Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

Otoko Matsuri (Man Festival) 2003
Shockwave 2003
12/31/03 Saitama Super Arena (39, 716)

Quinton Jackson vs. Ikuhisa Minowa

Minowa is an easy fighter to like because he puts himself on the line. He was overmatched, giving up 25 pounds to a top opponent who has the strength of a fighter that weighs 50 pounds more, but Minowa wasn’t going to stall or just try to survive. He surprised at times, getting a takedown at the outset (though Jackson landed on his side and took the top), landing a solid punch to start the second round, and stopping a Jackson slam cold with a guillotine that dropped him.

Minowa knew his only chance was to keep the fight on the mat. Jackson is too good a puncher, and if he ever got a hold of Minowa he’d slam him with ease. Jackson is so dangerous on his feet that when Minowa tried to straighten his arm he hooked his leg, and without even having any kind of head or neck control, spun Minowa over and dropped him like a driver.

Fighting on the mat with Jackson was no bargain for Minowa though. He kept him honest with his submissions, but he had to take way too much punishment waiting for an opportunity to try one. Minowa needs an open fight on the mat to have room for his submissions, but that allowed Jackson to maneuver into positions to knee. Jackson didn’t punch much, perhaps because he broke his hand early in the fight, but was particularly lethal with knees from the side mount. He never had a big flurry, but even though Minowa was trying to block with his arm and to move his head to avoid impact, Jackson had so many opportunities that it was just a matter of time. Minowa survived a round, but early in the second round he turned to his side to avoid the knees from side mount only to have Jackson take full mount. Jackson proceeded to pin Minowa’s head with his forearm and deliver a wicked knee to Minowa’s chin for the stoppage. The result was no surprise, but Minowa at least made Jackson work and showed enough submission ability that his winning was a slight possibility. Good fight. 2R 1:05

Heath Herring vs. Giant Silva

Another sideshow spectacle. Excuse me while I yawn. Silva has a head and 112 pounds (over 200 if you believe his wrestling weight) on Herring, but that doesn’t make him a fighter. In fact, he had about as little business in the ring as anyone that ever fought on a major MMA show. He was so slow he had to "run" at Herring to try to hit him with one of his wide looping overhand things that were supposed to pass as blows. Herring would just run away though, then attack when Silva was stationary. Herring had time to make fun of him, acting like a matador, and once this actually prompted Silva to charge.

Herring’s offense consisted almost entirely of low kicks. Silva has no speed or reflexes, and is clueless as to how to defend these, so Herring should have won quickly. Though his strategy was smart in and of itself, he could essentially land any type of low kick he wanted by virtue of Silva being so awful. However, beyond his accuracy being suspect Herring basically just kicked anywhere. I was initially going to compare this match to Marco Ruas vs. the Polar Bear Paul Varelans from UFC 7 9/8/95, but that would be an insult to Ruas’ precise highly effective attack. Because Herring was kicking the inside and outside of both legs, and not particularly well, he wasn’t even able to make Silva favor either leg in 10 minutes. Silva’s legs were beet red, so the damage was obvious. Herring would have won the decision by default, but even Silva, when needlessly given enough ring time, was able to finally get lucky and land a punch 9 minutes into the match.

Early in the second round Silva actually caught Herring’s foot though after a low kick, and wound up falling on him. However, Herring just slipped out the side and applied the hadakajime for the win. A boring tedious match. At best, it provided a few opportunities to laugh at the fighters, but if you just wanted to make yourself feel better at someone else’s expense the idiot box is littered with "reality" shows. 2R 0:35

Hayato "Mach" Sakurai vs. Daiju Takase

It’s rare that we get a bout between natives, and unfortunately this one won’t have the fans clamoring for more. For whatever reason Sakurai couldn’t seem to get started. Outside of guillotining Takase on a takedown, he did little in round 1. Takase wasn’t doing much either, but he was in control. After the restart he did bloody Sakurai’s nose, and he got a triangle at the bell.

Once Sakurai got going it was Takase that couldn’t do anything. Takase really only got one takedown in the first round, but he slowed the match down to the point that he was in control most of the time. Toward the end of the round Sakurai stopped all his takedown attempts, which grew more and more predictable, and from this point Takase, at best, was able to pull guard. Takase still tried for triangle holds, but his attempts were far from subtle and that was about all the offense he could muster. Meanwhile, Sakurai showed something of a ground and pound, which if nothing else avoided another yellow card restart that. The main things in Sakurai’s favor were he was getting the better of the brief standup periods, and he got all the remaining takedowns. Sakurai also had better stamina. Sakurai won the decision unanimously. 3R

Murilo Ninja Rua vs. Akira Shoji

Shoji was way out of his depth, as usual. He had Ninja down, but couldn’t control his body so Ninja was able to get back up. Standing, there was nothing Shoji could do but hold. Ninja bloodied his mouth early, and given a little room backed him up with a few punches and KO’d him with a deadly high knee to the side of the face. 1R 2:41

Royce Gracie vs. Hidehiko Yoshida

The defense was way ahead of the offense. Both are submission fighters, but they defend submissions so well there weren’t any openings. Both rounds were pretty much identical. Yoshida controlled the first half. He was looking for a leg submission, but mainly stood over Gracie holding onto his legs. Gracie would eventually get on top and take the mount, but he was only able to throw punches. Against a better striker Yoshida giving his back in both rounds would have meant sure defeat, but against Gracie it helped him avoid submission as he was able to guard his neck with one arm over and one arm under. As Gracie had lengthy opportunities to more or less take free shots, he did some damage and marked Yoshida’s face up. Gracie would have won the decision, but since he required special rules where there were no decisions, ref stops, or doctor stops to avoid another disgrace where PRIDE just took any opportunity to totally screw him, it goes down as a draw.
Despite the big names and all the build up, the match was just kind of there. The advantage changed a few times, but in a somewhat sloppy fashion. Since no one made good moves and you never felt like either was in trouble, the match didn’t get anywhere near the expected reaction. 2R (20:00)

Gary Goodridge Intai Jiai (Retirement Match): Gary Goodridge vs. Don Frye

One thing you have to say for Gary Goodridge, he entered and exited with a bang. While not as impressive as the savage series of elbows he put on Paul Herrera at UFC 8 2/16/96, this was another highlight film finish. It was actually reminiscent of one of Goodridge’s most memorable losses, the PRIDE.10 8/27/00 fight where Gilbert Yvel took him out with a high kick in 28 seconds. Goodridge was just too quick for Frye, whose mobility was also limited by injury. He got off first and he got through Frye’s defense every time, and with Goodridge’s power it doesn’t take many opportunities. 1R 0:27

Wataru Sakata vs. Daniel Gracie

Daniel replaced Ryan Gracie. He controlled position almost the entire fight. Sakata picked his foot for the takedown after Gracie used the bizarre tactic of releasing his front facelock and trying to knee while he was standing up. Otherwise, it was mainly Gracie using punches and knees. Sakata didn’t just take the blows and wait it out like Yoshida. Today he would have been better off though because he eventually he worked himself into a compromising position. He turned to his side after Gracie had mounted, and I don’t know what he was thinking but he just kind of put the free arm out to push or hit Gracie away. In any case, Gracie grabbed it and went into the udehishigigyakujujigatame. Sakata seemed to be thinking about his days as a worker in RINGS because he put off tapping way too long. He tried rolling and kicking Gracie in the face several times, which is all good, but he was in the arm bar for around 35 seconds before the ref stopped it, and that’s way too long. He walked out, but wearing a homemade sling. 1R 7:12

Yuki Kondo vs. Mario Sperry

Bigger opponents give Kondo trouble. He’s lost to Jason Godsey, Semmy Schilt, Tito Ortiz, Vladimir Matyushenko, & Josh Barnett. Sperry had about 25 pounds on him, but wasn’t able to overpower him. When Kondo is able to move he’s extremely tough to beat.

Movement is what made this match so good while it lasted. Both guys were always on the go. The best sequence started with Kondo in the guard and Sperry trying for a leg lock. Kondo sat out and tried to take Sperry over into an udehishigigyakujujigatame, but Kondo wasn’t able to catch the arm and wound up on his back again. Now Sperry, who maintained control of the leg was able to try a heel hold, but Kondo is so used to defending moves like that. He bent Sperry’s ankle a bit, and Sperry quickly decided to move on to something else.

Kondo’s sprawl was the key to the match. Sperry had been holding on to him, and finally he drove him across the ring hoping to complete the takedown. Kondo backpedaled with his body at a diagonal, keeping his legs as far away as possible while leaning and pushing on Sperry’s back. When Sperry dove, he grabbed nothing and was simply shoved into the mat. Kondo had already done some damage to Sperry’s left eye, and now he was kneeing it from side mount. Of course, Sperry kept turning and Kondo would react to that and keep the top, but the ref quickly stepped in because Sperry was bleeding pretty badly. Unfortunately, the doctor had to stop the fight. It was a good stoppage, but this had all the makings of an excellent match. 1R 3:27

Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Rony Sefo

I’ve been waiting for PRIDE to wake up and give Tamura some of the easy fights they give to guys that’ll never make them any money. It finally happened, though now that it’s almost 2 years too late, who knows how much good it’ll do.

Sefo is the younger brother of the famous K-1 kickboxer Ray Sefo. He may also be good in kickboxing, but in his MMA debut he didn’t get to show any of it. What we saw was a guy with little idea what he was doing in takedown and ground defense. Tamura had him down and moved on to the mount before Sefo knew what hit him. Tamura doesn’t like to ground and pound and wasn’t worried about getting reversed, so he waited out Sefo’s holding. When Sefo began punching from the bottom, Tamura seized the opening and won with the udehishigigyakujujigatame. 1R 2:20

Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Sakuraba saved another show. With these two you’d expect a mat clinic, but there was almost no ground fighting at all. Nogueira charged right in with a knee that stunned Sakuraba, and did four more from the clinch before Sakuraba got free and regained his bearings. Their striking styles were completely different. Sakuraba would keep his distance, using half steps, bobs, and feints to try to sneak in with one strike and escape before Nogueira fired back. This style is fine when your goal isn’t to fight standup, but over the course of 20 minutes it’s very difficult for a non kickboxer type to beat a competitive fighter through hit and run. Nogueira had a lot more power and would charge in throwing, looking for the combination. This hurt him once, as he was cut above the eye when he stepped into a right hand.

I’m not sure whether Sakuraba’s plan changed because of the cut, but he certainly gained a lot of confidence in his standing ability and became more aggressive. Sakuraba probably wasn’t going to go down anyway, but we didn’t see him stay up and try to kick when Nogueira was on his back until after this point. This was a highly successful technique for Sakuraba against the Gracie clan, but Nogueira used kicks to protect himself. Other than this time when he stayed up, Sakuraba used the takedown attempt defensively. If Nogueira connected he’d drop down and grab the leg, more to avoid a flurry than to get a chance at a different position. Sakuraba has got hurt doing this, but Nogueira is a punch and occasionally knee type, not someone with educated feet like Wanderlei Silva.

Nogueira tried to get Sakuraba to come down and meet him on the mat when Sakuraba was standing over him, but he wasn’t trying takedowns of his own, content to beat Sakuraba with his fists. The exception was Nogueira dropping down with a guillotine with a minute left in round 1. After this segment it seemed wise for Sakuraba not to fight with Nogueira on the ground because almost as soon as Sakuraba pulled his head out of the guillotine Nogueira had him in a triangle. Sakuraba’s arm was in the lock, so it wasn’t as dangerous though Nogueira put pressure on the wrist to try to compensate.

This fight always could have gone either way, so the crowd was really into it. Sakuraba was in control more, and gave the fans enough to scream about. However, he didn’t have a lot of success offensively, just landing a leg kick here and there. Nogueira had some good sequences where he put together a few hard blows. He was also inconsistent, but now and then he showed the potential to finish while Sakuraba didn’t. Nogueira had the cut, but Sakuraba had several marks on his face from various solid punches, especially around the nose. Just before the match ended he slipped backing away and was stuck sitting prone. Nogueira got 3 kicks in before the bell and one after, busting Sakuraba’s mouth all up. Sakuraba spitting blood water out after the match looked like a splatter effect. Sakuraba was competitive throughout, but rightfully lost a unanimous decision. Very good match, easily the best on the show since Kondo vs. Sperry wound up being so short. 3R

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* MMA Review Copyright 2003 Quebrada *