Kazushi Sakuraba, a man that is known as being the most popular MMA fighter and Pro wrestler in Japan has left the Pride organization to compete for the K-1 Heroes event. It comes as a shock to many as Sakuraba and Pride have gone hand in hand since Pride 2, and his MMA career has spanned over 30 Pride events!
TOKYO, May 3, 2005 -- Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto scored the fastest KO in Hero's history in the Main Event at the fightsports' Yoyogi Olympic Stadium mixed martial arts event today. Hero's is a production of FEG, with bouts contested under a set of rules which permit both striking and grappling.
The card featured five first-round bouts from the Hero's Middleweight World Championship Tournament, with winners advancing to the semifinals this August. Already seeded in the 70kg weight class tournament are Defending Champion "Kid" Yamamoto and last year's runner-up, Genki Sudo.
All of today's bouts were fought under Hero's Rules, 5Min. 2R w/ 1R Ext.
The Main Event was a Superfight featuring "Kid" Yamamoto, 29; and Kazuyuki Miyata, who represented Japan in freestyle wrestling at the Sydney Olympics.
The bell sounded and Yamamoto in a flash Yamamoto's knee was up and smack in Miyata's face, laying him out flat on his back. The fighter briefly appeared ready to get up, but Yamamoto cursorily sunk a right punch to his kisser to remove that possibility. The coup de grace drew the ref, who stopped the bout at an elapsed time of just four seconds -- a Hero's record.
''Pretty good, huh?" bellowed the uppity Kid to the crowd afterward. "See, I'm the coolest, I'm the most dangerous and I'm the best!"
In other Superfights:
Japanese former Sumo Wrestling Grand Champion Akebono (203cm/6'8"; 210kg/492lbs) repeatedly tied up American freestyle wrestling legend Don Frye and squished him against the ropes in their bout. The pattern repeated until late in the second when Akebono slipped to the mat and Fry climbed on top to work a choke for the submission.
Brazilian behemoth Antonio Silva (195cm/6'5"; 140kg/309lbs) used a 2-1 weight ratio to put a good 'ol ground-'n-pound on American veteran Tom Erickson. The attack was more brawn than finesse but it forced a tapout midway through the first round of their contest.
Japanese former Judo champion Yoshihiro Akiyama punched the heck out of compatriot Katsuhiko Nagata, then spun a kick to the midsection to drop the pro-wrestler in a wincing heap of pain for the KO win. "You are a great audience!" shouted Akiyama to the crowd. "And wrestling is great too, but Judo is Greater!"
In the Hero's Middleweight Tournament:
Japanese wrestler Taiyo Nakahara and mixed martial arts fighter Ivan Menjivar of Canada stayed on their feet and traded strikes throughout their contest. The second round saw Menjivar fire in good kicks and straight punches and a spinning back punch to bloody Nakahara's left eye and earn the win by unanimous decision.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu fighter Rani Yahya got a quick takedown on Ryuki Ueyama of Japan in their matchup, but could not do anything from the two rear mounts he managed in the first. The pair wrestled and writhed in a twisting and turning second that saw Yahya superior with his positioning -- although Ueyama did pass with a nice right. One judge saw a draw, the other two gave Yahya the split-decision win.
In their fight, Japanese Jiu-jitsu stylist Hidetaka Monma and mixed martial arts fighter J.Z. Calvan of Brazil went to the mat early. After looking in vain for the submission hold, Calvan stood up in perfect position to rain punches down on his opponent. Some ten good blows to the head went unanswered before the referee moved in to stop the fight, giving Calvan the victory.
There was some spirited sparring in the bout between Hideo Tokoro and Black Mamba of India before Mamba connected with a knee to Tokoro's head. The Japanese fighter crumpled to the mat and Mamba leapt on top, pummeling for a referee stop and the win at just 0:43 of the first.
The bout between mixed martial artist Caol Uno of Japan and Danish Jiu-jitsu fighter Ole Laursen saw several swift reversals on the mat in the first, the round ending deadlocked with Uno in a rear mount, unable to get the chokehold. Uno had a side mount through much of the second, and Laursen tied him up well until late in the round when Uno got behind and wrapped the choke sleeper for a tapout and victory.
In the opening fight, wrestler Yoshihisa Yamamoto of Japan put an armlock on Japanese former Sumo wrestler Wakashoyo to get the win by submission at 1:22 of the first.
The Hero's Tokyo event attracted a sellout crowd of 11,780 to the Yoyogi Stadium, among them a mysterious tiger-masked figure who made a ring appearance to hint he would fight in Hero's in the future. Who was that masked man?
The event was broadcast live in Japan on the TBS Network, and in OnMedia's Super Action TV in South Korea. There will be time-delay broadcasts on EuroSport and elsewhere, check with local broadcasters for scheduling. As always, visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp) for complete coverage.