MMAWeekly TV and Korey Howard
Heath Herring speaks exclusively with MMAWeekly TV about exactly what happened with the kiss, punch, and battle royal minutes after the fight.

Go to MMAWeekly TV and see the Video Interview now!!!

Bizarre Return to Ring for Herring

In the first ever HERO’S show (3/26/2005) Heath Herring was able to showcase few of his skills, as his match seemed to end before it got started. Going for a low kick against his opponent, Sam Greco, his knee buckled and the match ended due to doctor stoppage at the 2:24 mark of round one.

Since Herring had not fought since that time, I for one was intrigued by the matchup between him and Yoshihiro Nakao, the third fight on K-1’s NYE card. What if any effect would the knee have on Herring’s match this time? How would he perform after a near 9 month blank from the ring? These are only a couple of the questions I was looking forward to getting answers to.

On the other side of the ring was Nakao, an aggressive former three-time Japan Greco-Roman wrestling national champion. Perhaps best remembered for his brawls with Don Frye, Nakao’s record consisted of only 5 fights, but with no losses. How would he match up with a top tier heavyweight like Herring? Have his skills evolved enough in his 5 matches to be able to control a win-hungry Herring?

Unfortunately, this match left these and more questions unanswered, as this time it literally ended before it got started. Unlike many Japanese fighters, Nakao is not a docile, gentleman-type fighter. As has been the case in a number of his previous fights, he was in his opponent’s face during the staredown, and he actually kissed him on the lips while the referee offered the final explanation of the rules.

That’s when the unexpected happened. The “Texas Crazy Horse” laid him out flat on his back with a right hook. It happened in a split second and didn’t seem to be a punch of knockout magnitude, but Nakao was obviously not braced up to receive it. Herring protested to the fans, seeming to gesture that, one, it was Nakao’s own fault for getting in his face the way he did, and two, that he should hardly have been KO’ed by the punch he took.

Whatever the case, Nakao was on his back in the ring for a full five minutes as the doctors checked him and allowed him time to recuperate. The announcement was made in Japanese that “an accident has occurred in the ring” and requested that fans be patient while he was tended to. Finally, as Nakao was carried from the ring on a stretcher, the announcement was made that he would be allowed more time to recuperate backstage, and that the fight would be held later in the show if possible.

Unfortunately, it was announced after the eighth fight that it wasn’t possible. According to the HERO’S rules, Herring was disqualified for striking his opponent before the match began. Nakao was also penalized one point after the fact for excessive taunting during the staredown.

I was looking forward to asking Heath for his version of what happened, but he never showed up in the interview space after the non-fight. Neither did Nakao for that matter, as he was carted out off to the hospital on a stretcher to receive medical attention. Some members of the press witnessed a melee between Nakao’s cornermen and Herring on the way back to the dressing rooms. It doesn’t seem like such a good idea to have the fighters and their teams exit the arena from the same place after something like this happens. Word has it that a brawl broke out and that Heath’s team had to step in and pull a couple of guys off of him.

All in all, it was a pretty ugly affair. Something tells me that none of this is going to actually make it onto the pay-per-view broadcasts outside Japan. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the rematch though. I have a hunch that there won’t be any love pecks on the lips then!

Go to MMAWeekly TV and see the Video Interview now!!!