January 2, 2007

An Editorial by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com


tr. & intr.v. sad·dened, sad·den·ing, sad·dens
To make or become sad.

It was saddening to watch Kazushi Sakuraba get pummeled for the second consecutive fight. Last Saturday at K-1 Premium Dynamite! 2006, the former Pride fighter suffered another beating at the hands of Yoshihiro Akiyama. The Judoka rocked Sakuraba with a flurry of strikes and then proceeded to throw over 50 unanswered punches before the fight was finally stopped. Yes, I said over 50 (there’s more regarding this and I will go into detail shortly). Blood rolled out of Sakuraba’s right ear as all that appeared to be left of the “Gracie Hunter” was a swollen and bloodied face. There’s no doubt that the Japanese legend thinks he still has the fighting spirit left in him but I can’t even begin to express my discontent for Sakuraba’s decision to continue fighting.

Where was the referee during all of this? The inept ref allowed the fight to go on too long, forcing outside officials to halt the fight. Although some of Akiyama’s strikes were partially blocked by Sakuraba, it was clear that he was hurt.

Now, onto the controversy…

[Note: Before I go into detail, I want to note that I’ve watched this fight multiple times and personally feel that the controversy has some merit. However, I also feel that Sakuraba would have likely lost the fight despite his appeals.]

After the fight, Sakuraba complained that Akiyama’s legs were very slippery. As Sakuraba was receiving his 50+ punches, he was talking to the ref, trying to get him to intervene and investigate. The referee seemed to ignore the “Gracie Hunter” and the fight was eventually stopped by the officials at ringside. Afterwards, the ref did go over to check Akiyama’s body for any oils or lubricants and didn’t appear to find any traces. However, the ref did not check his legs. Although I didn’t witness this fight live in Japan, Akiyama’s legs did appear to be a little ‘shiny’ from the video I saw. Moreover, Akiyama seemed to escape Sakuraba’s single leg attempts rather easily.

If you’ve seen most of Sakuraba’s fights then you would know that he’s not the type to make excuses or complain. After the match was over, an angered Saku left the ring without shaking Akiyama’s hand and refused a post fight interview. His actions weren’t typical of his character. Conspiracy theories aside, it’s a shame to see Sakuraba endure a situation like this. It may be difficult to prove foul play but it’s hard not to sense that something was wrong or awkward. It’ll be interesting to see if K-1 further addresses the issue or chooses to remain silent.

So where does Sakuraba go from here? When the Japanese legend jumped ship from Pride to K-1, it signified a changing of the guard. Maybe the guard should change again…


The “Neo Samurai” Retires

Shortly after his submission victory over Damacio Page, UFC and K-1 veteran Genki Sudo announced his retirement from the sport. Fans were shocked by the announcement and a look of sadness and admiration could be seen on their faces. A herniated disc was cited as his reason leaving the sport. The Japanese fighter ends his career with a record of 15-4-1 and has notable wins over Nathan Marquardt, Hiroyuki Takaya, Royler Gracie and Mike Thomas Brown.

Thank you for the enjoyable walk-in entrances. Thank you for your unorthodox yet entertaining fighting style. And most importantly, thank you for being an MMA fighter.

“We Are All One.”


Gomi Proves Us Wrong

Takanori Gomi proved once again why he’s the number one lightweight fighter in the world with an impressive stoppage of Mitsuhiro Ishida at Pride Shockwave 2006. I truly believed that Ishida was going defeat Gomi given his recent performances. I was wrong. Ishida had the tools to win but he played into Gomi’s game. Apparently he didn’t learn from his teammate Tatsuya Kawajiri’s mistakes and felt the need to stand with the champion. I have to give the “Fireball Kid” his dues and hopefully this is a glimpse of the ‘old Gomi’ prior to his loss to Marcus Aurelio. I look forward to his future title defenses and his American debut. With the win, DSE avoided another non-title match disaster.


An Epic Battle…

I studied all of the expert analysis and memorized it verbatim. I was on the edge of my seat all night. I waited in fevered anticipation and I wasn’t disappointed. The action was scintillating and the fight lived up to all of my expectations.

…Giant Silva defeated Akebono by kimura!!!


Another Win for the Man in Yellow…err Rainbow Tights

“I think I proved today that my grappling is better than Joachim’s striking,” said Aoki. As he walked away from the ring after the fight, Shinya broke down in tears. “It was the first time my father came to the stadium to see my fight. My father told me that ‘he was very proud of me’. That made me cry,” explained the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.

It’s not often that you see a fighter win via a gogoplata. It’s also not often to see it used to defeat a top five ranked lightweight fighter. Current Shooto 167-pound Champion Shinya Aoki extended his undefeated streak in Pride to 3-0 with a very impressive submission victory over Joachim Hansen. The Scandinavian fighter is a tough opponent for anyone and was considered the favorite going into the fight. It’s no secret that Aoki is one of my favorite fighters and now fans can understand why. There are many intriguing match-ups that await this young up-and-comer and I’m glad that fans are starting to take notice.

Tobikan Judan!