by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
DENIS KANG VS. YOSHIHIRO AKIYAMA
In a battle of Korean stars, Pride veteran Denis Kang takes on judoka Yoshihiro Akiyama. Kang has a 27-8-1 record and trains out of American Top Team with Thiago Alves. Akiyama has a 9-1 record and trains out of Japan with Hidetaka Monma.
Kang comes off a decision victory over Junggyu Choi at Spirit MC: Martial Challenge. Akiyama returns from a no-contest against Kazushi Sakuraba at K-1 Dynamite!! 2006.
Most anticipated this fight to happen at K-1 Dynamite!! 2007 with both fighters receiving tune-up fights here, but instead the Korean audience gets treated to a quality main event.
Kang is coming off a broken right hand and he’ll be putting it to test in this fight. Akiyama hasn’t seen action since his controversial meeting with Kazushi Sakuraba, where he was caught cheating and has been suspended since then.
Both fighters have similar skill sets, having solid ground games and improving stand-up skills. The difference in the fight could very well come down to training environments and fight experience. Kang has fought the better competition of the two and he has a solid training camp behind him for support. Look for both fighters to put on a show both on the feet and on the ground, but Kang should be able to outwork Akiyama en route to a decision victory.
Prediction: Denis Kang by decision.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
DONG SIK YOON VS. FABIO SILVA
Korean judoka Dong Sik Yoon takes on Chute Boxe striker Fabio Silva. Yoon has a 2-4 record and trains out of Korea. Silva has a 9-3 record and trains at the Chute Boxe Academy with Thiago Silva.
Yoon comes off an impressive submission victory over Zelg Galesic at Hero’s 10. Silva suffered a knockout loss to Dutch striker Melvin Manhoef at the same event.
Yoon never catches a break in his MMA career as he is always matched up with tough strikers or grapplers, never getting a tune-up fight in between. Silva had a very disappointing showing in his Hero’s debut, as he never got a chance to get going before getting stopped by Manhoef.
Yoon took on Manhoef before his last fight and was able to submit him to get his first career MMA victory. Silva looked impressive in his Japanese debut in Pancrase as he knocked out top-flight prospect Ryo Kawamura.
On the ground, Yoon has the advantage and Silva has it on the feet. This fight should resemble Yoon’s fight with Manhoef, with Yoon taking a beating, but surviving to submit the striker.
Prediction: Dong Sik Yoon by submission in the second round.
IKUHISA MINOWA VS. MIN SOO KIM
Japanese fan favorite Ikuhisa “Minowaman” Minowa takes on Olympic Judo silver medalist Min Soo Kim. Minowa has a 38-25-8 record and trains out of Japan. Kim has a 2-6 record and trains out of Korea with Kin Taiei.
Minowa comes off a stoppage victory over Kevin Casey at Hero’s 10. Kim was handed a TKO loss by Brock Lesnar at K-1 Dynamite!! USA.
Minowa has recently made a career of fighting bigger opponents and being able to overcome the size difference to win. He has become a superhero to the Japanese audience in being able to slay his bigger opposition. Kim has really good ground skills but he never got a chance to get going in MMA due in part to being overmatched in all of his fights.
In this fight Kim actually has a decent chance of being able to beat Minowa as he can use his size and skill set to overcome him. Even though this fight doesn’t have any implications in the greater landscape of MMA it should be very entertaining. Look for Minowa to struggle a bit with Kim, but he should be able to ultimately overcome the bigger fighter by outworking him en route to a decision.
Prediction: Ikuhisa Minowa by decision.
MARCELO GARCIA VS. DAE WON KIM
Renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Marcelo Garcia makes his MMA debut against Korean wrestler Dae Won Kim. Garcia trains out of Brazil. Kim has a 3-3 record and trains out of Korea.
While this is Garcia’s first MMA bout, Kim comes off a submission loss to Joe Doerksen at DEEP 29.
Garcia is probably one of the most gifted athletes to make his MMA debut in recent memory. He is a multiple time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and multiple time ADCC champion, making him one of the world’s best grappler. He has been training for his MMA debut for several months and now all the hype will end as he steps in the ring to take on Kim.
Kim is a really good MMA fighter and has had some solid showings in Pride and DEEP, even though he ended up on the wrong side of the fight being submitted twice. He has solid striking and excellent wrestling skills, but his submission losses put in question how good his ground game really is. Look for Garcia to get this fight to the ground quickly and submit Kim in exciting fashion.
Prediction: Marcelo Garcia by submission in the first round.
CARLOS NEWTON VS. SHUNGO OYAMA
Pride veteran Carlos Newton takes on Japanese journeyman Shungo Oyama. Newton has a 13-12 record and trains with the Warrior MMA Fight Team in Canada. Oyama has a 6-10 record and trains out of Japan.
Newton comes off a submission loss to Matt Lindland at the IFL show in Houston. Oyama comes off a stoppage loss to Melvin Manhoef at Hero’s 7.
Newton has hit a bit of a rough patch recently in MMA and has been on the wrong side of several questionable decisions. He has spent most of this year coaching in the IFL and has put together a solid team to train with, which was one of his recent shortcomings. He should be very well prepared and, hopefully, we’ll see the Carlos Newton of old in this fight. Oyama hasn’t fought in almost a whole year, as he has been preoccupied with stage acting in Japan. Oyama was once thought to be the next great Japanese fighter but he never got a chance in MMA as he was always overmatched in his fights.
With the lack of concentration on MMA in the past year by Oyama and Newton’s recent focus on MMA, this could turn out to be one-sided. Look for Newton to outmatch Oyama both on the feet and on the ground. Newton will outwork Oyama on the ground and submit him within the distance.
Prediction: Carlos Newton by submission in the first round.
ZELG GALESIC VS. KIN TAIEI
English-based Croatian striker Zelg Galesic takes on K-1 veteran Kin Taiei. Galesic has a 6-3 record and trains out of Team Trojan in England. Taiei has a 2-1 record and trans out of Korea with Min Soo Kim.
Galesic returns from a submission loss to Dong Sik Yoon at Hero’s 10. Taiei won a decision over Kiyoshi Tamura at Hero’s 9.
Both fighters are strikers, so expect this fight to be an exciting slugfest. Galesic is one of the more hyped prospects to come out of Europe, but he hasn’t been able to translate that over to Japan, where he has gone 0-2 losing both times by submission. Taiei has shown that he has been able to successfully translate from kickboxing to MMA with two solid victories over veterans.
Galesic probably has a slight advantage on the ground over Taiei, but it shouldn’t matter much because it won’t make it to the ground. This is going to be fought on the feet and Galesic should be able to use his more explosive striking skills to secure a knockout over Taiei to get his first win in Asia.
Prediction: Zelg Galesic by KO in the first round.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
BERNARD ACKAH VS. POAI SUGANUMA
Japanese TV personality Bernard Ackah takes on highly touted Pancrase prospect Poai Suganuma. Ackah has a 2-1 record and trains out of SK Absolute with Hidehiko Hasegawa. Poai Suganuma has a 7-1 record and trains out of Twist with Takefumi Hanai.
Ackah comes off a knockout loss to Melvin Manhoef at Hero’s 9. Suganuma won a decision over Nate Carey at ICON Sport: Epic.
Out of all the TV personalities in Japan to fight in MMA, Ackah has been the most successful with two knockout victories and only one loss to a much more experienced fighter in Melvin Manhoef. Suganuma will be making his Hero’s debut and is one of the better prospects to come out of Pancrase in recent times. Ackah has prior experience in Tae Kwan Doe and that has helped him develop in MMA much quicker then others who don’t have any prior athletic experience.
On the ground, Suganuma has the definite advantage and on the feet he has a slight advantage. Ackah could have a bright future in MMA, but Hero’s isn’t doing him any favors in the way he is being matched up. Suganuma should make an impressive debut in Hero’s. Look for him to take the fight to the ground and overwhelm Ackah with strikes.
Prediction: Poai Suganuma by TKO in the first round.
Other fights that are scheduled to be on the under card include Pride veteran Yoshihisa Yamamoto taking on Korean fighter Lee Tae Hyun, Pride veteran Daisuke Nakamura vs. A Sol Kwon, and former New Japan wrestler Katsuyori Shibata takes on Korean fighter Heo Min Seok.