- A WORD FROM THE ASIAN SENSATION…

April 24, 2007
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Editorial Column by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com







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ironic style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>.

 

i·ron·ic style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'> (ī-rŏn’ĭk)

 

adj.  

  1. Characterized by or constituting irony.
  2. Given to the use of irony.
  3. Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended.

 

Two UFC’s
have past. Two stunning upsets have been the focus of discussion. Matt Serra
shocked the world by being the first man to finish Georges St. Pierre. Gabriel
Gonzaga followed suit with an impressive knockout of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
Fans and pundits were left speechless.

 

Oh the
irony.

 

While it
seemed plausible for Gonzaga to pull off an upset, it’s safe to say that no one
predicted the Croatian star would fall victim to a move he practically patented
– the high kick. Numerous opponents have been defeated with Mirko’s
signature finisher and a majority of the MMA community concurred that the
Brazilian heavyweight would be the next target.

 

After
controlling most of the opening round, Gonzaga threw a right high kick that
crumbled the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Champion with just seconds left. The
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt ambitiously stated he was “going for a
knockout.” Shockingly, he achieved his objective.

 

Like Serra,
credit must also be given to Gabriel Gonzaga for making April the month for big
upsets. I never thought it could get any worse than last February, but this
month has left me disconcerted and speechless.

 

So what
holds for Mirko’s immediate future?

 

Retirement?
Unlikely. Mirko is getting older, but there’s still much for him to
accomplish in the Octagon. Although he may have forfeited his chance at UFC
gold, there are many intriguing match-ups left for him.

 

The UFC
heavyweight division used to be a barren wasteland, but has been given new life
with recent acquisitions. In his quest for title contention, “Cro Cop” may
meet some formidable opposition in the near future that includes Brandon Vera,
Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, and a rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The
knockout loss was devastating, but Mirko will rebound like a true champion.

 

I’ve always
felt that Gabriel Gonzaga was one of the UFC’s most underrated heavyweights.
“Napao” executed the perfect game plan and his high kick was a thing of beauty.
Hats off to Gabe for defying the odds and flooding the Internet with animated
gifs. I look forward to his imminent showdown against Randy Couture.

 

 

Shooto
Fans Rejoice

 

Togashi?
Fujimiya? Sasaki? “Wicky”? In California?

 

Shooto’s
partnership with California-based Warrior’s Cup is a step in the right
direction. Kauhiro Sakamoto, president of Sustain, the leading Shooto promoter
in Japan, wants to make a presence in the U.S. “Warrior’s Cup is a quality
show and we chose to work with them because of a strong relationship with James
Grunsky and because Shooto rules are approved in California,” stated Sakamoto.

 

The lower
weight classes are starting to garner more attention in the U.S. Many of the
top ranked lighter weight fighters in the world fight in Shooto. Diehard fans
will finally get the opportunity to see some of their favorite fighters on
American soil. The partnership with Warrior’s Cup is a great start and the
beginning of a bridge for Japanese talent.

 

Will the
influx of Shooto fighters be well accepted? I think so. In particular, Akiyo
“Wicky” Nishiura has a recklessly aggressive style that would appeal to most
fans.

 

I don’t
expect Shooto to make a significant impact until they finally debut with a
Professional Shooto event. Shooto’s future entry into the U.S. market won’t be
an ambitious large-scale invasion like Pride’s and I don’t think that is their
intent/approach. Sustain intends to bring in more Shooto fighters in hopes
that they will develop a fan base and allow American fans to familiarize
themselves with Shooto rules.

 

For the
time being, fans can get a taste of what’s to come on July 21st in
Stockton, California. It may still be a little while before we see a
Professional Shooto event in the U.S., but I eagerly anticipate that day…

 

 

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