  why fights could play out much easier & better in Sayama's style  than in Maeda's, which normally required him to hit a suplex to get  started. Sayama wasn't taking bumps for Maeda, but still conceeded to  ground portions, which basically occured when the person in the  disadvantageous position surrendered further rather than finally  try/work to disengage.

The mat wasn't really a threatening  position for either though, as when you add no BJJ background to no  wrestling background, they weren't doing much beyond playing footsies,  and when you combine a sweltering building with the stress &  overexertion of actually trying to make things work without the usual  cooperation, I think Sayama was mostly just happy to get a break while  Maeda muddled around, daring him to actually come up with something to  make him regret that decision. Unlike the standup where there was a very  obvious difference in how aggressive they were landing blows, they  didn't appear to be be applying any more pressure than usual when they  actually had something of a submission, and the audience was dead silent  as they were throughout the 7/25 match.

As they spent more and  more time delivering comatose inducing matwork, you almost forgot that a  few minutes ago they seemingly wanted to kill each other on their feet.  One would actually have thought that they were getting along again  until Maeda grabbed the rope to get the bout returned to their feet, and  proceeded to knee Sayama low for no apparent reason, leading to the DQ.  It's almost certain that Maeda was supposed to lose given he defeated  Tiger in their previous match, so one can deduce that Maeda may just  have been looking for an out, as he should have been growing calmer, if  anything, given they'd gotten away from actually shooting on one another  and there was nothing new to give him a reason to pull a stunt.

However,  one can't be certain from the camera angle if the knee clipped the  groin or not, so it's perhaps as likely that someone finally did enough  damage with a legitimate blow to make whatever the planned finish was  irrelevant. Maeda has always been a shady character, but from what I can  see, I'm leaning toward Sayama just claiming it was a low blow. Maeda  was subsequently reprimanded & never worked for the promotion again.

The  workers, who were already resentful of Sayama for being the booker  & primary creative force in the promotion didn't side with him  though, and while he did step in a U.W.F. ring six more times as this  was playing out, he quit the promotion and then pro wrestling entirely.  U.W.F. never ran another show after Sayama's final appearance on  9/11/85, with Maeda & co. returning to New Japan for the next 2 1/2  years before taking the next step toward blending the barrier between  fake and real fighting. Very good match.


And just in case you were wondering what Dave Meltzer had to say about any of this:

 "Yoshiaki Fujiwara's version of the new UWF opened on 3/4 in Tokyo's  Korakuen Hall before a packed house of 2,306 fans. Karl Gotch made an  appearance at the show and announced that he was staying in Japan for  two months to train the young wrestlers for this group, which got the  biggest pop of the night. Results of the show was Wellington Wilkins Jr.  beat Yasuhiro Fuke in 12:00 with a leg split submission, Fujiwara made  Jumbo Barretta submit to a toe hold in 7:12, Minoru Suzuki went to a 30  minute time limit draw with Wayne Shamrock (Vince Tirelli) and the main  event saw Masaharu Funaki make Bart Vail sibmit in 17:36 to a chicken  wing cross face.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:26:15 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.2 "Takada Rising"

With the inaugural PWFG event behind us, we now move on to the first offering from UWFI, and straightaway we can see the difference in essence between these two promotions. While PWFG was about presenting a product heavy on realism, and lacking in entertainment value, we see no such qualms here. In fact, this is the exact opposite approach: Entertainment First!

Yes, this is much stiffer than your standard pro wrestling fare, but we will see that entertainment is the foremost concern here. While this was definitely the flashiest/least realistic of the shoot style promotions, it was by far the most important in the evolution of mma, thanks to it's leader Nobuhiko Takada

We can all laugh now, with the benefit of hindsight, (after all we've all seen this man completely embarrass himself in an mma ring,) but at this point in time he was THE STAR. Aikira Maeda was already towards the end of his career, (and towards the end of having a usable knee), Fujiwara was never going to be more than a cult figure, and while Shooto was producing great fighters, even in 1991, it wasn't going to produce any well known stars.

Yes, Takada was the face of "Real" fighting in this era, at least until Yoji Anjoh ruined everything and issued a challenge to Rickson Gracie that he had no chance of backing up, (more on that later of course).

We now find ourselves, once again, at the infamous Korakuen Hall, home of all things mma and wrestling in Japan. We are treated with the best theme song to ever come out of Japan, (the UWF theme of course!), and no Japanese event would be complete without the entire card of wrestlers coming out to the ring to be introduced to their enamored public. Right away we see a big contrast with the production values of this and the PWFG, whereas both used a fairly small venue in the Korakuen hall, this has the feel and presentation of a big event, while the PWFG felt like it had three hours to spare in a high school gymnasium.

Random Worker...hoping this will all pay off one day.

We are now treated to an introduction to the rules, courtesy of two random hands, that were probably fetching Gatorade and towels just 20 mins prior. Still, thanks to their sincere efforts, we learn that the UWFI will not be home to such tomfoolery as, headbutts, elbows, kicks to the head of a downed opponent, and head stomps. The thirst for Pride rules has not quite caught on yet, it seems.

After that's all done we get a couple of interviews, and an introduction to one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, and a very solid, underrated, mma fighter, in Kiyoshi Tamura. Who was by far the better pro wrestler compared to Sakaraba, and IMO, a better overall mma fighter than Sakaraba as well, although that opinion might get me tarred and feathered in these parts. Really, his only downfall was that he seemingly had the personality of wet bread, whereas Sakaraba was always humorous and engaging.

Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Masahito Kakihara

Things start off quick with Tamura and Kakihara feeling each other out, and it's not long before Kakihara lays in a very nice, and stiff combination of palm strikes to Tamura, who instantly shoots in as a response. Kakihara pulls guard, while attempting a guillotine choke, but Tamura quickly passes guard, and goes to a side mount, and wastes no time attempting an armbar.

The armbar attempt didn't work, so after being stood back up by the ref, Kakihara goes right back into some suprisingly crisp striking, in which Tamura shoots in again, after eating a palm.

So we are already seeing a nice match that establishes Tamura as the better grappler, vs Kakihara, as the superior striker. Where Pwfg started things off with a very realistic, albeit dry, opening, we are instantly getting a highly entertaining bout, that must have played very well to a naive audience that didn't yet know what a shoot really looked like.

The seesaw battle continued for the duration of the match until Tamura was able to secure an ankle lock. The match was always fast paced, and very stiff. In fact this was much stiffer than I expected it to be. It also contained lots of beautiful Tachi-waza from Tamura. While it being a work is no question, this was a very entertaining match, and a great way to kick this promotion off.

In the ankle is safe.

Kazuo Yamazaki & Tatsuo Nakano vs. Yoji Anjo & Yuko Miyato

Yamazaki  was a wonderful pro wrestler that never really became the star that he  should have. He was one of the very first of the shoot-style guys to  really incorporate a lot of feints and parrying into his style, and  always made his opponent work for their offense, as opposed to the usual  pro wrestling, "I'm just going to stand here and let you do what ever  you want," style.

Yoji Anjo is  familer with many of you, for his many embarassing forays into MMA, but  truthfully he was a great pro wrestler, and had some legit fighting  skills. He had a background in Judo, and Muay Thai, and was considered  by the rest of his UWF alum to be the best shooter they had, (hence his  going to Los Angeles to challenge Rickson Gracie), he also had cardio  for days, as he seemed to prefer long matches, and never showed any  signs of gassing out.

This being a  tag-team match already strains credulity in and of itself, and also  shows that this promotion was again, the most rooted in standard pro  wrestling, as compared to the other main shoot leagues at the time.  Rings, probably, never would have even considered putting up a tag team  match, yet here we are. To be fair, this match was highly entertaining,  but really...  will just feel like stiff pro wrestling to a modern  audience.   Anjo & Miyato were the winners via KO at 22:57.

Nobuhiko Takada vs Tom Burton

Tom Burton was a Journeyman Pro Wrestler  having worked for various American promotions, (including the Wwf),  before really finding a bit of a home in Japan. His greatest  accomplishment was perhaps a non-title victory via knockout, against  Kazushi Sakaraba at the 1994 best of the world tournament. He  unfortunately passed away in 2010.

Here we are introduced to him, via a promo where he says that American  Wrestling is the best, and he is unimpressed with the Japanese  wrestlers, specifically Nobuhiko Takada. He comes across like a much  more genteel Mark Coleman, and like Coleman, will probably not be  allowed a victory over Takada, either.

Another Gaijin...ready for the woodchipper

Takada's double chin...cutting a promo.

Apparently Takada did not deem it necessary to get into fighting shape here, instead opting for a more muscular dad bod.

Both fighters  come out to a light muzak synth beat, that would be great in any  elevator from the 90s, and after the referee does his due diligence by  checking for foreign objects, we get underway.

The match  starts off with Burton executing some basic mat wrestling to good  effect, while Takada unsuccessfully tries to pepper Burton with high  kicks. After one such failed kick, Burton takes Takada down, and goes  for an awful looking armbar, (which is probably my biggest gripe against  Shoot-Style is the plethora of mediocre armbars), which is promply  dismissed, and turned into an ankle lock counter.

This forces a  rope escape, in which both fighters start with fifteen points, and with  each submission escape, or getting knocked down, they are deducted a  certain amount of points.

Burton then  takes him down again and tries to Americana his way to victory with all  the horse-meat rage he can muster, only to have it reversed on him,  leading to another rope escape.  Takada then throws some more useless  high kicks, which allow Burton to take him down again, and go back to  some basic mat work, before busting out the realest of real submissions:  the camel clutch!

This most  fearsome of holds causes Takada to take his first rope escape, in which  he promptly returns the favor with some kind of wrist-lock armbar  combination. He then starts to unload on Burton with thigh kicks, and  palm strikes, landing quite a few before being taken down to the mat  again. Takada then did something that I actually thought was a cool  technique, he kept hip escaping until he was able to torque himself into  the right angle to attempt a toe hold. This actually looked like  something that might be doable in a real Jiujitsu match, under the right  circumstances, and will probably be one of the few times I will witness  impressive waza from him.

They continue  in a back and forth fashion for a while, until Burton hits a couple of  nice suplexes on Takada, only to simply walk over and slap on the  laziest single leg Boston crabs I have ever witnessed.
 Not to be undone there, he then attempted a slightly less lazy double leg Boston crab, which of course gets a rope break.

Takada then decides his had enough, and after slapping his opponent a few times, executes a super flashy suplex, followed by a much better looking  Boston Crab, and wins the fight. This was a rather silly, but  entertaining match, that basically showed Takada in a nutshell. A  Charismatic Pro Wrestler that really gave the impression that he had no  idea how to really fight.

Conclusion:  Fujiwara and Aikira Maeda were both Pro Wrestlers that  never fought for real either, (to the best of my knowledge), but both at  least seemed like they had a good understanding of fighting, and could  probably handle themselves against most people that lacked serious  martial arts training. We could also see why this promotion was such a  hit in Japan until Takada and Anjo foolishly exposed themselves by  insisting on challenging Rickson Gracie, as it had undeniable  entertainment value. Like PWFG, the roster was a bit thin, but everyone  here could have a fun match, and it showed.

Here is the event in full:

In other news:

Rorion Gracie was working tirelessly to spread and market BJJ, here is a transcript from a letter he sent to Black Belt Magazine. It was published in the April 91 issue.: "What made Gracie Jujitsu the worlds most effective form of self defense was the strong determination of my father, Helio Gracie. to perfect a system that would satisfy his self defense needs in spite of his small stature. The simplicity and effectiveness that resulted from that quest have changed the lives of thousands.

Bigger and stronger opponents have provided a realistic and necessary testing ground for over half a century. The techniques that my brothers and I share have been successfully proven and we have absolute confidence in them. That's the only reason we teach them.

The Gracie challenge is a belief that we are indeed teaching the best system in the world. Consequently we have a moral responsibility to ourselves, as well as our students, to keep the Gracie Challenge standing. The fact is we are not cocky or boastful, like some jealous characters describe us, but instead we feel the need to alert people interested in finding out about a truly effective form of self-defense.

They can use the Gracie challenge to put pressure on their incompetent instructors, who should have the dignity and courage to admit how limited their systems really are. Unless, of course, those instructors want to step forward and prove us wrong. Nothing worries the rats more, than the cats meow."
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:27:55 PM
*Vol.2 Continued*

What did Mike Lorefice (of fame!) have to say about this? Let's check in with him.

"Though UWF split into three different promotions, what you really ended up with is Maeda doing his own thing, Fujiwara maintaining his top proteges, and UWF just reopening under slightly different name with a style that was even friendlier to both pro wrestling fans and to top star Nobuhiko Takada. UWF-I obviously missed the name value of Maeda, who was the #1 player in the sport, as well as the promise of Funaki, who had quickly cracked into their top tier and had seemingly unlimited potential both as a fighter & as a draw, but there should never have been any real doubt that they would succeed, at least in the short term.

There was enough depth on the UWF-I roster with two of the UWF's three top fighters in Takada & Yamazaki, two of the most promising young fighters in Tamura & Kakihara, and you still had the solid, good working mainstays such as Anjo & Nakano that had made the UWF a promotion of hard workers that you watched from opening bout to final. That's not to say they didn't have issues though, as they were simply short a few wrestlers. While they could fill out the cards with random foreigners, these guys weren't even names in America much less Japan, and you couldn't just throw your every day stomper & eye gouger into this style, it was a paired down style, but that often made it tougher to do rather than easier. While the first year of PWFG was likely the best in the history of the promotion, the first year of UWF-I was rough because they neither did anything useful with their best worker, Yamazaki, nor built any other native into that #1B role he needed to fill if they wanted to actually promote big shows & keep fans showing up. Instead, they just had everyone toil in the midcard while Miyato rolled out Takada vs. some random foreigner on top, which was often really the worst situation for both Takada and the foreigner as the fans wouldn't take the opponent seriously & while Takada did flashy pro wrestling things extremely well, he wasn't the sort of highly adaptive opponent you wanted to be leading you through a "new" style.

Giving their brightest new lights the opportunity to usher in the new era of shootfighting was a great way to start the new promotion. Tamura and Kakihara did themselves and the promotion proud with a crisp and energetic contest. As is always the case with the early shoot style, the standup was a lot more credible than the mat because kickboxing and muay thai were well established sports, while judo and amateur wrestling had their place in the Olympics, but had never been deemed entertaining enough to be ticket selling sports, and thus the fighters were probably less encouraged to fully utilize what knowledge of them they had or really develop those styles. Instead, they just incorporated the spectacular end game of the throw rather than teaching the audience to be patient while they set one up. When all else failed, they could always get the bout to the canvas with a good old fashioned leg scissors, as Kakihara did here.

This was a good match but obviously nowhere near their best work. One has to keep in mind that Tamura was out from 10/25/89 when sloppy Maeda accidentally fractured his orbital with a knee until the final UWF show on 12/1/90. Then there were no shows for the next 6 months as everyone reorganized, so this was only the 7th match of Tamura's career, which still put him 2 ahead of Kakihara, who debuted on 8/13/90. What Kakihara had right from the outset was a very infective, wild passion. He may not have been cut out for real fighting, but if he were, he would have been one of those high risk all action fan favorite fighters who goes for bonuses and finishes, one way or the other, rather than just trying to win safe. Kakihara certainly had his routine, but he may have been the only wrestler that, no matter how many times you saw him engage in those rapid fire palm barrages or wild kicks, you still felt his match was legitimately getting a bit out of control. Tamura was a good compliment to him because he could ground him just enough that they could strike a balance between an out and out highlight real and a technical fight.

22 years before Scott Smith failed to become one half of MMA's first tag team champions in Gladiator Challenge, UWF-I debuted the doubles style. While tag team wrestling obviously differentiated them from their rival shoot leagues, it mainly just made the promotion seem that much more like the plethora of rival pro wrestling leagues, with the whole ring position & exchange game largely just being a credibility straining distraction. There's just an odd tension when the goal is sort of to get on top of your opponent, except since there's no real ground control you'll lose that position and be in danger of submitting almost as fast as you gain it, and then wish you were standing so you could make the tag. Kazuo Yamazaki & Tatsuo Nakano vs. Yoji Anjo & Yuko Miyato otherwise sounds good on paper, as none of these four are less than good workers, but while not dull, it never seemed like anyone's match or found its rhythm. Miyato was a much better wrestler than booker, and you already saw things going greatly awry as instead of Yamazaki being set up to finally getting his wins over Takada so they'd have two main stars and a lights out main event program, Yamazaki, who basically only lost to Maeda & Takada in UWF, was already jobbing to a perpetual midcarder in Anjo. Having an upset on the first show to shake up the old pecking order & establish new challengers is not a bad idea, but Anjo proceeded to lose to Nakano on the next show, and went on to post a whopping 1-5 record in singles that year.

Having grown up a dedicated daily viewer of GWF on ESPN despite it pretty much only being good for the Lightning Kid vs. Jerry Lynn or Chaz Taylor matches in the early stages of the promotion, I was shocked to learn that the "brother" of Mike "I'm Not Crazy" Davis headlined the first UWF-I show, and was considered a serious tough guy in Japan. Burton was an amateur wrestler who was trained professionally by 2-time Olympic wrestler Brad Rheingans. His background allowed him to just be thrust into a UWF-I match, but it's likely he was the only fighter on the show with legitimate training in the discipline, so it didn't really help him as much as newer fight fans who are used to wrestling being the prominant discipline in real fighting would suspect. This match was okay, definitely better on paper than in actuality as the strategy of Burton controlling by grounding Takada but Takada thrilling the crowd with a flashy flurry of kicks when he could get back to his feet was sound, but the work was just so loose and no one took Burton the least bit seriously. Takada gave Burton a lot of control time, but there isn't much drama when one guy is basically toying with the other and will win when they got bored."

And we must also see what Dave Meltzer had to say about this as well...."The April issue of Kung Fu magazine has a story about former wrestling great Satoru Sayama's attempt to start his own sport called "Shooting." Sayama's sport, which according to those who have seen it, is legitimate in that the foes don't work with one another, combines punching, kicking, wrestling and judo throws and wrestling submission holds. The match can end with a knockout coming from a throw punch or kick or a submission coming from a wrestling hold. The concept is to employ all the martial arts into a competitive sport situation. There are now two martial arts schools in Southern California that teach Sayama's shooting as a competitive sport.

Nobuhiko Takada's UWFI had a press conference on Friday, {5-1-91} to announce the debut card in two weeks. Both Yoshiaki Fujiwara (PWF head man) and Seiji Sakaguchi (New Japan vice president) sent flowers to the press ceremony, which had several famous sumo wrestlers including a Grand Champion in attendance. Naoki Sano was also at the party and challenged Takada to a match in the future. This makes it appear that SWS is going to have a loose affiliation with Takada's group as well.

The next two weeks will be very interesting because all three versions of the formerly red-hot UWF promotion have cards. Nobuhiko Takada's UWFI debuts on Friday night in Korakuen Hall and all 2,000 tickets were sold out within 15 minutes of them going on sale weeks ago. Akira Maeda's "Rings" debuts the next night at the 17,000-seat Yokohama Arena. I've heard tickets are selling for this show, but as of a few days ago, there were still ringside tickets remaining so this isn't the "hot" ticket Maeda once was. In addition, the PWF (Pro Wrestling Fujiwara-group) runs Korakuen Hall on 5/16.

The big news this week was the debut of Nobuhiko Takada and Akira Maeda's new promotions. Takada's group debuted before a sellout 2,300 fans at Korakuen Hall on 5/10, with all tickets sold out in something like 15 minutes the first day they went on sale. The group, called UWF International or UWFI for short, is the closest thing to the old UWF which had a two-year run as the hottest promotion in the world before fizzling out as shooting stars are wanton to do because of problems between Maeda and office boss Shinji Jin.

The show wasn't really very good, but what remains of the legion of UWF fans were there and felt good about being there. Takada grabbed the house mic before the show and said the group was the only one left "with the feeling of the UWF" which got a big pop. The card itself consisted of three matches, a prelim match between Masato Kakihara and Kiyoshi Tamura, won by Tamura. Then came a "doubles" match (tag team) with Shigeo Miyato & Yoji Anjyo beating Kazuo Yamazaki & Tatsuo Nakano with the surprise finish of Yamazaki doing the job when he was knocked out by a series of kicks from both guys in 23 minutes.

This was different from the old UWF, which didn't have any tag matches. The rule were that a guy couldn't tag out while in a submission hold unless he got to the ropes or was able to break the hold. It was different since Yamazaki is really the group's second biggest name and he did the job. The main event saw Takada beat Tom Burton (who worked as a Dirty White Boy in Memphis some months back) with a boston crab in 10:46. The match was disappointing to most because Burton really had no idea of the style and Takada was giving him lots of openings and trying to carry him for ten minutes but the fans saw it as Takada could unload on him and beat him at anytime.

At the 10 minute call, Takada seemingly proved them right because he got a quick win at that point. After the match in the press conference Takada apologized and said "my opponent was poor." They also confused fans by instituting new rules. On the scoreboard, each man starts the match with 15 points. You lose three points every time you go to the ropes to break a hold, and lose one point every time you get suplexed. The match can end with a pinfall (which almost will never happen), a submission (usual finish), knockout, five knockdowns or if a man's point total goes down to zero.

When the press asked Takada after the show what his goal a year from now was, he said honestly, "I'm only thinking about one card at a time." In the sense that they drew the full house so easily, the card was a financial success. But the truth is, it has been so long since there has been a "real" UWF show in Tokyo, which was the home base of the UWF, that the first house was easy. Whether this group, with only eight wrestlers and access to only no-name Americans can book shows that will draw over the long haul or be able to draw outside of Tokyo is another story. The next show is 6/6 at Korakuen Hall with Takada vs. J.T. Southern on top."
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:31:32 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.3 "Enter the Astral World"


It's that time once again, as we pick up where we left off, lonely sojourners on a road less traveled. Yes, the Kakutogi highway is beckoning us once more, and we thus must answer the call. When we last convened, we had just witnessed a truly cataclysmic moment in the space time continuum, as the forces that kept the UWF together fractured into several directions and are each spiraling towards their own path to nobility.

Yes, we all witnessed the birth of the PWFG and the UWFI, and now we get to behold the beginning of what is in this humble scribe's opinion, the finest of the Pre/Quasi Shoot Leagues: Fighting Network Rings.

While Nobuhiko Takada's effect on the sport of MMA is undeniable (due to his shenanigans with Rickson Gracie being the impetus behind Pride FC) the total influence that Rings had on what is now MMA, is probably far deeper than most casual observers have initially perceived.

As we continue to go through this series, we will see events unfold, stars rise, and narratives form, from the most unlikely of sources. An outfit that seemingly would never be more than a pro wrestling farce, wound up evolving to be a home for many of the personalities that created an impact that's still felt to this day. For example, where would modern MMA be without Frank Shamrock meeting Maurice Smith, and Tsyoshi Kohsaka, thus starting one of the most bleeding edge teams of it's day and becoming the prototype of what a modern mixed martial artist should be? What would our current landscape look like today if Fedor Emelianenko (under the watchful tutelage of Volk Han and the rest of the Russian Top Team) didn't have a place to hone his brutal craft, in his formative years? How would current striking theory look like without all the various Dutch/European kickboxers that were closely connected to Rings, and had a training system/platform to hone their abilities, in-between local events, and K1 competitions?

Hopefully, all these, and many more questions will be answered, examined, and discussed as we continue along the Kakutogi Road.....

Date: 5-11-91

Location: Yokohama Japan (Yokohama Arena)

11,000 Estimated in attendance.

We are at first greeted to a plug from the WOWWOW network, while a hard drum machine beat (that wouldn't be out of place on an early Boogie Down Productions album), plays in the background. We are then introduced to a montage of the bouts to come. (FIRE, WATER, EARTH, and UNIVERSE respectfully). Thankfully Akira Maeda quickly shows up in a suit, otherwise I may have accidently thought I was relapsing into my old Captain Planet addiction (no I shouldn't have to apologize for wanting a green mullet, it's totally ok).

After some routine pleasantries we are greeted to prior footage of Judo Ace Chris Dolman giving an exhibition with Dick Virj (who as legend has it once gave 6x time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates a stiff beating for organizing a bodybuilding competition in the Netherlands without "permission.")

"Cold as Ice" by Foreigner blasts through the speakers during this display, and yes, it's every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. After this, Maeda starts kicking some pads while a lowly (and surely underpaid) lackey holds them in fear and trepidation. Dolman beholds all of this in disgust, knowing that surely such an underling isn't worthy of Akira's ministrations.

Only Dolman was found worthy....


Fast forward to present: We are now moving to the opening ceremonies of this event, which has the entire ensemble coming to the ring to the Hip-Hop version of the Rings Theme. This manages to be the very quintessence of 90s positive rap spectrum, which makes me wonder if Maeda spent his free time proudly wearing Cross Colours t-shirts, while breaking out his vinyl copy of De La Soul's 3 feet high and rising.

After this tasteful foray, we are now ready for business, in this case: Herman Renting vs Pieter Smit. Renting was a Dutch heavyweight fighter, who is perhaps best known for losing to Akira Shoji via Armbar at Pride FC #11. (There is of course no shame in that, as last I heard Shoji is forever eligible for Grand Cordon status, due to his being considered a national treasure in Japan.)

Back to the action: Things are underway, and after both fighters give off some weak striking attempts, Renting get the first takedown with an awfully genteel throw (where he just sorts of lifts his opponent with no resistance) that immediately shows the worked nature of this bout. The fight is a very grappling heavy affair, with a lot of position changes, and leg lock attempts, but it's readily apparent that they really haven't figured out this yet. Compared to standard pro wrestling of the day, it's amazing, but coming to this after witnessing the debuts of PWFG and UWFI, we see that it may take some time for this outfit to really find it's tone, as the competitors so far seem too unsure of exactly how stiff they need to be when they strike, and change their positions way too often on the ground. This has the effect of neither having the dry realism of PWFG or the high-octane fun of UWFI, and kind of lands somewhere in the middle of the two. This match was mostly a meandering affair as the competitors spend most of the time playing footsie. The two redeeming takeaways are the tachi-waza of Peter Smit (he hit a couple of nice Harai-Goshi throws) and the finish. After a rather sloppy armbar attempt, Smit hits an Omoplata/straight armbar variation, which would probably make this the first appearance of such a submission in the shoot- spectrum.

Next up is Willie Peeters vs Marcell Haarmans in the WATER BOUT

Willie Peeters, who in later years will be known for his cheating antics, and steroid assisted physique, is looking surprisingly fresh-faced and horsemeat free here. He faces off against Marcell Haarmans, who still remains a mystery to me. Th action starts off with a couple of stiff knees from Peeters, who immediately goes for a hip throw, only to fail, and get deflected into a very nasty looking Bully Choke (think of how Carlos Newton beautifully finished off Pat Miletech at UFC 31). This is already leagues better than the last match, and is making me wonder if this card is about to turn around from its lackluster first match. Peeters manages to explode and twist out of the chocke and answered with a very stiff elbow to his downed opponents' midsection. This is an odd sight, as Rings become notorious for not allowing any striking whatsoever on the ground, but apparently that rule hasn't gone into effect, as of yet.

Peeters kicks his downed opponent some more, before the ref intervenes and allows Harrmans to stand up. They engage in a clinch and trade some hard knees, before Petters executes a very explosive headlock takedown, which leads to Haarmans taking a rope escape, and both getting stood back up. Peeters then channels his inner Shane Douglas with a belly-to-belly suplex that sees its momentum quickly reversed by Haarmans and causes Peeters to fail like a fish which grants him a break from the ref (without having to use a rope escape). After some terse striking exchanges, Haarmans catches one of Peeters kicks, and makes him pay by taking him down and doing what any self-respecting wrestler would do...assault his opponent with a single-leg Boston Crab! This most fearsome of submissions costs Peeters his first rope escape, and perhaps his dignity. They exchange in more striking which continues to see Peeters land a lot of stiff shots, even while his opponent is on the ground. The back and forth continues until Peeters wins with what appears to be a very stiff high kick to his opponents head.

While this match is clearly a work, and the kick did seem to be the intended finish, it does seem like Peeters is prone to taking some liberties with how hard he has been hitting. I'm beginning to think the stiffness just stems from Petters being a jerk (which we will see much more of in his actual shoot career).

This was a fun match, perhaps due to Peeters unprofessional antics, but was still a nice change from the first bout.

Now he have the EARTH BOUT, which starts off with a rather dapper Dolman, saying that no American professional wrestler wants anything to do with Kazmaier, apparently to show us that only he has the requisite courage to face such a monstrosity of a man. Kazmaier was a best known for his achievements in Powerlifting and Strong Man competitions, but he tried his hand at pro wrestling in the late 80s/early 90s, his most notable success being a short stint in WCW in late 91, in which he chased Lex Lugar for the U.S. Heavyweight title.

This bout will be seven 3-minute rounds, as opposed to 1 30-minute match, perhaps owing to Kazmaier's cardiovascular limitations. Round one was fairly uneventful, outside of a nice hip throw from Dolmamn. Dolman's credentials were never in doubt as he was a multiple champion in both Sambo and Judo, but even at this early stage, he was well past his prime, and moves like molasses. Things picked up a bit in round 2, in which Kazmaier went into full Zangief mode, and started throwing some super-slow, super-heavy hands, and was able to force a knockdown after a gut shot to Dolman. The action proceeds a brisk brisk as these two can move, and the round ends with Kazmaier in the middle of trying to neck crank/choke Dolman into submission.

Nothing interesting happened in rounds 3&4, and all were thankful in round 5 when Dolman ended this tripe with an armbar. The finish was actually neat, as Kazmaier tried a modified powerbomb to get out of it, but Dolman held on before eventually securing the submission.

Ugh. Hopefully the UNIVERSE BOUT will cleanse our palate, and take us all into the shoot-stratosphere that we so long to abide in.

First, we get Dick Virj who looks like he would have been an excellent ending boss to a Double Dragon game, saying things in Dutch, that I do not comprehend. Maeda on the other hand goes out before the match, and finds another underpaid young man, and proceeds to kick him, which was always my preferred method of warming up. They come out to the ring, and if we learn nothing else today, at least we go away knowing that Maeda was OVER. The crowd is totally into this/him, and it probably shows us that Maeda was important to MMA history, if nothing else, then by his simply existing, as he was the de facto reason this promotion existed, and got any attention at all, let alone lucrative tv contracts.

The match is now underway, and this will be 1 round with a 45 min time limit. (Which is hysterical as neither man could probably put in half that time.) The match gets underway after an intense staredown, and we're off. Maeda feels out Virj with a few kicks before taking him down, and attempting an Armbar, which Virj escapes. They then proceed to slug it out, with Maeda actually taking some rather stiff kicks from Virj. It would appear that Maeda is really wanting to put this show over and is willing to take some punishment as a result.

The fight is well paced, with plenty of back and forth striking action, and when it did hit the ground, they didn't spend all day looking for a reverse toe hold but moved things at a fast clip. The match ends with Maeda catching a kick and doing the only thing that one would do in such a situation, breaking out the single-leg Boston Crab, and securing the win.

What's the takeaway here? This show (other than the surprisingly entertaining last match) was pretty weak sauce, as much as that pains me to say it. Maeda has definitely nailed the best presentation as in terms of presenting it as a legitimate sporting contest, with the international flavor, and using real martial artists, instead of random jobbers from the most obscure corners of American professional wrestling circles, but the actual execution is lacking. It's to be expected though, as they are in a position to be trailblazers, they will of course have some growing pains to try and figure out what they want to be. The most fascinating thing about all of this, is to know that they eventually morph into a full blown MMA promotion, and we are ever so fortunate to be able to take part in the journey.

Here is the event in its entirety:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:33:17 PM
*Vol.3 Continued*

In other news....

On April 1st 1991, Koji Kitao was supposed  to have a standard pro wrestling match with "Earthquake" John Tenta at  an event for the Japanese SWS promotion. However, booker The Great  Kabuki put Tenta up to provoking Kitao in hopes of getting Kitao  expelled from the promotion, so from the outset Tenta didn't really  cooperate with Kitao's attempts to engage, provoking him by making him  look too slow & deliberate. Kitao threw a fit on the outside after  Tenta took him down hard, and stopped cooperating with Tenta, who hadn't  been cooperating with him in the first place, taking a two fingered  posture and trying for an eye gouge when Tenta grabbed his arm. No one  really connected with anything before Kitao got himself disqualified for  kicking the ref, but Kitao made things public afterwards, grabbed the  microphone on the outside and breaking kayfabe by telling the crowd that  pro wrestling is fake, and that his opponent Tenta, also a decorated  sumo who was undefeated in his brief career, is fake. Kitao and Kabuki  were promptly fired after this incident.

We are excited to  announce that Bart Vale is now offering his vast wealth of shootfighting  knowledge via instructional tapes, and seminars, contact him today to  increase your skills.

Martial Artist and film star Steven Seagal lost a lawsuit over  writing credit to the film Marked for Death. Seagal had recently gone  before the arbitration board of the screen actors guild, along with the  film's producers: Michael Grais, and Mark Victor. Seagal lost a  decision, in which, he argued that he rewrote 93 percent of the script  himself.


Let's check in with Scribe Par Excellence, Mike Lorefice, and see what he has to say about all this:

"Renting  vs. Smit was a poor match because most of the strikes barely connected,  but helds some interest for the odd judo based takedowns where they  almost twisted each other to the mat, as well as for Renting using low  kicks to work kick combinations. The finish was just odd. It didn't  strike me as an omoplata, but rather two guys who simply didn't  understand that there's no finishing leverage on the armbar when the guy  applying it is on his side and the guy receiving it shifts to his  stomach. You felt like Smit needed to go belly down also, but there was  really no way for that to even work because he was just scissoring his  legs on Renting's bicep.

Peeters was the most interesting of  the original roster in that he more or less really went at it, and his  matches were extremely intense and sometimes baffling because of that.  The match wasn't a straight up shoot, but they often didn't work with  each other either, and Peeters always seemed to be at the center of  this. Peeters might not have been actively trying to knock Haarmans out,  but he wasn't really pulling his strikes either, which made for an odd  constrast given Haarmans was, and I kept looking for Haarmans to  complain about the way Peeters was laying into him. What's actually more  interesting though, and makes the match look very much ahead of its  time, is the lack of cooperation on the throws and various attempts to  get each other down resulting in a style where both guys exploded and  whatever happened, happened.

Seemingly Peeters would sort of cooperate  by not specifically resisting the lockup or immediately trying to get  back to his feet in the grappling, allowing Haarmans to toy around with  crabs, but he wouldn't necessarily cooperate with the throws and  transitions. There was a lot of flash though, mostly from Peeters with  spinning kicks and belly to belly suplexes since Haarmans was much more  obliging, but they both made each other work for things & didn't  sacrifice the essence of the fight for entertainment value.

Maeda's  idea to broker talent from all corners of the world was a solid one,  but one of the major problems of doing this in a worked league that  pretended to be a shoot league is he was somewhat at the mercy of the  leaders of these various gyms who were always going to be above their  underlings despite current ability and marketability. In his prime,  Dolman was likely the best real fighter on this show, and even in these  days, the Gracies were still regularly ignoring his challenges.

 Unfortunately, he was pudgy 46-year-old when RINGS started and should  just have focused on his role of running his gym & training the  Netherlands stable for their actual real and worked fights rather than  being Maeda's first big rival and winning the inaugural Mega Battle  tournament. Given none of these guys were probably capable of having a  good match with the fighter who would more aptly be dubbed Dullman, I  suppose feeding him legendary strongman Kazmaier wasn't the worst idea.  This match should have been 5 minutes or less though, but that's a tough  go when you are running a major arena with a 4 match card. The real  value of a guy like Yoji Anjo is he could give you an entertaining half  hour, thus allowing time to be shaved matches that were never going to  be MOTYC.

The first half had some moments, but they were both blown up  in the second half. Certainly, it was much better as a "shoot" than as a  work, by that I mean it was fairly credible, it just wasn't slickly  performed. I have no problem calling it more believable than anything on  the PWFG or UWF-I debut shots, but graceful it was not. Kazmaier  actually did a good job of striking as though it were a kickboxing match  rather than his usual pro wrestling match, and generally came off as a  real RINGS fighter even though this was a one off, but his muscles got  in the way of his actual striking technique. Similarly, Dolman had the  right footwork & movement, but his actual blows were performed with  action figure flexibility.

RINGS was a lot more believable  than UWF because the card was filled with martial artists rather than  pro wrestlers who trained other pro wrestlers in a martial arts oriented  pro wrestling style, but unfortunately Maeda himself hadn't evolved.  Maeda vs. Vrij could have taken place on any UWF show, in fact it was  probably less realistic than Vrij's three UWF matches. Vrij had a good  intimidating look as the icy musclebound cyborg who was a lot more  charismatic than that description suggests, and was capable of being an  entertaining striker when someone built a match around that and pulled  the match out of him, but he wasn't much of a worker on his own. Still,  given what they had, he was a good option to be Maeda's initial rival,  held back mainly by having failed previously in UWF (he beat Anjo in  between loses to Fujiwara).

Thematically, this was the expected match  with the kickboxer Vrij winning the standup and the grappler Maeda  winning the ground, but there wasn't much interplay, which was  disappointing given Vrij had progressed a lot since his initial mixed  match with Fujiwara where he wore gloves to being willing to challenge  Anjo & Fujiwara in their domain in his '90 matches. Generally, you  had Vrij standing there with his right arm tight and his left arm fully  extended, fist clenched, landing strikes until Maeda got him down &  mostly just held him in some loose positions that beared some  resemblance to amateur wrestling except nothing was actually being done  to keep Vrij in place.

The primary reason the first Fujiwara vs. Vrij  not only worked, but was so much more intense is anytime Fujiwara got a  hold or Vrij or took him down, Vrij would immediately try to scramble  back to his feet, with Fujiwara desperately grasping & clutching for  dear life to keep Vrij from getting another opportunity to work him  over on his feet. Against Maeda, Vrij did a decent job of mixing in low  kicks and body blows to keep Maeda guessing, but Maeda was still really  just standing totally relaxed in front of him, and Vrij wasn't hitting  all that hard compared both to some of the stuff on the undercard and  his own later bouts. Much of Vrij's illusion was shattered when Maeda  inexplicably scored the first knockdown, though Vrij did a good job of  playing heel within the rules to regain the intensity and generally seem  pissed & out of control.

 Though it was easily the least credible  bout on the card, the length was right, containing enough action and  entertainment value to please Maeda's fans without becoming too  unbelievable. Still, it's the kind of match that looks worse with each  passing year, particularly due to the hokey finish that would surely  make clown prince Angle proud where Vrij landed some kind of jumping  movie kick then Maeda ate a high kick, but caught Vrij's leg on the  recoil and somehow twisted and turned into an ankle lock then continued  into a 1/2 crab for the victory.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:38:01 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.4

Greetings and salutations!

It is that time most hallowed, where we once again come together in the spirit of Kakutogi to observe the latest wanderings before us. This time we find ourselves back at the Korakuen Hall, ready for another chapter of the PWFG. So far, we have witnessed the birth of a nexus of Shoot-Style promotions that will eventually help solidify and define MMA in the years to come (with RINGS and the UWFI being the other two promotions).

It’s 5-16-91, and we are greeted by a soothing synth beat, while infamous catch-wrestling legend Karl Gotch, puts the PWFG crew through their paces. One look at this, and we can see a glimpse as to why PWFG went on to produce some of the best fighters of the early MMA era, due to the watchful tutelage of Gotch.

In fact, Gotch may be an unsung hero in the annuls of MMA history, because if his influence hadn’t saturated Japanese Pro Wrestling since the early 70s, and had he not been a forerunner in the formation of the original UWF promotion, there probably wouldn’t have be a Shooto, Pancrase, Pride, or any Japanese MMA for that matter, and thereby many of the early stars of MMA would be noticeably absent. It’s very possible that the UFC would have been regulated to a quick infomercial for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, if we didn’t have people like Ken Shamrock, or Dan Severn (who both got their start in MMA by way of Japanese Shoot-Style wrestling) providing a stylistic foil, or counter narrative, in those early chapters of its history.

This event is kicked off with the PWFG roster honoring Gotch in the center of the ring, and allowing him to kick things off with a short speech which is as follows: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the road to success is made of luck, sweat, and tears. The first steps have been made, and a lot of work lays ahead of us. With the spirit of Fujiwara-Gumi we can face the future with confidence. I hope we can give wrestling back the honor it deserves. So, it can be done with the same respect as it is in boxing, which it once had. The time has come to give the public what it pays for, and not to take their money under false pretenses by impersonating a professional wrestler.”

The speech is rather fascinating as it clearly shows the essence of what MMA has always wanted to be, which is REAL pro wrestling, and it offers a glimpse into what was surely the vision of people like Gotch, Lou Thez, Billy Robinson and other wrestlers from a bygone era, in which carnival wrestling had roots in effective martial art techniques, and its practitioners honed and perfected their techniques via a subculture that was happy to exchange its esoteric secrets with one another.

It may also reveal how insecure the powers that were in charge, may have been about actually providing real shoots. One must wonder, if somebody like Fujiwara, simply didn’t think there was a paying public for real pro wrestling and had no choice to pull the wool over the eyes of its fanbase. In any event, Gotch’s vision didn’t really take formation until the founding of Pancrase in late 93, and we are given even more evidence that Pancrase is the culmination of what the PWFG should have been from the beginning.

After the formalities, we are treated to a very young, and very fresh faced, Minoru Suzuki, who these days looks like he may just be a tad under 800 years old. This saddening observation has made me ponder many of the deeper things in life, such as if the rigorous shooting career Suzuki had in the mid-late 90s added about 750 of those years to his body.

Here Suzuki must face Kazuo Takahashi, who in a short time later, became one of the first fighters to conquer a BJJ black belt (with a win over Wallid Ismail at UFC 12) thus garnering a reputation as a very tough opponent, regardless of whatever fighting skills he may have lacked.

Suzuki and his opponent start off in the clinch, and the first couple of mins look a lot like a Greco-Roman wrestling match, until Takahashi shoots in and aggressively goes for a double. Suzuki tries to ward this off with a sprawl, but after struggling for a couple of seconds, he defaults to a nasty knee to the midsection of Takahashi, with a couple of palm strikes thrown in for good measure. I’m really digging how Suzuki incorporated striking in his shoot-style days. He seemed to use his strikes as tools to open up submission attempts, or as a way to break a stalemate when his normal grappling tools were being stalled out, and to me, this added a lot of nuance to his matches.

Takahashi continues his strategy of trying to blast through Suzuki with a power-double but can’t seem to get the job done. He switches to a single-leg attempt, to which Suzuki briefly tried a guillotine counter, but couldn’t get the requisite leverage with one of his legs in the air, so he let go of Takahashi and was able to side step into a slick Kimura (Double Wrist Lock) attempt. He quickly gives up on the Kimura and goes for an armbar, in which he sets up by squishing Takahashi’s face with his forearm/palm, to which I wholly approve of.

Always make the Uke Suffer!


his was a great way to open the show and set the tone for the event. A realistic match, that was faced paced, and didn’t have any real holes, or lulls in the action.

Next up is Yusuke Fuke vs Bart Vale:

They really tried to sell this as a lighting fast/undersized grappler vs a monstrosity striker, and it probably worked well for its era, but under a modern eye it isn’t believable due to the oafish slowness of Vale. When Vale is throwing kicks his offense looks passable, but when he gets taken down to the ground, by someone as lithe as Fuke, he simply doesn’t have the movement or the ability to make it seem like he would be any kind of credible threat, despite having a significant weight advantage. The match is entertaining, fast paced, and contains several great takedowns by Fuke, but the credibility is lacking.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Wellington Wilkins Jr:

Another well-paced, entertaining bout, that lacked credibility. In this case, it wasn’t due to the matchup itself, as both Wilkins and Fujiwara complemented each other, and came across as equally skilled opponents, but rather it was because it was simply too flashy to be a good example of this new style of wrestling. A lot of flashy suplexes and takedowns, mixed in with some stiff striking, and goofy antics from Fujiwara. Fun, but definitely the most rooted in the more common pro wrestling spectrum, compared to the other matches on the card.

Naoki Sano vs Ken Shamrock

Here we get to a true treat, and the highlight of this card. PWFG’s lack of star power on the bottom tier of their roster definitely led to some unfortune excursions into the more obscure corners of the jobber universe, but in this case, their subcontracting out some talent led to a homerun. Sano started his carrer in the 80s as a jobber for NPJW before getting a chance to hone his craft in Mexico in 87 and he was able to parlay that experience into a successful run in the Jr. Division of NJPW, with some memorable matches against Jyushin Liger.

When SWS (Super World of Sports) started doling out the cash in the early 90s he jumped aboard the gravy train, and was plying his craft there, when PWFG worked out an agreement to have him loaned out for a couple of matches. His stay here was brief, as Kazuo Yamazaki, and Nobuhiko Takada lured him over to the UWFI shortly thereafter.

If Sano is known at all to a modern MMA fan, it is probably for his surprisingly good showing against Royler Gracie at Pride 2, in which he was able to nullify a lot of Royler’s offensive tools, and could have possibly caused a major upset had he not been so tentative in that fight.

The fight starts and is already looking to be amazing, as Sano seems like a perfect opponent for Shamrock. Both were of a similar height, and both had impressive bodybuilder physiques, so this is looking like a clash between the unstoppable force vs the immovable object, straightaway.

Unstoppable Hair vs Immovable Mullet

The first few mins start off with the fighters feeling each other out on the ground, with Ken ever looking for a leg attack entry. This is interesting to watch from a modern vantage point, as it was clearly by people that weren’t in the BJJ mentality of “position over submission.” Sano will attempt to place Ken in a bad position, and as soon as Ken is able to reposition himself, he instantly goes for the attack, which was the mindset of Catch Wrestling.

Both men jockey back and forth on the ground for a while, with both trading kimura, toe hold, and choke attempts. This goes on for a while, until Shamrock is able to secure a rear naked chock, thus forcing a rope escape from Sano.

They get stood back up and escalate the entire affair with some stiff palm strikes, and nasty knees from Sano. Everything is looking very snug and believable until a momentary show of flashiness takes place with a jumping DDT from Sano. This didn’t really amount to a whole lot, as Shamrock quickly reversed his position by applying a hammerlock variant, into another rear naked choke attempt, and rope escape.

After trading a couple of kicks, Shamrock hits an explosive Northern Lights suplex into a Kimura, which is super impressive looking, but admittedly fake as all get out. This surprisingly didn’t accomplish much as Sano was right back up with some more kicks and managed to score a knockdown against Shamrock. Shamrock gets back up and they continue to trade submission attempts, but one thing I’m starting to notice is that this has a great back and forth feel, without the sometimes-scripted feeling that a Rings match would give off. The limited rope-escape format of RINGS could add a lot of drama to a match, but oftentimes produced matches that felt very formulated. The PWFG approach of unlimited rope escapes allows for a much more organic match to take place, although can also lead to bouts of meandering if not done correctly.

The match continues to seesaw all the way until the 25:00 min mark, when everything culminates into an explosive crescendo, as both men give everything they have into knees/palm strikes towards one another. Sano gets behind Shamrock and hits a dragon suplex, followed by a straight armbar, for the win. While not perfect, this was a great match that really showcased the new and uncharted territory that this style could deliver. It was fairly credible, outside of a few highspots and Shamrock’s striking needing to be a bit stiffer. Still, this was a glimpse of some of the magic to come, and Sano proved to a perfect foil to the powerhouse that was Ken Shamrock.

Now, much like the Hindenburg, this show must come crashing down in similar fashion. We have Masakatsu Funaki vs Johnny Barrett, which if this had to exist at all, should have at least been towards the bottom of the card. Having someone as slow and out of shape as Barrett in a main event, is truly baffling. Funaki does what he can with him, and while it isn’t completely horrible, it was a totally anti-climatic letdown, after the greatness of Shamrock/Sano.

Conclusion: While they haven’t quite hit their stride, we are starting to see that the PWFG has the most potential of the three Shoot-Style leagues to really break into greatness. Although they weren’t able to keep a consistent stylistic tone, all of the matches were entertaining, and if they can manage to broaden the shallow end of their talent pool, then they might be a dangerous force to reckon with.

Here is the event in full:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:40:12 PM
*Vol.4 Continued*

In Other News:

*Japan* Maurice Smith recently squared off against Peter Smit at an All Japan Kickboxing event on 5-21. There was a lot of trash talk and dirty looks from Smit and his crew leading up to the first round, and Smit continued to act arrogant after the round started. Surprisingly though, despite all of his bluster, Smit had absolutely nothing for Smith, and was never able to generate any significant offense. At one point during round 1, smith become irritated at Smit’s antics and picked him up and slammed him to the ground. This caused a look of confusion and bewilderment from Smit, who seemed puzzled as to how Maurice could just have his way with him like that.

Smit regained his composure by round 2, but still wasn’t able to effectively break through Smith’s defenses. Round 3 is when things started to get interesting… Smit was finally hitting his stride and while he wasn’t landing any bombs, he was able to stifle Smith, which seemed to frustrate him, and shortly before the 2min mark, Smith bodylocked Smit, took him down, and initiated some ground and pound. This caused several people in Smit’s corner to jump onto the ring apron, and threaten Smith, while the referee panicked. The ref managed to break it up and declared Smit the winner. Smith then calmed down and apologized to Smit and asked him to come back into the ring and finish the fight. The ref seemed unwilling at first, but after cutting to a montage of the melee, apparently an agreement was worked out and everybody agreed to resume the bout.

Smith don't play around......


They were both on their best behavior for round 4, but by the time Round 5 started it was clear that Smith had enough of the shenanigans, and proceeded to knock Smit out in just over a min. Things were surprisingly calm after the win, but one must wonder if Maurice had any trouble getting out of the building unscathed that night.

Full Event: (Maurice Smith fight starts around 36:30) :

Rings has been getting a lot of attention in the Japanese media lately, as it is being reported that this promotion is, and will be, a complete shoot (although as we reported last time, this is not the case) and Maeda’s decision to break away from Yamazaki and Takada was due to their not wanting to be in a full shoot organization.

*Chicago* Chuck Norris proved that he can do more than just act and roundhouse people, when he set a speedboat record of 12 hours 8 mins and 42 seconds for the 605 mile nautical trip between Chicago and Detroit. Michael Regan (son of President Ronald Regan) held the record before Norris, but Norris was able to beat him by about 26mins. Norris is an avid powerboat racer and was also able to beat the San Francisco to Los Angeles record last year, during his second attempt.

Did Dave Meltzer have anything interesting to say? Let's see: MAY 20, 1991 "The big news this week was the debut of Nobuhiko Takada and Akira Maeda's new promotions. Takada's group debuted before a sellout 2,300 fans at Korakuen Hall on 5/10, with all tickets sold out in something like 15 minutes the first day they went on sale. The group, called UWF International or UWFI for short, is the closest thing to the old UWF which had a two-year run as the hottest promotion in the world before fizzling out as shooting stars are wanton to do because of problems between Maeda and office boss Shinji Jin. The show wasn't really very good, but what remains of the legion of UWF fans were there and felt good about being there. Takada grabbed the house mic before the show and said the group was the only one left 'with the feeling of the UWF' which got a big pop. The card itself consisted of three matches, a prelim match between Masato Kakihara and Kiyoshi Tamura, won by Tamura. Then came a 'doubles' match (tag team) with Shigeo Miyato & Yoji Anjyo beating Kazuo Yamazaki & Tatsuo Nakano with the surprise finish of Yamazaki doing the job when he was knocked out by a series of kicks from both guys in 23 minutes. This was different from the old UWF, which didn't have any tag matches. The rule were that a guy couldn't tag out while in a submission hold unless he got to the ropes or was able to break the hold. It was different since Yamazaki is really the group's second biggest name and he did the job. The main event saw Takada beat Tom Burton (who worked as a Dirty White Boy in Memphis some months back) with a boston crab in 10:46. The match was disappointing to most because Burton really had no idea of the style and Takada was giving him lots of openings and trying to carry him for ten minutes but the fans saw it as Takada could unload on him and beat him at anytime. At the 10 minute call, Takada seemingly proved them right because he got a quick win at that point. After the match in the press conference Takada apologized and said 'my opponent was poor.' They also confused fans by instituting new rules. On the scoreboard, each man starts the match with 15 points. You lose three points every time you go to the ropes to break a hold, and lose one point every time you get suplexed. The match can end with a pinfall (which almost will never happen), a submission (usual finish), knockout, five knockdowns or if a man's point total goes down to zero. When the press asked Takada after the show what his goal a year from now was, he said honestly, "I'm only thinking about one card at a time." In the sense that they drew the full house so easily, the card was a financial success. But the truth is, it has been so long since there has been a "real" UWF show in Tokyo, which was the home base of the UWF, that the first house was easy. Whether this group, with only eight wrestlers and access to only no-name Americans can book shows that will draw over the long haul or be able to draw outside of Tokyo is another story. The next show is 6/6 at Korakuen Hall with Takada vs. J.T. Southern on top.

Two interesting notes were that Koji Kitao sent flowers to Takada's opening show, which gets an interesting rumor going, although he'd certainly be out of place. Even more interesting was the front page news in one of the newspapers this past week that this group is trying to put together a Takada vs. George Foreman match for the Tokyo Dome in January, but you can imagine how astronomical the odds would be of being able to pull that one off.

Speaking of Kitao, I got a chance to see the 4/1 'Wrestle Dream in Kobe' SWS-WWF show so I saw the match with Earthquake John Tenta. Anyway, aside from it being just about the worst match of the year (negative four stars), it did appear that it was Tenta who "started it." The first genuine shoot move was Tenta going behind Kitao and taking him down hard amateur style (Tenta was the teenage world superheavyweight champion back in the early 80s), but almost like a football lineman just throwing down a back. Tenta was riding Kitao, who got to the ropes. Kitao then got out of the ring and kicked over the press table and got a real po'd look in his eyes.

When they got back in the ring, it seemed the communication was gone but Kitao put his hands up as to do a test of strength as if they were working. When they locked up, Kitao quickly tried to move for the Fujiwara armbar but Tenta just got out of the way. Don't know if Kitao was doing the move for shoot or not, but Tenta clearly wasn't going to try and find out. At that point, the match was over as both guys just glared at each other. Neither guy would make a move. It seemed as if, since every fan knew the match had gotten out of control, neither guy could back down but both were very happy that the other wasn't quick to make a move.

They just stood there and glared for like four minutes and neither guy had a way out of it other than get in a real fight which neither seemed to really want to do even though they had to give the impression to the other that they did, so finally Kitao kicked the ref real hard for the DQ. The TV version of the match cut immediately, but at that point Kitao grabbed the house mic and made his comments about Tenta being fake and wrestling being fake. I was told it was funny to see how fast people stormed the ring and tried to get the mic away from him. Anyway, apparently Kitao's version that Tenta came after him first under the provocation from Kabuki has some substance. . .

That was a really sad show, by the way. With the exception of Bret Hart vs. George Takano **3/4, nothing was better than **1/4. The real disappointment was Tenryu-Savage. Savage looked bad but Tenryu looked a lot worse. I don't know if it was a bad night or if a lot of us didn't realize just how valuable Sherri Martel has been to Savage over the past year because he didn't look like a good wrestler. Savage also tried to break the bump on the power bomb (since he probably had never taken one before) finisher and the crowd erupted in laughter. It was said Tenryu's performance was so bad because of all the problems underneath, but Tenryu has really looked bad of late a lot of nights. Hogan-Yatsu was interesting if only because Hogan tried to wrestle the entire match on the mat and did one take-down and ride on Yatsu after another. The match was dull since Hogan's mat wrestling isn't entertaining, but it was different and unlike the other Americans that worked SWS shows, Hogan at least tried to change his style. It seemed to hurt his feelings that the crowd took the match as comedy even though Hogan tried to wrestle seriously. Hogan didn't take any bumps except for one powerslam from Yatsu and basically took the entire match and made it one-sided.

Maeda's 'Rings' promotion debuted 5/11 at the Yokohama Arena before 11,000 fans. The crowd was impressive because there were very few freebies (by Maeda's own decision) and it was really Maeda alone as the drawing card. Maeda's main event against kick boxer/bodybuilder Dick Leon-Fry from the Netherlands turned out to be Maeda's best match in a long time. The matches were all worked, although the crowd seemed to be convinced otherwise and popped big when Maeda pulled out the win after giving Fry a lot of the match. The other matches involved Dutch guys trained by Chris Dolman (sambo) and Wilhelm Ruska (judo); however, the fans weaned on the UWF noticed the guys did judo and sambo submissions and not the Karl Gotch-UWF style submissions that the fans were used to. Dolman worked against many time world champion powerlifter Bill Kazmaeir, in a match said to be awful. Dolman won by submission in the fifth round. Maeda is also plagued by a front office that includes nobody that has ever worked previously within the pro wrestling business."

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 22, 2020, 11:41:41 PM
*Vol.4 Continued*

What does Mighty Mike Lorefice have to say about all of this: "Not to take anything away from Karl Gotch, or especially Billy Robinson, who was the most gifted pro wrestler of his generation, but everyone involved in these "shoot leagues" was continuing to perpetuate the myth of reality by screaming really loudly about being different while actually only inching further from the long established norms of pro wrestling.

This, of course, is exactly what one would expect, people grouping with those who are seemingly most similar and continuing to do more or less exactly what they've always done, not attempting to enact legitimate change but making the easy & safe choices that simply shif things ever so slightly, mostly by excluding from their clique and directly or indirectly running down those who don't fit into their current needs, in this case the phony posers.

While Gotch, Robinson, Lou Thesz, Nick Bockwinkel, etc. were assets as trainers given the style the new generation was going to be working, certainly worlds more useful than doing 1000 squats in sync for Buddy Lee Parker, and in some cases such as Sakuraba & Tamura actually helped provide some tools that translated into legitimate fighting success, instead bringing in current or recently retired tournament or Olympic competitors in judo, amateur wrestling, BJJ, kickboxing, karate, taekwondo, etc. to train would surely have led to a more unique style & pushed things toward legitimate fighting a little quicker, probably still not under Fujiwara though, as taking on guys half his age for real was obviously not going to be a recipe for success or longevity. Rorion Gracie's ulterior motive for starting UFC was to prove that Gracie BJJ was the essential martial arts discipline, but with all the established players in the shoot leagues being from the same rigged discipline, there was no advantage, especially for Fujiwara, to removing his own safeguards. That being said, I think we are already starting to see a very important change due to Gotch, who helped instill the much needed Greco-Roman wrestling discipline that was largely missing in the UWF.

The main evolution we were seeing in these shoot leagues in 1991 is that the splintering of the UWF resulted in leagues needing to find new fighters to fill out their cards. One of the most important of these fighters was Kazuo Takahashi, a high school state champion in amateur wrestling who also had some training in karate. While Takahash's wrestling in this match was still too upper body centric, his attempting double & single leg takedowns was still an important step forward from the hokey status quo that, bereft of any real wrestling knowledge, included Akira Maeda relying on the captured suplex to transition to the mat. While nowhere near as entertaining as Suzuki's match with Shamrock on the 1st show, you can clearly see that Suzuki was forced to up his game here, combating the then unusual wrestling style of Takahashi by timing & countering his explosions with strikes & submissions. The match was very brief with Takahashi not really doing anything but looking for the takedown, and while the finish was not that impressive, overall it showed Suzuki to really get it in terms of being able to adapt to his opponent and counteract them through good timing.

Fuke debuted the prior August, going 1-1-1 against fellow rookie Masahito Kakihara before UWF closed. As with the previous match, the quality of amateur wrestling was much higher than it has been, with Fuke quickly hitting a single leg, which was also good strategy giving he was giving up a lot of weight to a kickboxer with a background in kenpo karate. Fuke showed a lot of potential, but Vale, while not awful, lacks any of the elements that make a fighter interesting such as speed, grace, & fluidity. He did some downright weird things, such as escape an armbar attempt by rolling to his left side & kicking Fuke in the head with his right leg, which drew a delayed chuckle from the Korakuen faithful. While I'll credit Vale with his willingness to allow Fuke to take him down & put him on the defensive rather than forcing a standup contest, Vale really didn't possess the skills necessary to put over his comebacks off his back.

After two examples of why PWFG was an improvement because you had new blood taking things in a more credible, martial arts based direction, Fujiwara comes out against a badly overmatched Wilkins, and because he doesn't take him the least bit seriously, does the PWFG version of a comedy match. Sure, this was credible by the standards of Hogan & Flair, but even if the work was arguably within the absolute loosest definition of shoot style, the desired reaction to their spots was giggling. They probably could have done a good match if they wanted to, but instead they did a cringeworthy exhibition that probably embarrassed some of the other performers because it was so obviously illegitimate in virtually every way.

Sano is something of a controversial figure, a guy who left NJPW at the height of his potential after a brilliant fued with Jushin Thunder Liger to compete in a promotion that supplied him with no legitimate rivals opponents, and spent the next several years paying for it when they failed. While Tenryu made Sano the flagbearer for the SWS light heavyweight division, a position he never would have held in NJ given Liger (as Tenryu never would have been tops in AJ given Jumbo Tsuruta), the overroided Model version of Rick Martel and a pre slapnuts J-E-FF J-A-RR-E-TT, were not the sort of opponents you were going to have futuristic matches with, as Sano had with Liger. Luckily, Sano found a home in the shoot style leagues, and while after leaving New Japan, perhaps only his program with Minoru Tanaka could be said to have approached the upper eschelons of junior heavyweight wrestling, he was a consistently good performer in the more realistic PWFG & UWF-I styles, with high quality matches against Minoru Suzuki & Kiyoshi Tamura. These highlights were somewhat overshadowed though by a bad run in MMA where he went 0-4 and just hanging on 12 years and counting beyond his expiration date (why didn't he retire with Liger, or instead of him...), making people forget that he was reasonably good during his first 5 or so years in NOAH by terrorizing audiences with his terrible perpetual tag contending duo with clutzy uncoordinated Takayama, a team he clearly needed to be totally carrying, except sadly he was very obviously far too broken to do so.

Suzuki's match with Shamrock on the previous show was considerably better because he has a lot more ability to both lead & react, and is by far the most creative of the three, but while Shamrock was forced to initiate a lot more here, he was able to maintain his patience & do a good job, with Sano bringing some good things to the match. Sano was the better standup fighter, landing some solid low kicks early (though he didn't really attempt to follow them up) and a lot of good openhand shots that helped force Shamrock into a more grappling centric performer. The basis of the match was ultimately Shamrock controlling with superior wrestling, forcing Sano to make things happen. It's unfair to compare a shoot debuting Sano to Suzuki in the style Suzuki has been training in for 2 years, but in any case Sano obviously wasn't totally ready to match is ability in junior heavyweight action yet. He was good in the striking exchanges and had some submissions in his arsenal, but most his transitions & counters would have taken the bout to a more puroresu place, and he was trying not to go there too often.

While the bout had the long match vibe too it throughout, emphasizing position changes on the mat over finishing opportunities, that was mostly okay because they kept the credibility a lot higher than it would have been, even if things thus meandered a bit more. I don't want to make it sound as if credibility was near the top of their priorities, Sano got a takedown with a jumping DDT and a knockdown with a jumping spinning heel kick that mostly missed and Shamrock did a few of his suplexes, but they built the match up well to these meaningful highlights, and didn't lose the plot when they failed to finish with them. Sano began to press in the standup, with Shamrock happy to get involved in a flurry because it would help him grab Sano & land his clinch knees, which tended to result in the bout hitting the mat one way or another. The finish didn't really work for me because by continuing to exchange the openhand strikes on the inside, Sano getting behind Shamrock when he missed one of these short shots without much hip turn was pretty clunky. Nonetheless, Sano did a released version of one of his wrestling favorites, the Dragon suplex, turning into the wakigatame for the finish. Definitely a good match, you could certainly argue very good, but my memory of it was better than it looks to me today.

Funaki almost had a match against himself tonight, and managed to look great anyways, with his slick execution and calm, in control demeanor. Barrett brought absolutely nothing to the table, pretty much just standing there and allowing Funaki to have his way with him because he was way too slow and unskilled for Funaki. While this was a passable exhibition where Funaki only broke a sweat because he felt like it, but exhibitions are supposed to start the card, not be the conclusion after a high quality, long, competitive bout like Shamrock/Sano.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:29:11 AM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.5 "Enter the Wild West"

*Editors note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be integrated in the main body, and be designated by his initials, ML.*

Welcome back one and all, for the next breathless wonderment, in our ongoing journey to fully document the early years of free fighting history. We no longer find ourselves at the epicenter of all things combat related in Japan (why the Korakuen hall of course) instead opting for the more extravagant settings of the Tokyo NK Hall. The NK Hall was a 7000-capacity sports venue that operated within Disney Tokyo, from 88 to 05, and makes perfect sense here, as nothing speaks to the Mickey Mouse aesthetic more than Shoot-Fighting. We are greeted to the usual training montage, and opening interview segments, which I'm sure I would get much more fulfillment out of, if I simply understood more Japanese.

Suzuki....seemingly aging backwards

Kazuo Takahashi vs Mark Rush: No longer content with just dredging up obscure American Pro Wrestlers that actually had a bit of job resume, (however scant) it would now seem that Fujiwara has taken to scouring local Tokyo bars, searching for gaijins with amateur wrestling experience, and thus is the story with Mark Hunt. PWFG is the only promotion that Hunt worked for, and I have so far been unable to find any more information about him, but here he is, ready to scrap with the scrappiest of them all, Takahashi.

After refusing to shake Hunt’s hand before the match we are underway with a beautiful single leg takedown by Takahashi, in which he showed excellent technique by “turning the corner,” in splendid fashion. This match was almost all faced paced mat-work, with Takahashi in constant pursuit of the armbar. The match lasted 11:45 with Hunt, strangely enough, going over Takahashi with a nasty looking neck crank/choke. I thought this was a great way to start the event. This was a realistic (outside of a few tasteful slams, there wasn’t anything to really betray that this was a worked bout) match, that was paced just long enough to not wear out its welcome. Granted it wasn’t flashy and didn’t really have any striking outside of a couple of knees, and a brief flurry of palm strikes by Rush, but it did set a serious tone, and was a good representation of this style.

ML: Takahashi vs. Rush exemplifies all the problems of having two amateur wrestlers with no BJJ knowledge going at it. This wasn't a bad match per se because they were active on the mat, but even though they changed positions often, it was basically 12 minutes of fiddling with each others arms. Rush gets a tip of the cap for being the first fighter in our series to try the arm triangle. As incredibly loose as they were, it would have been much better if he won with that or the Americana than this "facelock" where Rush basically put his forearm on Takahashi's chin, clasping both hands near the center rather than one hand on his upper forearm/elbow, but tried to make up for that by resting the side of his head on the opposite side of Takahashi's cheek to help close the gaping hole a little bit.

Vale IS America...

Bart Vale vs Lato Kiraware: Lato seems like the dude that you would call, if you totally had to have an awesome block party in three days and had to find a quick replacement for your father-in-law to man the bratwurst station. He is not however Pro Wrestling material. This match basically went as you would expect, with Vale using Lato as a kicking pad, which garnered lots of puzzled expressions from Lato. This was a total squash match for Vale, and while it did nothing in terms of helping with the PWFG’s credibility, it was bizarrely entertaining, so it gets a pass.

ML: Realizing that Vale appeared to be in slow motion against any spry opponent, Fujiwara came up with a perfect opponent in Lato, an inflated Oliver Hardy shaped wrestler. In this setting, Vale's combos almost looked slick, and at least he didn't have to lean left to throw the right roundhouse kick as Lato did. Though it was something of a precursor to the dreaded PRIDE freakshow matches, and nothing much happened, at least at 5:49 they didn't overstay their welcome too much.

Wayne Shamrock vs Duane Koslowski: Here is a match I’m looking forward to. Koslowski was perhaps best known as a competitor in the 1988 Olympics, as a Greco-Roman wrestler. His pro debut was in 1989 at the UWF Cosmos event, and he wrestled another 8 times for PWFG, before calling it quits in 93. The match gets underway with Koslowski attempting to get the clinch, and Shamrock delivering some stiff kicks, and palm strikes as a response. After a couple of mins, Duane is finally able to clinch and take Shamrock to the mat and attempt a keylock to no avail. Shamrock escaped the keylock, to attempt a rear naked choke which led to a creative sequence, where Koslowski kept bridging to alleviate pressure from the choke, and then managed to press off with his legs and escape flip out of the hold. Not the most realistic scenario, but interesting, nonetheless.

The match continued in the same pattern for a while, as it would seem that clinch/takedown/keylock is the only thing that Koslowski knows how to do at this point, but in his defense he looks believable, and moves/acts just like you would expect a Greco expert to do so, one that doesn’t know anything about submission or BJJ, that is. The match ends soon afterword’s with a Northern Lights suplex, followed by a straight ankle lock from Shamrock, which was a rather jarring, considering they had kept things at a realistic tone before this. All in all, I enjoyed this match, as Shamrock’s striking is getting better, he was stiffer, and looks to be more confidant, and while one could argue that Koslowski was a bit dull, he had an air of credibility to him, and came off fine. The most interesting side note to this, is that in Shamrock’s autobiography he claimed that Koslowski did not want to Job to Shamrock, as he thought that he would get tons of grief from the Greco-Roman community, so Fujiwara decided to have them both shoot in a private, behind-the-scenes affair, that saw Shamrock as victorious, and afterwards Koslowski agreed to job to Ken.

ML: Shamrock vs. Koslowski was a big step up from the previous matches. Though Koslowski was in just his second match and didn't have a vast array of techniques, he could get away with it because he's such a high level athlete. Koslowski's wrestling technique is so good that his belly to belly suplexes were believable, but he just generally looked like a guy who knew how to fight. Though Shamrock was the better striker in a pro wrestling sense, Koslowski looked to have the best standing self defense training so far on the show, fighting out of a boxing stance and showing some footwork. I enjoyed this match, and while it probably didn't need to go any longer in terms of Koslowski having more to show, the finish was rather abrupt & too seated in pro wrestling.

No escape...from the Northern Lights


Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:31:47 AM
*Vol.5 Continued*

*****************************SHOOT ALERT******************************************

Yes, here we are! The very first full shoot that we get to cover, here on the Kakutogi road, which is an absolutely hilarious match between Yusuke Fuke and Thai Boxer, Lawi Napataya. This was a hot mess in every sense of the word, but important from a historical perspective, as outside of Shooto (which was all shoot, but somewhat under the public radar) this is the first real fight that we get to witness in the Kakutogi spectrum.

There is no question about the realism of this bout, as right from the get-go, Napataya lights Fuke up like a Christmas tree, with a barrage of kicks, and combinations. Fuke takes some nasty shots, before finally being able to take the boxer down to the ground, only for Napataya to dive for the ropes like a wounded animal. We now see that we are in totally uncharted territory, and clearly no one really thought this through. Having unlimited rope escapes in a shoot-fight, is a recipe for disaster, as great strikers are always going to be at an advantage, especially in a small ring like the one that we see here. (We will see later on, how Gilbert Yvel, and Valentijin Overeem completely abuse multiple rope escapes in Rings).

The remainder of round 1 sees Fuke taking a beating, before managing a takedown, only to see an instant standup, for all his trouble, due to the small ring, and limitless rope escapes. The hilarity really starts at the end of round 1, when Napataya’s team brings out a can of grease, and starts to rub grease all over their fighter. They start round 2, and after a min or so, Fuke was able to get his first takedown, in which Napataya slipped right out, and grabbed the ropes, which caused Fuke to look at his hands with a very puzzled expression. I’m not sure if he fully realized what was happening, just yet, but by the 3rd round he absolutely did. During one of his 234 takedown attempts he started to get really upset, pounding the mat, and complained to the ref. He even wiped some of the grease off onto his shorts.

This nonsense continued until the break in-between rounds 4 and 5, at which point the ref actually decided to come over and investigate, and of course witnessed Napataya being greased down by his two cornermen, and only then, did he decide to take a towel and dry off Napataya. Once he was done drying him off, and walked away, (at which point the ref was wiping grease off on his pant legs), the corner men simply pulled out their grease can back out, and resumed their work. There have been several greasing accusations and scandals in MMA over the years… Marco Ruas, Eugenio Tadeu, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and GSP, have all been accused in times past, but none have anything on the Grandfather of Greasegate: Lawi Napataya.

Right before round 5 started, I guess the ref realized that Napataya’s corner basically just ignored his command to stop greasing, so the ref wiped Napataya down a 2nd time right before the start of the 5th round. Fuke WAS super upset about all of this, and no one would have have blamed him at all for just walking out of the ring, and giving Fujiwara a piece of his mind, as he was basically in a fight that was impossible to win, between the unlimited rope breaks, constant grease, and the fact that he was getting battered with the constant clinic of stiff kicks he was having to take.

Greasegate 1.0

The fight was announced a draw, and a visibly frustrated Fuke still tried to show his opponent respect, but you could tell he was not happy about the whole mess. Super entertaining match, albeit for the wrong reasons.

ML: This was sort of like mixing a bout from UFC 1 onto a puroresu show, and you know Fujiwara was envisioning a display of superiority from his diverse pro wrestler over the limited muay thai fighter who went into a full rules fight wearing traditional 8 ounce boxing gloves. Fujiwara had already triumphed over kickboxer Dick Vrij in completely worked matches of the sort, and his old promotion New Japan had their share over the years, with Antonio Inoki making his name off more comfortable ones after the debacle that was the endless snoozefest vs. Ali.

Now that Fujiwara's boys were receiving real MMA training from retired pro wrestlers, what could there possibly be to fear from allowing the striker to actually strike, they'd still just get taken down & submitted like in the NJPW & UWF fantasies, right? And that might have been the case had the rules actually been thought out, but those who believe rules are meant to be, shall we say shaped to your best possible advantage can hail the Sultan of Slime. This was the sort of fight where you wouldn't have blamed Fuke for just walking out.

You had an obviously skilled kickboxer lighting him up in standup, and all he could hope to do was get Napataya to fight him in almost the exact center of the ring where he couldn't just grab the ropes if he went down, and then not slip off the gunk that was all over Napataya's body, and then manage to keep Napataya from just squirming or diving toward the ropes, and then manage to submit him before the round ended. Sure, no problem... Even though this was the greasiest roots of shooting, both literally & figuratively, I think both fighters actually fought smart fights.

Fuke was willing to eat a strike to counter into a takedown, but Napataya wisely allowed Fuke to take the center, so when Napataya came forward with his fast kick, even if Fuke succeeded, he was still close enough to just grab the rope for the immediate standup. When Fuke 's response to Napataya coming forward was to back away, Napataya would literally stop once the ropes got out of reach, then backpedal until his back was almost against them, waiting Fuke out.

As much as we like to laugh at our old pal One Glove Jimmerson, under these rules a boxing glove would actually have been a big advantage because Napataya could go all out throwing his hands to set up the rest of his offense, whereas Fuke could only threaten with the palm strike that Napataya knew was never going to hurt him. However, Napataya never really threw his hands, his offense was a single inside or outside leg kick or a middle kick then either grabbing the ropes if Fuke caught it or backing to them if he didn't. Both fighters started the bout wearing foot guards, but seeing that Fuke's strategy was to get the takedown by catching the kick, Napataya's corner took his off after the 1st round.

While criticizing Napataya for being a human oil slick is valid toward the integrity of the competition, the truth is it really didn't matter because he was always conscious of his ring positioning, what would have mattered was limiting the rope escapes the way UWF-I did (though they were still way too generous for actual competition). Napataya was clowning Fuke from the get go, and the fight began to break down in the 2nd as Fuke started taunting Napataya back, trying to get him to fight in the center like a real man, but Napataya would just mock him some more while sticking to playing things smart & safe, so Fuke pretty much just sucked it up & took his beating.

The fans booed from time to time, but not nearly as much as you might think because even though this was repetitive as hell and their hero was being given no chance to succeed, they also must have realized they were seeing something out of the ordinary. Fuke never gave up, but he just didn't have the tools to be remotely competitive, as trying to strike with Napataya just allowed Napataya to open up a little in the 5th, countering with a knee or his one short punch that dropped Fuke.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:35:45 AM
Vol.5 Continued

Now that we have had our dessert first, we will attempt to cleanse our palate, with the main course, an excellent showing, from Minoru Suzuki and Naoki Sano. This was a treat, and one of the best matches, shoot-style or otherwise, that we have seen up to this point. This was a fast paced 30 min war, that featured all sorts of grappling that was ahead of its time for most audiences. Guillotine chokes, ankle picks, half guard work, armbars, and heel hooks, were spliced together with more standard pro wrestling fare, and terse striking exchanges. The striking in this match was also very logical, in that they would focus on the grappling first, and when that seemed to stall out, then one would break up the monotony with strikes, in an effort to force a change, or create an opening. There was some pro wrestling tomfoolery, (at one point Suzuki gave Sano a piledriver as he was warding off a takedown with a sprawl/underhook technique) but it didn’t detract from the match, in fact because the flashier spots were used sparingly and towards the end of the match, it did have the effect of spicing things up a bit, towards the end. This match showed us, that despite their flaws, the PWFG was the best of the Shoot-Style promotions at this point in time, and had the potential for something truly extraordinary

ML: I need to revisit Suzuki's U.W.F. work to see where things really clicked for him, but he's feeling really ahead of the curve right now, and worthy of inclusion in the top pantheon of worked shooters with Kiyoshi Tamura, Volk Han, Tsuyoshi Kosaka, Kazuo Yamazaki, & Satoru Sayama. The previous two high end PWFG matches were Shamrock vs. Suzuki and Shamrock vs. Sano, but with Suzuki being the man in his matches vs. these opponents, and these matches both being notably better than Shamrock vs. Sano, it's more clear that he's the leading light in this promotion.

Suzuki is really grasping the urgency as well, if not better than anyone. Even though his arsenal floats somewhere between pro wrestler & what we'd come to know as an MMA fighter, he does it with so much speed & desperation that the same technique comes off almost completely different than in a traditional pro wrestling style match. This feels like a struggle, like there's real danger if you are unable to react to them before they can react to you.

The fact he was not only able to accomplish this, but keep it up for the majority of a half hour match where he also managed to take things down seemingly not to rest, but rather to set up further escalation with another wild dramatic burst that didn't feel false was pretty remarkable. It's difficult to keep the illusion of a shoot alive for 5 minutes, but the remarkable tension that these two are able to sustain throughout such a long contest is really what sets it apart. I don't want to make it sound like this was all Suzuki, Sano was growing in this style by leaps and bounds.

You can see that his confidence is so much higher here than it was against Shamrock, and he's just flowing a lot better, really on point with his reactions as well so it doesn't feel like pro wrestling cooperation. Sano again allowed the opponent to lead, but Suzuki is a lot better leader than Shamrock, and Sano is a better opponent for Suzuki in the reaction style because speedy offense & counter laden chain wrestling are the backbones of the junior heavyweight wrestling he's used to.

Although Sano is the newbie in U-style, he's the veteran in this match, and he's able to show that by staying composed and trusting that he has the counter/answer to anything Suzuki can throw at him. The match was very spot oriented, but they did a good job of just avoiding or immediately defending the submissions so they weren't straining the credibility for so called drama with the minute armbar before the opponent finally finishes sliding to the ropes shenanigans. I won't say that they didn't strain credibility, I mean, Suzuki even tried a dropkick, but they did so only by performing fast, explosive moves. Still, I liked the first half better when things were more under control than the second half when, ironically, what began to make the match look like it would be a draw was that they started hitting high spots that would have been finishes if they were used at all in PWFG, but they weren't getting the job done.

That being said, this managed to be both exciting enough to be a great pro wrestling match of the era and credible enough to be a great shoot style match of the era. The weakness of the match was the transitions from the striking sequences to the mat sequences, not so much because they lacked great ways to get it to the mat, though that's also true, but mainly because they really only knew a bit of Greco-Roman based wrestling, so the action kind of artificially stalled out in a sort of minimal exertion mid-ring clinch while they plotted their explosion to get into the next great mat sequence.

This aspect did improve as the match progressed with the introduction of knees, but this is also where they started incorporating the pro wrestling maneuvers. Though Sano is the spot merchant in pro wrestling, it was actually Suzuki that was initiating the more suspect spots here, with Sano shrugging them off. I though the no cooperation belly-to-belly suplex was good precisely because it wasn't cleanly performed, but I could have lived without the later versions, the piledriver, and a few other flourishes. Suzuki did a great job of blending pro wrestling affectations with shoot style desperation though.

For instance, chopping Sano's wrist to try to break his clasp that was defending the armbar or slapping his own face to keep himself from from going to sleep in a choke were nice dramatic nods even though they obviously aren't what you'd learn from Firas Zahabi. The crowd was pretty rapid throughout for this big interpromotional match, probably the best reactions PWFG has gotten so far as they were really eating this up. It felt like Sano really pulled ahead midway through the contest when Suzuki initiated a barrage of strikes, even using body punches, but Sano ultimately won what turned into a palm blow exchange, dropping & bloodying Minoru. However, Suzuki had more stamina than Sano, and as the match progressed he began to be too quick for Sano, and was now getting strikes through that had previously been avoided. Sano may well have just been blown up, but it added to the story without reducing the quality in any way. The contest finally climaxed with both working leg locks as the 30-minute time limit expired. You'd think PWFG would want Sano back as soon as possible, and the draw should have led to a rematch at some point, but sadly Suzuki was the only native Sano ever fought in PWFG, with his remaining 3 bouts being against Vale and Flynn. ****1/2

Last, and certainly least… We have the final match between Masakatsu Funaki and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Once again the mind numbing decision to put the crappiest match at the end is made, to the utter bafflement of everyone. Funaki was legend, and Fujiwara could be good in the right setting, but these two combined, simply strains all credulity. Even by 1991 standards, odds are that it would only take Fuanki roughly 23 seconds to destroy Fujiwara in a shoot, and I don’t see even the faithful Japanese audience buying this. It doesn’t help that even 30 years ago, Fujiwara looks like he was a retirement home extra from Cocoon.
If you can manage to suspend disbelief, then this bout was moderately entertaining, though the finish, while creative, was beyond the pale in terms of any sort of believability. Funaki shoots on Fujiwara, who manages to do some kind of sprawl, in which he is basically able to do a single-leg hamstring curl, forcing some kind of armbar/shoulder lock submission. It looked cool but was totally absurd.

The hamstring curl of doom...

Vol.5 Continued*

ML: Having Fujiwara in the main event was just business. These were the two biggest names in the company, and this was the match that was going to sell the tickets for the big show. I can't disagree that if it were legit, it probably wouldn't take Funaki much longer to defeat Fujiwara than it took Jorge Masvidal to beat Ben Askren, but Japan is a respect your elders culture that believes the knowledge & experience of the codger is worth more than the physical attributes of his student.

We can extend that to the entire Asian martial arts community if we want to talk about all those movies where the seemingly 60-year- old big robed, long bearded teacher flies around by virtue of hokey wires taking out hordes of students that are in their physical prime. Anyway, one of Fujiwara's only defeats since leaving New Japan was to Funaki on 9/13/90, so this was a logical match, and one where Fujiwara either reestablished "order" or gave way to the next generation. In pro wrestling "logic", it was a match that Fujiwara had to win, even though that arguably wasn't the right thing for long term business.

The thing is Fujiwara should have put Funaki over at the year end show, but instead had a draw with Suzuki, and didn't fight either in 1992, in a seeming effort to maintain his role as psuedo top star of the company without pushing his luck and creating any more tension with the new guard. As far as the match itself went, part of the problem is they had no chance of following the great Suzuki/Sano match, this was so much more tepid & subdued. Fujiwara wanted no part of Funaki in standup early on, and was even okay with just kind of pulling what would be guard if he had one, and laying around, eventually trying a submission after too much inactivity given there wasn't a positional reason for neither to really be moving. Fujiwara did a lot of grimacing, but the big problem with this match is, unlike the previous bout, there was no sense of urgency & what little tension there was just seemed manufactured.

Fujiwara was playing the heavy underdog early, and Funaki is having his way with him in typical, cool, calm, and collected Funaki manner, though not really gaining any actual traction. Things seemed to change when Fujiwara caught a kick, and sort of used a Thai clinch to throw probably the best headbutt of his career, this one was short & quick, adapted for MMA rather than being the usual big windup comedy spot he made famous. Funaki quickly regained control, and Fujiwara did some really phony selling on a delayed knockdown spot from an up kick, but Fujiwara seemed more confident in taking Funaki on in standup in the 2nd half even though he mostly wasn't getting results. The standup was pretty good though, it was stiff & I liked the kick feints Funaki was using, you don't usually see just the quick hip fake in pro wrestling. The big issue is Fujiwara was undermining the credibility with very unsubtle pro wrestling overselling.

The surprise finish out of nowhere was meant to protect Funaki, but was pretty comical with Fujiwara literally running from Funaki's striking barrage rather than tying him up to slow him down then, when Funaki finally shot, Fujiwara somehow fell on top into this sort of legscissor armbar thingy. I guess this was creative, but I had to rewind and pause to even see what this nonsense Funaki somehow lost to even was, so I can imagine hoards of Funaki fans shaking their heads as they exited the building, still bewildered how their hero managed to lose. Overall, the match was better than the first two, though way more annoying.

Funaki is arguably the most talented if not also the best worker in PWFG, but whereas Suzuki, Sano, & Shamrock have each had two high level bouts between the first three shows, Funaki has yet to even exceed middling despite being the featured act. As much as I'm digging the top flight PWFG stuff, it feels really awkward to have to look to SWS to find some worthwhile Funaki. Sometimes gems manage to shine in the most unlikely places, and on 3/30/91 on a Tokyo Dome show co promoted with the WWF, a UWF rules worked shoot match actually followed the saggy bondage oriented version of KISS known as Demolition.

The first thing I noticed is while Funaki's UWF bouts always got a big reaction, this was decidedly not those fans, and surely a lot of the casuals who were there to enjoy the circus had no idea what to make of this. Stylistically, Funaki is a much harder sell than Suzuki because he's a lot more into controlling, and seizing small, often subtle advantages to set up the big spot. Due to Funaki being both so much better than his peers at controlling and also a lot more patient in staying with this aspect of competition, Sano felt a lot less competitive here. Even though Sano had his moments, he felt overmatched. The match picked up when Sano did a much better job with the up kick knockdown than Fujiwara, but then when Funaki came in for the kill, in a more deliberate and careful pre Pancrase scene, they threw a series of more powerful shots designed to miss until Sano finally buckled Funaki with a middle kick.

The match was just getting good, but instead of Sano now getting his run, Funaki came back from the knockdown by catching him with a palm strike & finishing with a released German suplex into an armbar. Fujiwara, Suzuki, & Fuke, still donning their UWF jackets, then burst into the ring & mobbed Funaki for a celebration more befitting of winning an Olympic gold medal. I liked this match, but it felt too patient early & too rushed late. It was wrestled as though they were going 20 minutes until they packed virtually all the action into the final 45 second explosion. They rematched two days later, and if there were ever a match that Sano had to win given that Suzuki & Fujiwara had already won earlier in the show, making PWFG 3-0 going into the final interpromotional match of the set, it was this one. This started better with a lot of standup, even though it initially felt like sparring.

Things picked up with Funaki dropping Sano with a palm strike, and it was almost a short night for Sano as they redid the finish from the previous match, but this time Sano defended the armbar. From here, the standup was more aggressive, but again, it never really seemed like Sano had anything to truly threaten Funaki. Sano had some top control, and could land a damaging strike now and then, but Funaki had more speed and more technique, and even a low blow couldn't slow him down for long. This was definitely the better match of the two, as it was not only much better developed, but also got going a lot quicker. However, it was almost as if Funaki was too good for the match to approach its potential. This should have blown Sano vs. Shamrock away, and while the striking was certainly better, it felt like Sano had answers for Shamrock and could win that match whereas this one he'd really have to get lucky. Sano was able to hit his German suplex, but Funaki took the top breaking Sano's clasp & swung into an armbar for the win. Fuke jumped in the ring to raise Funaki's hand, but at this point there was no need for a massive group celebration, as SWS had been thorougly dispatched of.

The final verdict: Great show.... This promotion is really starting to show that it has a gold mine with people like Shamrock, Sano, Suzuki, and Funaki, but is still plagued by Americans that would be better served at WCW's power plant, then trying to shoot with the stars. If they can manage to develop their bottom half of the talent pool, then they are ready to completely overshadow what Rings and the UWFI are doing right now.Here is a link to the entire event:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:38:01 AM
*Vol.5 Continued*

*In Other News: In other news: The UWFI held their 2nd event at the Korakuen Hall on 6-6-91. Some highlights include a fantastic kickboxing match at the beginning of the card, in which Makoto Ohe had an all-out war with his opponent, Rudy Lovato. This was a total slug fest from start to finish, as Ohe constantly attacked Lavato’s legs with punishing low kicks, but would expose his jaw in the process, and eat punches for his trouble. Both men completely gave everything they had, until they were both awarded a hard-fought draw.

On the same card we saw Kiyoshi Tamura put on an absolute clinic at the expense of Tom Burton, who looked completely lost in the ring with Tamura. Tamura gave him a few obligatory moments of offense, in which Burton just came across as slow and oafish, but most of this match was Tamura lighting the place on fire with his speed and slick transitions. Yamazaki may have to move over soon, as the true and credible star of the Shoot world, if Tamura keeps getting better.

Speaking of Yamazaki, this event continues to prove that he is perhaps the most underutilized and underappreciated talent on the scene today. He completely embarrassed his opponent Yuko Miyato with a constant barrage of great kicks, smooth transitions, slick submission entries, and great footwork. He gave Miyato a couple of brief moments of offense, but in reality, this was a total squash match to showcase Yamazaki’s fantastic skills. It’s probably an indictment of the hierarchical structure of Japanese politics, then anything else, but Yamazaki has seemingly been held back his entire career from really being allowed to be one of the very top guys, even though his talent is undisputed.

Tatsuo Nakano defeated Yoji Anjoh in an exciting 15min bout, that saw plenty of kicks, slaps, blood, suplexes, ankle locks, and of course our favorite, the Boston Crab. Nobuhiko had his Gaijin of the week bout, this time with JT Southern, in what was your typical Takada match with an out of his league foreigner. The fight was moderately entertaining, but not great, thankfully it was over in 7min, so it didn’t really outlive its welcome.

Maurice Smith recently faced Australian sensation, Stan “The Man” Longinidis at the Australia Entertainment Center in Sydney. Round 1 saw Stan come out hyper-aggressive and was able to flatten Smith with a left hook/overhand right combination, for a knockdown. The knockdown didn’t seem to phase Smith too much going into round 2, but that changed when Stand hammered him again with another 2 overhand blows, which you could tell really messed with Smith’s equilibrium. Stan easily won the round but was perhaps too passive in the last thirty seconds, as he may have been able to finish Smith, had he really thrown everything he had at him, towards the end of the round.

Smith started to regain some composure in round 3. He still arguably lost the round but was starting to mesh back into his usual form, and then he started to turn it back around in Round 4. Smith was able to stifle all of Stan’s offense and completely control the fight in this round. Round 5 was pretty even with both men able to land some stiff offense, and Round 6 saw Stan able to continually slip Mo’s jab and penetrate Smith’s defense. Stan seemed to play things too cautious though, as he would back off as soon as he would land something. Still round 6 should be in Stan’s favor.

Round 7 saw both fighters unload flurries on each other, and while the round was probably close in terms of score, Stan seemed to take more damage then Smith did. Round 8 saw both fighters clobber each other, but now we are starting to see the weaknesses in Stan’s armor. While he has been scoring quite well up until this moment, he seems to have spent his gas tank by the end of this round, and Smith seems like he could go another 12 rounds if need be. Round 9 saw that conditioning is the most important attribute to any fighter, as Stan’s tools all but seem spent, now. His bloody, and barely moving, he basically just survived this round.

Round 10, and Maurice continues to pressure Stan. All hoped seemed lost, when Smith missed a turning kick, and Stan started to capitalize by backing Smith into the neutral corner and unloading a blitzkrieg of punches. This may have been the end if Stan’s cardio was sufficient, but it wasn’t, and Stan gassed before he could really break through. Still, it was a great showing from Stan, who managed to make it through this round. Rounds 11 and 12 saw Stan give all he had, but he simply didn’t have enough to follow up any of his punches with combinations. He was able to weather the storm and make it to a split decision, but it wasn’t his night. A great fight, and an impressive showing from both men.

Here is the entire event:

Ex DEA agent Darnell Garcia was recently sentenced to 80 years in prison. Many know of Garcia as being a former Karate Champion and having been one of Chuck Norris's top students. He had also carved out a small space in the martial arts fabric of Hollywood, having been involved in 9 productions from 73-84. In his recently trial it was alleged that he was able to amass over 3 million dollars in an offshore bank account from drug trafficking, by leveraging his DEA connections, and from the collusion of other corrupt members of the agency. Garcia was fined 1.17 million dollars and will be eligible for parole after serving at least 27 years of his sentence.

And finally.... What did Dave Meltzer have to say about all of this? Let's see:
5-27-91 "PWFG ran on 5/16 in Korakuen Hall drawing a full house of 2,250 as Masaharu Funaki beat Jumbo Barretta in the main event in 9:40 with an armlock, Naoki Sano beat Wayne Shamrock (Vince Tirelli) in 26:15 plus Yoshiaki Fujiwara beat Wellington Wilkins Jr. and Bart Vail and Minoru Suzuki won over newcomers making their pro debuts. PWF announced its next show for 7/26 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall, a 7,000 seat building which means they need a strong line-up.

6-3-91 "

Satoru Sayama returned to pro wrestling, sort of. Sayama was the color commentator on the television broadcast of Akira Maeda's debut "Rings" show on the WOWWOW network (equivalent to HBO in the U.S., WOWWOW also airs SWS).

Takada's UWFI is having talks about bringing Bob Backlund back.

Jerry Flynn is headed to PWFG

UWFI on 6/6 in Korakuen Hall has Takada vs. J.T. Southern, Shigeo Miyato vs. Yamazaki, Yoji Anjyo vs. Tatsuo Nakano and Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Tom Burton.

Fujiwara's PWF on 7/26 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall as Fujiwara vs. Funaki and Minoru Suzuki vs. Sano.

Wayne Shamrock (Vince Tirelli) was very impressive on the last PWF show in his match with Sano, that went 26 minutes. Shamrock was an amateur wrestling champ and also won some tough-man contests in the states.

6-10-91 "This is how JWJ reported on the status of the various groups using the old UWF style: "UWFI consists of seven ex-UWF wrestlers and wanted the succession to the name and image of the UWF. However, to their regret, they couldn't obtain the right to use the Universal Wrestling Federation name so they called themselves Union of Professional Wrestling Force International for similar initials. They have enough Japanese wrestlers to run a promotion but they have no foreign talent that can really wrestle. to make matters worse, they have neither money nor television and they don't even have a training gym right now. Obviously, this group is the weakest one of the three. In the ring, they wrestle UWF style and rules basically. The only change is when the match begins, a wrestler has 15 points. A guy loses three points for a knockdown, one for a rope escape from a submission hold and one for a solid suplex. If the guys point total goes down to zero, he is declared the loser automatically. In addition, they have a doubles (tag team) category, in which case they start with 21 points. Considering there were no tag team matches in the UWF, that's something new. There is nothing wrong with that because they need something new, however if it "kills" the image of this being a "shoot" because a tag-team match is considered as a work here, problems will result. Their first card (5/10) drew a sellout of 2,300 fans at Korakuen Hall and all tickets were sold within 15 minutes of them going on sale. The crowd popped like crazy when wrestlers entered the arena with the old UWF theme song. With all ex-UWF wrestlers gone, Maeda was left alone to start his new promotion. Chris Dolman's help was the only strong point of this group. However, things turned when JSB decided to televise all of Maeda's shows. With the help of Dolman and JSB, he ran his first card at Yokohama Arena (capacity 17,010). The card drew 11,000 so the big arena was nowhere near full. In fact, the crowd was the same as when the SWS debuted at the arena last October, but the paid attendance was a lot more. UWF Fujiwara-Gumi changed its name to Professional Wrestling Fujiwara-Gumi (PWF) because they have to work with the SWS, so the UWF name was dropped. Their first show on 3/3 sold out all tickets within 30 minutes, but tickets didn't sell as quickly for the second show on 5/16. In fact, even ringside tickets were still available the day of the card, but the building ended up being packed full with a sellout crowd of 2,250. There is another sport in Japan called SAW (Submission Arts Wrestling) which is said to be a real sport under almost the same rules as the old UWF except that kicks are banned. A unique rule is that if a man uses a sleeper, if the opponent doesn't submit or is put out within 10 seconds, he has to break the hold.

6-17-91 "Actually the "hottest" show of the week was 6/6 at Korakuen Hall when the UWFI drew a huge throng of 2,400 (standing room everywhere) to see Nobuhiko Takada beat J.T. Southern with the wakigatamae (armlock) in 7:04, Tatsuo Nakano beat Yoji Anjyo with a facelock in 15:17, Kazuo Yamazaki won via TKO over Shigeo Miyato and Kiyoshi Tamura beat Tom Burton. An interesting note is that Masaharu Funaki of PWFG was at the show and when reporters surrounded him, he said that he wanted to have a match against Takada. After the match, reporters asked Takada who ignored the question. The 6/8 newspaper reported that Takada would be facing Bob Backlund down the road once again (they had a pretty famous match a few years back in Osaka) but that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:43:04 AM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.6 "Sediokaikan Strikes Back!"


When we last convened, we were enjoying the thrills and spectacle that only human combat can provide, courtesy of Disneyland Tokyo. Now we shall turn back the clock about a month, and to the humbler setting of Japan’s epicenter of all things Kakutogi: the Korakuen Hall. The date is 6-6-91, and we find ourselves witnessing the 2nd event from Nobuhiko Takada’s upstart UWFI promotion. After the usual preliminaries, rules demonstrations, and awesome theme music, we are underway with a kickboxing match between Shootboxing alum Makoto Ohe vs an American Kickboxer whom I’m wholly unfamiliar with, named Rudy Rabord. Before the fight we were treated to some pre-match interviews that offer a fascinating glimpse into the byzantine situation that was the state of Kickboxing in those days, in which Rudy explained that he had been doing his usual Kickboxing training, but to prepare for this match he was really working on how to use knees. Such a thing seems elementary in our post K1/Muay Thai familiar world, but in 1991, the only time an American was likely to have to deal with low-kicks, knees, or clinch fighting, was when he fought abroad in Japan, Europe, etc.

In any event, we are underway, and this is GOOD. Immediately both fighters start tearing into each other with no let up. After a steady barrage from both men, we begin to see that Rabord’s seeming lack of experience with a more Thai style of fight is becoming a chink in his armor. Ohe was able to really take advantage of the clinch and work a steady stream of knees into his opponent, which mostly garnered a response of Rudy putting up his hands and having the ref break it up.

By the time the 2nd round was underway though, Rabord had seemingly come up with an answer, and started tirelessly working stiff/short uppercuts to punish his clinch-happy adversary. Rudy wasn’t out of the woods entirely, as Ohe continued to spam Rabord with low kicks that he was ill equipped to check properly. After a while the pattern of the fight started to shift into what was basically a battle of foot vs fist, with Rabord having the edge in boxing skills, and Ohe with the experience with low-kicks and knees. That’s not to say that there weren’t plenty of punches from Ohe, or kicks coming from Rabord (there were), but we did wind up getting a great snapshot of the disparity between Western/Eastern styles of kickboxing from this era.

Round 3 had hardly started when Ohe delivered a devastating thigh kick to Rabord, which almost took him out of the fight for good. Somehow Rudy managed to hang on, but after this he was pretty much forced to rely on his boxing, and his legs were pretty much out of the equation at this point. To his credit, Rabord continued to chip away with uppercuts, when Ohe wisely shoved his opponent into the corner and delivered a straight punch that would have resulted in a 10-count, but when Rabord fell, his leg fell inbetween the ring ropes, which caused the ref to consider it a slip instead. Rudy spent the rest of the round just surviving and hoping the bell would ring.

The Sidekick...if done properly...none can defend

Round 4 starts, and immediately Ohe throws a kick into Rabord’s midsection, which leads to a knockdown. Rabord was able to get up quickly though, only to suffer more punishment for his efforts. All seemed to be lost, when miraculously Rudy was able to turn the tide of the fight by throwing a couple of perfectly timed sidekicks into Ohe’s solar plexus, as he was charging in. It would figure that the most American of all kickboxing staples, the sidekick, would be the key that could potentially unlock victory here, and makes me wonder if he should have been using this technique a lot earlier in the fight.

The rest of round 4 and round 5 saw more of the same, I.E. Rabord continuing to throw combinations, and eating nasty kicks from Ohe, but amazingly at the end of round 5, it was Ohe that was barely walking, and needed help back to his corner. The fight was declared a draw and a great fight it was!

This also leads to my observation that this was a very shrewd strategy by the UWFI to have a kickboxing fight open things up, (it didn’t hurt that it wound up being a super entertaining bout at that) as having an obviously real fight to set the tone for the show, only added to the illusion that the rest of what the audience was going to see would be real as well. And since the rest of the format was pro-wrestling instead of kickboxing, that could be used to justify, or explain away, any possible holes in the logic that may occur later.

Next up is Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tom Burton. There is an old cliché in Pro Wrestling that says a great wrestler should be able to wrestle a broomstick, and make it look good, and here, lo and behold, we appear to have found the broomstick. That may be a little harsh, as it’s obvious that Burton is a powerful guy with some amateur wrestling experience. In fact, had this been mid-90s UFC as opposed to 91 UWFI, Burton may have had some potential to be a nasty threat, but here, he simply served to showcase how awesome Tamura was. Burton had his obligatory offense, but he only wound up looking slow and oafish to Tamura, who was able to showcase slick escapes, smooth transitions, and always maintained a fast tempo. The match wasn’t bad, but that more to do with how great a talent Tamura is, than anything else.

Yuko Miyato vs Kazuo Yamazaki

Yamazaki was my favorite of the Original UWF roster, as he always brought a great psychology to his matches, used proper feints and footwork, and had a demeanor that always suggested that he was in a real fight, which is sadly a rarity in pro-wrestling. He may have been misued a bit in the Original Uwf, but at least he was given equal status to Nobuhiko Takada, (even having a win over him) but as time went on it seems like the powers in charge became content with him basically being a mid-card act, which was well beneath his talents.

This match breaks from the high-octane approach of the prior bouts, with an almost subdued, methodical performance from both men. As both men spend several mins feeling each other out, Yamazaki comes across as a cat waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on its prey, whereas Miyato seems to know this, and is cautiously looking for an answer. About halfway into the bout, Yamazaki just decides to start kicking Miyato into oblivion, which forces a rope escape, and sets a new tone for the match. Miyato returns the favor and in the course of these exchanges we learn the true counter to an achilles hold, which is simply to kick your opponent in the head with your free leg. So simple, and yet so elusive. Well played, Miyato.

Sambo's silver bullet?

This was Miyato’s final act of defiance, as Yamazaki proceeded to use him for target practice for the rest of the match, effective kicking him to shreds. Both myself, and the crowd at the Korakuen hall loved enjoyed every glorious min of it, as truly, Yamazaki does not seem capable of turning in a bad performance.

Yoji Anjo vs Tatsuyo Nakano: A somewhat odd match in that it alternated between explosive striking exchanges on the feet, to a meandering affair once it hit the ground. This contrast had the affect of being somewhat jarring in terms of the overall pacing, but the stand up was total fire, and its amazing how the fakest of the shoot-style leagues, seems to outclass the others in this department. (Compared to PWFG which there is very little striking comparatively, and the last Rings event in which the striking was all over the place).

An entertaining if uneven affair.

Lastly, we have Nobuhiko Takada doing his Monster-of-the-week routine, this time with J.T. Southern as the guest star. Up to this point JT had been mostly a journeyman wrestler, having plied his trade in the AWA and Windy City Wrestling, and really seems like an odd choice to bring in, but here we are. Right away we can see that JT isn’t comfortable in the striking exchanges, and does very poorly, with what can only be described as some pitter-patter palm strikes. Perhaps, he just didn’t know how stiff he needed to be, and that was probably part of it, but you could also tell, that he was out of his element on the feet.

He was able to acquit himself on the ground, to some extent, even going for a kimura from what could loosely be called a half-guard, and did wind up looking passable in the grappling exchanges. The match was mildly entertaining, and was thankfully short at the 7min mark, but really did nothing to add to the credibility of Takada, or the promotion for that matter.

Final thoughts: This didn’t really move the needle much in terms of revealing what could be achieved, (either in the shoot-style, or shoot realms) but it was consistently entertaining, and that has to count for something. To be fair, while PWFG and RINGS seem to aspire for a greater plane of existence, outside of the mere chicanery of pro-wrestling, the UWFI seems very content to be just that, albeit a stiff variation. The main roster is solid, but Takada seems hopeless, as far as establishing any sort of legitimate fighting credibility. Time will tell, as to how long he can get away with squash matches against clueless Americans who would be better off sweeping the arena, as opposed to actually performing in it.

Here is the event in full:
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:47:47 AM
Vol.6 Continued*

*In other news*

The Gracies are back at it again in the pages of Black Belt Magazine, this time with a hilarious article about their patented "Mount Position" which to hear them tell it, is impossible for someone ignorant of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to escape from" Here is the article:


On 6-4-91 the Sediokaikan organization, headed by former high ranking Kyokushin Karate practitioner Kazuyoshi Ishii had an excellent full contact karate event. While this organization has been hosting full-contact tournaments since 1983, it appears that big changes are in the air, as they are planning a huge event on 10-10-91, in which they will conduct the tournament in a boxing ring, and will allow special kickboxing rounds in case the judges become deadlocked during the end of the normal karate rounds. Then if they still can’t decide a winner, they will have the competitors face off in a tile breaking contest to determine a winner. The history of this organization is rather fascinating as it has its roots in Kyokushinkai Karate, which was formed by a man named Masutatsu Oyama, and was widely considered to be one of the toughest styles of karate on the planet.

A master in the making...

Masutatsu was born in Korea while under Japanese occupation and started training in Shotokan Karate at the age of 14, after having recently relocated to Japan to attend a military school. His training was short lived however, as he was drafted into the Imperial Army in 1941. After WWII ended, he decided to further his fighting education, seeking out the best school he could find, which was the Shotokan dojo operated by Gigō Funakoshi, the third son of karate master and Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi. However, he started to feel like a stranger without a home, most likely due to his being Korean. This led to him living and training in seclusion in Mt. Kiyosumi for a year and a half. He eventually returned to civilization, to open his own karate school, but was only met with marginal success.

The lack of instant successes led him to get creative, and he started to hold demonstrations, where he would attempt to knock out a bull with repeated strikes. These stunts started opening doors for him, and by 1952 he started touring the United States, issuing challenges, and reportedly winning all of them, most by knockout. He later returned to Japan with a solidified reputation, starting his own brand of Karate, named: Kyokushinkai. Students started flocking in from various parts of the globe.

However, as when most things get too big, Kyokushin started to fracture in the late 70s, with infighting, and differences in philosophies between lead instructors. Compounding the problem is that by this point Oyama had yet to really name, or promote a successor to his style, so the stage was set for a major fissure within their network. In 1980 one of the lead teachers, Hideyuki Ashihara split off from kyokushin in 1979 to focus on a slightly more circular footwork system, and to stave off complaints from other Kyokushin instructors that were upset that he was opening too many schools and causing competition.

Further complicating matters was in 1980 Kazuyoshi Ishii (who was also a top student within Kyokushin) broke with Ashihara 1980, only a few months after his split, and formed Seidokaikan. Seidokaikan seems to have the all the buzz right now, and Ishii seems intent on heavily promoting his sport, so it will be exciting to see if this bears fruit or fizzles out.

Here is the 6-4-91 Knockdown event in full:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:49:01 AM
*Vol.6 Continued*

Here is what "Mighty" Mike Lorefice had to say about this:

Rudy Lovato vs Makoto Ohe: "Kickboxing never had a history of worked matches, so lucky for us, the powers that be had no problem putting on a match with legitimate, high level all out lightning speed combos before their series of flatfooted, pulled palm strikes. UWF-I's foot fighting division was essentially just Ohe, but Ohe was both an exciting little fighter as well as a good one who had been champion in Shootboxing, and while in UWF-I, went on to win the ISKA World Super Lightweight Title.

Tonight's opponent was "Bad Boy" Rudy Lovato, a journeyman boxer from Albuquerque who once had one of his fights stopped when a rowdy fan pelted him with a soda bottle. Though he won that via unanimous decision, and went on to claim the vaunted Canadien American Mexican Jr. Middleweight title, he wound up 21-40-4 in a 21 year career. That being said, he was a legitimately good, multi-belt champion in the less lucrative and largely undocumented art of kickboxing, and he truly ushered in UWF-I's new division with a memorable fast pace war. The action in this contest was pretty insane because they had no regard for defense to the point that early on they often didn't even wait for each other, simultaneously throwing their lengthy combos.

Lovato had much better hands, and with Ohe not looking to defend (the only way this match slowed down is that he often grabbed a clinch to bring knees), it was amazing how many shots in a row he could land, often even with the same hand. Ohe was definitely the more diverse striker though, and the basic problem for Lovato is he couldn't match Ohe's kicks, which were shredding his legs. Even though Lovato scored a knockdown in the 1st catching Ohe coming in with a right straight, he was almost forced to pat on the inside when Ohe initiated the clinch rather than fighting hard to keep enough distance to land his damaging hooks & uppercuts because Ohe would answer those with debilitating leg kicks.

Lovato did his best to slow Ohe down, really digging the body hooks in as his best answer for the low kicks. One of the things that made this fight so interesting is Lovato was winning the short term wars, he had the knockdown and was the one who would stun Ohe from time to time, but Ohe was winning the long term battle because his offense was slowly shutting Lovato down. Given Lovato was based in the US, it's likely Lovato had little to no experience with kicks below the waist and knees being legal, but in any case he wasn't checking enough of the kicks or was telegraphing his check, which would allow Ohe to just bring the kick up to the thigh. While Lovato's right leg was worse, both were ready to go early in the 3rd, and Ohe finally took this round then got a low kick knockdown to start the 4th. Lovato switched things up going to something of a side stance and throwing a couple side kicks, which forced Ohe to close the distance, and when he clinched, Lovato backed & punched his way out instead of accepting it, nearly dropping Ohe with a right.

Though they battled it out late in the round, fatigue was finally setting in, and Ohe never truly recovered. The 4th was a great round, with Lovato now holding his own at range in punch vs. kick exchanges, but Ohe no longer had the forward drive in the 5th, so Lovato was finally able to dominate with distance boxing. Though this was the only legitimate fight on the card, it also told the best story, and it was fun that the tale it seemed to be telling was actually reversed, with Lovato's volume & body punching winning the attrition war & allowing him to mostly use his power punching late even though he no longer had much ability to move had Ohe still been able to press him. Lovato should have won a decision, but UWF-I uses an odd scoring system instead of blind mice, and while Lovato finished up 29-27, that's not a big enough margin for a victor to be declared. Great match

Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tom Burton: "ML: The first minute of this fight had more compelling moments than the entirety of Takada's feeble effort to pull anything out of Burton in the debut show's main event. Tamura was actually interacting with Burton, and that was making it a riveting, high quality match as they kept pulling unconventional answers. Right from the get go we saw not simply a basic a striker vs. wrestler fight, but that Burton had knees to answer Tamura's kicks, while Tamura had a roll to counter Burton's takedown and take the top himself, and the whole match was based on this sort of back & forth where one discipline of martial arts provided the answer to another.

Look, Burton may not be the tightest or most agile worker out there, but Tamura was fantastic here, crafting a match that was intense, explosive, exciting, unpredictable, and creative, and to his credit Burton was consistently able to go outside of the box to answer him. This was on the short side, but that was really a necessity given Burton. But even if Burton was a little sloppy and awkward in his slams and transitions, it was a massive overachievement that was often shockingly excellent. Not only the best worked UWF-I match we've seen so far, but the best worked shoot thusfar in '91 that didn't have Minoru Suzuki or Naoki Sano. ***1/2

Yuko Miyato vs Kazuo Yamazaki:
"Yamazaki is such a subtly great performer. Tamura, Takada, & Han were more flashy, but because of that they often just jumped to the action & kept it coming, whereas Yamazaki set things up and did many little things that were ahead of his time to make his matches credible. Though he doesn't have a specific background in karate or kickboxing (he was one of 3 members of the high school judo team), his mentor was Satoru Sayama, and he used to teach in Sayama's gym during the original UWF days. Yamazaki was willing to start slow, using little hand fakes, leg lifts, quick hip twitches to keep Miyato guessing when and how he was coming. Yamazaki seemed to take over when Miyato ducked a right hook kick, but then ate a left kick to the liver. However, Miyato answered with his one big weapon, the rolling solebutt.

I like Miyato, but lack of creativity was really his big problem, in that he really seemed content to be the undersized guy who could hit a couple home runs, though as this is fighting rather than baseball, that style was more equivalent to having a puncher's chance. The match was just designed to put some heat back on Yamazaki since he lost to Anjo on the 1st show, but Yamazaki knew how to keep Miyato in at while gaining incremental advantages. Yamazaki's focus was on destroying Miyato's legs, and he was targetting them with most of his kicks & submissions, without forcing things. Miyato's kick to break Yamazaki's Achilles' tendon hold was both the shock & highlight of the match, it was almost as if he just boosted his butt off the canvan into a sort of ground enzuigiri. Increasingly though, he had no defense for Yamazaki's low kicks, and ran out of points getting knocked down by them. ***

Yoji ANjo vs Tatsuyo Nakano: "This could have been our first UWF-I story match, but instead it was just a mess. Anjo tried to get Nakano to have a fair and friendly match, offering a handshake before the bell that Nakano didn't accept and signalling that they should do the match without using elbows, which again Nakano didn't shake on. The early portion was tame & dull, but eventually Anjo busted Nakano's nose up badly with a palm strike, though Nakano took him down into what should have been an arm triangle, it's wasn't until after he mounted that we noticed the pool of blood. Anjo tried to for the ever so technical mount escape of punching the opponent in the ribs, and somehow this angered Nakano, I guess because this was really before the closed fist days, and he gave in & dropped an elbow. And that was that, they didn't escalate this or anything, or have it actually be meaningful. Overall, this was way too much of an uneven pro wrestling match, with neither fighter having updated their style in the past several years. There was some good striking, but too many fake holds and wrong positions before Nakano eventually won with a cheesy facelock.

Nobuhiko Takada vs JT Southern: "Southern sounds like the sort of loser that would willingly associate with Linda Ronstadt & Don Henley. He's probably more infamous for being the drummer in the "Tough Guys" band at Clash of the Champions X and having guitar battles with "Heavy Metal", but I might be named after a jazz fusion keyboard player and look more like a roidy version of Sammy Hagar than Eddie, Van Hammer than for being arguably the biggest failure in the history of UWF-I. This was the start of his course in Humility 101, becoming the first fighter to fail to take a single point. Southern was green & lousy, but I'm not willing to give Takada a pass because Southern was mostly just following him, and while Takada was better because he had impact on his strikes, overall he was actually more of the problem than Southern as all he could come up with was to take them through throwaway New Japan mat wrestling that wasn't even decent by that standard. UWF-I may be the least realistic of these leagues, but at least it's usually entertaining at the expense of realism. Unfortunately, both guys more or less did nothing on the mat that actually works in a real contest, and this was also dull & uninspired. Again Takada just mailed it in rather than find a way as Tamura did earlier, and without anyone to pull anything compelling out of him, it was an outright stinker.

I could buy a PRIDE show headlined by Takada that got worse with each match, but that shouldn't happen in UWF-I. This show got off to a fantastic start though, and while from an MMA perspective it may not rate highly, it did have an all-time classic real match. It also had two good worked matches, and only 1 match that you should skip, so overall, this is pretty easily the best pro wrestling show out of the handful we've looked at so far.

Seidokaikan Knockdown 6-4-91: "While karate stylists in MMA are usually associated with a lot of lateral movement and ferocious forward blitzes looking for the devastating one-strike finish, this event was rather ironic in that they fought on an open platform that was large enough to play 6 on 6 volleyball on, yet it was all phone booth fighting. This was no punches to the head bare knuckles combat, so it's mostly a bunch of body punches, with knees and kicks alternating as the secondary weapon because the kicks are easier to land, but y usually wind up spending most of their time inside of kicking range. There were obviously no weight classes, as the American team had a huge size advantage, with most of their competitors being at least a head taller than their adversary. Brian Martin was getting in trouble for missing to the face, but it felt like it must have been work to get his punches low enough to be legal! If you're only familiar with Nobuaki Kakuda as an aging/retired fighter taking a paycheck to hang around with Inoki, lending New Japan's works some shoot credibility, he's amazingly fast here at 30, and his ability to pull off high level techniques & combos really sets him apart from the others. Unfortunately, his opponent Gary Klugiewicz comes to understand this pretty quickly, and takes away Kakuda's kicking game & most of our fun by spending the rest of the match grabbing & holding him. Kakuda an entertaining match highlighted by Kakuda flooring Klugiewicz with a sweet jumping knee in the extra round. The most notable part though was the shinken shirabidori (true blade grab) exhibition that took place before the main event that was designed to prove that if you practice enough karate, you can even defeat a samurai. They actually had some Tiger Jeet Singh sort of action going on, except the samurai actually tried to use the blade of his sword rather than putz around endlessly with the handle, with the karate master seemingly showing every possible way to thwart him, climaxing by stopping a lethal blow sandwiching the blade (which they claim is not blunt or gimmicked) between his two palms and taking the opponent out with a front kick.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 12:40:18 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.7 "A Tough Act to Follow"


Welcome back one and all, to the next installment of our ongoing journey to thoroughly document the early years of MMA history. Our next stop on the highway leads us to the ever busy UWFI promotion, who will manage to pump out two events in a single month, whereas their two main competitors haven’t been able to consistently hold one. (PWFG has been holding an event every other month thus far, and RINGS hasn’t had an event since May). We are introduced to a montage of calisthenic/warm-up routines from the various performers, and right away we can see that despite any holes in BJJ, or other martial knowledge, that may be present with the Japanese shooters, cardio is not a problem for them. Fast forward to the mid-90s, and I can’t recall a native of the Pancrase circuit ever gassing out, while it was very common for Americans in MMA/Vale Tudo to tire out quickly in those days.

After the usual pomp and circumstance, we are underway with the first bout of the evening as Yuko Miyato squares off against the resident block of wood: Tom Burton. Miyato was unusual, as he was trained by Akira Maeda in the short-lived UWF Dojo in 1985, (as opposed to coming from NJPW) and made his debut in the UWF during September of that year, but the promotion folded before he was able to really do much there. He then migrated to NJPW and was a bit player, before moving yet again to Takada’s upstart UWFI, so here we are sure to have someone that feels like he now has a chance and a platform to make an impression.

The fight starts off with Miyato delivering a stiff thigh kick to Burton, and burton looking really unsure of what to do from here. Burton would try and close some distance with some really weak palm strikes, and then back off, but Miyato did not seem to have any reservations about actually slapping his opponent with some decent velocity behind him. The match held in a pattern of Burton trying to close into a clinch and throw a few half-hearted knees, and Miyato backing off to fire off thigh kicks from a greater range. The fight picked up a bit of steam mid-way through when both fighters traded submission attempts, before Burton won the fight with a double-underhook suplex, followed by a powerbomb, and boston crab. Yes, it would be several years, and many shoots later, before Japan figured out the harsh reality that the Boston Crab wasn’t quite teh deadly.

All fear the power of the crab!

The real winner of this match was Kiyoshi Tamura, as it basically shows us that he was the Amadeus Mozart of the wrestling world. Not only was he great in legitimate shootfights, (defeating Renzo Gracie in a shoot), but he also wound up being one of the best workers of all time, even going as far as to debatably having the greatest pro-wrestling match of all time with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka at Rings Fighting Integration 4th on 6-27-98, (which Lord willing we will get to cover in depth on a later day). Even making his credentials all the more incredible was getting a good match out of Burton, which as we saw here, is not a task suited for just anyone. About the only good thing to say about this was that it was short enough, that it didn’t really offend too badly, but was hardly a great way to start the show.

Thankfully our next match features Tamura, and Yoji Anjo, and surely this will cleanse our palates, and take us into the ethereal planes that we all seek, but that only the finest waza can accomplish.

The first thing that any astute observer will notice is the overwhelming power of Anjo’s zebra striped Zubaz tights, which as of this writing, is only available to the level 20 Barbarian Class. This feat in ring attire doesn’t seem to faze Tamura however, and we are off, and it’s hard to keep up. Not even a minute and ½ into this and we already have stiff strikes, a slam, a double leg takedown, and a beautiful O-Goshi throw from Anjo. The pace never lets up either, as all sorts of position changes, and submission attempts from Anjo occur, before Anjo is finally able to force a rope escape due to catching Tamura in a straight armbar.

Following the rope break, a beautiful sequence followed, in which, Anjo attempted a flying armbar to which Tamura counters with a cartwheel, which is absolutely genius, and shows that we are witnessing something that is truly far ahead of its time. The rest of the bout was filled with a tidal wave of transitions, submission attempts, and passionate striking, all done at breakneck speed. The fight finally ended when Anjo was able to secure a single leg crab, but to his credit, was able to quickly torque it in a way, that actually came off as somewhat credible.

While this fight won’t hold up on the believably scale to a modern MMA audience, due to the tempo, and lighting fast fluidity, it was still truly something special, and may so far be the best glimpse of what both this style of pro-wrestling has to offer, as well as what REAL fighting may have to offer, that we’ve seen so far. Up to this point, it was probably just a given in the pro-wrestling world, that you had to have Irish Whips, clotheslines, and hokey submissions, to create a product that people would want to see, but here we have wrestlers, actually moving like 3-demisonal fighters, (or at least catch-wrestlers) and showing that there may be something after all to shooting.

If you're not wearing Zubaz...You're just wearing pants

Kazuo Yamazaki vs JT Southern:

It was inevitable that whatever proceeded the last match, wouldn’t be able to hold up, but wow….what a drop in quality. Why anyone thought that JT Southern would be a good fit here, especially after his last match with Takada, is beyond this humble scribe’s ability to fathom. Southern simply doesen’t understand how to work in this style, and it really shows. For the first part of the bout, Yamazaki was being patient with him, and allowing him to try and figure out some offense (even going as far as to give him what felt like 20mins to figure out how to do a STF Crossface). The match continued to meander around for what felt like an eternity, when JT Southern started to kick Yamazaki in the back while attempting some kind of weird achilles lock/Boston crab. This really seemed to irritate Yamazaki and caused him to break the hold by kicking JT in the face. He then stood up and proceeded to pepper both of Southern’s legs with thigh kicks, and won the match with a heel hook, after reversing a painfully ignorant attempt at an ankle lock on Southern’s part. Horrible match, which makes me wonder what kind of vetting they had for foreigners, as you would think that they would want to make some kind of effort to see if their outside help would have at least a rudimentary understanding of this kind of style.

Tatsuyo Nakano vs Nobuhiko Takada:

This was better than I expected it to be, although it was far more in the vein of a standard Japanese Pro Wrestling match. Most of the match was on the feet, and we got to see plenty of stiff kicks from both Takada and Nakano, but the few times it hit the mat, it was quite lackluster, as Takada simply doesen’t have a good understanding for how to chain shoot grappling sequences together. It was entertaining though, and leagues better than trying to watch JT Southern.

Final takeaway: This was the first UWFI card that was a net minus. The Tamura/Anjo match was one of the best we’ve witnessed so far, if not for the drama, at least for opening our eyes to the hidden possibilities that this new style possesses, however the remainder of the card consisted of two bad matches, and a modertatly entertaining one, by Puroresu standards. Still, this did move the needle on what would be coming up on the MMA horizon, and did show us that Tamura has all the makings of a future Rockstar. All that’s left is to see how Tamura handles himself in a full shoot scenario, which we will get to witness further down the Kakutogi Road.

Here is the event in full:
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 12:41:56 PM
Vol.7 Continued

Here are "Mighty" Mike Lorefice's thoughts:

Tom Burton vs Yuko Miyato
Burton vs. Miyato was mostly notable for  again showing what a miracle the Tamura/Burton match was, and making a  case for Tamura as the most improved worker in 1991. It was basically a  sparring contest for the 1st 5 minutes with Burton coming forward but  not actually shooting, and Miyato backing to maintain the distance while  working his leg over. Miyato finally took over injuring the leg with a  low kick, but was unable to finish, and Burton wound up recovering  enough to take him out with that crap submission from Boston.
 Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yoji Anjo
 The man who will advance the worked game to its highest level arrives  here, in just his 9th pro match. As the leading light of the next  generation of shooters, the guys who debuted in one of the worked shoot  leagues rather than being trained in the New Japan dojo, Tamura at least  feels a lot more like a catch wrestler than a pro wrestler, and this is  the most progressive match we've seen so far.
 Tamura may not yet be reaching new levels of believability, but as by  far the quickest & most explosive guy in the promotion, he's at  least expanding the boundaries of what crazy things you can get away  with and how entertaining you can be without simultaneously testing the  groan factor.

 Kakihara has more hand speed, but isn't nearly as slick or well  rounded, certainly can't adjust & transition on the mat or maneuver  his body the way Tamura can. Tamura is just such an amazing mover that  watching him do a simple pivot to avoid a takedown, much less his more  spectacular movements, is usually more exciting than watching the  juniors do their gymnastic counters.

There's an amazing spot where Anjo is not so much trying to set up a  guillotine but just trying to control Tamura with a front facelock, but  Tamura does this crazy counter where he bridges backwards just to get  low then when he's seperated Anjo's clasp by getting under it, he  changes the direction of his explosion entirely & somehow takes  Anjo's back into a rear naked choke.

 I want to say that Tamura does things that nobody can do, and while  that's probably the case with this particular maneuever, generally it's  more accurate to say he just does them so fast he catches you off guard,  whereas with most anyone else you could see them coming and they might  even look clunky because they aren't fast enough to disguise how they  are being done and/or the cooperation or lack of opponent's reaction  they entail.

This was really a different match for Anjo because Tamura was already  such a tidalwave that, when he had a full tank, Anjo was just reacting  to him desperately trying to keep up. Anjo is known for his cardio, and  normally is prone to more durdling given he's almost always in the  longest match on the card, but you could see early on that when Anjo  thought he was safe, the next thing he knew Tamura had his back, so he  could never relax & had to be proactive.

While this started off sort of like a junior heavyweight match, rather  than slowing after the early fireworks it was arguably even faster &  more explosive once they shifted from throws into the matwork, with  some great twists, turns, and rolls to escape the opponent's submission  or counter into their own. The story of the match was that early on  Tamura would gain the initial advantage with his blinding speed, but  Anjo had a massive experience advantage, and by being the smart veteran  who focused on working the body to slow Tamura down, he was able to not  only get into the match, but eventually take over due to his superior  striking offense & defense.

 As the match progressed, it wasn't so much Tamura doing circles around  Anjo, but rather Anjo making Tamura pay to get the match to the canvas.  It's always been a point of pride for Tamura to find the answers to what  the opponent is doing and generate offense out of defense rather than  grabbing the ropes, though obviously he'd get much better at this as his  career progressed.

Despite Tamura already being the best defensive grappler in the worked  game & making a ton of great squirmy counters to save himself,  there's quite a few rope escapes as Tamura is a massive underdog given  Anjo has been around since '85 and is now hitting his peak. However, by  doing everything he can to avoid the rope escape, Tamura generally  elevates the moves that actually require them to the intended level, in  other words rather than just gaming the system, these feel like moves  that would have won had they been caught in more advantageous ring  position.

 They exchanged advantages on the ground a lot, but one of the big  differences is while Tamura would look for the immediate payoff with a  submission, for instance a lightning go behind into a rear naked choke,  Anjo was confident in his ability to win the attrition battle, and thus  happy to take any opportunities for damage, for instance burying knees  in Tamura's face. Anjo was happy to put the youngster in his place, so  when Tamura would get too overexuberant, fiesty, or nervy, Anjo would do  something within the rules but slightly dickish or excessive such as  the knees to take him down a peg.

 Tamura was already really over, and the fans would go nuts when he  appeared to have a chance to win, for instance the half crab after  ducking Anjo's leg caught reverse enzuigiri. He didn't have too many of  those chances though, as most of his highlights were early on and it  became more of an uphill battle as Anjo wore him out beating up his  midsection. That being said, it's not as if Tamura wasn't getting  submissions, but Anjo was defending them better in the story sense of  finding ways to get out of trouble without losing points.

 Still, Tamura was so impressive the match seemed a lot closer than it  was on the scoreboard, which mostly isn't that relevant given points are  a resource as long as you still have 1. Though Tamura's performance was  the awesome one, Anjo really did a great job of both following him as  well as filling in around him, and deserves a ton of credit as well.  ****1/2

Kazuo Yamazaki vs JT Southern
 Southern simply doesn't understand shoot  style. Yamazaki tried, but Southern was just totally lost to the point  he was pretty much freezing out there. He basically just stood or laid  around, and when Southern did finally get around to reacting, it was  mostly not in proper or predictable ways. Yamazaki wanted to test  himself, and went from bored to frustrated as Southern made Yamazaki  look bad & the match suck by leaving gaping holes in his defense  & either doing nothing or trying silly things such as the lariat  & side headlock. Southern kept using this goofy tactic of stepping  on Yamazaki's free leg while holding his other leg in what would be an  Achilles' tendon hold if he knew how to actually apply it, and  eventually Yamazaki had enough & kicked him in the face to escape.  The match kind of stalled out then as Yamazaki would low kick Southern,  and Southern would just stay near the ropes selling even though Yamazaki  was motioning to him to come to the center of the ring & actually  fight back. Eventually, Southern caught a kick in the corner & tried  to drop down into another misapplied leglock, but Yamazaki got a heel  hold for the win. Though Yamazaki definitely made Southern look like a  fool at points, Southern mostly did it to himself for being so ill  prepared for this style he shouldn't have been allowed in the ring in  the first place.

Tatsuyo Nakano vs Nobuhiko Takada
 Very pro wrestling oriented, but Takada at least showed up for this one.  It started off as a sparring contest with Takada showing his speed,  avoiding a lot of strikes. He kept urging Nakano to bring it, and  eventually the impact of the kicks escalated, though I liked that there  were still a lot of misses. Nakano hit a sweet snap suplex, but Takada  answered with a suisha otoshi & a 1/2 crab. The problem with this  match is because Takada is clueless on the mat, there was literally no  control or positioning there. They either grabbed whatever hold they  wanted like pro wrestling or just kind of laid there with one or both  guys having some sort of hold of a limb with no attempt to isolate it or  control the rest of the body, and at some point they'd indiscriminately  start to apply pressure they could have been applying all along &  suddenly they'd make a big deal about it, languishing in the hold for a  minute even though every method of escape was readily available. If we  accept that's the way these guys wrestled, then we can say it was a good  effort & somewhat entertaining, but as with all U-style Takada, it  has aged very poorly.

Mike's final thoughts:
 I'd rate this show as a positive, as it  contained one of the best matches of the year in any style. The rest is  all skipable, but I'd much rather get 1 memorable match & a bunch of  misses than a bunch of fair to good but could really have been better  kind of contests. I'm actually a lot more impressed with this early  UWF-I than I remember being, if only because having such a small roster  is actually more conducive to the useful stuff reaching its potential  than in the later years when they'd cram 16-20 guys on a show like it  was a New Japan Dome show, and thus everything was spread so thin that  most of it was relegated to the level of filler even before the bell  rang.     

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 12:43:55 PM
*Vol.7 Continued*

*In other news*

On 8-23-91 Brandon Lee (son of famous actor/martial artist Bruce Lee) will be making his film debut in Showdown in Little Tokyo, which will feature Dolph Lundgren as the main star. When Brandon Lee was inquired by the Los Angeles Times, as to if he felt any unease from having to be constantly compared to his father, he demurred, saying that his father was the standard, and all martial artists will have to be likened to him, and himself even more so.

The July issue of Black Belt magazine has a feature on some of the aspects of Shootboxing, which is a combat sport that has been going on for roughly 6 years in Japan. It was started in 1985 by a Japanese kickboxer by the name of Caesar Takeshi. Takeshi was a promising kickboxer having won the Asia Pacific Kickboxing Federation Welterweight Championship. In 1984 he met up with Satoru Sayama and became interested in the newly burgeoning shoot-style of professional wrestling. He was then trained at Sayama’s Super Tiger Gym and was then drafted by Akira Maeda to be part of the original UWF roster. Soon after his arrival, the promotion imploded, and prompted him to start his own Kakutogi promotion, to which he named “Shootboxing.” A Shootboxing fight is basically a kickboxing bout, but takedowns, Judo throws, and submissions from the standing position are all legal. Successful throws score a lot of points within their system and are encouraged. However, if a fight goes to the ground, it will simply be stood back up by the referee.

The following article talks about Shootboxing as well as alludes to other shootfighting promotions, although it is unclear if they are talking about leagues such as PWFG, UWFI, etc, or Sayama’s Shooto. Here is the following article from the July 1991 Issue of Black Belt Magazine:

    Let's check in with Dave Meltzer, and see what he has to say:

    Akira Maeda's "Rings" runs 8/1 at the Osaka Gym with tickets priced from $45 up to $150 with Maeda vs. Fredrick Hamaker as the main event.

    UWFI on 7/3 in Korakuen Hall has Nobuhiko Takada vs. Tatsuo Nakano, Kazuo Yamazaki vs. J.T. Southern, Yoji Anjyo vs. Kiyoshi Tamura and Shigeo Miyato vs. Tom Burton (who improved noticeably in the style in his second match). At the 6/6 card, when Southern came in with his blond hair in a pony-tail, the usually reverent crowd at UWFI shows started catcalling him "Madusa." 7/30 is their first road show in Hakata with Takada & Tamura vs. Anjyo & Southern in a doubles match.

 Bart Vail wants to introduce UWF style wrestling to the United States as part of karate shows

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 12:55:16 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.8 "In the Eye of the Fire"


Welcome back, one and all, to the next chapter in our ever shifting journey, as we progress through layers of intrigue, rappel into the depths of mystery, and seek to find the true core, or 霊 (rei) of MMA, by peering back into the hourglass of history. The date is 7-30-91 and it’s time to take the proverbial show on the road, as Takada and Co. have left the cozy confines of everyone’s favorite venue in the Korakuen Hall, in an effort to strive for greater exposure, in this case booking a bowling alley located in the Fukuoka Prefecture.

We are greeted straightaway to the posh settings of the Hakata Starlanes, whose décor stylings somewhat resemble a bunch of chairs thrown into a tradeshow hall and given copious amounts of florescent office lighting for good measure. Our first bout of the evening, will be between Makoto Ohe and Juan Arellano (who totally looks like he could be a bass player for an obscure late 80s L.A. thrash metal band.) This scribe is excited, because even if this match is only half as good as Ohe’s bout from 6-6-91 (in which he was involved in an all-out war against Rudy Lovato) then we are all in for a treat.

The fight is underway, and the first thing we notice is that while Arellano has loads of athleticism, and has some ability to throw flashy kicks, he seems to lack any real boxing experience, and is taking a lot of unnecessary shots to the face from his opponent, as a result. His explosive athleticism is allowing him to surprise Ohe with some blows here and there, but you can tell he doesn’t really have any fundamental kickboxing training. As of press time, I have been unable to find any further information on Arellano, so I’m venturing a guess that he may have been involved in Tae Kwon Do, or another martial art focused on kicking, and simply hasn’t had any experience in a professional fight setting.

Arellano was able to survive round 1, but his luck ran out in the middle of round 2, even though he was able to start the round with some sneaky thigh kicks against his opponent, he kept leaving the upper half of his body wide open, and Ohe kicked him into next week for his folly. It does appear that Arellano has the physical attributes to make a good fighter if he can put the time in, and work on the basics, so hopefully he comes back in more seasoned shape, but only time will tell.

Meanwhile…Hirax is searching for their bass player


Tatsuyo Nakano vs Yuko Miyato

Match is off to a bit of a slow start as Miyato is content to fight from the outside, keeping enough distance to avoid a clinch, and pepper Nakano with leg kicks. Eventually Nakano takes the fight to the ground, but once there, he can’t seem to figure out anything worthwhile to do down there. This pattern repeats itself for a while, until the 6min mark, at which point they start cutting loose and volley palm strikes, and kicks, towards each other. They had an exciting see-saw battle for a couple of mins until we were treated to the uber-lame ending of Nakano putting Miyato in the chinlock of doom, which secured his victory, but necessitated our sorrow . This wasn’t a bad match by any means, as both performers are seasoned workhorses, and are always going to be professional enough to put out the requisite amount of intensity, but the problem here, is that both fighters (especially Nakano) are simply too tethered to the old NJPW/UWF way of working a match, and aren’t evolving. They can get away with it for now, but I fear that if they don’t progress soon, then this style, and shoot-movement will pass them by.

Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Billy Scott

This will be the debut match for Billy Scott, a westerner that wound up sticking with the UWFI throughout its duration, and even in the promotion’s spiritual successor: Kingdom. To this day he is very active in the MMA/Catch Wrestling community, with his own academy in the Bowling Green area of Kentucky and holds various seminars throughout the country. Here, he must face the ultimate trial by fire, and have his very first professional wrestling match, against the seasoned Yamazaki. Hopefully the promoters installed a more rigorous vetting process this time around, and will spare Yamazaki from another round of embarrassment, a la JT Southern.

After the referee conducts a diligent search for foreign objects, the match is underway, and we can see that Scott is the best Gaijin that the promotion has seen so far, as he actually moves like someone with a solid wrestling pedigree, but unlike Tom Burton, he has the speed and fluidity to go with it. The first couple of mins have them feeling each other out, with Scott faking some shooting attempts, and Yamazaki feeling out his opponents’ distance with some fast kicks. Scott succeeds with a takedown, but his training in submissions must have been limited to the school of “crank on something, and hope for the best,” which doesn’t phase Yamazaki in the slightest.

The match followed a pattern of Scott being the takedown artist, but not being able to pin Yamazaki down for long, or able to lock in an intelligible submission. Yamazaki would keep finding crafty ways to transition out of his predicament and turn in it into a leg/ankle attack. Eventually Yamazaki got the win when his Scott came rushing at him with his head down, and he was able to slap on some kind of version of a standing arm-triangle choke. What was great about this match, was that each wrestler went into it with a mind set of having to feint, set up attacks, and actually work for a takedown, or submission attempt against their opponent, as opposed to just handing everything to each other. Unlike much of the overtly choreographed wrestling of the past, it seems that this style can allow its practitioners the ability to shoot for good portions of the match (at least in terms of positioning) and sprinkle in cooperation in others.

In any event, Yamazaki was a master of ring psychology, and to his credit, Billy Scott showed a lot of poise for a rookie, and had good patience, and movement, in his debut. His submission acumen needs work, but that can surely improve in time. It’s very likely that the UWFI has secured a great talent in Scott, and I hope to see him improve in the days to come.

The standing arm-triangle….or something.

Nobuhiko Takada & Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Yoji Anjo & Jim Boss

The last time we saw a tag match from this outfit was during the debut show, and that was quite entertaining in a pro wrestling sense but did absolutely nothing in terms of establishing any sort of true-fighting credibility. I expect more of the same here, but the x-factor this time is Kiyoshi Tamura, who I think would get a great match out of the corpse from Weekend at Bernies, so I’m hopeful. We start off with a pre-match interview with Jim Boss, in which he states that he has the winning advantages going into this fight, due to his alliance with Yoji Anjo (who he oddly states is one of the most respected Japanese wrestlers in America) and from the power of his Tom Selleck mustache.

We put our trust in Stache McMuscle!

The match starts with Tamura and Anjo, and we are having flashbacks of their match from earlier in the month, with neither person wasting any time, and jumping right into lighting fast grappling exchanges, which saw a nice counter from Tamura as he warded off a failed O-Goshi throw attempt from Anjo, with his own rear naked choke entry. Shortly afterwards both men, opt to tag in their partners and now we have Takada and Boss. Despite having somewhat stiff, and awkward, side-stance, Boss is throwing better kicks than I expected him to, though he can’t really compare with the more varied lines of attack that Takada is bringing to him. The match went on for a little over thirty minutes, with Yoji Anjo securing a victory via a straight/Fujiwara armbar. While the match was long, it never really felt plodding due to the high-octane tempo that everyone kept. Most of the contest was striking exchanges on the feet, and the times it did go to the ground, it was usually someone quickly going for a submission, so it never really dragged.

While this was quite entertaining from a Pro Wrestling standpoint, it did absolutely nothing to add any real-fight credibility to either the promotion, or its participants, and honestly, both the tag-team format, and the length do not play well in capturing the essence of Shoot-Style.

Final thoughts: This was a bit of a lateral move for the promotion. On the plus side, we seem to have the addition of a solid, and potentially great hand in Billy Scott, but it was pretty much a holding pattern in most other respects. It seems that until something or someone significantly changes the formula, this outfit will continually be the Rocky IV of the shooting groups. It is common knowledge that Rocky IV is the most entertaining film ever made, but that may be due to its complete lack of ambition, for where there is no risks, there are no mistakes to be made, and the true pinnacles of greatness will forever be out of grasp.

Here is the event in full:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 12:55:53 PM
*Vol.8 Continued*

Let's check in Mike Lorefice, and see what he has to say about all of this.

Makato Ohe vs Juan Arellano: Arellano had the reach and athleticism, but I agree he seemed to lack fundamentals to the point one has to question how much actual kickboxing training he had. Taekwondo was what I was thinking to when I saw his ability to throw some flashy movie kicks, but his poor overall technique, particularly in the boxing aspects. It just felt like Arellano was trying to figure this sport out on the fly. The more Ohe saw of him, the easier he was able to pick him apart. Arellano was blocking the left middle kick with his right arm in the 1st round, but perhaps because it hurt his arm, he got the brilliant idea to instead try to duck it, which turned it into a high kick knockdown. Ohe was quickly able to counter a sloppy left hook with an intended high kick for the KO. The match wasn't lacking in action, but the primary negative was that Arellano simply wasn't good enough to pull the greatness out of Ohe.

Tatsuyo Nakano vs Yuki Miyato:
These guys did a 30:00 draw on 6/11/88, and three of their other four UWF matches were about 20 minutes. Tonight's match developed slowly as if it were going to be another marathon, but while their intention seemed to be to build the match around escalating the violence, they were too mundane & durdly early on then just shifted to the explosive striking and suplexes, going back & forth for a lengthy finishing sequence until Nakano won with a lame rear naked facelock. The striking, mostly from Miyato, was good, with little Hashimoto Nakano getting his requisite bloody nose. Nakano got Miyato with his German suplex, but when he tried Maeda's captured, Miyato was able to defend enough that both spilled over the top to the floor. These two are hard working bread & butter types who did enough to make it worthwhile. This was even the best we've seen so far in UWF-I from Nakano, but with neither fighter really developing their style or moving forward as martial artists, it mostly just felt like a lesser version of their previous wars.

Kazuo Yamazaki vs Billy Scott:
Yamazaki hasn't exactly had a great opportunity to shine yet. After frustratingly getting strapped with the Southern man, who clearly couldn't keep his head, he now found himself involved in the trial of Billy Jack. Luckily though, Scott, who wound up being my favorite American fighter in the promotion (other than monster for hire Vader, who almost doesn't count given his matches were almost purely powerbomb driven pro wrestling beatdowns), shows a good deal of ability even in his debut. What set this match apart was their ability to tantalize the audience through a display of defense.

This wasn't a match where they'd lock the submission, and then 45 seconds later the opponent magically grabbed the ropes, it's a match where they always seemed close to something on the mat, but rarely got it. Early on, they keep testing each other, kind of for the fun of it, with the fighter who defended the move trying his hand at it, and failing as well. They really had the answers for each other in standup, with Yamazaki being ready for Scott's single leg takedown, which seemed to be Billy's biggest weapon from his amateur wrestling days, and Scott avoiding taking too many of Yamazaki's kicks, answering aggressively to at least take away Yamazaki's space so he had to grapple with Scott instead. Yamazaki was a massive favorite here as he's the #2 fighter in the promotion going against some new guy from Tennessee, a place where wrestlers seemingly only know how to throw punches, yet still have no actual technique.

Yamazaki is somewhat subdued early, just testing Scott out & seeing what he has to offer, while Scott is much more excitable, which is his personality anyway, but the difference especially makes sense here given he's the new guy trying to make a strong impression against a top dog who sees this more as a tune-up/sparring kind of walkover. Yamazaki tends to be a step ahead for the first 10 minutes. Though he's not running away with the contest by any means, you can see his brilliance in the story of the match where he sets up Scott turning the tide & actually becoming a threat to win when Scott finally catches Yamazaki's kick & counters with a back suplex into a 1/2 crab for the matches big near submission.

The fans were instantly ignited, chanting "Yama-zaki" because in the context of the bout they've been viewing, someone actually being trapped in a submission, especially mid ring, is a real threat. Yamazaki does a great job of putting the submission over by not going over the top, taking a down after a rope escape trying to recover, & then still just stalling fixing his kneepads to try to steal Scott's momentum. Yamazaki then coming back with high kicks somewhat defeated the purpose though.

This was really the time for Scott to have a minute or two with Yamazaki in danger to show what he could do before Yamazaki turned the tide back and perhaps won, and while that's mostly what happened with Scott coming right back with a belly to belly suplex & working for an STF, the transition to the finishing segment was a bit abrupt & the segment itself felt rushed, as was the case with Miyato/Nakano. Both matches felt like the workers may have been finding their way to a pre scripted finishing sequence, but these two did a better job of having a match before that & finding a way to stay true to it rather than just biding time until the usual UWF-I flashiness. As a whole, Yamazaki/Scott worked quite well because they kept active enough that the fans cared about them coming close but not quite getting there, and the drama kept increasing. In the end, not a lot happened by the usual UWF-I pro wrestling standards, but much of what made it good is they were successful in teasing the audience that things almost happened. This was certainly more credible than the usual no resistance exchanges, and to me, much more exciting and dramatic because of that. ***1/4

Nobuhiko Takada/Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yoji Anjo/Jim Boss: Similar to more or less every big show main event Gedo ever booked, this was long to the point the workers forgot about a sense of urgency & instead concerned themselves with merely finding ways to elongate the proceedings. I was excited to see Tamura & Anjo going at it again after their brilliant contest on the previous show, but whereas Tamura was shot out of a cannon there, nobody exerted themselves too much in the first half here.

The legitimate kickboxing match being short was problematic, and the way they worked the opening 8 minutes, one wonders if they were asked to go longer than expected because they only got 25 minutes out of the undercard. Either way, this style isn't really meant for this sort of durdling, time filling long match, epics really need to be reserved for the sort of match of the year attempt we saw in Suzuki vs. Sano because diminishing returns are a thing in a limited, credibility based style.

Though Takada vs. Anjo had too much of a sparring feel despite Takada landing a big shot now and then, Takada was generally much better here because he only went to the ground to immediately attempt a submission. He was working a more diverse striking game, trying to counteract Boss' wrestling with his knees & open hands. Tamura was somewhat disappointing in his first main event, it just never felt like his match with Anjo really being in striking mode and being more focuses on Takada, who they seem to be grooming him as real opposition for, if such a thing is allowed to exist on the native side in UWF-I. Meanwhile, Tamura wound up being the one who would slow things down by trying to work for something on the ground rather than just exchanging kicks, when anyone would even go to the mat. Boss' middle kick could use some work, but he was generally a competent, servicable but uninspiring type who would be fine early in the card. I was surprised that Anjo once again beat Tamura rather than Boss doing the job. Overall, this was fine, but skippable.

Final thoughts: Better than their debut show, but a big step down from the previous two. The positive is the discovery of Scott. Boss could potentially have been an upgrade, but he only had 2 more matches in UWF-I, and his brief career ended entirely in '92. They really need to get Kakihara healthy, as there's just not much fire on this roster.

    ***In Other News***

    There are rumors circulating that Bob Backland wishes to have a go in the UWFI, possibly in December during his Christmas break. (Backland is a wrestling coach throughout the year, and this would give him a window to travel overseas.) Some may remember the last time he tried his hand in this style during his 12-22-88 match against Nobuhiko Takada at the UWF Heartbeat event. The atmosphere was incredible during that evening, as the Japanese audience were really captivated by the match up and saw Backland as a credible opponent. It will be interesting to see how Backland looks in this style now that a lot has evolved in the 2 ½ years since he last participated in it.

    It is being reported that the reason for the UWFI nabbing a lot of jobbers from the State of Tennessee, is due to one of their bookers, a man named Shinji Sasazaki. He happens to live in the Tennessee area, and works at a Japanese restaurant in the state, where he has presumably been making contacts. All the westerners in the UWFI so far have hailed from this state, but to be fair, it seems like Billy Scott has some potential to grow into a solid performer. There is also some rumored blowback towards the UWFI at the moment due to the cards only averaging about 1 ½ hours and having ticket prices hover around $60.

    Akira Maeda is supposed to face off against Dutch Judoka Willie Wilhelm, in an upcoming Rings event. Wilhelm represented his country at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and had high placings in the 1983, and 1985 World Judo Championships.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 01:17:25 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.9 "White Lights and Aqua Heat"

Welcome back one and all! Even though we must now join together in an era of uncertainty, we can take solace, knowing that while troubled times come and go, the road to Kakutogi is a perpetual journey, with no ending in sight. As a wise man once observed, “Of chess it has been said that life is not long enough for it – but that is the fault of life, not of chess.” Such is the noble predicament, that we now find ourselves in.

The date is 8-1-91 and we are at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, an indoor 8000-person capacity stadium, most famously used for Sumo events, but has been home to the occasional pro wrestling, and MMA event.

Today we have a reported 6100 in attendance, which is quite remarkable considering when we last met, we were observing Takada and Co. stuffing 2000 people into a bowling alley. This is made even more impressive when the opening montage begins, and we see Akira Maeda, Dick Virj, Chris Dolman, and Mitsuya Nagai, engaged in sparring, and stretching exercises in an empty arena. This all feels more like a low-key workout between friends, then the prelude to a serious competition, but that is surely a testimony to how over Maeda really was, that he could sell over 6000 tickets, on what basically amounted to a skeleton crew of performers.

We are underway with the EARTH BOUT debut of the ever scrappy Mitsuya Nagai vs Herman Renting. When we last saw Renting, he was in a FIRE BOUT against Dutch judoka Pieter Smit, and I’m unsure if moving into the Earth Realm would be considered a demotion of sorts.

Nagai, on the other hand, was an aspiring pro wrestler as a child, and while still in high school applied for a job within the AJPW promotion. AJPW’s owner declined him, however, and told him that he could join when he finished his studies. Not to be deterred, he started competing in amateur Shootboxing, and this is where the Kakutogi bug hit him. The newfound interest in shooting led him to apply for a job within the Newborn UWF promotion, and after he was accepted, he was trained by Akira Maeda. The promotion folded before he had a chance to debut, so he decided to continue seeking his fortunes with RINGS, when Maeda made the transition.

Straightaway we see Nagai take a smart fighting stance, low enough to help ward off takedowns, but still upright enough to fire kicks as needed. His kickboxing background was immediately apparent as he fired off a variety of nice kicks from different angles, using good inside-out movement. There was an interesting sequence where Nagai throws a couple of palm-strike feints, causing Renting to back up, which Nagai responds with an impeccably timed thigh kick. Renting wisely just charged in after this with a clinch, to which Nagai tried to counter with a rolling kneebar, that simply led to a footsie deadlock between the two.

The rest of the match was mostly Renting getting the fight to the ground and Nagai looking for foot attacks, in which he successfully secured two toe holds on Renting. The ending of the match was rather jarring though, as it felt like they were just told that it was time to wrap it up, and Nagai pulled an abrupt suplex into an armbar for the win.

This was a decent introduction to this event. Outside of Renting looking a bit awkward during the striking phases, and the contrived ending, there wasn’t any major holes in the action, and while it didn’t excel in either the realism or entertainment departments, it serviced both just fine. As a side note, it’s interesting to see that there really isn’t anything new under the sun, as newcomers to the no-gi BJJ scene might be thinking that the plethora of leg attacks going on right now is a recent phenomenon, those of us cognizant of 80s-90s Puroresu, know better.

Next up is the UNIVERSE BOUT, which is strangely only the 2nd match of the evening, but that could be due to the Universe actually being known to revolve around Maeda. Here we have Ton Van Maurik vs Chris Dolman, and from the pre-match interviews we can glean that Maurik is an undefeated Karateka with Wrestling and Sambo experience. The fight starts with Maurik looking to get inside and strike from the clinch, and so far he is landing some pretty stiff uppercuts to Dolman’s chest, perhaps stiffer than what Dolman expected, as you can hear what sounds like unusually painful grunts. Dolman continues to move in slow-motion, looking to clinch, and Maurik continues to do some effective damage from the clinch, going high and low with his strikes. Eventually, Dolman lands a beautiful harai-goshi hip throw, and it is a most impressive display. Dolman may move like crusty molasses, but his judo skills are unquestionable.

It would appear, that strikes on the ground are still legal, as Maurik made the rookie mistake of trying to get out of a side-mount by kneeing his opponent in the ribs. This proved futile, of course, so it wasn’t long after that he simply took a rope escape. Once they were back on their feet, Dolman upped the aggression, this time striking from the clinch, with knees, that didn’t look pretty, but did look like they hurt, and Dolman has now scored a knockdown against his opponent. This seemed to reinvigorate Maurik, who proceeded to pummel Dolman’s midsection to score a knockdown of his own.

If Dolman was holding back on his opponent in the early stages of this fight, that seems to be done away with now, as once he got back out he hit a ashi-dori-ouchi-gari (leg-grab inside trip) on Maurik and proceeded to headbutt Maurik several times in the chest/midsection, which I am surprised that this was even considered legal at the time. This barrage of aggression caused Maurik to take another rope escape, and we are officially into a good fight at this point. Dolman hits another leg sweep and goes right back to headbutting Maurik. Maurik tries to stop this by pulling Dolman’s hair, but apparently the ref takes issues with hair pulling, while headbutting is clearly acceptable. Maurik then goes to a closed guard, and tries to punch Dolman’s ribs, but this doesn’t avail, and Dolman simply breaks loose and slaps on a variant of a straight ankle lock, from a quasi single-leg Boston crab position. It’s amazing that several years before Igor Vovchancyhn, Mark Coleman, and Mark Kerr, were demonstrating how deadly headbutts were against someone’s closed guard, we get a glimpse of this Vale-Tudo shortcoming, all the way back in 1991.

This is one of the few times, that I’m genuinely puzzled as to the shoot/work nature of a fight. Dolman seemed to lack the requisite aggression for a shoot in the early stages of this bout, seemingly giving his opponent some opportunity to work, but if this was fake, then someone forgot to tell Maurik. Halfway through the fight, it seemed like Dolman put aside any niceties, and really tried to lay into Maurik, so perhaps it was a case of Maurik being too stiff in the beginning, which angered Dolman. What’s not in question as that this was a very entertaining bout, and we are 2-for2, thus far.

Chris Dolman: Godfather of ground and pound??

Next up is a battle of the judokas, as we are approaching tonight’s FIRE BOUT with Willy Wilhelm vs Pieter Smit. The pre-match interview shows Wilhelm saying that he used to have some competitive experience against Smit in Judo, but that Smit was a lot lighter in those days. Wilhelm says he’s much more confidant in this throws, chokes, and armlocks, then he is in his striking, so this should be interesting.

We are now safely back into what is clearly a work, and an awful one at that. Here we have two judokas with no professional wrestling, or striking experience, and it shows. This entire fight basically played like gi-less judo exhibition, only it was punctuated by laughably awful strikes on the part of Smit. Sadly, this tripe killed any momentum we had going into the main event.

We are now backstage again, where we find Maeda working on footwork drills, and Virj doing standing shoulder presses with some dumbbells. Virj must have been having a low-carb moment, and forgot where he was, and thought he needed to pump up for the Dutch National Amateur Bodybuilding Championships.

The fight is underway, and Virj fires off several kicks to Maeda, including a nice flying sidekick, straight out of Double Dragon. After this fine display of video game technique, Maeda fires off a kick of his own, that causes him to fall down and clutch his knee, which seems right out of Hulk Hogan’s Wrestlemania VI playbook, in which I suspect will be a stunt that’s used later as an excuse as to why he lost. After showing everyone that he has a weak knee, Virj pummels Maeda in the corner, forcing a knockdown.

The rest of the match is a one-sided affair, as Virj continues to pummel Maeda, until he is completely out of Rope Escapes, and Virj is declared the winner. Hardly anything about this match was remotely realistic, but unlike the prior bout, at least this was fun, and only lasted eight minutes.

Conclusion: On the plus side, RINGS has the best presentation of any of the Shoot-Style promotions at this stage, and is the only promotion out of the current three, that is presented in a way that it feels like a real sport. Even though the actual content of PWFG is more realistic, their production values make them look low-rent in comparison, and the UWFI, while the most entertaining by far, is too tethered to the aesthetics of pro wrestling, to come across as seriously as they need to.

The problem, (and it’s a big problem) is that the RINGS roster is basically non-existent at this point. For a Japanese promotion Maeda was the only Japanese performer, outside of Nagai, who is a rookie. It’s impressive that Maeda has been able to get as far as he has with only his name value being the draw at this point, but if he is going to survive, I suspect that he will have to brew some homegrown talent, or I don’t see this surviving in the long-term. In his defense, it was wise for Maeda to put over Virj over as strongly as he did, basically letting him dominate him for the entirety of the match, even though he used a fake injury as a way to save face with the crowd. Also, if they only one you can find is Virj to build around, then you’re probably in trouble.

This was definitely more entertaining then their debut show, but still pretty weak overall. If the talent starts to match the vison, then Rings could easily be the finest of the three Shoot-Style promotions, so I’m hopeful for it’s future.

Here is the event in full:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 01:19:16 PM
*Vol.9 Continued*

What does the Legendary Mike Lorefice have to say about all of this? Let's check in:

Mitsuya Nagai vs Herman Renting: Earth & Fire were one of the underrated '70's prog rock bands before they sold out to try to sell records, see Atlantis & Andromeda Girl, Wind absolutely can't be added to the compound, as that has been proven to be doomsday for our ears... Earth seems a lot more accurate for Renting, who was all about grounding Nagai. Maeda apparently had a lot of confidence in Nagai, though putting him in the longest match of the card in his debut against a veteran of 1 match seems dubious. It really did not pan out because the match had no intensity. It was pretty much no-pads sparring, with the standup taking place at distance & the strikes thrown slow enough that there was time to avoid, not that it mattered much. Eventually Renting would get Nagai down, and they'd roll around fiddling with each other's legs. This wasn't terrible, but it's obvious they were trying to do a more realistic match without having any concept of how to make that work beyond being less flashy, which just left us with low impact, loose and/or half speed pedestrian stuff

Chris Dolman vs Ton Van Maurik: This was the sort of odd work you can get when guys who are used to real fighting try to figure out how to alter their techniques. Van Maurik's body punches were hard, and really stood out because everything else was fairly light. Dolman seemed to have a better idea of how to fake things, having done this before and also being a long time trainer. For the most part, it was a pretty standard, not particularly interesting contest, again pretending to be more believable because it wasn't flashy but lacking the intensity, urgency, and impact (beyond Van Maurik's body shots) of a shoot. Dolman was really blown up by the end, but did manage some aggression & explosion on his key techniques, the takedowns & series of ground headbutts.

Willy Wilhelm vs Pieter Smit: I found this contest to be pretty similar to the previous one, mostly inside fighting with the out of shape, heavy guy controlling the action, especially on the ground. It was worse because whereas in the previous match Van Maurik's body shots were good, here none of the strikes were good and Wilhelm was really annoying with his silly shrieks to fire himself up.

Dick Vrij vs Akira Maeda: A rematch from the first show, that seemed somewhat backward booking as the cyborg now ran over Maeda the way he was supposed to in the 1st match to establish himself as a force in the promotion. Even with the 3 month layoff, Maeda's bad knee wasn't cooperating, and that was the story of the match as Vrij was able to completely overwhelm him after Maeda's knee gave out throwing a low kick in the opening segment. Maeda was able to back away to avoid Vrij's kicks at the outset, but once he lost his mobility, Vrij would just work him over on the ropes with kicks and/or knees. The fans did their best to fire Maeda up, but while offensively he had a few moments scoring a knockdown with body punches & getting a couple of takedowns, he was never able to rise above sitting duck level defensively. Maeda didn't give up, and there was a great moment where the ring was filled with streamers & the Netherlands seconds started jumping for joy as soon as when Vrij scored the TKO with his 5th knockdown. While the least believable bout on the show, it was at least an interesting pro wrestling story match, as well as the most exciting contest. Their first match was better because they were on even footing, but this bought them a third match, and put Vrij in competition for the top foreigner spot even though he was Dolman's underling.

Final Conclusion: You can see what they're going for, but there's just nothing inspiring about this show. It just feels like a bunch of walk throughs on the undercard, which is the worst place to be because it's neither the real thing nor supplying reasons why the show is better than the actuality, with a UWF main event tacked on. The undercard isn't anything that needs to be seen, and the main event is a bit out of place in this setting.

*In other news*

Irvine California: Karrem Abdul-Jabbar recently had a charity karate tournament for underprivileged kids, which featured several kickboxing bouts. During the evening we got to see Kathy “The Punisher” Long do some nasty damage to her opponent Lisa Smith. Long was able to completely dominate her opponent with a plethora of roundhouse kicks, and really stole the show with her strong performance. Don “The Dragon” Wilson also had a bout with Canadian cruiserweight: Ian Jeckland. Unlike Long, Don hardly broke a sweat against Jeckland, easily winning a decision against his opponent.

Kathy Long (Right) putting the pressure on Lisa Smith
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:01:34 PM
Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 10

Greetings one and all!! We at Kakutogi HQ are attempting to make good use of our time in quarantine, by continuing to peer into the shrouded haze that is the past, in an attempt to better understand our future. When we last left off, Maeda’s band of hired misfits, still trying to figure out their brand, gave us a rather lackluster event, but we shouldn’t have any such problems here, as PWFG has been has been blessed with a rich talent pool right from the start, and if nothing else, appear to have a great main event lined up, with Ken Shamrock vs Masakatsu Funaki.

It's 8-23-91 and tonight we’ll be joined within the confines of the Nakijima Sports Center, a multi-purpose facility that was built in 1954, and sadly was the center of tragedy in 1978, when concert goers were unable to contain the excitement of seeing Ronnie James Dio, and a person was trampled to death during a Rainbow concert. Tonight, it will be host to the 4th event from the upstart PWFG promotion and the first bout will be between Greco-Roman wrestler, par excellence, Duane Koslowski, and the ever-scrappy Kazuo Takahashi. When we last saw Koslowski, he had a very fine debut against Ken Shamrock, where his obvious athleticism and Greco-Roman chops gave his aura an air of gravitas and was enough to overcome any lack of submission and striking skills.

The match is underway and after a quick feeling out process, Takahashi shoots in with a nice single leg attempt, in which Koslowski unsuccessfully tires to counter with a kimura. It would appear that Koslowski has been spending some time training with Fujiwara’s group, working on his submission knowledge, and for that we are thankful. The match was very grappling heavy and played out exactly how you would expect a fight between a catch wrestler, and Greco-Roman specialist (absent the striking, of course) to, with Koslowski dominating the standing portions, but Takahashi having more finesse on the ground. While I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking this was boring, I rather enjoyed it, as it set a nice, serious tone, to the proceedings. It was a work, of course, but outside of a few flashy slams, there wasn’t any gaping holes in the action, and thanks to Koslowski, it came across as a serious endeavor, even if it will be a bit dry for some. Koslowski finished off Takahashi with a standing-switch into a rear naked choke.


Next up is Bart Vale vs Jerry Flynn. This will be only the 2nd professional match from Flynn, having debuted about two years prior in a barbed wire deathmatch for the Japanese FMW promotion. Flynn wound up sticking around the PWFG for a while, before migrating to the WWF and then to WCW, working mostly in a midcard capacity. Flynn was a good opponent for Vale, as he had a similar style, and size/build, which served to hide Vale’s main shortcoming, which was that he usually looked like molasses compared to his opponent. Flynn did move faster than Vale did, but it wasn’t to the point of the matchup straining credulity. This was very striking orientated, with plenty of flashy kicks and palm strikes, and surprisingly, this was quite entertaining, with Flynn getting the upper hand in the kicking exchanges, and Vale dominating the grappling, but just when the match started to build a lot of tension….boom, it just ends out of nowhere with Vale slapping on some kind of modified neck crank/can opener. Entertaining while it lasted but it ended way too abruptly.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Lato Kiroware: At least Fujiwara had the good sense to stick himself in the middle of the card this time, and give Suzuki, and Funaki some space to shine. This was a bizarre, and strangely hilarious match, between the ever rotund Kiroware, and the forever aging Fujiwara. Fujiwara always seemed keen on being a jerk when he had someone that couldn’t put him in his place, and here we get that, only this time Fujiwara gets to do something that he rarely has been able to do before, and that’s use his opponent for a punching bag. Right away, Fujiwara decides that he is just going to keep laying in kicks, and there wasn’t anything that Kiroware could really do about it. Kiroware was allowed a few moments of offense, but instead of really laying into Fujiwara for being a jerk, he kept it really light, perhaps not wanting to upset the boss. There wasn’t anything good about this match from a technical perspective, but it was a bizarre bit of fun.

Kiroware…wishing he had stayed in school.


***********************************Shoot Alert*************************************************

He’s back! Yes, the Sultan of Slime has returned, and is ready to ooze all over Minoru Suzuki. When we last saw Lawi Napataya, he gave us an absolutely hilarious classic, and our very first fully planned shoot, when he kicked the daylights out Takaku Fuke, while being more greased up than a cholo on an oil tanker. He is facing some stiffer competition in Suzuki, so we’ll see if his antics will continue to succeed. The match starts off with Suzuki taking a cautious stance with one arm stretched out, and the other protecting his chin. This stance later became all the rage with striking-deficient BJJ stylists in late 90s, so it’s good to see Suzuki blazing a trail here. Despite his caution, Suzuki is taking a few hard leg kicks to his midsection, as he tries to find his timing for a shot, against Napataya.

Suzuki was finally able to catch one of his opponent’s kicks, but Napatays is up to his old tricks, and immediately wastes no time clinging to the ropes for dear life. I must give Napataya a lot of credit, for his craftiness, because when they went back to the middle of the ring after a rope-break you could see that Napataya was hesitant to throw another kick right away, so he waited to fire one off, as he was back up into the ropes, and sure enough, Suzuki got the kick, but it didn’t matter as he was able to grab a rope just as soon as Suzuki caught his leg. Suzuki ate another nasty kick to his thigh before the end of round 1. While the powers that be still haven’t put an end to unlimited rope escapes, they at least must have had a talk with Napataya about his grease problem, as his cornermen are on their best behavior this time out, so it doesn’t look like we will have any slick shenanigans this time around.

Round 2 starts with Suzuki immediately shooting in on Napataya, and it almost didn’t work as Napataya leaped towards the ropes like a wounded tiger, and while he was able to get ahold of them, it wasn’t enough to stop Suzuki from being able to pry him off and get him down to the ground, where he immediately secured an armbar for the win. Good match, with sound strategy from both fighters. Had Suzuki not been able to pry Napataya off the ropes then he may have been in trouble, as the longer this would have gone on, the harder it would have been for him to obtain the victory. After winning, you would have thought that Suzuki had beat Mike Tyson, the way he was celebrating. Fujiwara got into the act too, running into the ring and hugging Suzuki, in what was probably the most emotion he had ever shown up to this point, clearly excited that Suzuki restored the honor of pro wrestlers everywhere, from the sneaky grease trap. Apparently, Fujiwara felt vindicated with this experiment as Napataya never returned, and we wouldn’t have another shoot like this until the famous meeting between Ken Shamrock and Don Nakaya Nielson.

Napataya hanging on for dear life....

And now… the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Ken Shamrock vs Masakatsu Funaki. This will be the first time that Funaki will be given a main event here in the PWFG with someone that I expect to really bring out the best in him, and I’m looking forward to it. Funaki wastes no time in throwing a kick Ken’s way and pays the price by being on the receiving end of a belly-to-back suplex. Funaki gets up quickly and starts to kick a grounded Shamrock, which causes Shamrock to put his hands behind his neck and start fighting off his back, trying to upkick Funaki, with an exchange that is somewhat reminiscent of Allan Goes vs Kazushi Sakaraba 7 years later in PRIDE. This doesn’t last long though, as Funaki quickly goes back to the ground, and they go back and forth for a bit, until stood back up by the ref. They immediately go to pounding each other once back on their feet, with the best strikes I’ve seen from Ken so far, and Funaki really putting some velocity behind his kicks.

The rest of the fight had it all, strikes, submission attempts, constant jockeying for position, but most importantly, it had an abundance of intensity. They constantly went at each other for 20+ min, and allowed themselves to be stiff, and it always felt like they were giving their all. Even though the finish looks a bit hokey on paper (Shamrock with a knockout via dragon suplex) it never felt anything less than excellent. One of the best matches we’ve seen so far.

Conclusion: Highly recommended… We had a great main event, and a historically important shoot, so for those two alone, it’s worth watching, but even with the three matches that preceeded it not being mandatory viewing, they were still entertaining, so this was a solid watch, start to finish. It will be interesting how things will develop from here. Hopefully Fujiwara will continue to place himself more in the midcard background and leave the spotlight for Shamrock/Suzuki/Shamrock, but that remains to be seen. They could still use a beefier undercard, but out of the three shoot-style promotions they are having the highest quality output, even if they aren’t as entertaining top to bottom as the UWFI.

Shamrock Victorious!

Here is the event in full:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:02:25 PM
*Vol.10 Continued*

What does Mighty Mike Lorefice have to say about all this? Let's see: Kazuo Takahashi vs Duane Koslowski "Realistically, this match was tailor made for Koslowski to dominate, probably in dull Coleman fashion. Through the wonders of worked wrestling though, Takahashi, the amateur state wrestling champion surely at no more than 170 pounds goes right in and takes down the 1988 Olympic wrestler at the highest weight class 130kg (287 pounds, though Koslowski is only a bit taller & there's no way he has close to 100 pounds on Takahashi, there just was no weight class between 100kg & 130kg in the '88 competition). The match followed a similar pattern to Koslowski's debut against Shamrock, with a Greco-Roman takedown or suplex leading to a submission attempt on the mat after a bit of setup, then they'd restart on their feet, but Koslowski was already noticably more confident & diverse. I liked the finish where Koslowski took Takahashi's back when Takahashi tried to counter the bodylock with a koshi guruma, and you figured he was going to do another big German suplex, but instead just pulled Takahashi down into a rear naked choke. Generally, the match wasn't dissimilar from what RINGS was going for on their last event, but while it was also going more for credibility than entertainment, these two were better able to pull it off because they stuck to what they could actually fake believably rather than doing a sad approximation of the match they would be having if they were actually let loose. You could still skip this, but at least it's pretty well done. The execution was good, they just needed more urgency."

Bart Vale vs Jerry Flynn: : Mr. JF was no Mike Bailey, nor was he one of the few men on the planet that managed to carry RVD and Justin Adequate to good matches like Mr. JL, but the taekwondo black belt had some talent that seemed to be beyond the scope of what the American promotions could envision, so he was mostly an enhancement performer outside of Japan. I was expecting more of a kickboxing match, but perhaps because Vale knew he couldn't match strikes with the longer & quicker Flynn, he looked for the submission finish. This was actually one of Vale's better matches, with the standup having some actual footwork & good palm strikes, and they went into submissions quickly off the takedowns so the ground didn't stall out. Ironically, the kicking was probably the worst part because it was the aspect where it was most obvious that they were holding back. As with the previous match, as a way to favor realism, this had an abrupt submission finish rather than the usual dramatic pro wrestling series of near victories finishing sequence.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Lato Kiroware: Not only is Fujiwara 0-4 in PWFG, but he's arguably had the worst match on every show. Lato certainly didn't help things with some kind of ram headbutt being his big spot, and while I'm not saying Fujiwara should have carried him to a good match, he should have known better than to book him and instead had a real opponent on the roster that he could have had a serious match with. Fujiwara put the shin guards on before tonight's disaster to alert us that he was going to test his foot fighting, and this is why tests are done behind closed doors, and it helps to start with material that's pliable enough. Fujiwara's kicks were just pathetic, he threw high kicks with his knee bent, hook kicks even though he couldn't get his leg up high enough, some kind of running spinning heel kick thing that barely connected to the boob. If his lack of technique wasn't bad enough, he had his usual smirky, clowning attitude going to show the audience he was just screwing around since it was an opponent he could bully (he predictably shrunk from Funaki at the last show).

Minoru Suzuki vs Lawi Napataya: In just the 2nd shoot in PWFG history, the style has already evolved considerably because Suzuki has clearly studied Napataya's match vs. Fuke (who is in his corner) & thought out how he's going to counteract Napataya's striking attack & takedown "defense". Suzuki was very light on his feet, making kicking defense his first priority, trying to slide back out of range when Lawi threw or check the low kick. What's perhaps more important is that Suzuki wasn't thinking offense with his strikes, but rather staying long & on the outside, using the side kick & occasional body jab to maintain a healthy distance. Because Suzuki wasn't making it easy for Lawi, Lawi grew hesitant, and self doubt continued to fester the more it becomes clear that Suzuki's goal was to get a takedown off a caught kick. Lawi clearly won the 1st round because he's the only one who was landing, but Suzuki shot a double to start the 2nd, and the ref really screwed Lawi by not calling for the break when Lawi was in the ropes. Lawi concentrated on keeping hold of the ropes expecting the ref to do his job rather than doing anything to defend the takedown attempt, and because he was all off balance with 1 leg in the air holding on for dear life, Suzuki was literally able to step back & pull Lawi down on top of him into the center, sweeping as soon as he hit the mat & securing an armbar. Lawi did his best not to tap, but he didn't know how to defend it so he was just taking damage.

Ken Shamrock vs Masakatsu Funaki: This was some ballsy booking, but that's what made it great. PWFG was still determining their top foreigner. Shamrock had been the best performer by a mile, but Vale had been around longer, and after a rocky start in U.W.F., had gone undefeated in 1990 (4-0), even avenging his loss to Yamazaki. Funaki had beaten Vale on PWFG's debut show, but Vale was 3-0 since. Logically, this is where you had Shamrock ascend to the top, especially since Funaki had defeated him on the final U.W.F. show on 12/1/90. However, the timing was tough because Funaki, who had been in the main event of every show and was the top star of the future if not the present, was coming off a crushing defeat to old man Fujiwara, so the normal rebound would be for him to once again defeat Shamrock, confirming the pecking order of Fujiwara, Funaki, Shamrock/Vale, Suzuki.

The match was worked like Shamrock was going to ultimately lose, in other words the early portion was about establishing Shamrock was on the level with Funaki by having him take the lead, getting Funaki down with the suplex, winning the kicking battle to score the first knockdown, etc. Funaki's calm & confident demeanor made the match seem closer than it was even during Shamrock's best portions, but by any definition this wasn't Shamrock running away with it, but rather a very competitive back and forth contest where Ken scored the signature shots in between regular exchanges of control as the match progressed were more likely to be won by Funaki. Funaki's patience was something of a negative here, especially when combined with Ken's tendencies to durdle on the mat.

Though obviously the underlying problem was the lack of BJJ knowledge from both, the result was a rambling ground affair that was still in the old U.W.F. mode of laying around passively for no reason when the opponent wasn't controlling in a manner that prevented either exploding to counter or to stand back up. Their speed & athleticism was sometimes on display in standup, but because the match was so mat based, I don't feel like it's aged particularly well. It's a good match to be certain, but I remembered it being one of the highlights of the year when in actuality, it's merely a good match, on par with Funaki's matches against Sano but nowhere near Ken's match with Sano, rather than the best stuff of Tamura & Suzuki, who seem miles ahead of the rest of the pack in retrospect.

I thought the released Dragon suplex finisher from Ken to score the huge wildly celebrated upset was great because it was in the mold they'd set the whole time, parity but Ken occasionally manages to pull off a great spot. That being said, this was a 21 minute match with a few highlights in between a lot of watching & waiting, honestly more like what we'd come to see from Pancrase though without the modernization of the positions to allow them to get away with it better. ***
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 23, 2020, 10:06:06 PM
*Vol.10 Continued*

*In Other News*

In other news: The Gracies are at it again, this time with another hilarious puff piece, courtesy of the September 91 issue of Black Belt magazine:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 24, 2020, 11:58:11 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.11 "Seperation Anxiety"


Welcome back! As we continue to reflect in our state of house arrest  upon all things, trivial and otherwise, we shall take a moment to ponder  the road less traveled, and further our quest for the esoteric  knowledge of our predecessors. The date is 8-24-91 and we find ourselves  at the Shizuoka Sangyoukan Concert Hall, which is located within the  Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan (an area best known for being the home of  Mt. Fuji). This hall was a popular spot in the 80s as a layover for many  of the top concert acts of the day, hosting Hall and Oates, Toto, Bryan  Adams, and others until branching out in the 90s and opening its doors  to various pro wrestling events in addition to their usual fare.

We can only hope that it’s a step up from the bowling alley where we  last found Takada and Co. performing, but that remains to be seen. Right  away, this scribe is excited to see Makoto Ohe opening things up again,  this time testing his foot fighting prowess against yet another unknown  kickboxer, named Marb Winon (which as of press time, I’ve been unable  to procure any further information on). The last fighter we saw thrown  to Ohe was an explosive, but completely inexperienced, Taekwondo(?)  practitioner, and this time his opponent at least seems to have his  footwork in place, and seems to belay some boxing experience, even if he  comes across as a bit nervous.

Winon starts off by circling around Ohe, keeping his distance and trying  to occasionally sneak in a low kick or combination, but while he’s  doing this, Ohe keeps measuring his distance and times his counterstrike  as Winon would press his attack. Winon is getting a few shots in, but  is leaving his face unprotected during his attacks, and his taking the  worse of the exchanges. Round 1 ends with Ohe being up on points, and  his experience really showing compared to his opponent.

Round 2 starts with Winon becoming more aggressive, and engaging right  away, even going for a flying knee, and at one point landing a nasty  side kick against Ohe, but he lost his mojo about a min into the round  when Ohe got him up against the ropes and really shook his equilibrium  with some solid punches. Winon spent the rest of round 2 getting picked  apart with precise leg strikes form Ohe, and they seemed to sap whatever  confidence he had going into round 3, as he spent the rest of the round  being very conservative, which is exactly the wrong strategy against  someone who’s an experienced surgeon like Ohe. Winon’s best bet would  have been to simply blitzkrieg Ohe, and hope to catch him off guard, but  his timidity is only serving to have him picked apart here.

Still, he was able to survive round 3, and seemingly read my mind, as he  went into round 4 throwing a nice flurry of combinations, some of which  got through to Ohe, as straight boxing seems to be the biggest weakness  in his game, but it was for naught, as whatever he was able to land was  quickly negated by Ohe firing off brutal kicks for the rest of the  round. Winon was barely able to make it into round 5, being down on  points 24-40. Round 5 begins, and Winon was doing well whenever the  fight got into close range by being able to use his boxing, but whenever  Ohe backed up a little bit and gave himself some space, he would  brutalize Aguilar’s ribs with his kicks, and usually follow up with a  nice right, straight down the pipe. Much credit to Winon, who was able  to persevere and go the distance with Ohe.

This was a fun way to start the show, and Ohe is always entertaining,  but it would be nice to see them track down a more seasoned opponent for  him, for the future.

Next up is our Shoot-Style Prodigy, Kiyoshi Tamura vs the resident  workhorse, Yuko Miyato. Right away, we are off to a fast pace as Miyto  plunges into his bag of Tachi-Waza tricks, looking for a takedown, in  this case with a nice Kata Guruma (Fireman’s Carry), and O-Goshi  (Major hip throw), but Tamura is too slick on the ground and once the  fight travels there, he reverses his situation and secures a straight  armbar on Miyato, forcing a rope escape. Miyato defaults to a more  kickboxing based strategy, landing a few strikes, but there is no  containing Tamura in any position for more than a few seconds, and the  rest of the fight followed in a whirlwind of transitions, submission  attacks from every angle, and naked aggression. While this wasn’t  realistic in modern MMA terms, with the 23432 position changes, it was  exciting, and we are getting more and more glimpses of not only Tamura’s  genius, but how a new art is emerging from the pro wrestling zeitgeist,  as we are starting to see glimpses of what is possible when skilled  practitioners get together and pretend to fight, like they are really going to fight. Tamura  ends the fight with a rear naked choke, coming off a failed kneebar  attempt from Miyato. This was very entertaining, if a bit short, and  Miyato’s bread-and-butter Judo/Kickboxing style played well with  Tamura’s flash&fury.

Tamura's wrath is complete...

Next up is a newcomer to our ranks, and we are introduced to Gary  Albright. Albright had gotten his start in the final days of Stu Hart’s  Stampede Wrestling, having received training from such famous hookers,  like Lou Thez, Billy Robinson, and Danny Hodge in the process. He had  even managed to win the tag team championship of that promotion, before  losing it to Chris Benoit and Biff Wellington (whom we know as  Wellington Wilkins Jr from the PWFG) right before the promotion folded.

Now he has migrated to the sea of shoot style, and right away we see our  zebra-clad warrior Yoji Anjo taunting him before the match, threating  him with vicious knees. The match starts with Albright trying to charge  Anjo into the corner of the ring, but Anjo is much quicker, and is able  to fire off a volley of kicks to ribs/midsection. Albright is eventually  able to catch Anjo and decides to toss him like a frisbee out of the  ring. Now we are starting to see the true spirit of this contest take  shape, the everlasting conflict between the Zebra and the Wildebeest.  Anjo would continue to use his speed and land kicks and palm strikes,  only to get pushed into the ropes, or suplexed onto the canvas, but once  the fight hit the canvas, Albright didn’t really seem to know what to  do, which left Anjo looking for submissions. Once back on the feet  Albright gave Anjo several powerful suplexes which led to a knockout  victory for Albright.

This was nothing more than pro wrestling showboating, an exercise put  forth to set Albright up as a suplexing monster, intent on slamming the  life out of the heroic Japanese natives, and honestly within the realm  of this promotion it worked. It was entertaining, and while Tom Burton  is more credible from a Vale Tudo/NHB standpoint, Albright has a lot  more entertainment finesse, and is a better fit for what this promotion  is trying to do. I do however question the long-term viability of  Albright, as I suspect that his ferocious monster shtick is likely to  have a limited shelf-life.
The Original Human-Suplex-Machine

Lastly, we have Nobuhiko Takada and Billy Scott vs Kazuo Yamazaki and  Tatsuo Nakano. I’m bewildered as to their insistence upon continually  giving us tag-matches for a main event, as it neither serves to bolster  the shoot-credibility (for can anything legitimate ever come from a tag  match?) nor does it really add anything within a pro wrestling  framework, as the UWFI doesn’t have a tag-division, or any titles at all  for that matter, so there aren’t really any stakes in a format like  this. It just serves to add some filler, but I would rather see 20 more  mins of Tamura cartwheeling over a lackey, than stuffing most of the  time allotted onto a team event. Still, any day to witness Yamazaki is a  good one, so there is that.

Billy Scott starts off against Nakano, and he is continuing to show  himself as a wise investment, as his suplexes, strikes, and wrestling  singlet all come across credibly. The match phases into Takada vs  Yamazaki, which is pleasant as these two have always had good chemistry  with each other (for example, their match at UWF Fighting Prospect - Tag  5 on 9-11-85 being one of the best shoot-style matches this scribe has  witnessed), and here he had more of the same, as whenever the two of  them were in the ring together it was total fire, and makes me wish that  they had structured the main events around Yamazaki chasing Takda as  the heir apparent to his throne, at least in the short term. It really  felt like the inclusions of Nakano and Scott were simply to pad things  out and include their other performers, and to be fair they all did a  good job making the match exciting, but really didn’t further the plot,  so to speak. The match ends at 28:09 with a Bob Backland inspired  chicken-wing submission from Yamazaki, which was rather odd.

Yamazaki...taking out the trash.

Here is the event in full:

 And if anyone wishes to see the bout between Yamazaki and Takada from 9-11-85 here it is:

 Final Thoughts: This was an entertaining, if flawed, card top to bottom.  We got another exciting kickboxing bout from Ohe, and Tamura continues  to deliver. Since they are choosing to be more tethered to the  pro-wrestling end of the spectrum, then they could stand to have a more  focused direction in some of the booking, as they feel a bit like a ship  without a rudder at the moment. Still, this is nitpicking as they  continue to deliver entertaining events if nothing else, which isn’t  something Maeda has managed to do yet.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 24, 2020, 11:59:52 PM
Let's check in with Mike Lorefice and see what he has to say...

"Makoto Ohe vs Marv Winon: I'm always glad  to see these kickboxing shoots on the card, but this felt like a bully  beatdown where the timid picked on kid does his best to run around the  playground to avoid the inevitable confrontation, hoping the thug will  either get bored or recess will somehow just end. At first I thought  Winon was a karate stylist because his focus was on maintaining  distance, but the more he literally hit his back on the ropes trying to  maintain as much distance from Ohe as possible at all times, the more I  couldn't tell what he was beyond scared. For every 1 step Ohe moved  forward, Winon seemed to try to move 4 steps sideways. Ohe was thrown  off his game by an opponent who didn't want to engage, and seemed to  want to use the Thai clinch more simply to prevent Winon from endlessly  running, which did lead to a left high kick knockdown in the 4th.  Needless to say this wasn't going to be a fight where Ohe landed a lot  of extended combos, but understanding that, he focused on sniping Winon  with power shots, and was very accurate in doing so.

Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko Miyato 
 It's hard for me to imagine that anyone improved more in 1991 than  Kiyoshi Tamura, who, after missing virually all of 1990 with a fractured  orbital, is now both leaving everyone in the dust, while at the same  time pulling incredible matches out of them that are way beyond what his  opponents are doing with anyone else or the increase in quality the  other top workers can pull out of their opponents. Tamura is making  great leaps in his ground movement, developing a perpetual motion style  (which obviously is what you should be doing if you are actually trying  when the antiquated techniques of the opponents don't control your body,  much less lock you in place, but basic logical techniques rarely stop  pro wrestlers from lazy hokem) that makes everyone else seem like  dinosaurs. Miyato was a good performer in the U.W.F. where the standard  of mat wrestling was still more toward New Japan's idea of good enough,  but has looked rather dated so far in UWF-I until this match where  Tamura's insistence on moving hid the holes in Miyato's no control  ground game and really made him an effective performer once again.  Meanwhile, Tamura's defense is improving magnificently, as his style is  increasingly built around turning defense into offense. He's developing  his game based upon the premise that with his speed and technical  mastery, as long as he can play the motion (scramble) game, he'll win  the battle of adjustments. Miyato is one of the quicker guys in the  promotion, but it's immediately apparent that he's having trouble  keeping up with Tamura, who has made the adjustment to Miyato's attack  or counter as soon, if not before, he gets it off. Miyato would like to  slow things down a bit, but he doesn't have the wrestling or BJJ &  Tamura isn't just going to stay put. Whenever Miyato tries to go on the  offensive or change positions, Tamura uses his movement against him  & takes over. For instance, there's a beautiful spot where Miyato  tries to swing into an armbar from side mount, but Tamura uses a  backwards roll to get off the canvas, spinning into a standing position  but immediately dropping back down into an Achilles' tendon hold.  Another great counter saw Miyato slipping out the side of Tamura's  facelock & trying to work the arm, but Tamura pivoted off a  headstand to take Miyato's back. Every time you see a Tamura match, you  see these kind of things that no one else is doing, done so fast,  smooth, & effortlessly that they just seem second nature. Miyato  definitely has the striking advantage when he can keep it in standup,  and finally takes over with a middle kick knockdown followed by a  spinning heel kick knockdown. Miyato has a giant 13-6 advantage on the  scoreboard after a belly-to-belly suplex into a 1/2 crab forces a rope  break, which is something we are already seeing Tamura use less and less  of. This is beginning to look like the great Tamura vs. Anjo match  where the advantage shifts to the wily veteran Anjo the longer the match  goes, and the point system favors the guy who can score on his feet  because it's much easier to get a knockdown than 3 near submissions,  that's just so imbalanced. Tamura isn't slowing down this time though,  and does another crazy counter, now being ready & taking a  guillotine off a Miyato's second attempt at the fireman's carry. The  bout grows increasingly brutal after Miyato just cold cocks Tamura in  the face & tries for the ipponzeoi, but Tamura takes his back &  drops into a rear naked choke. One of the problems with the match is  Miyato doesn't have enough counters of his own to really chain the  escapes & submission attempts together, but finally he does deliver,  peeling the hooks off by attacking the top leg then spinning into a  kneebar only to have Tamura spin to his knees & aggressively slap  Miyato in the face until he releases then add in some stomps for good  measure. The impact & intensity of the striking is really growing by  the second, and while the match may be less believable at times because  of Tamura's flash, the fire & heat these guys are building up is at  least allowing the audience to buy into the fact that they don't like  each other & really want to win. Miyato is laying into Tamura with  some big body kicks down the stretch, but Tamura does his drop down/go  behind to drag Miyato down into another rear naked choke. Miyato attacks  the top leg again, but Tamura releases the choke & uses what's left  of his hooks to roll Miyato to his stomach. Miyato immediately  scrambles back to his feet before Tamura can flatten him out, but Tamura  pulls him down into the choke for the win before Miyato can get close  enough to grab the ropes. This is just Tamura's 11th match, and it's a  big win coming against a 6th year fighter who was 2-0 against him. While  10 minutes seems short for these guys, especially given it's a 3 match  plus a one sided shoot card with nothing else looking like it needs tons  of time, length is not really what you are looking for in a worked  shoot. In fact, being shorter probably made for a better match because  Tamura could just keep exploding the whole time & Miyato didn't seem  to be his usual 1 trick pony, being for once the favorite while also  forced to react to all the crazy stuff the kid was throwing at him. The  usual downfall of a Miyato match is it just drags on the mat, especially  when they start playing footsies, but this was all blazing fury. This  wasn't as epic as Tamura vs. Anjo, but it was better in many respects,  and almost every moment was interesting & exciting. It's been almost  29 years, but I was still constantly rewinding to see what Tamura was  managing to do & how he pulled it off, which is very abnormal for  me. Tamura was clearly a whole lot better than in the Anjo match even  though it's only been a month & a half. Though the "downfall" is  that Yuko isn't as good or well rounded as Anjo, Tamura got a ton out of  him. Tamura's stuff just feels way more modern than anything else we  are seeing, the maestro not only innovating in a breathtaking manner but  raising the level of his opponent so many notches it's hard to even  fathom them having a match with anyone else that remotely approaches  this. ****1/4

Gary Albright vs Yoji Anjo
 Albright is the prototype '80's monster  gaijin that the little Japanese guys are all vying to upset. He screams  chip on his shoulder & bad attitude, one could picture him coming  out to W.A.S.P.'s "Mean Man" instead of the godawful generic written in  10 seconds AC/DC monotony he eventually adopted. The problem is it's the  '90's, and shoot wrestling is supposed to be the real deal, not the  worn out theatrical cartoon. While this match is entertaining, it's  basically an American wrestling match where they use some more  legitimate kickboxing, amateur wrestling, and a touch of sumo. Anjo  tries to stay on the outside & kick, but Albright would just eat  them all as if they were nothing until he pushed Anjo into the ropes  & grabbed him for the big ride. Albright was a good athlete for his  size in these days, and his suplexes were some of the most impressive  ever with a great combination of speed and impact, but this was the  typical short sighted UWF-I booking. Yes, this match does a great job of  getting Albright over in his debut, but the previous 4 shows were spent  trying to break Anjo out of the pack & into the #2 or 3 spot in the  promotion, yet here he literally couldn't muster a single shot that  even phased the mighty man for Pennsylvania by way of Karachi, Pakistan. 

Nobuhiko Takada/Billy Scott vs Kazuo Yamazaki/Tatsuo Nakano: UWF-I  is really running with the idea that the tag match is unique to them.  Basically this was a way to have Takada vs. Yamazaki without Yamazaki  having to do the job. All the heat was on this pairing, and these two  exchanged knockdowns a few times. Early on, Yamazaki struck first  landing a liver kick, but Takada came back countering a takedown attempt  with a palm. Later, Takada got the knockdown with a series of palms  followed by a high kick, but Yamazaki came back with a spinning high  kick to even the score at 12. Takada was again more effective here  because he basically just did kickboxing, and when Yamazaki went to the  mat with him, he knew how to avoid Takada's many weaknesses, though  Takada made sure to get his 1/2 crab in on Nakano. The problem with  doing one excessively long match after two short ones is it's hard to  match the level of urgency. Albright's match may have had its flaws, but  they did do a great job of getting over the idea that Anjo's life was  practically in danger if he couldn't keep the big guy off him, whereas  being 3 times as long, this was obviously a lot more up & down. This  match wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly memorable either. Yamazaki's  portions were good, particularly against Takada. Scott continued to show  potential, but just felt like an afterthought, and Nakano, while not  doing anything wrong per se, was totally forgettable.

 We haven't heard from Dave Meltzer in a while...What has he been having to say about any of this? 8-12-91 "
  Akira Maeda's Rings ran its second show on 8/1 in Osaka's Furitsu Gym  drawing 6,100 (building sells out at 7,000) with Maeda doing a job in  the main event losing to Dirk Leon-Vri via TKO in 8:01. Since Maeda has  such a small amount of potential foes to work with, it appears he  believes he has to do jobs on a regular basis to keep interest alive. A  few days before the match, Maeda sent telegrams to all the major  magazines that he had torn knee ligaments (no doubt a work sent to give a  prior excuse for him doing the job) in training for the match. Willie  Wilhelm (6-6, 300), former European champ in judo beat Peter Smit in the  semifinal. Wilhelm, whose match with Maeda drew 60,000 fans to the  Tokyo Dome in 1989, main events against Maeda on 9/3 in Sapporo.  Nobuhiko Takada's UWFI runs 9/26 in Sapporo while Yoshiaki Fujiwara's  PWF runs 8/23 in Sapporo, so all three UWF-style promotions are running  shows in the same city within a five-week period.

 UWFI drew a sellout 2,000 fans at the Hakata Star Lanes on 7/30 with  Yoji Anjyo & Jim Boss (indie worker from Tennessee) beating Takada  & Kiyoshi Tamura in 31:02 in the main event, plus Kazuo Yamazaki  beat Billy Scott (indie worker from Nashville area) with a facelock  submission and Shigeo Miyato beat Tatsuo Nakano.
 Maeda announced he would be running a show in December at the Ariake  Coliseum in Tokyo Bay which is the same building where he sold out all  12,000 seats the first few hours tickets went on sale in 1989 when he  was the hottest draw in wrestling.

Fujiwara's 7/26 show at NK Hall in the Tokyo Bay Area was said to be  very good, particularly Wayne Shamrock (Vince Tirelli) vs. Duane  Koslowski (only in his second pro match). Koslowski, who lives in  Minnesota and represented the U.S. in Greco-roman at the last Olympic  games, was said to have really learned the style while Shamrock is  generally considered the best at the style of the foreigners."

8-19-91: "Saw  the Akira Maeda vs. Dirk Leon-Vri match from the 8/1 Osaka show and the  televised version was awesome technically. Not the match, but the drama  built in before the match started. The work they did in getting Vri  over as a killer heel puts anything done in the U.S. to shame. Of course  it helps to look the part like Vri, with the Aryan face and sneer and a  body so filled with steroids that it isn't even funny and hand and foot  quickness that is just scary for someone so muscular. He looks like he  should be in one of those martial arts movies as a heel. What's the  achilles heel (no pun intended)? The match itself wasn't good at all. It  was nothing compared to their Tokyo match of a few months back. It was  evident Maeda's knee injury was a shoot because he really didn't do a  thing. Vri looked great for about three minutes, and then he blew up  like nobody's business and it was pretty pathetic the last five minutes  before Maeda was KO'd. But the aura built into both the television and  the live show created dramatic heat on the level of the Hulk  Hogan-Ultimate Warrior match of 1990."

 *In Other News*

Police Officers within Los Angeles County recently agreed to stop  Nanchaku use in response to a lawsuit by six members of the pro-life  group Operation Rescue. The LAPD agreed to cease use of all Nanchaku  weapons at anti-abortion protests, as part of a settlement towards a  lawsuit with the organization. Although possession of Nanchaku by  ordinary citizens is unlawful in the State of California, police  organizations in the state often use this ancient weapon as a  restraint/compliance tool. The settlement only forbids the LAPD from  using these weapons against plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and they are  still free to use them against members of other groups at other  protests. The LAPD first started using Nanchaku in 1989 and have since  received over 30 lawsuits against the city, claiming medical damages,  some purporting to have suffered broken bones and nerve damage.

Akira Maeda was originally supposed to fight Dutch fighter Frank “Freak”  Hamaker at the 8-1-91 event in Osaka, but had to rebook with Dick Virj,  due to Hamaker getting reconstructive surgery on his knee.

It’s been confirmed that Bob Backland has agreed to face off against  Nobuhiko Takada at next months UWFI show on 9-26-91, and possibly in  November as well.

Rings is having to move its next card from 9-4-91 to 9-14-91, as Akira  Maeda’s knee is still in bad shape, and he won’t be able to perform in  time.                
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 25, 2020, 07:16:09 AM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.12 "The Way of Kamui"

 When we last saw Akira Maeda, he was belaying his (shoot) knee injury  into a piece of (worked) fiction, as he glorified Caucasian poster boy, and Double Dragon  avatar, Dick Vrij, with what can only be ostensibly referred to as a  “squash match.”  Now with only a little over a month of recovery time,  he must return to perhaps face his greatest challenge yet, a man with a  long and storied Judo pedigree, in Dutch fighter Willie Wilhelm.

The date is 9-14-91 and we are returning to the Sapporo Nakajima Center,  which upon our last visit we were able to be part of the ascension of  Ken “Wayne” Shamrock, as he bested Masakatsu Funaki in an electric  evening. We can only hope for another glimpse of magic that this  location may provide, as when we last witnessed Maeda, and his band of  hired mercenaries, we were left with a very lackluster experience, that  we hope is to never be repeated.

We start off with an interview with Maeda inside the arena, well before  the show’s opening time, as he pensively talks about his match with  Wilhelm,  while footage of competitors warming up is interspersed  throughout, and we are then taken backstage as a surprisingly threadbare  group of performers/hands prepare for the nights proceedings in a  cramped area. Suddenly, we are exposed to the strange juxtaposition of  it all, as Maeda has managed to leverage his name and star power to  create a façade of having an extensive organization, and a grandiose  sport-in-the-making, only to reveal that underneath the surface is a  mere skeleton crew.

Still, despite what appears to be Maeda completely winging this whole  thing as he goes along, is the potential for greatness, and this scribe  is hopeful that we will see some shoot glory before this is all over  with.

The Eyes of Maeda are upon you...

The show opens with the usual pageantry, and I was wholly expecting  nothing eventful to come forth, when I was pleasantly surprised to see  something of great historical import take place. The head of Sediokaikan  karate, Kazuyoshi Ishii, and his top pupil Masaaki Satake, have come to  the ring in order to honor Maeda, both with flowers, and flowery  speeches, in an effort to show the solidarity between the essences of  Rings and karate.

This is actually an oft under-examined connection, that we at Kakutogi  HQ hope to explore further in the days to come, as Rings was very  influential upon Ishii, and in turn K1, and without Maeda’s tutelage,  Sediokaikan, may have never morphed into the kickboxing juggernaut that  it became (even surpassing the popularity of Baseball in Japan at one  point) which would have left a giant hole in the MMA continuum as we  know it today.

We are now tasked with examining the first contest of the evening, a  rematch that absolutely no one was asking for, a WATER BOUT between  Mitsuya Nagai and Herman Renting. Truly things have already started at a  low ebb, as this is the exact same pairing seen a month ago at the Aqua  Heat event, and while I found it to be a moderately entertaining  excursion, it wasn’t exactly something that demanded a revisiting.

This match started off in the vein of an  open-handed-kickboxing-sparring-session kind of vibe, but thankfully it  didn’t stay there long, as we got to see plenty of fine judo from  Renting throughout, including a nice ashi-dori-ouchi-gari  (leg-pick-inside-trip), and there was a nice sequence from Nagai that  saw him charging toward Renting with a flying knee, only to miss, and  then rebound with a kneebar attempt., that forced a rope escape. When  the ref stood them back up afterwards, Nagai executed the very first  somersault kick in the kakutogi spectrum, which resulted in a knockdown,  and was pleasant for all to behold.

The fight did not last much longer though, as the wrath of Renting was  complete, and he turned a headlock takedown, into a neck-crank for the  submission win. I was pleasantly surprised by all of this. While it  wouldn’t be confused for match of the year by anyone, it did feel like  they were starting to find a groove for this style, and by adding some  more variety in the grappling and striking exchanges, it led to the  match having more drama and a better flow, when compared to their first  bout from a month prior.

The Reverse Enziguri Somersault Kick!

Now we have our FIRE BOUT with perennial cheatyface Willie Peeters,  and Dutch wrestling legend Bert Kops Jr. Kops is perhaps best known to  modern MMA fans as one of the mentors to former Bellator middleweight  champion, Gegard Mousasi, but he has been wrestling since the age of 6,  and is active to this day in the MMA and wrestling scene within the  Netherlands.
 The last time we saw Peeters, was when he was acting like a big fat  jerk, at the very first Rings event, in which he “worked” a match in  only the loosest of definitions, as he wouldn’t pull his punches while  engaging his opponent, but saw it in his heart to allow a bit of  cooperation in the grappling sequences (kindly offering Marcel Haarmans  an opportunity to work for a Boston Crab, or two.)
 This could prove to be remarkably interesting given Kops’s wrestling  pedigree, and the unpredictability of Peeters, so I am anticipating this  contest. The fight starts and right away it seems that Peeters is being  a bit more behaved than his last outing, working with his opponent,  although he is still a bit spazzy, and his body shots are probably too  stiff, for a work. Both fighters trade throws, strikes, and submissions,  all the while, Peeters manages to come off like a cartoon character.
 Kops starts throwing some surprisingly decent worked kicks at Peeters,  at an appropriate genteel speed, and then shoots in on Peeters to  execute a backdrop slam. Peeters responds by charging forward and  clocking Kops in the jaw, in a seemingly (shoot) jerk move, as it  appears to be way too stiff. The rest of the fight saw Kops use several  throws, including some beautiful examples of Koshi Guruma (Hip  Wheel, or Headlock Throw in BJJ parlance) and some rather contrived gut  wrench suplexes. Watching Kops try and execute solid fakery, with an  opponent that only seems to want to cooperate when he feels like it, led  to an entertaining match, for all the wrong reasons.
 Next up is the UNIVERSE bout with Dick Vrij and Tom Van Maurik. Maurik  was one of the more interesting components of the last Rings event, with  his unusually stiff body shots that he dished out to Chris Dolman, so  I’m intrigued to see how this plays out with aspiring Bond-Villain Vrij.  What is not interesting, is that this contest has been formatted to be  seven 3min rounds, presumably to keep Vrij from gassing.
 Things are not looking better once the fight begins, as apparently  someone had a talking to Maurik, and his stiffness is nowhere to be  found here. Instead we have some exceptionally soft, and fake looking,  quasi kickboxing. This is an odd move, as much of this audience would  surely be kickboxing savvy, and by presenting a very striking orientated  match that lacks any semblance of stiffness, seems questionable all the  way around. 
 The action picked up a little bit by the middle of round 2, and we saw a  little bit of grappling, as Vrij attempted a pitiful rear naked choke,  which prompted a rope escape from Maurik. Round 2 probably gave us the  only (shoot) action that we are likely to see tonight, when Vrij ruffled  the curly locks of Van Maurik’s hair, as they were both clenched up in  the corner.
 The intensity continued to escalate by round 3, and both competitors  became more lively, but at no point was this ever credible, or even much  more than marginally entertaining for that matter. The Japanese crowd  was rightly indifferent to most of this, and its inclusion is puzzling.  At least the UWFI has the good sense to stick real kickboxing bouts at  the beginning of their cards, and this whole affair makes me wish that  Maeda had done the same, or at least asked his buddy Ishii to loan him a  couple of up and coming Sediokaikan karatekas, to provide us with a  knockdown bout.
 Simply put, this was crap, and is amazing to watch knowing that this  will eventually become the most important MMA promotion in the late 90s.  The match ends with Van Maurik submitting to an ankle lock, and we are  thankfully moving on to the EARTH BOUT.
 As much as I hopeful for the acidic notes of earthen soil, to cleanse my  palette with a crisp and refreshing cascade of citrus flavor, it most  likely that this next fight will be chalky, and will coat our tongues  with a most unpleasant aftertaste. Wilhelm gave us the worst match of  the last Rings undertaking, and I can’t reasonably expect Maeda to pull  something great out of him, but I can hope, can’t I?
 If nothing else, Maeda continues to be incredibly over, as the crowd  simply cannot wait to start chanting his name amidst a sea of strobe  light effects. Wilhelm is donning his judo gi with all the pride that  Holland can muster, while Maeda is sporting a heavily taped knee.
 Sadly, any hopes that this clash would save the evening are quickly  dashed, as Wilhelm once again shows that he has no business trying to  throw fake kicks, as they look really fake, and Maeda isn’t  helping matters with his slow-motion German suplex into an armbar, which  forces a rope escape. Wilhelm gets back up and hits some knees from the  clinch, and a tasty Hari-Goshi throw, and tries to work in an  armbar of his own, which scares the crowd, as their hero is now in  danger. If nothing else, the crowd is into this, so at least that lends a  welcome energy to this affair.
 After his throw, Wilhelm tries to engage Maeda in some ne waza, but  apparently is not versed in proper leg lock etiquette, and Maeda catches  him in a heel-hook that prompts another rope escape. A short time after  they get up, Wilhelm taunts Maeda to kick him in his portly belly, to  which Maeda dutifully obliges, and Maeda is taken down by a  Fujiwara/Straight armbar, for his trouble.  Maeda then picks up the  aggression and fires off several kicks to Wilhelm, but his leg is  captured, and he is put in the most fearsome submission from the  Northeastern seaboard, the Boston crab.
 All of Sopporo must have breathed a sigh of relief, as Maeda fought hard  to get to the ropes and escape his impending doom, but no such mercies  will be extended to us, the viewers of this tripe. The rest of the match  shows Maeda repeatedly kicking Wilhelm for his insolence, and dragging  him into the center of the ring to execute a heel hook, that took about  as much time as it would to read through the Wall Street Journal.
 Ok, it greatly saddens this scribe to say this, but this was mostly  atrocious The first match showed us a glimpse of moving in the right  direction, as at least Nagai and Renting were able to work out more of a  drama, and flow to their fakery, even if it felt more manufactured than  something coming out of the PWFG, but there really isn’t anything else  here that would suggest surviving another year, let alone becoming the  prestigious promotion that it did. Also, outside of a couple of nice  throws, Wilhelm looks atrocious, and it’s amazing that some are just not  cut out for working matches. Dolman, despite moving like dried paint,  was a strong judoka, but he always carried himself credibly and gave off  the impression that he was the real deal.
 Still, if nothing else, Maeda has the right idea, by giving it a  grandiose format, and an international flavor, hopefully it’s just a  matter of time, before the talent meets the vision.          

Here is the event in full:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 25, 2020, 07:17:14 AM
Vol.11 Continued

    What are Mike Lorefice's thoughts? Let's see:

Mitsuta Nagai vs Herman Renting: "While our  second helping of Nagai vs. Renting isn't exactly producing the ecstasy  of dining on honey dew and drinking the milk of paradise, it's a much  more sufficient banquet than their initial brew.

In fact, outside of Kiyoshi Tamura, these two are battling each other  for the biggest improvement from one match to another we've seen so far,  with the edge going to Renting. They really figured out how to blend  their styles, and now had a clear course of action with Renting either  being proactive & initiating the clinch or urging Nagai to kick so  he could get the take down by grabbing him. Renting did a lot once he  got the fight to the ground, showing a variety of submission attempts,  but Nagai's ground game was solid as well, and he was able to both apply  submission pressure from the bottom and get back to his feet.

The urgency was high here, and they did a nice job of keeping the match  moving by continuing to find different transitions & counters to the  same basic sequence where Renting would get a takedown off a Greco body  lock. Renting's striking was solid as well, but he wasn't going to duke  it out with a stronger striker when he could put him on his back &  get the first crack at finishing him.

They kicked it into high gear after Renting got a down with a soccer  kick, with Nagai charging the length of the ring at Renting, which was  such a theatrical departure from the otherwise fairly UWF credible  action even though he missed the flying knee that had preceeded that it  kind of worked in showing he was fired up & didn't care about the  risk.

Nagai then managed to do an even more spectacular version of the leg  catch enzuigiri spot where he instead flipped forward for a knockdown.

Renting's takedown game eventually ruled the day though when he changed  things up, rolling Nagai down in an arm in guillotine then releasing  & reapplying the guillotine from side mount for the win, which the  billed as a "reverse full nelson hold". ***"

 Willie Peeters vs Bert Kops Jr:
 In the spirit of Keith Jardine's great nickname "The Dean of Mean", I  propose Willie as "The Peet of Cheat". There was a classic Peeters  moment when he didn't go with Kops head & arm throw, and soccer ball  kicked Kops rather than letting him back up.

That being said, he's one of my favorite fighters on these early RINGS  because he's such an unpredictable wildman. Willie landed several of his  signature hard closed fist punches to the body today, but Kops seemed  to be on the same wavelength, or at least know what to expect from  Peeters, and was actually responsible for escalating, if not starting,  the violence right at the outset.

Kops was very active & aggressive, enjoying displaying his power  with a variety of rotational deadlift throws. There was a nice spot  where he hit a rather low impact suisha otoshi only to have Peeters pop  up & drop him with a running uppercut. This wasn't the most  realistic match, but Kops showed a ton of potential as suplex machines  who were credible strikes were in short supply in these days. He was  probably more suited to UWF-I, but he seemed too good an athlete not to  have made an impact somewhere.

One of the great things about this match is Kops doesn't take Peeters  crap. He comes right back dropping Peeters with a knee, and then when  he's supposed to be disengaging, he gives the downed Peeters a little  kick. Kops isn't trying to hurt Peeters, but keeping him in check by  letting him know that he could, and would consider it.

These two seem to be vying for who can be the bigger subtle heel at this  point, as Peeters responds by threatening to cheap shot Kops on the  rope break. Unfortunately, Kops seemingly tore his left knee midway  through the match, and though he tried to proceed as normal, eventually  the kneecap seemed to be moving around on him, and it appeared that  they'd have to stop the match. Kops wasn't trying to quit though, he  just had them spray it numb so he could finish as planned.

The injury probably knocked 1/2* off the match, as it continued beyond  the point where Kops was particularly productive, with Peeters  eventually KO'ing him with a knee. Still, this is the best RINGS match  we've seen thusfar. ***1/4

 Dick Vrij vs Tom Van Maurik:
 One would expect the universe to have more to offer than this. I'd say  these two were hitting like Miss Universe, but that would surely be  sexist.

These two could definitely have beaten Frank Trigg to the monicker  "Twinkle Toes" if they wanted to own up to these shenanigans. There was a  particularly funny sequence where Van Maurik scored the first knockdown  overwhelming Vrij with a series of close range shots that barely  connected, so Vrij threw his mouthpiece out, which I suppose made sense  given his teeth were in no danger if that was as hard as Van Maurik was  willing to hit.

The match was nonetheless fairly even, but then Vrij got 3 knockdowns in  the 4th. Vrij tried to finish with a clinch knee, but they did this  really silly, contrived spot where Van Maurik urgently drove forward for  the takedown to avoid, and they spilled to the floor with Vrij getting  the better of it, so he was able to do something of a diving knee off  the apron.

Vrij finally caught Van Maurik with a nice right head kick, probably  accidentally because Van Maurik's head was lower than he expected going  down fast from a weak left high kick.

Surprisingly in this kickboxing match, the finish was Vrij catching a  middle kick & dropping into an Achilles' tendon hold. Van Maurik was  going to grab the ropes despite having no downs left, but couldn't make  it that last inch & was forced to tap. Definitely one of the worst  matches we've seen so far.


Akira Maeda vs Willie Wilhelm

We're seeing the same thing in all 3 promotions, the guys running them are old school pro wrestlers, and the more real martial artists they bring in, the sillier & more dated their tricks that never worked when the opponent wasn't helping out look.

In the current setting, it's doubtful that a healthy Maeda is going to carry anyone to a good match, and this was far from a healthy Maeda. However, the match quality here isn't the relevant factor to Maeda. Maeda's 11/29/89 match against Wilhelm drew 60,000 at the Tokyo Dome, so it's obvious why he wanted to have a rematch with the '84 Judo Olympian.

While that was a less out of shape version of Wilhelm, who also wisely wore his gi, this again is Maeda doing Inoki's fork over the cash to get all the real martial artists who would destroy him to instead take the knee, so in his mind it's guaranteed to achieve his only two goals of raising his credibility and fortunes.

Apart from the 30 seconds where Wilhelm was releasing obnoxious screams & urging Maeda to hit him in the belly welly this wasn't bad, but it was never compelling either. Maeda couldn't do much, and while Wilhelm actually did pretty well, especially for a guy who doesn't really know how to have a match, it kind of felt like an exhibition where he was just demonstrating some things he can do.

As a performance, it was barely passable, but the fact that it totally felt like a performance, and it wasn't an entertaining one at that, made it a failure. Maeda's big slow comeback with the low kicks leading to the high kick knockdown was surely the most contrived aspect of the show.

Really nothing he did had enough zest to be even somewhat believable, but a lot of the problem was that even with the show being pushed back to give him more time to recover, his body was just barely able to cooperate

 I'm going to disagree with Mbetz1981 here. I  think this was a major positive step forward for the promotion. Yes,  there are some really bad signs, savior Maeda is broken, and Vrij isn't  capable of being the top foreigner because he badly needs someone to lay  out the match & carry him, and Willy Wilhelm simply needs to go,  but the undercard is rounding into shape. Nagai is already a reasonable  worker two matches in, Peeters keeps having good matches with his odd  blend of dickishness & flash, Renting is getting it, Kops has a ton  of potential (if he's not broken), and Ishii has arrived to loan his  stable of karate guys, which will give RINGS access to Japanese fighters  who actually have a legitimate pedigree & some notoriety that comes  with that.

*In Other News*


The UWFI recently ran out of money, as the expenses of running monthly shows exceeding what they have been able to take in, so in a desperate effort, Nobuhiko Takada contacted former UWF owner Shinji Jin, and was able to use him as a middleman to work out some financing from the current owner of the SWS and PWFG promotions, Hachiro Tanaka. Tanaka is one of the main executives of Megane Super, an eyeglass company in Japan. This is remarkable as Takada had previously avowed to never deal with Jin again, as his antics led to a scandal that took down the UWF to begin with. This will also put Takada in a somewhat precarious position as Tanaka will now have ownership in three different major wrestling promotions in Japan.

Recently disgraced sumo wrestler and pro wrestler Koji Kitao is also looking to get financial backing from Hachiro Tanaka and is trying to start up a wrestling promotion in the vein of the UWF, with himself as the star.

Action film superstar Chuck Norris recently invited controversial martial arts personality George Dillman to his home in an effort to learn more about Dillman’s reported system of being able to knock out people via lightly tapping various pressure points. Norris holds black belts in Tang Soo Do, Judo, and Shito-Ryu Karate, and is always looking to further his marital education. Norris was reportedly still skeptical of the veracity of Dillman’s claims after the demonstration but is willing to have him make a return visit, in order to learn more.

 Masakatsu Funaki wrestled the 3rd of his 4 matches in SWS this year on 4/23/91 against Fumihiro Niikura.

While the match was again technically good, it was nowhere near the  level of his previous two SWS matches against Naoki Sano, as it was  never even remotely competitive to the point I've already forgotten if  Niikura was allowed a singular piece of offense.

Nonetheless, Funaki is the best of the Japanese fighters at constantly  adjusting his position on the ground to maintain control. Though he  doesn't have a strong background in either wrestling or BJJ, his  movements are seemingly naturally a lot better than the other fighters,  even if they still fail sometimes due to the faulty pro wrestling notion  that there's a place in real fighting for no body control appendage  locks.

 This movement is crucial to the success of his style because more than  the other shoot fighters, his concept of realism is based around an  economy of high spots. Funaki is one of the better strikers, but he  really tries not to utilize much of it, instead preferring to set up  submissions on the mat, and use a few powerful shots for knockdowns  either to maintain interest or to lead to the finish.

Funaki was much more respectful of Niikura than Fujiwara was on 4/1/91,  but it seems that Canada is the only place where it's good to be part of  the Viet Cong, as Niikura was again nothing more than a jobber.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 25, 2020, 06:00:44 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.13 "The Road Less Traveled"

 Welcome back to the road ever unfolding. We at Kakutogi HQ apologize for  the delay, as due to some unforeseen circumstances, this scribe was  forced to throw this noble undertaking into a temporary state of  abeyance, but has since picked himself up, shook the dust off, and is  continuing to gaze upon the shrouded past, in a hope to collectively  succor our future.


We now find ourselves back at the Nakijima Sports Arena, the date is  9-26-91, and we are about to witness the UWFI attempt to bottle lighting  twice, as Bob Backlund makes his return into the Shoot-Style arena.  Backlund first faced off against Takada at the 12-22-88 Newborn UWF  Heartbeat event, and while the action may seem antiquated in the lens of  modern jaded eyes, there is no denying the absolutely electric  atmosphere of that evening, as Japan was witnessing their hero face off  against a flagbearer for American Wrestling (regardless if that  perception was valid or not) and the tension permeating  Osaka that  night was palpable.

Before we draw upon the well of past glories, we are to first drink from  the refreshing streams of known sources, as our favorite footfighting  phenom, Makato Ohe, as he is set to face off against New Mexico  newcomer, Rafael Aguilar. Little is known about Aguilar other than he is  NOT the same Rafael Aguilar that was a well-known drug cartel  leader, who met his demise in 1993, after being shot to death in Cancun,  Mexico.

It’s always a treat to see Ohe in action, but hopefully Aguilar brings  some more game to these proceedings than the last couple of competitors  did, who were woefully out of their league against our favorite  Shootboxing Alum.

The fight starts and Aguilar’s footwork seems in place, but Ohe wastes  no time in pressing the action. Aguilar weakly checks a thunderous leg  kick, and responds with a sidekick, to which, Ohe simply grabs his leg  and blasts him with a left right down the pipe. Aguilar continues to  press forward, but is tied up in a long clinch with Ohe, who  methodically takes his time and throws some powerful knees here and  there, compared to a voluminous amount of weak shots to the midsection  that Aguilar put forth.

After a break Aguilar manages to hit Ohe with a nice uppercut, but is  caught right back into a tight clinch, and this does not seem to be a  comfortable place for him to work. Unlike what we would later see in K1  (in which the clinch was usually broken up after a few seconds) the UWFI  ref seems content to allow plenty of time for the fighters to work  here, before calling for a restart.

Round 2 was fairly uneventful as Aguilar was able to fire off some  decent punches when he was able to create some distance but was  completely neutered whenever the fight got into a Muay Thai range. Ohe  was able to land hard knees throughout the round but hasn’t seemed to  put Aguilar in any real danger.

Both fighters turned up the volume for round 3, and while Aguilar took a  beating with plenty of nasty knees, and some hard punches, he was able  to land several stiff uppercuts, which seems to be his number one  weapon, and one that Ohe isn’t too keen on dealing with. As lopsided as  the scoring of this bout is right now in favor of Ohe, there is a chance  for Aguilar if he can keep sneaking those uppercuts in.

Round 4 saw Aguilar take it up a notch, and while he still had no good  answers for the clinch, he was able to work his boxing a lot more in  this round, and is starting to look competitive here, although he is so  far behind in points there is no way he is going to win a decision.

You could tell that Aguilar really wanted to go for broke in round 5,  but Ohe was having none of it, and grabbed a clinch whenever he could,  and wasn’t about to take any chances. Aguilar did his best to fire off a  shot whenever he could get a ref break, but it wasn’t enough, and it  went to decision.

I enjoyed this fight, and I think that whatever shortcomings Aguilar  had, were more to do with where American kickboxing was at the time,  than a lack of raw potential on the part of Aguilar. Aguilar seemed to  be a fine practitioner in whatever style he was familiar with but having  to take a crash course in Muay Thai against such a seasoned veteran in  Ohe, would be a tough job for anyone. If the UWFI continues to feed  Americans to Ohe, then we might get to see an upset yet, as straight  boxing seems to be the biggest weakness in Ohe’s game and could  potentially be his downfall.

Ohe about to punish Aguilar’s sidekick…

Tatsuyo Nakano vs Kiyoshi Tamura: When we last saw Tamura in a singles  bout against Yoji Anjo he put an absolute clinic on display for us all,  and showed us both the hidden beauty of the shoot-aesthetic and also how  far ahead of his contemporaries he was at displaying it. Anjo is a  pliable force and can be molded to serve whatever purpose the moment  needs, but I do not have as high hopes for Nakano. One thing is for  certain however, and that is Nakano has had about 13 trips to his local  Viking Buffet since he last stepped foot into a ring.

Nakano after a delightful trip to the local Sukiyaki Buffet

After refusing to shake Nakano’s hand the match is underway, and Tamura  wastes no time in trying to get a single leg from a clinch, which Nakano  successfully stuffs, and tries to counter with a guillotine of his own.  Tamura quickly turns the corner and is able to both edge out of the  choke, and take Tatsuyo down at the same time, but Tatsuyo is able to  quickly get back to his feet. It’s already incredible to see the  fluidity and velocity of Tamura’s movements, and we aren’t even a min  into this fight yet. Both men are able to utilize excellent circular  movement, with Tamura having a clear speed advantage, but Nakano is  simply too strong to be pinned or threated with Tamura’s submission or  positional offense for too long.

Nakano is able to shrug off a sloppy armbar attempt, and secure a rear  chinlock, which forces Tamura to take his first rope escape. The match  then continues in a stalemate fashion until Tamura shot in for a  lighting quick single leg, only to get countered by a stiff knee to the  chest/midsection of Tamura, in what was a cool sequence that cost Tamura  more points via a knockdown.

With nothing left to lose, Tamura finally unleashes the palm strikes,  but Tatsuyo counters with some sluggish knees, and long before this  became all the rage within the BJJ instructional scene, Tamura counters a  single leg effort from Nakano with a kimura/wristlock entry. This would  have been absolutely breathtaking, but unfortunately it wound up being a  gaping hole in the credibility of the match as Tamura was a little slow  in applying it, thus giving Tamura plenty of time to fiddle with the  arm as he just let it hang out. Still. It’s amazing to see how much of  what we would think as new grappling tech can be found in the layers of  early shoot-style wrestling. The match continues it’s back and forth  flow with Nakano having the upper hand in most of it, until Tamura  catches a thigh kick and turns it into some kind of STF/Ankle Lock  submission victory.

Conclusion: A bit of a disappointment considering the blockbuster that  he had with Miyato when we last witnessed him, and possibly Tamura’s  weakest singles match so far, due to the rushed nature, and throwing all  the striking towards the end, but this shouldn’t be taken as too strong  of a criticism, as it’s still a Tamura match, and is thus worthy of our attention.

The perfect counter to the single-leg

Next up is newcome Gary Albright and veteran Yuko Miyato. During our  prior encounter with Albright we saw him terrorizing everyones favorite  zebra-clad warrior in Yoji Anjo, but if Anjo was the zebra, then surely  Miyato is but a lovely gazelle, frolicking in the pasture, unaware of  the impending doom to come.

Albright comes out to quite possibly the worst entrance music that a man  of his size could hope to, entering the ring to an instrumental that  would be well served as the theme music to a NES RPG, if that RPG  happened to have a sequence where the hero was expected to buy  margaritas at a beach resort after a hard day of adventuring.

The match begins, and taking one look at these two, it would be easy to  just expect Albright to toss Miyato into the rafters, and be done with  it, but surprisingly they start things off with a bit of kickboxing,  feeling each other out. The footfighting doesn’t last too long before  Albright ragdolls Miyato with a huge suplex, causing a knockdown.

Miyato, then wisely continues to fight from the outside, landing some  kicks to Albright’s thighs and midsection, but it doesn’t take long for  the Yeti to close the distance and slam his prey with reckless abandon.  This ends the fight, and puts the gazelle out of his misery, and this  could have just as easily been featured on National Geographic.

 Next up, Satoru Sayama’s favorite padawan, Kazuo Yamazaki, must face  fashion ace Yoji Anjo, in a bout that I must admit excites me with  anticipation. Things start with Anjo offering his hand in the spirit of  camaraderie, but is met with empty disgust on the part of Yamazaki, but  has his revenge moments later, as they immediately begin trading kicks,  and Anjo gets the better of Yamazaki, by grabbing his leg and kicking  out the other leg, causing his opponent to fall.

So far, a few mins into this match, and it is incredible in terms of the  energy and atmosphere that these two are able to generate. Yamazaki  plays it off, like a thuggish veteran that refuses to give any respect  to the upstart in Anjo, but Anjo keeps delivering in fire and intensity,  which is really resonating with the Japanese crowd. There is a great  sequence in which Yamazaki is working over a leg, trying to take a basic  ankle lock, and turn it into a more sinister heel-hook, which causes  Anjo to panic and fly towards the ropes like his life depended on it.

Yamazaki wasn’t able to relish this for too long, as not long  afterwards, Anjo nailed him with a beautiful high kick to the ribs of  Yamazaki, immediately prompting a knockdown. It continues to go back and  forth, but Yamazaki can’t seem to catch a break as whenever he is able  to land a submission on Anjo, he is forced to pay a hefty price by being  lit up like a Christmas tree in the standup portions. Yamazaki is able  to somewhat abruptly win the match with what I can only describe as an  emergency single-leg Boston Crab, that he had to pull out of nowhere,  after taking a volley of palm strikes from Anjo.

Excellent. Despite having to end the match with the worst thing to come  from Boston since tariffs, this was totally awesome, and easily the best  match that Yamazaki has had so far in the UWFI.

Next up is Bob Backland vs Nobuhiko Takada, and while I don’t have high  hopes for this being good, in any nominal sense of the word, I am quite  intrigued, and wondering if this is in fact, some shrewd booking. When I  last saw Backland in the Shoot-Sphere, he had two matches in the  Newborn UWF, with Takada and Funaki respectfully, and while he gave me  the impression that he would have been good in this style, had he came  up in it, and was more familiar with it, he still had too many goofy  mannerisms that needed to be shed from his American style. Still, he  absolutely electrified the atmosphere when he fought Takada the last  time, so that may be all that is needed here tonight.

We are now greeted to an interview with Backland, in which he tells us  that he can’t guarantee a win, but that he does promise to give it his  absolute best, and that he loves the Japanese fans. This came across as  surprisingly heartfelt and grounded, and after Takadas interview  segment, we are underway.  Unfortunately, when the time came to start  this match, Backland seriousness is nowhere to be found, and he is back  to his old WWF tricks, of constantly making overexaggerated facial  expressions for anything that happens, which somewhat robs him of the  credibility that he does bring to the table.

The Face of America….

The match starts with both men feeling each other out, and trading  strikes. Backland takes a stiff leg to the thigh, and responds by  backing Takada up in the corner, and firing off some stiff forearm  strikes, which leads to Takada backing off to the center of the ring,  and getting suplexed. The match restarts and Backland tries to land some  very weak knees to Takada, and Takada responds with his own knee to the  midsection, which starts a ten-count, that Backland doesn’t recover  from, and the match is over at 1:15.

Ok, I’m flummoxed by this. This was terrible, and I’m not sure what  purpose this served. Takada is already over, so there isn’t any need to  try and have a squash match, and Backland didn’t come off credibly at  all. I have no doubt that had he put some effort to really study and  train in this style, that he could pull off a good match, but his  cornball antics (which compared to his contemporaries like the Ultimate  Warrior and Paul Bearer look totally straight) only serve for him to  look like completely out of place. What’s worse is that this entire show  only clocks in at a little under 1 ½ hours, so there isn’t any purpose  for rushing through some of these matches.

Final Thoughts. If we can overlook the terrible ending, this was  entertaining and enjoyable. Yamazaki shined, Ohe delivered once again,  and Tamura could wrestle the Taiku Center’s janitor and still get a good  match, so that outweighs the botched opportunity that was the main  event.

Here is the event in full:

And here is a video of the original confrontation between Takada and Backland:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 25, 2020, 06:01:49 PM
Vol. 13 Continued

Let's check in with "Mighty" Mike Lorefice, and see what he has to say about all of this.

Makato Ohe vs Rafael Aguilar:
 Aguilar was an 80's style American  kickboxer going against a Muay Thai fighter who was out to exploit the  rules differences at every turn. Aguilar could land one shot from the  outside, but then Ohe would take the Thai clinch & work him over on  the inside where Aguilar wasn't used to having to fight. Aguilar  adjusted in the 2nd half, working body punches on the inside. Ohe hurt  Aguilar in the 3rd, dodging a right & countering with a clean left,  but otherwise this was mostly a grind.

Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tatsuyo Nakano:
 Nakano is probably the second worst of the  UWF-I natives on the mat, leading only Takada, and his lack of speed  & flexibility is part of it, but mostly it's that he works really  slowly on the mat & relies upon a lot of fake pro wrestling  positions & holds that should be getting removed from his arsenal by  now. I love that when Nakano went into that should be side mount, but  instead I just lie across you sideways not bothering to actually control  the trunk or lower body, Tamura immediately just squirms free to avoid  humiliation. I wish there was more of this, as Tamura lets Nakano get  away with a lot of lazy positioning, and Nakano really doesn't seem to  want to do anything. This never really feels like a Tamura match, it  seems like Tamura is waiting for Nakano to make a move when he has the  advantage, but Nakano just lays there, so Tamura never has the  opportunity to use his fast reaction oriented style to make something  cool happen. Even though Tamura slows & tones things down  considerably for Nakano, when something does happen, Nakano's  cooperation is definitely more obvious than the others. As the bout  progresses, Tamura seems to get frustrated with the lack of activity,  and decides to force Nakano to counter by giving him gaping holes that  he simply can't ignore. Nakano is, not surprisingly, more into the  standup, and there's a great spot Tamura tries for a single, but Nakano  drops him countering with a knee. There's not really a lot of striking  though, apart from a flurry at the end where Nakano no sells a suisha  otoshi & winds up dropping Tamura with a high kick while Tamura is  still getting back up. It's clear that Tamura was actually supposed to  catch the kick & counter into the ankle lock for the win, and after  some indecision, Nakano throws kicks until Tamura catches one &  forces him to tap. This was by far the worst Tamura singles match so  far, I'd go so far as to suggest that Nakano is pissed that he has to  put over the young stud, and just sabotaged the match in protest. In any  case, it at least clarifies that Miyato can go when he wants to,  especially if there's someone to carry him, and Nakano is the one who is  holding their matches back & keeping them in a holding pattern.

Gary Albright vs Yuko Miyato:
 Welcome to UWF-I Superstars of Wrestling.  This wasn't even a match, just a bodyslam in between two suplexes. Todd  Pettengill might claim it was the greatest match of all time though,  until the next match...

Kazuo Yamazaki vs Yoji Anjo:
 Both an attempt at a more realistic bout in  between two cartoon jobber matches & a story match. Though Yamazaki  is normally one of the better strikers, here Anjo shows his superiority  early, and Yamazaki shifts to being strategic, gambling that the risks  Anjo is taking with his big strikes will eventually outweigh the  rewards. Despite Anjo throwing some bombs, this isn't a particularly  flashy match, as it's more about Yamazaki's patience & craftiness  trying to see his strategy through. It's not nearly as reductive as I  may be making it sound, with Anjo still being able to do things on the  ground & Yamazaki still scoring in standup, but the general thrust  is Anjo wants to make something happen & is thus willing to take  chances, while Yamazaki wants to grab him, and ultimately that usually  means taking a few shots. Even then, it doesn't always work, for  instance Anjo pulls ahead when Yamazaki catches a middle kick, but goes  down on delay before he can capitalize. They work with this idea of  whether Yamazaki can seize the opportunity to take the offensive once he  sacrifices himself to get the catch, but the match ends rather abruptly  just when it's finally beginning to take off. Considering it's  sandwiched in between two matches whose combined time is less than 4  minutes, you'd think they could have given these guys 15 minutes to work  with. Had the kickboxing shoot not gone the distance, this show  wouldn't even have lasted an hour. ***

Nobuhiko Takada vs Bob Backlund:
 I don't get this at all. I mean, granted  this isn't the sort of match you want to go long, but Backlund certainly  doesn't look any better by losing immediately to some random fake  injury, he looks like an old broken guy who couldn't hold up at all  & should have just stayed retired. Now, I can't see there isn't a  part of me who doesn't enjoy seeing one of the longest reigning kings of  comedy wrestling simply made a fool of, but from a business  perspective, this booking not only makes the rematch less viable in my  opinion, but takes away most of the desired sting from Takada's shocking  quick win. Albright winning quickly, sure, he just ran through the poor  bantamweight, but this loss is more Backlund not being up to snuff than  Takada being too amazing, as the one thing Takada did, whatever it  exactly even was, certainly wasn't impressive looking if we see beyond  the official story. As far as the match itself went, Backlund  overexaggerated everything, still acting like it was WWF theater. He  sort of landed a lame elbow & some super fake knees on the inside,  one missing by a country mile, before taking this kick that took him  out. The injury was really unclear as well because Backlund's selling  was terrible to the point I was hoping for a fake explanation of what  supposedly happened to him (the camera angle wasn't good to begin with).  At first, I thought he was trying to convince Tirantes to come out  & DQ Takada for a low blow, then I thought he might have a broken  hand. It would have worked better if his body shut down from a liver  kick, but the kick was too central for that. The whole thing was just a  disgrace.

This show was okay, but we're starting to see the many flaws in Miyato's  bad booking, mainly that Takada & Albright just destroy everybody,  leaving the rest of the promotion to via for the scraps, which basically  consist of having good undercard matches to work their way up to  putting these guys over in the main event.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 25, 2020, 06:05:47 PM
Vol 13. Continued

*Kakutogi Supplemental*

We at Kakutogi headquarters were recently able to dig deep inside the  catacombs underneath our offices, and unearth a buried treasure, a  long-forgotten relic, languishing away under shadows and dust. It is a  glorious artifact that brings me great honor to talk about today, in  what is probably the very earliest piece of taped Shooto history (and an  incredible document in the scope of MMA history). It was a tape that  Satoru Sayama put forth in 1988, and it’s simply called “Satoru Sayama:  The Shooting” and was presumably released in an effort to share with the  world what his new sport would be, and to attract attention to his  Super Tiger Gym.

Super Tiger Gym, had already been involved in what would be considered  MMA training by at least 1985 when they had famous Japanese kickboxer  Toshio Fujiwara (who had instructed at the Mejiro Kickboxing Academy in  the Netherlands) as the resident Muay Thai coach, in addition to all the  Catch-Wrestling, and submission training that Sayama was providing his  students, and as we will later see in later early 90s Shooto events,  this cross training paid off, as your average Shooto guy was probably  10-15 years ahead of the curve, skill wise, then his American  counterpart, in the early-mid 90s.

Like encountering hieroglyphics for the first time, that is what we must  imagine the UWF landscape of the late 84 season to have been like. As people  like Sayama, Akira Maeda, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara, were learning that  there was more to this strange language of combat sports, than what they  could have possibly perceived when they first started breaking into  Professional Wrestling. One has to wonder what it had to be like, to  have so many concepts, and ideas ready to burst forth, but no canvas or  medium in which to express them.

Surely that is where Sayama must have been at in late 85, after his  falling out with Maeda, and departure from the original UWF promotion.  His desire, and quest, to capture the true essence of real fighting (or  “Shooting” in Pro Wrestling parlance), with a sport that fully utilized  all aspects of the fight realm. This concept is perhaps best summed up  with an early promotional tagline that Shooto used, “Punch, Kick, Throw, Submission.” Simple, but like chess, underneath the simplicity of the  premise, is a vast and unsearchable galaxy of possibilities and  variations, therein.

Sayama was determined to see his vision through, even if his vision  hadn’t completely coalesced by this point, and like any trailblazer he  simply took a leap into the unknown and started promoting what he had.

And here we are… Things start off with Sayama demonstrating some neat  moves, like flying armbars, and rolling kneebars (all the more crazy  considering this is 1988) before we are taken to the lush Japanese  countryside where Sayama is refreshing his mind, and nurturing his  spirit underneath a serene waterfall.  He then takes his students for a  brisk jog, before conducting sprint drills, and we could only wish that  American Pro Wrestling schools were half has cool as this.

After this pleasant warm up, we are taken to a monastery that wouldn’t  have been out of place in a 70s era Shaw Brothers Film, where they begin  to do what any reasonable group of aspiring warriors would… they  proceed to frog jump up a giant stone staircase, but only Sayama is  hardcore enough to forgo shoes.

Your MMA class isn’t half as cool

 After mastering the stairs, the students are then taken to a different  part of the monastery and given various kickboxing pad drills, with  personal correction and instruction from Sayama. An interesting  observation Is that all the way back in 1988, MMA style gloves are being  used here, although the padding covers more of the fingers than a  modern pair would.

After this, we go inside one of the buildings to cover takedowns,  throws, and submission entries. This is absolutely fascinating as this  entire approach is very comprehensive, and light years ahead of its  time. The only missing ingredient from a more modern approach is the  positional sensibilities that BJJ brought to the fore. There is no real  concern about finding and keeping positional dominance, but rather the  mentality seems to always seek the submission, and what to do if your  caught in a compromising situation.    

From the Monastery to the Big City   

 After going  over several submission entries we are brought to the infamous Korakuen  Hall, where Sayama brings out his students, and this scribe is able to  see future Shooto star and grappling wizard Noburu Asahi within the  group. Sayama then talks to the crowd about his new sport and goes over  the rules and judging. My understanding of Japanese is woefully meager,  but from what I can glean, it would seem that all Shooto fights will be  judges with standard amateur wrestling takedowns being given a much  lower score than successful judo throws, and near submissions being  given a high score as well. Just like modern MMA a fight is won either  by submission or ko, though there is a standing 10 count in place for  knockdowns. It’s scare how in the 80s Sayama came up with a better idea  than this our current 10 point must system.

Sayama then talks about the rules, and it would seem that most strikes  are legal while standing, sans elbows, and that you are allowed to  punch, kick, knee, etc, a grounded opponent below the face, if they are  on the ground, but soccer kicks to the face are not legal. Punches to  the face of a grounded opponent do not appear to be legal either. Later  on we will see a fighter kick another fighter in the face while they  were both on the ground, so I’m not sure if that’s a loophole, or if it  just wasn’t noticed.

Sport of the future….

Even in our  current ultra-polarized world, there are a few things that we can all  come into agreement on, and that is that the 80s gave us perhaps the  finest subgenre of film in the Post-Apocalyptic genre (of which I am  partial to 2020 Texas Gladiators, and Sayama realized this, so to  honor this, he forced his amateur fighters to wear headgear that  celebrated this, which is only meet and right. Yes, one glace at these  amazing contraptions, and we see that we are indeed headed to new, and  unforeseen vistas in the world of Martial Arts.

The tournament goes off without a hitch, and I am amazed at the pure  essence of it all. No point fighting, no gaming the rules, lay and pray,  wall and stall, etc. Every fighter is constantly pushing forward with  kickboxing, throws, takedowns, and diving for submissions. Not that it  would be against the rules to try and work a closed guard, or stall with  a takedown, but that doesn’t even seem to be a concept with these  fighters, and this is also encouraged with rules that reward  submissions, and action. There was guard work on display here, but  anytime someone was using their guard it was in an aggressive fashion,  going for submission attempts.

All the fights here are fast paced, and entertaining, even though it’s  hard to distinguish who’s who, with the elite headgear, and we are all  able to witness that Sayama has something very special on his hands  here.

Sadly, like most innovators throughout history, Sayama didn’t get much  credit for his trailblazing, and like people such as Tesla, Antonio  Meucci, and  Alfred Russel Wallace, the little credit that they do get  is only after their inventions become part of the common lexicon of the  populace. To add insult to injury, just aproximentaly 8 years after this  demonstration Sayama would have a falling out with the Shooto board of  directors, and he wound up leaving his creation.

Perhaps, much like Icuras, he flew too high to the Sun, playing with  forces he did not understand. Using pro-wrestling jargon like “Shooting”  when trying to promote a new sport, probably didn’t help matters  either, as it served to both confuse anyone not familiar with the term,  and the few people in America that knew who he was from his Tiger Mask  days, probably didn’t know what to make of actual MMA, or a video  catolog that had “Sayama’s Shooting Vol 12.”

Still, no one probably came first to having the pure essence of Modern  MMA, more than Sayama. While a case can certainly be made for the  Brazilian Vale Tudo Challenge matches throughout the years that preceded  this, that was never really the same, both in intent, nor in execution.  Usually such things were just an excuse for a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner to  show the superiority of his style against an inferior opponent that had  little chance of succeeding. Even the early UFC events were set up to  be infomercials for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and were never intended to be a  test that they knew they wouldn’t be able to pass.

Also, what constituted for pre-UFC MMA was usually people in two  distinct styles, with very little overlap, or cross training. Here we  see the first fighting system/sport that is truly geared on being as  complete as possible, covering in depth all the aspects of fighting  (within what Sayama understood at the time). You had an emphasis on  conditioning, good striking, submissions, throws, takedowns, etc, with  the only real missing component being the BJJ positional hierarchy that  came to Japan later on. You also had the first MMA teams in Shooto as  different dojos would train up their best prospects and send them to  prove themselves and announce their name/affiliation right before the  start of the fight. Similar things were not really seen in American MMA  until Ken Shamrock’s Lions Den.

Semantical arguments aside, there is no question that Sayama is a  pioneer that we here at Kakutogi HQ, wish to thank, and shed some light  on, for introducing such a great sport to us all.

Here it is: Very rarely seen until now:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 25, 2020, 06:08:39 PM
Vol. 13 Continued

 To follow up on this: Here is some of the1987 Baseball showa magazine  special issue, "Introduction to shooting" by Satoru  "Tigermask/SuperTiger" Sayama, which details some of this new wonderful  sport of "shooting."







Here, Satoru "tigermask" sayama demonstrates one of the few correct ways to  hit the gotch toe hold, this hold was named after frank gotch, widely  considered to be one of, if not the greatest wrestler of the last few  centuries and from whom karl took his name.  From the "this is sambo"  book by sayama and victor koga(1986). Sayama was responsible for  introducing most of the leglocks in "shoot" style.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 25, 2020, 09:31:59 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.14 "Forward the Foundation"

 We are back again, this time at everyone’s favorite bowling alley, the  Fukuoka Hakata Starlanes, only this time with the PWFG crew in tow,  ready to continue the road that can only lead to innumerable Kakutogi  glories. It’s 9-28-91, and we are welcomed to a montage of the PWFG clan  training and warming up, when one quickly realizes that all pro  wrestlers are really bodybuilders at heart, for between the various  sleeveless neon muscle shirts, and Minoru Suzuki’s hot pink Zubaz, we  aren’t sure if we are about to witness a wrestling event, or a Flex Magazine photo-shoot.

Suzuki....looking forward to his next Mega Mass 4000 shake.

 Hope is quickly recovered when we find an ever-aging Fujiwara, who seems  to be immune to the pastel charms of this wayward generation, wandering  around before the show’s start, overlooking the merchandise table,  before giving us an interview. We then jump right into the evening’s  proceedings, as Lato Kiraware is set to face Kazuo Takahashi. When we  last saw these two, Takahashi had a very respectable showing against  Greco-Roman specialist Duane Koslowski, while Kiraware was forced to  completely embarrass himself, as Fujiwara’s personal punching bag.

Kiraware comes out swinging against Takahashi, putting forth some  reasonably stiff palm strikes, which Takahashi is only able to cover up  and deflect a portion of them. After taking some stiff shots, Takahashi  wisely shoots in with a deep single and takes Kiraware to the mat.  Surprisingly, the strikes don’t stop once the fight hits the canvas, as  Takahashi throws some punches to both the face, and midsection of  Kiraware, looking to try and create an opening, but Kiraware was too  close to being underneath the rope, so the ref orders a restart.

This was a gift for Lato as he wastes no time in firing off some more  palm strikes, landing an especially epic one, flush into Takahashi’s  face around 3 ½ mins into the match. A dazed Takahashi starts to  counterattack from the clinch, even delivering a headbutt to Lato (which  apparently are legal in PWFG) but is taken down to the mat and forced  to start defending from his guard. They both continue to deliver stiff  slaps to each other while on the ground, before Takahashi starts to  wiggle out from underneath, and attempts to stand up, which causes Lato  to deliver a vicious suplex, which leads to Lato scoring a knockdown.

The rest of the fight is basically Kiraware slapping the daylights out  of Takahashi and is ended when Takahashi is caught in a guillotine,  after attempting another single leg takedown.

I cannot believe I’m saying this, but this was a good match. No, it  didn’t have any impressive positional changes ,or grappling wizardry on  display, but out of all the worked PWFG matches so far, this probably  felt the closest to an actual MMA fight, minus the flashy suplex, and  Kiraware not completely following up his attacks when Takahashi was  dazed. In fact, outside of those with a trained eye (and especially to  the audience that witnessed it) this would totally pass for real, and  that is really the magic behind this style. To be able to feature pro  wrestling in a stripped down, no nonsense fashion, and still be  entertaining, is a tough balancing act, and we have to give Takahashi a  lot of credit, as his willingness to take some stiff shots, really  pushed what would could have been a mediocre entry, into the realm of  greatness.

Next up is Takaku Fuke vs Wellington Wilkins Jr, and right away we are  forced to notice Fuke’s attempt at an 80s Tarzan motif. Gene Lebel was  famous for sporting a pink gi, and would claim that it helped distract  his opponents, but he did not have anything on Fuke’s trunks, which are a  result of what would happen if you crossed leopard print with an Oreo  cookie.

Right away this is off to a blistering pace, as Wilkins fires off a high  kick, only to be taken down with a lighting fast single leg, which Fuke  transitioned out of into a modified straight armbar attempt, prompting a  rope escape from Wilkins. After a leg-lock duel, Wilkins switches gears  and knees Fuke several times in the chest, but one knee went low, and  wound up being an unintentional groin strike.

The rest of the match saw a plethora of takedowns, positions changes,  submission attempts, etc, before Fuke ends the bout by securing an  armbar just shy of the 11min mark. This was reasonably entertaining but  moved too fast to really build any tension or feel like more than the  perfunctory outing that is was. However, it was interesting to see it  right after the first match, as we can see the contrast of ways to work a  match within this style. This was not over the top by any means but  needed more space to really breathe.

Now we have the most excellent Naoki Sano vs Master Soronaka’s number 1  pupil, Bart Vale. It’s a shame that we only get a few more matches from  Sano after this, as he was a real asset here, and it would have been  interesting to see him as one of the early Pancrase guys, as opposed to  staying on the pro wrestling trajectory that he was on. As it was, he  was basically being loaned out by the SWS promotion, who had a working  relationship with Fujiwara and the PWFG at this time, so it was probably  never intended for him to be more of a helping hand, but it was great  to see him here while it lasted.

Vale wastes no time in throwing the high kicks but is stopped cold with  an excellent Ippon-seoi-nage (One Arm Shoulder Throw) from Sano.  Grappling exchanges ensued, with Vale attempting a couple of kimura  attempts, to no avail, and Sano getting a short-lived mount position.  Vale would continue his foot attacks, but as always, he is quite slow,  but Sano makes him pay for his sluggish execution and catches the leg  off a slow kick, and immediately turns it into a takedown.

Vale acquits himself better on the ground, as the speed disparity  between the two isn’t as noticeable, and he is better able to utilize  his height advantage. We are soon led to our first groan worthy exchange  as Vale spins around and plops down to the mat off of a thigh kick from  Sano, only for Sano to grunt and summon all the power of his  forebearers to execute a single-leg Boston Crab, in a most dramatic  fashion. This leads to a rope escape of course, and from here, Vale  starts loosening up a bit and begins to throw some palm strikes, along  with some kicks, which leads to another sequence where, after missing a  roundhouse, Sano gets a takedown and pulls out the double-leg variation  of Boston’s favorite submission. Vale had this scouted though, as he was  able to reverse it by doing a push up and forcing Sano to fall on his  head.

The rest of the fight more or less alternates between Vale seeking a TKO  via kicks to the midsection, and Sano fishing for toe holds, but the  end came when once again Sano pulled deep into the well, and slapped on  another crab from Boston, to which the crowd went nuts over, and  submitted Vale a little after the 15min mark.

 This was…ok. It was entertaining, as Sano always is, but after watching  the first two matches, which while different from one another, were both  in the more modern take on this style, while this wound up feeling kind  of hokey. This would have played a lot better if it had been on a  NEWBORN UWF, or NJPW card a couple of years prior, but things are  already starting to quickly evolve, and the holes in the old ways are  becoming too obvious. This probably was partly due to Sano not being as  experienced in this style as others on the roster, and Vale’s slow  delivery didn’t help in creating the illusion that this needed either,  but still, an enjoyable match.    

    Next is Masakatsu Funaki vs Mark Rush, and hopefully this will be a  great showcase for Funaki, as the only opportunity he’s really been  giving to shine here so far, was against Ken Shamrock at the prior  months outing. Rush did a respectable job last time, against Takahashi,  but is still an unknown, as he had no prior experience before or after  the PWFG, so this should be interesting.

Right away Funaki is floating around Rush, and peppering him with leg  kicks, and even though Rush managed to catch a kick and get Funaki on  the mat, it didn’t matter as Funaki is able to easily get out, and  reverse his bad position. We can quickly see that Funaki is on a whole  another level than Rush, or really anyone for that matter, and Rush is  only going to get away with what Funaki lets him.

One great sequence is when Funaki follows up a thigh kick with an  uppercut from the clinch, and from there executes a nice standing kimura  throw (a variation of the Sumi Gaeshi)

Funaki toys with Rush throughout, and Rush’s only notable offense was  attempting a standing reverse Kimura a la Sakuraba, that he took to the  ground and attempted to follow through on for several mins, otherwise  this was all Funaki. Funaki wins via an armbar transitioned off a head  leg-scissor hold.

It’s always nice to see Fuanki, and certainly interesting to see what a  skill disparity between him, and someone that probably had a background  in amateur wrestling, but it’s still a mystery why they keep sticking  Fuanki in these pointless matches. Had they switched him and Vale, then  everyone probably would have been the better for it. Vale tended to look  decent against lower-tier performers, and would have probably mixed  well with rush, and Sano/Funaki was a proven formula as they already had  two good matches over in the SWS promotion, but perhaps that’s why they  avoided this approach, in an effort to not go to the well too many  times.

Now we have, what we are all looking forward to, Minrou Suzuki vs Ken  Shamrock. When we last saw Suzuki, he gallantly defended the honor of  pro wrestlers everywhere by defeating the human oil slick, Lawi  Napataya, in a shoot. Shamrock on the other hand had his reputation  cemented as the top foreign talent in his prior bout with Fuanki. This  is the 2nd time these two have met, as they both had an excellent 30min  draw against each other at the inaugural PWFG event.

Things start off with an intense stare down and we are off. Right away  I’m impressed with Suzuki’s footwork, very springy, and always feinting  in a way that leads you to think he could shoot in at any moment.  Shamrock fires off a high kick followed by a palm strike right away, and  he is completely jacked here, just dwarfing Suzuki.

Suzuki gambles on shooting in with a deep single leg from a mile away  but is stuffed by Shamrock. However, Ken gives up his superior  positioning by diving for some kind of toe-hold attack, giving his back  to Suzuki. Suzuki uses this reversal of fortune to work for a crab, but  Shamrock shows us the secret that we have all been looking for, that one  simply needs to slap the next person in the face that tries to get you  in this Boston contraption.

From here, Suzuki falls back for a straight ankle lock, much like  Shamrock tried against his first confrontation against Royce Gracie, and  just like Gracie, Ken went with his opponent’s momentum to wind up in  top position. After both fighters tried various unsuccessful leg  attacks, they went back to their feet, and kept jockeying from the  clinch. One nice sequence showed Ken give Suzuki a stiff knee to the  midsection, which gave Suzuki an opportunity to hook Ken’s free leg and  attempt a kneebar from the takedown.

Suzuki couldn’t quite extend the leg far enough, so he used a kimura  grip to put the added threat of a toe-hold into the equation, and was  able to put enough torque on that maneuver to force Ken to take a rope  escape. Next we see a beautiful takedown set-up from Suzuki, as he does a  very subtle short stomp to Ken’s thigh, and immediately dives in to go  for a clinch, followed up by a standing switch, while Ken is momentarily  distracted.

It didn’t wind up working, as Ken did a switch of his own, which caused  Suzuki to turtle up, and Shamrock showed us a technique to deal with a  turtled opponent that I had never thought of, which was to grab his  opponents foot and dive over the opposite shoulder, as to wind up  repositioned in a place where you have enough leverage to finish a  toe-hold. While some would look back into this hazy shroud that is early  90s catch-inspiried grappling, and only see rudimentary ideas, if we  dig a little deeper, we can see some interesting truths made manifest.  Namely that wristlocks, toe holds, and other leg attacks, put the entire  BJJ orthodoxy on shaky ground as they are techniques that are able to  be hit from all sorts of angles, including what would otherwise be  terrible positions.

Shamrock succeeded in getting a rope escape from his unusual foot  attack, and they both returned to clinch warfare soon afterwards. The  rest of the match saw various armbar, and leg attacks from both mem,  punctuated by Ken’s need to slap the stuffing out of Suzuki in between  the ground exchanges, but the match ends, when Suzuki hits a standing  Kimura on Ken, only to be reversed into a dragon suplex, which gave Ken a  knockout victory.

This was excellent, and a great way to end the show. While it wasn’t  able to build as much drama as their first fight, due to being about 14  mins shorter, it didn’t have any of the dead spots of that bout either,  and was non-stop from the opening bell. If I had to pick between the  two, I would still give their first match the edge, in terms of quality,  but make no mistake, this was very good, and an excellent showcase of  the new possibilities that are emerging. It’s strange that real fighting  is being advanced by a group of people that are pretending to fight for  real, as if they were in a real fight.

Final conclusion: Even with some of the weaker matches, this is still  hands down the best wrestling org on the planet at this stage of the  game. The UWFI arguably has the potential to claim that throne, but  mediocre booking, and Takada’s antics will surely prevent that from  happening. As it stands, there is nothing better going on right now, and  I’m really impressed at how far ahead of the time this outfit really  was.

The look that only victory brings...

Here is the event in full:

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 25, 2020, 09:34:34 PM
Let's see what Mike Lorefice has to say about this:

 Kazuo Takahashi vs Lato Kiraware: Takahashi  is clearly positioned as the better wrestler while Kiraware has the  better hands as well as a massive size advantage. Takahashi, as always  during these days, mainly tries for the takedown, but beyond the  difficulty of taking down the killer whale anywhere, usually when he  does, Lato conveniently manages to fall right into the ropes to force  the restart in standup. Kiraware does a lot of that action figure, turn  at the waste kind of striking, using some solid open hand slaps but  never mixing it up in any way. He has one big suplex, but is basically  just trying to hold Takahashi off until he figures out a way to win,  which comes in the form of countering a takedown with a guillotine. This  match was believable enough to be a solid restrained undercard bout in  this style, but also kind of bland & repetitive without much skill  on display.

Takaku Fuke vs Wellington Wilkins Jr:  An active, lively contest, more in the UWF-I style complete with PWFG's  new variation on their hokey scoring system. Fuke is improving  considerably with each fight, and seems on the verge of a breakout match  when pitted with a stronger opponent than Wilkins, who if a fine  follower here, but doesn't offer a lot beyond low blows that kill the  momentum. While not as believable as the opener, Fuke has enough skill  to make me take notice.

Naoki Sano vs Bart Vale: Vale  would wade in with a movie kick until Sano took him down into a  submission. Vale always seemed to have the upper hand in this match  because he could get a reversal & attack with his own submissions,  while, for the longest time, Sano oddly wasn't really trying to do  anything on his feet but counter into a takedown or throw. Sano did well  with the inside leg kick when he finally became willing to throw, and  the match turned from there, with Sano doing damage & even scoring  two knockdowns on his feet, the later leading to his 1/2 crab victory.  This was okay, but it was more a 1988 UWF match, and it lacked the  believability and intensity to really make you buy into all the near  finishes. Sano has been excellent so far, but he isn't experienced  enough in this style to be asked to carry Vale, who Funaki could do  nothing with. This was a good win for Sano, but I'm not sure what  purpose it really served given his limited availability, probably just  payback for PWFG running over everyone in SWS.

Masakatsu Funaki vs Mark Rush: A better  performance from Funaki, who was more willing to make this a one-man  show. Funaki opened up more here, both in standup where he showed his  speed & footwork evading the wrestler so he could land his strikes,  and on the mat where he transitioned more quickly & explosively. It  was a more entertaining performance because he was less in lockdown mode  on the mat, and was making things happen rather than waiting around to  make his move. Rush was again decent, while he didn't do anything  amazing, he was at least a willing and capable foil. The problem with  many of these shoot style matches is the weak link brings the match down  to his level, usually through inexperience and lack of training, but  Funaki was able to maneuver around Rush in a manner that made Funaki  look several steps ahead of anyone else on this card. The main reason  not to recommend this is it was a squash, but I still think it was the  best match on the card so far.

Minoru Suzuki vs Ken Shamrock: A  major step up for Shamrock, who really puts it all together here after  the somewhat disappointing match with Funaki & gives his best  performance to date by a wide margin. Shamrock is just fighting a lot  more aggressively & assertively, getting solid strikes in even  though it's not really a striking match, and then making decisive moves  on the mat even though he's experimenting with different positions &  leg locks that are more the game of his crafty opponent.

In addition to  being two of the best shoot style workers, Suzuki & Shamrock also  stand out for being able to tell little pro wrestling stories without  having to stop the match or be corny & unrealistic to do so. This  wasn't the best match we've seen so far, but it was probably the richest  in terms of having a lot of little things going on, and somthing of a  running storyline that didn't feel forced. Shamrock quickly established  his standup advantage, putting Suzuki in the familiar grappler against  striker role, and when Suzuki kept manipulating Shamrock's ankle until  the lock was tight, only to have the ref immediately make him break  because Shamrock was in the ropes, he pounded the canvas in disgust and  then grinned at Shamrock, kinda taunting him that he should be better  than to have to dive for the ropes at the same time he's content to  point out that he's already got one up on Shamrock.

Shamrock soon  answered with his own ankle lock, and while Suzuki is less anxious, he  does take a rope escape and then begin doing the good sort of pro  wrestling selling where he shows he's hampered - has difficulty putting  weight on that ankle - without having to stop the match & make the  ref look like an idiot for allowing a match where someone doesn't  respond for a minute to continue simply because pro wrestling never  actually modernizes. Sticking in the pro wrestling mode, these two are  able to show they don't like each other, but again in the good sort of  way where Shamrock immediately kicks Suzuki in the ankle because his  rival has made the mistake of revealing it as a weak point. They soon  proceed to a spot where the ref breaks them as both are in the ropes  working for the same ankle submission.

The ground  continues to more or less be a stalemate as Suzuki answers Shamrock's  Achilles' tendon hold with one of his own, but later Suzuki gains an  advantage instead answering with a heel hold, which forces Ken into a  rope escape. Though the argument could be made that Shamrock has the  advantage because he's handily winning the brief standup exchanges,  Suzuki is doing a better job of getting the quick lock up, and is coming  closer to getting the submission once it hits the ground. He forces  another rope break with an Achilles' tendon hold, and is able to get  armbar position twice, though Ken fights it off before he can extend the  arm.

Shamrock also  defends a wakigatame attempt & is able to take Suzuki's back while  they are standing back up. Suzuki avoided a suplex earlier, and now uses  a Kimura grip to spin out into a standing wrist lock, but this leaves  him exposed, and Shamrock just takes his back & hoists him for a  huge Dragon suplex. Shamrock bridges to go for the corny pinfall, but  after the ref counts 1, he releases & instead has the ref count  Suzuki out when he can't answer the 10 count, which again is a  ridiculous carry over from pro wrestling that needs to go in order for  the ref to have a shred of credibility. Anyway, I think they were on the  right track with this finish, but Shamrock should have done a released  Dragon right into an immediate ref stop KO.

Though the  match never felt great, it was a rich, well themed & focused match  where both were on the top of their game. We haven't really seen this  sort of match so far, and they were also doing some different things  with the ankle & joint manipulation. I think they really found a  nice balance of being a pro wrestling match with some of the  storytelling & acting at the same time they were a proto shoot match  with the sort of footsies we'd see in early Pancrase where the best  defense was often to just attack whatever limb they left exposed with  your own submission. If you like quantity then their 3/4/91 match is  certainly better given it's almost twice as long, but this match is a  lot tighter & shows they've grown and improved considerably during  the past 6 months. ****

Final Conclusion: The prelims may not have  been great, but without the hamfisted headbutting antics of Fujiwara,  every match at least felt like a serious & legitimate attempt at a  martial arts match. Beyond the promotion running smoother without the  diversion, the show was important for seeming to properly settle the top  gaijin spot, with Shamrock surprisingly successfully following up his  upset win over Funaki, while Bad Bart was gunned down on the undercard.

 *In other news*

The Sediokaikan organization out of Japan, is continuing to make strides  to become the premier choice in the Karate/Stand-Up fighting sphere.  They recently had their Karate World Cup event on 10-10-91, showcasing a  lot of great talent within the Sediokaikan Karate style along with  competitors representing their respective disciplines in Kickboxing,  Savate, Muay Thai, and Tae Kwon Do.

Some highlights include a stunning upset as Dutch Savate fighter Gerard  Gordeau defeated Masaaki Satake in a thrilling bout. This Sediokaikan  event has a format in which the first round is contested with both men  wearing a gi, under Knockdown Karate rules (punches only from the torso  down, and kicks legal to all parts of the body, minus the groin or  knee). If there isn’t a winner after the first round, then both  competitors take off their gi top and fight another round, and if there  still isn’t a winner then both fighters put on gloves and have up to two  rounds of kickboxing. After all that, if there still isn’t a knockdown  or judges’ decision, then the fight is decided by a brick breaking  competition.

In this case, the fight was every fluid and even throughout, with the  judges being unable to decide a winner, even after 4 rounds, so they  went to the tie-breaking brick round, and Gerard Gordeau was able to  break about 2-3 more bricks than Satake. This is especially shocking, as  Satakae has been a three-time Sedikaikan champion, and also had a  winning kickboxing record going into this fight, so he was the odds on  favorite to win this competition.

Gordeau completely dominated his next opponent, but was taken out in the  quarterfinals by an Australian kickboxer, Adam Watt, who went on to  face Toshiyuki Atokawa in the finals. Atokawa is a small, but ferocious  competitor, who wound up winning the tournament, when his continued leg  assaults on Watt were eventually too much to handle, and Watt was unable  to stand up on two feet. 

Here is the event in full:

Interesting things are developing between Sediokaikan and the fledging RINGS promotion headed up by superstar Akira Maeda. The head of Sediokaikan, Kazuyoshi Ishii, recently made an appearance at the 9-14-91 RINGS event, along with his top student, Masaaki Satake, and Maeda returned the favor by joining Ishii for commentary duties at the Karate World Cup event on 10-10-91. Furthermore, it looks like Ishii will be loaning out Satake, and Nobuaki Kakuda (another top Seidokaikan star) for Maeda’s next event. This is great news for Maeda, as the lack of a deep roster has been very apparent in the three events that he has had so far and is in dire need of a talent boost.

It is being reported that the UWFI has rebooked Bob Backlund for a rematch with its main star Nobuhiko Takada. Hopefully this next meeting will be better than the last, as Takada quickly dispensed with Backlund in a little over a minute, in what was a very disappointing finish for a main event with a foreign star with the name value of Backlund.


Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 26, 2020, 08:52:25 AM
Vol.15 is now up for patrons! Then, in the fullness of time it will be availble here as well.

If your enjoying this series, please consider becoming a Patron. With your help, we can hire translators, invest into equipment, procure interviews and other rare historical artifacts, and make this a truly special undertaking.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on July 27, 2020, 09:09:08 PM
For those that may be interested: Some bonus content just went up within the hallowed halls of the Kakutogi Patreon. We cover some Shooto from 1990, which yields some interesting facts about Manabu Yamada, and tomorrow we will show why this guy right here, could have made a great MMA fighter, all the way back in 1990!
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 01, 2020, 10:47:34 AM
*Archives of this series, and lot's of other bonus material can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.15 "Heir Today...Gone Tomorrow"

*Editors Note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be prefaced by his intials.*

Welcome back to the wonderful world of Kakutogi. Join us, as we continue to seek out this halcyon dreamscape, often heralded, but rarely understood, as we are unable to refuse its beck and call, yet again.

We are now heading into the Shoot-Realms of the Union of Wrestling Force International’s (UWFI) 10-6-91 event, and right away we can see what we are up against, as we are immediately treated to a montage of perennially misused Kazuo Yamazaki, and golden boy Nobukiko Takada, gearing up for what appears to be tonight’s main event, as the powers that be are prepared to take us back to a familiar creative wellspring.

At least it is a refreshing source, as these two have always had good chemistry with each other, and this should be no different. Of course, they need a hit tonight, as when we last witnessed this group, we had to endure the embarrassingly awful 2min squash match, where Bob Backlund was quickly dispatched by Takada, after faking an injury, in comically awful fashion.

 Looking back at the trajectory of how we got here is interesting, as  surely everyone had high hopes for Yamazaki. Here was Sayama's esteemed  padawan, and his heir apparent, but his huge push to superstardom was  not to be, and this scribe can't help but speculate that this turn of  destiny may have been partly to blame due to Sayama leaving on bad terms  after the Maeda fiasco, and subsequently exposing the business with his  autobiography entitled, “Kayfabe.”


We will have time later on, for more musing of this dysfunctional family duo, but first let’s see what is in store for us in the present moment…

We are back in the cozy confines of the Korakuen Hall, and no matter how big or extravagant other arenas may be, nothing feels more appropriate for combat sports then this quaint 2,000 capacity venue. After a raucous crowd ovation for the usual preliminaries, we are greeted to our first match, a bout between resident footfighting master, Makato Ohe, this time facing an unknown Sakuchai Sakuwitaya. The last few opponents that they have fed Ohe, were decent in their own right, but inexperienced in the ways of international Kickboxing, so hopefully this will be different.

Right away we can see two things, the first is that Sakuwitaya does appear to have some genuine kickboxing experience, but that he is not in Ohe’s league. He appears to be someone that has some rudimentary skills, but nowhere near the seasoning needed to face the experience of a former Shootboxing champion.

The first moments show Sakuwitaya taking some stiff leg kicks, but he is managing to hang in there, while attempting to find his distance, when out of nowhere he attempts a flying jump kick (similar to the one that Machida took Couture out with, albeit with a different angle). A commendable attempt to be sure, but sadly does not land flush in the jaw, but rather hit the chest of Ohe, to which he responded by shoving Sakuwitaya down to the ground.

That was about the only moment that he got anywhere to glory though, as for the short duration of this fight Ohe has been patient, and only throwing a kick or punch if there was some hurricane force power behind it, and as soon as Sakuwitaya got back up it was over. Ohe feinted with his lead leg, patiently waiting for an opening and landed a punch to Sakuwitaya’s chin with an impact that reverberated throughout the building. For a moment it seemed like he was going to be fine, but it was a delayed reaction, because after taking the blow, and dancing around for a moment, Sakuwitaya completely collapsed, and was out cold. Great showing from Ohe, but they seriously need to find him an opponent that is somewhere in his league.


Going out in a blaze of glory…

ML: Ohe seemed to have all the advantages in this shoot that was almost  certainly designed to be an easy win. You could see that he was calm as  could be, not   fearing Sakuwitaya in the least. Ohe is the longer  fighter, and  just backed Sakuwitaya with some straights & a middle  kick. Even Ohe was probably surprised by the delayed KO where   Sakuwitaya  just gave out a second or two after a rather routine left  straight. This was pretty sad to be honest, I mean, if you can't  withstand a few standard  shots designed simply to control distance then  you really don't belong in the ring with any sort of professional  champion.


Next up is a tag-match Kiyoshi Tamura/Yuko Miyato vs. Tatsuo Nakano/Tom Burton. I still have no idea what is hoped to be accomplished with these tag matches that the UWFI insists on putting together. It would be one thing if they had a giant roster, and ran the risk of putting on 3hr shows if they didn’t consolidate their talent, but they have barely been able to go over an hour with these events, and that’s with all the walkouts, ceremonial introduction, etc. The actual time of people wrestling is considerably less than that. To make matters more bizarre is that there are no belts, or really any stakes involved, just another mishmash of who they want to throw together this month. In this case it is the small/lithe gentleman vs the brazen monsters, so we will now experience size vs skill, speed vs raw power, and slick holds vs steroids.

The contest itself was entertaining and fast paced, and somewhat surprisingly, everyone looked good here. Even Tom Burton was looking looser, and more fluid this time. Of course, Tamura is still the rock star, and is really bringing the new generation of tech to the shoot-game. Cartwheeling out of bad positions, rapid transitions, and creative grappling entries, show that he was really something special. To make it even more impressive is to think that he was a very high caliber contender in real shoots too, which isn’t something too many fighters can lay claim to, the ability to excel in both the real and worked ends of the spectrum.

Tamura wins by finally figuring out the counter to the Boston crab, which is to apparently is to turn a quasi ankle-pick into a toehold. Well played, sir.

 ML: It's hard for a Tamura match to overachieve, but given the tag match  format, I think it's fair to say this one did. Though  the  format may  be hokey, this is a great example of a doubles match  that worked,  keeping a higher pace than they could have in a singles match of this  length (18:48) without losing the intensity and keeping guys who don't  have amazing stamina or huge move sets effective by breaking their  portions up. The key to the match was Miyato, who gave his best  performance so far. Beyond being an entertaining and fiery presence who  pulled the fight out of the opponents, he also really upped his  technical game in all areas.

Miyato was making an attempt to move more  like Tamura, turning and spinning out, even using the go behind. There  was a nice sequence where he hit a backdrop into a half crab then spun  into a facelock. Miyato set a good tone for the match, showing some good  use of distance & footwork in standup to get his low kicks in, and  doing a good job of taking advantage of the opponents inability to  actually do anything to control him once they got him to the mat, just  exploding rather than honoring the imaginary forcefield that normally  keeps UWF-I fighters other than Tamura down.

This is really what I've  been wanting to see from him, things that make him relevant &  dangerous despite being undersized. The story of the fight was that the  larger team of Nakano & Burton would start out ahead on the mat,  getting the judo throw or takedown, but then their more skilled  opponents would start moving & countering before they got anywhere  with their submission holds. Miyato wasn't showing a path to victory so  much as wearing the bigger guys out by making them keep working at a  higher pace than they would like because he was feisty & annoying,  and if they didn't get him down again, he was just going to make it  harder by continuing to  beat up their legs.

Tamura was able to get a  takedown on Nakano, and his counters were often into his own  submissions, rather than simply scrambling back to his feet &  forcing the opposition to start over. Tensions were escalating as Nakano  dropped into an Achilles' tendon hold, but Tamura countered with a heel  hook only to have Nakano keep kicking him in the face until he  released, which allowed Nakano to take his back.

Miyato got back to his  feet enough that Burton began to slow down, and was caught off guard  when Miyato finally threw his hands, stunning Burton  and allowing  Miyato to get the spinning heel kick in for a knockdown. I was surprised  at how much ring time Miyato was logging, Tamura was really getting the  star treatment here, coming in for brief sequences where he looked  good, but letting Miyato carry the load. There was one crazy Tamura spot  where Burton had his back & started to go for a cravate, but Tamura  handspringed & took a front facelock. Nakano got a couple near  finishes on Tamura including a snap suplex into a high kick when Tamura  was getting back up, and as usual, Tamura was way down on points. I  liked the finish where Tamura losing the battle of pulling himself  halfway across the ring to get to the ropes before Burton could turn him  over into the Boston crab him allowed him to use Burton's momentum  against him (Burton was busy dragging him back), tripping him up into an  ankle lock for the win. I'm not saying much about Nakano or Burton  here, largely because they were instruments who were very well played by  maestros. ***3/4 


Next up is Yoji Anjo vs Billy Scott. The last time we saw Scott in a singles match was a surprisingly awesome affair with Kazuo Yamazaki, and out of all the imported Tennessee talent, he has showed the most promise, by far. Here he must face his sophomore test against everyone’s loveable zebra-warrior in Anjo, and they don’t waste any time.

Immediately after the bell, Anjo rushes in with a slap to try and set up an o-goshi throw, but Scott just shoves him off, and gives him a stiff kick in the back for his trouble. This causes our zebra to wisely rush back to the safety of his savannah, backing off to regroup before charging in again. He attempts another hip-toss, but Scott is wise to these judo shenanigans, and responds with a couple of ultra-low single-leg takedowns, a la Sakuraba, succeeding with his second attempt, which he converted into a slam.

They both then proceeded to get into a slap fest until Anjo pulls out a sweet Kani Basami out of his bag of tricks, which shows that maybe there is something to be said for these judo parlor tricks, after all. What followed next was a barrage of strikes, takedowns, reversals, until Anjo scored the first rope escape against Scott, in what could be loosely interpreted as a kimura from an open guard. Anjo quickly followed this up with a head kick knockdown, furthering his score against Scott.

This upswing didn’t last long though, as shortly afterwards, Scott got a takedown and finished the match in what is one of the most bizarre submissions I’ve ever seen, which resembled something between a “twister” and a neck-crank.

  Bizarre finish aside, this was a great match, and although they could have let it breathe more in spots, the fast pace kept it highly entertaining. Scott is continuing to show that he has a bright future, as he adds a credible gravitas with his look, and athleticism.

  The Twister/Neck-Crank Hybrid…

ML: Scott took a big step forward here, partially because he's a tough  & proud guy who isn't going to allow Anjo to take advantage of him.  These guys really stepped up the level of defense & intensity, not  only refusing to go along with the opponent, but making each other pay  with a swift foot to the face. While this wasn't a shoot by any means,  of all the works we've seen so far, it's probably the match that felt  most like it both in terms of the fighters moving quickly &  desperately to avoid what the other fighter was trying & getting a  bit out of control and even nailing each other  when they had the  chance. They really put a lot of energy into the takedowns, throws, and  scrambles, and both fighters inserted their share of cheap shots. They  took some brief rests on the mat, where Scott isn't the most fluid to  begin with once he gets you there, but made up for it by seeming to  legitimately piss each other off in standup, leading to some strikes  that were arguably too mean & some scrambles where the loser  normally would have given up much easier. 11:29 was a good length for  this, as it started great, and maintained the intensity throughout, but  the holes were becoming more and more apparent the longer it continued. I  was  surprised that Scott got the upset here, although Anjo is one of  their better fighters, I wasn't opposed to it because Scott did a nice  job of standing up for himself & hanging with the veteran. With this  being Scott's 3rd match, it's hard to argue against this overachieving.  ***1/2 

 And now…. The main event, and a sad realization sweeps over me, as I am  now realizing that this is, and forever will be, Yamazaki's destiny. To  forever be confined as a 2nd banana to Takada. Maybe the writing was  always on the wall though, as this picture taken from the 1985 Shooting Bible ,  tells the entire story. Here we have Takada rolling around in his  brand-new fancy sports car, while Yamazaki is reduced to getting by  day-to-day in a beat-up Toyota Corolla. This snapshot perfectly sums up  how Yamazaki was treated throughout his career. Instead of a Clubber  Lang tale of one's meteoric rise to the top, climbing up out of the  poverty of your surroundings, and overcoming your circumstances, instead  it was a hard luck tale, that told us all that sometimes you will  always be kept down by the man born with a golden spoon in his mouth.  Though these two have fought countless times, especially as young lions  in New Japan where Takada was 11-0 in 1982 & 20-0 in 1983,  Yamazaki  only has 4 wins over Takada, 12/5/84  in the Original UWF in one of  Dave Meltzer's early 5-star rated matches, 1/6/86 in New Japan's UWF  League, and 8/13/88 & 5/4/89 in Newborn UWF.


Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 01, 2020, 10:48:57 AM
Vol 15 Continued....

Politics aside, these two always had good chemistry with one another,  and while the booking here was lacking any build up, at least it's a  well-tested formula, so hopefully they put in another classic tonight.  After a bit of a feeling out process, we have Yamazaki nailing a back  suplex off a missed kick from Takada, and immediately Takada grabs the  ropes to garner an escape. There is some more jockeying for position  from the two of them, until Yamazaki is able to fight for, and finally  obtain, a heel hook, scoring more points against Takada. Takada tries to  initiate a tie-up, in which Yamazaki responds by feinting with his  hand, as if he was going to accept, only set that up as a way to kick  Takada in the gut. Herein lies the greatness of Yamazaki's craftmanship,  while someone like a Tamura was a lot of flash, speed, and soundnfury,  Yamazaki had a more calculated, methodical approach, that I wish more of  Pro Wrestling was patterned after.

They battle both over position, and who was going to be able to  secure a kimura. This  led to an interesting grappling sequence, when  Yamazaki was unable to secure a kimura, he started grating his elbow,  and the blade of his forearm against Takada's face, causing him to shift  enough that he was able to slap on a side headlock. From there, we get a  sequence that wouldn't be unsimilar to watching two high-level white  belts roll at your local BJJ academy. Yamazaki stacks Takada, getting  out of a sloppy triangle attempt, and counters with a clever kneebar  entry, which sadly doesn't work. Things continue to unfold with Takada  scoring an ankle lock of his own, and Yamazaki scoring a knockdown with a  series of knees in the corner of the ring, and while I'm cheering for  Yamazaki, I get the sinking feeling that there couldn't possibly be any  way that they will allow him to win. After this wave of despair flows  through me, I comfort myself with thoughts, that perhaps, Yamazaki will  have the courage to do what Yuki Kondo did years later, and simply kick  Takada out of the ring and into the front row.

Sadly, this did not happen…. What did happen, was Takada hulked up,  and got several knockdowns against Yamazaki before finally finishing  with a Dragon suplex followed by an armbar. This started off decent, but  was really hampered by Takada's laziness. In the original UWF days,  Takada was way more apt to put some real work into a match, where he now  seems content to just coast. This was basically a US Hulk Hogan main  event where the hero got beat up for the first three-quarters, only to  make a miraculous comeback in the end. Yamazaki did what he could with  it, but this was sorely lacking compared to some of their great matches  from times past.


ML: If Yuko Miyato were a decent booker, UWF-I might still exist  today. The league has kind of been on autopilot for the first series of  small Korakuen Hall shows, with  the problem that  no one has been given  the opportunity to appear to be any threat to Takada. They had to bring  in a former WWF Heavyweight Champion who has been more or less out of  the sport since the new ringleader of the circus scoffs at things such  as the amateur backgrounds that the real legends of the sport such as  Thesz & Gagne had devoted so much effort to giving value to in their  peers & successors. After Takada dispatched of Mr. Bob in mere  moments, there was only one man known to be strong enough to give him a  run, Yamazaki. While Yamazaki was, at best, the #3 fighter in the UWF  incarnations, his win over Takada in their first meeting in the Newborn  UWF was really the thing that cemented his presence on the top of the  bill there. Granted, he always lost to Maeda & usually to Takada,  but was enough of a threat that people believed he could win, & took  the matches seriously, filling the buildings and responding rabidly to  the action, even if more were rooting against him. Yamazaki absolutely  needed to win this, he could then lose the next handful to Takada as  usual, but that bought you that handful, as well as  Tamura or Anjo's  ticket to the top going through Yamazaki. Yamazaki winning gave you  options, Takada winning gave your, well, more staleness &  embarrasment.

One of the problems with Takada's matwork is even when he was gifted  an obvious counter, he just sat on it. For instance, Yamazaki hits a no  cooperation backdrop early on, and waits around with Takada holding a  Kimura setup, until he just gets bored of Takada not doing anything  & pivots to take away Takada's angle. Yamazaki keeps moving so  Takada can't do his usual pretend contemplation that's actually not  knowing what he could/should be doing, but when he's not doing things he  learned in the New Japan dojo, sometimes it's hard to tell what he  really thinks he's supposed to be accomplishing, he's really just  grabbing appendages sometimes and hoping that looks enough like some  sort of submission. Other times, it's easy to see that he has only   vague notions of what the actual submissions are supposed to look like,  hence his legs being reversed on his triangle attempt. To some extent,  the problem with the match is that Yamazaki keeps grabbing/catching the  leg & taking Takada down to avoid the thing Takada does well, kick,  but to his credit, Yamazaki does enough things well on the mat that the  match doesn't fall apart despite Takada mostly being forced to work on  the mat. Story wise, Yamazaki is trying to get a leg submission, or at  least debilitate the leg enough that Takada can't use it to knock him  out. Takada does come up with one a great combo when Yamazaki wants to  lock up, but Takada lands a right  inside leg kick and a right slap,  almost simultaneously, and Yamazaki is caught so off guard he basically  turns & covers, allowing Takada to kick around what guard Yamazaki  has until he drops him. Once Takada has this one opening, he just  steamrolls Yamazaki, getting him down to one point before adding insult  to injury by submitting him with his patented armbar. I think the later  stages of the match were actually supposed to show how tough Yamazaki  was in taking all this punishment that Backlund and the others weren't  up to, but one could certainly argue that it  made Yamazaki look worse  to just get blown out of the water once the first real advantage of the  match was gained. This was maybe passable, but it was shockingly never  really exciting. It's definitely nowhere near the level of probably any  of their previous  matches since they were basically rookies.

Conclusion: Outside of a disappointing main event, this was an  entertaining, if uninspired event. There still seems to be no clear  direction to this outfit, other than to portray Takada as an unstoppable  hero, but at least they have been consistently entertaining, so there  must be credit given for that. It may be a bit frustrating, knowing that  they have the talent on their hands to do more than they are, but it  will be interesting to see how this plays out.

ML: Kind of an odd show in that you had a squash, followed by two  overachieving really heated & competitive matches, followed by what  should have been the biggest match within the promotion that was somehow  transformed into another kind of a squash where this inexplicably  mightier version of Takada can now beat a guy who has at least had some  success against him in the past without ever being in any trouble. Scott  announcing  himself, and Miyato taking steps to make himself the  relevant in the more modern version of shooting are things to get  excited about, while the desperation of going right back to Takada vs.  Backlund, without even given Backlund a win to show he's viable, or hell  even credible in the 1990's, certainly is not. Again, UWF-I is the most  difficult promotion to know what to think of because two very good  matches on a four match show is better than the other promotions are  doing, but PWFG is more fulfilling in the sense that you have Suzuki,  Shamrock, & Funaki already in the main events, and only on the rise,  whereas UWF-I has shown itself to be Takada or bust, even though Takada  is a bust, and becoming more & more a laughable one as a guy such  as Scott, who is just some dude that wrestled in school, can come in and  already show  way more  understanding of both the technical aspects  & the compelling methods of fakery in just a few outings.


*In Other News*

UWFI’s event on 9-26 was a sellout but faced serious problems when they almost caused a riot with the inanely short Takada/Backlund main event that only lasted to the 1:15 mark. The ending of the match caused the Sapporo crowd to become unruly, which led to Kazuo Yamazaki grabbing the mic and try and calm them down. After Yamazaki’s attempt at peacekeeping, Backlund grabbed the mic and admitted to being knocked out and would try to learn how to block kicks better, for their next confrontation.

It was a hot night in Holland, as a molten kickboxing event took place on 10-20-91 in Amsterdam. Some highlights include a brutal headkick KO delivered to Nicco Anches by Peter Theijsse. We also got to see up and coming Dutch fighter, Ernesto Hoost face veteran Leo de Snoo, in a brutal 5-round war. Snoo’s composure and experience was tough to deal with, but at the end of the fight, Hoost’s sizeable reach advantage, quickness, and combinations were too much to overcome, as we was able to score a head kick knockdown that put him far enough over on the scorecards, so that he couldn’t be denied. If Hoost continues to stay healthy, then he is certainly going to be a champion for a long time to come.   

Leo de Snoo, Peter Smit, Ramon Dekkers, Rob Kaman, and Marcel Wille, from 1990.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 07, 2020, 06:47:07 PM
*Archives of this series can be found at *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.16 "The Threshing Floor"

*Editors note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be prefaced by his initials.*

Welcome back, to the wonderful world of Kakutogi. We have successfully returned from our jaunt to the proceedings of a year prior (when we looked into the inner-workings of Shooto circa 1990, available only within the hollowed confines of our Patreon) and now we must head back to the future, making a crash landing at the infamous Korakuen Hall. In this case, the date is 10-17-9, and the occasion is another event by the ever stalwart PWFG clan, who has perhaps made the most out of what they’ve had to work with at this stage of the game, compared to their contemporary rivals.

We are greeted to a brief montage of Minoru Suzuki training, and working on his heel-hook entries, contrasted by Bart Vale walking around, showing off his patriotic duds, and basically demonstrating to us that this won’t just be another case of man against man, but will rather be two rival nations colliding, in what must surely be an apex in the history of Japanese-American relations.

The first match of the evening will be between Takaku Fuke vs Jerry Flynn. When we last saw Fuke he gave us a very solid performance against Wellington Wilkins Jr, and when we last witnessed Flynn he was in a rather pedestrian match against Bart Vale, through no fault of his own, but with Fuke at the helm this bout should be an accurate gauge of how he will fare within this style.

Right away Flynn fires off a nice kick to Fuke’s thigh but is taken down by a beautiful single-leg entry before he could launch another one. There must have been something in the water over in those days, as Fuke, Takahashi, and later Sakuraba, always had insanely proficient single-leg techniques in their arsenals.

After the takedown they both jockey for position, and trade submission attempts, before having to restart on their feet, and once they do, Flynn unleashes a barrage of kicks and palm strikes, that are a lot quicker than you would expect from a man of his size. Flynn is looking very solid here so far, and while he didn’t look bad against Vale, he was limited on what he could do working with him, and by being paired up with someone a lot more fluid like Fuke, he isn’t having to scale things back as much.

The rest of the match saw Fuke really earning his pay for the evening, as he took plenty of stiff kicks and palm strikes from Flynn in most of their standing sequences, and the groundwork was nicely paced too. Whenever it hit the mat they kept things at a fast tempo, without ever getting hokey, and also added some nice touches like when Flynn would escape from an ankle lock attempt by kicking Fuke in the head with his free leg, or at one point when Fuke was working for an armbar, and decided to slap Flynn in the face several times to open his opponent up.

This went to a 30min draw, and I must admit that I’m quite impressed with this. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is one of the best matches we’ve seen so far, as at no point over the entire 30mins did this ever drag, and it was able to really strike a balance between realism and entertainment value. Fuke and Flynn were able to give us a long match with the stiffness and flow of a shoot, but with a faster, and more entertaining pace, without ever feeling corny or contrived. Where I would have assumed Flynn to have been a lumbering ox, he moved gracefully for a man of his size, and it never felt like Fuke was having to really stretch to make him look good.

While the idea of having a 30min draw for the opening match sounded odd to me on paper, it wound up being a great way to put Flynn over, and has really opened my eyes to Fuke, as I always just saw him as a middling journeyman figure from Pancrase, I had no idea he was basically the PWFG’s answer to Yoji Anjo, as a cardio machine, that could be used in a variety of capacities within the card to good effect.

ML: Fuke has already done a shoot where he failed to take down the greasiest of Muay Thai competitors for longer than it took Lawi Napataya to just grab the ropes, and I was really impressed at how he took the distance & his strategy into consideration. This was probably the most realistic fight we've seen so far in terms of approaching the wrestler vs. grappler dynamic. Flynn had a big reach advantage, but Fuke mostly stayed on the outside looking for a kick he could catch when he wasn't making his move to initiate the takedown. Fuke generally did a good job of moving in and out, and would actually even move laterally then cut an angle to get in on Flynn's legs. In the meantime, Fuke would try to check Flynn's low kicks, which really made me take them a lot more seriously.

While the length kept it from being the fastest paced or stiffest match, they did a great job of upping the urgency & stiffness when it mattered. If there was a potential submission for either, or a takedown attempt for Fuke, they found an extra gear or two to fight, and hit, hard to answer it, then would relax somewhat when they were more or less out of danger. I really liked Fuke blasting Flynn with palms to the face to fend off his leglock.

Anyway you slice it though, the length was still the problem, largely because Flynn basically just did his thing, and while Fuke was credible & technically proficient, there were only so many scenarios he, or anyone, could think of to keep a realistically bent vanilla striker vs. grappler match going for half an hour. I don't want to downplay Flynn's contributions, he was the more well rounded of the two in that he could offer more to counter & answer Fuke on the mat that Fuke, who had little striking, could in standup. While these guys were green, this was nonetheless a huge step forward for both, and one of the signature bouts of 1991 in terms of moving the sport forward in a more believable direction. ***1/2

Next up is Ken Shamrock vs Wellington Wilkins Jr. When we last witnessed Shamrock, it was a very solid match where we defeated Minoru Suzuki, and with this booking we can get a glimpse as to what is going to a major hurdle in this style, and that’s the limited talent pool to work with. It makes sense to use  Wilkins as Shamrock’s next opponent, as they have never fought before, but it also feels like a holding pattern, as the only other two members of the promotion that are likely to really give him a worthy battle are Funaki, Suzuki, or possibly Koslowski, all of which he has already faced, and if the UWFI has proved anything, it’s difficult to just throw random American pro wrestlers into this style, and expect good results, so we are left with a situation where this small roster of talent in the PWFG is likely to have to be constantly mixed and matched in inconsequential ways, unless they manage to pull in some more talent.

The bout starts, and Ken has a bored look on his face that would indicate that he would rather be anywhere else right now. Things start off with some light strikes back and forth from both contestants, until Ken clinched up with Wilkins, paused for a couple of seconds while seemingly whispering something into Wilkins ear, and then suplexed him.

Things get a bit more interesting on the ground, as Wilkins starts to turtle up, and Ken does a creative semi-cartwheel, diving over Wilkins back, looking for a kneebar in the process. Wilkins gets a rope escape, and after the standup is able to get the fight back to the ground via a northern lights suplex, but is forced to escape yet again, when Shamrock sinks in a rear naked choke.  After the stand up, Ken starts to up the stiffness quotient, and puts a lot more velocity into his palm strikes, which causes Wilkins to respond with a headbutt and some knees, to which Ken answered with an especially stiff open handed slap to Wilkins’ face, causing a knockdown.

A few more short exchanges went down, before Shamrock won via an armbar around the 6 ½ min mark, and one nice sequence within those, was when Wilkins was working his way out of a loosely applied guillotine, and was starting to slide out from under Shamrocks left arm/shoulder (while still wrapped around Shamrocks arm) Ken took the opportunity to completely torque his bodyweight into a palm strike using his free right hand, as soon as Wilkins escaped, and scored a knockdown off of it.

Overall, these was a very awkward match, that never really found its rhythm, or a consistent tone. Wilkins was striking way too softly, while Shamrock would oscillate between soft/stiff, and seemed unsure of how to work against Wilkins. Shamrock’s prior five matches all ranged from good to great, but he was working with seasoned veterans in all of them, which is probably what is needed to really pull the best out of Ken at this stage.

 ML: Shamrock had the wrong attitude here, just seeing an opponent that was beneath him & being unwilling to do anything to raise him up to the level of having a prayer. By being rather indifferent, and somewhat sloppy, either going easy or throwing wild hard shots that either blew Wilkins away or missed, the match never came off as anything beyond a dull enhancement match. This isn't a bad match per se, but there's also really no reason to watch it.

Dee Snider wins via Armbar…

Now we have a battle between Masakatsu Funaki, and Kazuo Takahashi, that is sure to violate several building ordinances, as the amount of yellow neon sported between the two, is clearly a safety hazard. Takahashi doesn’t waste anytime firing off an excellent single leg, that would be the envy of any current MMA fighter, taking Funaki down, and quickly slaps his way out of Funaki’s guard, and is able to gain side-control.

Takahashi quickly goes for an armbar, but Funaki is way too slick on the ground, and easily escapes the attempt, and is able to get back to his feet. Takahashi blasts him right back down to the mat again, and repeats his armbar attack, only this time Funaki rolls out, and opts to mount Takahashi this time instead of standing back up.

It is a treat to see Funaki’s methodical nature, even at this early stage of his career. As he has the mount, he patiently rides Takahashi, and starts to grind his elbow across his face, forcing him to squirm a bit, and uses this technique to its fullest, looking to open up a submission. Takahashi remained composed, so Funaki dialed it up a notch and started firing some short, stiff, forearm strikes to Takahashi’s face. This still wasn’t enough to force Takahashi to make a mistake, so Funaki gets up, smacks Kazuo in the face, and soccer kicks him in the head as the ref calls for a break. While the ref is separating them for a restart, Kazuo runs right after Funaki, and gets a swift kick to the thigh for his trouble, but if there is one thing that Takahashi has that Funaki can’t seem to stop, is the speed of his single-leg, and he uses it to good effect, and is able to stop Funaki before he could fire off another kick.

Funaki’s groundwork seems to consist of putting his hand over Takahashi’s mouth and punching him in the face, which doesn’t really yield any results. Takahashi eventually passes the guard but seems to get bored with the idea of maintaining a superior position, and quickly goes for another arm attack, that fails just as quickly as the first two. He loses his position to Funaki, who goes into side-control mode, and goes back to his tactic of using the blade of his forearm to annoy Takahashi.

After making Kazuo squirm a bit, Funaki starts to posture up, and shifts his body towards his opponents legs, which instantly set off Takahashi’s spider sense, and caused him to franticly grab the ropes for an escape. They stand back up, and this time Takahashi has no slick takedowns for his mentor. Instead he suffers the wrath of a stiff thigh kick, followed up with another kick to the face forcing a knockdown.

Kazuo gets up at the count of 9, and takes some more punishment, before Funaki misses a kick, and it’s back to the ground. Sadly, the only submission he cares to try is an armbar, and his 4th attempt fails as well. Kazuo winds up on the wrong end of a north-south situation, but tries to make the best of it, by going for a toehold against Funaki, but the master has all the answers, and simply gives a hard blow to Takahashi’s stomach, forcing his legs to dangle, and goes right for an ankle lock. The lock is in snug, and Kazuo taps out.

Excellent match, that I would assess as a ¾ shoot. They weren’t cooperating, and everything (with the exception of the ending) felt authentic, even they weren’t quite going at each other with an absolute 100% intensity either. This was definitely a great blueprint on how much shoot you can put into a work. 

 ML: Unlike Shamrock, Funaki found the challege & crafted a competitive match against an opponent who was clearly well beneath him. While the match was a bit repetitive in that Takahashi's chance was getting a single leg then finding an armbar, at least that chance was made real, and thus the threat seemed genuine. Funaki going from one hip to another to back up enough to try to keep Takahashi inside his guard when Takahashi exploded trying to pass is the sort of thing we haven't seen anyone else care about (or probably understand) that made maintaining the defensive position seem to be of the utmost importance. Funaki has been the most realistic worker so far, and while that can often be to his detriment as his striking tends to be much more exciting than his grappling, which is his bread and butter, Funaki found a good mix tonight, largely because he needed to punish Takahashi before he took him down, and hopefully Takahashi would either get KO'd charging into a well timed blow, or some of these strikes would at least slow his shot down enough that Funaki could find an actual defense. Takahashi came close just before the finish, eating a few palms before ducking a high kick into a takedown & passing into an armbar attempt. Funaki rolled though, and then they did a pretty lame finish that, unlike most of what came before it, felt very contrived, where Takahashi tried to transition into a kneebar, but Funaki made Takahashi release with a body shot then went into an Achilles' tendon hold for the win. While it was the first submission locked, Funaki winning with a strike or guillotine to counter the takedown would have been a lot more fitting for the story they'd been telling than Funaki grabbing a leg out of nowhere & Takahashi offering no defense. I think they had to keep this short both because it was a big mismatch & because Takahashi is a one-trick pony, but at 10 minutes they might really have had something here. ***

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 07, 2020, 06:48:27 PM
Vol.16 Continued...

Thankfully, we just received a rush of adrenaline because we are going to need it, to face what will surely be our collective doom, as Fujiwara faces Mark Rush. We were all the better for Fujiwara’s absence last month, but surely it was too much to hope for that he would lose his way within the building a la Spinal Tap, so here we are. As this fight starts, I am beginning to realize, that I can’t recall Fujiwara ever looking young. Even in 1985 it looked like he was going on 80, but to his credit he is still going strong as a freelance wrestler, outlasting almost all of his contemporaries.

The fight starts off with a brief tie up, before Rush shoots in and takes Fujiwara down, and then proceeds to execute the worlds slowest ankle lock entry. This leads the two to play footsie for a while, before Fujiwara reclaims superior position, and secures a keylock, which prompts a rope escape. After the standup Rush takes Fujiwara right back down, and fumbles for a toe-hold, when two things become readily apparent, the first is that Rush has some legit amateur wrestling experience, and the 2nd is that Fujiwara could easily smoking cigarettes in between submission attempts from Rush.

The next 8 mins of the fight was really a battle of the takedowns, as Rush pitted his amateur wrestling against Fujiwara’s judo arsenal, and to Fujiwara’s credit, he seemed to taking this seriously and was on his best behavior, until just past the 10min mark, where he had to throw a couple of his awful comic headbutts, to which Rush did his best to sell. The rest of the match didn’t fare much better, and it finally ended just past the 17min mark with an ankle lock from Fujiwara. This would have been passable had it clocked in around 5-6 mins, and Fujiwara kept it straight. As it stands, this match only served to be a way for Fujiwara to try and show off his judo, and that could have been accomplished with a much quicker match. All this served to do was kill the momentum of the show, and make Rush look bad.

 ML: Shamrock & Funaki each doing 6 minute matches left Fujiwara to eat a lot of time. Typically, he did it in the least intense fashion, getting outwrestled then making fun of Rush when he tried for a submission hold. In Fujiwara's defense, Rush only possessed the most rudimentary knowledge of submissions, and would just kind of make things up, twisting Fujiwara's ankle without isolating it or controlling Fujiwara's body in any way, which I suppose deserves Fujiwara putting his hand to his ear to hold his head up while he rested in this nonsense. The match was dated & lazy, with Rush generally doing little to actually control Fujiwara on the mat, but Fujiwara just laying there passively anyway. The finish was the only time either seemed threatened, but that was overdramatized with a lot of bluster from Rush while staying in the hold too long. This match was just a bunch of air, between being so long & so laid back, I'd rate this as one of the worst worked shoots of the year.

Now it’s up for the clash between East and West to save us, so here’s hoping that Bart Vale said his prayers and took his vitamins before coming out here. Right away, Vale is moving faster than usual, and seems to be giving this his best effort, and he tries to cut the ring off from Suzuki, by working his side stance, and trying to box Minoru into the corner with some sidekicks. Suzuki gets wise, and shoots his way out of the corner, but is stopped by Vale’s sprawl. Vale wasn’t able to capitalize though, and spent his mat time hanging on for dear life against Suzuki, but did wind up warding off a bully choke, and an armbar.

The rest of the match was rather surprising, as outside of a few strikes, Vale was given very little offense by Suzuki. The match was mostly Vale defending Suzuki’s offense, outside of getting a few strikes in, there wasn’t much that he was able to do. The match ended with a weird submission that was a cross between a half nelson, and a neck-crank.

This wasn’t terrible but was by no means great either. To his credit, Vale gave forth an honest effort here, but as usual his problem is that he is just way too slow when put with small opponents. He works ok when put with other large/slow men, but it’s hard to carry him to a good match. He is getting better at this compared to his rookie days, though. (If anyone wants to see a terrible match, they need look no further than his match against Akira Maeda at the 2-27-89 Newborn UWF event).

 ML: The move toward realism seemed to help Vale the most, as he did a better job of closing the distance aggressively and landing quicker, more plausible blows that would put Suzuki on the defensive without exposing himself horrible, thus making it more difficult for Suzuki to just grab him & get it to the ground. While Vale was able to back Suzuki with front kicks, and through his generally aggressive barrage, he didn't do a good job of then getting out of the pocket when his surge was finished, so he did wind up spending a lot of time on his back. Vale's ground game could still use a lot of work, and these limitations hampered Suzuki because Vale wasn't giving a ton of openings either trying to rest or survive, but I actually liked the first half of the match, and the last minute or so. The weak portion was almost all control with neither seeming to really be setting anything up, especially the lengthy front facelock by Vale. Overall though, this was way better than any of Vale's other matches, and the first time I mostly enjoyed his striking.

Conclusion: Fuke/Flynn and Funaki/Takahashi were worth the price of admission alone, but in the end, things was seriously hampered by the Fujiwara match. The Shamrock, Suzuki matches, while not great, were short enough that they didn’t drag things down too much, but 17min of Fujiwara/Rush was painful.

 ML: What stands out about the show is the concerted attempt made by everyone to step up the realism. While some had more success at that than others, not surprisingly Funaki & Fuke, who are among the most realistic to begin with, and surprisingly Vale, who needed a more urgent situation to get out of his safe movie striking shell, the cooperation was almost across the board much less obvious than in other leagues or on previous PWFG shows. This isn't my favorite PWFG show by any means, but given none of these matches were particularly competitive or compelling on paper, it's a great sign that they finally managed to have two good matches, and hard to argue against the show overacheiving considerably.

*In other news*

Akira Maeda has managed to snag a lucrative job, moonlighting as a sports reporter for the WOWWOW channel (similar to HBO in the states). He was even able to interview both Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield for Japanese television.

The terrible match between Nobuhiko Takada and Bob Backlund on 9-26-91 is rumored to have been due to Backlunds unwillingness to lose to a submission (presumably seen as an affront to his reputation), and thus the idea for him to lose quickly to a kick (acting like it was a low-blow) was the solution. It’s safe to say that this idea backfired as it almost caused a riot, that Kazuo Yamazaki had to go out and quell. They are scheduled for a rematch on 11-7-91.

It would seem, that the UWF and the PWFG are in for some stiff competition from the rival FMW promotion. As they recently (10-14-91) almost packed 4,000 people into the Fukata Starlanes, which is considerably more than either of those groups usually do.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 12, 2020, 02:54:30 PM
This was safely locked up within the confines of the Kakutogi Patreon for a little over two weeks, so it may now be time to share the love with the Underground. Get all of your Kakutogi Content before anyone else by joining the revolution at:

Kakutogi Rewind: Vol.1 "Shooto?!? Don't Mind if I Do...."

We at Kakutogi HQ, were recently able to get ahold of another ancient Shooto artifact, in this case the 7-7-1990 “1st Champion Decision Part II” event, which puts us just a little past two years from the last piece of Shooto history that we covered. Our last Shooto examination was with Sayama’s initial public unveiling of his new sport dubbed “The Shooting.” (see Vol.13 of our Kakutogi Road series for the full story).

While we would prefer to be able to cover the entirety of Shooto, uninterrupted and in chronological order, any opportunity to cover the early years of this sport is a good one, so without further ado, here we go:

After screeching through the vectors of time and space in our (patent pending) Trans Hyper-Drive Martial Starcraft, we have arrived at 7-7-90 to a half-capacity Korakuen hall, ready to partake in what is only the 7th Professional Shooto event. It is an absolute travesty to see a sparse crowd for this groundbreaking display, but perhaps this is to be expected, as the masses probably weren’t quite ready for the paradigm shift that was taking place in the combat sport world, and the radical overhaul that the martial arts aesthetic was soon to be undergoing.

First up is Noboru Asahi vs Kazumi Chikiyoshi, and when we last saw Asahi he was one of the original Shooting disciples, taken under Sayama’s wing, and allowed to participate in his 1988 unveiling. Asahi was well esteemed amongst his peers in the early days, and strangely enough, was inadvertently responsible for helping bring BJJ to prominence in Japan, as it was only when he lost to Royler Gracie at VTJ 96, that Yuki Nakai decided that judo newaza wasn’t enough, and took it upon himself to become the very first BJJ blackbelt in Japan.

Chikiyoshi, is an enigma on the other hand, nothing is known of him, outside of his one-and-done appearance here at this event.

The bell rings, and immediately Asahi scores a knockdown with a straight right down the pipe landing flush on Chikiyoshi’s chin, which if this keeps up, Chikiyoshi will be in for a long night. Unfortunately, the match on this release in digested, so we only get a couple more clips before we are shown that the fight ends via unanimous decision for Asahi.

Next up is Tomoyuki Saito vs Suguru Shigeno. Saito by this point in time, was a 5-fight veteran, having been a part of the inaugural professional Shooto card in 1989. It’s crazy to think that by the time the UFC started in late 1993, there were already MMA fighters that had fought numerous times and retired with some close to 20 fights. Saito retired in 1994 with a 2-3-4 record, but even crazier is that Shigeno already had 12 fights under his belt, before retiring in February of 1993.

The match starts and both fighters go right for each other with some stiff straight punches, and both fighters are connecting, but Saito seems to be on the worse end of things, and opts to go in for a clinch, and secures a headlock. The ref gives the headlock a few seconds to find a resolution but breaks them up quickly. One thing that I’m noticing is that starting around 97 Shooto didn’t really interfere with the action, and had kind of a Pride FC habit of dragging competitors into the middle of the ring if they got under the ropes, but in the early day of Shooto, you had to stay continually active, or a restart was not far behind.

After the restart Saito takes some more nasty jabs, and opts to take his chances on the ground, by clinching Shigeno and taking him down, which caused both parties immediately start looking for a leg attack. It’s actually quite refreshing watching MMA sans any type of positional thinking, when you have two fighters that are constantly looking to end the fight, regardless of their position. Also, it seems that if you get a near submission, you are awarded a “catch” and this scores in your favor in a judge’s decision.

Sadly, this is another digested bout, so we are quickly accelerated to the end, and it is a draw. This was the 2nd time these two fought, and they drew the last time they fought back in 10-18-89
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 12, 2020, 02:57:05 PM
Kakutogi Rewind Vol.1 Continued...

Next up is one of this scribe’s favorite fighters, Manabu Yamada. Yamada is a fascinating character from the early days of MMA, as he managed to be both part of the early histories of Shooto, and later Pancrase, securing his place in the pantheon of early free-fighting legends. To make things even more interesting, is that Yamada was one of the few of the early Pancrase clan, that did not come from a pro wrestling background, but rather from Karate, before hooking up with Satoru Sayama.

Yamada accomplished a lot within his 44 fight/ten year career, and in the process ,showed  absolutely no consideration for the lateral joint lines of Matt Hume, Frank Shamrock, Jason Delucia, Vernon White or Masakatsu Funaki.(He had heel Hook/ankle Lock victories over all of them.) He also did not regard the arm tendons of Minoru Suzuki after delivering a brutal armbar after a 14min 46 sec war, in a legendary encounter. He also managed to get 2nd place in the inaugural King of Pancrase tournament, losing only to Ken Shamrock, who despite outweighing him by a very significant margin, still failed to finish or submit him.

It's no surprise that founder Masakatsu Funaki and Masami Ozaki (Executive President of Pancrase at the time) took a liking to Yamada. During this period Funaki had a fasciation with the concept of a “Hybrid Body” which coincided with “Hybrid Training” and “Hybrid Diet” even putting out books in the mid-90s that expounded on these concepts. Surely, Yamada’s bulky, yet relatively lean physique, was a good archetype for what Funaki was attempting to have Pancrase portray.

He was also a welcome contrast to Funaki and Suzuki. Whereas Funaki was the thinking mans fighter (A National Medical University's secondary school division student when he quit in 9th grade to begin his career at NJPW) and Suzuki came from a teen-gang background, before being grounded a bit by Fujiwara and others, here was Yamada, a heavy-metal loving young-adult in his mid-20s, that hailed from the Tochigi Prefecture, which would sort of be like coming from Montana in the United States.

As it stands now, Yamada is in only his third professional bout, having received draws in his first two outings. He is facing Tomonori Ohara, who had 13 fights from 1990-1992, then went on hiatus before coming back and making another Shooto run from 2000-2005.

Immediately after the fight starts, Yamada begins to pummel Ohara with a variety of kicks and is showing an unusual amount of poise and confidence for a fighter this young in his career. Ohara is only able to tentatively parry, unsure of how to deal with Yamada, and it doesn’t take long for Yamada to go in for the kill. After kicking Ohara in the head with a kick that only resulted in a glancing blow, Yamada followed it up with another head kick, this time flatlining Ohara so bad that they had to take him out in a stretcher. A very impressive showing, indeed.

Yamada when asked about the Kakutogi Road…

Next up is Yuji Ito (a fighter that amassed 12 fights, with his last fight being only a couple of months after UFC 1) vs Takashi Tojo, in his 2nd fight (his first being a draw against Manabu Yamada). Round 1 saw both fighters being highly aggressive, with lots of reversals in the action, both standing, and on the ground, but with no clear winner.

Round 3 starts, and Tojo immediately takes Ito down, but blows his superior position instantly diving for an ankle lock, and after fumbling around for a while, the ref restarts them. Tojo gets a 2nd takedown but must ward off a triangle from Ito’s open guard, but the 3rd time is where it went sideways for Tojo. He got a clinch, but Ito was able to use some nice circular movement and reversed it into him having the side-mount. A kimura soon followed, and he was declared the victor.

Right after this fight a mesmerizing sequence took place in which Satoru Sayama took center stage to put on a submission and kickboxing clinic, and I can only imagine how something like this would look today in a current MMA event in the United States. Sayama took time out of the event, with two fights left to go, and proceeded to talk in great detail about submissions setups, and kickboxing technique/strategy, all while the normal everyday people sat in silence, hanging on every word. What is even crazier about this, is that Sayama nearly had a Hulk Hogan level of popularity not long before this event took place. In the 80s he had it all, money, sponsorships, you name it, but he left it to do something that he was passionate about, an endeavor that arguably hadn’t been attempted in close to a hundred years, and never in such a systematic fashion.

Sayama… Demonstrating an old Gotch favorite.

After the demonstration we now have Yasuto Sekishima (a fighter with an impressive 7-2-4 record, all several months before the first UFC), vs Naoki Sakurada. This was Sakurada’s 5th fight, and he’s going into it with a 2-2 record.

Sakurada is a small compact fighter, that seems to have decent hands, but is hampered whenever he tries and closes the distance with the taller and rangier fighter that is Sekishima. The round appeared to be a draw, and while it went to the ground a couple of times, the ref only seems to be giving around 5-6 seconds for the fighters to strike or look for a submission down there, and a bit longer if a submission is close to happening.

Round 2 starts and we are treated to a great sequence when Sakurada decides to shift his strategy. Sakurada started the round, acting like was going to try and box like he did in the first, but faked into a double leg attempt that didn’t work, but he recovered by taking the back of Sekishima’s waist, and drug him down to the ground. This was for naught though, as Sekishima went with the momentum and was able to roll backwards onto Sakurada and went for an armbar that Sakurada was barely able to get out of. The rest of the round was Sakurada forgoing the boxing, only using to set up double leg attempts, that mostly got stuffed, but he was able to secure one takedown, and immediately went for a sloppy armbar attempt, that I have the feeling was due to the insanely short time they are allowed to work on the ground in these days.

Round 3 found Sakurada finding his rhythm in the striking exchanges, as he was connecting more, and looking better on his feet, but he ruined his own tempo by insisting on going for a takedown, every time it looked like he was making some headway. Sekishima was sure to take advantage with some soccer kicks and knees to the body of Sekishima.

Round 4 was all Sekishima, as Sakurada was getting battered both standing and on the ground, and he both fighters completely went for it during round 5, but it was too late for Sakurada by this point, as he simply couldn’t buy a takedown, and Sekishima was too on fire. Kekishima rightly won the decision.

Lastly is Kenichi Tanaka (who wound up with a middling 6-4-3 record fighting from 89-99) and Kazuhiro Sakamoto (who ended his career with a much more impressive 13-4 record from 89-95). The fight starts and Tanaka gets taken down immediately by Sakamoto, who instantly looks for a kneebar, but after examining his opponents defense for a few moments, decides just to stand right back up before the ref could. He then takes him down again with lighting speed, and then cartwheels around his opponent into a north-south position, looking for an armbar entry. When that doesn’t work, he quickly transitions to Tanaka’s back, before the ref restarts them, and I’m beginning to see what this guy wound up with a good record, as he is showing some great fluidity out there.

After the restart, Tanaka tries a shot of his own, but goes right into a guillotine attempt from Sakamoto, they exchange a few knees, and Sakamoto takes Tanaka down, but seems to have left his right arm precariously stuck in between Tanaka’s legs once he got to the ground, and Tanaka instinctively went for the attack. Sakamoto almost got out of it, but Tanaka was able to pivot and reposition himself just in time, and nailed the armbar, for a great win.

This was a solid, albeit not spectacular card, but is a great snapshot of history, and really shows that even in 1990, MMA was at a much more advanced stage than the average fan might realize. The fighters thinking is obviously different without the BJJ influence, but these fighters were light years ahead of the rest of the world, most BJJ practitioners included, as anyone on this card had a good knowledge of kickboxing, submissions, judo, wrestling, and good cardio, and while they may not have excelled in any one area compared to specialists in those fields, they were all well rounded, which was really unheard of in other parts of the world in 1990.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 15, 2020, 10:47:33 PM
We recently had the pleasure of meeting up with UWFI icon, and catch-wrestling legend Billy Scott at his gym in Smith's Grove KY, and were able to interview him for roughly 2 1/2 hours! We covered all sorts of details about his career, early MMA, and all sorts of things, so I recommend that you check it out! The first part was just posted to our Patreon, and I intend to post another chapter every day until it's complete. There is a lot of interesting information here, so don't miss out!
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 17, 2020, 10:34:49 AM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.17 "Symbiosis"

Greetings, as we once again seek to explore the inner workings of unknown dimensions. Much like Queensryche, we too dream in infrared, as we continue to peer through the jaded kaleidoscope of history, having to sort thru fragmented spectrums. We have now arrived at 11-3-91 at the Hamamatsu Area, a sports venue built in 1990, that is still with us to this day, and is perhaps best known to the world at large as one of the main hosts for the 2010 Women’s Volleyball World Championship. 

 ML: The 2010 FIVB Championship was one of the high points for  the  perpetually undersized ball control masters known as the Japanese  women's team, finishing 2nd in pool play then coming back from a 2 sets  to 1 deficit against the heavily favored US team in the 3rd place match  to take the Bronze in 5. It would take a lot for anyone on this Fujiwara  show to rise to the levels Saori Kimura & Yuko Sano reached in that  match, which, like most of the big matches, was actually at Yoyogi  National Stadium, Hamamatsu only hosted the opening round pool that  Brazil won. However, I'm sure  Fujiwara will be content with the  Queensryche references, as long as the fans arrive En Force for his big  main event against Suzuki. 


When we last joined this prestigious outfit we got a glimpse of unknown greatness, as we witnessed a fantastic showing from Takaku Fuke and Jerry Flynn, and we also got to see further evidence of Master Funaki’s worthiness as a top talent, as both his subtle performance and humility were both clearly present, for all to behold.

Except for Fujiwara headlining, all the matches scheduled for this evening look solid on paper, so everything is set, for this to be a memorable event.

We are welcomed to the proceedings with a few montages complemented by a couple of synthwave tracks that wouldn’t have been out of place on The Running Man soundtrack, until Karl Gotch and Ken Shamrock show up to thank us for being faithful supporters of Fujiwara-Gumi. The first match is Jerry Flynn vs Wellington Wilkins, and I think it is safe to say that we were all taken aback at the splendid showing that Flynn gave last time. Here he must face Wilkins, who so far has always been perfunctory in his role, never showing any flashes of brilliance, but never really letting us down either, so hopefully this will turn out to be proof that Flynn can excel, even when he doesn’t have a worker of the caliber of Fuke to partner with.

Flynn opens things up with some flashy kicks that were crisp and well executed, but only serve as an excuse for Wilkins to take him down. Both fighters seem to possess rudimentary grappling skills once the fight hits the ground, so not much is accomplished outside of a weak ankle lock attempt from Flynn. The stiffness quotient raised as they got back up, as it wasn’t long before Flynn started laying into Wilkins with some Bas Rutten level palm strikes, before leveling him with a particularly stiff shot to the face that resulted in a knockdown.

The rest of the fight followed the same pattern, as Flynn looked impressive in all his striking exchanges, and Wilkins not being able to do much outside of some decent takedowns, and pro wrestling shenanigans. Wilkins only significant moments of offense seemed to come from suplexes (including a flashy northern-lights variation that did little to add to the credibility of this outing). To make matters worse, both fighters lack any jiu-jitsu knowledge, or strong submission skills, so this really came down to Flynn’s striking vs a few pro wrestling tricks from Wilkins. Still Flynn’s striking was fun to watch, and at one point he even scored a knockdown against Wilkins from savagely slapping him from within his guard, making this the first knockdown that we have seen scored in this fashion.

It would seem that the PWFG no longer uses an unlimited rope escape/ten-count approach anymore, although it’s anyone’s guess as to how exactly their scoring system works, but apparently Wilkins was slapped one too many times, and loses the fight due to a TKO.

This was fun but shows that both fighters need a strong opponent to bring out the best in them. Flynn has a lot more potential to be a force in this style, as his striking is already strong, and he moves well. The only thing really holding Flynn back is his newness within professional wrestling, specifically his unfamiliarity with submissions, but that can be easily remedied should he choose to stay within this style and improve on his game. Wilkins on the other hand, is only looking like he belongs in opening matches.

 ML: Flynn is a  tool that can be worked with, but you need a skilled  opponent such as Fuke to react to and shape what he brings. Wilkins is a  very straightforward wrestler with none of that creativity, so while  Flynn worked at about the same level this show as he did in his very  good match on the previous show, I would actually say he was actually  better because his strikes were a lot more convincing, now it was  basically all up to him. The other issue is the match was totally  one-sided, with Wilkins offering almost no resistance to Flynn's  striking. While the results weren't nearly as good this time for Flynn,  he looked more comfortable with the style, and I feel good about his  prospects moving forward. 


Wilkins with a busted nose….

Next up is Bart Vale vs Takaku Fuke. Both of these fighters were a surprise during the last event, as Fuke really showed his skills as a worker by taking a 30min draw and making it one of the best shoot-style matches of the year, and with a rookie no less. Vale came correct last month as well, and while he won’t be confused with Don “The Dragon” Wilson anytime soon, he definitely gave a solid effort and looked better than he has in the past.

The fight starts and Fuke quickly goes in for a takedown, only to be stuffed by Vale, who transitions to Fuke’s back and starts to control him with a half-nelson, which I always felt was an underrated technique within the BJJ sphere, so props to Vale. They fight for position on the mat, and one thing is clear, that Fuke has a lot of speed, but is giving up a significant size/strength advantage to the slower Vale. After some back and forth Fuke pauses to give Vale a chance to suplex him, only this looks like a complete botch to me, as Fuke winds up taking the bump really high on the neck, and I’m hoping that he doesn’t have cracked vertebrae after seeing this.

The ref counts this as a knockdown, and it seems like Fuke is ok, albeit a bit worse for wear. The fight resumes and I must admit that Vale is continuing to look a lot crisper with his strikes here, then in times past. I can only assume that he was very cautious in his UWF days, throwing a lot of flashy (but very light) kicks, but now seems to be taking a stiffer, more realistic approach, although he is still a bit slow. Fuke getting the takedown is inevitable, but he is having to eat some kicks to accomplish it, though Bart seems to be too strong for him to be able to threaten him with much outside of a heel-hook.

The match continues a with a great back and forth flow between the two, without becoming too formulaic. It is a battle of speed/takedowns vs strength/striking, but they were able to both reverse those roles in small doses, with Fuke getting some nice shots in here and there, and Vale sinking in a nice ankle lock. The match ends with Vale putting Fuke through a sloppy powerbomb, a la Rampage Jackson, (which worked better than how that description might sound) and finishing Fuke off with a rear naked choke.

I am still reeling in a state of shock, but I could swear that I just witnessed two good Vale matches in a row, with this being much better than his last. I don’t know if this is due to Fuke being a forgotten super-worker in the annuls of history, with an uncanny ability to make even Vale look good, or if it just comes down to Fuke’s style meshing better than Suzuki’s, but what is certain is that if Fuke keeps getting better than things are going to get scary, at least on the worked-shoot front.

 ML: Though Vale is not the ideal opponent for anyone, I consider this  good booking in the sense that you saw Fuke had a lot of success  reacting to an opponent with a kickboxing base, so you gave him another  one to see if he could repeat. What was surprising is that, although  Vale is much higher ranked than both Flynn & Fuke, the match turned  out to mostly be on the ground, as Fuke was successful at getting  takedowns, and rather quickly. Unfortunately, ranking Fuke's takedown  above Vale's kickboxing  made for a rather dull contest as Vale then  wasn't really giving Fuke much to react to, given his ground game is  mostly control based, with  low risk, and minimal movement, mainly just  trying to conserve energy as his stamina is always in doubt. While the  base positions were an improvement over what we were seeing 6 months  ago, with more of a BJJ base including Fuke employing a guard, Vale  undermined the realism of the control aspect by mostly using it to set  up pro wrestling submissions such as the 1/2 crab and both nelsons.  Similarly, his highlights in standup were suplexes & powerbombs  rather than the expected big kicks. The match was still decent, but it  didn't really excite me. I want to see speed, grace, fluidity,  creativity, this had little of that. It told a story, but even that was  kind of odd, with Vale being the one who won via submission, after Fuke  slipped out of the first jackknife powerbomb attempt and landed a nice  body hook, but then was nearly knocked out by the second jackknife. At  least this match felt somewhat different from what we had been seeing. 

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 17, 2020, 10:36:45 AM
*Vol 17. Continued....*

*******************SHOOT ALERT*******************************


Here we go with our third shoot in the history of the Kakutogi Road, an infamous meeting between Ken Shamrock and Kazuo Takahashi. The match starts with Takahashi catching a kick to his midsection from Ken, and immediately taking Ken down. They both scramble and Ken is able to stand up and slap Takahashi but opens himself up for another deep single-leg takedown. Ken tries to work a guillotine, but does not have it sunk in, and after quickly breaking free of the hold, they both stand back up, when Ken slaps Takahashi in the face with the might of a thousand suns. Takahashi crumples to the ground, but somehow manages to stand back up during a ten-count. After they stand back up, they feel each other out for a few moments, when Kazuo sets up a beautiful double-leg by feinting a kick to Shamrock’s knee, and then lifts Shamrock up and drops him. This was a bad idea as Shamrock quickly got back to his feet and soccer kicked Takahashi in the face with enough force, that it’s amazing that he didn’t punt his decapitated head into the audience, 6-rows deep.

Amazingly, a very staggered Takahashi got back up before the ten count, but the ref was not having any more of this, and stopped the fight. A dazed and confused Takahashi tried to keep fighting, but the ref stood between him and Ken, while a confused crowd booed and chanted “Shamrock.” Takahashi appeared to be trying to talk the ref into restarting the fight, and Ken seemed raring to continue, but the ref decided to call in a ringside doctor to examine the giant welt that was on Takahashi’s cheek, and called the fight off.

Conclusion: Ken has given somewhat conflicting reports on the specifics of this match. In an interview with our good friend William Colosimo he implied that this turned into a shoot due to Takahashi going into business for himself, and then most recently he told Jonathan Snowden that Takahashi was itching to go full blast, and that they both got Funaki’s blessing to go 100% for this match. From the vantage point of this humble scribe, it appeared to me that Ken didn’t realize he was in for a shoot, until Takahashi grabbed his leg from the first kick and took him down. I’m guessing that this move was off script and Shamrock went into beast mode, easily dispatching of Takahashi in the process.

For the record, here are both quotes. The first with his interview with William Colosimo, circa 2015: “I don’t want to talk on that match but I’ll tell you a story, and it happens all the time– when you get into a situation where both guys are supposed to have an agreement, and things are supposed to work a certain way– and one guy goes in and decides he’s going to do what he wants to do- then you’ve got to take what’s yours. And that’s kinda what happened, I believe that not everybody was on the same page, and I believe that some people think that they were just gonna go ahead and take what they wanted, and they ran into a wall.”

Here is his quote on the subject taken from Jonathan Snowden’s most recent book: “When me and him got in there, I told Funaki ‘let him run.’ Let us go at it. So Takahashi came up to me and says ‘It’s ok? We hit hard?’ and I said ‘yeah dude. Turn it loose. Let’s have fun. Whatever happens, happens.’ We went into the ring with the understanding that we would go in there and knock the shit out of each other. May the best man win.”

While I’m inclined to think that the first quote is a more accurate representation of what happened here, there is no doubt that this was, or at least quickly turned into, a shoot, and I can only wonder what matches like this may have done to poke holes in the believability of the business writ large, for the fans that were able to witness it. Did matches like this expose the holes in what was going on in promotions like NJPW at the time, or was it too low key to make a difference?

 ML: I don't trust what any of these guys say in regards to shoots,  especially the guys who came up during the pre MMA kayfabe pro wrestling  era, and I wouldn't be surprised if another 10 interviews with Shamrock  yielded 10 different variations. I can craft a story to support both  interviews, the first would be that Ken takes exception to the hard left  slap Takahashi gives him when they're standing out of the initial  scramble and just lets loose after that, the 2nd being that there's  nothing here that is obviously worked. Though the opening sequence where  Takahashi catches a kick & gets a takedown could easily be  scripted, nothing else that Shamrock does might be worked, while it's  much more difficult to tell whether Takahashi is shooting, given he's  basically using the same takedowns he always does, though seemingly with  more urgency. It's important to note that these guys don't really know  what they are in for at this point because even if they are sort of  "shooting" in the gym sometimes, the idea isn't to actually lay your  opponent out with any marginally legal tactic at your disposal. It's  also important to note that they speak different languages, so who even  if there was some agreement, who knows if it's understood the same way  by everyone involved? If Takahashi is shooting, it's surprising that he  both tries and succeeds at the suisha otoshi. Certainly, he is not  expecting Ken to be up first and soccer kick him. This really seems to  me like a cheap shot by Ken, it's something you would never do in a  work, so it's reasonable for Takahashi not to expect it, I'm not sure  we've seen one of these yet, it's not a pro wrestling tactic as they  just use those cheesy stomps that no one would actually stay down and  allow. I can't say Ken is cheating, as I doubt it's technically illegal,  especially given there aren't really any rules established for this  kind of situation. Ken definitely takes major advantage though with his  dick move, and Takahashi's eye is well on its way to swelling shut from  the damage to the cheek bone, though again, one could argue whether the  fight is stopped because of the injury or because it was obviously "out  of hand", so they wanted to move on before there were truly seriously  consequences. 

  A fighter that won’t quit…

Next is Masakatsu Funaki vs Duane Koslowski. We haven’t seen Koslowski for a couple of months when he faced Kazuo Takahashi during the opening match at the 8-23-91 event. When we last saw Funaki he got a great match out of Takahashi, making him look good, despite the disparity in skill level between the two. The match starts and Funaki does a great job at using his reach as a weapon, and staying far enough from Koslowski to avoid the clinch, but close enough to keep peppering him with thigh kicks. Koslowski tentatively tries to grab Fuanki’s wrist, and pull him closer to him, but eats a huge head kick for his trouble.

Funaki immedatily continues to quickly press Koslowski, and being stiffer than we usually see him. A great sequence ensues, in which Kosloski underhooks Funaki’s side, while controlling his right arm via the elbow. Funaki tries to squirm away, and winds up pushing Koslowski’s chin with this hand, and this little bit of forward momentum that was used to do this, was instantly capitalized on by Kosloski, and he converted that motion into a beautiful greco throw. Duane goes for a side-mount, but his lack of ne-waza skills become apparent, and there is no way that he has the depth or experience on the ground to hold Funaki for long, and he winds up losing his superior position quickly.

The rest of the fight saw Koslowski being on the losing end of just about every exchange. Funaki was lighitng him up on the feet, and dominating his opponent on the ground as well. There was even a point where Funaki hit a beautiful O-Goshi throw on Koslowski, which must have been brusing to his ego. Duane almost had his cumuppance, as he went in for a deep double leg, and converted it into an excellent back suplex, but somehow managed to injure himself in the process, and lost via ko.

This was great, and would be a precurser to the style that Funaki started to show in the early days of Pancrase. This seemed to be a shoot, minus (perhaps) the suplex at the end, and the fact that I suspect Fuanki was carrying Koslowski during portions of the ground fighting, by not immediantly going in for the kill like he could have. Regardless of the shoot/work nature of this fight, it’s clear that the finish wasn’t intended, and Koslowski somehow injured himself with that suplex, but the camera angle didn’t give a clear view as to what may have gone wrong.

 ML: I'm liking the potential of this match, as Funaki is working a more  active style. He clearly has the advantage in speed, footwork, and  striking, and is doing a good job landing low and middle kicks.  Koslowski is all about the takedown, and while Funaki catches him off  guard once with a fast takedown, it's mostly Koslowski that is getting  the match to the canvas, where Funaki has such a wide array of  submissions at his disposal, he is usually able to put Koslowski on the  defensive. The match goes along for 5 minutes as a stardard work then  they suddenly shift gears and do an intense hard gym sparring palm  striking sequence where Funaki's speed & footwork allow him to get  some good shots in. Koslowski isn't able to get a double leg, but  figures he has control of both legs, so he gets off his knees & goes  into an overhead belly to belly, but seems to injure his neck hitting  his head on the canvas wrong. A few fans laugh as he rolls off Funaki,  thinking this is a really corny way for Funaki to get a down, but then  it becomes clear that Koslowski isn't right. The match is waved off, and  Funaki just makes his way for the locker room, not excited about the  manner in which he achieved his KO victory. It's doubly unfortunate  because this would almost certainly have been a good match had it gone  to the intended finish. With two matches in a row ending abruptly on  injuries, this is shaping up to be the shorted PWFG show in history. 

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 17, 2020, 10:40:02 AM
*Vol 17. Continued...*

I’m now dreading the final chapter. We’ve been going strong this evening, but a main event with Fujiwara isn’t a good sign, and I can only hope that Suzuki will carry this into the shoot glory realm that we all long to abide in.  What followed was much better than I expected, but not the best choice for anyone involved. It was a 30min draw, that consisted mostly of Suzuki taking the fight to the ground and looking for a submission. To their credit, Suzuki kept a fast pace, and Fujiwara was able to keep up with him, but unlike the Fuke/Flynn match which had a wide variety of takedowns, submissions, striking exchanges, etc, this was mostly just matwork. It was a lot better than it could have been, and Fujiwara was on his best behavior, but this shouldn’t have gone past ten mins at the most.

 ML: Suzuki getting a draw with Fujiwara was a helpful result. What made  this doubly impressive is he had the advantage almost the entire  contest, with Fujiwara finally barely getting himself into the match in  the final minutes. Obviously though, Fujiwara shouldn't be going 30  minutes at this point. In order for Fujiwara to last that long, they did  an old school UWF match that was mostly lying on the mat. Suzuki had  the speed and would take Fujiwara's back out of the scrambles, but  instead of exploiting the back, would inexplicably play with Fujiwara's  leg trying to flip him over, and then just let him up when he got bored  of making no progress. I assume he  didn't do much to press his actual  advantage because the match had to go on and on, but his mostly  ignoring, and occasionally half heartedly attempting to get the rear  naked choke was frustrating. There were a few  good moments such as  Suzuki landing a hard palm then dropping into the Achilles' tendon hold,  which Fujiwara predictably negated with one of his own, but the match  was mostly air, with  a lot of fake amateur wrestling where Suzuki was  "controlling" Fujiwara without actually securing anything or exerting  any real energy. Neither fighter showed any real interest in striking,  or the match in general, it was mostly a chore  to be survived. The  standup consisted of lock ups, and sometimes Fujiwara would free a hand  and throw a palm or take advantage of the close quarters to sneak in a  headbutt, but these were diversionary tactics amidst the greater game of  trying to get the fight to the ground without using an actual wrestling  takedown. They went back to the dueling Achilles' tendon holds for the  finish, with Suzuki throwing a hissy fit pounding the mat repeatedly  once they untangled them. 


Final thoughts: Out of all the events we've covered so far, this was  probably the one that feels the most credible, from top to bottom. It's  not the most entertaining, but it always carried itself as a legitimate  sporting endeavor, and in those terms it really succeeded. As for the  matches, we got a decent one with Flynn/Wilkins, a good one in  Fuke/Vale, an awesome (albeit short) fight between Shamrock/Takahashi  that is historically important, another good match with  Funaki/Koslowski, and a middling affair with Suzuki/Funaki. Overall this  was a big win, even if Fujiwara insistance on going the distance drug  it down a bit.

ML: This show had a lot of potential, but wound up being a lot of  near misses. While it still advanced the sport of pro wrestling toward a  more legitimate plain, the cheap shot Ken took Takahashi out with makes  it easy to see why almost all the workers in 1991 believed things had  to be kept fake.

*The full event can be found at our Patreon.*

    *In Other News*

On 11-18-91 it was a blistering night in Rotterdam as the Imperium  held a kickboxing event with a number of great fights. One such example  was upcoming Dutch sensation Bas Rutten, against (as of press time) an  unidentified opponent that hailed from France. Bas came out kicking and  swinging, unleasing one bomb after another, until he finally got through  with a head kick, and scored a knockdown. His opponent responded to the  ref's 10-count, and the bell rang shortly afterwords, ending round 1.

Round 2 starts, and we can see how the bombs away strategy is  starting to backfire, as Bas simply doesn't have the juice to keep  spazzing on his opponent for much longer. He was able to hit a beautiful  backfist right onto his opponents chin, but as we at Kakutogi HQ later  found out, this move was made illegal about a week before this event  took place, and the ref would not count this as a knockdown, instead  allowing the fighter all the time he needed to recover. After his  recovery Bas was basically just standing in his corner out of wind, and  called the fight off, after his oppoent walked over and kicked him in  the head. Exciting fight, and Bas will be a force to be reckoned with,  if he is able to learn to relax, and pace himself.

 ML: Proof of the amazingly poor documentation of kickboxing is even a fighter as famous in the more popular sport of MMA as Bas Rutten, a UFC Hall of Famer, has no documented kickboxing record. I can find out that he won his first 14, lost the European Muay Thai title to Frank Lobman on 2/12/91, and then lost this match, his final kickboxing match, but I can't find out who he beat or the name of this other loss. In his biography, Bas talks about the match, and even he only describes the opponent as "A French guy". I would have guessed this was more toward Bas' first fight because he's a green brawler. There's some great action here because of that, though the fight is really rudimentary from a technical perspective, with Bas not showing a lot of the standup brilliance we'd come to expect from him in Pancrase. The opponent, it sounds like the announcer calls him Alexis something, but I can't really understand the guy, and they don't bother with graphics, has the reach advantage, so Bas just blitzes him the entire first round. 13 of Bas' 14 wins were 1st round knockouts, so this is a reasonable style for him to say the least. Certainly this all out in your face toughman brawling style wasn't predicated on winning lengthy bouts, but there's some other issues at play here. Bas said he got an infection a week before the fight, and then spent a couple days in jail over a street fight, so it wasn't that he didn't train hard, he was just depleted to the point he should have just postponed. Bas gets knockdowns in the 1st, but can't quite put the Frenchman away, but it's Bas who looks like he's ready to keel over in the 2nd. Bas claims this wasn't purely fatigue, but the medicine he was taking for the infection causing shortness of breath and his body to lock up. His opponent was gassed and certainly a lot more battered, but Bas was forced to manage himself now. He tried to deal with his physical situation by retreating to the ropes after a semi aggressive shot or two, stuck using them for support while he hoped to recover enough to be able to throw another strike. He managed to actually move enough to his left to evade a big right hand, and fire back with a backfist, but much to his dismay, they ruled that backfists were illegal. The opponent was leaning over the ropes, looking half dead, but Bas still recovered less during the break, a clear sign that something was severly wrong. Bas took 1 step out of the corner on the restart, but slowly retreated and turning his back to surrender to the lack of oxygen. Bas was extremely pissed at the criticism he got after this fight to the point he vowed to never fight in The Netherlands again, hence the nearly 2 year layoff before he resurfaced on the 1st Pancrase show.

The main event featured Frank “The Animal” Lobman vs Peter Aerts, and  the energy before and during this match was palpable. Lobman was the  favorite going into this match, as he was undefeated, but Aerts has had  an impressive run so far, despite being early on in his carrer.

Round 1 started with Aerts looking for a clinch early, but suffering  some brutal hooks for his trouble. He then shifted gears a bit and tried  to use his amazing reach advantage to keep Lobman at a distance, but  this only worked sporadically, as Lobman was able to power through most  of the time with a low kick, or overhand right. Round 1 ends with a  definite nod to Lobman.

The tide shifted in round 2, as Aerts grabbed a Thai clinch, and held  on for dear life for most of the round, while assulting Lobman with  knees and vicious thigh kicks. Lobman was completely neutered in Round  2, but came back strong in the 3rd , as Aerts continued his clinch  strategy, only to find himself on the receiving end of short hooks  everytime he tried, and wasn't able to effectively maintain a clinch  more than a few seconds at a time. Towards the end of the round Aerts  tried to back off and revert to his rangey attacks, but it was too late,  as Lobman took this round.

Round 4 sees the clinch of doom working again for Aerts, as he is  able to maintain control and unleash some more knees. Aerts isn't able  to keep it going as long as he was in round 2, as Lobman is able to  sneak a couple of bombs through, but the entire fight changed in an  instant when Aerts went for a high kick, and Lobman wasn't able to block  in time. Lobman went down, and was barely able to get back up. Aerts  was able to capitalize on this and scored another knockdown shortly  afterwords, which is going to force Lobman to have to knock out Aerts if  he is going to have any chance of winning this fight.

Round 5 shows Lobman going after Aerts right away, landing some nasty  overhand punches, that gives Aerts some trepidation about going in for a  clinch again. Lobman is too tired to completely follow up with the  assult, and gives Aerts the chance to run the clock during this round,  leading to an inveitable UD victory of Aerts. Fantastic fight that's  highly recommended.

ML: Undefeated Lobman turned 36 tonight, defending the WMTA World  Heavyweight Muay Thai Title against 21-year-old Aerts, who had a ton of  potential, but had already lost to some more experienced fighters in   Ernesto Hoost, Andre Mannaart, & Jan Wessels. This was a battle of  experience vs. size, but  Aerts fought smart, doing his best to exploit  his 4.5 inch height advantage. Lobman could land a big strike coming in,  but then Aerts would pull him into the thai clinch and work knees,  doing his best to keep Lobman close enough to him that Lobman didn't  have space to fight back with body shots or knees of his own. I thought  Lobman should have used more low kicks, but even with the low kicks, he  was usually stepping forward to throw them & thus moving into range  for Aerts to clinch him. Lobman really had to make his strikes count  because he generally landed 1 shot then ate several trying to fight his  way free and back to the outside. The fight is competitive to an extent,  but Lobman was digging himself a big hole on the scorecards, and the  attrition game was definitely on the side of Aerts. Lobman really just  walked into Aerts high kick after a restart in the 4th, seemingly  shocked that Aerts made a move to attack when he was coming in rather  than stick with his strategy of grabbing. Aerts was finally willing to  slug it out in the pocket after this, opening up with punches &  battering Lobman on the ropes enough to force the ref to give Lobman a  count. Lobman managed to survive the round, and while things looked  incredibly bleak for him in the 5th, he managed to gut out another big  round of action where he did his best to get the KO. Aerts continued to  push for the finish, which made for another exciting round, Lobman going  for broke & Aerts exchanging with him because Lobman was  deteriorated enough that he could now win these exchanges. The final 2  rounds made the fight for me because the first three, while good, were  kind of repetitive because Lobman never found an answer to Aerts  strategy, Aerts eventually just didn't need it any more & chose to  slug it out rather than sit on his lead. Very good match.

*The full event can be found at our Patreon.*
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 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 I’m wrong, he was originally part of New Japan, and he was living in Tennessee. Wasn’t he working at a restaurant?

BS: Yes, now when I first met him, I didn’t 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 I’m 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 that’s how I got involved in it.

MB: Ok. That’s 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 thing… you really impressed me with your debut, because you weren’t the first one there, I mean, I think that JT Southern was there, and Tom Burton was there before you arrived, and I’m 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 weren’t 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 let’s 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 “shoot wrestling,” and he showed me some scars that he had on his knees. I didn’t 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 he’s talking to me he’s 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 don’t understand. Over the years when people say it was a work….some of it was, some of it wasn’t. A lot of the matches that you see that you might say, “that was a work.” No, it wasn’t. 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 explain…

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 didn’t 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, “oh they were working,” I don’t pay any attention to it, because some of it was, and some of it wasn’t, 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, “Ok, now this is going to be a shoot.”

MB: Ok. Now would the average situation, or the average match be something like, “Ok we want you to go in there, and you’re going to pretty much spar, you’re 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?”

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 didn’t want to put him over, because of his Greco-Roman background.

BS: Right, right.

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

BS: Yeah, that’s 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 it’s 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, “There’s the ring, have a go!”

BS: Actually, the first time I met Takada I was in his corner, and I knew that he was a big figure, but I didn’t 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 “green boy,” someone that was supposed to pick you up. *Laughs*

MB: *Laughing* Yeah, there are always lots of stories about the “green boys.” Ok, so going in, was this only supposed to be a one off, where you would wrestle Yamazaki and that’s 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 didn’t 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 Yamazaki’s place for dinner, and he showed me a video of him, and I was like “Holy shit! This guy is awesome!” And that was all that I had seen of him, thus far.

MB: How well did he speak English?

BS: He didn’t 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 I’m 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, “Hey you were great, and we would like you to come back?”

BS: Actually, I didn’t think I did so well. I mean I didn’t 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, “What’s this?” And they said, “They’re balloons, that means we would like you to come back.” 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 didn’t 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 lag… Have you ever been to Japan?

MB: No, I haven’t.

BS: Ok, so over in Japan it didn’t 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 that’s 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 I’ve seen.

BS: Well, this is the way they did it… If you look, I’ve 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 didn’t show up, but he was the one that they were trying to get, and they wound up filling him in with another guy, he’s 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 didn’t come to fruition.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 22, 2020, 03:36:42 PM
*Billy Scott Interview: Part 1 Continued....*

MB: Ok, so if I’m understanding this correctly, there was some apprehensiveness on Warring’s part?

BS: There was. They came to me and said “Hey, this is what we want you to do, we’re going to have this big fight, and would you be willing to come here and train for it?” 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 didn’t work out, and I’m now fighting someone else. I don’t 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 I’m fighting him, and two weeks before the fight they came to me and said, “You’re going to fight James Warring now.” So, to me they were trying to protect people’s images.

MB: Ok, so basically they said, “We want you to fight James Warring,” and then they were like, “No he’s backing out, we got someone else,” and then at the last minute, “It’s Warring again?”

BS: Yeah, they couldn’t 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 I’ve looked back on this a lot, I’m 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 don’t 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 didn’t 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 that’s how the rules were set up. That’s 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 didn’t 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 that’s 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, I’m getting aggravated because I’m trying to FIGHT. I’m trying to go to him with the palm strikes, he’s 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 you’re in the middle of this are you thinking, “Wow, having unlimited rope escapes, is the stupidest idea in the world.”

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

MB: Yeah, I thought the same thing, of course, at this time we’re breaking new ground. I don’t think anyone is thinking about the problems that are going to come up, but had there been let’s say… I don’t know… ten rope escapes, just pick a number… 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 didn’t want to have anything to do with kicks below the waist, and that’s why during that fight you could see him waving his arms, and looking shocked. Now this is how bad people are….when we were at Mickey Mantle’s 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 wouldn’t be any kicks below the waist, but the Japanese didn’t 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 didn’t fight, they didn’t get paid either.

MB: *Laughs* I didn’t think of that, but that makes sense. I wonder if a lot of fighters get screwed like that, especially when there’s 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 didn’t give a rats ass about him.

MB: I’m glad you shed some light on that, because when you watch that fight you can see that Trevor doesn’t seem to know what’s going on.

BS: Yeah, that’s 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 I’m 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 didn’t 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 didn’t know what the ordeal there was.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 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 wear… *trails off* … 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 “If there’s something you don’t understand, you come back to me, and tell me, and I’ll take care of it.” 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 that’s 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, “No. 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 couldn’t 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, let’s 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, “We want you to come in this day, and this is how much we’ll pay?”

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 wasn’t 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 don’t have anything, because they had per fight contracts at the time, and so Shinji called the main office and they said, “No.” They insisted that I pay half, so I said, “Fine.” They wanted me to come back January 10th, and I already had my ticket to come back on that date, and I’m like, “I don’t have to go back,” and they’re like “No, you have to come back.” 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, “Hey I got someone from Japan trying to get ahold of you, there’s someone from Japan that keeps calling over here asking about you.” She didn’t 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 that’s 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, “OK. I’m done with professional wrestling, this is over, I’m going to have find something else to do with my life?” 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 didn’t 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 friends…

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 don’t 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: That’s amazing.

BS: And he wasn’t 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, I’m thinking in my head, “This crazy old man, who does he think he is?” At the time I thought he was crazy, but as time went on, I learned that what he told me was true.

MB: Well, that’s really awesome, too because there aren’t 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 didn’t realize at the time, how lucky I was, and how if I hadn’t did what I did at the time, and not refused to come back over the $500…..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 you’re 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, it’s safe to say that you didn’t 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, “Huh, who’s that?” 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 don’t 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, “Hey, this is BS!”

BS: No, it was already over. To me it was just part of the fight, and now it’s over. But at some point I had heard that Warring was favored to win a ten-round fight, and he couldn’t understand how he lost the fight, but he understood the rules. The rules were if you didn’t 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 wouldn’t engage and I was young, and I didn’t 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, you’re a competitive person. You don’t 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, it’s 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 don’t 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 don’t know if I’ve been looking in the wrong places, but I couldn’t 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 didn’t 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.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on August 30, 2020, 10:06:42 AM
MB: Ok, so the UWFI didn’t 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 Gold’s Gym to do a photo shoot before the fight. They were talking about doing this worldwide, they didn’t just want to stay in Japan.

MB: That’s 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 didn’t it go any further, than that match in Tennessee?

BS: Well, right after that match in Tennessee, that’s when the first UFC started… 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: I’m 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 card… wasn’t 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 Savate….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 don’t 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, “Holy crap! There is something going on here.?”

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 didn’t 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 don’t 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 met… *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 didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 don’t 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 didn’t work that way of course. Rickson isn’t at the dojo at the time, but he hears about what’s 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 didn’t 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 that’s all I heard, and then sometime later….. Wait, wasn’t Sasazaki with him, when they went down there?

MB: I didn’t 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 didn’t know what they were planning. I didn’t go, because I didn’t know that I needed to go. I didn’t 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 Anjo’s comments.

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

MB: Yes, I don’t 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, that’s 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, “Hey Rickson was an asshole, and he jumped me.” 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: I’m not sure. I don’t know what really hurt the company. As an outsider, I couldn’t 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* It’s like anything else, there could have been something going wrong in the office, or there could have been some problems with the finances. When you’re in that kind of position, you are only going to know what they are willing to tell you.

MB: So, you didn’t see or hear anything that would indicate to you that something isn’t 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 didn’t tell me anything about closing down. I was like, “Are you kidding me? What?!” 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 wasn’t 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. That’s 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 (I’m assuming he means in training), somehow he would pull a rabbit out of his hat and beat Sakuraba. I wouldn’t have thought that.

MB: So Anjo didn’t have a reputation in the back as being a great shooter?

BS: He was good, but no, he wasn’t 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 shouldn’t have killed the company, it wasn’t the same as Takada losing, but I still wonder if it wound up hurting the company.

BS: I’ll 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 wasn’t 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: I’ve 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. It’s 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 you’re sitting back as a spectator, and you’re expecting it to be awesome, and it was like, “Shit, that isn’t what I expected to see.” He didn’t kick Rickson like I thought he was going to. Anyone that punches and kicks is going to have enough sense to know that you aren’t 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 didn’t 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: I’m not exactly sure on the date, but whenever Robinson left to go to Japan, and I’m not sure when that was, but it had to be around 2000, or maybe shortly before, because that’s 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 that’s 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 guys’ 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 that’s working off of your back, and Robinson didn’t 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 Robinson’s 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, couldn’t handle it because of the way that Coach Robinson trained, as it was very hardcore.

MB: What was Robinson’s 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.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 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 wouldn’t 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. (I’m 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 Robinson’s uncle, Alf Robinson, seen here at a boxing booth, with the Lonsdale belt, possibly in Blackpool in the 1930s. Alf was known as a “combination” 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, that’s why he got into wrestling. Also, did you know that Karl Gotch and Coach Robinson used to live together?

MB: No, I didn’t 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 didn’t know that, but as far as Fujiwara, I went over and did a thing… *Pauses* I forget the name of it, but it was USA against JAPAN, (editors note: I didn’t 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 Fujiwara’s team vs a team of wrestlers on Nick Bockwinkle’s side.) They had different guys from different places, they had one or two guys from Dan Severn’s 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. That’s how they did it. Coach Robinson was there with Fujiwara and I was placed with a guy who’s name I can’t 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: It’s 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: I’ve 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 can’t say “catch is all like this,” or “BJJ is all like this,” because you might have one coach over here that is really good at one thing…

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

BS: Yes, and actually BJJ didn’t 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, “How big are you?” or “How much do you weigh?” He didn’t realize at the time, that there was a worked element to it, so he was like, “What difference is it, how big I am? I’m good, I can fight.” So, he wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t going to be enough, and that’s 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: It’s like these tournaments nowadays. For years, when I’ve been here, I would train my students, and they would go to these no-gi tournaments, they couldn’t do ankle locks, unless they were at a certain ranked level in BJJ, or you couldn’t 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 don’t think you can really say “BJJ is this, or Judo is this, etc,” I think that it really comes down to the individual, if someone is good, they’re going to be good no matter where they are, because it’s all grappling. It’s going to really come down to who is teaching you, and if you’re on your game or not, because any kind of grappling, is good for you. Sometimes I’ll 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 they’re showing a move as one move, but it’s actually two different moves that’s been mixed into one, so that’s 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 “BJJ is this, or this art is that,” 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! I’ve 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 don’t 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 weren’t stalling, or hanging out there, they were always going for something, and that’s something that I wish was more common in modern MMA. A mentality of “I’ve got to win this fight.”

BS: Yeah, now it’s a matter of once you got your position, you can just kind of hang out there, and now you’re winning the fight.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 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 he’s awesome. I think that he’s 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 there’s Paulson. So, yes, he has a great background in everything. I’ve never met him, so he could be an awesome guy, but technique wise, he’s 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. I’ve brought him over here for seminars, and he’s a really great guy. To me he’s a great wrestler and a great guy.

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

BS: Yes, he is good, from all that he’s 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 doesn’t 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 didn’t 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 Robinson’s 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 wasn’t someone that would speak ill of someone that he didn’t like. From what I recall though, he always spoke well of Thez, and Gotch.

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

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 didn’t start that way, but over time, they built that kind of relationship.

BS: Yeah, that’s 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 Sakuraba’s 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 that’s special. A lot of guys are special, but sometimes, like Coach Robinson used to tell me and Gene, “You guys are ten years ahead of your time,” 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 doesn’t 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, let’s ask you this. It’s 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 he’s 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 can’t remember the name of it…

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 don’t know if regret is the right word, but do you ever look back and wish that you didn’t 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: It’s like anything else. You talk to boxers that used to box in the 80s or 70s, and you show them MMA now, and they’re like, “Holy Shit, I wished we had that then!” Of course, you say that, until you actually get in there, and start getting hit! *Laughs* Then you’re like, “What the hell did I just get myself into?”

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

BS: *Laughs* Yeah, like “Maybe, I should have thought this through!” 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 I’ve 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 life… It was awesome.

MB: Yes,and hopefully, and maybe you already have, but you’ll get someone in your life down the road that you can mentor, because depending on the circumstances, you can really….. I don’t want to say something cliché like you could save someone’s 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, I’ll tell you right now, that I’ve been here 13 years, and over those years I’ve gotten to meet with so many different kinds of people, and I’ve 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 time… *pauses* I guess what I’m 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 didn’t 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 ¾ 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 don’t care what it is, if it’s 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 can’t do it, doesn’t mean that others can’t do it. But there were things that were set up, and there were fixed fights…

MB: I’m not saying “worked” 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 it’s a whole new promotion, but there was that entire weird evolution where it went from one thing to another.

BS: Well it’s 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 champion…

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, didn’t they? Didn’t 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, “Why the hell did he do that?” 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 don’t buy the PPVs. Sometimes I see fighters, or fights that I’m really impressed with, but I don’t 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 scandals… 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 it’s sold out, but it’s only ¾ 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 didn’t 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 “Conan” 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 Anjo’s face, so he couldn’t 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 wasn’t it?

MB: Yes, although it wasn’t 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 isn’t taking anything away from Sakuraba, as Kimo was huge, and roided.

BS: And that’s 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 Smith’s Grove KY at 126 N Main St, Smith’s 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
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on September 10, 2020, 06:43:05 AM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.18 "Pistols at Dawn"

At one point in Dostoevsky’s excellent short story, White Nights, the nameless narrator muses, “But how can you live and have no story to tell?” 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 wasn’t quite two months back that we saw one of the most brazenly awful matches thus far, when Takada/Backlund didn’t even last a full two minutes before Backlund collapsed in agony, feigning an injury to one of Takada’s 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 I’m 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 “Thunder” Cummings

Cummings doesn’t waste any time going right at Ohe, and is predictably met with some low kicks, but they don’t 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 Em’ Sock Em’ Robot approach. Cummings is doing a good job dancing around Ohe while getting some punches in from a distance but can’t seem to stop any of Ohe’s 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 fighters’ 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 didn’t matter, as he still had Ohe’s 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 Everything…


Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 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 it’s 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 Anjo’s 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 I’m tempted to complain that there still isn’t much of a point to a tag match (within a promotion that doesn’t 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, it’s Tatsuyo Nakano’s 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 I’m 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 Albright’s 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 didn’t 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, “Hit him a couple more times! Hit him a couple in the face Gary!” and then a little later he even offered a “Do a piledriver!” Apparently, no one notified Albright’s 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 won’t lie, I enjoyed this way more than I probably should have. Yes, it was all pro wrestling theatrics, but so far it’s 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 don’t 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 Hell….


Speaking of stories to tell, we would be remiss if we didn’t 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 Scott’s thigh. Scott was then able to secure some nice takedowns, including a low single leg, and a fireman’s 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 Scott’s 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 isn’t 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. Backlund’s goofy mannerisms aside, this is already better than the last outing (though that’s not saying much) as they spend some time feeling each other out, and Takada shows some impressive sprawling technique as he stuffs one of Backlund’s double leg attempts by putting his right arm around Backlund’s neck, while putting his right knee on the ground and the same time, and was really shifting his bodyweight into Backlund’s 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. Backlund’s 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 don’t 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.

Want to see this event in full? Head on over to and you can access extra goodies not included in this version.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on September 10, 2020, 06:49:29 AM
*In other news*

Lou Negila recently hosted a kickboxing event at the Christopher’s 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 Schuette’s 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 Chișinău’s 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 Software’s 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 gear…

Witness this insanely rare event...only at
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on October 07, 2020, 05:03:11 PM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 19 "Ashes and Stardust"

*Note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his intials.*

In our last correspondence we at Kakutogi HQ briefly talked about our harrowing journey, where we were dodging Interpol agents around the back alleys of Moldova, all while searching for ancient tomes full of passion and wisdom, fearful that at any moment our quest would be cut short by a one-way trip to an unlit cell in Stockholm. Thankfully, not only did we avoid the international authorities, but we were able to make it back with not one, but two VHS masters, of early Shooto. We covered the 3-17-90 event in chapter 18, so we will now take the time to offer a glimpse inside this unreal scroll and reveal the contents therein.

Right away this glorious cassette tape is delivering the goods, as we are greeted to a wonderful montage while Passion from Andrew Blythe plays in the background, and this is a truly exquisite experience, as this would be the perfect track for a late 80s martial arts revenge flick, in which the reluctant protagonist decides to get revenge from the evil horde of ninjas that killed his brother, because he knew too much about their network of illicit cocaine distribution. The introduction ends with a wonderful screen display that says SUPER FREE FIGHTING over a red backdrop. It would appear that the producers have moved on from the Commodore 64, and are now taking advantage of Broderbund’s legendary Dazzle Draw, which is a raster graphics editor that can take advantage of the full 16 color spectrum that enhanced Apple IIe computers can provide.

Even 1 ½ years after the first professional Shooto event, Satoru Sayama is still starting these shows by giving an introduction with his students, but what is most remarkable, is that instead of just keeping this demonstration limited to the basic rules, he is also going in depth on technique, proper fighting stances, etc, and is basically conducting a mini training seminar. As I’m watching this I’m reminded of an interview with Bret Hart, where he said that his fathers biggest joy and passion was teaching real shoot holds to anyone that would listen, and I believe that I’m seeing a kindred spirit here with Sayama. Surely, most of the crowd has a general grasp on what’s going on by now, so having an introduction to every event is probably unnecessary,  but you can see a certain joy when Sayama explains techniques to the crowd, and there is no doubt that starting this new sport had to be a labor of love, as he left behind a life of endorsements, tv commercials, and basically being the Japanese equivalent of Hulk Hogan, to do something as crazy as start a promotion based around real comprehensive fighting, and if that wasn’t enough, he had no real precedent to base this endeavor off of outside of what existed in the world of pro wrestling. He wound up paying a hefty price for following his passions, as after leaving the UWF, and writing his autobiography, entitled, Kayfabe (where he supposedly exposed the secrets of puroresu) he wound up largely being persona non grata to the Japanese pro wrestling world, and wound up having to return to work in pro wrestling events in the mid to late 90s, past his physical prime, and lacking in finances, as he was ousted from Shooto in 1996 due to disagreements with the board of directors.

First up, we are greeted with a graphics title letting us know that we will be having a match between Kenji Kawaguchi vs. Yuji Ito, and what I find particularly interesting about this is that they list the respective gyms of both participants, in a way that became popular in the late 90s/early 00’s with promotions like King of the Cage, Gladiator Challenge, Extreme Challenge, etc. This is amazing that as far back as 1990 there were effectively different MMA gyms in Japan, trying to compete with each other within the Shooto system. The match starts off with both fighters trading unchecked thigh kicks, but with Kawaguchi seemingly having the power advantage, between the two. Ito is fast enough to sneak in some stiff jabs, but there is a considerable gap between the athleticism of both men, and he is having trouble dealing his opponents explosiveness.

One negative to this early Shooto, is the complete lack of time on the ground that is allowed. Whereas the Shooto I’ve witnessed from 94-96, the refs were much more liberal about allowing time for the fights to play out on the ground (though they wouldn’t be afraid to stand things up for a lack of action) and starting around 97 or so, they moved to more of a PRIDE FC format of not standing up fighters at all, and moving the opponents back to the center of the ring if they got too close to the ropes. This kind of rhythm feels a lot like a judo match, in that you had better sink in a submission right away once you hit the ground, or you are just going to get stood right back up.

Round 2 goes right into a total slugfest as both fighters just start letting the swings fly, but again, while Ito is landing just as much, if not more strikes, his punches don’t seem to contain the same power that Kawaguchi has. Still, Ito’s barrage may be working, as after one such exchange, Kawaguchi fell to a knee, and then seemed to go for a lazy kneebar attempt, to try and buy some time. Just when I think that Ito has a chance in this fight, Kawaguchi floors him with a nasty left hook, that scores a knockdown. Ito barely manages to get back up, and is knocked right back down, but is able to stand back up right before the bell rang.

Round 3 sees Ito go out on his shield, as he wastes no time going after Kawaguchi, but his power simply isn’t there, and is quickly knockout with a counteroffensive. Fun match.

 ML: Ito has an awkward striking style where he wants to fight on the  inside so he can throw a short right punch or a right elbow, which kind  of looks the same because he's throwing both with a bent elbow, to the  point I'm  not sure if he's got great disguise or is just following  through with the right arm until some part of it connects. The first  round was pretty even, but Kawaguchi made adjustments in the 2nd,  deciding that if Ito was going to keep coming in to try for the phone  booth fight that he'd either counter by dropping down into the takedown  or by timing him coming in, dropping Ito with a left hook. At the end of  the round, Kawaguchi had another knockdown with a right hook for a  middle kick. Kawaguchi tried to take it to Ito in the 3rd, but Ito hurt  him countering with the bent arm right. However, as both  kept swinging  wildly, Kawaguchi wound up knocking Ito out with a left hook a few  seconds later. Not the best technical match you'll ever see, but an  entertaining match that I think you could consider a good match via  initial  MMA standards. 
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on October 07, 2020, 05:06:23 PM
*Vol 19 Continued...*

Next we have a delightful title card informing us that the upcoming bout will be for the inaugural welterweight title, and is featuring Kazuhiro Kusayanagi of the Super Tiger Gym Saginuma (with a background in judo and wrestling) vs Tomonori Ohara of the Kiguchi Shooting Gym (with a background in boxing.) Round 1 is almost underway, and we can see that the most fearsome weapon seen today will surely be Ohara’s Joe Dirt styled mullet. This round was mostly a kickboxing affair with Kusayanagi moving in and out, effectively using his jab to measure distance, and pelt his opponent with low kicks and punches. Ohara’s footwork was in place, but he seemed tentative, and while he would unload a nice shot to his opponent’s body, he simply spent most of the round taking kicks to his leg. The end of the round saw Kusayanagi change his pattern and sink an armbar onto his opponent after a beautifully timed double leg, but the bell rang before Ohara had to tap.

Round 2 saw Ohara starting to loosen up a little bit and starting to counter Kusayanagi’s forward charges with some stiff jabs to the face and body. This pattern went on for a while, until Kusayanagi opted to take the fight to the ground and was able to get an interesting submission attempt going, which was a combination of a leg-scissors and a triangle choke. It seemed that he had finally got the choke secured, in addition to trapping the elbow joint, but again Ohara is saved by the bell, just as the submission was getting too tight to fight out of.

Round 3 was much better for Ohara as he completely dominated by stuffing multiple takedown attempts from Kusayanagi, and landed shots at will throughout the round. Someone must have had a pep talk with Ohara right before round 4 started, as he came out very aggressively and kept the pressure on Kusayanagi until he dropped him with a powerful right. This was a remarkably interesting match, where we got to see a fighter get better and more confidant throughout the rounds, to win a fight in a dominant fashion. I would not have given the fighter that I saw in round 1 any chance of winning this fight, but once he found his confidence, that was all it took to make Kusayanagi leave the building on a stretcher.

 ML: Hesistant was the name of the game here. Ohara wanted to strike, but  Kusayanagi was just waiting for him to commit to something to drop into  a double leg, and the fear of the takedown pretty much negated the  action. Ohara would land a decent strike now and then, but definitely  didn't get the better of the 1st two rounds, probably getting saved by  the bell from  Kusayanagi's armbar in the 1st, and getting controlled a  lot longer in the 2nd while Kusayanagi tried to invent some sort of odd  Americana variation that likely doesn't exist for a reason. Kusayanagi  was trying to be more aggressive in the 3rd in that he was willing to  shoot, but he was doing so from too far away so as to not engage in any  striking he didn't need to. Ohara wound up hurting him kind of on a  fluke as Ohara threw a wild long right at the same time as Kusayanagi  threw a right kick, and somehow Ohara recovered quickly enough to get a  left in while Ohara was still resetting himself. Ohara opened up after  this, suddenly throwing lead power straights, and although Kusayanagi  survived the round fine, Ohara stayed aggressive and was rewarded with a  knockout landing a long right straight at the same time Kusayanagi  tried to throw a right kick. While the 1st half of the match was bad, at  least Ohara was eventually willing to bring it, and was thus rewarded. 

Now it is time for the final battle of the evening, as we are to see the Shooto Middleweight Title on the line, as defending champion Yasuto Sekishima must face off agaisnt number one ranked challenger Naoki Sakurada. Sakurada appears to be a rather short fighter in the vein of a Henry Cejudo, and is probably the kind of fighter where it is a nightmare to try to shoot in deep enough to overcome an insanely low center of gravity. Surprisingly, Sekishima was able to take down Sakurada several times this round, but it was more a matter of him leaning on him and falling down, as opposed to any actual refined takedown techniques. This round was very even, with both fighters aggressively going at one another, without a clear-cut winner.

The rest of the match saw both fighters aggressively pursuing what was essentially a boxing match, with a few kicks and takedown attempts sprinkled in. Sakurada was a powerful bundle of compact energy, where Sekishima was long and used his range well. The deciding factor may be Sekishima’s takedown defense, as his opponent has the physical stature to make blasting a double a seemingly easy proposition, every time he tried, he got instantly stuffed, and put into a bad position. The fight went to a draw, and I’m not sure if Shooto has judges at this point or not, but I felt that this was a fair decision. While this would have been ruled a win for Sekishima under modern rules, due to his getting several takedowns in the 5th round (none of which accomplished much) but neither fighter was able close to finishing the other, or do any significant damage. Good fight with lots of effort on both fighters’ parts, despite the lack of a finish.

 ML: Sakurada was the better boxer, but was definitely giving up some  reach. Sekishima had better kicks and knees, but had a hard time really  utilizing the knees, as Sakurada kept him from getting the clinch, and  would drop down into a double leg. The match was competitive and wasn't  dull, but at the same time didn't have many big moments. Sakurada  started to get going in the 4th when he brought the jab down to the body  then would follow with the right to the head. Sekishima didn't like  this new Sakurada combo, and became a takedown machine in the 5th,  dropping really low for the double leg as soon as Sakurada made a move  forward. 


Overall, I felt this was probably the best Shooto event we have covered so far, in terms of total top-to-bottom quality. I’m excited to try and locate the rest of the missing gaps in our archives, and hopefully -we will be able to chronicle them all. If not, we will return to check in on Sayama and crew for the 11-7-92 event.

 ML: These fighters aren't technically perfect, but again, everyone is in  shape & more or less well rounded. I think if you asked someone who  just watched American MMA to guess what year this show was from, they  could easily place it in 1997 or 1998.

If you want to see this incredibly rare piece of MMA history...then head on over to and join the revolution. By joining you are helping two combat sports enthusiasts, fully document a sport that was in dire need of some discovery!

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on October 17, 2020, 04:51:35 PM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 20 "K1 to the Rescue!"

*Mike Lorefice's comments will be prefaced by his intials.*

It has been about three months since we last witnessed RINGS with their threadbare group of hired mercenaries, and many unanswered questions have been left to us. Will Akira Maeda recover from his knee injury? Will his budding career as a prestigious interviewer/commentator take him away from the shoot-realms, for good? And perhaps the most pressing question of all, will Kazuyoshi Ishii and his ensemble cast of Sediokaikan Karate stars be able to save the day, and give purpose to this worthy endeavor? The moment for these truths to be revealed is upon us, as the 1991 RINGS ASTRAL STEP FINAL BLAZE UP is about to start, and we will either witness a fiery crescendo taking us into greater realms of unobtained glory, or we will merely witness dying embers, where a mighty structure once stood.

It is 12-7-91 and the action is set to take place within the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum, in what is sure to be an electrifying evening. The Ariake Coliseum is a large 10,000 indoor arena, most famous for being a preeminent tennis venue (slated to host the 2020 tennis Olympic games) and is one of the only tennis venues to boast a retractable roof. Things open off with a wonderful montage that introduces the various matches that will be seen later, and as I’m watching this, the tawdry graphics make me momentarily forget where I am, and I’m getting  that sense of impending doom that I will soon be whisked away to the Mega-Man level selection screen, where I will once again have to do battle with my old nemesis Cut-Man.

  After I snap back to reality, I begin to realize that this will surely be a make-or-break evening for this outfit, as out of the three shoot-style promotions that we have been covering so far, Maeda has had the most grandiose concept out of the three, but we have consistently seen the execution fall short of his vision. Using established martial artists in worked shoots was an innovative idea, and having them hail from different countries and fighting backgrounds solidified the illusion of credibility and sport-like atmosphere more so than his contemporaries, but so far this reliance on rookie foreign talent (who had no experience working matches up to this point) and only one native star in Mitsuya Nagai (who had a background in Shootboxing, before moving to pro wrestling) has put this entire operation in a state of peril, where the promotion is completely dependent on the drawing power of its founder, Akira Maeda.

 ML: The difference between RINGS and the other two U.W.F. off shoots is Maeda has followed the format of the big U.W.F. shows using foreign martial artists who are good to exceptional in their real fighting discipline but have little to no training working matches while PWFG & UWF-I have followed the format of the small U.W.F. shows, trying to run a monthly promotion that mostly relies upon solid bouts between the natives, with a couple foreign regulars sprinkled in. RINGS, right now, is not capable of running even small shows without Maeda, which PWFG has done without Fujiwara and UWF-I could do without Takada, because these promotions have a number of other more useful natives, but those promotions don't seem to have the guts Maeda does to promote something major. Though in retrospect the case could be made that Volk Han is the greatest shoot style worker of all-time, sambo isn't a sport that has a worldwide following, or is really even practiced in Japan, so no matter how great a champion Han was in that discipline, he's still some dude that literally no one in the arena has seen fight in any style, meaning Maeda is literally responsible for selling lets say 95% of the tickets on his own.

 The ring announcers spend several minutes talking about sambo before segueing to a pre-recorded interview between Akira Maeda and Mike Tyson. For those that have been faithfully following this column, you will know that we have reported that for the last few months Akira Maeda has become a bit of a celebrity interviewer and analyst for the Japanese WOWWOW network (similar to HBO in the United States) and if this wrestling thing winds up not working out, at least Maeda seems to have a comfortable career parachute waiting for him in the broadcast world. Surprisingly, Maeda seems to have excellent English when he thanks Mike Tyson, but still asks questions to him in Japanese, while they have an interpreter repeat it back to Tyson. A question (presumably about his recent loss to Buster Douglas) is presented to Tyson from Maeda, and Tyson offers up a somewhat poignant response about how he isn't mad that he lost, but is having trouble dealing with that fact that he didn't prepare properly or give his best. Who knew that Tyson, in his own simple way, would be tapping into the ancient Greek philosophical concept of akrasia , which loosely translated, means a weakness of will, or lack of self-control?

Kakutogi Makes for Strange Bedfellows...

After this we are next taken to another interview, this time between Maeda and Evander Holyfield. We only get the Japanese form of the question, but it appears that Maeda asked Holyfield about his thoughts on Karate, to which he responds that he was in tune with Bruce Lee and karate when he was younger, and currently his kids are showing an interest in Karate, due to the Ninja Turtles. Then if that wasn't enough, we get an absolutely hilarious clip of George Foreman saying that when he got into shape, he was going to add Ahh-kee-dah Mah-eee-dah to his training style, and this simply has to be seen to be believed.

 ML: The Foreman interview was more '80's pro wrestling than almost anything you've ever seen in pro wrestling, though the funniest part was contemplating Foreman actually getting into shape some century.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on October 17, 2020, 04:53:22 PM
* Vol 20 Continued.... *


No time is wasted after the Forman clip, and we are taken straightaway to our first fight, which will be a THUNDER BOUT between Koichiro Kimura and Grom Zaza. This will be the RINGS debut for Zaza, and the first recorded Rings match for Kimura, who previously had a untelevised dark match at the inaugural Rings show against Hideki Hosaka. Before Rings, Kimura was working for the FMW and W*ING promotions before coming to RINGS and had even competed for the FMW light heavyweight title. To a modern MMA fan he is known (if at all) for his segments in the 1999 documentary Choke, where he gave an emotional interview after his loss to Rickson Gracie at VTJ 95, where he said that he was now convinced in the power of BJJ, and before this particular loss he simply thought it was a mixture of judo and wrestling, but now came to understand that it was more than that. When he is occasionally mentioned on MMA forums, it’s usually by people trying to downplay Rickson Gracie’s MMA career, where they will list him as an example of an inferior opponent, but truthfully he was a man of greater credentials then what he is commonly given credit for. He was a former S.A.W. champion going into VTJ 95 (S.A.W. being an acronym for Submission Arts Wrestling, which is form of no-gi submission grappling started in the 80s by Hidetaka Aso, who was a student of Karl Gotch) and he was also a pioneer in women’s combat sports, as he started both the Japanese WMMA promotions AX and G-Shooto.

 ML: I'm all for downplaying the paper career of the sandbagger Rickson, who beat a small assortment of pro wrestling based newcomers, hasbeens, and never weres, none of whom really won any matches afterwards, with his crowning achievement being taking out a fighter who had already been rendered half blind. Sure, someone had to win those VTJ matches, but they already knew what worked for Royce Gracie in the UFC, and still stacked the deck even more massively in his brother's favor, to say the least. After that, he only took a couple fights that both paid huge and were even more obvious wins given Takada was arguably the worst MMA fighter in history & Funaki was totally broken to the point he promptly retired after his bad knee gave out during the fight, leading to the finish, though Rickson still had to get as many different strikes as he could get away with rendered illegal, just in case Funaki might still be healthy enough to get lucky.


On the other hand, Zaza "Grom" Tkeshelashvili is a Georgian freestyle wrestler that was good enough to be included in the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, and wound up holding shoot wins over Ricardo Morias, Travis Fulton, and possibly Volk Han (from a late 1999 match, who’s shootiness I can’t confirm or deny at this time). This match will take place about 8months into Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union, so it is fascinating to see this early example of eastern European integration into international sporting endeavors, outside of an Olympic context. The match starts off with a young, and very lithe looking Kimura quickly moving around, while rocking his S.A.W. attire. Right away, we see Kimura moving well and getting a takedown off of some very weak pitter-patter kicks from Zaza, who got much better as his career went on, but here is still probably unsure on how hard his strikes are supposed to be. Right away we see an interesting technique from Kimura, who attempted a Kani-Basami (scissors-throw) off a single-leg attempt from Zaza, and having failed that, he instantly shifted it into an inventive kneebar entry. Zaza keeps a fast pace with many throws and takedowns, but only seems to have a tenuous grasp of submissions. Kimura on the other hand looked good throughout, and I’m left with the impression that had he chose to continue to continue his career in the shoot-style world, then he could have been known as one of its major players, but he only stuck around Rings until the end of 1993. He spent the rest of his career afterwards, mainly working in less realistic leagues, most notably as Super Uchu Power in the DDT promotion. The match ends at the 24:46 mark, and this was way too long a match time for two rookies, especially Zaza, who kept a fast pace, but never allowed the match to breathe, or really allow Kimura to get much offense in, as he kept spamming takedowns/throws. Still, not a bad showing for two novices.

 ML: Worked shoots aren't really meant to go 25 minutes, and while the very best guys can pull them off, even their intensity and speed are somewhat diminished. These are rookies, and Maeda should know better that even in traditional pro wrestling, which is much more conducive to padding, rookies are going 5 or 10 minutes. There were some good moments here such as Kimura countering the takedown by dropping down into a scissor and elevating Zaza over into a kneebar, but how many times did we need to see Zaza punching his way inside then dropping into a single leg? We also saw what I believe is our first and second STF's before Zaza won with a shoulder lock. I don't want to make this sound bad, these guys did quite well, especially given the booking they were strapped with, but the match would have been better if it was even slightly competitive and much shorter, especially because the former didn't play well with the later. Kimura was crafty, but he was almost always on the defensive, trying to counter the shot with some sort of leg scissors.


Next, we have an AQUA BOUT with Nobuaki Kakuda vs. Herman Renting, and this will be contested as five 2-min rounds, as opposed to one 30min round. Kakuda is a welcome addition here, as he is coming into this as a sediokaikan karate champion, that has a reputation as fan-favorite, and always gives 100% in every one of his fights. It remains to be seen how he will fare here in this kind of environment, but this is the kind of talent infusion that has the potential to add some welcome verve to the proceedings. This will be Renting’s 4th Rings bout, and he has been getting a little better with each outing. Both fighters merely circled each other in the first round feeling each other out, with hardly any strikes being thrown from either fighter. Renting is the first to engage halfway through round 2, when he barges over to Kakuda and puts him in a variant of a guillotine choke, but quickly finds himself entangled in the ropes. The ref calls for a break, and Renting refuses at first, but eventually lets the hold go. I couldn’t tell if he was penalized for this, as it appeared that the ref was saying something to the judges table, and he did look like he was searching for a penalty card, but didn’t actually pull one out, so I’m not sure what to make of it.

Not much happened in round 3, and round 4 saw the first rope escape when Renting attempted another Guillotine off of a single-leg attempt from Kakuda, where they wound up immediately falling to the ground, and Kakuda twisted away from the choke, into the ropes. Shortly afterwards, Renting came charging in again, this time with a simple rape choke against Kakuda’s throat, which saw him get reprimanded by the referee, but again, it doesn’t seem like he is actually getting any real penalty for this.  In round 5, Kakuda starts to offensively press Renting for a brief moment, but quickly goes back to a more tentative approach, throwing a kick, and then quickly backing off. In one such exchange, Kakuda threw a kick, took a couple of steps back, and wound up taking a palm-strike from Renting that looked like it hit way harder than Renting probably intended. The ref does not call for a knockdown, seemingly knowing that something was wrong about this, and allows Kakuda to recover in his corner. The fight is over shortly afterwards and is ruled a draw. This was quite disappointing, as I had high hopes for Kakuda. This match would have had great potential for a shoot, in the sense of a classic grappler vs striker setup, but even if you insisted on working this fight, five 2-min rounds was not the way to do it. In every round, just when it seemed like something was about to happen, the round ended, so we actually got very little here, in what should have been an entertaining showing. Also, these two guys were in good enough shape that having a standard Rings match shouldn’t have exposed any cardio limitations, so this didn’t wind up making a lot of sense.

 ML: This was one of those fascinating, technically excellent fights we would eventually get from karate fighters such as Lyoto Machida in MMA. They fought this very very realistically, with both fighters using a lot of fakes and feints and paying close attention to their footwork and balance, which really surprised me because while that's Kakuda's style as a karate champion, Renting managed to be almost equally disciplined even though his strategy was to merely avoid getting his legs chewed up & find openings to rush Kakuda so he could wrestle him. It was the sort of hard gym sparring we'd later get from Pancrase, really close to being a shoot even though they didn't have much impact on their strikes. The way they moved, defended, and attacked with aggression and urgency though, there was nothing you could say was outwardly or obviously fake here. Some people will hate this match, but I would say that it's one of the best I've seen when it comes to footwork and maintaining a realistic and intense striking environment. If you're looking for actual action, the match was certainly rather lacking. While I enjoyed this bout, the problem was they never actually lit the wick. The first three rounds could have stayed the same, but Kakuda needed to bait Renting into a mistake and lay him out with a high kick or step knee at some point. Instead, the only big spot was an illegal punch to the face by Renting in the 5th, RINGS rules only allowing for open hand strikes to the head at this point. As it stands, while it was incredibly promising and really light years ahead of what was going on in UWF-I & PWFG at this point (outside of Ohe's kickboxing shoots), it also never actually delivered on its promise, which was odd given that Kakuda was both a big enough name in Japan within his circle and obviously an actual native who could have been a draw on his own or opposing Maeda. It seems like Maeda wasn't willing to commit at all to these Seidokaikan guys, at least not yet, because he didn't control them.


The aqua sources that we just ingested were akin to the renowned springs flowing out of Flint, MI, so hopefully this heaping dose of Earth will settle our stomachs. We now have renowned judo ace, Chris Dolman facing Tiger Levani. As of press time, I have been unable to find out much about Levani other than he is apparently of Greek descent, and it does not seem like he did much outside of three Rings matches. The match starts off with some laughably weak strikes, possibly the lightest that we have witnessed so far, which makes me wonder if Tiger was possibly a student or acquaintance of Dolman and did not want to risk actually hitting him. Thankfully it wasn’t long before the grappling started as Tiger attempted an ippon-seoinage (one arm shoulder throw) and Dolman executed a beautiful counter where he simply attempted a rear naked choke from the standing position, and makes me wonder if we should be seeing more variations of this, as a way to negate throws in a modern MMA context? Tiger fell to the ground after this, and Dolman wasn’t able to finish the hold, and Tiger seemed to be extra careful not to hurt Dolman (strikes are still legal on the ground) as he transitioned around him to attempt an armbar on a turtled Dolman. The inevitable dueling leg-lock battle soon followed with both men failing to destroy the footsies of the other. The rest of the match followed in the same pattern with one of them gaining a takedown, preceded by some truly awful punches/kicks, and then usually a leg attack. It finally ended with Dolman taking Levani repeatedly to a corner and kneeing him until he left himself open to a sloppy guillotine choke, for the victory.

I find this putting me in a situation where it is hard to assess the ability of Levani. He clearly shares the same Sambo/Judo style as Dolman, and moves like he has a repository of knowledge and experience, but his refusal to put anything behind his strikes (even by pro wrestling standards) really ruined any chance for him to shine. From what I can tell, he has two other matches in Rings, with one against Masayuki Naruse, and the other against Chris Haseman, so he never had the opportunity to learn and grow. From what I saw however, I would imagine him being more useful than a Tariel Bitsadze, who was the living embodiment of molasses, and still was heavily used by Maeda in the years to come. Dolman did not help matters here either, with his unusually soft strikes also, but that may have had to do with respecting Levani’s comfort level. This could have been a decent match had they attempted to put some more realism into it.

 ML: The striking in this match was so soft if was farcical. It was so bad that it felt like you were watching a spoof that was designed to finally, once and for all, prove pro wrestling was indeed fake. The only saving grace is they didn't do that nonsensical Kurt Angle bobblehead selling. Dolman getting a knockdown in the corner with a 2 inch low kick to Tiger's kick pad was definitely the most shameful moment of the night. Dolman is almost certainly the worst shoot wrestler working in '91. In his prime, he theoretically might have been one of the best in an actual shoot, but at this point he moves like an 80-year-old who had both knees replaced a few times. The grappling in this match was passable, and luckily there was more of that than the striking, but Dolman just moves so slow that it's just painful to watch.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on October 17, 2020, 04:54:51 PM
* Vol 20 Continued.... *


Now it is time for an AIR BOUT with everyone’s favorite cheatyface, Willie Peeters, and Dick Vrij. Peeters has been one of the most interesting Rings characters so far, for his willingness to really go hard against an opponent, even when it was arguably inappropriate to do so. This trait may have been uncouth, but at least you felt like you were in a fight when watching Peeters work, so this match against Vrij should be entertaining. Peeters digs deep into the tae kwon do well, when he opens things up with a flying reverse turning kick, which fails to connect, and causes Vrij to respond by tossing Peeters like a collegiate weight discus. Not long after, Peeters lands another spinning kick to Vrij’s ribs, and after a moment of wincing the human cyborg kicks Peeters up high, near the head, which scores a knockdown. About eight more minutes of zaniness ensued, and despite not being the least bit realistic, this may be the most entertaining Rings match that we have witnessed so far. Peeters was all over the place, almost resembling a Warner Bros cartoon at times. His strikes would oscillate from not connecting at all, to possibly being too stiff, and the evil henchman cyborg vibe that Vrij gives off really played into the theatrical value of it all. There was one funny moment where Peeters had Vrij on the ground and after a liver kick, he followed up with a downwards punch, that missed by a mile, but the Japanese audience thought it connected and started going crazy over it. The match ended with a loss of points for Peeters, who suffered one too many knockdowns.

 ML: Peeters was really psyched up here, and had the place rocking. This wasn't one of his better performances though, as he backed down from the stiffness against the more powerful opponent the way bullies tend to do, and was really lacking discipline and just all over the place. I liked that he was trying to pounce on any opportunity to catch Vrij prone to the point he had to stop himself in the midst of several blows that would have been illegal, but whereas previously it could have been argued that he hit too hard, today he was barely connecting too often. The big problem was that they were doing really overexaggerated pro wrestling selling, with Peeters even jumping when Vrij kicked him so it would supposedly look like he was blown off his feet. Vrij just did his thing, as limited workers tend to do. He was more on his game than Peeters, but there's really nothing to his game. At least Peeters, goofy as he was, was interesting because, for better and worse, he was making things happen, while Vrij was just doing his shadowboxing against a live opponent.

Ric Flair used to call himself the dirtiest player in the game, but that is surely because he never knew about Gerard Gordeau. Truly one of the most reprehensible characters (at least inside the ring) in the history of MMA, due to his various scummy antics (most notably eye gouging one of Yuki Nakai’s eyes at VTJ 95, thus causing permeant blindness) this will be our first time covering him, though Gordeau himself was quite experienced at this point, having been the 1991 World Savate Champion, a highly experienced Kyokushin karate practitioner, and a fixture within the Dutch kickboxing/martial arts scene. He even had at least one professional MMA fight in 1989 (which we will cover later) where his ability to cheat was so profound, that he somehow managed to get disqualified in a “No Rules Fight.” Here he will be facing Mitsuya Nagai in a UNIVERSE BOUT which will consist of seven 3min rounds, which on paper sounds like a good matchup due to Nagai’s background in Shootboxing.

 ML: Ric Flair thought the G1 Climax was the G-Eye Climax even while he was competing in it, so his credibility is as suspect as the believability of his matches where he did that corny faceplant every time, yet the useless ref never stopped it. While we are on the topic of Rickson Gracie's easy tournament wins, I guess we should point out that it was Gordeau's antics in handicapping Nakai that ultimately cemented Gracie's reputation. While, in fairness, Gracie would likely have defeated Nakai anyway, WCW's top shooter, the dreadful Sgt. Craig Pittman, who on top of everything else had 100 pounds on Nakai, still managed to fall prey to an armbar.


The fight starts off with Gordeau throwing a very crisp kick to Nagai’s midsection, but is quickly taken down, and scrambles to the ropes as if his life depended on it. They get back up and feel each other out, when Gordeau engages again, and at one point in the midst of the barrage, Nagai starts to complain to the ref about getting a close fist punch to the face, but Gordeau simply took this time that Nagai was spending to attack him some more. The ref wound up breaking it up, but way after the fact, and did not penalize Gordeau for this either. Round 1 ended shortly afterwards, and while I am still keenly using my shoot detector to try and assess this fight, nothing in round one so far has looked fake to me.

Round 2 sees Gordeau slowly try and back Nagai into a corner, and after eventually succeeding starts briefly unloading on Nagai which opens up an opportunity for him to sink in, what appears to be a deep guillotine choke, but for some reason the ref calls for a break, which serves to confuse both Gordeau, and myself, as I can’t tell what could have been illegal about this. Nagai took a walloping for the rest of the round. He was able to take Gordeau down a couple of times, but it only led to restarts from the ref for getting entangled in the ropes in one instance, and Gordeau just opting for a quick rope break on the 2nd. This is continuing to look like a shoot, but I am reserving judgment until this is over.

Round 3 was more of a beating to Nagai. At this point his only defense seems to Gordeau’s striking seems to be the takedown, but he can’t manage to accomplish anything useful once the fight hits the ground. A very lopsided round against Nagai.

Round 4 sees Gordeau win at the 34 second mark, by countering a weak takedown attempt from Nagai with a guillotine choke. The ref once again broke the guillotine for an unknown reason, but this one seemed to be completely sunk in. After the break Nagai just crumpled to the ground afterwards with a nosebleed, looking completely exhausted, and the ref called the fight. I am now completely convinced that this is the first shoot that we have witnessed from Rings, and I admit that I am surprised. I had a suspicion that this would be a good fight on paper, but was fearful that it would be another hokey work, but this turned out to be an interesting early example of MMA, although I would have guessed that Nagai would have been a tougher opponent than he was. Not the best fight in the world, from a modern perspective, but in the context of its time, entertaining, and historically interesting.

 ML: Gordeau is definitely shooting on Nagai. Nagai seems to be in the mode we saw from Kakuda & Renting of approaching things as a real fight, but at the same time not really putting much on his kicks. Nagai quickly sees that Gordeau has a big power advantage, in addition to obviously having more technical skill on his feet, and becomes increasingly tentative to commit to his strikes, which could account for his wimpy leg kicks, settling for just going for takedowns. The fight is all one-way traffic for Gordeau, as Nagai can't keep him down for more than seconds. Nagai still seems to be doing some pro wrestling selling, and just gives up early in the 4th, refusing to get up even though the ref again breaks Gordeau's guillotine choke, as apparently they are illegal for some reason.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on October 17, 2020, 04:57:58 PM
* Vol 20 Continued.... *


Now, we get to learn that fire is somehow of a greater nobility than the universe in the great pantheon of Rings dimensions, but the esoteric secrets don’t stop there, as we are also able to glean from the preceding picture that Hans Nyman could have been one of the zombie extras in Return of the Living Dead. This will be Nyman’s debut in Rings, and we should all enjoy his work while we are able, as he was to meet a very saddening end in 2014 when his life was cut short by automatic fire, while sitting in a car parked outside of his gym, in what was presumed by local Dutch authorities to be gang hit. His opponent will be Masaaki Satake, a Seidokaikan Karate powerhouse that went on to be one of K1’s huge stars in its early years, and is here now, thankfully on loan to us from the mighty Kazuyoshi Ishii. Round 1 saw Satake attack Nyman (or Nijman as his spelling is now more commonly known) from a variety of angles, where Nyman only seemed to have a strong push kick as a response. This was still a feeling out round for both men, but Satake is looking sharp, but it remains to be seen how his ne-waza skills will fare.

Round 2 saw Satake fight a textbook Sediokaikan style, by entering into phone booth range, and just wailing away with body shots. Nyman was able to hit an occasional push kick, or punch to the body, but he simply doesn’t have the tools to be competitive with Satake in the stand-up arena, which puzzles me, as to why he hasn’t really tried to take this fight to the ground.

Round 3 starts, and I am starting to realize that I’m not watching a match with normal Rings rules, but rather a straight up karate match. This is basically playing out like any Sediokaikan match, but instead of splitting the rounds up into Gi, non gi, etc, it is simply a straightforward karate bout, sans the gi. Needless to say, Nyman spends the rest of this round getting beat up, as he isn’t in the same league as Satake. The rest of the fight was no different but was strangely ruled a draw. I was excited when I was under the pretense that this would be a standard Rings bout, but am now disappointed, as this really only served to be an exhibition, where a shoot, or even a worked-shoot from someone like Satake during this stage of his career, would have been welcome, and interesting. This wasn’t bad as much as it was pointless.

 ML: This was probably the most ass Satake has ever kicked, or at least I hope so. He kept a high pace here against his slow, not particularly athletic opponent, mostly landing kicks that I'm not sure whether I should call middle or low given they connected to to the upper thighs or glutes, in other words the places you would never target that happen to have the most padding. Satake had a surprisingly high output, but nothing either fighter was throwing had any real impact, not even to just mix things up and make it seem like something actually scored big. Or I guess I should say that nothing Satake was throwing, because while Hans was able to hold off Satake briefly with his front kick, once Satake got inside he had such an advantage in handspeed, despite never being a heavyweight who was known for quickness, that Nyman basically gave up even trying to get any strikes off, and would instead try to either upend Satake or push him back but without throwing the front kick or anything that would maintain distance behind it, so Satake would just walk back in and continue to plug away at him. While way better than Dullman's match, this was pretty bad.


Now, for the moment that will forever change the course of Rings, and have an incalculable affect on all things in the shoot-realms for many ages to come, yes we are about to witness the professional debut of Volk Han (real name: Magomedkhan Amanulayevich Gamzatkhanov) who wound up being one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, by helping to cement the shoot-style’s status as being the very apex of what professional wrestling could achieve as an art form. Han had a background in collegiate wrestling before joining the Russian military, which is where he began learning sambo, and was even a three-time Russian sambo champion in the 80s. At some point in 1991, Akira Maeda discovered him, and in what was surely one of his shrewdest moves, he convinced him to come over and compete in his promotion. I have to wonder how that initial scouting session went down, as Han is right away thrust into a main event spot, despite this being only his first match, so surely Maeda saw something special in him, right from the get-go.  An encyclopedia size volume of books could surely be written about him, so we will let it suffice to say that we will continue to talk more and more about him in the days to come.

Han’s arrival couldn’t have happened a moment too soon, either, as Maeda has been hurting for not only some depth in his roster, but other legitimate stars outside of himself, and while no one could have known to the extent that Han would be a great asset to this company in the years to come, looking back we can see that Rings may not have made it to its best years of 96-99 had he not shown up when he did. Here he is set to face Akira Maeda, who’s knee condition is still an open question, so this may have an effect on his performance.  Han starts to come out to the Ring, and we can see that he was being groomed for greatness right away, as they gave him one of the best theme entrances of the era, with a grandiose synthesizer intro, that sounds like what would happen if you were to mix the Phantom of the Opera with something from Brad Fiedel’s work on The Terminator soundtrack. Maeda comes out next, and the crowd is absolutely in total rapture. Maeda could be wrestling a mongoose tonight, and I don’t think it would affect how over he is with the crowd at the moment.

The fight has started, and the first minute is quiet, with some feeling out between the two men, before Han hits a tobi-juji-gatame (flying armbar) well before it become the cool thing for Carlson Gracie students to do. This breathtaking maneuver may not be the best opener for the purposes of realism, but it is done with such verve, that we must allow its indulgences. This leads to an instant rope break, and the fight is back on the feet. Maeda then throws some high kicks, forcing Han to distance himself a bit, before stalking his way up to Maeda and hitting the 2nd kani-basami of the evening, which is now banned from judo competitions for its perceived riskiness, and whenever I think of this, I can’t help but remember how Joey Styles would incessantly lie to the ECW audience everytime Taz would show up, and say that the kata-ha-jime (Tazmission) was “Banned in judo, but legal in ECW!!!!!” Han attempts a heel-hook off of this, but Maeda was successful in rolling into the ropes, prompting a restart.

The next several mins sees Han attempt just about very leg attack one could think of (and perhaps many that no one has thought of) and also marked the debut of his infamous rolling kneebar, that we have all come to cherish. Maeda winds up pulling a win out of nowhere by securing a toe-hold while tangled up in a human leg-pretzel with Han, and serves to remind me why I gave up my Twister addiction a long time ago.


ML: I remember reading an old movie review where Roger Ebert talked about asking the all-time great actress Isabelle Huppert how she got into cinema, and she simply stated "I walked up to the studio door in Paris, knocked, and said, 'I am here.' " You didn't know whether to believe her, which made the comment all the more intriguing, but it spoke to her innate self confidence that the world would be forever improved because she would always find ways to do atypical and special things. It made me think of Han, this exotic, Spock-like Russian coming out to the ominous, spine tingling pipes of Jean-Michel Jarre's Second Rendez-vous, and rather than singing the Cara Mia and getting pelted with boos if not objects as Russian wrestlers were theoretically supposed to do, carrying one of the handful of top stars in Japanese wrestling to his best match in quite some time in his own debut. Han's debut may have been the best pro wrestling debut ever up until that point in time, and arguably has only been surpassed by Megumi Fujii's debut against Mariko Yoshida on 5/24/03, which is one of the greatest quasi shoot style matches ever, again just a super special talent who did things her way rather than the way they were supposed to be done.

In one match, Han already proved himself to be one of the couple best performers in the genre, and he was just getting started. What made Han special is he somehow seemed to understand how all the styles of actual MMA worked despite there being little to no actual MMA yet, but he also brought a really flashy and innovative version of sambo, a style almost no one other than practicioners had seen outside of Russia, rather than trying to assimilate to the accepted chicanery that passed for shoot wrestling. Han was super exciting, with a vast array of submission holds that relied on large and/or small joint manipulation. He was either going to move you himself, for example his rolling leglocks, or twerk on your wrist or ankle until you were forced to move into an obvious position to alleviate the pressure, which he was ready for, and could thus adjust quickly or switch off to another submission. The whole chaining of submissions is something that would eventually form the basis of the Japanese shoot style in the no ground punching era, but we hadn't really seen it yet in pro wrestling, where they preferred to do a lot of corny struggling under the false notion that people couldn't recognize the danger of a submission unless the fighter in trouble was bawling like a 5 year old.

Though Han's background was in submission, we immediately see him putting his energy toward employing actual, legitimate kickboxing footwork and feints that are maybe not quite up to the level we saw earlier from karate legend Kakuda, but otherwise set him apart from the pack, even though this isn't what he's been doing all his life. While Maeda is theoretically the better standup fighter, he can at least knock you out if you are expecting him to be working with you rather than taking a cheap shot, the artist formerly known as Kwick-Kick Lee can't manage to touch the nimble Han, who is able to back away from his kicks with ease, as well as get in & out of range quickly enough to incite him with slaps to the face and his own low kicks without taking counterfire. Of course, Han's real plan is to grapple, and while it's true that hitting a flying armbar as the first move of a match may not be the most realistic, it certainly speaks to the self confidence, guts, and out of the box thinking of Han to go out there and do this not only as the start of the match, but of his career. I had never seen a flying armbar before this, it was a jaw dropping what is this, and more importantly who is this kind of moment.

While it's important to focus on what Han is doing, what's actually more telling is how that is forcing Maeda to step up his game in so many ways. Maeda is forced to use more footwork himself, to be quicker with his attacks, and to try to chain them together because Han isn't just going to stand there for him like a doofus. Sure, the match is a work, but there's really varying levels of what the opponent is going to allow you to get away with, and Maeda not only sees that Han's standard is high, but just being a proud athlete who wants to win because he's better not because he's running the company, he is pushing himself to earn some and get some over on Han. Suddenly, we see a great sequence from Maeda where he isn't merely content to land a snap suplex, but is up like lightning trying to grab an appendage and drop into a submission, in this case an armbar, before Han can stabilize. This was the first time all year that Maeda looked good.

Han's matches are built around the high spots, which are plentiful, but he is able to get away with that more than others because he doesn't half-ass the basics of fighting, the positions, or the execution of the moves. In addition to understanding spacing on his feet, he's already using the mount and the guard on the ground, and chaining his submissions to try to catch the opponent off guard or just beat their defenses by being proactive and reacting quicker. Han may be selling because he still reacts quickly when Maeda does something, but used to 5 minute sambo contests, he appears to have completely out of gas down the stretch, holding his hands on his knees the way Mark Coleman would go on to make famous in his historic loss to Maurice Smith at UFC 14. This does allow Maeda to get a spinning wheel kick in for a knockdown. Han is able to answer with a suplex to set up one of his rolling cradle sort of leg locks, but Maeda is able to stop the roll and use his left leg to block Han's lock, thus getting the better position on the mat to crank on the ankle, with a desperate Han realizing he's left with nothing but to tap in disgust then cover his face with his hands in embarrassment and shame. ***1/2

Conclusion: While this wasn’t anywhere close to Han’s best match, it was a remarkable debut for a rookie, and also served to show that Rings had a new major player on the scene, and gives us hope that there are a myriad of new possibilities, for this promotion leading into 1992. Taking this match and viewing it in isolation, it wasn’t as good as the top flight stuff we have been seeing in the PWFG and UWFI, due to it being overly flashy, and possibly with Maeda only being able to do so much. But in the context of its time, this was a much needed breathe of fresh air, and is possibly the best match Rings has put out so far, if you are ok with its over the top sensibilities. As for the rest of the card….it was a mixed bag. It was the best Rings card we have seen so far, with a fun match between Peeters and Vrij, and with a full shoot between Gordeau, and Nagai, also added an interesting, and historically important element to it, but really squandered the debuts of Satake, and Kakuda, along with the poor match that was Dolman/Levani. Still, this was a major step up, and shows us, that despite the flaws, and despite the fact that they aren’t close to the overall output of their rivals, they still feel like they have the most potential, and that is saying something.

 ML: Han vs. Maeda was actually quite a bit better than I remembered. I would rank it as easily the best RINGS match of the year, and more or less above anything that doesn't involve Tamura or Suzuki. That's really secondary though to the arrival of Han giving people a much needed reason to watch RINGS, which, had it continued along the lines of their 1st two shows or what we saw on the undercard, would have remained mostly, if not completely skippable for anyone beyond completists such as ourselves.

*If you would like to behold this event in full, and feel good about supporting two scrappy MMA historians in the process, then head on over to Join the shoot-revolution! *
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on October 17, 2020, 05:00:14 PM
* Vol 20 Continued.... *

*Kakutogi Rewind*

We mentioned the MMA fight that Gerard Gordeau had in 1989, and now we will dig through our vaults and give this rare gem, some much needed coverage. There had actually been a smattering of NHB/MMA fights throught the 80s in Holland, all of which were connected to Chris Dolman and his gym, and some of them wound up on the early Panther Productions: Ring Wars series. In fact, there is supposed to be a Pankration tournament that Chris Dolman held in 1981, that was a NHB tournament won by one of the bodyguards of Klaas Bruinsma, a famous Dutch drug lord.  Supposedly this event made its way to the Panther catalog, which hopefully we at Kakutogi HQ will be able to track down one day. To make matters more intriguing, some of these old Dutch events would have the words “NO FAKES” flashing on the screen when a legit match was going on, which probably had something to do with weird laws enacted by Holland, that wanted something like that clearly labeled.

In any case, here we are with Gordeau, and his opponent Dick Veldhuis who is represented by the infamous Chakuriki gym out of holland, whereas Gordeau will be cornered by the Vos gym, who was also home to Ernesto Hoost, for several years. I am still trying to dig up more information about Veldhuis, but the only information that I’ve been able to learn is that he had a fearsome reputation in the village that he grew up in. Veldhuis certainly looks like he means business with an imposing physique, and a wrestling singlet, which is considered to be a universal symbol of badassery.

Gordeau tries to start the fight by shaking hands but is quickly pelted in by a low kick from Veldhuis in response. For any chess nerds out there, this could easily be a new opening, simply known as “Sportsmanship Gambit: Declined.” The rest of the fight sees Veldhuis wisely rush Gordeau into a corner, which served to smother him, and prevent him from doing much. Then the fight ended, in what may be one of the most bizarre finishes that I’ve ever seen in over 25 years of watching combat sports, in which Veldhuis charged Gordeau into the corner again, and got Gordeau to turn his back from some knees, and it looked like he was going to attempt a rear naked choke, when the ref called for a break. As Veldhuis was breaking, Gordeau hit him in the side of a head with a quick elbow when caused an instant knockout, and Gordeau was disqualified. In full speed it simply looks like a phantom punch, and would make one think that this might be Veldhuis taking a dive, but upon watching the replay a good 235 times, one can see that Gordeau did land a clean elbow into the Veldhuis’s temple. It’s bizarre that the ref would call for a break in the first place, especially in a “no rules” match, and when Veldhuis was winning, and possibly about to end the fight with a choke, but perhaps the ref was going to call for a break whenever it got close to the ropes. I can only assume that Gordeau was disqualified due to striking his opponent during the break, but I am not certain. What I am sure of though is that Gordeau was a cheater from day one, and this video helps dispel any current Zuffa narratives that MMA magically started to exist once the Fertitta brothers bought the UFC 2001

 ML: This had a real pro wrestling grudge match feel, and was never really under control, which would have been great had they managed to manufacture this in a work, but isn't exactly what you are looking for when you are promoting one of the first shoots. It mostly just seemed like a couple punks having a street fight with a ref, who was either out of his depth and/or trying to enforce rules that didn't actually exist. Shockingly, the fighter who was being a dick from the outset was Veldhuis, who denied a surprising gesture of sportsmanship from Gordeau, and worked him over in the ropes after something of an accidental low blow then headbutted Gordeau when the ref was trying to break. Veldhuis caught a front kick on the restart, and slammed Gordeau then kicked him when he was down. Gordeau could do some things with his feet when he actually had space, but Veldhuis was much bigger and stronger, and just wanted to smother Gordeau by mauling him in the ropes. When the ref went to break them up again after Gordeau had surrendered his back, this time it was Gordeau who took the cheap shot, knocking Veldhuis out with a back elbow as the ref was yanking Veldhuis off by the arm. Presumably, since the break had already been called, the knockout was nullified and Gordeau was DQ'd given Veldhuis obviously couldn't continue. Perhaps only a fighter as dubious as Gordeau could manage to get DQ'd even in a match that claimed to have no rules.

*In Other News *

The upcoming match between Nobuhiko Takada and Trevor Berbick is currently getting major news coverage in Japanese media. The UWFI has even gone as far as to spin this to their native media outlets that this is a major topic of interest in the United States as well, and various networks are fighting over who will have the rights to cover this event, which of course, isn’t true. The UWFI recently held a press conference in New York on 10-29-91 to announce this event, and also included Billy Scott, and his scheduled opponent Ernest Simmons, who will be a replacement for James Warring, who couldn’t come to terms with the UWFI on a contract. Berbick is possibly best known, as the last man to fight Muhammad Ali, whom he defeated in 1981, and effectively ended his career. The UWFI has declined to have any live coverage of this event, as they are calculating that the profits of home video sales will exceed what they can get in television rights.

Business for the UFWI has been heating up. They were able to sell out in the first 15mins for their 10-6-91 card at the Korakuen Hall, and they almost sold out their 11-7-91 event with an estimated 6,200 people.

*If you would like to see Gerard Gordeau in an MMA fight...all the way back in 1989 then head on over to
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on October 23, 2020, 02:59:28 PM
Attention! I was recently interviewed by WE ARE RIZIN! about the Kakutogi Road, and various MMA topics. If you, or anyone you know, would like to learn more about this project, then here is a link to that podcast:
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on December 15, 2020, 06:08:47 PM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.21 "Perpetual Motion"

*Mike Lorefice, of the excllent MMA/Puroresu website will have his initials precede his comments. *

We have now made it to the end of 1991, and the UWFI is set to take us into the next stage of shoot-glories, as they are seemingly no longer content to just keep their vision contained within Japan, but are now seeking world domination, as any great concept is wont to do. We are just coming off having covered the year end RINGS extravaganza, but as they say, “He who laughs last….”

It is 12-22-91 and this is the first time that we will be at the Ryōgoku Sumo Hall, which is located in the Sumida ward within Tokyo, Japan, and is one of the countries preeminent venues for Sumo. It also has a history of holding special events for pro wrestling and has been host to the finals of New Japan Pro Wrestling's annual G1 Climax tournament as well as the Sakura Genesis and King of Pro-Wrestling events. Tonight, it will be containing the final apex of all things shoot related in 1991, as the UWFI hopes to end the year with a PR stunt, that will either wonderfully showcase the superiority of their brand of wrestling, or will backfire horribly. As we have covered in previous columns, the UWFI decided to book a fight between its premier star, Nobuhiko Takada, and the last man to face Muhammad Ali in the ring, Trevor Berbick, as well as schedule a bout between Billy Scott and James Warring. They also decided to branch out, and held a press conference in the United States on 10-29-91, in New York, to announce the Takada and Scott matches and then proceeded to hype this up within the Japanese media where they tried to play it off like this was of great interest to the American sports outlets, when in reality it gained little to no attention within the United States at that time.

Thanks to an interview that we did recently with Billy Scott (which you should check out right now, if you have not done so) we were able to learn a lot about this event, and one of the things that Scott shared with us, was that by this time the UWFI had genuine ambitions to go global and move into the American market, and while that didn’t wind up happening, it is interesting to note that they had the desire to do so whereas the PWFG seemed content in being a low-key promotion, and while Rings certainly had international ambitions, the United States never seemed to be part of them until the final couple years of the promotion.

The first match of the evening will be between Hiromitsu Kanehara and Masakazu Maeda. Kanehara was an absolutely fantastic talent and may be one of the most underrated figures from this era. Like Tamura he was excellent both as a pro wrestler and a shooter, although to the unlearned his MMA record might indicate otherwise. While his 19-27 win/loss stats are true, further examination shows that he often faced a murderers row of opponents in their primes, and gave many of them a very hard time, including Ricardo Arona, Matt Hughes, Dan Henderson, Mirko Cro Cop, and Wanderlei Silva. His best win was possibly his hard-fought victory against Jeremy Horn in the A-Block of the 1999 King of Kings tournament, for the RINGS promotion. In the days to come, we will look forward to covering him in more detail.

This will be the debut for Maeda as well, and strangely he only wrestled a total of 6 times, all within the span of a year, and all against Kanehara. The match starts with Maeda taking a light-on-his-feet kickboxing approach and throwing some crisp high kicks towards Kanehara, but couldn’t maintain the offense for too long before being taken down and put into an ankle lock, thus deducting a point via a rope escape. What followed next, was another 14 minutes of what turned out to be a very well rounded and nicely paced match. There was plenty of everything here, submissions, striking, suplexes, and reversals, but everything was blended together well, and turned out to be a great way to set the tone for the evening. You could tell that Kanehara was the better of the two men, and was carrying Maeda by allowing him some offensive moments, but Maeda gave a good showing of himself, and makes me wonder why he never did anything outside of wrestle Kanehara, as he seemed to have enough potential to grow into being a solid talent. The match was ruled a draw, despite Kanehara being ahead on points 9-4. Unlike Rings, which will award the victory automatically to the fighter ahead on points, apparently the UWFI defaults to a draw if the contest goes to the time limit.

ML: The exciting thing about this show was not the dopey boxers, but  rather the bright young talent on display with the return of Kakihara  and the debuts of Kanehara & other Maeda. While Kanehara tends to  not be well respected in MMA because people know him from losing to guys  who often had 50 to 100 pounds on him, he was immediately quite good in  works, and surely would have had a more reasonable MMA career had he  started sooner & had a 145 pound division to compete in, rather than  taking on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko CroCop, Ricardo Morais, &  Alistair Overeem. Maeda's career didn't last long, but this was the  classic undercard fued of the early UWF-I days, with their bouts in  early 1992 already becoming highlights of the promotion, if not stealing  the show entirely.

Right away we can see Kanehara using the  more evolved level of  grappling that Tamura employs that revolves around chaining quick,  deceptive movements. He's changing levels, trying to fake Maeda out so  it's more difficult for him to win the scrambles. Maeda is more of a  striker, and Kanehara keys on his kicks, looking to catch one to  initiate a grappling exchange. What's so impressive about Kanehara is  his confidence. Maeda, while certainly already decent, is more hesitant  and prone to hedging on his strikes, whereas Kanehara already works like  a veteran, pulling off high level sequences as if they're second nature  because he's been doing them all his life.

In traditional pro wrestling, it's easy to tell the rookies matches  as they are either really basic or just kind of short and limited, but  none of those characteristics are present here. It's more like Kanehara  is out to steal the show, and truly believes he's capable. They go  through most of the points, with Kanehara  mounting a 5 point lead  despite Maeda having a few knockdowns with flying knees and palm  strikes, but being unable to put Maeda away before time expire for the  draw. Forget about this merely being a  great debut or even rookie  match, although Maeda could use a little more menace on his shots, this  was one of the better worked shoots of the year. Kanehara would be an  easy pick for rookie of the year, if not for the beyond exceptional  competitioin of Volk Han. ***1/4

Next up is foot-fighting phenom Makoto Ohe vs. Vince Ross. One must  wonder what Ohe's state of mind going into this was, as he suffered his  first loss last month via a devastating spinning kick delivered to his  midsection, courtesy of David Cummings. Vince Ross is a WKA Canadian  champion, so I can see him as being another interesting opponent for  Ohe, and I suspect that he will give him a hard time, if he can survive  Ohe's low kicks long-enough to box with him. Ohe comes out aggressively  against Ross from the onset, pelting him with thunderous kicks, which  caused Ross to quickly clinch up, and to his credit, fight back with  several stiff knees once inside. After the break, Ross seemed to  cautiously push forward towards Ohe, really trying to time his next  attack, which seemed to give Ohe some pause. While Ross does not seem to  have anywhere near the kicking acumen that Ohe has, he is doing a good  job of being patient, and throwing some nice bombs from a distance. Ohe  was the first to score a knockdown however, when he caught a slow kick  from Ross, and pelted him in the jaw for his trouble. Ross gets up,   doesn't appear to be hurt, and round 1 ends.

Round 2 starts and it would appear that Ohe got a major boost of  confidence and is starting to smell blood in the water. He aggressively  attacks Ross, who conversely seems to have lost the poise he had in the  prior round. Ohe continues to maul Ross, when out of desperation he  starts throwing some wild uppercuts, in which one lands, knocking Ohe  down. Ohe now appears to be dazed, and is acting much more cautious now,  circling around Ross and is attempting to avoid him. Ross keeps  pressing forward with punches, which are now much harder to land now  that Ohe is on the defensive, and just when it seems like he may be in  danger of punching himself out, he winds up breaking through Ohe's wall,  and knocks him down again, this time for good with another uppercut.  Good fight, with an unexpected ending. I really thought that Ohe was  going to murk Ross in round 2, and he almost succeeded, but Ross's  desperation uppercut was all it took to turn things around. This is  another case study in the ancient style of North American kickboxing,  and shows that despite his amateur kicking abilities, his strong boxing  was enough to succeed against a much more well-rounded fighter like Ohe.  This is now the 2nd victory in a row for shiny-pants footfighting in  the UWF-I, and I give the matchmakers credit for giving Ohe another  decent opponent.

ML: Ohe has a real opponent again in Vince "The Rocket" Ross, a  Canadian kickboxing champion who  lost a WKA Welterweight Title  Unification match to the American champion Hector Pena in Los Angeles at  the start of the year. While Ohe is clearly the better athlete and more  powerful striker, Ross does a good job of befuddling him, using the jab  to keep distance. It feels like Ross is really looking to counter and  is content to bide his time, but at the same time, because Ohe is  usually at the end of his jab, Ross is able to rack up numbers on him.  Ohe gets a quick knockdown, but never really got going or found any sort  of consistency. In the little time actually spent fighting inside, Ross  was able to drop him twice with uppercuts, finishing Ohe off the 2nd  time.

The Final Blow For Canada!

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on December 15, 2020, 06:10:10 PM
*Vol 21. Continued.... *

Next up is Jim Boss vs Masahito Kakihara. We haven’t seen Boss since the 7-30-91, and it would appear that he has been making good use of his time, working on improving his mullet game since we last saw him. Kakihara on the other hand, has not been with us since the inaugural UWFI event where he had a good match with Tamura. The match starts with Kakihara lighting Boss up like a Christmas tree, with the stiffest palm strikes we have seen so far in this promotion. It only takes a few seconds of this barrage to cause Boss to suffer a knockdown, and for a moment I’m wondering if we are going to have a shoot on our hands. That turns out to not be the case, as Kakihara lets Boss take him down once the fight restarts, but once it does hit the ground, Boss lays into Kakihara with some very stiff forearm shots, followed with a hard suplex, and a soccer kick to the back of Kakihara.

Kakihara gets back up and once again completely lays into Boss with some more 100% stiff palm strikes. After the restart things go back to normal and Kakihara allows Boss to take him down again and attempt a rather pitiful armbar. Kakihara grew bored of Boss’ slow motion attempts to take his arm, and counters this with a fierce heel-hook, causing a rope-escape. To add insult to injury, Kakihara kicks Boss in the head once the fight is restarted, which now ends the fight altogether.

This was probably the most unique fight that we have witnessed so far in that it was a work, but with the striking (outside of the final knockout kick, which was pulled) being 100% stiff to the point that it’s clear to see why this type of fight wasn’t attempted more often, as striking this stiff in a work could possibly lead to unexpected outcomes, where the wrong person could easily get injured or knocked out. That said, this was super entertaining, albeit short.

ML: This was as it should have been, the clumsy stiff Takayama holding  the ropes open for the hyper energetic Kakihara, who immediately ignites  the crowd and incites the opponent with a blistering series of  lightning fast palm strikes. Boss answers with a suplex, and soccer ball  kicks him to extract some revenge and get over as the heel, pushing the  ref out of the way when he's warned for his shady tactic. Boss'  wrestling was still unconvincing, and the ground has never been  Kakihara's strength anyway, so the few times Kakihara surrendered  takedowns weren't the bright spots of this short match that Kakihara won  with a high kick, but Kakihara got over big in his return, establishing  himself as a fiery competitor with Jeff Speakman-esque skills.

Next up, is Tom Burton (who it appears was forcibly pulled away from the squat rack, just long enough to get this match underway) vs Yuko Miyato. This should turn out to be the classic tale of the swift vs the strong, as Miyato looks like The Flash compared to Burton, but of course can’t match his size or strength. This wound up not being the case, mainly due to Burton. He looked fine when it was standing, or when he was throwing Miyato around the ring, but when the fight did go to the ground, he seemed very hesitant, and wound up coming across as very slow, and awkward, as a result. Miyato did not do much to help this situation, as not only did he look bored throughout, but did things like at one point hitting laughably unbelievable suplex on burton, as well as a very poor armbar attempt. The ending turned out to be decent as Miyato hit an explosive Ippon-Seoinage (one arm shoulder throw) and followed up with a quick armbar which ended the match. This was unfortunate as Burton was looking a lot better the last time, when we saw him during his tag-match at last months event, but here he seemed to regress back to his lumbering ways. The match was quick at 7min and would have been fine as an opener to a different card, but since we are coming off three exciting fights, this wound up killing the momentum.

ML: This match was fine. It suffers from the same old problem that never  seems to bother any promoter, in that it's really obvious that these  guys have neither the grappling talent of Kanehara nor the striking  talent of Kakihara, yet we are  supposed to care more about this match  between performers who have been rendered second rate by the guys who  came on before them because they are bigger names. Miyato is a guy who  can  rise to the level of the best performers, but also fall to the  level of the inferior ones. I thought he did fine here, though because  the match wasn't that long, both could have been a bit more energetic.  The biggest issue is that they didn't so much work together to develop  interplay in any of the aspects,  Miyato just showed off in standup then  Burton slammed him down then grinded him on the canvas. This was  decent, but it's not strengthening  Miyato's bid for a slot in  the top 5  shoot workers of the year list.

Now we will hopefully see a better example of monster vs machine in Kiyoshi Tamura vs Gary Albright. The match starts and right away this is looking much sharper than the preceding match, as both are moving smoothly and logically. Albright starts by using Tamura’s forward momentum to catch him in a big slam, but Tamura will never stay in one position for long. Albright tries to keep Tamura pinned down, but Tamura is slithering and cartwheeling out of whatever predicament that he is finding himself in. Tamura was keeping the pressure on with inventive kneebar attacks until Albright drew first blood with some kind of weird neck crank that cost Tamura a rope escape, and was immediately followed up with one suplex after another, that eventually cost Tamura all of his points. Surprisingly, I found this to be rather fun. Tamrua did a great job making Albright look good, and like he belonged in the same ring as him, and even how he lost had a nice logic to it. Tamura was able to make a good showing of himself as the quicker, and more superior grappler, but one that succumbed to the power of an endless wave of suplexes from an uncaring behemoth. While this was total pro wrestling theater, it worked well, and was light years better than the Burton/Miyato match.

ML: The first of many matches that kept Tamura from ever being the  man in UWF-I. He always had the best matches, and got great reactions,  but they never let him beat Takada, Vader, or Albright, so they  ultimately never had any more big matches once Takada vs. Vader &  Albright ran their course. This particular loss to Albright wasn't  terrible, especially since it soon sent Albright into a big main event  with Takada, but growth isn't shown when people are still just beating  and losing to the same people 3-4 years later, as was the case in this  promotion.

This never felt like a Tamura match, as Gary is too lumbering to  really work with him. At least it wasn't another cartoon, as Albright's  previous matches had been. Tamura made Gary work a little, but basically  was only allowed to resist what Albright was trying to do to him, and  even then he mostly just did his job, which unfortunately was simply to  make Albright look good. Tamura had a counter or two, but Albright was  always dictating, and it was clear that he was simply too big for  Tamura, again, glass ceiling. This was the worst match so far as it was  neither competitive nor compelling in any way, and obviously Tamura  should never be in the worst match on any show.

There comes a time in every zebra-warriors life, where they have to come face to face with the circus performer that wishes to enslave them, and now that moment has arrived for Yoji Anjo, as he must face Bob Backlund for the first time. Backlund had the dubious talent of somehow being able to offset his serious amateur wrestling persona with facial expressions that would cause other WWF characters like The Mountie, or Mantaurto accuse him of being too over the top. Things begin with the ref explaining the rules to the two contestants, and Backlund spends a seeming eternity with the ref differentiating between his elbow and his forearm. After the kinesiology lesson is concluded, the match is underway with Anjo rushing Backlund and attempting an enziguri kick that misses completely. Anjo continues to press the attack, this time with some rather stiff slaps to Backlund, and while he attempts a throw, Backlund was briefly able to counter with an abdominal stretch, which he tried to complete on the ground (at which point it would have been similar to a modern day “twister” a la Eddie Bravo) but Anjo scrambled and escaped. The rest of the match was mostly Anjo in high-octane mode, constantly pressing the action to Backlund. Outside of a few occasions where Backlund was able to get a positional advantage, it most mostly a one-way showing in Anjo’s favor as Backlund simply does not have the submission or striking acumen to make a very diverse showing. This wasn’t bad, thanks to Anjo’s boundless energy, and because he wisely chose to make most of his strikes rather stiff, but Backlund is too late to the shoot-style party to really contribute a lot, outside of his name value. The match ends when Backlund counters Anjo’s judo with his chicken-wing submission, which may sound good on paper, but it wound up looking as out-of-place as a wino invited to a Hamptons cocktail party , in what was an otherwise decent match.

ML: Kind of an odd match. Anjo tried really hard to make it good,  blitzing Backlund from every direction. Backlund really had a hard time  figuring out what Anjo was going to do, or keeping up in any way. He was  never able to put his stamp on the match, for better and worse. The  match probably wouldn't have been as good if Anjo let Backlund to his  shtick, but shooting also isn't a style that really works as a total one  man show. Ultimately, this was okay, but not as good as Backlund's  previous match with Takada, even though Anjo has been worlds better than  Takada this year.

Now it is time for what I’m hoping will be the best match of the evening, a bout between all-around-awesome Kazuo Yamazaki, and Tatsuyo Nakano. We at Kakutogi HQ have been spending the last few months mourning the career-ending squash that Nobuhiko Takada put him through at the 10-6-91 event, and as acceptance is the final stage of recovery, I have now learned that I must simply accept that from here on out I can only look forward to Yamazaki putting forth a great showing within the confines of being a mid-card player, as any hopes of him being a top star are now dead and buried. The match starts with Yamazaki slyly stalking Nakano, slowly approaching his prey before landing a thunderous snapping kick to his midsection. This immediately prompts Nakano to take his chances on the ground, and after quickly taking Yamazaki down to the mat, we get a protracted leg-lock battle that comes to a crescendo when Nakano is able to eke out a STF crossface, but opts to give up the hold and stand back up.

After the restart Yamazaki subtly tempts Nakano with his right arm, in a gesture to initiate a tie-up, but as soon as Nakano takes the bait, he is swiftly kicked for his trouble. He goes back to the same trick a second time, but Nakano wisens up, and simply grabs the next kick, and takes Yamazaki back down to the mat. This time Nakano forgoes the leg-attack strategy and seems to eventually consider an armbar attempt from the mount position, but wisely decides to change his mind, and simply kicks Yamazaki in the ribs as he stands back up. Yamazaki continues to press the attack with more sharp kicks, landing a nice one to Nakano’s midsection, but like last time, missed on the follow up, where he aimed another kick at Nakano’s head, only to get taken down again.  Nakano wound up landing in a rather awkward position, which gave Yamazaki an opening to slap on a rather evil-looking toehold but was too tangled up to get enough space to properly torque the hold for a finish. This led to a futile effort, and Nakano was able to simply rotate out, and stand back up.

The rest of the fight continued to be a contest between Yamazaki’s sneaky (but not always successful) kicking vs Nakano’s takedown skills and strength. Only the 2nd half of the match started to see a natural escalation of the violence and output of both men. Yamazaki wins at the 13:23 mark with an armbar. This was an excellent match in my opinion, due to the subtly involved as opposed to any flashiness. This wasn’t the kind of sound and fury you would see in a Tamura or Volk Han match, but rather a nuanced simulation of what would later become your typical wrestler vs kickboxer style shoot (albeit far more entertaining). Yamazaki would try and craftily time his kicks but would only succeed about 50% of the time before getting forced to the ground by Nakano. While Yamazaki does not possess the slick athleticism of a Tamura, his cerebral approach to this style is very welcome, and caused the pendulum for this evening to swing back up from the last two matches.

ML: Yamazaki has seemed something of a fish out of water in UWF-I, as  all the other guys who have backed off entertainment in favor of realism  went to PWFG. Nakano has been rather uninspiring this year, and is one  of the least realistic of the UWF-I performers, simply because he hasn't   modernized his game from what he learned in judo & pro wrestling.  This was also a rather odd story  from Yamazaki in that Yamazaki is  actually better on the mat than in standup while Nakano is better in  standup than on the map, but they mostly reversed those roles here with  Yamazaki chipping away with low kicks, but Nakano catching them or just  waiting for an opportunity to clinch and throw Yamazaki so he could work  his limited submission game. Yamazaki did a good job of countering  though, and managed to keep Nakano in a more credible mode, with Nakano  picking a few good opportunities to gamble on pro wrestling, such as an  elbow drop attempt when he got off the mat quicker. This was a good  performance from Yamazaki, and I found the match interesting, but  the  failing was that they weren't able to make it feel intense or urgent  enough to connect with the crowd until the finishing sequence, so it  came off rather flat even though it was technically a lot better than  anything but the opener. Their 5/4/90 match was much better because it  was really hard fought and much more consistent, with Nakano doing some  headbutts from the top & getting his bloody nose early, among other  things done to keep  the bout steadier and seeming to be an important  hard fought almost grudge battle they had to dig deep for, which  kept  the audience engaged throughout.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on December 15, 2020, 06:14:17 PM
*Vol 21. Continued... *


Now for a historically important match in the annuls of MMA history, the bout between Billy Scott vs James Warring. We could not have interviewed Scott at a better time, as he really shed a lot of light on the events leading up to this fight, as well as the next bout between Takada and Berbick. These last two fights of the evening were basically a publicity stunt that may have been the first major competitive move by the three shoot-style promotions to move the needle and get some notoriety outside of their normal circles. While the PWFG had already beat the UWFI to the punch with a legit shoot between a kickboxer and wrestler with the Lawi Napataya vs Takaku Fuke, you would never have known it at the time, had you been living outside of Japan, unless you were one of the very few connected to the prevailing tape traders of the day, and happened to get your hands on a fresh VHS copy of that particular event. Even that Fuke/Napataya match was just kind of thrown into the middle of the card without any fanfare, so it wasn’t like Fujiwara was trying to make a major statement with it, but probably just assumed that his wrestler with some Gotch-styled shoot training would easily dispatch of the kickboxer, not realizing what he really had on his hands. The UWFI didn’t really understand what it hand on its hands either (as we are about to see in greater detail) but at least they understood it was a unique spectacle, and were wise to try and promote as such, even if the results didn’t quite go they way they intended.

Scott…in full Rambo-Mode

After various clips of press conferences leading up to this evening,  and a heartfelt introduction from Lou Thesz, we are underway with round  1. The round starts and right away Scott is pelted with a couple of low  kicks that seem to take him by surprise. Warring goes for a third kick,  and Scott wisely takes him down and attempts an ankle-lock but Warring  wisely scrambles towards the ropes like a wounded animal. I am already  seeing how this is going to be another disaster in the vein of the  Napataya/Fuke match, as having unlimited rope escapes is going to make a  tremendously long evening for everyone involved. At least the UWF-I is  using a much larger ring than the one that the PWFG used, but this is  probably going to be offset by the extraordinarily long reach of  Warring, who will probably be able to scramble to the ropes from just  about anywhere, unless Scott can manage to get him right in the center  of the ring. The rest of round 1 sees Scott continue to take more  punches and kicks, until he is finally able to secure a single leg for a  takedown, but by the time he is deep enough to get him down, Warring is  able to get his arm around the ropes. I do have to say that while this  isn't going to win Warring any points for excitement, he is utilizing a  very sound strategy here, and I'm also impressed with his stance. He is  taking a fairly low kickboxing stance, leaning forward on his lead leg,  which not only gives him a good base making it more difficult for Scott  to shoot in, but will also increase his ability to sprawl. This is  something that Warring figured out all the way back in 1991, while the  first several years of the UFC saw kickboxers and traditional martial  artists fight grapplers standing straight up, which is a terrible idea.  Round 1 ends with Scott getting knocked down with a right hook, but the  bell rings right after he gets back up.

Round 2 starts, and Warring is continuing to use his extensive reach  to keep jabbing Scott in the stomach. Finally, Warring works up the  nerve to start throwing some kicks, and Scott uses it as an opportunity  to press the takedown, but to Warring's great credit, he is doing a good  job sprawling, and is forcing Scott to work hard to complete the  takedown, which is also causing Scott to have to push him closer to the  ropes in order to do so. Now it's clear that Scott has no way of winning  this match within his current skill set. He would have to be able to  stand and bang with the far better striker in Warring, which isn't an  option, or if he was versed in judo as opposed to wrestling, he might be  able to set up a throw, or circular based takedown which would be more  likely to get the fight to the center of the ring, but that isn't in the  cards either, and lastly if he had a background in BJJ (which isn't  even on the radar yet) he could pull guard, and try to work a submission  off of his back, but that is also out of the question. You can clearly  see that the UWF-I made the same error in judgement as the Fujiwara  group by not realizing the absurdity of having unlimited rope escapes in  a mixed-fight, only this is a much more high-stakes showing, and the  risk of embarrassment to the organization is much higher. Round 2 ends,  but not before Scott was able to get a takedown, and briefly put Warring  in a rather nasty looking toehold that looked like it could have done  some damage, before Warring was able to get another rope escape.

Round 3 saw Warring moving much more cautiously than before, and I  have to wonder if that ankle-lock/toehold that Scott put him in during  the last round may have hurt him more than he is letting on. During our  interview with Scott, he mentioned having heard several pops when he had  Warring in that hold, before the rope escape, so it is entirely  possible.

Round 4 further convinces me that something happened to Warring, as  he simply isn't engaging with the same aggressiveness as the first two  rounds. He is still able to land a few low kicks, and even landed a nice  side kick at one point, and was able to get off a few punches, before  backing off once Scott responded with a missed double-leg attempt.  Warring is fighting very safe, but Scott isn't helping matters, as the  only time he seems to be willing to engage is to try and takedown off of  close-range punches from Warring. Scott really needs to start getting  inside and fighting from the clinch, but I understand his  apprehensiveness trying that against a skilled boxer like Warring.

Scott seemingly read my mind and became way more irritated and  aggressive in round 5. He wisely pushed Warring into the corner and  starting laying into him with some palm strikes, before attempting a  standing guillotine choke, but was quickly broken up by the ref when the  two of them starting to spill out of the ring.

Round 6 sees Scott continuing to employ the corner strategy, but is  more cautious this time, which allows Warring to keep him at bay with  more low jabs, and an overhand right. Scott eventually gets the  takedown, but again is useless as it just forced Warring into the ropes,  for the instant break.

Round 7 begins with a gravelly American voice yelling, “Get em' in  the center Billy!” of which I wholeheartedly agree. Scott is getting  clearly frustrated at this point, as now when he presses Warring into  the ropes he does not bother with a break until completely forced off by  the referee. Warring landed several unanswered low kicks, and a couple  of nice punches, before Scott lost his composure and threw Warring over  the top rope, and out of the ring. The round ends right afterwards.

Round 8 starts with Warring landing a couple more low kicks, before  Scott just shoves him out of the ring again, and now I'm beginning to  wonder if Scott doesn't even care about winning this fight anymore, as  much as he just wants to irritate and fluster Warring. The rest of the  fight sees Scott determined to see how many times he can force Warring  out of the ring and make him eat a couple of shots before the ref is  able to stand them back up. The fight ends at the end of the tenth  round, with both sides claiming victory, but the actual 2-1 split  decision going to Billy Scott. As much as I like Scott, and am glad that  he won, I have to be objective and say that the fight should have  probably been awarded to Warring, as he simply landed way too many  strikes, to be offset by Scott's occasional takedown. Of course, I am  not sure what the exact judging criteria the UWF-I was employing here,  but I think any modern reading of this fight would support my  conclusion.

While I would not blame anyone for accusing this fight of being more boring than a midnight marathon of Manimal,  I found it to be quite fascinating on a historical level. It  entertained me the same way that a chess match would, and we have to  give it some credit for being the first (and likely one of the very few  that we will witness) shoot in the UWF-I. Warring fought a smart match,  and used the rules to his advantage, while Scott simply didn't quite  have the toolbox yet to overcome the rules handicap and his opponent's  approach. If his grappling were at the level of a Funaki or Suzuki, he  would have probably been able to get a clean win, but otherwise he was  placed with an impossible situation, and really we should blame the  brass of the UWF-I for putting him in this position to begin with. To be  fair, Scott did reveal in his interview that the only way that Warring  would take this fight is if it had unlimited rope escapes, so credit to  Warring for being smart enough from the outset to have an idea of what  he was getting himself into, but surely the powers that be could have  found another worthy opponent that would have agreed to a more sensible  limit of 10 rope escapes.

ML: Warring was arguably one of the better martial artists of his  era, though that was an era where the only way to actually make money,  at least in America, was boxing, so we'll never truly know. Though  Warring was the current IBF World Cruiserweight boxing champion, and surely could have had a more  impressive bank account simply from defending that title, he continued  to  compete in kickboxing, where he at some point held titles from at  least the WKA, KICK, PCK, and FFKA. Warring  was also trained in karate,  which along with boxing he would later officiate. Even though he was  past his prime at nearly 37,  he made it to the final of his lone MMA  event, WCC 1 on 10/17/95, losing to the legendary Renzo Gracie. Though  Warring never fought Ali or Tyson like Berbick did, he was not only a  much more well rounded martial artist, but also still on top of his game  at this point, whereas Berbick was 37 and had lost his recent big  matches to Carl Williams & Buster Douglas, taking him out of serious  contention for the boxing titles people have heard of.

Warring really understood distance, and just fought a great game here  to totally neutralize Scott. He kept putting out the jab to keep Scott  away, and would follow it with a big right when he was able to get Scott  to bite on it, quickly showing he could drop Scott with a single  connection. Warring was not afraid to use his low kicks, and did a nice  job of peppering Scott's lead leg to reduce his ability to shoot. Scott  needed to do something to distract Warring so he could get a takedown,  or at least earn Warring's respect so he had to consider the threat of,  well, anything. Unfortunately, whereas Warring's jab was good enough to  force Scott to deal with it, Scott was unwilling  to engage Warring in  striking at all, which really limited his ability to do anything given  Warring was too smart to overcommit. Most of the time, Scott just kept  his hands up & did his best to defend.

Warring fought a good 2 rounds, but Scott was able to get an ankle  lock of a takedown at the end of the 2nd, and even though Warring  immediately got the ropes, Warring's ankle was clearly injured, thus  limiting his mobility and ability to bounce and put weight on it for the  rest of the fight. Warring did his best to disguise this, but was much  more flatfooted after this, and was no longer attacking on more than a  stay slightly active level, but Scott still refused to go on the  offensive the next 2 rounds, so he continued to lose round after round,  even though Warring's output was down to Mayweather level.

Scott began to turn the fight in the 5th when he finally rushed  Warring into the corner, getting a guillotine after the ref ignored  Warring's rope grab, though they went through the bottom rope so it was  quickly broken. Scott finally caught a kick in the 6th, but Warring just  grabbed the ropes. It quickly became clear that whatever the rules were  supposed to be, Warring wasn't going to get warned or docked or  anything for grabbing the ropes, so Scott really had no chance of  winning the fight the same way Takaku Fuke had no chance of beating The  Sultan of Slime. Scott seemed to realize this too, and stop caring, even  though the crowd was rooting for him, he essentially played heel, just  holding on to his submission attempts despite the ref doing his best to  ignore Warring grabbing the ropes then taking his time urging for  sportsmanship. The crowd was as frustrated with Warring taking the  logical  way out as Scott was though, and only grew more against  Warring.

The high takedowns were working for Scott in the sense that he could  drive Warring into the ropes, but then he only had a few seconds to go  for a guillotine before the restart, so it still couldn't amount to  anything. The frustration built, and when Scott finally was supposed to  break despite having lifted Warring onto his shoulders, he instead  tossed him over the top with the suisha otoshi. If this was contested in  a cage, or had penalties for rope breaks, Scott would have won the last  6 rounds. However, the way the rules were set up, he basically wasn't  allowed to get more than a second of legal offense in, with most of his  threatening and damaging being after he was supposed to break. Scott did  get in a good knee to the midsection in the 10th, but basically even  though he did the best he was allowed to in the final 6 rounds, Warring  got to get in as many shots as he could before Scott pushed him across  the ring only to be restarted. Scott nonetheless was awarded the Bisping  decision, and perhaps having the judges on their side was one of the  reasons UWF-I was willing to risk Takada shooting.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on December 15, 2020, 06:15:12 PM
Now we have the main event, another mixed fight between Nobuhiko  Takada and Trevor Berbick. The fight starts with Takada throwing a low  kick, which completely baffles Berbick. Berbick immediately has a look  of confusion, and complains to both the ref, and Takada, that there is  not supposed to be any violence below the waist. The rest of this very  brief fight consisted of Takada continuing to wail away against Berbick  with more low kicks, and Berbick continuing to look completely puzzled  as to what he got himself into. He finally had enough, left the ring,  cussed Takada out, and claimed they changed the rules on him. If It was  not for Billy Scott and his insightful interview, I would have probably  gone the rest of my life pondering the outcome of this fight, but thanks  to his insightful ways, I now understand that this was due to the  scummy antics of his lawyer and manager. According to Scott, Berbick was  adamant to his team that he did not want any low-kicks to be part of  the fight, and was given assurances that they would take care of it, and  behind his back they went ahead and worked out a deal with the UWF-I to  allow the kicks, because that's the only way that they would also get  paid, as the UWF-I wasn't willing to put on a fight that wouldn't allow  low-kicks. In fact, I will go ahead and quote that portion of the  interview, here is a small excerpt of what Billy Scott had to say about  this: “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 didn't want to have anything to do with kicks below the waist, and  that's why during that fight you could see him waving his arms, and  looking shocked. Now this is how bad people are….when we were at Mickey  Mantle's 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 wouldn't be any kicks  below the waist, but the Japanese didn't 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.”

With all that said, it would be hard to blame Takada or the UWF-I for  this fight, when it was Berbick's own people that sold him out, but it  still led to a bizarre finish to this event.

ML: The rules for these wrestler vs. boxer matches are the main  subject of controversy and debate. Before the fights, Miyato & Anjo   demonstrated what you weren't supposed to be able to do, which was  strike the face with a hand or knee from top position (though the fights  never actually got this far), grab the ropes to avoid the wrestler  taking you down, and scoot around on your butt like Inoki did to Ali so  the boxer can't  really punch the wrestler. There's no mention of low  kicks, and Warring threw tons of them in the previous bout. There's also  seemingly no teeth to any these rules, as Warring was able to grab the  ropes at will without so much as a warning.

The controversy began before the fight even started, as Berbick   dictated to the ref & Takada that he can't be kicked below the waist  while the ref is going over the actual rules, just stating no elbows.  This was supposed to elevate Takada's  stardom, not just be a McNugget  gold grab, so it would make absolutely  no sense for UWF-I to put Takada  in a shoot without allowing low kicks. Low kicks  had always been legal  in any Japanese kickboxing or karate contest, and they're  basically  the only thing Takada was  good at that could help offset Berbick's far  superior punching. You need the low kicks to be available to get the  high or middle kick through when your punching is not a threat, and  while Takada's  wrestling and grappling were above Berbick's probably  never trained them at all level by default, it's doubtful that they'd be  worth anything when a larger man was really trying to beat on him,  especially with unlimited rope escapes. If Takada didn't know this  already, Berbick's petitioning were  a gigantic  cue to Takada to just  go right after the legs, and Berbick immediately started complaining to  the ref, who failed to  enforce the nonexistent rule. Berbick never  actually tried to fight, or defend himself against the kicks, which made  Takada's life incredibly easy. Instead, Berbick  just stopped after  each one to complain, got no love, complained some more, then went back  in his boxing stance, wash, rinse, repeat. Even a 2 year old would have  wised up after the 2nd or 3rd kick, but this went  on for nearly 3  minutes. Where Takada wound  up looking like a dick is when Berbick  grabbed the top rope, thinking he was now safe to  complain to everyone,  but Takada still kept attacking him anyway while the ref tried to  wrestle Berbick's arm off the rope. Because Berbick was just standing in  the corner arguing while holding the top rope for "safety", Takada was  even able to get cheap shot  high kick in. This was all about as  difficult and honorable as  stealing candy from a baby. At some point  you thought Berbick would try to fight, but after taking so many kicks  he didn't try to defend at all, his leg was probably too compromised to  be of much use. After Berbick escaped the ring since the ropes weren't  being honored, you could  hear him bitching to his seconds "it's not in  the rules, nothin' in the rules" and they respond "I told them", which  seems to support the theory that Berbick himself didn't agree to low  kicks, but UWF-I also didn't agree to Berbick's people's petition to  actually make them illegal. Overall, Berbick just looked like a whiner  & a pussy, and while Takada mostly looked cheap & opportunistic,  if you want to be nice, because Berbick handled it so incredibly poorly  and allowed Takada to emerge complely unscathed by never even firing a  punch, Takada wound up looking like Superman with the mighty boxer  cowering in fear to the point he had no option but to just run to the  hills, run for his life.

Conclusion: Overall a great night, and a solid way to end the year.  This was probably an inverse of what we saw in the year end Rings event,  in that most of the undercard for that show was middling, where most of  fights leading up to the main event were solid, but we were let down  with an absolutely bizarre ending (though it wound up being possibly the  only televised shoot victory that Takada can claim) that was preceded  by an interesting and historically important fight between Warring and  Scott, but one that will put most people to sleep outside of myself, and  a few others. In other words, the UWF-I put on a much more entertaining  event top-to-bottom than Rings, but Rings, especially with the arrival  of Volk Han, seems to have a lot more potential in its trajectory,  whereas it seems like the UWF-I is doomed to be treading water if they  continue to tether all of their hopes into Nobuhiko Takada. Still, I  found this to be enjoyable overall.

ML: If Berbick would have actually just fought, UWF-I would likely  have been dead in the water, or at least had to think about doing things  that normal wrestling leagues do, such as promote more than one  wrestler. However, by running away from a guy who he likely would have  destroyed even with the rules not being in his favor, Berbick instead  created the legend of Takada as a guy whose kicks are harder than a  baseball bat that only the toughest UWF-I fighters were even willing to  try to stand up to. Outside of beating Antonio Inoki, no win over anyone  within the current spectrum of puroresu would likely have done near as  much for Takada's myth, not because Berbick was worth that much on his  own, I think if Takada just knocked him out in 30 seconds it wouldn't  have done nearly as much as it wound up doing, but because this  heavyweight champion boxer just cowered in fear at the idea of  essentially just doing a kickboxing match that he wound up  just  quitting rather than even mustering the courage to risk trying. Takada  was a star before this to be certain, but I think this is really what  made him a big show draw. Berbick just gifted him that aura &  mystique. Although UWF-I still weren't as adventurous in their arena  bookings as RINGS was, after this they were  not only able to run  Yokohama Arena, Nippon Budokan, & Ryogoku Kokugikan, but they were  selling out even these big shows.

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

    *In other news*

It is being reported that the PWFG is planning on running a card on  3-20-92 at the Knight Center in Miami with Minoru Suzuki, Masakatsu  Funaki, Yusuke Fuke, Jerry Flynn, Duane Koslowski and Wellington Wilkins  being scheduled to appear. This may be a response to being beat to the  punch by the UWF-I, who was  in New York in  October for a press  conference for their 12-22-91 event, and have also been rumored to be  scouting out the Madison Square Garden arena as a possible future venue.

Akira Maeda's RINGS promotion drew 10,250 on 12-7-91 at the Ariake  Coliseum, which is impressive as the venue only has a 12,000-seat  capacity, and it's being reported that very few comp tickets were given  away for this event. Also of note, Koichiro Kimura recently quit the  W*ING promotion to be with this outfit, and also adds some grappling  credence to the promotion as he is also a current S.A.W. (Submission  Arts Wrestling…a submission grappling promotion started by former Karl  Gotch student, Hidetaka Aso) champion.

A study was recently done in Los Angeles by a Dr. Bernd Weiss in  which he claims to have proven that punches from 1st and 2nd degree  black belts from shotokan  karate have more deadly force  against someone wearing body armor than a round fired off from a 9mm  pistol. The study was conducted because Weiss ran into a lot of police  officers that felt that their body armor would protect them from strikes  from an assailant in addition to bullets. Weiss claims that a  well-placed punch can do more than three times the damage than a round  from a 9mm from a distance of 7 feet. According to Weiss, body armor  gives its wearer a 33% greater chance of surviving a bullet attack, but  that one is 18 times more likely to face an unarmed assailant. Weiss did  not give a statistic on what the odds of being attacked by an unarmed  2nd degree karate black belt are, however.

Ramon Dekkers recently fought Sakmongkol Sitthichok at the Thailand  Lumpinee stadium on 11-26-91 for the vacant IMF World Welterweight  Title. Dekkers has been garnering quite the reputation in the last year,  as he has made a concerted effort to face Thai champions on their home  turf, and under their rules. He was even able to defeat infamously heavy  puncher Superlek Sorn E-Sarn in August of 1990, where he acquired the  Lumpinee Stadium Lightweight championship. While he did wind up losing a  hard fought 5-round decision, he put up a great fight, and is destined  for greatness if he continues in his winning ways.

*You too can see Ramon Dekkers run amok in Thailand over at *
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on December 21, 2020, 10:35:07 AM
1991 Shoot-Wrestling Year In Review: UWF-I


*Mike Lorefice (of the excellent MMA/Puroresu emporium will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

 MB: A new dawn is upon us, beckoning us into unexamined dimensions, a journey that is constrained only by the limits of our imaginations. Yes, 1992 has arrived, and we have successfully navigated through the first year of documenting an endless ocean of shoot-history and are now looking forward to what awaits us on the horizon. This humble scribe was surprised at overall depth of quality that 1991 had to offer. Yes, there have been some growing pains, as is to be expected when any new concept is birthed, and there were some outright stinkers along the way, but when examining the totality of everything, we are left with the conclusion that while there is still plenty of room for refinement and growth, the core value of what we have been witnessing is far greater than what a modern pundit would have you believe.

So now we will take a moment to break down the highlights of 1991, and we will start with the UWF-I.

ML: UWF-I was better and more interesting in 1991 than I remember it being. Takada doing nothing of note, Yamazaki having a rather uneventful year that saw him reduced from part time main eventer to full time afterthought, a lot of my favorites barely wrestling or not being there yet, and the small shows with just a few matches were things that had stood out to me.

Obviously, the ascendance of Kiyoshi Tamura from injured reserve to one of the handful of best pro wrestlers in the world was huge, though he obviously has more memorable years later on that overshadow 1991 in the grand scheme of things when you are simply cherry picking matches. You get a much different perspective looking back sequentially, and seeing how Tamura really defined the style of his matches, and elevated the level of the other performers he was involved with to reaches they never approached on their own.

Elevating the opposition had previously been the signature of Yamazaki, but while his thoughtful style still produced different and perhaps unique matches in the UWF-I cannon, it was clear he was largely at cross purposes in this league as he had made a shift to more patient and realistic martial arts oriented matches, while most of the rest of the natives had moved away from even the realism of the U.W.F., such as it was.

Beyond the positives of instituting a regular legitimate kickboxing match and having a couple actual shoots, UWF-I in 1991 was overall more realistic than U.W.F. was in 1990 because the new faces either had an actual martial arts background or were trained for shoot wrestling rather than New Japan, usually both. Tamura & Kanehara upped the level of the grappling considerably with a quick scrambling style based on chaining attacks while Kakihara brought a speed and intensity to the striking that we hadn't seen. The level of amateur wrestling was certainly much higher, as all the Americans had a solid base, and we began to see legitimate takedowns creep into the game of the Japanese fighters rather than needing a suplex or a judo throw to get the match to the canvas. Billy Scott was certainly the leading light of the American camp, as he was by far the best athlete, and was able to absorb and implement the teachings of the great Billy Robinson into a style that was similarly active and kinetic to what the better young Japanese workers were trying.

Though Yoji Anjo had been a solid, reliable time eater throughout the 2nd U.W.F., his stock rose here as the general jack of all trades who could deliver the match that was needed rather than just rehashing what he was most comfortable with. He was still much better as a follower, but his adaptability and diversity allowed him to add to all his matches no matter what role he was in.

MB: I have been pleasantly surprised, if not outright flabbergasted at how advanced Tamura was, right from the start. My only experience with him before starting this project was some of his late 90s work in RINGS, and while I thought he was great, I preferred him in shoots, as I sometimes thought that his flashiness in his worked matches was a distraction, but I have now been opened up to just how great a talent he was, as seeing his speed, fluidity, and elevated concept of shooting, as far back as early 1991, you could tell he was simply on a different plane of reality, compared to his contemporaries. To me, he was the overall highlight of 1991, by a wide margin, as even though he hasn’t really been booked in the best fashion (due to the current insistence on setting up Albright as the monster nemesis that will eventually face Takada) he has always been a living highlight reel, and leaves his stamp every time he is featured.

Yamazaki on the other hand, is a man out of place, and sadly would have been better served in the PWFG, or even RINGS. His cerebral, methodical, and nuanced style is out of step with where the UWFI is, and wouldn’t be a major problem if they had the foresight to use him correctly, and had given him the win against Takada at the 10-6-91 event. Had Takada been willing to swallow his pride for a brief moment, that could have opened up all sorts of booking avenues, and possibilities down the road, and wouldn’t have hurt him in the long run. But there is an ancient and true maxim that goes, “He who lives by Takada, must die by Takada” and that really is the story of the UWF-I in a nutshell. By booking him as an invincible superman, surely tapped into some kind of nationalistic fervor that paid off in the short-term, it all fell apart once real shooting became more mainstream in Japan, and Anjo embarrassed the promotion by issuing a challenge to Rickson Gracie, that he couldn’t make good on. To be fair, there had to be more issues going on than just Anjo’s antics as money problems and Yakuza ties were/are very common in Japanese pro wrestling, and while unsubstantiated, there has been speculation by some over the years that whenever a pro wrestler was put in Pride FC, it was due to having to repay Yakuza debts, and may have been why Takada allowed himself to be embarrassed by Rickson at Pride 1, and 4. Regardless, the UWF-I would probably be around today, had there been some more thoughtful booking, and no one was possibly more hurt by this lack of foresight, than Yamazaki.

Anjo should probably get some kind of MVP award, as he is turning out to be the Arn Anderson of the shoot-style world, a title he will surely hold until Tsuyoshi Kosaka arrives on the scene. Anjo has enough skills that he can pretty much do what ever needs to be done, and he has the cardio necessary to have a long match if needed. He can flow between both the shootier aspects, as well as the more pro-wrestling orientated spots, and while he isn’t going the be the best in either, his versatility makes him one of the UWF-I’s greatest assets.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on December 21, 2020, 10:39:08 AM
1991 Shoot-Wrestling Year In Review: UWF-I continued...

Top 5 wrestlers in the UWF-I for 1991:

ML: 1. Kiyoshi Tamura. Tamura set the bar for pro wrestling grappling about 10 times higher with his explosive style that really brought scrambling and chaining attacks into the pro wrestling game. He made the matches much less predictable by introducing complex, fast paced sequences that continued far beyond the single action/reaction based style that was previously in place, greatly increasing both the intensity and the level of difficulty by extending both the length and the scope. Now it wasn't simply the first attack that you had to defend, but rather each attack was as much an attempt to succeed with the takedown or submission or control gain as it was a diversion to get the opponent off guard for the subsequent attempt, if the previous one didn't work. Though none of the other performers were near Tamura's level, he was able to bring them into his new universe and raise their game to levels they didn't attain with anyone else. Basically everyone who worked with Tamura also had their best match with him, which is the mark of a truly next level performer. In this case, it's partially because the opponents were forced to work so much harder & faster to try to simply keep up with Tamura and prevent him from outclassing them to the point of embarrassment that the best they had emerged. Certainly, a great deal of skill, precision, speed, and body control is also required from the opponent to pull off the style Tamura wanted to work without a hitch, and they too deserve a lot of credit, as the Kazuchika Okada's of the world would have just laid on the mat looking clueless and letting Tamura just do whatever he could to their corpse rather than engaging Tamura in his interactive, back & forth jockeying.

2. Yoji Anjo. My recollection of the original U.W.F. is that Anjo tended to blend in with the other solid undercarders, separating himself, if at all, by his ability to sustain his level for longer durations. In 1991, there's definitely a distinctive difference between Anjo and the likes of Miyato and Nakano, as Anjo can both add a lot to a match where he's the follower as well as actually carry a match. Anjo may not be great, but he's really reliable. He can do any style, at any length, and while he doesn't always succeed, his matches don't feel formulaic and, at worst, have some interesting aspects. As the top dick in the promotion, he's able to pull the otherwise largely missing grudge aspects out of his opponents, these shenanigans again differentiating his matches from the rest.

3. Kazuo Yamazaki. While 1991 was probably the worst year of Yamazaki's career since at least 1983, he's still one of the only shooters who will always stand on his own feet and craft a match. Though I'm ranking Anjo ahead of him, it's due to the great work Anjo did against Tamura, an opportunity Yamazaki wasn't granted, and it should be noted that Yamazaki was, of course, the one laying out the good, if somewhat disappointing match he and Anjo had. Yamazaki & Funaki were very similar this year in that they made a conscious choice not to be flashy. As such, I think their actual talent greatly exceeds their end results, but I also respect this decision, and can say that their matches hold up a lot better as quasi shooting because of it. Yamazaki didn't have nearly as many good opportunities as in years past, and while he also didn't make the most of them, he was still a very interesting watch because he's a thoughful performer who has the courage to work outside the expected.

4. Yuko Miyato. Miyato is the best follower in the league. Left to his devices, he's basically a one trick pony who just wants to play the underdog and get in 1 or 2 Hail Mary spinning solebutts that won't actually win him the match anyway, but Tamura got him to improve his matwork considerably, upping the number of counters and reversals and just doing things faster to maintain the intensity and viewer interest. As a consequene, Miyato was generally more well rounded this year, and in spending much of his time working with the more capable workers who were also more toward his equals in standing, he seemed better positioned to display a more diverse & technical game.

5. Hiromitsu Kanehara. Kanehara only had one match, but he already showed more ability to carry a match than probably anyone other than Tamura & Yamazaki. Granted the sample size is incredibly small, but he's arguably already the 2nd best grappler, and 3rd best overal worker in the promotion behind those same two. One could make a case for Scott, who was around most of the year, and as such even had a better match with Anjo, but Kanehara was really able to display next level chain grappling skills even against a fellow newcomer, whereas Scott had the benefit of being carried by the 2nd & 3rd best workers in the league.

MB: While any comments I add here, are strictly academic nitpicking, I will go ahead and offer my thoughts.

1: Kiyoshi Tamura: There really isn’t any argument here, as Tamura is clearly ahead of of everyone, in terms of his raw talent. You could argue that Yamazki is more experienced, and employs a greater psychology to what he does, and I would tend to agree, but the speed, athleticism, and outright freshness, of what Tamura has brought to the table so far, has been nothing short of a game-changer. From what we have seen so far, it isn’t surprising that this man went on to have, what is arguably the greatest pro-wrestling match of all time, against Tsuyoshi Kosaka in 1998.

2. I respect and can agree with Mike Lorefice’s decision to put Anjo in the 2nd spot, though I would personally place Yamazaki here. While it’s true this has not been a good year for him, this is due to the garbage booking he has been saddled with, and not a reflection of his talent. Nothing can be taken away from Anjo for being the most versatile talent the UWF-I is employing at the moment, but that again is due to how everything is being layed out by the UWFI’s management. Yamazaki is still the best talent in the game at this point, if we count not only his skills, but his experience in this style, but we all know that he is about to be eclipsed by the rising stars of Tamura, and Volk Han. Even then, neither Han, nor Tamura, had quite the methodical and oft times, cerebral approach that Yamazaki did, and while that didn’t translate into the raw entertainment value that those two provided, I do feel like Yamazaki’s best moments translated better into the actual essence of shooting.

3. Again, the 2nd and 3rd slots could easily be interchanged here, without any complaints from me, but I would put Anjo in this spot. His cardio, and versatility are without question, though his results have been uneven. Still, he always brings something interesting, even when it doesn’t quite click.

4. Hiromitsu Kanehara. Though it may be incredulous on my part to put a one-match rookie in the 4th slot here, I feel like I have been more impressed with that one match, then I have with anything MIyato has done. Don’t get me wrong, Miyato is a solid talent, that is quite malleable, but my main issue with him, is he like Nakano, hasn’t evolved at all since the NEWBORN UWF, and feels a bit dated, whereas Kanehara feels like part of a fresh new generation that is going to take us to the next level.

5: Billy Scott. There is no doubt that Scott has a long way to go, in terms of refining his striking and submission skills, to be able to match many of his peers, but what he has in spades, is a very believable gravitas that surrounds him. Right away you feel like this is a serious athlete, that is going to be a threat to be dealt with, and he has carried himself very well, especially for a rookie.

UWF-I Rookie of the Year

ML: 1. Hiromitsu Kanehara

2. Billy Scott. Though Burton had a couple of strong matches by virtue of Tamura's wizardry, Scott was clearly the bright spot among the foreigners, a fiery, intense, and energetic hard worker who soaked up the technique imparted to him and improved with each showing.


1: This was a very tough call for me, but I will agree with Lorefice on this. Though I was tempted to pick Scott, by default to him having more output this year, I can’t deny the incredibly skills and poise that Kanehara showed. While Scott felt like a rookie (albeit a very talented one) Kanehara felt like someone that was a seasoned pro, right from the jump.

2. Billy Scott: Scott has nowhere to go but up, as he is probably the best westerner, we have seen in any of these promotions, outside of Ken Shamrock. With some more time, and refinement, he will be a major force to be reckoned with.

Top 5 matches in the UWF-I for 1991

ML: 1. 7/3/91: Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Yoji Anjo

2. 8/24/91: Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Yuko Miyato

3. 6/6/91: Makoto Ohe vs. Rudy Lovato

4. 10/6/91: Kiyoshi Tamura & Yuko Miyato vs. Tatsuo Nakano & Tom Burton

5. 6/6/91: Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Tom Burton

MB: 1. 7/3/91 Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yoji Anjo: I have to agree that this was the best thing that we saw from the UWF-I. A great match all the way around, and a serious notice to the entire combat-sports realm, that Tamura is a serious talent, that can’t be slept on.

2. Makoto Ohe vs Rudy Lovato: This was probably my favorite match of the year, but since it was strictly a kickboxing match, I’m not sure if it is fair to put it at the number one spot. In cany evert, it was a total blitzkrieg from start to finish, and will forever be a timeless footfighting classic.

3. For reasons that I’m not quite sure that I can articulate, I found the 11-7-91 Tag match to be one of the very best of the year, out of this promotion, putting it slightly ahead of the 10-6-91 version with Nakano. This completely shattered my expectations, and even Tom Burton looked good in this one.

4. Tamura vs Miyato. Another great match, with Miyato providing a fast, and capable foil to Tamura. He didn’t have the smug heelishness that Anjo has, but he made up for it with great urgency, and really helped to make this a great match.

5. Yamazaki vs Anjo. I liked this more than my man Mike Lorefice, but I thought this was a great paring, who’s only real downfall was the lack of time they gave them. The almost 12 minutes that they had to work with were great though, and again, if not for the bizarre booking, we would have possibly had a MOTY candidate, had they been giving the proper amount of time to space this out.

*You can relive all of these events with us by becoming a patron, over at *
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on December 22, 2020, 04:34:04 PM

*Mike Lorefice, of the excellent MMA/Puroresu website will have his initials preceded by his comments. *

1991 Shoot-Wrestling Year In Review: PWFG

ML: PWFG got out of the gate quickly and felt like the best of the worked shoot leagues for much of the year. They had the opportunity to not just be about one great talent, as initially, that balance was there where even though Minoru Suzuki was the clear standout performer, it wasn't about who was fighting Suzuki, but rather which combination of Suzuki, Ken Shamrock, Naoki Sano, & Masakatsu Funaki we were getting. Unfortunately, that big 4 was based around borrowing Sano from SWS, which seemed very feasible given both companies were owned by Megame Super, and their president was a big pro wrestling fan who kept urging the PWFG guys to come fight in SWS. This working relationship quickly unraveled to a large extent when Suzuki's 4/1/91 match with veteran Apollo Sugawara turned into a shoot, resulting in essentially the same finish as the famous Takada/Berbick match, with the fight ending because Sugawara just said the hell with it and up and left the ring. Sano may not have been the best shooter, but was a talented enough pro wrestler that he had the Match of the Year and best junior match up until that point with Jushin Thunder Liger on 1/31/90. While UWF-I had some misses, they did a much better job of rounding out their roster as the year progressed, whereas Sano's loan running out left a big hole in PWFG which they never managed to fill.

Minoru Suzuki's technical skills were actual below Masakatsu Funaki's, but he grasped the urgency and intensity necessary to make the style effective and appealing a lot better, as well as that speed is more important than absolute precision. There was a real sense of danger in his matches, this feeling that you always had to be on guard. This played into Ken Shamrock's strengths well, as Shamrock not only played the wild powerhouse, but proved to be someone not to mess with when he (cheap) shot on rookie Kazuo Takahashi.

Funaki held down the credible end of the spectrum, showing a technical precision and grasp of the positions that clearly separated him from the rest of the league. That understanding didn't always make for the most entertaining matches, as his position before submission style was way ahead of its time, but also plays a lot better when winning is up to the fighters rather than the whim of the booker. While it sometimes felt Funaki was sacrificing himself for the development and advancement of the craft and others felt like he was the precursor to GSP in just being out there to win no matter what it looked like, he was, perhaps surprisingly, able to prove this style viable, and always came off as the top star of the promotion whether Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Suzuki, or Shamrock liked that or not.

Fujiwara seemed very interested in realism for one show, but it's almost as if he realized he simply couldn't keep up with the way the style was developing, and quickly descended into just goofing around for cheap giggles when he wasn't bullying the opponents he knew possessed neither the standing nor the balls to call him on it. While his promotion was the most realistic of the 3 as a whole, he was increasingly painful to watch, and almost came off as a shoot style version of a comedy wrestler, with his matches being so lame you just waited to see what antics he would pull.

MB: PWFG was the best overall product out of the three shoot-style promotions in 1991, and probably had the highest percentage of must-see moments from this year, but in retrospect it’s also easy to see why this promotion didn’t survive after the great exodus of talent in 93 over to Pancrase. Throughout 1991, you can see some of the performers here, continually edge closer and closer to real shoot territory, which indicates that somewhere buried in the collective haze was a desire to push the envelope and really fight for real. Also, as Lorefice pointed out, not having Sano around for most of the year was to their detriment, as they really needed another 2-3 high caliber guys to really be an unstoppable force. That is one of the unfortunate aspects of the UWF splintering off into three separate promotions, was the thinning out of the talent pool, as we can see a huge disparity between the higher tier of Funaki, Shamrock, and Suzuki, vs the lower end, like Wilkins, Kiroware, and the man who’s name should never be uttered, Johnny Barrett. Imagine if someone like Yamazaki had migrated to the PWFG as opposed to the UWF-I, that alone could have made a huge difference in rounding out their roster.

Fujiwara is really the odd man in this equation. I think that he has realized that he is perhaps in over his head, as there is no way at his age, or athletic ability, he is going to hang with the kind of matches that we are starting to see take shape, but to his credit, he seems to be ok with not having the entire focus of the promotion be around him, as he has been willing to have matches in the midcard, or miss an event if need be, whereas there is no way that the UWF-I will allow their league to be about anything other than Takada, and the particular monster-of-the-week that he will be slaying on that month. As long as Fujiwara has a strong roster, then he will be able to get away with the clowning antics that we have seen from him, but if he starts hemorrhaging talent, then it’s going to be painfully obvious to all, that he can’t carry this promotion.

Still, things are looking good for them going into 92. They were able to acquire Duane Koslowski, who seems to be a great talent, that can only get better and better, Takaku Fuke, who stole the show with his epic match against Jerry Flynn, and then proceeded to get a good match out of Bart Vale the next event, and Kazuo Takahashi, who still has a ways to go in rounding out his striking and submission skills to match his great wrestling, but has so much heart, and verve, that he is awesome a welcome addition.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on December 22, 2020, 04:39:30 PM
PWFG’s Top 5 Wrestlers in 1991

ML: 1. Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki did the best job of transitioning from the pro wrestling style to the shoot style, just having a better grasp of what made both tick from a viewer standpoint. He combined the urgency and intensity necessary to make the matches work as "shoots" with the more subtle brand of entertainment of pro wrestling where actions and affectations that aren't necessary but also aren't unreasonable are thrown in for dramatic purposes, finding an exciting balance between the credible and the energetic. Even when he was doing somewhat nonsensical things such as trying to work in his dropkick, his matches still overall felt like epic struggles where you couldn't let your guard down for a second. As we are seeing with Tamura, being fast and explosive are far more important to the quality of worked shoot style than absolute technical precision because ultimately you are still getting away with something, it's just that the less time you give the audience to identify that, the more difficult it becomes for them to see the holes. Suzuki had excellent speed and footwork in standup even though that wasn't the strength of his game, and was the only fighter who won two shoots, a planned one where he relied on his grappling to beat Thai fighter Lawi Napataya and an unplanned one where he relied on his footwork and handspeed to humiliate SWS' Apollo Sugawara.

2. (Ken) Wayne Shamrock. Shamrock's intensity and work ethic were his best attributes early on, but despite having some of his best matches at the outset, he clearly improved a lot over the course of the year, particularly in the striking department. Shamrock benefitted from having the best run of opponents, but even when he was carried by Suzuki & Funaki, he added a lot to the matches and always felt like a distinct talent. He really began to hit his stride with the Suzuki rematch, with his improved familiarity and confidence allowing him to work a more decisive, aggressive, and assertive style with strikes that were now solid, if not even impressive.

3. Naoki Sano. Sano was a great, albeit overly reckless pro wrestler who was willing to go the extra mile. He had a learning curve, and clearly had a lot more potential in this style than he was able to reach this year due to spending most of it in his home promotion, SWS, taking on Americans that were neither juniors in style nor in weight, finally claiming the inaugural SWS Light Heavyweight Title from an overroided Model. On talent alone, Sano was probably the best follower we saw in this style in 1991, immediately having a memorable match with Shamrock, a match of the year with Suzuki, and a couple of good, more technical and less competitive matches in SWS with Funaki. Sano went 1-2-1 in his initial important run, but with Megame Super having deemed it too danger to have interpromotional matches with PWFG on SWS's shows after the Suzuki/Apollo debacle, Sano wound up only making a few more appearances in a filler role. This was really a shame because he'd clearly improved a lot in the style in just a few matches, and I feel like he could not only have reached another level himself, but helped the stars of this promotion get there too.

4. Masakatsu Funaki. Funaki had his own break them down style, and being positioned at the top of the cards, he was able to carry his opponents through it, or just smother and thwart them. Sparring was important to the PWFG wrestlers dojo preparation, and was definitely influential toward Fujiwara & Masami Soronaka (though he didn't see most of them since he lived in Florida & was only in Japan when the events were close) determining the results of the matches in the sense that while they had to keep the fans happy, everyone knew who was really better, and thus should win. My sense is Funaki either thought the matches should be as realistic as possible or really wanted to win at this point, or both, and mostly continued to implement the positional grappling he dominated with in training, rather than somewhat switching into entertainment mode when the bell rang. Funaki arguably had the most charisma of anyone in the shoot game when he wanted to, but increasingly it was instead his calm & confident demeanor that set him apart. He had the best technical and positional understanding of all these guys, and nothing was going to fluster or sidetrack him because technique trumps emotion. While some of his matwork looked like Takada's on the surface, in other words just laying in wait, Funaki actually had a plan and things going on, and was able to implement this trap setting style where he exploited minute advantages and adjusted to stuff the opponent's escapes until he created the opening/forced the mistake, rather than literally doing nothing in hopes that the opponent would eventually bail him out one way or the other as Takada did. Funaki also had tremendous hand speed, but unlike Kakihara, who made a career out of that, was largely reticent to display it in more than brief flashes, being more confident in his ability to dominate on the mat. I respect that Funaki was very much working for everything and out to show that nothing comes easy when the opponent is actually (or at least theoretically) trying to resist, but he was often frustrating because it always felt like, in the best of times, he was good when he should have been great.

5. Yusuke Fuke. Fuke was one of the only workers to participate in an actual shoot, and was even able to demonstrate ideas that were otherwise almost completely absent from the pro wrestling spectrum such as distance control, getting in and out, and checking kicks in some of his works. In some ways his technique was better than even Funaki's, and one could argue that, despite being an undercarder who only had 3 matches under his belt prior to the U.W.F. split, he did the most this year to advance the sport of pro wrestling toward legitimate martial arts. It's unfortunate that he's positioned with guys that never deliver, Bart Vale & Wellington Wilkins Jr., as he's the only one who seems to have the potential as a worker to to fill the hole left by Sano.

MB: 1. I agree that Suzuki was the best performer this year, as his understanding of intensity is unrivaled. Whereas Funaki is sometimes too patient, and Ken is still finding his rhythm, and sometimes wavers in his approach to a match, Suzuki seems to understand that this is supposed to be a fight and acts accordingly. It also helps that out of all the performers, Suzuki probably won the lottery in the matchups department, as everything that was in, was able to showcase his skills and put him in a favorable light, as the lowest tier fighter he had to face was Bart Vale, and even though he had to do a 30min match with Fujiwara, he was able to put enough intensity into it, that it still came off better than Funaki’s match with him. He was also able to avenge the good name of the PWFG, and professional wrestlers everywhere, when he defeated the Sultan of Slime, in a shoot.

2. Ken Shamrock. I had an internal debate between him and Funaki for this spot, and while Funaki clearly has more experience, and skill at this point, Shamrock had been put in several great matches, while Funaki was poorly utilized for the first few months. Shamrock would have taken this in spades, had he not showed a streak of unprofessionalism, with him putting very little effort into his match with Wilkins, which resulted in a mediocre offering, and taking a huge cheap shot against Takahashi during their fight. His fight with Takahashi was one of the most entertaining of the year, for what it was, but soccer kicking your coworker in the orbital that you has to work every month alongside you, was a jerk move, that was completely unnecessary, especially when you would have easily won the fight without resorting to that. Still, it is obvious that PWFG has a tremendous talent on its hands, and if he can be properly cultivated, could very well be on his way to superstardom.

3. Masakatsu Funaki. This is where I will deviate from Lorefice a bit, and put Funaki in this slot, instead of Sano. Had Sano done more in the PWFG during this year, I would put him here easily, but for me it’s a combination of Funaki’s skill, being active for the entire year, and most importantly, we have seen him really start to hit his stride as this year as gone on. While he was straddled with questionable booking for the first three months, having to deal with Vale, he who’s name cannot be uttered, and being forced to have a lackluster match with Fujiwara, he hit a home-run with his bout with Shamrock, and has really started to showcase his own style with his matches with Koslowski, and Takahashi. His matches with those aforementioned two, have probably been the closest to emulating real shoots, that we have seen from anyone, and while that isn’t the flashiest way to go about things, when put into context, he was basically inventing a new approach before our eyes, and wound up pushing this entire affair closer and closer to real MMA, and for that I have to give him a lot of credit.

4. Naoki Sano. Sano was fantastic, and his only real drawback was not having enough experience in this style to carry an inferior opponent like Bart Vale. His match with Shamrock had an awesome look of two juggernauts colliding, as both men’s physiques helped make the aesthetics of the match work in a way that you can’t achieve when Shamrock is facing someone that he outweighs by a huge margin like a Suzuki.  Sano’s athleticism and raw energy could have seen him being one of the best, had he stuck around, but the fracturing of the working relationship between SWS and PWFG prevented what could have been lighting in a bottle.

5. Takaku Fuke. Fuke was probably the one that most surprised me out of this bunch. I never really gave him much thought before this project, and I’m now seeing the errors of my ways. Not only did he have the guts to have an actual shoot against a slicked up Thai kickboxing champion, but showed a surprising amount of shrewdness in how he dealt with him, as he would time his shots wonderfully, and showed a good understanding of distance. He would also take that same understanding and employ it into his works, and put those skills into a great match with Jerry Flynn, and somehow made a 30min match fly by like a breeze, which is not easy for anyone to do, quite frankly. He proved himself to have the skills to be a great go-to guy in the midcard, where you can kind of use him in different capacities.

1991 PWFG Rookie of the Year

ML: 1. Kazuo Takahashi. Takahashi was the best amateur wrestler among the natives, and although that was mostly all he did, he was a really tough guy who helped to modernize the transition game, getting PWFG away from the U.W.F. style of initiating grappling via suplex or throw.

MB: There isn’t much to say here other than “ditto.” Takahashi was awesome, and was really the only rookie outside of some of the westerners on loan from the Acme Jobber Academy.

Top 5 1991 Matches in PWFG

ML: 1. 7/26/91: Minoru Suzuki vs. Naoki Sano

2. 9/28/91: Wayne Shamrock vs. Minoru Suzuki

3. 3/4/91: Wayne Shamrock vs. Minoru Suzuki

4. 10/17/91: Yusuke Fuke vs. Jerry Flynn

5. 5/16/91: Naoki Sano vs. Wayne Shamrock

MB: This is an almost impossible task, as there were several great matches from this outfit, and several of them could easily be interchanged without blinking an eye. In fact, if you were to ask me tomorrow, or even 30min from now, I may have a different perspective, but for now, this is where I would put the top 5 matches.

1. 7/26/91: Minoru Suzuki vs Naoki Sano. This was a shoo-in as the combined energy and reckless abandon that both showed was the best thing to happen this year. Timeless classic.

2. 10/17/91: Yusuke Fuke vs Jerry Flynn. This may seem like a crazy choice to put in the number 2 slot, and maybe it is, but I can’t get over how impressive it was seeing Fuke unleash a torrent of energy for the entire 30mins, and winding up with a match that never felt like it was dragging. As good as the Shamrock/Suzuki matches were, they both had their share of dead spaces, but this felt like a nonstop blitz, and Fuke really showcased the nuances that are needed in simulating a wrestler vs striker match, like distance, and setting up your takedowns.

3. 3/4/91: Minoru Suzuki vs Wayne Shamrock. I could easily interchange this with the 9/28/91 battle, depending on what day you catch me, but for me I recall my first impression of both matches, and being more captivated by this one. This had more dead spaces, but perhaps the thing that moved the needle for me was the crescendo. Everything led to an explosive climax, much like reaching the top of a roller coaster, and then plunging downwards after the long ascent to the top, and while that isn’t the most realistic in terms of a real fight, it made for great drama.

4. 8/23/91: Masakatsu Funaki vs Wayne Shamrock. I know that Mike Lorefice doesn’t rate this as highly as I do, and maybe he’s right, but for me this match abounded in intensity. Both were utterly convincing in their portrayals of wanting to destroy the other, and even in the dead spaces, it seemed like they were jockeying for position, looking for an opening. This also saw a marked improvement in Ken’s striking, and Funaki didn’t slouch in the kicks that he was giving Ken either. Sometimes a match just hits you the right way, and for me this was a winner.

5. 5/16/91: Naoki Sano vs. Wayne Shamrock: Great match with tons of energy from both men. There were still some rough edges from both men, as Ken’s striking would improve in the following months, and Sano still has to rely on some puroresu tricks, but this was great, especially considering how early on this took place.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: AbrahamG on December 22, 2020, 09:05:43 PM
@Matt C - Is this your gimmick?   :D
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 02, 2021, 11:48:22 AM
Kakutogi Road Presents: 1991 Year in Review Part 3 FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS
*Mike Lorefice (owner of the fantastic MMA/PURO mecca will have his comments preceded by his initials. *


ML: RINGS didn't really run enough shows to warrant a year end list, but at the same time, it feels a bit silly doing UWF-I & PWFG but excluding them. While RINGS was largely just Akira Maeda at this point, and Maeda was largely just broken this year, they somehow, eventually managed to navigate their way from a one-man show to the best, and by far the longest lasting of these three shoot promotions. Their beginnings were incredibly humble, but in a sense having Maeda meant more than having a half a roster of good workers, as their 4 shows were all big events due to him, and based on the padded figures they drew 32,250 or an average of 8,063 per show, easily more total fans that PWFG drew in their 7 shows and only 5,800 less than UWF-I drew in their 11 shows.

RINGS didn't carry wrestlers over from U.W.F., and 5 months wasn't enough time to get trainees ready, but Maeda knew that bringing in the foreign martial artists was what differentiated the U.W.F. major events from the monthly Korakuen Hall shows. He exploited the contacts he already had with places such as the Netherlands, as well as establishing new ones in places such as the USSR. Obviously, professional fighters and gym owners having friends, students, and training partners, hence the Fighting Network was hastily hatched. This plan had several faults, most notably that the Netherlands leader, Chris Dolman, was already 46-year-old and moved like he had two knee and hip replacements and was fighting his way through quicksand.The value of RINGS this year was in introducing a number of new fighters. While results varied, in the end my rookie of the year list is almost identical to my top 5, and that bodes really well for their future.

RINGS future finally began to take shape with the arrival of the immortal Volk Han on the final show of the year. If I were ranking purely on skill rather than putting some merit into the quality and quantity of the overall output for the year, Han would already be #2 overall shoot stylist, which is remarkable given he had no pro wrestling matches, or probably really even training before facing Maeda in the year end main event. But that lack of training was likely a blessing, as he brought with him none of the bad habits the majority of shooters carried over from the New Japan dojo, and thus totally came at shooting like he would a real fight. That's not to say he ignored the entertainment aspects, if anything he might be too steeped in them, but he approached the fight from the basis of an actual active live opponent doing their best to resist his attacks rather than standing around doing their best to make them as easy for him as they could possibly get away with. There's a solid undercurrent of realistic positioning and movement to his fights that isn't present in many other bouts that aren't going for realism at the expense of all else, which allows his crazy inventive grappling to seem a lot more earned.

MB: It’s quite remarkable knowing that Rings would go on to become one of the most important MMA orgs in history when one looks at their 1991 output in isolation. In fact, if you were to only view their events from 91’ you couldn’t be blamed for thinking this promotion was doomed to last only another year or two treading water. Fortune favors the brave however, and that is something that Maeda in the courage to just brazenly go big in everything that he did, even if he didn’t have the talent to pull it off at first. He also benefited from a willingness to keep his ego in check (at least to some degree) for the good of his company. We saw this when he put Dick Vrij over in what was only the 2nd event, and we would see him continue this from time to time, as needed. Compare this to Takada, who couldn’t even find it in his heart to put over Yamazaki, who he had not only lost to before, but would have been an excellent move at that point in time, for the long term health of his promotion.

The year-end events of RINGS and the UWF-I were quite revealing in showing us that where one company was destined to be ablaze for the short-term, eventually the ancient maxim would hold true which states that those who live by Takada, are doomed to die by Takada, and that is eventually what happened when Anjo exposed the outfit by getting destroyed by Rickson Gracie, and Takada putting the final nail in shoot-style by losing to everyone that they couldn’t successfully bribe on his behalf. On the flipside, we saw that while RINGS was very raw and in need of refinement, the concept was strong enough that it could only get better and better in time once the talent pool was acquired.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 02, 2021, 12:04:00 PM
*1991 RINGS Year-in-Review Continued... *

RINGS’ Top 5 Wrestlers in 1991

ML: 1. Volk Han. An amazing one of a kind, once in a generation talent who was immediately head and shoulders above everyone but Kiyoshi Tamura despite having never competed in a worked or full rules shoot. Han really revolutionized the grappling game, popularizing the attacking, chain submission style that made people outside of hardcore practioners want to watch ground fighting and, perhaps indirectly, became the basis of the gambling, no risk no reward Japanese MMA ground style at a time when American MMA was all about lay & pray. No submission wrestler was ever flashier than Han, yet perhaps because he wasn't trained in the lazy ways of cooperative pro wrestling, he maintained most of the good habits he'd employed in competitive tournament fighting, and was able to build the sparking end game around a really solid, technically sound foundation. Han had amazing reflexes with the speed and anticipation to capitalize on them, moving constantly and correctly, adjusting, tweeking, eventually capitalizing on something that might otherwise be outlandish, and probably would just be too slow and deliberate if a lesser athlete and/or tactician attempted it. Han was never content to be a one man show, but rather someone who forced the opponent to step up their game to try to keep up with him. Han was going to work his hardest, and if you had any semblance of talent, he wasn't going to let you get away with getting anything over on him without earning it, which again added a level of urgency and intensity to his contests.

2. Willie Peeters. RINGS resident wild man Sneaky Peeters was a lot of things, but certainly never boring like his senpai Dullman. In fact, I'm not sure anyone tried harder to entertain than Willie, and managed to be the only repeat offender... on my RINGS top matches list. Sometimes Peeters undermined himself by being so out of control he was simply sloppy, but his matches had great energy, and he kept the crowd at the edge of their seats by being chaos incarnate. While most wrestlers bore me to death through the Ric Flair connect the same dots 24/7 repetitive style, you just never knew what insanity you were going to get from Peeters. Certainly, no one will ever accuse him of not being stiff enough... assuming he managed to connect. His heavy body punches were ahead of their time, and something it's baffling we never saw more of in the worked world given that even most of the marks would eventually know deep down that real head punches without gloves would get fighters nowhere but the emergency room to reset their shattered paws.

3. Herman Renting. Life would be better without most of these foreigners, but I'm surprisingly not calling for a moratorium on Renting. Renting may not be the most talented guy around, but he was figuring things out with each match. At first I thought he had little beyond a Greco Roman takedown, but he was actually able to display a lot of variance in his submission game out of that in his second match with Nagai. He may not be the best standup fighter offensively, but showed a good ability to work standing sequences around his takedown and submission game, and impressed me with his footwork in his subsequent match with karate champion Nobuaki Kakuda, which would be my #5 match if I absolutely had to pick from among the stuff I wouldn't quite call good.

4. Akira Maeda. I liked Maeda as a pro wrestler, and in the less evolved days of shooting, but now that he's done a good thing in surrounding himself with a bunch of legitimate martial artists, he needs to fight like one instead of still just being a pro wrestler. I will give him a pass for now because he was having enough trouble getting through his few matches on two feet, much less trying to learn whole new legitimate methods of combat in the interim. While his matches were all passable enough, and he was carried to the promotions match of the year, he largely seemed like a dinosaur, albeit one who was obviously not boring, lacking in gravitas, or without a certain brand of showy skill.

5. Mitsuya Nagai. Nagai was somewhat ahead of the curve for a rookie because he had been in various gyms since 1986, starting out with Satoru Sayama, but following his primary instructor there, Naoyuki Taira, to the Shootboxing promotion, where he was 5-2 as an amateur. He joined the U.W.F. in 1989, but a neck injury kept him from ever making his debut. His standup skills were better than his ground skills, but having participated in enough real and fake fighting training sessions, he was pretty well rounded. Nagai isn't a top shelf athlete though, so he needs that solid technique because he can't get away with things as easily or make up for them with speed and aggression the way a Kakihara can. It's hard to really gauge Nagai because he had two matches against fellow rookie Renting then a shoot against ultimate sleezebag Gordeau.

MB: 1. Volk Han: There is no way to argue against this choice, as even without the foresight of knowing what greatness Han would achieve in the future, his debut alone shows us that there is a lot of talent just waiting to be discovered. Even though we saw a lot of flashiness in his style when he fought Maeda, he did it with such a stylized sense of confidence, that he came off like a Russian super-hero who seemingly had loads of never before seen attacks at his disposal.

2. Willie Peeters: While it pains me to put him over due to his general jerky behavior (which would only get worse in the years to come) there is no denying the entertainment value of this man. He was truly all over the place, but that is where the fun was, as you never quite knew what you were going to get out of him. His antics aside, he did have talent, and could surely hold his own in a real shoot if he had to, although that opportunity hasn’t come up yet.

3. Koichiro Kimura: This is where I’ll deviate from Lorefice a bit and proffer the multiple time S.A.W. champion for everyone’s consideration. Granted he only had one televised match so far, and yes in that one match he wasn’t given a lot of opportunities to shine due to his opponents inexperience in working a match, but in that one match I saw a lot of potential in him, that exceeded what I saw in others, like Renting and Nagai. He showed nice fluid movement throughout that match, in both his footwork/striking, as well as smooth/explosive judo. Everyone that we have seen so far has usually one dynamic or skill that they are good at, but not often due we see people that blend all the different aspects together in a coherent fashion. While time may prove me wrong, from what I was able to see in his initial match, I’m going out on a limb and saying that he is in the upper tier of Rings talents right now.

4. Mitsuya Nagai: While I think it would be completely fair to swap out this slot with Herman Renting, I feel compelled to choose Nagai simply due to his well-roundedness. His Shootboxing background gave him a nice kickboxing foundation to build on, but he also has had enough pro wrestling/shoot training to round his skills out. While neither his striking or grappling are world class, they are both good enough that he will always be a skilled hand to have on board, even if he can never really rise above the mid-card ranks.

5. Akira Maeda: I fell odd for picking Maeda, but the fact is that he has a lot of gravitas as a performer, and every time he shows up, the crowds go into a complete state of rapture. That isn’t a quality that should be neglected when he asses these performers, as the ability to project yourself, and sell your act so to speak, is just as important as the actual work that you do in that ring. Furthermore, I actually like paired down Maeda more than the 80s version. Yes, he is a shell of his former self here, but less is oftentimes more, and when I watch a lot of his 80s matches I find about 5-6 mins of great action squished by a usual 15 mins of coma inducing or otherwise lazy matwork. By keeping things short and simple (even if it’s due to necessity) I am enjoying his matches more now, even though his current lack of physical ability hampers the realism that he is going for.


RINGS 1991 Rookie of the Year

ML: 1. Volk Han

2. Willie Peeters

3. Herman Renting

4. Mitsuya Nagai

5. Bert Kops Jr. Kops only had one fight, but it was the 2nd best of the year here even though the later stages were very compromised by a knee injury that he probably shouldn't have continued pushing through. He was impressive with his array of deadlifts & suplexes, as well as his willingness to not only stand up to the out of control bully Peeters, but actually even escalate the stiffness of their contest. I suspect he would be much higher had he managed to be more active, but at the same time, the guys ahead of him all had much better careers.

MB: 1. Volk Han

2. Willie Peeters

3. Koichiro Kimura

4. Mitsuya Nagai

5. Bert Kops Jr.

Best RINGS matches of 1991

ML: 1. 12/7/91: Akira Maeda vs. Volk Han

2. 9/14/91: Bert Kops Jr. vs. Willie Peeters

3. 5/11/91: Willie Peeters vs. Marcel Haarmans

4. 9/14/91: Mitsuya Nagai vs. Herman Renting

MB: 1. 12/7/91: Akira Maeda vs Volk Han

2. 12/7/91: Willie Peeters vs Dick Vrij --- When I think of this match, I’m reminded of a review that Roger Ebert did for Basic Instinct 2 where he opened up with this, “"Basic Instinct 2" resembles its heroine: It gets off by living dangerously. Here is a movie so outrageous and preposterous it is either (a) suicidal or (b) throbbing with a horrible fascination. I lean toward (b). It's a lot of things, but boring is not one of them. I cannot recommend the movie, but ... why the hell can't I? Just because it's godawful? What kind of reason is that for staying away from a movie? Godawful and boring, that would be a reason.”

This match may not be good in any conventional sense of the term, but it is FAR from boring. In fact, I would say it was one of the most entertaining matches of the year, despite everything that we know to be both good and right. Peeters was oscillating from not having his strikes connect at all, to having them connecting way too hard, and bounced around more than the Tasmanian Devil in a pinball machine, all while the Japanese crowed went bananas.   The entire b-movie atheistic was further amplified by the evil henchman comic-book appearance of Dick Vrij, who’s icy cold demeanor and bodybuilders physique, only served to add to the experience.

3.  12/7/91 Gerard Gordeau vs Mitsuya Nagai: Again, when viewed in isolation, there is nothing particularly noteworthy here, but taken in the context of its time, I found this to be rather fascinating. It was the first full blown shoot in the RINGS promotion, and was an interesting matchup as you had a kickboxer with grappling experience in Nagai, against a savate champion who presumably had little to no grappling skills in Gordeau, but this played out in a fashion that I wouldn’t have expected. Nagai was able to get the takedowns, but couldn’t follow up on them, and couldn’t hang with the superior striking skills and reach of his opponent. Perhaps it’s because this was a nice change of pace being a shoot, when so far, we hadn’t seen any yet from RINGS, but I liked it when taking everything into consideration.

4. 9/14/91: Bert Kops Jr. vs. Willie Peeters

5. 9/14/91: Mitsuya Nagi vs Herman Renting: I found this rematch from their initial meeting on 5/11/91 to not only have been the better of their two matches, but an entertaining bout in its own right.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 13, 2021, 07:37:15 AM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 22 "An Intense Defense"

*Editors Note: Mike Lorefice of the excellent MMA/Puroresu emporium will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

Welcome, as we begin a new era in charting the ever unfolding martial-combat zeitgeist. Yes, 1992 is upon us and we have taken the solemn oath to forge ahead in traversing these uncharted waters, following headlong to wherever they may lead us. 1991 was revelatory in many ways, but ultimately functioned as an hors d'oeuvre of the possibilities of what modern MMA would and could become in the future. It also set the stage for three separate promotions to really start to discover their identity, so we can be sure that this year we will start to see a further development of the myriad of new ideas that were presented when the UWF was birthed in 1984.


We have now arrived to 1-9-92 as we return to the cozy confines of the Korakuen Hall, ready to kick off the year with another UWF-I event. 1991 ended with Takada and Co. making a bold move with their Berbick public relations stunt, that probably would have been a disaster had Berbick actually fought Takada instead of leaving the ring in disgust. Berbick’s actions, though one can’t really fault him for, have had the unfortunate consequences of playing into the narrative that the UWF-I has been trying to craft for the last year, in that Takada is a superhero and an unequalled master in kakutogi combat. We will now have to wait almost 6 years to see this narrative completely collapse when we see the birth and rise of PRIDE FC, but for now let us bathe in the warmth of Takada’s 15mins.

We are welcomed to a montage of some of the various fighters that were present during last months card, giving interviews, before it cuts away to footage of Nobuhiko Takada having a seat right by the front entrance of the Korakuen Hall, greeting fans as they come in, and shaking their hands. This is pretty neat if you think about it, as could you imagine Hulk Hogan hanging around the front of the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta Ga, greeting fans as they entered the studio for a taping of WCW Saturday Night? Neither can I. After a lengthy interview with Takada, of which I understood nothing outside of a reference to his fight with Berbick, we are off to the races, with a rematch between Hiromitsu Kanehara and the other Maeda, Masakazu (not Akira).

These two stole the show a couple of weeks prior when they opened, and while I’m surprised they would go back to the well so quickly, I won’t complain as any day to see Kanehara in action is a good one, indeed. They don’t waste anytime before getting right into the action, and other Maeda is looking a lot more confident this time out, as he immediately goes guns blazing towards Kanehara with a litany of palm-strikes, but is taken down quickly when he misses a Ushiro-Tobi-Mawashi-Geri (reverse jumping roundhouse kick). Maeda was able to quickly get out of Kanehara’s mount and ended the rapid sequence with a soccer kick to Kanehara’s back. We aren’t even a min into the match, and this is looking good, so far.

Maeda continues to press the action with a variety of strikes, that Kanehara is able to parry before closing the distance and executing a tasty Ippon-Seoinage (one arm throw). Kanehara looks for a quick kimura, but other Maeda does a good job of scrambling and his constant movement stifles Kanehara’s submission attempts, which causes Kanehara to simply stand back up, and give several soccer kicks of his own. What continued to follow was nothing short of excellent as there was a total non-stop flow between two men that outside of a few questionable suplexes, and a couple of Boston crab attempts from Kanehara, never felt hokey. It also helped that other Maeda exuded a lot more confidence this time around, and while you can tell that Kanehara is the better athlete, unlike their first bout where there were sequences that felt like Kanehara was just letting Maeda do what he wanted, everything here felt organic and earned.

There was one great spot where Kanehara was on his back, reaping the knee of other Maeda, looking for a leg-attack, in which Maeda countered by twisting around on one leg while stomping the body and face of Kanehara with the other. This sequence, along with others in this match, started to show an evolution in pro-wrestling logic, that had rarely been seen up to this point, where a wrestler had to find creative solutions to a submission as opposed to simply crying and screaming until he inched closer and closer to the ropes, looking for an escape. Speaking of which, there was a great moment in this match where Kanehara had other Maeda in an armbar, and as soon as he arched his back to put pressure on the elbow-joint, Maeda shrieked in pain, and immediately exploded towards the ropes, in what came across as a realistic approach to being put in this predicament, as opposed to the usual contrived theatrics. The fight ends in a 15min draw, and this was a great way to start the year. I suspect that this will wind up being in the 1992 year end highlight reel, and if they can manage to keep Kanehara, and give him a proper spot as a main player, then that coupled with Tamura, could be enough to push them over the top into the preeminent shoot-style promotion going forward.

ML: I can't in good conscience call this a rookie match given it's more evolved than at least 95% of the matches we saw in '91. Maeda made incredible strides in just a few weeks, now fighting with the confidence of a seasoned performer. That's really the difference here, as Maeda can be aggressive, taking it to Kanehara in standup where he has the advantage because he now has the belief to let it rip. While Kanehara is still the superior performer, the gap has lessened enough that they can do an organic, back & forth match counter laden bout where Maeda has the advantage in standup & Kanehara has the advantage on the ground, but from the viewer's perspective, it doesn't matter where they are because the quality is very high regardless. The matwork was better in the 1st match because it was more focused on Kanehara working his magic, and thus had some more evolved transitions, but the standup was 10 times better here. ***1/2

The Anti-Imanari Head Stomp

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 13, 2021, 07:38:21 AM
*Vol. 22 Continued... *

Next up is Masahito Kakihara vs Tom Burton. When we last saw Kakihara we witnessed him slap the stuffing out of Jim Boss, in what was probably the stiffest work of 1991. Now hopefully we will witness him continue his dragon-slaying ways, as we substitute one monster in Boss for another in Burton. True to form Kakihara immediately sends an open hand strike down the pipe to Burton, which awakens the wrath of the ferocious beast, and causes him to immediately charge into Kakihara. Interestingly, Kakihara immediately pulls something of an open guard, and tries to work a kimura from that position, but Burton is too strong, and simply powers out of it, and winds up with a side-mount for a brief moment, before Kakihara sneaks his way back to his feet. The next couple of mins saw the same pattern, as Kakihara would nail Burton with some strikes before getting mauled to the ground, but thankfully he was just too crafty to be kept there for long. There was an interesting sequence where Burton trapped the left ankle of Kakihara by wrapping his legs around his ankle, in what seemed like a primitive submission attempt, which allowed Kakihara enough space to slide his way into a rear naked choke, which prompted a rope-escape, and another great moment where Kakihara slid out of a side-headlock and when Burton responded by turtling up, he simply dived over his back and secured a toe-hold, which I could totally see being a viable move in a BJJ match.

The 2nd half of the match saw the tone shift considerably when Burton’s offense was largely negated, and he spent most of his time as a grappling dummy for Kakihara, who tried out various inventive kneebar entries. The one-way traffic ended abruptly towards the 9min mark, when Burton began with a single-leg takedown attempt, and quickly changed it to a clothesline. This led to a stunned Kakihara, who was quickly finished off with the ever-dubious crab from Boston. This wound up being a very bizarre match as the first half was logical and showed a nice contrast between a strong wrestler with a limited move-set vs a much slicker (albeit smaller) athlete in Kakihara. The 2nd half just showed dominating a befuddled Burton, who pulled a win out of nowhere towards the end. I don’t really think this was Burton’s fault as much as it was an issue of the two of them not meshing very well together. There were several nice transitions and sequences from Kakihara, but as a whole this match came off as jarring and bizarre.

 ML: I don't get Kakihara's strategy here, he either leaped in with a wild low percentage kneel kick or locked up with the bigger, stronger man whose only standout skill is wrestling. Kakihara's strength is his striking, particularly his explosive barrages of palm blows, but we rarely saw them because he never fought at distance or in range. The match was adequate but being almost entirely in Burton's world wasn't to its benefit. Basically, Burton was okay, and he basically did his thing, without too much interplay.

Any hopes I had of the next match turning things around are quickly dashed, as JT Southern is set to make a return against Tatuyo Nakano. Surely this return to the well of shame was due to Billy Scott’s sudden departure from the promotion, as he was mandated to stop wearing his singlets and switch over to a more pro-wrestling flavored lime green outfit. Billy wasn’t crazy about having to do this, but was willing to keep them happy, that is until he got his paycheck from the last event and noticed that they had deducted $500 as a cost towards the outfit. This was a deal-breaker for Scott, who told them that he would not return unless they paid for the outfit, as it was their idea, and he didn’t want to wear it in the first place. This led to him being away from the promotion for almost two years, until they agreed to not only pay him his this money back, but to also hire Billy Robinson as his full time coach, which led to him coming back and staying him them until their closure in 1996.

The match hasn’t even started yet, and the fans are laughing at JT Southern for going to the wrong ring corner to start his match, after the ref shows JT where the correct corner is located, the bout begins with Nakano throwing a few kicks, and generally just feeling out his opponent. JT has a height and reach advantage that if he had any idea of what he was doing he could have certainly utilized, but instead kept opting to try and initiate a standard pro-wrestling tie-up.  This match wound up being one of the worst so far, probably even worse than the JT/Takada bout from 91. Southern’s offense only seemed to consist of holding onto an appendage for as long as possible, until Nakano would get bored and hit or kick his way out. Nakano didn’t really seem to know what to do with JT, and thankfully after 7min, he simply kicked into high gear, hit a suplex and a single-leg crab for the win. This was terrible, and really is highlighting how much losing Scott is going to hurt their roster. There is now no foreign talent in this promotion that is a real asset and can work a high-caliber match in the shoot-style. They have Albright and his gimmick (which is fine for what it is) and Burton and Boss can be passable in small doses but they are going to have to find a solid replacement for Scott quickly, or step-up Kanehara’s role in the company.

ML: Nakano is the worst native, but he's fine when there's someone to pull something out of him. Unfortunately, Southern is the worst in our sphere, period, so this is just a disaster waiting to unfold. This wasn't as inept as JT's other performances, but it was possibly the worst match we've seen so far. It was just pointless, with both guys trading stretches of bending each others legs or arms until Nakano fired up for a cheap head kick, suplex, and carny submission.

Not a moment too soon, we get Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko Miyato, and this may be just what we need to turn this evening around. Thankfully things start off explosively as Tamura charges in with a high kick, and a relentless palm-strike assault, but Miyato stands his ground and fires back with several stiff slaps of his own, before downing Tamura with a spinning back kick to the stomach. So far this is very intense, and believable. Tamura gets back up, and Miyato tries to clinch with him while throwing some knees, but Tamura slickly switches behind him, and nails a standing rear naked choke followed by a takedown. Yuko spent a while deflecting the choke from being fully sunken in, before being able to pry out enough to attempt a straight-armbar against Tamura, who countered with a beautiful cartwheel, and right back into a RNC. However, Tamura made the same mistake that many BJJ white-belts do when he crossed his feet while attempting the choke, which allowed Miyato to attack one of his ankles.

They are now both back on their feet, and Tamura quickly goes for a wrist tie-up with Miyato, and after he gets it, starts to shift his bodyweight side to side, in something similar to a feint, as if he is weighing his next move, when suddenly Miyato explodes into the finest fireman’s takedown we’ve yet seen.  Miyato then gives us some interesting ne-waza when he controls Tamura’s head with a modified leg-scissor while fishing for a kimura. Once he gets the kimura, he quickly forgoes the head control and explodes into the submission, causing an instant rope-escape and a cry of anguish from Tamura. The rest of this bout was total fire, as it saw Tamura dwarfed on the scoreboard by Miyato, as his occasional submission was worth a lot less than Miyato’s knockdowns. Eventually, Tamura was able to get Miyato in the center of the ring and secure an ankle-lock for the victory.

This was another excellent match, and it really has me rethinking my opinion of Miyato. Before this, I kind of just looked at him as an unassuming, and middling figure that could be good, but was too tethered to the old UWF ways to be of much interest, but he proved me wrong here, as a motivated Miyato is capable of a top-tier performance, and really shined here tonight. Both men brought a great explosive energy to the ring and has made me forget about the two matches prior.

ML: The much-anticipated rematch of the 2nd best UWF-I match of '91 was total fire, as these two just blitzed each other from start to finish. One of the great things about Tamura is he's able to up the speed, pace, and intensity in a manner that is not only believable, but based on the urgency that's so lacking in ordinary pro wrestling, where fighters are more concerned with playing to the crowd & posing, just stalling at every opportunity when the opponent is down so they have to do less. I really believed in the early near finishes because they were working at the rate that others can only approach when they kick it into high gear for the last minute or so. There was a great early sequence where Miyato countered into a hammerlock when Tamura was trying to pull him back into the center to reapply the rear naked choke, but Tamura did one of his crazy one-armed headstands to pivot into a position where he could retake Miyato's neck. Another great sequence saw Miyato do a hip toss into an armbar, but Tamura countered with a backwards roll into an Achilles' tendon hold. The whole match was back & forth like this. The only downside is it was even shorter than their 1st match, which was perhaps the shortest match I've ever rated great. I'm glad they never slowed down, the whole match had the feel of a finishing sequence because of that, and it was really brilliant, though their previous match was perhaps a little better because it was longer, or I was slightly disappointed that they ran through the points so quickly it was obviously not going to last much longer. Regardless though, this was amazing, and will surely wind up being one of the top matches of '92. ****1/4

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 13, 2021, 07:39:39 AM
*Vol 22 Continued.... *

Now it’s time for Japan vs America as Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoji Anjo must now face Jim Boss and Gary Albright. Surely this card was quickly thrown together on paper as it’s been less than three weeks since their mega year-end event so we have what appears to be a main event that was slapped together just so we can get more talent onto the card. Still, the last couple of tag-matches that the UWFI has put on, have been surprisingly awesome, so I’m going into this with some high expectations. The match starts with Anjo and Boss, and right away Boss has to take some stiff strikes on his way to a takedown of Anjo. The takedown doesn’t last long however, before Anjo is back on his feet and back to lighting up Boss some more in the standup exchanges. I have to give Boss a lot of credit, as he seems more willing than a lot of his peers to really take some abuse in the ring, which adds a lot to his credibility. It’s not long before things switch over to Yamazaki/Albright, and right away we see how Yamazaki is really above the rest of his peers in terms of craftsmanship, as it’s the subtleties that he adds to the proceedings that makes his work so good. Right away Yamazaki goes for a kick, and gets slammed down for his trouble, so he pauses, thinks about his next move, and begins to feint a grappling exchange in order to land a thunderous kick to Albright’s thigh. After their sequences we go back to Anjo/Boss, and Boss demonstrates a common problem that newcomers to this style have, as outside of his fearlessness and takedown abilities, Boss doesn’t seem to have any understanding of either striking or submissions, so there is little he can really do with Anjo once the fight is on the ground. The fight ends just shy of the 16min mark when our favorite zebra-warrior took a flight on Air Albright which resulted in a knockout loss. While this was certainly entertaining it was a few notches below the last couple of tag-matches we saw, and still suffers from what feels like a lack of purpose, or any real stakes, but that is going to be true of any tag-match that would exist in a format like this. It was easily the most akin to a standard pro-wrestling match out of what we saw this evening. Still, it was entertaining, and not a bad way to end the evening.

ML: Finally, Albright was in a match that was allowed to be somewhat competitive. This had the usual pro wrestling problem that tag matches with a big star or unstoppable force have, in that the match was all about them, but in order to save and/or protect them, they were only in sporadically. Boss worked hard, but there's no heat on or really interest in him, so while this was often the better portion of the match, it came off somewhat flat & meaningless. Yamazaki did a good job here. This wasn't his match, but he perhaps better found a balance between his old more pro wrestling style and his new more realistic style, still seeming thoughtful and patient but knowing this had to be quicker & he had to go. He actually managed to German suplex Gary, and nearly extended the armbar on the follow up. Though Albright was certainly the dominant force in the contest, and ultimately got the win despite this being the match he should have lost with Boss doing the job because he was miles below the other 3, it at least didn't seem a given that Albright would beat Yamazaki in a singles match. I wouldn't quite call this good, but at the same time it was at least better than most of Takada's main events.

Conclusion: This was not a bad way to kick off the new year. This was intended to be a small event as they were just coming off their huge year-end production, and when judged accordingly I would say that they succeeded, but not without exposing some problems that will hopefully be rectified in the days to come. They had two awesome matches in Kanehara/Maeda and Tamura/Miyato but they not only need to burn the rolodex that contains JT Southern’s phone number, but they also need to find a real replacement for Billy Scott, or at least be willing to give up on using gajin talent outside of cannon fodder. Kakihara is awesome, but unlike Tamura who was able to make Burton look good in their bout from 91, he didn’t seem up to the task of carrying an inferior opponent to an 8min match. His match with Boss from last month worked well, but that was also due to it being a blistering blitzkrieg that ended quickly and didn’t have prolonged grappling exchanges. Since they seem to be unwilling to show any weaknesses in Takada outside of a possible loss to Albright in the future, then they are going to have to figure out a way to cultivate their other talent in ways to keep an interesting and compelling narrative. They have a lot of good talent now, and with a couple more key players, used correctly, they could easily be an unstoppable force in the days ahead, but from what we’ve seen so far it seems inevitable that they are going to find a way to screw this up.

ML: Although a humble, small show, this is not to be missed with two very strong matches and some decent filler. If they could have had a standing bout in place of the Tennessee travesty, this could, perhaps, have been a memorable show.

*This entire event, along with many other priceless artifacts can be found over at *

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 13, 2021, 07:42:31 AM
*Vol. 22 Continued.... *

*In Other News *


On 1-12-91 the Sediokaikan Karate organization held the 1st Towa Cup Karate Tournament Championships in which 57 men competed for an unprecedented 10-million-yen grand prize (which approximates out to roughly 100,000 U.S. dollars.) This was an amazing tournament that took a variety of karate fighters and put them in a format similar to kickboxing, in that they had to wear boxing gloves and the fight took place in a ring, but unlike kickboxing, each round was individually judged on a ten-point must system, for as many rounds as it took to determine a winner. After each round, three judges would assess the fight and either award the fight to the blue corner, the red corner, or a draw. This led to a lot of exciting fights that ended in the first round, although there were a few that went several rounds. All strikes (outside of groin shots, or eye pokes) were legal, and clinching was allowed as well, although most fighters didn’t spend a lot of time stalling in a clinch as the rules necessitated going full-speed all the time, as if you didn’t win your round, you were eliminated for good.

The eventual final combatants were upcoming sediokaikan fighter, Taiei Kin (who had to have an absolute war of attrition against Yoshinori Nishi in his 2nd bout, which wound up being the best fight of the night) vs established karate and kickboxing star Masaaki Satake. This event had been running smoothly and without incident, until this final match, when the judges apparently did not like the prospect of having their established star in Satake lose, so they seemingly engaged in some blatant judging shenanigans to sway the fight to their liking.

Round 1 was a cautious round for both men, but when we did see action it was in the form of mutual exchanges, and Taiei got about 2-3 clean shots for every one of Satake’s during these encounters. He would also occasionally pepper Satake’s leg with well-timed kicks outside of these exchanges. 2 judges called the round a draw, while the one honest judge ruled it in favor of Kin. Round 2 saw Satake doing a bit better, as he was occasionally getting in some nice counter punches on Kin, but was still being out struck by Kin in a seeming 2-1 ratio, and what happened next was one of the most utterly corrupt things I’ve witnessed in kickboxing/karate. The round ended with 2 judges ruling in favor of Kin, and one calling it a draw. Then when Kin was celebrating, there was some commotion at the judges table, and the ref had the fighters sit down while the judges had a meeting with founder, Kazuyoshi Ishii, and some of the other event officials, all the while Akira Maeda (who was in attendance) looked bewildered at the entire affair. After their pow-wow Ishii grabbed a microphone and announced another round would take place. A 3rd round did indeed take place, and this time Satake brought his a-game and won convincingly by every metric. This was a shameful ending to what was otherwise a great event, and I really enjoyed the rule set. By having every round leading to a judge’s decision, it forced the fighters to always fight with 100% intensity, but by also having unlimited rounds, it didn’t force the judges to just arbitrarily pick a winner, either. Before the ending fiasco, everything was judged fairly in my estimation, and I wouldn’t mind seeing this type of round structure be used for future events. Also, Taiei Kin made a very impressive showing here tonight, and will be a force in the future if he continues to compete.

Even Maeda Knows This is Wrong....

*This entire event, along with many other excellent relics from the early years of MMA history can be found over at *

***Over 100 Japanese reporters attended the year end UWF-I event held on 12-22-91, which is remarkable as that is even more than the number of press that attended the 12-12-91 SWS event held in the Tokyo Dome, which featured Hulk Hogan in the main event.

***Rob Kaman is rumored to be planning on fighting at the next FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS event on 1-25-92, although his opponent is unknown at this time.

***The PWFG is reportedly negotiating to bring in Roberto Duran for a fight against Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Originally, they were going to use this match as the main event on the card in Miami, however Duran, for tax reasons, wants the match outside the United States. One has to wonder if the recent success of the UWF-I’s boxer vs wrestler gimmick is prompting the PWFG to follow suit?

***Cynthia Rothrock took some time out of her hectic schedule recently while shooting her latest movie, Tiger Claws, in order to join up with Matthew Broderick, Kris Kristofferson, and several members of the Toronto Blue Jays, in order to team up with the Church of Scientology’s “Say no to drugs…Say Yes to Life” campaign. Scientology spokeswoman, Shelly Oake commended the move by saying that when thought leaders like Rothrock took a stand, it helped to depopularize the idea of taking drugs as being a viable solution to life’s problems.

***Aikido black-belt, and action film star, Steven Seagal, recently opened a martial arts themed restaurant in the downtown area of Chicago. The restaurant is reportedly decorated with kendo gear, samurai armor, and all of this is contained within a new-wave aesthetic. Over 500 people attended the grand opening including Michael Jordan, Robert De Niro, John Candy, Bill Murray, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Seagal hired Singapore-based Wing Chun expert, Randy Williams to head up security for the restaurant.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 28, 2021, 07:15:50 AM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 23 "Roar of the Lion Kings"

*Note: Mike Lorefice (of the excellent MMA/Puroresu emporium will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

Special thanks to Will Colosimo for his assistance in this column.*

We are all set to continue blazing through 1992, this time with the PWFG’s first offering of the year. This should prove to be a critical event for the company, as not only are Fujiwara and crew going into this at a disadvantage by having chosen to not have a powerful statement with a solid year-end event last month, but also because the UWFI fired some major warning shots with their 1-9-92 event. Not only did we get another great match between Hiromitsu Kanehara and Masakazu Maeda, but we were also provided a splendid affair (with what will surely be one of the best things to come out of 1992) with Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko MIyato. Needless to say, all the momentum is on the UWFI’s side coming into the new year, and while RINGS proved they are still in the hunt with the arrival of Volk Han and some of the Sediokaikan clan, Fujiwara’s group appears to be the most venerable going forward.

The Match That Never Was….

The date is 1-15-92 and we are now at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, a relatively small venue (with an approximate capacity of 5000) that recently closed its doors in September of 2020 as is due to be replaced with a grander version in the Yokohama United Arena in 2024. No time is wasted as we are only given some brief footage of the venue and a close up of a flyer for tonight’s event, which strangely seems to suggest some kind of bout between Minrou Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki, which would have been welcome by all, but was sadly only given to us later on in 1994 at Pancrase’s Road to the Championship 4 in a farce of a contest, which lasted under 2mins and was probably the most overtly worked match in that promotions history.

First up is Wellington Wilkins, Jr. vs Kazuo Takahashi, and the last time we saw Takahashi he was having his head punted off his body, courtesy of Ken Shamrock. I wouldn’t have blamed Takahashi for taking the two months off to heal from that confrontation, but keeping true to his insane warrior reputation, he instead fought a Thai kickboxer at an All Japan Kickboxing event on 12-22-91, which was also the same night that the UWF-I was having their Takada/Berbick blowout. This was reportedly a legit shoot, but we at Kakutogi HQ are attempting to locate a copy of this event to confirm and will update everyone should we be successful.

Takahashi Moonlighting on the Side... *Photo Provided by the W-Colosimo Archives*

The fight is underway and after a few moments of feeling each other out Takahashi quickly slams Wilkins onto the ground and starts looking for an armbar. Wilkins responded by rolling to his stomach and started to turtle when Takahashi pulled a slick move by moving off to the side of Wilkins and then proceeded to put his right forearm under Wilkin’s right armpit, and grabbed Wilkins right wrist with his left arm. He then grabbed his own left wrist with his right hand, and then rolled over Wilkins’ shoulder, thereby gaining a back-mount position, which he used to try and sink in a rear naked choke. Chael Sonnen tried something similar against Fedor Emelianenko in 2018, but he should have brushed up on his PWFG videos, as he failed miserably. The choke didn’t take however, as Wilkins was able to arch back enough to do something of a cartwheel onto his head, which allowed him to slide out and attempt a guillotine in the ensuing scramble. Takahashi made it to the ropes and the ref called for a break.

Sonnen Should Have Taken Notes…

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 28, 2021, 07:17:27 AM
*Vol.23 Continued....*

What followed for the next ten minutes was a nice slice of a more understated approach to this style. Both fighters were always trying to punctuate their movements with strikes, either as a way to create an opening for a submission, or as a way to shift the movement of the other person, which in the context of early 90s pro wrestling is quite advanced. This also held true for when they were on the ground, and while it wasn’t all out ground and pound like we are used to seeing with modern eyes, it was refreshing to see them not forget that this was still an option. If there was a drawback to be found, it was that Wilkins has all the charisma and stage presence of sandpaper, and while his striking was a marked improvement from his last outing, he still tends to mix his decent shots with blows that are way too soft. Overall, this was a very solid way to start things off, though I can understand why some would find it dry.

ML: Wilkins get a better job here, but this was one of those matches that there's really no reason to recommend. It was neither exciting nor truly credible. It leaned more towards the former, but the matwork was more towards no control judo based laying in wait. The match was perhaps good by early UWF standards, but at this point that's not really cutting it. Takahashi was on the defensive the whole time then won out of nowhere.

Next up is Naoki Sano vs. Jerry Flynn, and this is a welcome matchup, as Sano has been a hit every time we’ve seen him thus far, and Flynn gave us a fantastic 30min broadway with Takaku Fuke, not long ago. It will be interesting to see how their styles are going to mesh, as Sano doesn’t come from a pure shooting background, and this somewhat hindered his ability to carry Bart Vale during his last appearance, so hopefully Flynn will be a better fit for him.

The fight starts with Flynn attempting to pepper Sano’s thigh with a low-kick, to which Sano responds by catching the leg and tripping him down, but gets quickly reversed when he tried to follow this up with a mount. Flynn instantly goes for a kimura, but Sano does a good job of defending it before getting back to his feet. Once the fight restarts, Flynn starts to utilize his significant reach advantage to wail away against Sano with a variety of kicks at different angles. After taking a rather nasty spinning back kick to the stomach, Sano wisely opts to blast Flynn down with a double leg, as the vertical plane does not seem to bode well for him. Sano tries to keep things on the ground by pressuring Flynn with some different submission attempts, but to my surprise Flynn is too fast and explosive to be kept in any real danger for very long. A bit of a standstill followed until Sano took an enziguri to the head after catching a kick from Flynn’s other leg, and from this point forward the dynamics of this match quickly shifted into more of your standard puroresu territory. The rest of the contest was taken right out of the pro-wrestling drama 101 playbook, and featured a lot of back and forth moments between Flynn and Sano trading rope escapes with Flynn maintaining the upper hand with striking, and Sano with submissions, Everything culminated with a poorly choreographed spot where Flynn misses another enziguri, only to meet his doom via half-crab.

I don’t want to make it sound like this was bad, because taken into isolation this was an exciting, somewhat stiff, and fast paced pro wrestling match. Rather, the issue I take with this is that coming off the first match that set a much more realistic and subdued tone, it wound up being a case of stylistic whiplash. Flynn looked sharp, especially with his kicks, but Sano’s offense seem to oscillate from solid to silly, and he suffered the same problem that he did with Vale, in that he isn’t versed enough in this style to carry a rookie within that framework. To me it was like a film that has several good scenes, but is undermined when taken as a whole, because they didn’t keep a consistent tone. As such, I find this difficult to rate, as it was good, but not really in the context that they were going for.

ML: This wasn't the most credible match you'll ever see, but it was fast paced and exciting despite being pretty long. While it wasn't advancing martial arts, it was one of the only mostly striking oriented matches we've seen in PWFG, especially at this length. The match would have played better on a UWF-I show, but PWFG needs some entertainment. My biggest gripe with the match, outside of the finish once again being pretty random, is Flynn was a bit erratic with his strikes, with some of the knees barely connecting. What made this more interesting, and to a certain extent more believable than the old UWF style, was simply that they kept moving. While this wasn't Sano's best performance, largely because he was forced into the role of the grappler, Flynn showed good improvement here, and was flowing really well in standup. ***

Now some people have informed me that the next match might be a shoot, so we will go into this with our antennas held up high, ready to detect any abnormalities. It is Takaku Fuke vs Minoru Suzki, and this is bound to be interesting as Fuke has been on a hot streak lately, first with a stupidly good 30min match with Jerry Flynn, and to my utter shock he even made Bart Vale look good at his last outing. Suzuki runs into the ring and right away gives Fuke a headbutt, in a weird “This is my territory!” kind of way, and this doesn’t seem like standard behavior, so I’m excited to see what’s next.

What proceeded was a very intense, and fast paced grappling match sans any striking. The first four mins saw Suzuki put non-stop pressure on Fuke, constantly looking for either a takedown or submission, and while Fuke couldn’t press any offense of his own, he was wily enough to ward off Suzuki’s submission attempts until a beautifully explosive armbar by Suzuki got a rope escape out of Fuke. This appears to be a shoot, with some kind of agreement to forgo strikes, which Suzuki kind of circumvented like a jerk, as there was a couple of times that he grinded his forearm or knee into Fuke’s face. I have to wonder if there was some kind of pissing contest behind the scenes that led to them wanting to make this a shoot. The match was over soon afterwards as after Fuke stood back up, Suzuki got into a clinch, and with his overhooks, hit an excellent hip-toss followed by a great sequence where he nailed another armbar onto Fuke, in which Fuke tried to cartwheel out of, but Suzuki instantly adjusted, and grabbed his left leg, thereby preventing the chance that Fuke could roll away from the pressure, thus securing the win. I have no doubt this was a shoot, nor do I doubt the many grappling accolades that have been bestowed upon this man, as here he completely clowned Fuke, and made him look like a mere scrappy novice. Fuke wasn’t able to do anything but slightly stall the inevitable. However, what I don’t understand is the point that this contest served, other than making the prior match with Sano seem even more out of place now that it’s wedged in-between a shoot, and a realistic shoot-style outing. I enjoyed seeing this, as I’m always curious to see how these guys did in real shoots, but looking at the entirety of this show objectively, I’m not sure if a 4min squash match for Suzuki is doing anyone any favors.

ML: As we'll see with many Pancrase matches, this was neither a work nor a true shoot. I'd call this a grappling exhibition, as they were going all out, however they clearly agreed not to strike each other. This was likely similar to what they do in the gym, but I don't see what purpose showing that served given Suzuki totally owned Fuke. The split second speed in which they are reacting to even the slightest adjustment from the opponent really sets this apart from the works.

Now it’s time for Captain America himself, Bart Vale, to come to the ring and represent truth, freedom, and the American way, as he faces a grave challenge in the PWFG overlord, Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Vale starts by pressing the action with a few cinematic kicks but is quickly taken down by something of a modified Kouchi-Gari (small inner reap), and we are all grateful that the Kodokan judo is still flowing through Fujiwara. To his credit, Vale is looking spryer than usual tonight, and is able to hip escape off to the side quickly enough to avoid a ground entanglement and gets the fight back to the feet. Fujiwara than works his way into a belly-to-back suplex, and long before Alex Oleynik was getting away with it in the octagon, Fujiwara breaks out his own version of a no-gi Ezekiel-choke, which prompts a rope escape from Vale. The rest of this match was….ok. Certainly, this was better than I expected it to be, and probably as good as a matchup between these two is going to get. Vale was pulling his kicks here, which is always bad news because they looked terrible, but the grappling portions were fine. There was one interesting moment where Fujiwara was attempting an armbar off his back, and Vale countered with a toe-hold, but overall this was passable, if unmemorable.

ML: I prefer these two fighting each other because, while it ensures one bad match, it also gives every other match the opportunity to be at least decent. Stand up was folly because Vale's kicks were slow motion, naked show kicks, while the mat was simply stasis.

America Surrenders…

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on January 28, 2021, 07:20:35 AM
*Vol.23 Continued...*

Now for the final bout of the evening, a rematch from the August '91 event, which was a great match that really put Ken over as a force to be reckoned with. We are all counting on this being total fire to pull this show out of mediocrity and into worthy cannon status. The fight starts off with a bit of a measured kickboxing approach. Funaki is doing a good job peppering Shamrock’s legs with both inside and outside thigh kicks. Funaki then tries to shoot in deep with a single, but Shamrock sprawls off to the side, forcing Funaki to opt for attacking Ken’s left leg with a rolling kneebar that fails, and puts Funaki on his back in the guard position. Ken’s idea of passing the guard includes grinding his elbow on his opponents chin, and attempting several Kimuras, which of course don’t work, but did create enough space for him to slide over into a side-mount where he tries an Americana/armbar combination, but is simply too slow in his execution to catch Funaki. Next we get a long sequence when Ken is forced into his guard, but quickly slides out and takes Funaki’s back, and continually attempts a rear choke, but is forced to be more concerned about protecting his ankle as he initially crossed his feet around Funaki’s stomach leaving them vulnerable for attack. This is starting to feel like a basic BJJ roll, which doesn’t sound like much now, but considering that this is still almost 2 years away from UFC 1, this must have seemed completely esoteric to anyone that got to see it outside of Japan.

After a couple more mins of fighting for position and toe-hold attempts, they are back on their feet, but not for long as Shamrock quickly takes the fight back down to the ground and attempts something of a half-baked arm-triangle choke. We can see that Shamrock still has a ways to go in developing his submission arsenal, as he hasn’t honed his craft to the point where he is going to catch Funaki with any of these. The ground attrition wages on for a couple more mins before Funaki gains the first submission by getting a toehold on Shamrock. Once back on the feet Funaki comes out swinging with some lethal palm strikes, and after connecting with several, quickly takes the fight back to the ground. The next several mins follow the same pattern as before, only this time they are both moving with a lot more intensity and urgency, even occasionally striking each other on the ground to try and create an opening. Shamrock is the next to gain a point as he was able to secure a kneebar on Funaki, which was more a result of pure brute force, as opposed to slick technique. Once the fight restarted it turned into a kickboxing war, with Funaki out landing Shamrock by a 3-1 ratio. This continued until it appeared that Funaki got accidently eye poked when exchanging with Ken

After recovering from the eye attack , the fight quickly goes to the ground again, and now the ground strikes are starting to get more frequent as we are now past the 20min mark, and the desperation is taking hold. A frantic footsie battle takes place, until Shamrock is now ahead on points, this time by securing a heel-hook. This probably doesn’t mean anything as I’m assuming that like the UWF-I, matches will go to an automatic draw if there isn’t a conclusive winner. The match ends at the 30 min mark, just as Shamrock was inches away from securing a back choke.

ML: A nice step forward for Funaki, as he managed to do more without sacrificing the realism. The stand up in this match was at an much higher level. Both men were very light on their feet, engaging with caution while looking to avoid. The grappling was pretty slow, but in a sense almost too fast because they randomly gave up positions just to do something. For instance, Shamrock inexplicably released an arm triangle. The problem with no closed fist punches on the mat is that you almost have to annoy your opponent into a mistake. They really fired up for about 30 seconds down the stretch, and I felt that if they could give us even 8 minutes like that they could do a match of the year, but for the most part this was almost totally devoid of intensity. While still better and more eventful than their first match, it was still somewhat dull and felt long and laid back. I can see rating this higher because it feels like the first true Pancrase match, but I wouldn't want to watch it again anytime soon. ***

Conclusion: As far as entertainment value goes, I would probably give the main event ***, but in terms of historical importance, this is invaluable. To me, this was the first fully formed pancrase match, or in other words, an MMA format with less emphasis on ground strikes, and more on grappling. It again demonstrated that Japan was light years ahead of the curve in understanding a fight in all its ranges, which is something that took the rest of the world almost 10 years to catch up with. Even crazier, is that these guys probably had no exposure to BJJ at this point in time which makes it all the more impressive. It’s also easy to see why Funaki had a desire to expand this concept of fighting without the limitations of having to put it in a worked format, thus birthing the Pancrase promotion. This also exposes a major problem with the PWFG moving forward, and that is one of an identity crisis. We have a good portion of the roster that is moving more and more into shoot territory, but the marquee name, presumably Fujiwara, is unable to credibly perform in this style. Compounding matters further, is a lack of a deep enough roster to put on an entire event without having to include more standard pro wrestling fare. Maeda was thankfully in a position where he was able to avoid this, as at this stage he could still get away with putting on a decent match for 4-7 min with most people, and he was so over with the Japanese public that it didn’t really matter what he did, but the same can’t be said about Fujiwara, who only looks good against far inferior performers. The only logical way forward for the PWFG is to decide to go full shoot, and rework Fujiwara into an ambassador role, but financial politics would probably make this impossible. As it stands, this was a middling affair with all the matches being fine to good in and of themselves, but as a whole this was probably a portent of things to come, as it was too uneven to be a memorable event.

ML: This isn't a great show, but it has a lot to offer. I'm glad we get a shoot, but unfortunately that was the match that probably would have torn the house down as a work. You don't usually get two good matches on a PWFG show, especially when neither involve Suzuki.

*Note: This entire event, and many other priceless treasures await you, when you become a patron over at *

*In other news*

It is being reported that after his match with Billy Scott at the 12-22-91 UWF-I event, that James Warring was questioned by approximately 100 reporters and asked how he could lose a fight to an unknown, smaller pro wrestler. He reportedly protested, saying that the match was fake, and that he was promised that he was going to win if he went a full ten rounds, but since he was double crossed, then he had no problem blowing the whistle. If this report is accurate, then it sounds like sour grapes from Warring, who from this scribes’ standpoint lost fairly in an obvious shoot.

More news from that same event: We are now told that the attorneys for Trevor Berbick held up the UWFI for an additional $5000 at the last min, threating to not perform if he didn’t get it. Also, after he stormed to the back, he reportedly threatened to fight Takada in the dressing room.

Rick London who is the founder of the satirical Scandal Tours which takes place in Washington, D.C., recently met with the Los Angeles Department of Corrections, in an effort to spearhead a program to keep youth away from gangs, and off the streets. If the program is approved, then London will take selected youths and place them in acting classes and provide martial arts training via John Kreng and Stuart Quam. At the end of the course, the youths will be provided a chance to appear in a martial arts film. London is currently seeking sponsorship from film studios, or major corporations.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on February 09, 2021, 10:56:22 AM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.24 "Terminal Velocity"

*Editors Note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his initials*


Welcome to the beginning of the richest of combat sports traditions, as we have now arrived to the first of many MEGA-BATTLE events that FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS will put forth, and no sooner do we arrive, when we are welcomed by a montage featuring freezing fog, a full moon, and an eerie 2-note synth bassline that will forever be etched into our collective psyche. The date is 1-25-92, and now it is Maeda’s turn to kick off the new year, with what will hopefully be another powerful statement. When we last saw this outfit, we were able to behold the debut of perhaps the greatest fake fighter of them all in Volk Han, and while he is set to be mysteriously absent from tonight’s proceedings, hopefully this will be made up by an appearance from foot-fighting master Rob Kaman. This outfit will have its work cut out for them, as the UWF-I launched the new year with an amazing performance from Kiyoshi Tamura and Yuko Miyato that the PWFG was unable to find an adequate response to, so now we turn our eyes to Maeda to see if he can rise to the challenge.

After the moon visuals that wouldn’t be out of place on a Scandinavian metal album fade away, we are taken to the sparse settings within the Tokyo NK hall, where they are conducting a weigh-in of all the fighters, despite there not being any weight classes in effect.   After this, we are greeted to the fighters coming out one-by-one to the Hip-Hop version of the Rings theme, rife with an unbridled lyricism that would have A Tribe Called Quest in a state of envy. Seriously, check out this gem: “I am the champion! I rule all the rings! I am high…. the king of the universe! I am I who conquers all. If you mess with me, hey It’s you who’s gonna get slayed. Because I’m the king of all kings, I mean what I mean. Hey, lemme tell ya, let’s step into the ring!” Poetry. In. Motion.

Our first match of the evening will be an EARTH BOUT featuring Herman Renting vs Shtorm Koba. As of press time, I’ve been unable to find out any meaningful information about Koba, and this appears to be his only appearance in any kind of pro wrestling/MMA setting, but he does appear to be a possible harbinger of esoteric levels of Judo/Sambo knowledge, so we are hopeful. When we last saw Renting he was in a quasi-shoot with sediokaikan master Nobuaki Kakuda (in that they were basically having a legit sparring contest, but not fully utilizing all the rules/techniques at their disposal). The fight starts with some deliciously stiff kicks from Renting, before being taken down by an excellent ouchi-gari (major inner-reap) which seems to confirm my suspicions about his judo acumen. After the takedown they immediately go for dueling foot-locks but are quickly stood back up by the ref for getting under the ropes.

Once they are back on their feet, they continue to lay into each other with neither man seeming to pull their strikes (but wisely keeping them all to the body to avoid injury) and this is already much better than I could have anticipated. The action continued at a brisk pace until Renting botched a throw, and wound up accidently headbutting Koba, causing a nasty cut over his eye. The doctors eventually cleaned the cut up, and authorized the fight to continue, which prompted Koba to display how a proper throw is to be executed with a tasty yoko-otoshi (lateral drop). Things eventually go sour for Koba as he falls prey to a reverse achilles-lock and must take a rope-escape. Renting eventually wins via an ankle submission at the 13:40 mark. This was a good match that had a nice blend of realism and entertainment, that is hard to accomplish. It could have used some more striking sequences, and there were times that Koba’s newness was apparent, but overall this was a great way to start things off, and it’s a shame that this will be the last we will see of Koba, as he genuinely seems to have loads of potential in this format, with his obvious judo skills.

ML: Renting remains one of the better talents Maeda is renting. He was clearly the better athlete, and could have picked apart Koba with his standup. However, Renting did a good job carrying this as a judo inspired match, which allowed Koba to follow pretty well, and show a lot of potential. Koba really stepped up the intensity after he was busted open hard way when a suplex went awry, and the matwork became pretty interesting due to the urgency. The match seemed to peak in this early to mid portion though. 14 minutes was too long for a debuting wrestler, especially if this was basically just going to be a grappling match. Still, this was pretty good, and it's a shame Koba never returned.

Now it’s time for an AQUA BOUT (which will be our first shoot of the evening) between Mitsuya Nagai and Koichiro Kimura. Kimura impressed me last time with both good footwork, and a solid judo repertoire, but was unfortunately hampered by an overly long match with another rookie, which negated his ability to properly shine. Here he will be facing Nagai, who was on the receiving end of a one way drubbing at the hands of Gerard Gordeau last month, in what was this promotions first proper shoot.

The match is underway, and Kimura immediately takes two nasty thigh kicks before blasting Nagai down with a double-leg takedown, but when doing so it placed Nagai too close to the ropes and thus prompted a quick restart. Kimura continued to take some more leg punishment before getting the fight to the ground again, but he quickly found himself at a loss while inside Nagai’s open guard, and his only answer was to try a rudimentary ankle-lock, which not only failed, but prompted Nagai to secure a heel hook which led to our first rope-escape. The next several mins saw a continuing pattern of Kimura getting lit-up by Nagai on the feet, before securing a favorable position via takedown, but finding himself unable or unsure of what to do once he had the superior position. After a string of mat failures, Kimura eventually just opted to soccer kick Nagai after his takedowns, at least until the ref could intervene and stand Nagai back up. The last few mins saw Nagai ratcheting up the intensity of his striking, until he unleased a never-ending torrent of palm strikes, which eventually prompted the ref to call for a knockdown. Kimura was able to get up for two more servings of this, before being eliminated for good. Despite Kimura’s only weapon being his takedown skills, this was an exciting match due to the intensity on display, especially from Nagai, and it was good to see him back in form after his humiliating loss to Gordeau last month. I’m not sure if apprehensiveness to striking his grounded opponent is what held Kimura back, or his grappling skills aren’t as good as I originally esteemed them to be, but the only thing he really showed here today was a solid wrestling base, and I’m confident that he is capable of a lot more. Still, I feel like we are off to a great start with 2 good matches.

ML: This was a shoot, but, for the most part, they didn't really manage to get any big shots in until the final minutes. The fight was very intense though, and the transitions, scrambles, and takedowns were very fast and urgent. It was Shootboxing vs. SAW, and while Caesar's skills are clearly more interesting than Tobin Bell's, Kimura should have owned this match once he was able to get Nagai down, which he regularly was. Kimura had some pretty neat takedowns where he kept twisting Nagai until he spun him down, but didn't have much of an arsenal of submission arts once he succeeded. In the days largely before striking created the opening for the submission, Kimura found himself doing too much waiting for the opening. In his defense, Nagai was a dangerous striker even off his back. The problem with this match is they just kept seeming to negate each other. Nagai couldn't really kick because Kimura would just catch it and up end him. Whether Kimura got a takedown off a body lock or off catching Nagai's kick, he really didn't have any method of opening up a submission, and the match just stalled out. Nagai had much better luck using his hands, but without gloves it was difficult for him to do a big damage. He swelled Kimura's eye, but probably could have scored a late knockout if he could have used closed fists. Kimura nonetheless seemed about ready to just quit, hunching over, and still wasn't ready to restart after the Ref gave him an eight count, but finally threw some fierce palms of his own. Still, Kimura was just out of gas, and eventually wilted to Nagai's superior cardio. While this had more than its share of downtime, Nagai's comeback finish was exciting, and I think this was a good shoot given the time period. Good match.

The Pangs of Defeat…

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on February 09, 2021, 10:58:37 AM
*Vol 24 Continued.... *

Now it’s time for the rematch that we have all been waiting for, as everyone’s favorite cartoon character Willie Peeters is set to take rekindle his fued with Bert Kops Jr. The last time these two met we witnessed a totally spazztastic performance from Peeters, who was all over the place both figuratively and literally, in what wound up being an entertaining bout that was somewhat cut short due to an injury that Kops received. Things start with Peeters throwing some flashy cinema kicks, with a somewhat reserved demeanor, but just when I think he might be getting too subdued, he starts to blast Kops with his usual super-stiff body shots. He then shifts back into full cartoon-mode, and we get a kickboxing-heavy affair that sees Peeters all over the place between silly roundhouse kicks that will never land and nasty body blows. What is new this time around is the dreaded body stomp. A couple of times when Kops was on the ground, Peeters broke out a new toy in his arsenal, and stomped Kops’ body while holding the ropes, which is a good fit for his character.  The beginning of the end was when Kops shot in for a deep double-leg takedown, but was reversed into a sloppy shoot-style piledriver from Peeters, who then took the time to smirk about it and share some words with his cornerman, Dick Vrij. The crowed totally ate this up, with the biggest pop thus far, but it was for naught, as shortly afterwards Kops won with a straight ankle-lock, seemingly out of nowhere. This was a step down from their last outing, as the ending was just too abrupt, but it was still vintage Peeters, and as such, was entertaining. Like last time, Kops was probably too well behaved, staying professional throughout, and performing with the requisite tempo and stiffness that you would expect in a work, but I kind of wished he would have just lost it with Peeters, and tried to put him in his place.

ML: Peeters kept trying to provoke Kops, who was a bit too straight-laced here, mostly just trying to get in for the takedown. Peeters was much more under control tonight, but for the most part, that wasn't really good thing. This certainly had its moments, but they had a hard time finding the balance. I liked the spot were Peeters tried to drop into a double leg, but Kops nearly applied a rear naked choke as they went through the ropes. The crowd went nuts for Peeters piledriver, which was cooler than Suzuki's. This match would come off better if they followed less credible action, but Peeters has a ton of charisma. The finish was pretty terrible though, and the less selling Peeters does the better.

Peeters….Admiring His Handywork

Next up is footfighting legend Rob Kaman vs a legend in his own right, Nobuaki Kakuda. Kaman is interviewed before the match, and while it’s hard to ascertain the exact specifics, it seems like we are going to have a mixed rules match where the first three rounds will be under Rings rules, followed by gloves and kickboxing rules afterwards? I’m unsure if I understood this correctly, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Round 1 starts and neither are wearing boxing gloves, but instead have their hands wrapped, and it appears that face strikes are legal in this round but must be open-handed. This is a 100% shoot fight, and outside of sneaking in a few low-kicks, Kakuda is getting walloped by Kaman, who’s reach, and explosiveness is just too much for him to handle.

Round 2 sees almost no offense from Kakuda, who sadly only served as a heavy bag for Kaman this entire round.

Round 3 sees Kakuda manage to get a takedown, but Kaman lands too close to the ropes, so the fight is instantly restarted. It seemed like something of a hail-mary anyway, as Kakuda showed no interest in even trying to take the fight to the ground prior to this. Kakuda is unable to stand back up, and starts to bleed profusely from his nose, which prompts the doctors to attend to him. While this is happening, a grave look of concern washes over Kazuyoshi Ishii’s face, who may be regretting his decision to allow Kakuda to participate in this. The referee seemingly called the fight off, but to the shock of everyone, Kakuda got back up, and in a daze demanded to fight another round. This was pure heart on Kakuda’s part, and while they probably shouldn’t have allowed this to continue, they gave Kakuda the opportunity to go out on his shield. After the restart, Kakuda immediately shot in for a take down, but Kaman simply sprawled on top of Kakuda with one knee, and kneed him in the head with his other, which ended the fight.

I’m happy to see another shoot on the card, but it surely would have been more competitive as a work. I would rather have seen Kaman keep his gloves on and face a grappler, which is something we would see several times from Maurice Smith in the years to come.

ML: I think the first three rounds were RINGS rules, which means only open hands to the face, while the final two rounds were more towards regular kickboxing rules with punches legal. While these rules somewhat benefitted karate champion Kakuda, he's also 4 inches shorter, and reach was a primary factor here. Kaman was also too quick for Kakuda, which pretty much eliminated Kakuda's chances of doing anything. The biggest difference in the fight was actually the footwork, as Kakuda is to used to the tournament karate style of striking where youe largely either just in front of the opponent or move directly in and out. Kaman instead kept moving laterally, creating angles for his kicks. Kakuda tried to load up for the big shot, but Kaman hit him with three shot combos then slipped out of range. The fans went nuts for Kakuda eventually continuing after Kaman broke his nose, but sometimes you need to quit when you're less behind. Kakuda tried for a takedown, but Kaman kneed him in the injured nose for the stoppage.

Next up is Willy Wilhelm vs. Igor Kolmykov, and my hopes and prayers that the secretary within the RINGS office would have mysteriously misplaced Wilhelm’s phone number are now completely dashed. I can now only long for a swift and merciful fate of a forthcoming short match. This is the first time we will see Kolmykov, who is a Russian Sambo expert, and is coming into this having won both the 1985 Youth World Sambo Championships in addition to the Sambo All-Soviet Union Cup in 1989. I’m now realizing that Wilhelm looks like he was plucked from a mid-western YMCA where he was teaching a local judo club. Wilhelm is performing a lot better than last time, but Kolmykov is looking absolutely dreadful, throwing strikes that were so bad that the Japanese crowd was, at several points, laughing at him. Wilhelm initiates the ne-waza with a tawara-gaeshi (rice-bale-reversal, or gutwrench suplex if you prefer). The rest of this match was basically Kolmykov serving as a grappling dummy for Wilhelm, until Kolmykov abruptly wins with one of the worst armbar sequences in recorded history. J.T. Southern can now make way for Kolmykov, who now has the dubious distinction of being the worst performer in our sphere, or any sphere really. Southern may not do much of anything, but he at least has a baseline level of competence that far exceeds Igor’s. Wilhelm’s efforts may have kept this from being the worst match we’ve seen, but this will probably go down as the worst one of the year.

ML: This was excruciatingly bad because Wilhelm is terrible, and debuting Igor simply doesn't grasp the concept of working. Southern may or may not be worse than Igor, but this was worse than any of Southern's matches because he didn't have a competent opponent to carry him. This was only worth watching for a couple classic unintentional comedy spots, Igor throwing the slowest spinning something kick in history and Igor somehow managing to injure his nose(?) throwing a headbutt. This train wreck was definitely the worst match we've seen so far.

Anything has to be better than what we just witnessed, so I’m happy to see that the next bout will be another likely shoot, in Gerard Gordeau vs Masaaki Satake. When we last saw Gordeau, he completely dominated Mitsuya Nagai, but he is surely going to face a much tougher opponent in the (wrongful) winner of the recent Seidokaikan KARATE JAPAN OPEN TOURNAMENT 1st Towa Cup. Round 1 starts, and I’m assuming that this is under the same rules as the Kaman fight (RINGS rules for the first three rounds), but I’m unsure. Whatever the rules, both fighters seem to want to keep this as a kickboxing contest. Gordeau starts off cautiously, looking to react to Satake, as opposed to trying to initiate any of his own offense, and Satake spends most of the round doing a good job of backing Gordeau into a corner, but just when it seemed like Satake was going to unleash the kraken, Gordeau kicked his way out of a tough spot, and probably goes into round 2 with a slight edge.

One should never expect a Gordeau fight to end without shenanigans, and true to form that is what happened here. Round 2 started normally enough, but at some point the ref called for a break while both fighters were standing up against the ropes, and during the break Gordeau walked over to his corner and started saying something to his cornerman while the ref was calling for the fight to resume. The ref said, “Go! Go!” a couple of times, but Gordeau didn’t notice. Satake could see that Gordeau had his back turned, and wasn’t aware of the restart, but opted to give him a swift kick to the back of his leg anyway. Gordeau felt like this was a cheap shot and was angered, so when the fight then resumed, Gordeau charged Satake into the corner and gave him a couple of closed fist punches that led to his disqualification.  While I’m not one to want to defend Gordeau, I have to say that Satake should have waited until his opponent understood that the fight was resuming, and while legal, did take a cheap shot. Of course, Gordeau did what Gordeau always does and finds a way to cheat, but at least this time, he had some justification for being upset, even though he should have kept his composure. What’s worse is that judging by round 1, it would seem that Gordeau had a legit shot of beating Satake, which surprised me, as I didn’t think that he would have had the skills to hang with him. This was on its way to becoming a good match (a much more even fight than Kaman/Kakuda), but was ruined by the usual Gordeau antics. This mess apparently pissed somebody off, as Gordeau never performed for Rings again.

ML: This shoot never really got going. They were really just feeling each other out, throwing some random low kicks. Satake did more to control position, but Gordeau had more snap on his strikes. Satake may have accidentally fingered Gordeau in the eyes and a few times, once trying to break a clinch, and another time doing the Jon Jones. Gordeau wasn't sure of the rules, and after the Ref broke up a clinch, he walked across the ring to ask his second why clinches weren't allowed, only to have Satake follow him and cheap shot him. Gordeau then began fighting angry, blitzing Satake with a big flurry that busted him open, which included closed fist punches, hence the requisite disqualification.

Now for the final act of the evening, a rubber match that no one in this modern age is excited to see, but one that surely was at the forefront of Japan’s public consciousness, as they were longing to see their hero Akira Maeda avenge his loss to Dick Vrij. The last time these two fought, Maeda’s knee was completely shot, which prompted him to suffer an eight-minute one-sided beat-down at the hands of everyone’s favorite Double Dragon boss. Maeda is walking unusually slow to the ring, so I’m not hopeful that he is in optimal shape for this match. Maeda opens things off with his “captured” suplex, which gets a great reaction from the crowd, but does little to establish any credibility going forward. He quickly follows it up with a Kimura, and we now have our first rope escape. Vrij responds with his usual shadowboxing medley gaining a knockdown, and is now ahead on points. After beating on Maeda some more, Maeda does what any Capcom fighting character would do at a time like this, and that’s attempt the most epic foot sweep of all time. Almost 6 months before Street Fighter 2 was released, Akira Maeda attempted a sweep right out of the Ken/Ryu playbook, and this may be one of the coolest things we have witnessed so far. They then pummel each other with stiff kicks, but with Maeda being on the worse end of the exchanges, as he has now suffered another 2 knockdowns, and by this point the crowd is going nuts. It’s not long until Maeda wins with another captured suplex, followed by a toe-hold. While not particularly credible, this was fast-paced, stiff, and entertaining. Not a bad way to end things at all, as this was the perfect match length for these two.

ML: Vrij was listed as Dick Fly, which I suppose makes him the evil version of McFly. I'd be OK if they just gave him a Tab and sent him packing. Akira was perhaps healthier, but clearly hadn't been able to train much, and was putting on a lot of weight. The match was more or less what it needed to be. It was aggressive, and highlight filled. Vrij's strikes looked powerful, and he was clearly the more impressive of the two, but this time Maeda was able to hang with him. This was the best of their three matches, mostly because Vrij was a lot more impressive.

Conclusion: This was on par with their last event (the 1991 year-end show), and easily the best of the three shoot shows for the month of January. While it didn’t have anything close to the awesomeness that was Tamura/Miyato, it was solid from start to finish, minus the travesty that was Kolmykov. Even with Han absent, things are looking a lot better, thanks to the inclusion of some of the Sediokaikan roster, and the fact that we are now having shoots mixed in with the usual fare.

ML: By far the best top to bottom Rings show we've seen so far, but well consistently fairly interesting, still not a lot to really recommend. For me, the UWF-I show was the best of the month because it has two matches people need to see.

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

    *In other news*

There are rumors circulating that Antonio Inoki is negotiating with James "Buster" Douglas for a wrestler vs. boxer match for the Tokyo Dome as early as March.

UWFI drew a sellout 2,300 in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall at their event that took place on 1-9-92. Nobuhiko Takada was supposed to be in the tag match that featured Gary Albright, but was injured a few days before this event. Expect Albright vs Takada to be a major program in the days to come.

Travel in Mind, a travel company based out of Commack, New York, recently started organizing a tour of Japan that will focus on the historical and geographical aspects of Ninjitsu . The itinerary includes visits to the Iga region of Japan, which is considered the birthplace of ninjitsu, a three day stay at a monastery, as well as hikes to nearby mountain shrines. Tours are set to begin on 5-15-92 and will be led by John Dellinger, who is a top student of acclaimed ninja authority Stephen Hayes.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on February 18, 2021, 10:02:19 AM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.25 "Blood in the Soil"

*Mike Lorefice (of the excellent MMA/Puroresu emporium will have his comments be preceded by his initials. *

The great Henry David Thoreau once quipped that, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Such is the same state that we now find ourselves in, as we continue to follow the beckoning of the hallowed Kakutogi Road, not simply to relive the glories of a lost era, but to seek out deeper truths of the human condition. Our latest task before us takes place on 2-15-92, and we will be returning to the infamous Korakuen Hall where the UWFI is once again ready to set the tone for the month. Last month, they nearly melted the ring with a match between Kiyoshi Tamura and Yuko Miyato that was a total blaze up, so hopefully they will be able to keep that momentum going.


Hiromitsu Kanehara vs Masakasu Maeda opens for the third time in a row. Normally, I would be prone to gripe about going to the same well over and over again, but these two just keep getting better, so if they can keep this up then I would be fine with them opening as many events as they please. Things start off with Kanehara taking the initiative as he bull rushes Maeda with a litany of stiff palm strikes, but after being initially taken off-guard, Maeda was able to regain his composure and return a volley of his own. Kanehara started to find himself on the losing end of this slap-fest, so he wisely opted to shoot in with an explosive double-leg, however Maeda is continuing to increase his skills from match to match, and was able to effortlessly switch from standing firepower to an effective sprawl.

Kanehara is simply too crafty with his grappling however, and was able to negate the sprawl by continually “turning the corner” until he was at an angle where he could forgo the takedown altogether and shift to attacking the leg of Maeda. He used this leg threat just long enough to create an opening to move to side mount, all the while subtly throwing in strikes on his grounded opponent so he could continue to move and tweak his positioning. So far this is light years ahead of what anyone in the game has produced outside of Tamura/Funaki/Han, which is amazing considering these two are “rookies” and this is only their thirst match.

Kanehara squandered his superior position with a failed armbar, which allowed Maeda to get up and start soccer kicking at will. Kanehara was able to fight his way back up and get the action back down to the ground, but not before taking another barrage of palm-strikes for his trouble. The next couple of minutes saw the two go back and forth on the mat, exchanging positions and submission attempts, but unlike most matches up to this point, or even a lot of future Pancrase matches for that matter, they would be willing to strike each other on the ground in an effort to create an opening for an attack. We have seen a little bit of this so far, but not in such a fluid and sustained way from both competitors, so this really gets a nod for being far ahead of the curve. Even the old and tired Boston crab got a breath of new life here, as there was one sequence where Maeda was going for the single-leg variation, and unlike every other pro wrestler in history, Kanehara was actually not cooperating with this, so Maeda started frantically kicking Kanehara in the back to try and force a way for him to continue to finish the maneuver. It didn’t wind up succeeding, but was brilliant all the same.

The next 10 minutes wound up being total lava, as they went to a 15 minute draw with a non-stop barrage of strikes, positions changes, and submission attempts that were traded between both men, with absolutely no let-up or dead space in-between. This might be one of my favorite matches so far, and will surely go down as one of the best matches of '92, and even if the rest of this card winds up being hot garbage, it won’t really matter as this was worth the price of admission all on its own.

ML: Kanehara arrived as one of the top 5 worked shooters in the world in this truly revolutionary bout! This was the first UWF-I match that came out of the gate looking like a shoot, and somehow it never really stopped, which would be truly amazing if it were simply a 5 minute match, but this went the whole 15. This may be the most intense worked match I've ever seen! The speed and aggression were just off the charts. That was absolutely the difference here, and totally the key to their success. They were throwing really fast open hands, and scrambling hard and fast on the canvas. There was simply no sense of cooperation at all, anywhere. Everything one fighter did, the other fighter fought against, as if for their life. If every worked match looked like this, there almost would have been no need for actual MMA. While this doesn't have the I need to rewind this awe factor of Tamura's works, it was the most relentlessly aggressive fight we've seen so far. Maeda was dead by the end from going so hard for so long. A classic! ****1/2


Seriously, whoever green-lit the idea of refusing to give Billy Scott his $500 back for that silly lime-green outfit should be waterboarded, as surely that suffering is not even worthy to be compared to what we must now endure with another JT Southern bout, this time against Masahito Kakihara. Things start off quickly, with Kakihara blitzing Southern with a palm strike assault so quick and stiff, that it’s clearly freaking the Tennessee native out. Southern starts frantically throwing some front snap-kicks to try and ward Kakihara off, when one of them connects and causes Kakihara to stumble onto the ground. Seeing this opening, JT wisely capitalized and tried to take the back of Kakihara. Though not at all pretty, JT did manage to force Kakihara into a rope escape, which would be the first and only time that JT was able to do this. The rest of this short fight saw Kakihara slap and kick the stuffing out of JT, before ending things with another northeastern crab. Thankfully, this will be the last time we see Southern, who sailed off to the more temperate waters of WCW, where he briefly managed Scotty Flamingo (Raven).

ML: The best Southern match we've seen by a mile. Kakihara put so much pressure on Southern that he had him fighting for his life. The standup was actually good because Kakihara was just blitzing him, so Southern was forced to simply react, which was at least better than him thinking. They kept it short and aggressive, which is where Kakihara is at his best. This actually found a nice balance between believably and entertainment. It wasn't great, but it was way better than the quick squashes Albright has done.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on February 18, 2021, 10:04:33 AM
Vol. 25 Continued.....

Next up, the fierce challengers from last month (Tamura and Miyato) will now be teaming up to fight Tatuyo Nakano and newcomer Mark Silver. Miyato and Nakano start first, and Miyato opens fire with some crisp kickboxing, but is completely overpowered in the clinch, and just winds up on the ground where Nakno can put all his weight on him. For whatever reason, Nakano just decides not to bother with it, and tags in Silver, who is able to move a lot quicker than his size would seem to suggest. After a brief back and forth, Miyato tags in Tamura who takes a minute or so to feel out his opponent, before taking it to the canvas and giving us ourfirst memorable moment when Silver tried a primitive toe-hold attack while being seated behind Tamura’s back, but found himself quickly countered with a slick armbar entry. Tamura and Silver continue for a couple more minutes, and Silver is moving well for a rookie. At this stage, he is showing some decent wrestling and kicking skills, placing him above Burton and Boss, but beneath Scott, so with some more refinement, I could see him being a solid addition to the roster.

Silver tags Nakano back in, which prompts Tamura to really turn up the volume as Nakano desperately tries to get a takedown, but Tamura scrambles and contorts in every way imaginable to prevent him from being successful. The fight eventually winds up on the mat when Tamura dives in for a kneebar, but only winds up plopping down on his backside, which allows Naknao to smother him, before eventually securing a kneebar of his own, prompting both a rope escape and a tag back in for Miyato. The match continued to be an entertaining and brisked pace affair, which really shined every time Miyato was in the ring. He brought all the same fire and intensity that he was showing us last month, and because of this, he was able to really elevate this match from standard boiler plate to an above-average entry. That’s not to say that the others didn’t do a good job (they all did), but he really brought his A-game, which forced Silver and Nakano to have to rise to the occasion as well. Tamura was a bit more subdued than usual, taking on more of a counter-fighter role, but even though this wasn’t his flashiest showing, it was still Tamura, and thus good. I would give this a solid *** 1/2 , as the only real drawback here was the randomness of the match/contestants, which caused it to lack any real emotional satisfaction, and simply served as a high-quality time killer.

ML: The biggest problem here was the pairings. We didn't get to see more of the best rivalry in the UWF-I because Tamura and Miyato were on the same team. On one hand, the debuting Silver did pretty well, but they kind of sacrificed Tamura & Miyato to achieve that. Nakano was more lively than one could have expected, and actually everyone was really doing a much better job tonight with the scrambling, as if they got a memo about being more urgent. While Tamura was, of course, good, it was really Miyato's energetic striking exchanges that made the match. ***

There is still a gnawing void that eats at the soul of the UWF-I, a giant Billy Scott shaped hole that is as glaring and obvious as a gaping head wound, and Shinji Sasazaki knowing this, continues to try and concoct a healing salve by sending in more Tennessee reinforcements. In this case, it’s famed NWA veteran Pez Whatley. Whatley’s most memorable run was probably an angle where he feuded with Jimmy Valiant for perceived racist comments, when Valiant said that he was the best black athlete in the NWA. After his NWA stint ran its course, he moved on to Florida and became a henchman for Kevin Sullivan, and then went to Alabama to become a top face for Southeast Championship Wrestling. Here he will be debuting against everyone’s favorite zebra-warrior, Yoji Anjo, who was able to get a decent match out of Bob Backlund, so I’m hoping that he can work his magic on Whatley, also.

The fight starts off with Anjo unleashing a fast clip of stiff kicks, but the much larger Whatley was able to take Anjo down with ease….and hold him. Anjo would get close enough to the ropes to prompt a stand up from the ref, get a few more shots in, before being taken down….and held some more. This pattern continued for the duration of the fight, until Anjo botched a throw, but when Whatley was going back to his huggy and controlling ways, Anjo was able to shift into some kind of weird variation of a reverse armbar, which seemed to cause a moment of genuine panic from Whatley, and led to a submission victory. This was bizarre, and actually came across credibly, as Whatley fought Anjo just how you would expect a huge guy with some wrestling skill (and nothing else) to, so while this wasn’t nearly as bad as last month’s Wilhelm/Kolmykov travesty, it hardly ranks as mandatory viewing either. Whatley will need a lot more training in this style before even being made an offer to return.

ML: Pez was UTC's first African-American wrestler. While I was ready to dispense with the dispenser about 30 seconds into the match, this wasn't a travesty so much as sheer boredom. It's hard to say if Whattley had any name value given WWE rightfully destroyed him by turning him into Saturday morning fodder, but he surely didn't have much potential to learn a new style given he was already 41. The finish was cool, but otherwise it was mostly lay and pray.


The savage plan to unleash the Albright-monster is now fully in motion, and there is nothing that can now be done to stop it. It is now an inevitability that the behemoth from Rhode Island will face his destiny and collide with Nobuhiko Takada for the stake of the future of the UWF-I and all that is both meet and right. Still, the time is not quite in its fullness, so this will simply be a precursor of things to come, and a way to pave the road that booker Miyato has been trying to set up now for several months.

Yes, it is time for a tag match between Nobuhiko Takada/Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Gary Albright/Tom Burton, and lonely is the path of sorrow that Yamazaki is now forced to tread upon, a once bright and shining star, the padawan to Satoru Sayama, and the seeming heir apparent to his legacy, now reduced to what will probably be another farcical exercise in putting over the suplex-monstrosity. Things open up with an interview where Tom Burton states that Nobuhiko Takada and Kazuo Yamazaki are currently the number one rated tag team in the UWF-I, which is amazing, considering that this is the first time that Takada and Yamazaki will be teaming up together in this promotion. The mic is passed to Albright, who sounds surprisingly thoughtful and lucid, and lays out the case that they can take leg-kick punishment that the Japanese will surely give them, but that the Japanese will not be able to withstand their combined size and strength for 60 minutes.

Yamazaki and Burton start the match, and it’s always a pleasure to see Yamazaki work, as he immediately throws some high kicks as feints to try and send a warning to Burton not to come charging in too quickly. Burton dodges the kick and blasts Yamazaki down with a double and passes Yamazaki’s guard by quickly sliding over into a side headlock. We then hear a very quiet, yet confidant, voice coming from Albright when he says “Let’s go Tom,” and this reminds me of how Frank Shamrock was always the best corner man that you could possibly have, as he would just quietly talk to Maurice Smith when he was in bad positions, smoothly explaining how to get out of them, and never having to yell or get overly excited. Burton didn’t seem to know how to follow up on his headlock, so when he started to shift to a new plan of attack, Yamazaki simply got up and initially went for a crab, and when he realized that was not likely, pulled out a nifty standing heel-hook, to which I don’t think I’ve yet witnessed. Not long afterwards, Yamazaki obtained an armbar, prompting another rope-escape and a tag-switch to Takada and Albright, which is the moment that the Japanese public has been waiting for. To his credit, Takada is at least pretending this is a big deal, and is moving around with a faux sense of urgency that he hasn’t been bothering to display lately, at least he is making an effort to create the façade. Albright and Takada were effectively neutralizing one another at first, with Albright stifling Takada’s offense by smothering him down to the ground, but unable to do much once the fight got there. This was until Takada was able to draw first blood with an armbar, prompting a rope escape.

The rest of the match saw Yamazaki do most of the heavy lifting, both with Burton and Albright, with a few Takada hors d'oeuvres sprinkled in to tease the audience of what was to come. Thankfully, they allowed Yamazaki more opportunities to shine against Albright than Tamura, giving him some offense, but it was for naught as it wasn’t long before Yamazaki took a trip on air Albright, and was suplexed into oblivion. This was nothing more than a trailer for the upcoming Albright/Takada bout, and on that basis, was marginally entertaining, but the real loser here is Yamazaki, who stands to be buried beyond repair from all of this. I don’t know what the terms of his contract were, but I would think now is a great time to bail for a different promotion, if at all possible.

ML: Everyone tried, but it was very uneven with Takada and Albright doing a traditional pro wrestling match, while Yamazaki and Burton at least tried to do something shoot oriented. Takada actually gave a good effort, but the match felt really out of place after all that had come before, and really came off as a silly kick and suplex exhibition that was hard to take seriously. It accomplished its goal off selling the big show main event, but even Maeda seems pretty realistic compared to what we were seeing from Takada and Albright.

Conclusion: Sort of a lateral move compared to last month if a slight downgrade. We had liquid magma in the Kanehara/Maeda match, and a very solid affair with the Tamura/Miyato/Nakano/Silver tag, but two abysmal outings with Whatley and Southern. The main event served a purpose for its time, but is hardly recommending viewing at this stage, and is rather depressing as it continues to show how much Yamazaki is being squandered. Still, two entertaining matches in a one hour event is not a bad way to go, and if Kanehara keeps getting better, then it’s going to be hard to compete with this promotion, unless they find a way to mess things up.

ML: I thought this was a big step forward until the main event. Overall, the action was faster, stiffer, and more urgent. Kanehara is improving by leaps and bounds, as is Maeda, and even though they are in the opener, others actually seemed to be following their lead and moving toward a more realistic style. There's way too many Americans though, and they are holding things back, though mainly it's the booking that on one hand wants to be a shoot league, but on the other keeps focusing on the least realistic guys to try to sell tickets.

(Editors Note: If you would like to see this event in full, along with many other rare treasures, then head on over to and become a member! *

    *In other news*

Rumors continue to swirl that Roberto Duran is in talks with the PWFG to have a fight, now with the possibility of facing Masakatsu Funaki. Talk was originally centered around him fighting Yoshiaki Fujiwara at an upcoming event that’s set to take place in Florida, but Duran is reportedly only wanting to fight overseas, due to tax issues.

Willie Williams, who had a famous mixed match against Antonio Inoki on 2/27/80, signed with RINGS and due to start at their 3-5-92 event.

Legendary kickboxer, and World Karate Association heavyweight champion Maurice Smith (who worked a mixed match on a UWF show in 1989) is scheduled to face sediokaikan heavyweight, Masaaki Satake at an upcoming RINGS event.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on February 26, 2021, 07:43:22 AM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.26 "Cognitive Dissonance"

*Mike Lorefice (From the amazing MMA/Puroresu emporium will have his initials preceding his comments. *

Sometimes maturing can be the worst thing to happen to a rock band, while oftentimes it's the best thing that could happen to a jazz outfit. This is because growing up usually leads to a loss of raw power, reckless abandon, and unbridled angst that drives some of the best moments of rock, whereas a jazz outfit is likely to benefit when there is a slowing down and a greater emphasis on paying more attention to their craft. We are now in the early stages of 1992, and are seeing pro-wrestling in a similar situation. The creation of the UWF in 1984 led to the opportunity for pro-wrestling to evolve and mature, by seizing what it has always desired (and arguably had up until the 1930s), credibility. When Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Satoru Sayama, and Kazuo Yamazaki joined the nascent UWF, it offered an opportunity for a group of pro-wrestlers with varying degrees of martial arts training to sail uncharted waters by creating their idea of what a real fight would look like, if they really pretended to fight for real. Of course, the promotion fell apart before its concepts could be fleshed out to their logical conclusions, but the stage was set, and here we are now in the next evolution of what would later morph into modern MMA.


We are entering into the 2nd PWFG event of the year, and we are already seeing many on this roster bucking at the constraints that the world of worked pro-wrestling has confined them in. The last two events had actual shoots on them, and the new generation of guys like Funaki, Takahashi, and Fuke, are starting to push the envelope as to how much non-cooperation they can squeeze into their standard bouts with pre-determined finishes. Perhaps, it was their hunger to be taken seriously, or the need to prove themselves by testing their skills against one another, but one thing is certain, and that is the walls of tradition that have restricted pro-wrestling to the realms of hokum and carnival shenanigans are surely on the way to crumbling, as it won’t be long before full fledged MMA breaks forth.

First up is Lato Kiraware vs. Wellington Wilkins, and it has been a few months since we witnessed Kiroware in a surprisingly watchable match against Kazuo Takahashi. However, since he must now square off with “Block of Wood” Wilkins, I am hesitant to get my hopes up. Wilkins starts off with a deep and slow single-leg attempt, only to be neutered with an even slower sprawl from the massive Kiraware. This leads to Kiraware slamming Wilkins and slapping on one of the worst guillotine chokes we’ve seen thus far, but to his credit, he laid into Wilkins with a few heavy palm strikes when that didn’t work. Unfortunately, the striking did not last long, as Kiraware was quickly taken down with a textbook O-Goshi (full hip throw) and put into a headlock. The rest of this match was abysmal, as it was simultaneously slow, boring, and phony looking, which is quite sad considering the UWF-I has been offering molten lava for its openings for three months running. Thankfully, this was quickly over around the 6 minute mark with what could only be described as Kiraware putting Wilkins in something akin to a “rock bottom” followed by an arm-triangle choke. Bad.

ML: I keep wanted to call Lato "Killer Whale", but that would be an insult to Orcas everywhere. Lato is slow as molasses, while killer whales are among the fastest marine mammals, often reaching speeds in excess of 65 km. In any case, poor athletes don't have much of a home in worked shoots. This honestly didn't even feel like a shoot, as the main thing they had to "offer" were some fake suplexes. There's not much to say about this match beyond it's one of the worst that we've seen. It just had nothing going for it.


We are off to a bad start, and seeing Bart Vale return isn’t likely to change the course we have now found ourselves on. Thankfully he is going against Takahashi, who is spunky enough to potentially get a good match out of him, so we can only dare to dream. A somewhat subdued looking Takahashi starts the match with his usual single, but is negated by a surprisingly spry sprawl from Vale, who is moving a lot quicker than usual. The next sequence shows Takahashi grabbing one of Vale’s legs, and when Vale seemingly looks like he is going to attempt some variation of an enziguri, wisely decides to counter this with repeated slaps to Vale’s face, followed by a suplex and an armbar attempt. Sadly, the real Vale shows up next with an awful (and awfully slow) kick to Kazuo’s midsection, prompting both a down, and me wondering why it seems like everyone has their kid gloves on for this evening?

After getting up, Takahashi gets blasted flush in the face with a high kick from Vale that I don’t think was intended to actually connect. It did serve to wake him up though, and he responded by driving Vale to the mat with the energy that we are usually accustomed to seeing from him. We then got a nice sequence where Takahashi opened up Vale’s half-guard with a few palm strikes, and when Vale’s legs opened, engaged in a great spinning kneebar entry that forced Vale to get a rope escape. Vale is now starting to kick with some more urgency, which prompts Takahashi to take things back to the mat, and it is interesting to see some of the patterns that pre-BJJ grappling produced. Takahashi has Vale on his back in a full guard, and instead of trying to pass the guard, he simply opts to try to submit Vale with a Kimura. Obviously, he couldn’t get enough torque from that position, but it did prompt Vale to adjust to a half-guard, and Takahashi used that movement to crank harder on his submission, now causing an opening to pass his guard completely, which he did while instantly switching to an armbar. This was very clever, but for naught, as the weight disparity is simply too great, and all Vale had to do was stack Takahashi to escape and hit an armbar of his own. The match ends shortly thereafter when Vale energetically unleashes a flurry of awkward looking kicks that Takahashi sells for, ending the match via 10-count.

The first couple of minutes had me concerned, but once Takahashi woke up it prompted Vale to at least put forth some effort making this a somewhat entertaining, albeit disjointed, match. Takahashi’s grappling portions were on point, but the realism would be quickly thrown out the window when Vale was in standup mode. He needs to find a way to fully commit to his strikes (without hurting someone), as he tends to look way too slow and goofy when he is trying to be careful with his opponent.

ML: Takahashi give his best performance thus far, really making a strong effort to turn this into an actual match. He was aggressive and super explosive. The problem with Vale is always that his idea of matwork contains almost no actual movement. Chris Lytle may be MMA's most decorated real life firefighter, but nothing could extinguish grappling aggression like Vale taking top position. Once Takahashi made a fast move to take him down, Bart would immediately go about trying to slow the action down to a crawl, but Takahashi did as good a job of preventing that as one could hope, keeping things going as much as he could much by forcing Bart to escape from a submission, which set up his next standup blitz. Takahashi's striking and submission games were both much better: this is the first time he didn't simply look like an amateur wrestler. Vale will always provide some cringeworthy moments, but this was his most reasonable match thus far. Whilel I wouldn't call this good, it was at least a pleasant surprise.

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on February 26, 2021, 07:46:32 AM
Vol. 26 Continued...

Next up is Fujiwara vs Fuke, and Fuke is coming into this both as a winner and a loser. A winner in the sense that his output in his last couple of worked matches has been fantastic, and a loser due to being completely clowned by Minoru Suzuki in a shoot grappling match from last month's show. The outcome of this will likely come down to how much sincere effort Fujiwara wants to put forth, so we will see.

After a few moments of feeling each other out, Fujiwara surprised everyone with a swift Thai kick to Fuke’s thigh, which saw him collapse, and take a 9-count before getting back up. This forces Fuke to instantly activate his judo-mode, and he quickly throws Fujiwara to the mat, only to get tangled up in the ropes, prompting a restart. Fujiwara now quickly goes for a bodylock, and is able to get behind Fuke, and unlike Sakaraba, who would always use this as a way to set up his infamous standing kimura, Fuke instead opts to drop down and attack Fujiwara’s leg. This led to an interesting and rather long sequence, where both been fought for a leg, but just when it seemed that Fujiwara was getting closer and closer to a toehold, Fuke was able to continually smite Fujiwara in the body and face, until he could transition into a armbar attempt. Fujiwara rolled onto his stomach to avoid, but then put himself in the perfect position to be triangled, and that is exactly what Fuke saw too, so he wasted no time in switching from the armbar to a triangle, and years before Quinton “Rampage” Jackson hit the scene, Fujiwara’s answer to this was to powerbomb Fuke to escape the hold. The rest of this 16 minute bout was a pleasant surprise, as it had a nice constant flow of action that was both intelligent and credible. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this was the best that we’ve seen from Fujiwara so far in PWFG, which is really another argument for Fuke being the MVP of this promotion, as he has been able to get good matches out of guys that others have not been able to.  Fujiwara wins the way he began with a kick to Fuke’s thighs, only this was one down too many, as apparently PWFG is now using a scoring system that seems to be unknown to anyone besides them.

ML: Similar to the previous match, the quickly improving youngster was able to pull a better than expected match out of the middling veteran. The match was a bit too pro wrestling oriented in its storyline it though, with Fujiwara seeming to only want to low kick, but Fuke constantly catching the kick and tripping him up into a leg lock or just getting him down off a single leg, which Fujiwara would soon counter. Fuke's urgency and desire helped carry the match, but it was rather repetitive, and his overselling of the leg kicks was annoying. There was really no reason for this match to be more than 10 minutes long, as there wasn't a single point where you felt Fuke had any chance of winning, and Fujiwara just seem to be toying with him half the time.

Jerry Flynn is now set to face Minoru Suzuki, and this should be good. Flynn looked great a couple of months ago when Fuke was carrying him to an excellent 30 minute match, so I have no doubts that Suzuki will work his magic, also. Flynn is a good talent if paired with a strong leader, so this should be a welcome lead-in to the main event. Right away, Suzuki is moving with a sense of urgency that is really the distinguishing characteristic that separates the new breed of Tamura, Kanehara, Han, etc, and the old guard, and is also the key element in being able to draw something good out of just about any opponent. Suzuki's quick moving in-and-out, feinting a takedown, forces Flynn to also react quickly, and put more snap on his kicks than you would probably see him throw in a more relaxed setting. After dodging a few of Flynn’s kicks, Suzuki wisely goes for a clinch, and is able to ward off a guillotine attempt by using his low center of gravity to his advantage, and just sort of falls on top of Flynn to secure the mount position. The next couple of minutes sees Suzuki easily maintaining a superior position, but Flynn is able to power out of several submission attempts from Suzuki before eventually being able to stand himself back up.

There were lots of interesting grappling ideas/techniques on display here, even to the jaded eyes of a modern audience. For example, there was one moment where Suzuki showed us an interesting technique by faking a standing Kimura, and instantly using Flynn’s reaction to set up a headlock takedown. Another was when he was close to securing an armbar against Flynn, but Flynn was doing a good job of holding his wrist and using his strength to defend it. Suzuki’s clever solution was to punch Flynn in the stomach several times to try and force an opening, and when he saw that this wasn’t going to work, he looked over at Flynn’s ankle, and immediately released the arm, dived over to Flynn’s leg, and nailed a toehold, which forced Flynn to roll into the ropes and take an escape. The match ends shortly afterwards with Suzuki trapping Flynn in an odd, but interesting, variation of a neck crank initiated from side control. This was short, and complete one-way dominance for Suzuki, but I still liked it, as it was fast, urgent, and realistic. Flynn’s lack of any meaningful offense will keep it from being in the top echelon of matches for this year, but I felt that Suzuki really shined here, and made it work. Momentum is now on our side, as we are two good matches going into the main event.

ML: A disappointing, one-sided match where was Suzuki was into outshining Flynn rather than carrying him. Suzuki was still in shoot mode, dominating the match on the ground by regularly taking mount and swinging into armbars. Flynn wasn't able to stay on his feet long enough to capitalize on his striking advantage. Suzuki took a lot more chances on the ground, giving up dominant position attempting to finish, but it felt as close to a Funaki match as he's done.


Now for the main event, a return to the last months well, with a repeat main event between Masakatsu Funaki and Ken Shamrock. Coming off a historically important, but somewhat dry affair that could arguably be called the first Pancrase match, it will be important for them to really elevate their games here, as the difference between this card being forgettable or recommendedall rides on their performance.

These two start things off a lot faster than their last two outings, with Ken throwing kicks right away, and Funaki answering with some knees from the clinch. After some haggling in the clinch, Ken eventually trips Funaki to the mat, when he was too focused on locking in a standing Kimura. Ken shows why he never tries fighting off of his back with an armbar that Funaki saw coming from miles away, and they are both back on their feet. The 2nd wave sees both men trying to be more calculated and patient in their strikes, waiting for openings. Ken lands a few palm strikes down the pipe to Funaki’s face, which prompts Funaki to go for a low single, and takes a hold of one of Ken’s legs. This prompts Ken to go from dancing on his planted foot to trying to fall into a kneebar attack, but he telegraphed this, and Funaki slyly jumps back just in time, causing Ken to simply plop on his butt.

Funaki spends some time waiting before deciding on falling back for an ankle-lock, and just when I thought that all of Ken’s submission attempts were going to be in slow motion, he shows some beautiful explosiveness by instantly standing up and putting Funaki in a heel-hook. Funaki was able to escape, and they spent the next several minutes fighting for position on the mat, before being stood up. On their feet, they take on a laid-back sparring vibe where Funaki is effectively using his kicks by targeting both the inside and outside of Shamrock’s thighs, but is leaving his hands too low, which opens up opportunities for Shamrock to counter with blasts to the face. The rest of this 40 minute match was moderately interesting, but devoid of any real high-level energy or intensity. It was disappointing in the sense that this should have burned the house down, but instead felt like I was popping on a Brian Eno record while watching the ocean tides. That is not to say that it did not have its good moments. Some of the striking exchanges had fire to them, the finish was cool (with Funaki countering a standing toehold with a triangle choke) and there were some cool subtle moments in the grappling (like a brief headbutt war between Shamrock and Funaki), but what this boils down to is that a 40 minute worked match in the shoot-style is going to be a difficult task for anyone to pull off well, and Funaki is simply too methodical to be the one to excel in this format. One really needs the constant barrage of urgent energy that a Suzuki, Tamura, Fuke, etc can bring, if you are going to even think about pulling off this kind of match.

ML: What an odd match! Set the speed to medium, set the timer to 40 minutes, spar! While the talent here was obvious, the drama was almost nonexistent. No one ever seemed to make any progress or come close to actually winning. This wasn't Funaki durdling, I thought the mat work was a lot more flowing then we've seen from him, and they did a pretty good job of going back and forth. The stand up was somewhat lacking though, it wasn't bad, but nothing really felt like it had ill intentions either. That was really the problem. The match was fairly credible, definitely moving even more towards shooting, or at least the Pancrase hard gym sparring variety, but this was just so laid back. If they did the same basic match with a handful major occurrences and some real intensity, it would have been memorable, but in this form it all kind of washed over me and felt like MMA for Deadheads. They needed to put us on edge, not chill us out. Shamrock is normally a wild man and a killer, but today he was so ridiculously polite. Although it was easily the best match on the show, adding ten minutes was largely responsible for making it the worst of their 3 matches because it was just so ridiculously long they never manage to find their way out of self preservation mode.

Conclusion: Disappointing. A slight net-positive overall, but with the talent available we should be able to do better than bad, mediocre, good, good, and ok. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Fujiwara’s fault this time, as we got a good match between him and Fuke, but the main event was a letdown. Not that it was bad (it wasn’t), but it needed to be a lot better than it was, and instead was probably the weakest of their three matches to date. If they had distilled it into a 15 minute war, we would be having a totally different conversation right now, but I would say that the writing is clearly on the wall with this promotion. Their only logical path forward is to start including a lot more shoots in their product, but that, of course, could lead to its own drawbacks, as the risk of injuries increases, and they already have a thin roster. I hate to be saying this, as if there is any roster that I am rooting for to be the best of the best, and win the shoot-style wars, it is the PWFG, but it looks like there are going to have to be some serious changes if they want to do more than tread water every month.

ML: The biggest problem with this show is the main event was the only match where the outcome was even remotely in doubt. If they're going to give us Suzuki versus Funaki, Fujiwara versus Shamrock, Fuke versus Takahashi, etc., then that doesn't matter because those are naturally even pairings, but they are not going to book that way. They are capable of delivering interesting jobber matches, but the performers have to have that mindset rather than going out to dominate.

*This entire event, along with many other priceless artifacts, can be found over at *

    *In other news*

Apparently, Lou Thez has taken more than just a passing interest in the UWF-I, as he has recently been in talks to try and bring the promotion to the United States and start promoting events there.

Double Impact recently premiered in Japan, and one of the celebrities in attendance was Akira Maeda, who had several pictures taken with its lead actor Jean-Claude van Damme, and was reported to completely dwarf the much smaller action star.
Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on March 10, 2021, 11:16:22 AM
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.27 "Reckless Abandon..."


*Note: Mike Lorefice (of MMA/PURO emporium will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

World domination! A lofty and enticing goal that many have sought,  bled, and died for, throughout the annals of history, and in this case  the UWF-I is no different. Join us, as we once again witness their  aspirations for martial arts supremacy, as we return to the Korakuen  Hall  where they are set to have their 3rd event of 1992. Not even three  months into the new year, this promotion is making good on their quest  to become the victor in the shoot-style wars with the constant inferno  that Hiromitsu Kanehara, Kiyoshi Tamura, and (as of late) Yuko Miyato  have been bringing to the table.

After the standard ceremony, we are greeted by legendary wrestling  icon, Lou Thesz, who now appears to be the gaijin face of this outfit,  like Karl Gotch is to the PWFG. In fact, as we reported in our last  column, Thesz has been shopping the UWF-I around the United States, in  an effort to hopefully start promoting events there. Here he gives us a  few words, “Ladies and Gentlemen. I am pleased to be back in Japan, to  witness true competitive wrestling. The UWF-International features real  wrestling, not show-business. I am happy to be perpetuating a noble  sport, wrestling, the thing that I have loved all my life. Thank you!”

This is a fascinating look at where we are at in the growing pains of  MMA history, as you can see that the desire of people like Thesz, and  others in his sphere, is for pro-wrestling to be taken seriously and  treated as a legitimate martial art and sport, yet the powers that be  are not confidant enough in the concept of shooting to allow it to stand  on its own merits. This leads to him resorting to the chicanery that he  decries, in this case, “show-business.” This also helps to explain how  the promotion (and shoot-style wrestling in general) faded away and  never recovered once the illusion was broken from Anjo’s dojo storming  antics, and PRIDE FC exposing Takada’s false image.

Still, we will enjoy the artifice for the time being, as we are now  set for round 4 in the never-ending magma stream that is Hiromitsu  Kanehara and Masakazu Maeda. After their last outing, I am now fully in  favor of them opening every wrestling card on every single promotion  from here on out, as it was one of the best shoot-style matches I’ve  seen, only coming behind some of Tamura and Han’s best work. No time is  wasted as other Madea charges in with a plethora of kicks and palm  strikes, but to his credit, Kanehara stands his ground, and fires off  several kicks of his own. You can see that he is somewhat out of his  element compared to Maeda in the striking dept, but he was able to fend  off Maeda long enough to close in and execute a lovely koshi-guruma  (headlock throw). Things did not stay static on the mat however, and  Kanehara constantly tried to attack both the ankle and then the arm of  Maeda, but Masakazu was simply too wily, and was able to defend himself  from every submission entry until he got back on his feet and soccer  kicked Maeda for his efforts.

After his first submission barrage did not work, Kanehara takes Maeda  down again, only this time opting for a Kimura attack, but now Maeda is  wisely starting to make Kanehara pay for every failed attempt on his  elbow joints. After escaping the Kimura, Maeda jumped back to his feet,  soccer kicked Kanehara again, but did not stop there, he kept kicking  and kneeing Kanehara as he was standing back up, even to the point of  wearing himself out, and eventually succumbed to a desperation throw by  Kanehara.

The next 16mins were a total non-stop war, where neither opponent  gave any pause and were constantly attacking or actively defending. What  was really neat about this, is that it was a play on your classic  grappler vs striker match, only both the grappler and the striker were  also proficient in the other’s discipline, just not to the same degree.  So, while Maeda was usually having to defend Kanehara’s submission  attacks on the ground, he was able to launch several credible threats of  his own, and while Kanehara is not as sharp on the feet as Maeda, he  too was able to get some nice shots in. There were also plenty of nice  subtleties throughout the match. For example, there was one nice  sequence where Kanehara was standing up and grabbing Maeda’s ankle to  attack and used that as a way to fake a swift kick to Maeda’s face, and  later Maeda was able to return the favor, when Kanehara had him in a  variation of a single-leg crab, and his response was to spin around and  smash his foot into Kanehara’s head, which got a great pop from the  audience.

The last minutes of the fight saw Maeda throwing palm strike after  palm strike, until the point of exhaustion, but his show of heart was so  profound that the crowd had a Rocky IV moment when they shouted their  support with chants of “Mah-eh-da! Mah-eh-da!” This was the beginning of  the end however, and it was not long afterwards that Kanehara secured a  submission victory via half-crab.

Another excellent match, and I’m thankful as this will keep forcing  the rest of the roster to take notice, and hopefully follow suit. While  this may have been a smidge below their last outing, by virtue of the  extra length and the somewhat contrived finish, make no mistake, this  was still fire and well worth your time. Easily ****.

ML: I'd highly doubt that at any other time in history a feud between  two rookies would be the best thing going on in pro wrestling. The  latest fantastic chapter in this rivalry had a bit more of a striker vs.  grappler feel, as Maeda was so aggressive, just non stop blitzing  Kanehara in standup the entire match that Kanehara really had to just  try to fend him off and rely on his submissions. The urgency was so out  of control that they got a bit wild and sloppy at times with their  striking even before Maeda gassed. If ever there was a match where both  workers were possibly trying to hard, it was this one. I mean, as  impressive as it was, it probably would have been a little better with a  bit more patience, precision, and control of their emotions, as Maeda  really exhausted himself by the final stages. The pace they kept was  simply insane! They took everything to the max, if not beyond. After a  series of full time draws, they utilized nearly every point at their  disposal before Kanehara finally broke through. This was a really crazy  match! Though it wasn't as good as their match 2 weeks earlier, it's  still one of the better matches we've seen, and some of the best  displays of heart and desire you'll ever come across. ****


Foot-fighting phenom, Makato Ohe, returns for a standing bout against  Pat Kane. This is excellent news, as this is the first time we’ve seen  Ohe this year, and if he had been on the last couple of cards (replacing  JT Sothern for instance) we probably would have went from 2-classic  fights, to an over-the-top 3 great matches, which would have pushed  those events into legendary status. Unfortunately, I have been unable to  find out any information on Pat Kane as of press time, but since Ohe is  coming off of two back-to-back loses, I wouldn’t be surprised if they  went back to the jobber mill to find an easy opponent for Ohe.

Both fighters come out of the gate aggressively, but while Kane is  landing some good combinations, he seems to leave his face out in the  open while doing so, and is eating some hard leather because of it. The  rest of the fight shows an aggressive Kane varying his attacks, and  showing some strong power in his fists, whereas Ohe seems to be content  in patiently waiting and setting up his thunderous kicks. Even round.

Round 2 starts with more hyper-aggressive behavior from Kane, but he  is still adhering to the ancient proverb that punches are best blocked  with your face. While he is landing a lot of volume, Ohe is doing a  great job of being the counterpuncher and setting up some truly nasty  answers, both by vicious straights down the pipe, and nasty knees from  the clinch. This round came down to quality vs quantity, with the former  going to Kane.

Round 3 was Ohe’s turn to lead the attack, and he quickly laid into  Kane with everything he had, prompting a knockdown early into the round.  The rest of the round saw Kane make a bit of a comeback by wisely  utilizing the uppercut whenever Ohe would try and get into clinch range.  Still, this is now going to be an uphill battle for Kane to try and win  this fight on points.

Round 4 has Kane coming on strong again, being the one landing the  majority of the shots, but he still leaves himself wide open, and  continues to suffer some very stiff counters from Ohe, particularly his  left straight. Despite a strong early showing, Kane kept eating more and  more counters until succumbing to another knockdown late in the round.  Kane was able to get back up, right before the bell rang, but he is  going to have to pull out a magic trick to win this fight in the 5th .

The final round was a strong showing for Kane, who kept pressing the  attack, and continued the wise strategy of unloading uppercuts whenever  Ohe tried to clinch. His impressive offensive output came at the cost of  a good defense though, and he walked right into the game of a patient  fighter like Ohe. Still, this round belonged to Kane, but it wasn’t  enough to turn the tide, and the decision had to go to Makato. I give  the UWF-I credit for continuing to find game opponents for Ohe, and this  was a good match, as well as a strong showing from Kane.

ML: Kane was a strong boxer and athlete. He showed good quickness,  and was generally the aggressor. His problem is his kicking game wasn't  particularly developed. He basically never kicked after throwing a  punch, instead just leading with a kick to control the distance and set  up his punch combo. Ohe tried to work on the inside so Kane couldn't  just beat him with hand speed. Kane's corner wanted to make certain he  was completely refreshed going into the third, with his trainer even  spraying water down his pants.Ohe probably lost the first 2 rounds, but  started strong in the third, landing a big left straight then following  with a series of clinch knees and a left high kick, repeating the  sequence until he finally dropped Kane with the left hand. Even though  Kane's defense throughout the fight was simply to attack, attack, and  attack some more, Ohe still had much more success when he initiated then  when he waited to land counters to Kane's open face. Kane had to be  really active to make up for his lack of defense, and that was  increasingly difficult In the later rounds, as Ohe's knees to the  midsection really sapped his energy. Ohe landed a few big lefts in the  fourth, but it felt like Kane went down from exhaustion as much as from  Ohe's big shots. Kane had obviously trained hard in Xanadu, as he still  fought hard trying to pull out the victory, though much of his speed was  gone, with his right hand particularly lacking zip. Ohe's power  advantage was just too much , especially in the second half of the  fight. I had Ohe winning the last 3 rounds. Now that Ohe has dispatched  of Kane, one can only hope that UWF-I can get Sidney Crosby in here  next... Good match.

Now it is time for Pez Whatley vs Tatsuo Nakano. Earlier in the  month, Whatley laid on top of Yoji Anjo for 5mins, and now it is his  turn to lay all over Nakano. Whatley starts by continually trying to  take Nakano down by way of a back body-lock, which prompts Nakano to try  and counter with a standing Kimura. Whatley is wise enough to ward off  the submission attempt, but while he succeeds in saving his shoulder, he  does so at the expense of the takedown. After a while of vain takedown  attempts, Takano changes his approach and goes into standup mode, with  repeated strikes until he wins via knockout around the 4min mark.  Whatley looked a little better this time, but thankfully this was  noticeably shorter, and even more thankfully this will be the last time  we have to see Whatley, as he went back to the states to work for WCW  along with other indies.

ML: The big spot was Nakano ducking and lariat in the corner and  coming back with a high kick for the face plant. This was terrible, but  at least it was short, and they didn't waste Tamura or someone good on  Nakano

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on March 10, 2021, 11:18:41 AM
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 it’s 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 Silver’s 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t  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 didn’t  work, as Yamazaki wisely just chipped away at Burton’s 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 Gracie’s 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 Burton’s 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  didn’t 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  Yamazaki’s 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. *** ½

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

Title: Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
Post by: Topskin69 on March 10, 2021, 11:20:43 AM
Vol.27 Continued...

Now it is time for a westerner that will be a most welcome addition  to the roster, Lou Thesz protégé, 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 Fleming’s 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 Takada’s 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 wasn’t 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, doesn’t know what to do after that’s  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 wasn’t 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 Kakihara’s 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 *