Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol 22 "An Intense Defense"

Discussion in 'Worldwide MMA Discussion' started by Mbetz1981, Nov 2, 2020.

  1. Mbetz1981 Orange Belt

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    *Editors Note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his initials. *

    Welcome, as we begin a new era in charting the ever unfolding martial-combat zeitgeist. Yes, 1992 is upon us and we have taken the solemn oath to forge ahead in traversing these uncharted waters, following headlong to wherever they may lead us. 1991 was revelatory in many ways, but ultimately functioned as an hors d'oeuvre of the possibilities of what modern MMA would and could become in the future. It also set the stage for three separate promotions to really start to discover their identity, so we can be sure that this year we will start to see a further development of the myriad of new ideas that were presented when the UWF was birthed in 1984.
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    We have now arrived to 1-9-92 as we return to the cozy confines of the Korakuen Hall, ready to kick off the year with another UWF-I event. 1991 ended with Takada and Co. making a bold move with their Berbick public relations stunt, that probably would have been a disaster had Berbick actually fought Takada instead of leaving the ring in disgust. Berbick’s actions, though one can’t really fault him for, have had the unfortunate consequences of playing into the narrative that the UWF-I has been trying to craft for the last year, in that Takada is a superhero and an unequalled master in kakutogi combat. We will now have to wait almost 6 years to see this narrative completely collapse when we see the birth and rise of PRIDE FC, but for now let us bathe in the warmth of Takada’s 15mins.

    We are welcomed to a montage of some of the various fighters that were present during last months card, giving interviews, before it cuts away to footage of Nobuhiko Takada having a seat right by the front entrance of the Korakuen Hall, greeting fans as they come in, and shaking their hands. This is pretty neat if you think about it, as could you imagine Hulk Hogan hanging around the front of the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta Ga, greeting fans as they entered the studio for a taping of WCW Saturday Night? Neither can I. After a lengthy interview with Takada, of which I understood nothing outside of a reference to his fight with Berbick, we are off to the races, with a rematch between Hiromitsu Kanehara and the other Maeda, Masakazu (not Akira).

    These two stole the show a couple of weeks prior when they opened, and while I’m surprised they would go back to the well so quickly, I won’t complain as any day to see Kanehara in action is a good one, indeed. They don’t waste anytime before getting right into the action, and other Maeda is looking a lot more confident this time out, as he immediately goes guns blazing towards Kanehara with a litany of palm-strikes, but is taken down quickly when he misses a Ushiro-Tobi-Mawashi-Geri (reverse jumping roundhouse kick). Maeda was able to quickly get out of Kanehara’s mount and ended the rapid sequence with a soccer kick to Kanehara’s back. We aren’t even a min into the match, and this is looking good, so far.

    Maeda continues to press the action with a variety of strikes, that Kanehara is able to parry before closing the distance and executing a tasty Ippon-Seoinage (one arm throw). Kanehara looks for a quick kimura, but other Maeda does a good job of scrambling and his constant movement stifles Kanehara’s submission attempts, which causes Kanehara to simply stand back up, and give several soccer kicks of his own. What continued to follow was nothing short of excellent as there was a total non-stop flow between two men that outside of a few questionable suplexes, and a couple of Boston crab attempts from Kanehara, never felt hokey. It also helped that other Maeda exuded a lot more confidence this time around, and while you can tell that Kanehara is the better athlete, unlike their first bout where there were sequences that felt like Kanehara was just letting Maeda do what he wanted, everything here felt organic and earned.

    There was one great spot where Kanehara was on his back, reaping the knee of other Maeda, looking for a leg-attack, in which Maeda countered by twisting around on one leg while stomping the body and face of Kanehara with the other. This sequence, along with others in this match, started to show an evolution in pro-wrestling logic, that had rarely been seen up to this point, where a wrestler had to find creative solutions to a submission as opposed to simply crying and screaming until he inched closer and closer to the ropes, looking for an escape. Speaking of which, there was a great moment in this match where Kanehara had other Maeda in an armbar, and as soon as he arched his back to put pressure on the elbow-joint, Maeda shrieked in pain, and immediately exploded towards the ropes, in what came across as a realistic approach to being put in this predicament, as opposed to the usual contrived theatrics. The fight ends in a 15min draw, and this was a great way to start the year. I suspect that this will wind up being in the 1992 year end highlight reel, and if they can manage to keep Kanehara, and give him a proper spot as a main player, then that coupled with Tamura, could be enough to push them over the top into the preeminent shoot- promotion going forward.

    ML: I can't in good conscience call this a rookie match given it's more evolved than at least 95% of the matches we saw in '91. Maeda made incredible strides in just a few weeks, now fighting with the confidence of a seasoned performer. That's really the difference here, as Maeda can be aggressive, taking it to Kanehara in standup where he has the advantage because he now has the belief to let it rip. While Kanehara is still the superior performer, the gap has lessened enough that they can do an organic, back & forth match counter laden bout where Maeda has the advantage in standup & Kanehara has the advantage on the ground, but from the viewer's perspective, it doesn't matter where they are because the quality is very high regardless. The matwork was better in the 1st match because it was more focused on Kanehara working his magic, and thus had some more evolved transitions, but the standup was 10 times better here. ***1/2

    The Anti-Imanari Headstomp
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  2. Mbetz1981 Orange Belt

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    Vol. 22 Continued....
    Next up is Masahito Kakihara vs Tom Burton. When we last saw Kakihara we witnessed him slap the stuffing out of Jim Boss, in what was probably the stiffest work of 1991. Now hopefully we will witness him continue his dragon-slaying ways, as we substitute one monster in Boss for another in Burton. True to form Kakihara immediately sends an open hand strike down the pipe to Burton, which awakens the wrath of the ferocious beast, and causes him to immediately charge into Kakihara. Interestingly, Kakihara immediately pulls something of an open guard, and tries to work a kimura from that position, but Burton is too strong, and simply powers out of it, and winds up with a side-mount for a brief moment, before Kakihara sneaks his way back to his feet. The next couple of mins saw the same pattern, as Kakihara would nail Burton with some strikes before getting mauled to the ground, but thankfully he was just too crafty to be kept there for long. There was an interesting sequence where Burton trapped the left ankle of Kakihara by wrapping his legs around his ankle, in what seemed like a primitive submission attempt, which allowed Kakihara enough space to slide his way into a rear naked choke, which prompted a rope-escape, and another great moment where Kakihara slid out of a side-headlock and when Burton responded by turtling up, he simply dived over his back and secured a toe-hold, which I could totally see being a viable move in a BJJ match.

    The 2nd half of the match saw the tone shift considerably when Burton’s offense was largely negated, and he spent most of his time as a grappling dummy for Kakihara, who tried out various inventive kneebar entries. The one-way traffic ended abruptly towards the 9min mark, when Burton began with a single-leg takedown attempt, and quickly changed it to a clothesline. This led to a stunned Kakihara, who was quickly finished off with the ever-dubious crab from Boston. This wound up being a very bizarre match as the first half was logical and showed a nice contrast between a strong wrestler with a limited move-set vs a much slicker (albeit smaller) athlete in Kakihara. The 2nd half just showed dominating a befuddled Burton, who pulled a win out of nowhere towards the end. I don’t really think this was Burton’s fault as much as it was an issue of the two of them not meshing very well together. There were several nice transitions and sequences from Kakihara, but as a whole this match came off as jarring and bizarre.

    ML: I don't get Kakihara's strategy here, he either leaped in with a wild low percentage kneel kick or locked up with the bigger, stronger man whose only standout skill is wrestling. Kakihara's strength is his striking, particularly his explosive barrages of palm blows, but we rarely saw them because he never fought at distance or in range. The match was adequate but being almost entirely in Burton's world wasn't to its benefit. Basically, Burton was okay, and he basically did his thing, without too much interplay.

    Any hopes I had of the next match turning things around are quickly dashed, as JT Southern is set to make a return against Tatuyo Nakano. Surely this return to the well of shame was due to Billy Scott’s sudden departure from the promotion, as he was mandated to stop wearing his singlets and switch over to a more pro-wrestling flavored lime green outfit. Billy wasn’t crazy about having to do this, but was willing to keep them happy, that is until he got his paycheck from the last event and noticed that they had deducted $500 as a cost towards the outfit. This was a deal-breaker for Scott, who told them that he would not return unless they paid for the outfit, as it was their idea, and he didn’t want to wear it in the first place. This led to him being away from the promotion for almost two years, until they agreed to not only pay him his this money back, but to also hire Billy Robinson as his full time coach, which led to him coming back and staying him them until their closure in 1996.

    The match hasn’t even started yet, and the fans are laughing at JT Southern for going to the wrong ring corner to start his match, after the ref shows JT where the correct corner is located, the bout begins with Nakano throwing a few kicks, and generally just feeling out his opponent. JT has a height and reach advantage that if he had any idea of what he was doing he could have certainly utilized, but instead kept opting to try and initiate a standard pro-wrestling tie-up. This match wound up being one of the worst so far, probably even worse than the JT/Takada bout from 91. Southern’s offense only seemed to consist of holding onto an appendage for as long as possible, until Nakano would get bored and hit or kick his way out. Nakano didn’t really seem to know what to do with JT, and thankfully after 7min, he simply kicked into high gear, hit a suplex and a single-leg crab for the win. This was terrible, and really is highlighting how much losing Scott is going to hurt their roster. There is now no foreign talent in this promotion that is a real asset and can work a high-caliber match in the shoot- They have Albright and his gimmick (which is fine for what it is) and Burton and Boss can be passable in small doses but they are going to have to find a solid replacement for Scott quickly, or step-up Kanehara’s role in the company.

    ML: Nakano is the worst native, but he's fine when there's someone to pull something out of him. Unfortunately, Southern is the worst in our sphere, period, so this is just a disaster waiting to unfold. This wasn't as inept as JT's other performances, but it was possibly the worst match we've seen so far. It was just pointless, with both guys trading stretches of bending each others legs or arms until Nakano fired up for a cheap head kick, suplex, and carny submission.
     
  3. Mbetz1981 Orange Belt

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    Vol.22 Continued....

    Not a moment too soon, we get Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko Miyato, and this may be just what we need to turn this evening around. Thankfully things start off explosively as Tamura charges in with a high kick, and a relentless palm-strike assault, but Miyato stands his ground and fires back with several stiff slaps of his own, before downing Tamura with a spinning back kick to the stomach. So far this is very intense, and believable. Tamura gets back up, and Miyato tries to clinch with him while throwing some knees, but Tamura slickly switches behind him, and nails a standing rear naked choke followed by a takedown. Yuko spent a while deflecting the choke from being fully sunken in, before being able to pry out enough to attempt a straight-armbar against Tamura, who countered with a beautiful cartwheel, and right back into a RNC. However, Tamura made the same mistake that many BJJ white-belts do when he crossed his feet while attempting the choke, which allowed Miyato to attack one of his ankles.

    They are now both back on their feet, and Tamura quickly goes for a wrist tie-up with Miyato, and after he gets it, starts to shift his bodyweight side to side, in something similar to a feint, as if he is weighing his next move, when suddenly Miyato explodes into the finest fireman’s takedown we’ve yet seen. Miyato then gives us some interesting ne-waza when he controls Tamura’s head with a modified leg-scissor while fishing for a kimura. Once he gets the kimura, he quickly forgoes the head control and explodes into the submission, causing an instant rope-escape and a cry of anguish from Tamura. The rest of this bout was total fire, as it saw Tamura dwarfed on the scoreboard by Miyato, as his occasional submission was worth a lot less than Miyato’s knockdowns. Eventually, Tamura was able to get Miyato in the center of the ring and secure an ankle-lock for the victory.

    This was another excellent match, and it really has me rethinking my opinion of Miyato. Before this, I kind of just looked at him as an unassuming, and middling figure that could be good, but was too tethered to the old UWF ways to be of much interest, but he proved me wrong here, as a motivated Miyato is capable of a top-tier performance, and really shined here tonight. Both men brought a great explosive energy to the ring and has made me forget about the two matches prior.

    ML: The much-anticipated rematch of the 2nd best UWF-I match of '91 was total fire, as these two just blitzed each other from start to finish. One of the great things about Tamura is he's able to up the speed, pace, and intensity in a manner that is not only believable, but based on the urgency that's so lacking in ordinary pro wrestling, where fighters are more concerned with playing to the crowd & posing, just stalling at every opportunity when the opponent is down so they have to do less. I really believed in the early near finishes because they were working at the rate that others can only approach when they kick it into high gear for the last minute or so. There was a great early sequence where Miyato countered into a hammerlock when Tamura was trying to pull him back into the center to reapply the rear naked choke, but Tamura did one of his crazy one-armed headstands to pivot into a position where he could retake Miyato's neck. Another great sequence saw Miyato do a hip toss into an armbar, but Tamura countered with a backwards roll into an Achilles' tendon hold. The whole match was back & forth like this. The only downside is it was even shorter than their 1st match, which was perhaps the shortest match I've ever rated great. I'm glad they never slowed down, the whole match had the feel of a finishing sequence because of that, and it was really brilliant, though their previous match was perhaps a little better because it was longer, or I was slightly disappointed that they ran through the points so quickly it was obviously not going to last much longer. Regardless though, this was amazing, and will surely wind up being one of the top matches of '92. ****1/4

    Now it’s time for Japan vs America as Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoji Anjo must now face Jim Boss and Gary Albright. Surely this card was quickly thrown together on paper as it’s been less than three weeks since their mega year-end event so we have what appears to be a main event that was slapped together just so we can get more talent onto the card. Still, the last couple of tag-matches that the UWFI has put on, have been surprisingly awesome, so I’m going into this with some high expectations. The match starts with Anjo and Boss, and right away Boss has to take some stiff strikes on his way to a takedown of Anjo. The takedown doesn’t last long however, before Anjo is back on his feet and back to lighting up Boss some more in the standup exchanges. I have to give Boss a lot of credit, as he seems more willing than a lot of his peers to really take some abuse in the ring, which adds a lot to his credibility. It’s not long before things switch over to Yamazaki/Albright, and right away we see how Yamazaki is really above the rest of his peers in terms of craftsmanship, as it’s the subtleties that he adds to the proceedings that makes his work so good. Right away Yamazaki goes for a kick, and gets slammed down for his trouble, so he pauses, thinks about his next move, and begins to feint a grappling exchange in order to land a thunderous kick to Albright’s thigh. After their sequences we go back to Anjo/Boss, and Boss demonstrates a common problem that newcomers to this have, as outside of his fearlessness and takedown abilities, Boss doesn’t seem to have any understanding of either striking or submissions, so there is little he can really do with Anjo once the fight is on the ground. The fight ends just shy of the 16min mark when our favorite zebra-warrior took a flight on Air Albright which resulted in a knockout loss. While this was certainly entertaining it was a few notches below the last couple of tag-matches we saw, and still suffers from what feels like a lack of purpose, or any real stakes, but that is going to be true of any tag-match that would exist in a format like this. It was easily the most akin to a standard pro-wrestling match out of what we saw this evening. Still, it was entertaining, and not a bad way to end the evening.

    ML: Finally, Albright was in a match that was allowed to be somewhat competitive. This had the usual pro wrestling problem that tag matches with a big star or unstoppable force have, in that the match was all about them, but in order to save and/or protect them, they were only in sporadically. Boss worked hard, but there's no heat on or really interest in him, so while this was often the better portion of the match, it came off somewhat flat & meaningless. Yamazaki did a good job here. This wasn't his match, but he perhaps better found a balance between his old more pro wrestling and his new more realistic still seeming thoughtful and patient but knowing this had to be quicker & he had to go. He actually managed to German suplex Gary, and nearly extended the armbar on the follow up. Though Albright was certainly the dominant force in the contest, and ultimately got the win despite this being the match he should have lost with Boss doing the job because he was miles below the other 3, it at least didn't seem a given that Albright would beat Yamazaki in a singles match. I wouldn't quite call this good, but at the same time it was at least better than most of Takada's main events.
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  4. Mbetz1981 Orange Belt

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    Vol. 22 Continued...

    Conclusion: This was not a bad way to kick off the new year. This was intended to be a small event as they were just coming off their huge year-end production, and when judged accordingly I would say that they succeeded, but not without exposing some problems that will hopefully be rectified in the days to come. They had two awesome matches in Kanehara/Maeda and Tamura/Miyato but they not only need to burn the rolodex that contains JT Southern’s phone number, but they also need to find a real replacement for Billy Scott, or at least be willing to give up on using gajin talent outside of cannon fodder. Kakihara is awesome, but unlike Tamura who was able to make Burton look good in their bout from 91, he didn’t seem up to the task of carrying an inferior opponent to an 8min match. His match with Boss from last month worked well, but that was also due to it being a blistering blitzkrieg that ended quickly and didn’t have prolonged grappling exchanges. Since they seem to be unwilling to show any weaknesses in Takada outside of a possible loss to Albright in the future, then they are going to have to figure out a way to cultivate their other talent in ways to keep an interesting and compelling narrative. They have a lot of good talent now, and with a couple more key players, used correctly, they could easily be an unstoppable force in the days ahead, but from what we’ve seen so far it seems inevitable that they are going to find a way to screw this up.

    ML: Although a humble, small show, this is not to be missed with two very strong matches and some decent filler. If they could have had a standing bout in place of the Tennessee travesty, this could, perhaps, have been a memorable show.

    * If you would like to see this event in full, then head on over to www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad where it, and many other rare treasures await you! *

    *In Other News*
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    On 1-12-91 the Sediokaikan Karate organization held the 1st Towa Cup Karate Tournament Championships in which 57 men competed for an unprecedented 10-million-yen grand prize (which approximates out to roughly 100,000 U.S. dollars.) This was an amazing tournament that took a variety of karate fighters and put them in a format similar to kickboxing, in that they had to wear boxing gloves and the fight took place in a ring, but unlike kickboxing, each round was individually judged on a ten-point must system, for as many rounds as it took to determine a winner. After each round, three judges would assess the fight and either award the fight to the blue corner, the red corner, or a draw. This led to a lot of exciting fights that ended in the first round, although there were a few that went several rounds. All strikes (outside of groin shots, or eye pokes) were legal, and clinching was allowed as well, although most fighters didn’t spend a lot of time stalling in a clinch as the rules necessitated going full-speed all the time, as if you didn’t win your round, you were eliminated for good.

    The eventual final combatants were upcoming sediokaikan fighter, Taiei Kin (who had to have an absolute war of attrition against Yoshinori Nishi in his 2nd bout, which wound up being the best fight of the night) vs established karate and kickboxing star Masaaki Satake. This event had been running smoothly and without incident, until this final match, when the judges apparently did not like the prospect of having their established star in Satake lose, so they seemingly engaged in some blatant judging shenanigans to sway the fight to their liking.
     
  5. Mbetz1981 Orange Belt

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    Vol. 22 Continued....

    Round 1 was a cautious round for both men, but when we did see action it was in the form of mutual exchanges, and Taiei got about 2-3 clean shots for every one of Satake’s during these encounters. He would also occasionally pepper Satake’s leg with well-timed kicks outside of these exchanges. 2 judges called the round a draw, while the one honest judge ruled it in favor of Kin. Round 2 saw Satake doing a bit better, as he was occasionally getting in some nice counter punches on Kin, but was still being out struck by Kin in a seeming 2-1 ratio, and what happened next was one of the most utterly corrupt things I’ve witnessed in kickboxing/karate. The round ended with 2 judges ruling in favor of Kin, and one calling it a draw. Then when Kin was celebrating, there was some commotion at the judges table, and the ref had the fighters sit down while the judges had a meeting with founder, Kazuyoshi Ishii, and some of the other event officials, all the while Akira Maeda (who was in attendance) looked bewildered at the entire affair. After their pow-wow Ishii grabbed a microphone and announced another round would take place. A 3rd round did indeed take place, and this time Satake brought his a-game and won convincingly by every metric. This was a shameful ending to what was otherwise a great event, and I really enjoyed the rule set. By having every round leading to a judge’s decision, it forced the fighters to always fight with 100% intensity, but by also having unlimited rounds, it didn’t force the judges to just arbitrarily pick a winner, either. Before the ending fiasco, everything was judged fairly in my estimation, and I wouldn’t mind seeing this type of round structure be used for future events. Also, Taiei Kin made a very impressive showing here tonight, and will be a force in the future if he continues to compete.

    Even Maeda Knows This is Wrong....
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    This entire event along with many other breathless wonderments await you at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad

    ***Over 100 Japanese reporters attended the year end UWF-I event held on 12-22-91, which is remarkable as that is even more than the number of press that attended the 12-12-91 SWS event held in the Tokyo Dome, which featured Hulk Hogan in the main event.

    ***Rob Kaman is rumored to be planning on fighting at the next FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS event on 1-25-92, although his opponent is unknown at this time.

    ***The PWFG is reportedly negotiating to bring in Roberto Duran for a fight against Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Originally, they were going to use this match as the main event on the card in Miami, however Duran, for tax reasons, wants the match outside the United States. One has to wonder if the recent success of the UWF-I’s boxer vs wrestler gimmick is prompting the PWFG to follow suit?

    ***Cynthia Rothrock took some time out of her hectic schedule recently while shooting her latest movie, Tiger Claws, in order to join up with Matthew Broderick, Kris Kristofferson, and several members of the Toronto Blue Jays, in order to team up with the Church of Scientology’s “Say no to drugs…Say Yes to Life” campaign. Scientology spokeswoman, Shelly Oake commended the move by saying that when thought leaders like Rothrock took a stand, it helped to depopularize the idea of taking drugs as being a viable solution to life’s problems.

    ***Aikido black-belt, and action film star, Steven Seagal, recently opened a martial arts themed restaurant in the downtown area of Chicago. The restaurant is reportedly decorated with kendo gear, samurai armor, and all of this is contained within a new-wave aesthetic. Over 500 people attended the grand opening including Michael Jordan, Robert De Niro, John Candy, Bill Murray, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Seagal hired Singapore-based Wing Chun expert, Randy Williams to head up security for the restaurant.
     

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