3/3 Nagoya Rainbow Hall 10,000
Mirco Cro Cop beat 2001 Grand Prix champion Mark Hunt via unanimous decision.
Ray Sefo beat Mike Bernardo via unanimous decision.
Jerome Le Banner KO'd Hiromi Amada at 1:42 of R1.
Ishii wants to run a giant show in a 101,000 seat soccer stadium in Yokohama. This would be in conjunction with DSE & Inoki, with the key drawing matches most likely under PRIDE rules.

8/19: IWGP Champion Loses Shoot To Kickboxing Star

Fujita bleeding on Crocop from Nikkan Sports

K-1 JAPAN GP Kesshosen K-1 ANDY MEMORIAL 2001 in Saitama 8/19 Saitama Super Arena 18,200
K-1 won the initial 3 match series with NJ 2-1. Mirko Cro Cop beat IWGP champion Kazuyuki Fujita at 1:39 of R1 when the doctor stopped the match because Fujita was bleeding profusely. Cro Cop had prepared himself for Fujita's takedowns. He was able to avoid the 1st few attempts while getting his timing down then he crushed Fujita with a knee kick that knocked off a portion of flesh from the side of Fujita's face in the area near his left eyebrow. Fujita, whose claim to fame is absorbing big blows and outlasting his (seemingly chemically "enhanced") opponents might have been able to do it again. He was not knocked out by the blow. In fact, he took Cro Cop down this time and got side mount. He was in control, but there was blood everywhere so the doctor made the right move in stopping it even though Fujita wanted to continue. Fujita had to get 13 stitches to close the cut. It will be interesting to see what effect this has because the wrestler is supposed to beat the kickboxer and Fujita is also one of PRIDE's top stars losing to a guy who hadn't done any shoots in Japan in PRIDE's home arena. It sounds like it came off as Fujita being unlucky though because he achieved his goal and, although momentarily stunned, was in control. With the lack of standups we conveniently see in Fujita matches, he would likely have rode Cro Cop the whole round, "winning it" even though he did no damage. As Fujita's ability to take punishment is famous, this would likely have been a typical round for him had it not been for the exceptionally nasty cut. K-1 definitely gains a lot here because PRIDE has replaced them as the in thing, and this is an important win over PRIDE essentially under PRIDE's Vale Tudo rules which obviously put a kickboxer at a big disadvantage.
Gary Goodridge made Jan "The Giant" Nortje submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 1:11. Nortje, who is pretty much only notable for his size, was clueless once it hit the mat. After taking him down, Goodridge used mount punches to open up the arm bar.
Rene Rooze TKO'd Tadao Yasuda at 9 seconds of round 3. So much for making Yasuda a star when after his big G-1 he goes right out and gets beat by a Holland kickboxer that never really meant anything in RINGS. Yasuda was at least about to take Rooze down, but he lacks the submission or striking skills necessary to win there. Even though he was on top, Rooze is far better conditioned. As the bout progressed Yasuda wasn't able to take Rooze down anymore and Rooze did some damage with his strikes, ultimately putting him out with two left knees and a high kick. Yasuda suffered a concussion from this, so he'll be shelved for a little while.
The Japan version of the Grand Prix was won by the only foreigner, Denmark's Nicholas Pettas. Pettas is allowed to enter this version because he's married to a Japanese woman and lives in the country. He beat the top native star, Musashi, who took over for Masaake Satake as the lone native representative by winning this tournament the past two years. It was a quick fight with Pettas KO'ing Muasashi at 1:26 of R1.


K-1 has agreed to do a problem with Inoki's fighters. No specific details have been announced, but the first match will likely be on the 8/19 K-1 show.


There's a proposed puroresu vs. K-1 all star card. 10 of Inoki's guys (Ogawa, Murakami, Fujita, Satake, Yasuda, Frye, Johnston, Coleman, Hashimoto, and possibly Nagata) would face 10 of K-1's best (Aerts and Musashi were mentioned as possible co-main eventers), with the fans getting to vote on the matchups and some money going to charity.
Jerome Le Banner might have a vale tudo rules match on the 8/19 K-1 Japan Grand Prix show.


Supposedly the promotion is trying to put together a Mike Bernardo vs. Mike Tyson match.


Ryushi Yanagisawa & Nobuaki Kakuta are two fighters K-1 President Ishii suggested for K-1 vs. Puroresu matches on the ZERO-ONE debut show. Yanagisawa did works with PWFG before going to Pancrase with Funaki, Suzuki, Shamrock, and co. Kakuta did works in RINGS before going to K-1 with Satake and the other Seido Kaikan guys when Ishii formed that company.
Jerome Le Banner vs. Mike Bernardo will be the main event of the 3/17 K-1 show at Kanagawa Yokohama Arena. The idea of the match is that it's the two best punchers in the history of the promotion.Le Banner is younger and has a lot more left in the tank. He's beaten Bernardo both times they've fought, so he should win again unless he's still not 100% (he cancelled his appearance in the December Grand Prix finals due to illness). The thing is there's some magic that seems to always happen in K-1 to keep the top fighters pretty even. Unlike sports like boxing and other kickboxing leagues where the same guys tend to always lose to the same guys because they just aren't as good or don't match up well, since Le Banner and Bernardo have always been on a similar level (the second tier below Hoost, Aerts, & Hug), in K-1 Le Banner winning again would be an abberition.


Frank Shamrock is interested in fighting on K-1's 12/10 Tokyo Dome show. Although it's not even close to his strength, it looks like his match would be under regular K-1 kickboxing rules. If so, it's a bizarre move for someone who could get big money (although not Gracie money, well I'm sure more than Ryan but you know what I mean, even though he'd beat all of them with ease) for a main event against Kazushi Sakuraba to return after 13 months for a fight where his submissions will be useless and his conditioning probably won't even be a strengh since it's not the style he regularly trains in. The exposure will be great for reestablishing his name in Japan, but Maurice Smith can't even win in K-1 even though he was an awesome kickboxer in his prime and Igor Vovchanchyn also failed in his return to his roots (granted against probably the best kickboxer in the world) so for once it should be very hard for Frank to succeed. It certainly depends on his opponent, and it's never wise to say Frank will fail, but I don't see where he gains (other than monetarily) unless he wins.

8/24: Andy Hug Dead At 35

Andy Hug picture from Nikkan Sports

K-1's biggest star, Andy Hug, died suddenly of from internal bleeding of the brain caused by leukemia at the age of 35. Hug had flu like symptoms such as a high fever since the 15th. On the 19th he was examined by K-1 ring doctor Kenji Nakayama. His fever was going up really high for 5 minute intervals then coming down, but never to a normal level. He also had an enlarged tumor in the left part of his brain, and pain in the left side of his neck. After this examination, he was sent to a Tokyo hospital where they detected acute front bone marrow leukemia (or something to that effect, this kind of stuff is really hard to translate properly). Hug still vowed to beat this and return to the ring. Unfortunately, his health took a turn for the worse that he never recovered from on the 23rd, as the brain problem was causing him to have respiratory problems and lose function of the rest of his body, including his heart stopping several times. 10 days ago he was a well conditioned and healthy fighter in the twilight of a great career, but at 6:21 P.M. on the 24th he was gone.
Hug was considered the ace of the promotion, as he won the K-1 Grand Prix in '96 and was runner up in '97 and '98. He was revered for his Samurai spirit, winning an award for the person who had even more Samurai spirit than the Japanese. He was one of the featured players in a promotion that became the rage in Japan for a few years even though there were no great Japanese fighters, and only one that had no chance of winning on the biggest show of each year, The Grand Prix Finals in December at the Tokyo Dome. Not surprisingly, he was incredibly popular in his home country of Switzerland where he would headline one K-1 show per year, which would sellout. His popularity in Japan was much more impressive though, as he was one of the only modern foreign fighters that could be considered a celebrity or household name. Being one of the most successful fighters on several network specials that drew monster ratings certainly helped, but although he was nicknamed Mr. K-1, he really was not as good as Ernesto Hoost or Peter Aerts. However, he had the "movie star look" to go along with his success, and he also studied Japanese history and theory, so advertisers hired him to pitch their products. Thus, commercials for products like deodorant featuring Andy Hug were on shows that had nothing to do with kickboxing.
Hug originally focused on karate, debuting in Japan at the age of 19 for a world tournament in January of 1984. He didn't have too much success that year, but In 1987 he made was the runner up. He won his weight class in the European karate championships in 1989. In 1992, he switched his focus to Seido Kaikan style. He won the Karate W Cup championship and his second European karate tournament that year.
He debuted in K-1 on 11/15/93, KO'ing Ryuji Murahama in the first round. He scored a big decision win over Branko Cikatic on 3/4/94, but was then upset by Patrick Smith in the first round of the Grand Prix Tournament. He avenged that first round KO with one of his own on 9/18/94.
1995 was Hug's toughest year as he was once again upset in the first round of the Grand Prix Tournament, this time a 3rd round TKO loss to Mike Bernardo, and he also lost to Hoost via decision on 7/16 and was KO'd in the second round of the Bernardo rematch on 9/3.
In 1996, he more than got back on track as he went 8-0 including a decision win over Hoost in the Grand Prix Semifinal and a 2nd round KO of Bernardo to win the Grand Prix on 5/6. He also KO'd Stan The Man in the second round on 9/1 and won decisions over K-1 Japan's top fighters, Masaaki Satake and Musashi, on 10/1 & 12/8 respectively.
Hug was KO'd by Aerts in the first round on 3/16 and helped create a new star on 7/20 by getting KO'd in the first round by newcomer Francisco Fihlo basically the first time Fihlo, as a professional, had ever thrown a punch. He did defeat Bernardo via decison on 6/7, and made a good run in the Grand Prix on 11/9, scoring a first round KO over Satake and avenging his loss to Aerts via decision before losing a decision to Hoost in the final.
In 1998, Hug was dominant again. He won all 7 of his matches before losing to Aerts, who he had beat via decision on 6/6, in the Grand Prix final. The loss to Aerts, moreso than Aerts being better, was a typical tournament situation where more had been taken out of Hug in the previous matches, particularly his semifinal victory over Sam Greco, which was an excellent grueling fight. This is when K-1's popularity began to decline because it started being the same guys winning over and over as Fihlo was the only new star, and he really wasn't as good as the "same old guys," as shown by his loss to Bernardo in the quarterfinals.
1999 was the same story as 1998, except it came to a disappointing end when Hug lost in the Grand Prix two rounds earlier. He went 5-0 with a 4th round TKO over Ray Sefo on 4/25, and decision wins over Stefan Leko & Maurice Smith on 6/5 and 8/22 respectively. He only managed to beat Hiromi Amada in the Grand Prix, knocking him out in the first round on 10/3. This set up a quarterfinal bout with Hoost, so it was a situation where one of the top guys had to lose right away on the Tokyo Dome show, and Hoost, who was able to score the decision win, also went on to win the Grand Prix for the 2nd time.
This year Hug had won all four of his fights. He just had what was billed as his final match in Switzerland before a sellout 14,000 on 6/3, beating Mirco Filipovic, the '99 Grand Prix runner up, by decision to retain his WKA World Muah Thai Super Heavyweight Championship. He was planning on starring in action movies when he retired altogether.

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