by Mario Cuzic for MMAWeekly.com (Photos by Scott Petersen)
Almost one year after the demise of Pride Fighting Championships, new Japanese
promotion World Victory Road held it’s first event on Wednesday in Yoyogi
Gymnasium. After a long period of uncertainty, Japanese fans were treated to
Sengoku, the first of two impressive fight cards in a ten-day period. The card
was littered with fighters who waited for the void from Pride’s demise to be
Dream promotion – a partnership between K-1 parent company FEG and
staffers of Pride’s former parent company Dream Stage Entertainment –
debuts on March 15 in Japan.
packed house of more than 15,000 was treated to an intro ceremony reminiscent
of Pride’s Bushido events, from the video on the large screen to the fighter
introductions. The attendance was impressive considering that the event started
at 6:30 p.m., a time when most Japanese people are starting their commute home
from a long days work.
evening’s main event, Josh Barnett faced Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko
Yoshida, who was sporting a gi. Early in the fight Yoshida connected with a
powerful right hand, but in the clinch Barnett applied an impressive suplex,
then proceeded working a ground and pound attack until the end of the round.
round saw the two trading strikes with Barnett getting the better of the
exchanges. Yoshida won an exchange, but slipped after missing with a knee. The
fight was stopped for a few minutes due to problems with Yoshida’s gloves, but
once the action resumed, Barnett quickly transitioned to Yoshida’s back and
then into mount. The round ended with Barnett being inches away from an armbar.
the final round, Barnett once again took Yoshida’s back and moved to full mount.
Barnett was dominant on the ground attempting armbars, kneebars and finally
ending the fight by heel hook.
In one of
the most anticipated fights of the night, Takanori Gomi took on Duane Ludwig in
a lightweight bout. Gomi didn’t look like his dominant self in three of his
last four outings and entered the ring with a solid year of ring rust.
outset, Gomi decided to stand with the former K-1 star. The two had several
exchanges before Gomi tagged Ludwig with a left, knocking him down and opening
a deep cut on the bridge of his nose causing a waterfall of blood to run down
his face. Ludwig got back to his feet, but the referee was forced to stop the
fight, awarding Gomi the TKO victory.
Misaki, who was coming off a controversial win that was later ruled a no
contest this past New Year’s Eve, met Golden Glory fighter Siyar Bahadurzada.
the fight, Misaki took a right hand to the face, opening a cut over his eye,
but they quickly clinched and went to the ground. Misaki attempted an arm lock,
but was reversed. Bahadurzada worked from Misaki’s guard, delivering punches
until the end of the round.
round saw some good exchanges with both fighters landing. Bahadurzada went for
a single-leg takedown, but was caught in a guillotine and submitted, giving
Misaki the win.
veteran Kazuyuki Fujita and K-1 striker Peter Graham met in the ring to
continue a fight that started at the Sengoku press conference earlier in the
week. The two locked horns before the media and had to be pulled apart.
Furious, Fujita stormed out of the presser.
ring, Fujita immediately went for a takedown, succeeding after his third
attempt. He transitioned from side position to mount to north/south at will,
finally making short work of the striker, choking him out from the north/south
Judoka Makoto Takimoto – coming off an impressive win against Murilo
Bustamante – and Chute Boxe slugger Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos was a
classic grappler vs. striker bout. Santos’ last outing against a Judoka was
less than impressive when he was dominated on the ground by Kazuhiro Nakamura.
Takimoto endured an onslaught in his most recent bout, before defeating
sharp-shooting Croatian Zelg Galesic.
out throwing low kicks before the two exchanged punches with Takimoto backing
out. Santos connected with a right hand, knocking Takimoto down and went for
the finish, but ended up in the Judoka’s guard. With action at a minimum, the
fighters were stood up. Takimoto scored another takedown and went for a heel
hook, but Cyborg surprisingly locked on his own forcing the Olympic gold
medalist to tap.
second fight of the night, Ryo Kawamura took on Antonio Braga Neto. Both men
immediately went at each other with Neto finally getting the takedown and
mount. In an attempt to get out from under the mount, Kawamura ended up giving
up his back, and a body triangle for good measure. Kawamura did manage to get
to his feet and deliver a few punches just before the round ended.
round saw more ground domination by Neto, but the fighters made it to their
feet. Neto was rocked by a hard right hand. From there Kawamura sprawled Neto’s
takedown attempt and controlled the rest of the round.
a takedown early in the third, but Kawamoto got side position until the fight
was stood up. Kawamura landed some punches only to get taken down again. The
two fought for position on the ground as the clock ran down. Although Neto
controlled the action on the ground, Kawamura did more damage throughout the
fight and was awarded the decision.
kicked off with another typical grappler vs. striker fight between Fabricio
Monteiro and Nick Thompson. The fight started with a bit of a feeling out
process, but within the first minute Monteiro took Thompson down with a slam
only to have his position reversed following a failed arm bar attempt. Back to
their feet, Monteiro scored another takedown and ended the round in full mount.
second round Thompson came out connecting with some low kicks and body shots,
but was taken down and mounted. Thompson managed to get off the ground and
deliver a takedown of his own. After resisting several submissions, Thompson
finished the round in guard delivering punches.
round started much like the first two, but Monteiro had to work harder to take
Thompson down and keep him there. He finally succeeded and kept Thompson in
side position until the fight ended. Despite ground control and countless
submission attempts, Monteiro lost the fight by decision in the judges’ eyes.
Barnett def. Hidehiko Yoshida by Submission (Heel Hook) at 3:23, R3
Gomi def. Duane Ludwig by TKO (Cut) at 2:28, R1
Misaki def. Siyar Bahadurzada by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:02, R2
Fujita def. Peter Graham by Submission (North-South Choke) at 1:32, R1
“Cyborg” Santos def. Makoto Takimoto by Submission (Heel Hook) at 4:51, R1
Kawamura def. Antonio Braga Neto by Unanimous Decision, R3
Thompson def. Fabricio Monteiro by Unanimous Decision, R3