K-1 HERO'S I 3/26/05 Saitama Super Arena
Shungo Oyama vs. Valentijn Overeem R1 1:28. Overeem landed some crisp low kicks early, so Oyama pulled guard. Overeem tried a heel hold, but Oyama countered with one of his own for the tap out.
Kazuyuki Miyata vs. Ian Schaffa 3R. Schaffa is very quick, but wasn’t able to utilize his standup skills all that much as Miyata kept him on his back. The match quickly became stale and repetitive. Schaffa landed a good shot here and there before being planted, particularly a clinch knee near the end of round 2, but for the most part Miyata lay on top of him without doing much damage. Miyata wasn’t really active in ground and pound until the final minute, and he wasn’t trying for submissions. Schaffa tried a few submissions from the bottom, but never got past the setup. I was surprised Schaffa got the split decision, but he was at least aggressive when he had the advantage. Miyata wasn’t completely passive, he even tried a risky move or two such as a jumping stomp, but overall certainly too content to simply control the opposition.
Caol Uno vs. Joachim Hansen R3 4:48. Probably the best match in the HERO’s series, three back and forth rounds of rounds of non-stop action with tons of escapes and reversals leading to a shocking climactic finish. Obviously the skill level is incredibly high, but rather than negating each other, their advanced level led to some rarely seen techniques and positions. Both fighters were able to take each other down, but keeping their opponent down was another story. Though Hansen is the stronger fighter, and certainly had the takedown of the night with a belly to back suplex, Uno seemed to get about 2/3 of the takedowns as he understands the leverage game so well he won most of the clinch battles. Hansen is skilled in defending standing attacks with the up kick, but Uno took advantage of Hansen having his legs up in the air, dropping down on him and using his weight to fold Hansen in half. Uno kept one of Hansen’s legs down by leaning on it and held his other ankle with his arm, repeatedly punching his prone, bent in half opponent. Though Uno appeared in worse shape as his face was marked and bloodied, he clearly won the first round, so the fight was likely even going into round 3. Hansen took Uno down into side mount at the start of the 3rd, but Uno swept Joachim when he tried to transition into full mount. Uno tried a cartwheel guard pass, and though he didn’t succeed he came down on top of Hansen’s legs, again folding him at the waist with his weight and landing a few free punches. Uno passed and took Hansen’s back , but Hansen shook Uno off when he stood up. Uno quickly leveraged another takedown, but Hansen trying to prevent Caol from passing was a war in itself. Uno scored again with a Kimura takedown. Obviously there wouldn’t be all these takedowns if it wasn’t so difficult to keep the opposition down, but it got to the point where all Uno had to do was hang on for another 15 seconds to get a decision win. However, he gave up on the ground and backed off when Hansen began to escape to his feet. Hansen pursued Uno and within a second landed a huge knee for the KO. It’s hard to describe just how improbably this finish was. I mean, one second they are on the ground, the next Hansen walks over to Uno and smashes his chin with a knee. Excellent match.
Ramon Dekker vs. Genki Sudo R1 2:54. Sudo lulled everyone to sleep running away then dancing as if he’d accomplished something beyond postponing the action. Eventually he caught the kickboxer off guard, exploding for a takedown and working an Achilles’ tendon hold. Dekker countered with a heel hold and took the top. He stood so he could punch down on Sudo, but as Genki never released Dekker’s leg he tripped him up reapplying the heel hold for the win.
Alan Karaev vs. Gary Goodridge. Karaev is so fat you fall when he leans on you. Goodridge slipped around his back when Karaev was working an arm lock and smothered him with a forearm choke for the win.
B.J. Penn vs. LYOTO (Machida) 3R. Penn is one of the biggest names in MMA, but Machida has the potential to be on his level. What he lacked in experience, he gained in size, as B.J. is one of the few who still likes a challenge enough to agree to take a fight against someone who naturally has 50 pounds on him. They delivered a chess match of the most patient variety, one where both refused to even surrender a pawn. The kind of people who want to see Melvin Manhoef throwing wild haymakers will be bored to death, but from a technical standpoint, this is MMA at its finest. It was a stalemate with a lot of clinching, but due to both being so good they can counter everything their opponent attempts before it get beyond shifting their weight. Though they are well conditioned, both were gassed in round 3 due to the difficulty of succeeding in anything. Machida got a takedown into side mount, but gave it up to strike his downed opponent, trying a jumping stomp only to have Penn display his quickness in scrambling back to his feet. The fight was extremely close. I agree Lyoto did a little more than Penn as he had a few takedowns and landed some low kicks. I was surprised he got a unanimous decision if only because Penn is such a big name and this was Machida’s first big test. Good match.
Heath Herring vs. Sam Greco R1 2:24. Herring was manhandling Greco early, but suffered one of the most bizarre injuries when he missed a low kick. Herring lost his balance on the follow through and did a little hop to try to remain standing, but his knee buckled and blew out.
Bob Sapp vs. Min Soo Kim R1 1:12. The most credible of Sapp’s worked wins, there’s even a slight chance it was actually legitimate. Though Kim landed a flurry of punches to Sapp’s shoulders despite Sapp standing right in front of him with his humongous head down, Mr. Shark at least managed to get some juice out of Juice. I’ve never seen a lamer cut induce a doctor’s check. Not only wasn’t there much blood, it was from the nose, so it’s not as if it was going to hamper Sapp in a manner that might enduce a stoppage. After a pause long enough to bandage the actually wounded, they walked toward each other and Kim tried a left straight at the same time Sapp tried the right that knocked Kim out. I know Kim’s head hit Sapp’s shoulder on the follow through, but miraculously no camera managed to provide an angle that would allow the audience to tell if the one punch KO even connected. Hmmm...
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jerome Le Banner R1 2:24. Le Banner has little experience in MMA, but he’s a huge man, almost a super heavyweight, while Akiyama is a light heavyweight. Akiyama quickly closed the gap and leveraged a takedown, but Le Banner actually reversed when Akiyama tried to finish with the cross armbar. Akiyama got caught with a hard knee when he was looking to shoot, so he tried to shoot before he sustained any more damage only to eat a second knee for the KO.