The WORLD TITLE SERIES ~GRAND FINAL~ on 2/15 at Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan will be the last card for RINGS. The writing has been on the wall since WOWOW cut down their funds last March, resulting in all the natives with any name other than Kanehara & Kosaka leaving. They already had major problems competing with the far better funded PRIDE, who would steal all the foreigners that were successful in RINGS by paying them more than RINGS could afford. With recent cards not drawing that great due to the lack of marketable names and WOWOW announcing that they wouldn't be renewing the television contract when it expires in March, the promotion opted to tap out. RINGS was the oldest of the shoot style pro wrestling organization still in existence, having started in May 1991 after the 2nd U.W.F split up. Although UWF-I had by far the best run of the three offshoots (PWFG, which never really gained any following and was a non-factor after Funaki, Suzuki, & Shamrock left to form Pancrase in '93 being the other), selling out most of their shows in 1993-94 with the peak being a 46,168 sellout of Jingu Kyujo for the first (worst but still excellent) of the three Takada vs. Vader matches, they were virtually dead by the end of 1995 (NJ kept them afloat long enough to rob them of all their credibility). With Maeda, RINGS had the staying power to remain a force, but eventually everyone has to retire. They tried to make Tamura, the far superior worker and shooter who did have charisma, his successor, but he never got over to near the same extent. They tried changing the style several times because the worked shoot (which with guys like Tamura, Han, Yamamoto, & Kosaka they did better than any promotion that ever existed) was becoming passe with easy access to high profile shoot shows. They went to a few shoots on every show (from one or none) with some having some profile with credible outsiders and the promotions stars involved, having the works look like shoots, and finally going to all shoots. The main problem, the same as every promotion seems to face is that the next generation is always seen as lesser than the previous generation. Maeda was a cult hero. No matter how old, out of shape, and uncredible he was no younger guy would ever be able to replace him no matter how many times they beat him or how hard he tried to pass the torch (not that he tried incredibly hard). Of course, with all shoots it's hard to create a sustained draw because guys lose to little known guys and at inopportune times, plus the shelf life is so short that guys are usually past their prime by the time they've made their name. When it became painfully obvious RINGS couldn't compete with PRIDE - their champion Yvel leaving almost as soon as he won the title - they were doomed because they were a promotion that ran few shows at large arenas. Even though their product was better, usually far better, they came off as 2nd rate and it's hard to motivate 4,000+ fans to attend your major shows when you seem more like the farm league.


8/11 Tokyo Ariake Coliseum
Matt Hughes defeated Hiromitsu Kanehara via 2-0 decision after 3 rounds.
Tsuyoshi Kosaka KO'd Grom Koba at 2:17 of R1.
Fedor Emelianenko won the heavyweight title decision tournament. He only won one match, beating Renato Babalu by 3-0 decision after 3 rounds, as Bobby Hoffman had to forfeit the final. Hoffman had beaten Mikhail Ilyukhin via TKO after 2R.
Ricardo Arona won the middleweight title decision tournament. He beat Jeremy Horn via 2-0 decision after 2 rounds then KO'd Gustavo Ximu in 1:29 of R1. Ximu had beaten Christopher Haseman via decision after an extension.
In his debut match, Hirotaka Yokoi made Ricardo Fyeet submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 2:34 or R1.
Volk Han had a 10 minute exhibition match (work) with Yoshiaki Fujiwara.


10th ANNIVERSARY WORLD TITLE SERIES 4/20 Tokyo Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo Dai-nitaiikukan 3.670 "sellout"
World Title Kettei Tournament

Heavykyu Ikkaisen: Fedor Emelianenko made Kerry Schall submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 1:47 of R1.
Middlelyu Ikkaisen: Jeremy Horn made Iouri Bekichev submit to a katagatame at 0:50 of R1.
Heavykyu Ikkaisen: Bobby Hoffman won a decision over Ryushi Yanagisawa 3-0.
Middlekyu Ikkaisen: Gustavo Ximu won a decision over Kiyoshi Tamura 2-0.


RINGS will hold an 8 man tournament in each weight class to decide the first champion. Middleweight will be more than 75kg and less than 90. Heavyweight will be more than 90kg. These two tournaments plus the indiscriminate weight class tournament will begin in April and end in August. The idea is to have 2 fights from each class per show.


WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT 2000 KING of KINGS =GRAND FINAL= 2/24 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan 10,260
KING of KINGS Quarterfinals
Kanehara KO'd Dave Menne at 3:24 of the extra round.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira won a 3-0 decision over Han.
Couture won a 3-0 decision over Kosaka. Kosaka did have a good flurry of punches to the stomach. He'd like a rematch in UFC.
Valentijn Overeem made Norihisa Yamamoto submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame 45 seconds into round 1.

In a special match, Alistair Overeem made Vladimer Tchanturia submit to a hadakajime at 1:06 of round 1.

KoK Semifinals
Nogueira made Kanehara submit to a hadakajime at 0:27 of round 2. A bone under Kanehara's left eye was reinjured (a fracture) during the Menne match, so he was in a lot of pain, especially when Nogueira hit him around the same spot. Kanehara, whose stock has risen due to being the only native to make it to the semifinals, would like a rematch when he's healthy.
Overeem quickly upset UFC Heavyweight Champion Couture, forcing him to submit to a neck lock at 0:56 of round 1.

Special matches
Ryushi Yanagisawa won a 2-1 decision over Sakata.
Renato Babalu won a 2-0 decision over Tamura

Nogueira made Overeem submit to a katagatame at 1:20 of round 1. Nogueira won $200,000 for winning the 32 man tournament. He devoted the victory to his 4 month old daughter. Nogueira, who eliminated RINGS legends Tamura & Han during the tournament, is now being called "successor to Rickson" since he's looking to get Sakuraba to fight him so he can prove that BJJ is #1.

RINGS is going to have champions by weight class for the first time. They will keep the Musabetsukyu Oza (unlimited weight) title that was vacated when Yvel jumped, but also create a middleweight and lightweight. These titles will be decided by tournaments. Maeda wants to make the Musabetsukyu Oza a big deal like the KING of KINGS, getting some of the best fighters, having a large monetary prize for the winner, inviting Karelin, etc. At least one of the other two will probably be held on the 10th anniversary show this spring.


Wataru Sakata vs. Ryushi Yanagisawa was added to the 2/24 KoK finals show.
Takehiro Murahama will appear on the 3/20 Tokyo Korakuen Hall show.


RINGS announced the bracketing for the rest of the WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING of KINGS on 2/24:at Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan. The big match is Tsuyoshi Kosaka vs. UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture. Volk Han was done no favors, as his opponent is Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera. Hiromitsu Kanehara got lucky because he got equally undersized Dave Menne. Finally, Yoshihisa Yamamoto faces Valentijn Overeem, who he's defeated quickly both time they met (3/22/99 & 9/15/99).


WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING of KINGS B BLOCK on 12/22:Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan 4,277 (rather exaggerated)
It looked like RINGS was in big trouble because the A Block turned out pretty awful for them in regards to making their fighters look good (Valentijn Overeem was the only guy that advanced that you could call a RINGS guy) and the prospects of drawing for the final on 2/24 at Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan. This show was just the opposite. If they could have had their pick of the four guys that would advance to Ryogoku, they probably would have chose the four that really did because they are all their regular stars who have been there for a while and have some drawing power (Kanehara being the newest and least over, but he's been there since early '98 after being with competitors, UWF-I and Kingdom, since the early 90's).

Round 1
Volk Han KO'd Lee Hasdell 8 seconds into round 2. Han had promised he was going to learn striking, but what makes this so impressive is that Hasdell is still a quality kickboxer.
Yoshihisa Yamamoto made Bitadze Amerin submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 4:38 of round 1.
Tsuyoshi Kosaka KO'd Illioukhine Mikhail at 1:53 of round 2.
Hiromitsu Kanehara made Alexandre Cacareco submit to an arm lock at 2:45 of round 2.
In probably the worst result of the night for RINGS, Tom Sauer upset longtime RINGS fighter Andrei Kopylov by KO'ing him in a mere 10 seconds.
Bobby Hoffman KO'd Joop Kasteel 43 seconds into round 1.
Christopher Haseman upset Carlos Baretto, who was a favorite to advance to the finals, winning a 3-0 decision after 2 rounds.
Emilianenko Fedor won a 3-0 decison over Ricardo Arona after 3 rounds.

Round 2
Han outlasted Hoffman, winning a 3-0 decision after 3 rounds.
Kanehara got the win back for RINGS, KO'ing Sauer with a left high kick and right and left hand punches at 4:14 of round 1.
Kosaka beat Fedor on TKO when the doctor stopped the bout 17 seconds into the first round due to a bad cut.
Yamamoto KO'd Haseman with three left low kicks at 3:51 of round 1.


RINGS announced the full lineup for WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING of KINGS B BLOCK on 12/22:
Volk Han vs. Lee Hasdell
Yoshihisa Yamamoto vs. Bitadze Amerin
Tsuyoshi Kosaka vs. Illioukhine Mikhail. It's weird that they'd switch their brackets around to give TK this tough of a 1st round match, especially when Tamura is already out
Hiromitsu Kanehara vs. Alexandre Cacareco. Cacareco is Luta Livre fighter from Brazil. He's a little under 200 pounds, but he's supposed to be very quick and technical. His lightning fast takedowns earned him the nickname "bullet tackle." He holds victories over Renato Babalu, Bob Schreiber, & Shannon "The Cannon" Rich. He drew Heath Herring, but apparently he took Heath Herring down and dominated him, it's just that he couldn't put him away and there were no decisions.
Andrei Kopylov vs. Tom Sauer. Sauer is an American who has been doing wrestling (he was state champion in Florida in his weight class during high school), karate, and kempo since he was a kid. He also trains in boxing, muay thai, judo, etc. Sauer has been on some RINGS shows this year, just none that eminated from Japan. He won a couple matches in the RISING STAR tournament, including a KO over Valentijn Overeem before getting TKO'd by Aaron Brink in September.
Joop Kasteel vs. Bobby Hoffman
Christopher Haseman vs. Carlos Baretto
Ricardo Arona vs. Emiliyaenko Hyodor (sp?)


RINGS announced a partial lineup for WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING of KINGS B BLOCK on 12/22. The funny thing is, the only match they actually announced was Volk Han vs. Lee Hasdell. Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Tsuyoshi Kosaka, Hiromitsu Kanehara, Andrei Kopylov, Illioukhine Mikhail, Joop Kasteel, Christopher Haseman, Ricardo Arona, & Emiliyaenko Hyodor (sp?) will all face one of the other 7 guys they come up with in first round matches.


WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT 2000 KING of KINGS A Block 10/9 Tokyo Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo Dai-nitaiikukan 4,600 sellout
This was a really strong showing for RINGS going against the AJ vs. NJ show that drew 64,000 in the same area. The problem is the one guy that really needed to win both of his matches didn't do so, which doesn't bode well for the finals unless they can come up with a very interesting special match for him.To make things worse, not one native made it out of A Block. All matches were tournament matches under KING of KINGS Tournament rules, which means two five minute rounds with an extra round if it's ruled a draw.

1st Round

Kiyoshi Tamura beat Grom Zaza (subbing for Brad Kohler, which had to really suck for Tamura since Zaza is a great wrestler) via decision 3-0.
Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera made Labazanoz Arhmed submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 1:38 of round 1.
Ryushi Yanagisawa made Boris Jeliazkov submit to an ashikubigatame at 3:45 of round 1.
Randy Couture vs. Jeremy Horn went overtime before Couture won a 3-0 decision
Renato Babalu made Bitsadze Tariel submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 2:56.
Valentijn Overeem got a 1st round TKO over highly touted sambo master Balachinsky Suren when the ref stopped the bout at 2:13.
Dave Menne beat Wataru Sakata via decision 3-0.
Robert Travan beat Borisov Mikhail via decision 3-0.

2nd Round

Menne won a 3-0 decision over Travan after overtime.
Overeem scored his second impressive win, forcing last year's finalist Babalu to submit to an ashikubigatame at 2:19. Overeem is a guy that's always capable of winning, but I'd never expect the kickboxer to get a quick submission win over Babalu.
Couture won a 2-0 decision over Yanagisawa.
Noguiera made Tamura submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 2:29 of round 2.


The bracketing for A Block of the WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT 2000 KING of KINGS on 10/9 is as follows:
Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Brad Kohler
Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera vs. Labazanoz Afmed (sp)
Ryushi Yanagisawa (making his RINGS debut) vs. Boris Jeliazkov
Randy Couture vs. Jeremy Horn
Bitsadze Tariel vs. Renato Babalu
Balchinski Slen (?) vs. Valentijn Overeem
Dave Menne vs. Wataru Sakata
Borisov Mikhail vs. Robert Travan


BATTLE GENESIS Vol. 6 9/5 Tokyo Korakuen Hall 1,788
Gustavo Ximu beat Wataru Sakata when the doctor stopped the fight at 1:35 of round one due to a head cut.
Takehiro Murahama, the former K-1 featherweight champion who now does works in Osaka Puroresu, made his RINGS debut making Pat Miletich student Gabriel Lemley submit to an arm lock at 7:13 of round 1.
There was a 4 man tournament over the right to fight on the next W.E.F. show. The final saw Naoyuki Kotani make Tashirou Nishiuchi of Tamura's U-FILE CAMP submit to an udehishigigyakujujigatame in 32 seconds. Kotani's other match was a 42 second win over Kiyohito Sugata via doctor stop, so he won the tournament without even logging 1:15 of ring time. Nishiuchi won a 3-0 decision over Tomotsugo Fujiwara in the first round of the tournament, so that may have given Kotani a big stamina advantage.


Millenium Combine III 8/23 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan 4,270
Kiyoshi Tamura beat UFC Lightweight champ Pat Miletich via 2-0 decision after 15:00. Another big win for Tamura. Although some consider Miletich to be past his prime, it's not like anyone has been beating him when he has fought. If that's really the case, which I tend to doubt, the win could seem less important in a year or two than it does now, but it's not like the average Japanese fan goes around thinking that Alexander Otsuka's win over Marco Ruas was no big deal.
Tsuyoshi Kosaka went to a 15:00 draw with King of Kings runner up Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Valentijn Overeem (subbing for Kanehara) made Joe Slick submit to an akiresukengatame (Achilles' tendon hold) in just 36 seconds, so it was not a good night for the Miletich camp.
Ricardo Arona beat Jeremy Horn via 2-1 decision after 15:00.
Dan Severn won a 3-0 decision from Andrei Kopylov.
Matt Hughes won a 3-0 decison from Christopher Haseman. Miletich's guys won one fight, but Hughes is a dominant fighter and, although Haseman is good, it would have been a major upset if he defeated Hughes.


RINGS announced the main matches for their 8/23 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan show. Tsuyoshi Kosaka gets a tough opponent for his return in Japan, as he faces Brazilian Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the main event. Dan Severn will make his RINGS debut against Andrei Kopylov, so Kopylov's typical size advantage will be negated. The other matches announced were Jeremy Horn vs. Brazil's Ricardo Arona and Hiromitsu Kanehara vs. Joe Slick.


Millenium Combine II 6/15 Tokyo Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo Dai-nitaiikukan 3,360
39-year-old Volk Han won the first MMA shoot match of his career, making Brandan Lee Hinkle submit to his udehishigigyakujujigatame at 8:11. Han was a submission god in the 80's and early 90's before getting into works, where he was the most incredible submission wrestler ever. As the company has moved from more works than shoots to all shoots, Han, who is the top foreigner in the history of the company and has by far the most RINGS matches of any active competitor, hasn't been used much. They tried to use him a few times since they went to all shoot, but he always wound up cancelled the fight because his knee wasn't ready yet. Hinkle isn't a great fighter, but he's a very tough guy to be facing in your first shoot, so this is definitely a step toward proving Han is the real deal and can still go.
Renato Babalu won a unanimous decision over Hiromitsu Kanehara after 15:00. Kanehara is incredibly underrated as a worker, but he's hardly a main eventer in shoots, where he's generally overpowered by bigger stronger men who take him down and use ground and pound.
Bobby Hoffman KO'd Allister Overeem at 9:39.
Valentijn Overeem made Brad Kohler submit to a hizajujigatame in just 31 seconds.
Ryuki Ueyama of Kiyoshi Tamura's U-FILE camp was able to hold Dave Menne to a 15 minute majority draw. One judge gave the fight to Menne, who had been looking really impressive of late.

RINGS President Akira Maeda attacked Pancrase President Masami Ozaki on 5/25 because he believed that Ozaki was trying to convince Jeremy Horn to jump to Pancrase. Horn worked in Japan for Pancrase before RINGS, so Ozaki knew him from those days. This was the day before the Colloseum 2000 show that rivals RINGS and Pancrase were participating in, so Ozaki and Horn saw each other in the hotel and wound up having a friendly chat in the tea room. Maeda, whose champion Gilbert Yvel recently was stolen by DSE, was told that Ozaki was trying to headhunt though, so he lost his temper, found Ozaki, and physically attacked him. This was not a wrestling angle. Ozaki suffered legitimate injuries to the back, neck, and mouth, so he filed assault charges against Maeda. This kind of makes it hard to feel sorry for Maeda in regards to the Yoji Anjo cheapshot. As far as the Yvel situation goes, RINGS and DSE reached an agreement with RINGS basically losing because Yvel is staying in DSE full time. As a result, Yvel was stripped of the title.


Akira Maeda returned to Japan and was furious when he found out that PRIDE is trying to steal their champion, Gilbert Yvel. Maeda claims that RINGS agreed to send Yvel to PRIDE for one match, which would be on the upcoming PRIDE.9 show, but PRIDE announced they had signed a 6 match contract with Yvel. PRIDE claims Yvel's contract with RINGS was up after the 4/20 match where he won the title from Tamura, so whatever previous agreement they had shouldn't matter. If the contract proves to be valid then Maeda will strip Yvel of the title, but obviously he wants to keep Yvel rather than have to do that. If the title is stripped then it may be combined with the planned RINGS America belt that will be decided later this year.


Millenium Combine 4/20 Tokyo Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo Dai-nitaiikukan 3,600
In Exhibit 1 of why RINGS should not be an all shoot promotion, Gilbert Yvel KO'd Kiyoshi Tamura at 13:13 to capture the RINGS Musabetsukyu Oza Title. Like TK, Tamura apparently took a ton of punishment from Yvel's lethal strikes. Now instead of going into the Tokyo Dome on 5/26 as RINGS champion, Tamura goes in there as a somewhat banged up guy that's been doing too many shoots in a short period of time. His opponent, Jeremy Horn, made short work of Yoshihisa Yamamoto in the semifinal, forcing him to submit to a katagatame at 2:50. Horn shoots even more than Tamura so it's not like Tamura will be going against a guy that's taken 6 months off to train, but since Maeda retired and Kosaka was no longer himself because of doing so many shoots against top opponents (he should be fine as long as he can keep his schedule down), the fate of the company is basically on Tamura's shoulders (not that they will fold or anything, but this match didn't even draw and this is after Tamura got the most important win of his life, so the idea that going to all shoots has allowed them to rise above their mediocre showing at the box office in 1999 is not likely to be true in the long run if even the short run). If Horn loses to Tamura than it's definitely a setback, but no one company is putting all their eggs in his basket and he'll still get plenty of bookings from plenty of promoters.
Brazilian Ricardo Arona won a 2 round decision from Andrei Kopylov 3-0.
Renato Babalu continued his winning ways, taking out Travis Fulton with an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 4:49.
Bobby Hoffman KO'd Boris Jeliazkov at 8:00.


RINGS announced the card for their 4/20 show at Tokyo Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo Dai-nitaiikukan, which was the location of the A Block of the KING of KINGS tournament. The main event is Kiyoshi Tamura defending the RINGS Musabetsukyu Oza Title against Gilbert Yvel. This will be a very interesting match because RINGS has been all shoot since October, but every title match (the last defense was August) has been worked. Either way it should be an excellent match because Tamura can carry anyone but perhaps Tariel (Yvel hasn't really done works, but Tamura got over *** out of Overeem in his first shoot), and both of these guys are top notch shooters. If it's a shoot, it'll come down to whether Tamura can keep Yvel down. Yvel is like the second coming of Bas Rutten, he'll shread anyone in standup, but is succeptable to takedowns. Still, Tsuyoshi Kosaka was able to take him down countless times during their excellent 4/23/99 match, the thing is he couldn't do anything once he got him there (which is uncharacteristic of TK) and wound up taking a ton of punishment because he couldn't keep him down. Tamura won't tire like Kosaka did (also uncharacteristic of TK), but he also doesn't have the size and strength to muscle Yvel down, but neither did Dan Henderson although you can't compare Tamura in takedowns to an Olympic wrestler.
Yoshihisa Yamamoto, in his first match since being injured on 10/22/99, faces Jeremy Horn. Horn will probably win a decision.
They are trying Volk Han vs. Bobby Hoffman again. This was scheduled for 2/26, but Han couldn't get healthy in time so Hoffman wound up KO'ing Grom Zaza in 34 seconds.
KING of KINGS runner up Renato Babalu is being brought back already (good), and will face Hiromitsu Kanehara. Kanehara is expected to lose so they can't really lose here because either a native gets a big win or Babalu looks strong again and is elevated to at least close to the top of the card.

2/26: Little Dan Wins Big Tournament

Henderson wins MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT from Nikkan Sports

2/26 Tokyo Nippon Budokan 13,000 "sellout"
Greco-Roman wrestler Dan Henderson shocked the MMA world by winning the 32-man WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING of KINGS, the first all shoot tournament RINGS has ever run. Despite weighing a little under 200 pounds, Henderson beat lethal striker Gilbert Yvel easily in the quarterfinal via 19-16, 20-17, 20-15 decision. In the semifinals, he won an overtime decision that's said to be questionable from Brazil's Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Finally, he beat Brazil's Renato Babalu, another surprise finalist, via an incredibly close minority decision 20-19, 20-20, 20-20 to take home $200,000.
Although RINGS didn't have a representative in the final, the biggest news in Japan coming out of this show was hardly Henderson winning the tournament. RINGS world champion Kiyoshi Tamura defeated a Gracie, Renzo, in the quarterfinal via unanimous 20-19 decision. Tamura joins Kazushi Sakuraba & Masahiko Kimura as the only Japanese ever to have defeat a member of the world famous Jiu Jitsu family. Due to this win, it didn't matter that Tamura lost a tight 20-19, 19-19, 20-20 decision to Babalu in the semifinal. Although he lost in the final, Babalu got two huge wins as it relates to regular RINGS action, as he also defeated Illioukhine Mikhail, arguably RINGS best chance to keep the grand prize within the promotion, in just 40 seconds with an udehishigigyakujujigatame. If nothing else, Babalu needs to be brought back to put these guys over in works, but that would be wasting him in Overeem-esque fashion. This tournament could be really good for the promotion in that it created new stars that could draw. The problem is that these guys aren't regulars, so RINGS has to make sure they don't use the name they made for themselves in this tournament to make big money somewhere else, which right now could only be in DSE.
Nogueira won his quarterfinal match over Andrei Kopylov via majority decision 20-19, 20-19, 20-20.
In non tournament matches, Extreme Challenge Heavyweight Champion Bobby Hoffman KO'd Grom Zaza in :34 with one right straight punch. Also, RINGS Australia's Christopher Haseman beat Brad Kohler in 1:11 with a reverse arm lock.


Grom Zaza is taking Volk Han's place in the non tournament match on 2/26 against EFC Heavyweight Champion Bobby Hoffman. This is the second time in a row that Han was taken out right before he was set to do what would probably be the first Vale Tudo type of rules shoot in his career. We figure Zaza is a better shooter than Han due to his amatuer background and the fact that he actually has done some shoots, but Han means a lot more at the box office. That said, Hoffman only means something to a few thousand fans in the US so I doubt Han vs. Hoffman was really going to sell any tickets in the first place.
The other non-tournament match on the 2/26 is Christopher Haseman vs. Brad Kohler. I really don't understand why they didn't book two of the following four;Kosaka, Kanehara, Naruse, or Sakata onto this show because it already has way too many foreigners that people won't pay to see (some of them have drawing power, but we also have the likes of Babalu).

2/11: RINGS America Established

RINGS announced that they will expand their Fighting Network to North America. Their first venture into the US will be in Hawaii, where they will be holding a 16 or 32 man elimination tournament. Supposedly they are thinking about taking out a 10,000-20,000 seat arena for the finals. Hawaii is a good choice because they aren't retarded like New York and the other states that have banned shoot style fights for all the ridiculous invalid reasons. Also, the Superbrawl shows that are held there every few months are fairly popular, so there is already a fan base for this kind of action.

1/20: Tamura/Gracie Showdown Set

RINGS announced the bracketing for their WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING of KINGS ~GRAND FINAL~ on 2/26 at Tokyo Nippon Budokan. This looks like the old UFC's where the idea was to figure out which type of fighter was better, as they've paired the guys off so each have distinct advantages and disadvantages over their opponent due to the differences in size and discipline.
The big match is the expected first meeting between Kiyoshi Tamura and Renzo Gracie. As long as Tamura wins this match, which I feel he will, it should be okay if he doesn't go on to win the whole tournament even though he's their heavyweight champion because he would have beaten a Gracie.
Figuring Illioukhine Mikhail will beat Renato Babalu, that means he'll have a really big size advantage over his semifinal opponent. He probably has too much skilled for either Tamura or Gracie to overcome the size advantage.
Gilbert Yvel vs. Dan Henderson is a classic striker vs. wrestler battle, except Yvel isn't one dimensional like most strikers. This should be a really tough match that could go either way.
The last quarterfinal is Andrei Kopylov vs. Antonio Nogueira. Kopylov has a big size advantage, but Nogueira is more skilled and experienced in shoot.


12/22 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan 5,100 sellout
RINGS ran the first two rounds of second half (B Block) of their 32-man WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING of KINGS, a shoot tournament with a $220,000 grand prize ($200,000 for winning the final plus $20,000 total for winning the four matches necessary to get to the final).
Andrei Kopylov of RINGS Russia beat 97-99 BJJ Super Heavyweight Champion Castello Branco with a hizajujigatame in just 16 seconds. Kopylov was always used for the worked RINGS matches, so he proved something here.
Ricardo Fyeet of RINGS Holland KO'd 98-99 Exteme Challenge Tournament Champion Tyrone Roberts in 9 seconds of round two with a migi (right) middle kick.
Maurice Smith of Maurice Smith's Kickboxing Center just edged Branden Lee (unfortunately, the guy that kicked ass in Rapid Fire isn't back from the dead) of (Mark Coleman's) Hammer House & TEAM OBAKE via decision 20-20, 20-20, and 20-19 after two 5:00 rounds. Doesn't sound to impressive for Smith since Lee is a no name and Mo had a 10KG weight advantage.
Renzo Gracie of Renzo Gracie Dojo beat Wataru Sakata of RINGS Japan in 1:16 with an udehishigigyakujujigatame. Sakata is the smallest and least talented of the RINGS natives, so you figure out how this match came about.
Gilbert Yvel of RINGS Holland made Bitsadze Tariel of RINGS Georgia tap out to an udehishigigyakujujigatame at 2:18. Tariel has always been used in works even though he can't work because he's just a big uncoordinated slug with less than no ability on the mat (not that he has much in standup either). Yvel was giving up a lot of weight, but the talent difference was huge in his favor.
Tsuyoshi Kosaka of RINGS Japan beat Christopher Haseman of RINGS Australia via decision. All three judges ruled it a draw after two rounds, so there was an extension. Kosaka won this period 10-9 on two of the three cards, with the other judge giving it to Hazeman 10-9, so he won a majority decision. Kosaka is banged up from fighting too many real fights this year as it is, so really needed an easy win over the smaller and less talented (although still good) Haseman, but it didn't come here.
Borislav Jeliazkov of RINGS Bulgaria made UFC veteran Tim Lajcik of Gladiator Training Academy submit to a hadakajime (naked choke) at 2:23. I was expecting more from Lajcik after the huge buid up Jeff Blatnick gave him during the UFC Japan show that he wasn't even fighting on (I guess that got Blatnick out of saying Yamamiya's name wrong an extra 15 times?). He gave Kosaka a tough fight during his first UFC appearance, but was not impressive against Waterberg at UFC XXII and this is not a great loss.
Kiyoshi Tamura of RINGS Japan won unanimous decision over Extreme Challenge Middleweight Champion Dave Menne of Minnesota Martial Arts Academy 20-17, 20-18, and 20-19. Originally Tamura was going to face Pat Miletich, who would have been a much tougher, albeit actually smaller, opponent. No doubt that also would have went the distance, although the result might not have been so favorable which is why Menne was a better opponent for Tamura. The problem is RINGS needs Tamura to win the whole tournament since he's their champion and top draw, but the rules are not at all in his favor because the best way to negate a size advantage is to be in much better condition than your opponent and make them burn as much energy as possible. The thing is, these matches are just two 5:00 rounds, so no one really that belongs in the tournament will lose due to exhaustion in that amount of time. Thus, the rules are really stacked against the smaller fighter, especially since they are generally easier to take down and have a harder time getting takedowns.
The second round of B Block opened with Kopylov scoring another flash submission, this an 8 second akiresukengatame (Achilles' tendon hold) win over Fyeet, who had to be the favorite.
Gracie made Smith submit to a V1 arm lock in just 50 seconds. A terrible loss for Smith, who had a 20KG weight advantage. Now we'll have to put up with the whole Gracie camp bragging for the next two months about their 80KG guy beating a former UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Kosaka still can't get through a match with Yvel. This time Yvel won when the doctor stopped the match at 1:17 of round 1 because Kosaka's head was bleeding badly from a punch. This was a loss that RINGS couldn't afford because they need Kosaka to draw at Budokan. This was their third meeting. Yvel won the 4/23/99 match via doctor stop due to a bad cut over the eye. Kosaka was awarded the 8/19/99 match because he was winning on points when he tumbled out of the ring going for a judo takedown and couldn't continue due to either a concussion or landing badly and breaking his wrist depending on who you believe.
Tamura saved RINGS Japan by defeating Jeliazkov with at 2:17 of round 2 with a hadakajime.
The quarterfinals, semifinals, and grand final will take place on 2/26/00 at Tokyo Nippon Budokan. Joining B Block's Tamura, Yvel, Gracie, and Kopylov will be A Block's Illioukhine Mikhail of RINGS Russia, America's Dan Henderson, Brazil's Antonio Nogueira, and Brazil's Renato Babalu, each of whom won 2 matches on the 10/28/99.

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