Nick Thompson vs. Fabricio Monteiro 3R. Monteiro showed good technique, but to what end? He was all about positioning to the point it seemed as if he forgot you’re supposed to attack once you get the position you desire. If ground control is your thing, you got about 12 minutes of it from Monteiro in this snoozefest. He was shocked, perturbed, and dismayed when Thompson won the unanimous decision. I guess the judges liked the aggression Thompson displayed on the rare occasion he wasn’t in the disadvantageous position. Thompson had a few takedowns of his own, busting Monteiro’s nose open with his ground and pound. It was one of those bad and boring fights where the fans lost because neither did much of anything, and you feel as though the fighters both deserved the L for making us endure their passive pussyfooting.
Ryo Kawamura vs. Antonio Braga Neto 3R. Kawamura is a good puncher, but lacked the sprawl and clinch game to stay on his feet. Kawamura would land a few good shots, but Neto would close the distance, tie him up, and work for the takedown. Neto controlled positioning in the first half of the fight, working for a rear naked choke for quite a while in the first round. Kawamura was better conditioned, moving better as the fight progressed. He became more elusive, and thus could become more aggressive in standup, busting Neto’s nose up. Kawamura’s best round was the third, landing enough good punches in addition to having a double leg takedown in the corner into side mount where he delivered some knees though Neto blocked most of them with his arms. Kawamura won a unanimous decision. He put on as good a show as he was able to, but the match was below average due to Neto spending so much time holding Kawamura.
Makoto Takimoto vs. Evangelista Cyborg R1 4:51. Cyborg came out kicking, landing several low kicks before Takimoto dropped to his back. I was wondering why the Chute Box fighter Cyborg played the 2000 Sydney judo gold medalist’s game by following him to the ground where Takimoto held him close, but once Cyborg got distance he worked a heel hold, switching to an Achilles’ tendon hold for the win. Decent.
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Peter Graham R1 1:23. Kazuyuki Fujita is a tough opponent for a kickboxer to make their MMA debut against, as he’s about as tough to knock out as they come. It made no difference though, as the wrestler dropped Graham to his back at the outset, and took whatever position he wanted against the clueless ground fighter. Fujita didn’t even need to strike, quickly ending the fight with a north/south choke.
Kazuo Misaki vs. Siyar Bahadurzada R2 2:02. Bahadurzada landed a powerful right straight early, but Misaki took him down and worked for an arm lock, though he was unable to escape ½ guard. When he finally slipped out he tried to take Siyar’s back, but lost top control in the process. The roles reversed in round 2 as Misaki was more aggressive in standup, landing some punches, while Siyar was looking for the takedown. Misaki reversed Siyar’s first attempt and went for a guillotine, but Siyar got back to his feet and drove forward to secure the takedown. Unfortunately for him, this tightened Misaki’s guillotine, quickly forcing him to tap. Pretty good match.
Takanori Gomi vs. Duane Ludwig R1 2:28. A great standup match on paper, it was translating well early. Gomi cut Ludwig’s nose with a left jab. He learned away from a right straight and caught Ludgiw on the nose with a right then followed with a left hook that sent erupted Ludwig’s nose and sent him to his back. Ludwig popped right back up and was rearing to go, but the doctor stopped the fight due to his nose being shattered. I had no problem with the stoppage, but obviously it was disappointing as even though they just started they’d already practically had the best match on the show.
Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Josh Barnett R3 3:23. Beyond Yoshida being on old fighter who was never any good in a legitimate match, the biggest problem here is he could probably fight at middleweight if he set his mind to conditioning himself, while Barnett is a true heavyweight. Yoshida was less active with each round. While he had some success in standup, after he landed a few blows Barnett would take him down. Yoshida really wasn’t able to use any judo on Barnett, as in round 1 Yoshida used his strikes to get inside and grab hold of Josh, but Barnett slipped to the side and exploded with one of the most spectacular backdrops you’ll ever see. Yoshida did get a Kimura takedown in round 1, but Barnett took control on the ground once he freed his arm. Outside of trying to open up an arm bar near the end of round 2, Barnett did relatively little ground and pound, instead focusing on submissions, particularly leg locks. Thus, while the fight had some moments for the highlight reel, there was a good deal of dead time as Barnett waited for an opening. To make things worse, the fight was stopped on three different occasions due to Yoshida’s fingers slipping out of the blue wannabe PRIDE gloves everyone wore in hopes the promotion would beat DREAM in the battle to be viewed as PRIDE’s successor. Intimidated by the devastating early suplex, Yoshida dropped to his knees in round 3 to avoid a belly to back, resulting in Barnett easily mounting him. Barnett finished Yoshida off with a heel hook. Pretty good match.
Satoru Kitaoka vs. Ian James Schaffa R1 0:50
Mike Pyle vs. Dan Hornbuckle R1 4:52
Eiji Mitsuoka vs. Kwang Hee Lee Submission R1 4:15
Jorge Santiago vs. Yuki Sasaki R3 2:10
Yoshihiro Nakao vs. Jim Yorke R2 0:45
Kevin Randleman vs. Ryo Kawamura 3R unanimous decision
Roger Gracie vs. Yuki Kondo R1 2:40
Josh Barnett vs. Jeff Monson 3R unanimous decision
Fabio Silva vs. Kazuo Takahashi R2 0:24
Rodrigo Damm vs. Jorge Masvidal R2 4:38
Marcio Cruz vs. Mu Bae Choi R1 4:37
Sanae Kikuta vs. Chris Rice R2 3:54
Nick Thompson vs. Michael Costa R2 4:13
Kazuo Misaki vs. Logan Clark 3R unanimous decision
Travis Wiuff vs. Kazuyuki Fujita R1 1:24
Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Maurice Smith R1 2:23
Kazuo Takahashi vs. Valentijn Overeem. Takahashi scored a quick takedown, but was unable to get anything going from Overeem’s half guard. Overeem forced Takahashi to dodge his big swings once he attained a little distance in standup. Takahashi shot, but Overeem saw it coming and delivered a wicked flying knee for the spectacular KO!
Peter Graham vs. Moise Rimbon. They negated each other early as Graham had enough takedown defense to keep it in standup, but Rimbon was good enough on his feet not to get hit often. Rimbon finally had a takedown and mounted only to have the first round end. Rimbon faked a shot to start the second, instead landing an overhand right that dropped Graham. After a brief follow up flurry, Rimbon got the hooks in and won with the rear naked choke. Below average match.
Pawel Nastula vs. Yang Dong Yi. 1996 Olympic judo gold medalist Nastula has only won one of his four fights, but obviously there’s no shame in losing to the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Josh Barnett. Yang is the sort of fighter Nastula needs to step up and beat if he’s going to get his MMA career on track, but today both fighters seemed stuck in the mud. Yang eventually tired of standing around watching Nastula stand around, so he kicked him in the Jimmy. Nastula decided he might as well attack if this is the sort of thing that happens when you don't, but Yi stuffed his takedown and kneed him in the nads for the yellow card. Yi had a takedown early in round 2, but let Nastula up after Pawel’s armbar attempt. In a truly bizarre head scratcher finish, Nastula stayed down on one knee as if he had a 10 count to get back to his feet, and the ref basically said if you don’t want to fight I’ll stop it and waived it off. Poor match.
Lightweight Grand Prix Series 2008: Mizuto Hirota vs. Ryan Schultz. Hirota wanted to box, but couldn’t get too aggressive or Schultz would take him down, as we saw at the end of the first round. Hirota scrambled back to his feet after a good up kick when Schultz dove in for the guard pass, but again opening up with his hands got him planted on his back. Schultz didn’t have a great deal of interest in standing with Hirota, he just wanted to keep him off balance and find his opening for the takedown. One of the ways he did so was by lunging forward to fake the punch, but Hirota timed this and took him out with a right hook. Below average match.
Lightweight Grand Prix Series 2008: Kazunori Yokota vs. Bojan Kosednar 3R. The takedowns and scrambles produced momentary relief from the boredom of a fight where Yokota would just hug once they settled in on the mat. Standup was no better, as neither wanted to engage. Nonetheless, there was more of it than their should have been as Kosednar kept grabbing the ropes to avoid takedowns even though he garnered one of his two yellow cards for the infraction. Yokota got some unintentional revenge with a low blow so powerful Kosednar decided to change cups. Yokota won a unanimous decision. Poor match.
Lightweight Grand Prix Series 2008: Eiji Mitsuoka vs. Rodrigo Damm. Finally, the lightweight quicknes is on display. Unfortunately, this was a short one, as the two standup sequences were exciting. Damm was getting the best of the striking with Mitsuoka ending the first by taking Damm down to avoid further punishment. After getting cracked a few times and knocked into the corner with a high kick, Mitsuoka fired back with two big rights, dropping Damm then choking him out.
Lightweight Grand Prix Series 2008: Satoru Kitaoka vs. Clay French. Kitaoka shot a single, rolling around on his back when French defended and tried to take the top until he secured an Achilles’ tendon hold French immediately submitted to. Neat finish.
Makoto Takimoto vs. Frank Trigg 3R. I thought wins over Zelg Galesic at PRIDE 34 and Murilo Bustamante at Yarennoka! meant 2000 judo gold medalist Takimoto might have found his game. There’s no hope for a Trigg fight though, other than that it might end. As usual, Trigg got the takedown and did the gay lay, making things uncomfortable for Takimoto but not doing any real damage with his tapping. Takimoto had a takedown and landed a few punches in standup, but could never build any momentum or even maintain an advantage. The third round wasn’t nearly as tedious as the first two, as Takimoto fought with desperation knowing he needed to finish the fight, landing a few rapid fire combos before getting taken down yet again. Trigg won a unanimous decision. Poor match.
Takanori Gomi vs. Bang Seung Hwan 3R. Good tactical kickboxing match that saved the show from being a Yammaesque DUD. Hwan, a DEEP fighter who hasn’t lost since his first fight, was certainly no pushover. His defense is very good and he has a dangerous right hand he’s always trying to set up with his left. They were active, but there weren’t a lot of exchanges. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as both men making each other work for every shot made for an intense fight where every blow seemed meaningful. Gomi controlled the fight because he has more weapons, certainly he’s far super with his legs and knees, but even though you felt Gomi was safe as long as he didn’t leave himself open for the right, you also believed he’d go down if he got Banged. The first round was the closest, with Gomi getting some separation after that, but only the second round was a decisive victory for Gomi. The difference is Hwan shot midway through the second, but Gomi stuffed it and put a hurting on him with a ground and pound flurry then mounted. Bang sat up when Gomi transitioned, so Gomi tried to sneak behind and rear naked choke him only to have Bang stand out. Hwan was looking tired after this, but it was the first and only attempt at a ground game. One thing that helps Gomi’s stamina is his striking style is so economical. He wastes very little motion and is so subtle and direct you often don’t realize how good his shots were until you see them on the replay. Gomi cut Hwan in the third en route to a unanimous decision. Good match.
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