by Monty DiPietro
Hero’s: Kudos for Sudo & Kid Yamamoto

TOKYO, September 7, 2005 — Japanese fighters Genki Sudo and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto won their respective brackets in the eight-man Hero’s Middleweight World Championship 2005 Tournament today at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo’s trendy Bayside District.

With their victories, the stage is set for a dramatic New Year’s Eve showdown at the K-1 Premium Dynamite 2005, where Sudo and the Kid will fight for the first Hero’s Middleweight Championship Crown.

Continuing its association with the new Hero’s productions, K-1 contributed fighters and support to tonight’s mixed martial arts event. All tournament bouts were in a 70kg (154lbs) weight class and comprised two five-minute rounds fought under mixed martial arts rules.

Kazuyuki Miyata met Genki Sudo in the first matchup, and there was plenty of acrobatic action from these two Japanese fighters. Miyata got on top in the first, but Sudo was good with the fists in a second round marked by frequent reversals. Sudo had a strong finish, working the armbar seconds from the final bell to submit his opponent and advance.

In the second bout, Japanese fighter Hiroyuki Takaya beat Remigijus Morkevicius of Lithuania by TKO. After a powerful punch-up start to the first, the pair went to the mat where Takaya stayed on top but was only rarely able to sink the punches, and failed in his attempts to hyperextend the Lithuanian’s arm. The fighters remained on their feet through the midpoint of the second, and although Morkevicius’s rampant elbows earned him a yellow card, his fists were good through these exchanges. But Takaya got the full mount again late in the round and worked the fists enough to earn a referee stop and pick up the win.

Brazilian Royler Gracie turns 40 this year, and here the living legend stepped in against Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto of Japan, a fighter 12 years his junior. Alas, this time youth won over experience. The two stood and struck through most of the first — a lone takedown ending in stalemate when Gracie tied Yamamoto up from the guard position. They were on their feet again in the second when Yamamoto deftly countered Gracie’s flying knee attempt with a jaw-rattling right hook to flatten the Brazilian and pick up the KO victory.

The last of the quarterfinals featured Japanese fighters Caol Uno and Hideo Tokoro. Uno had the better punches from the bell, and when Tokoro ended up on his back Uno remained standing and made some nice passes to rack up the points, although he did eat a heel when one of Tokoro’s bicycle kicks connected. Uno got the fists flying again in the second to bloody his opponent’s nose, and dominated once more when the fight went to the mat to win by unanimous decision.

In the first semifinal, Genki Sudo, always sideways and in motion, peppered Hiroyuki Takaya with spinning back kicks and punches. But Takaya remained unimpressed by the razzle-dazzle, scoring some no-nonsense punches of his own as the pair stayed mostly on their feet. In the second Takaya cut off the ring to effect, was sunk by a slip, which allowed Sudo to leap onto his back and work first a rear naked then a triangle choke to force the tap-out.

The second semi was all vertical, and saw Kid Yamamoto speeding punches in on Caol Uno, who showed he had the footwork and evasive techniques to stay out of harm’s way — most of the time. Yamamoto got a couple in, and hurt Uno with a knee, but could not mount sustained pressure in the first.

In the second Yamamoto got the right straight punch then a right hook through to bloody Uno’s left eye, prompting a doctor check. Three doctors worked on Uno’s face for three minutes before he was cleared to continue. Last-chance, Uno wanted the takedown, but when he closed the distance The Kid greeted him with fists, exacerbating the mess on his face and leaving the referee no choice but to step in and stop the bout, giving Yamamoto the win.

Yamamoto and Sudo took center ring after the tournament, thanking the crowd and pledging to do their best when they meet to finish their business on New Year’s Eve.

In other action on the card:

K-1 veteran Sam Greco of Australia punched the trunks off Shungo Oyama of Japan in the Main Superfight. Greco put his right to work from the get-go and, after setting Oyama to wobbling barely halfway through the first with a well-placed knee, brought the right into play again to deliver the coup de grace.

There was grappling galore in the second Superfight, as Akira Kikuchi and Kiuma Kunioku of Japan stayed on the mat throughout. Both men had their moments, Kikuchi always looking for the submission, the slippery Kunioku content to put the punches in when he could. Judges saw a draw after two and called for a tiebreaker round, which they scored in Kikuchi’s favor.

In the third Superfight, Yoshihiro Nakao of Japan used an armbar to submit Fai Falamore of New Zealand.

In the tournament reserve fight, it was Koutetsu Boku of Japan over Brazilian Hermes Franca by decision; while the opening match saw Atsushi Yamamoto of Japan beat compatriot Katsuya Toida.

The Hero’s Middleweight World Championship Tournament 2005 drew a crowd of 9.950 to the Ariake Coliseum, and was same-day broadcast on TBS in Japan. For complete results check the K-1 Official Website: www.k-1.co.jp