TOKYO, August 5, 2006 -- Kazushi Sakubara mounted a tremendous comeback to win his Light Heavyweight bout and Defending K-1 World GP Champion made short work of his Superfight opponent today in the Middleweight & Light Heavyweight Hero's World Championship Tournament at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo.
After Shooto Kingpin Alexandre Pequeno was defeated in the first phase of the Hero's Lightweight 2005 GP held on July 6, at Yoyogi National Stadium, in Tokyo, the Brazilians were confident in the only Brazilian in the competition, 4x BJJ world champion, Royler Gracie. Gracie stepped up into the second round after beating Kiuma Kunioku, but those dreams ended tragically as he was KO'd by Japanese slugger Norifumi Yamamoto. The Brazilian dreams of having a lightweight champion in Japan were over.
In 2006, all hopes are reinvigorated with two new talents representing Brazil in the 2006 Hero's GP, held on May 3 in Tokyo. The Brazilians showed they would have a chance to count on a representative at the finals with Brazilian Luta-Livre fighter Gesias Cavalcanti who represented American Top Team at the tournament with majesty. Besides having trouble with the weight a week before Hero's Cavalcanti was in England to fight Jes Liaudin at Cage Rage but didn't fight because his opponent felt sick JZ, as he is know by his mates, recovered his weight and did a marvelous job in the Japanese ring.
He narrates his story. "I was a little concerned but everything was fine thank God! I was expecting to exchange a little more on the feet. Because Hidetaka Monma was taller, I was expecting him to do the same game he did against Rodrigo Gracie at Mars, but during the beginning of the fight he tried to knee me and I kicked him and he fell to guard. I used my ground n' pound and attacked his foot, but he didn't tap out. He tried to escape and get my back, but I defended and started to punish him again from the guard, when the referee stopped the fight," JZ says. He also revealed a Japanese crew was impressed with his fight result and "They said I had a hard punch for my size and Monma was never submitted or KO'd before".
On the other side of the bracket, BJJ black belt Rani Yahira trained hard with Rickson Gracie and the BJJ lessons seems to pay dividends, even when the moments were bad. "I was not feeling okay before the fight. I was completly out of shape and I traveled to Japan to know the event's promoter and study a fight proposal. So, I got there and they offered me a chance to fight a day before the show. I accepted because K-1 is such a dream for every fighter. But I had to lose 5kg, and fought with no corner. But it was a great experience!" he tells.
He also commented about his fight: "It was great! I put him down and attempted a few submissions. I caught his back and mounted twice. I was sure I had won the first round. In the second round I was relaxed and I preferred some attacks from the bottom. In the last round I gave my best, I tried an arm-lock and a knee-bar and he defended well and I ended winning be referee's decision," explained the fighter, who by the way was the youngest fighter participating in the event. "From the 16 fighters, I was the youngest one. I'm 21 and I hope to fight another 20 Grand Prixs in my life," he exclaimed.
Now both Brazilian young fighters will meet again in Japan on August 5, in a new round of Hero's Lightweight GP. Brazil will wait and see!