Last week, Royce Gracie appeared live on Sports Corner, a nationally-syndicated radio show hosted by Fred Wallin. Gracie took time out from training for his May 27 fight with Matt Hughes. His last fight -- a 20-minute epic with Hideo Tokoro at K-1 Dynamite! -- will be televised on iN Demand Pay-Per-View on Friday, April 7.
TOKYO, March 15, 2006-- Japanese mixed martial arts fighter Hideo Tokoro, 27, made it look easy -- taking just 49 seconds to submit compatriot Yoshinori Ikeda in tonight's main event at Hero's 2006. Tokoro executed a single leg takedown to start the 72kg weight-class bout, then got into a full mount position. Ikeda, a Kyokushin Karate fighter making just his second mixed martial arts start, wormed his way out to get on top, only to be met with a triangle choke. With the pressure increasing and no chance of escape, Ikeda tapped out.
Held at the historic Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo, this was the first event of the year in FEG's Hero's mixed martial arts fightsport format. Bouts were contested under Hero's Rules (5Min. x 2R & 1R Extra for tiebreaking), with specific weight limits as noted.
Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef took on Shungo Oyama of Japan in the first contest. The pair of 74kg fighters boxed for half the first round before going to the mat with Manhoef in mount. Oyama pushed and then bicycle-kicked his way back to his feet, but Manhoef met him with a high kick that opened a cut on the Japanese fighter's face. A doctor's check cleared Oyama to continue but Manhoef laid in with the fists, socking his opponent good before the doctor called a stop, giving Manhoef the victory.
K-1 veteran Jerome Le Banner of France met American freestyle fighter Jimmy Ambriz in the second bout. Ambriz is a stocky customer, at 139kg/306lbs he brought a 20kg/45lbs weight advantage to the ring along with his 8-1 record in mixed martial arts. Ambriz charged forward from the bell, and just seconds in the two were on the mat. LeBanner kept the legs up and did well in guard, forcing a stalemate and a standing restart. Again Ambriz came rushing, his arms flailing, but LeBanner got the decisive blow this time -- a right hook that dropped the American for the KO win.
The next matchup was a 70kg weight-class bout featuring Kazuyuki Miyata of Japan and Erikas Petraitis of Lithuania. Petraitis went down early and Miyata hovered overhead, passing the guard with punches. Soon, Miyata came into a side mount, then deftly twisted his way into position for an armbar and submission.
Another 70kg weight-class fight followed, with mixed martial arts specialists Caol Uno of Japan and Rich Clementi of the United States mixing it up. The pair sparred a fair bit in the early going before Clementi got the takedown and Uno went to guard. Clementi worked to side then rear mount, but Uno twisted round to get on top, and started putting the punches down, connecting nicely with a few lefts before the bell.
In the second, Clementi swept from the clinch for the takedown but Uno worked his way into a mount and put the punches down once again. After some squirming and bucking and a brief time on their feet, the two went to the mat and finished the round in a deadlock. His fists having put the most punishment across, Uno was rewarded with the win by unanimous decision.
A couple of big tough guys, Heath Herring of the United States and Gary Goodridge of Trinidad and Tobago, met in the next bout. Herring came in with a high kick which Goodridge grabbed for a takedown and canopener, but couldn't work well on the mat. After some writhing and strikes but no opportunities for submission, the pair were given a standing restart. They boxed then mixed it up a little but neither could take control.
In the second Goodridge repeatedly found Herring on his back, but could not pass, and so backed off to force a standing restart and more boxing. It was during one of the sparring exchanges that Herring surprised Goodridge with a right hook, knocking him to the canvas for the KO win.
A 88kg-limit bout featured Japanese fighters Yoshihiro Akiyama, a Judo Champion; and pro-wrestler Tokimitsu Ishizawa. Akiyama is wildly popular in Japan, and the crowd went nuts as he railed on Ishizawa with his fists during a first round which the pair spent almost entirely on their feet. Whenever Ishizawa came forward looking for the takedown, Akiyama put in more punches. Akiyama also connected with a high kick, which might have ended the bout but for Ishizawa's strong chin.
After some clinching early in the second round, the fighters finally went to the mat, where Akiyama took a side mount, then coolly worked a choke hold to force the submission.
A couple of hefty Judo stylists, Yoshihisa Yamamoto of Japan (190cm/6'3";100kg/220lbs), and Min Soo Kim of South Korea (186cm/6'1";112kg/247lbs) met in the next bout. There was unbridled boxing in the early going, Kim with the better stuff. A takedown put the Korean into a rear mount but not much happened there. Back on their feet the pair boxed again, and now Yamamoto got some good licks in. Back to the mat with Yamamoto on top, albeit in an awkward position, and coming down with the fists. When they got back to their feet, Yamamoto planted a spinning back punch before the boys finished the round with another exchange of frenetic boxing.
Kim was bleeding from atop the left eye at the start of the second, but displayed superior stamina as the round progressed. Approaching the midway point, the Korean got into rear mount again, this time making no mistake as he worked a pull-up choke for the quick submission.
In a 72kg weight-class matchup, flashy Japanese fighter Genki Sudo took on Ole Laursen of Denmark. Sudo started with spinning kicks, and when the fight went to the mat looked ready to put Laursen into a heelhook. But the Dane spun out of the hold, and after shaking a Sudo rear mount was able to get into a mount of his own. The two showed speed and technical prowess here, with frequent reversals, but the first ended with neither dominating.
They went to the mat quickly in the second. Laursen worked some good moves, but the slippery Sudo stayed out of danger. Laursen threw Sudo from the clinch and passed with punches then leapt in with a couple of stomps that were among the best attacks in this very exciting fight. Back on their feet, Sudo missed with spinning back punches to end the round. A close contest -- the judges saw a draw and called for a tiebreaker.
Here Sudo got into side mount early but Laursen's defenses gave the Japanese fighter little to hit. But Sudo soon got a full mount and did better with his punches. Laursen reversed and wanted to stand and strike, but Sudo got the takedown and was better with a side mount and triangle hold through the remainder to take the win by unanimous decision.
In the 75kg-class opening fight, Antonio McKee of the United States beat Kiuma Kunioku of Japan by unanimous decision.
The Hero's 2006 event attracted a sellout crowd of 8,770 to the Budokan. It was broadcast live in Japan on the TBS Network, and in OnMedia's Super Action TV in South Korea. Time-delay broadcasts are set for 54 countries on EuroSport -- check with local broadcasters for scheduling. As always, visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp) for complete coverage.