Andy Spirits 2002
Andy Spirits 2002
22nd September 2002
Castle Hall, Japan
Bush may have milked September 11th something
rotten, but even he would blush at the mileage
K-1 has flogged from Andy Hug's death. This
is coming on the back of several tribute videos
and an earlier memorial show. And speaking
of milking something you don't deserve, Hideko
Yoshida was ringside to commentate on the
back of his 'win' over Royce Gracie last month.
This show continued the Pride vs K-1 theme.
1 - Bob Sapp vs Cyrille Abidi
ol' Bob is still doing the Ric Flair pink-robed
entrance and he looks just as frightening
in 10 ounce gloves as he does in open finger
ones. He still had Maurcie and Josh in his
corner. In the pre-fight promo Sapp ate an
official Cyrille Abidi toy doll then said
the fight would be his desert. Abidi's got
some work to do to remove the stigma of being
starched in one by Quinton Jackson. If he
takes out Big Bob then all is forgiven. As
a gimmick, K-1 owner Ishii was the special
guest referee, nominally because of Bob's
rampage in his previous bout.
is totally overwhelmed in the first 12 seconds
and receives a count as he turns his back
and covers up. It was one big right hand clean
that rattled him, the rest were kind of clubbing.
The frenchman was still dazed but threw a
few good punches on the restart. They landed
clean as Sapp had zero defence, but he walked
through them and resumed a wild onslaught.
It was all power and no technique, pure arm-punching.
But with arms like those..... Abidi was ducking
and grabbing and generally having a bad time
of it. A few illegal blows to the back of
his head turned him round to the ropes again
and as he covered up he received another count.
He was totally overwhelmed, but this time
in his frenzy Sapp was landing clearly illegal
blows mixed in among his legal efforts. There
was still only 40 seconds elapsed as they
restarted. Again Abidi led with some clean
straight shots and again he was steamrollered
into a corner and clobbered. He was battered
to the ground for a stoppage by the 3 knockdown
rule by hammerfists to the back of the head.
Sapp by tko at 1RD 1:07
verdict: A joke. The second and third knockdowns
should have been warnings to Sapp for illegal
punching. That said, it made no difference
to the outcome, as Sapp would have still flattened
him. Bob is carving out quite a record now,
but this was all size and no skill. He just
jumped on his man, flailed away without a
hint of technique, and Abidi had neither the
power or chin to stand up to him. Sapp did
show a sturdy chin, as the hard shots that
he did eat didn't move him at all, but how
much can you say about a 1 minute match against
K-1s most vulnerable heavyweight? If he can
deal with Ray Sefo or Jerome Le Banner, we'll
have a true star in the making.
2 - Tsuyoshi Nakasako vs Ryuta Noji
is best known to mma fans as the victim of
Bob Sapp's rule-breaking mauling a few months
ago. They showed highlights and I'm increasingly
convinced it was a work on Bob's part - i.e.
he was told to go wild. Bob's knees and stomps
seem very much 'pulled' and aimed to miss.
Nakasako also dropped Mark Hunt in his first
fight after winning the 2001 Grand Prix, before
losing to the champ.
right lead, left hook landed clean from Nakasako
but didn't rock his opponent. Both kickboxed
in the normal fashion, unlike the wild melee
that went before. As usual in K-1, the karate
guy (Noji) didn't show the slightest hint
of his kyokushin background. Nakasako got
through plenty of low kicks and then wobbled
his man with a flurry. He briefly scented
a finish and opened up but relaxed again when
the karate man defended intelligently. Nakasako
clearly didn't feel threatened and was walking
into Noji quite calmly.
two was another relaxed start. The crowd roared
as the karate man seemed to catch the kickboxer
and he pushed Nakasako back onto the ropes
with a long flurry. Nakasako wasn't the slightest
bit worried, took them all on his gloves and
shoulders, then returned with a sweet 8 punch
combo of which 7 landed. Not very hard though,
so Noji backed up and survived. It was clear
than Nakasako could land anything he wanted
whereas his opponent had to make do with mostly
cuffing him around the ears in short bursts.
karate man was still putting forth a gutsy
effort but was still failing to land anything
of consequence. Nakasako picked him off and
seemed happy to coast to a decision. Most
of the action in the middle minute was forehead
to forehead and nothing of power. Before long
the punches were coming through treacle they
were so arm-weary.
Nakasako by unanimous decision (30-29 / 30-28
verdict: Totally one-sided but always competitive.
Noji was too tough to take out in the three
rounds with what Nakasako was throwing at
3 - Yusuke Fujimoto vs Toru Oishii
was another K-1 Japan quarter final bout featuring
guys unlikely to see Tokyo Dome in December.
Fujimoto is a spitting image of Alexander
Otsuka and he was getting the better of it
early on. It was a scrappy but spirited showing
from both fighters and a couple of times they
tumbled to the mat. It looked from the outset
like their chins were more than a match for
the punches so someone was guaranteed a decision
and both guaranteed splitting headaches tomorrow.
round three they were exhausted and hugging
like UFC champions. Then with 1:28 gone, Fujimoto
landed a long right lead and about 2 seconds
later a left hook, both on the point of the
chin. I'd call it a combo, but it was more
like a one----------two. Still, his opponent
was knackered and couldn't get out the way.
He dropped like a stone and was wobbly after
a 9-count. He got dropped for good right away
Fujimoto by ko 3RD 1:47
Big surprise that it ended when it did, coming
as both were coasting. A good hard fight.
4 - Musashi vs Hiromi Amada
quarter-final match. Amada seemed to think
he was guaranteed a first round kayo, cos
his corner came in carrying a sign proclaiming
it. He's a tub of lard, but he has a few kayos
in K-1. Amada came out tripling the jab and
true to his word chased the early kayo. A
few rights had Musashi swaying but he never
loses his composure and Amada had to start
working more intelligently. It was all one-twos
from him while Musashi was his usual patient
self, mixing his shots on the rare occassions
he threw them and keeping his hands mockingly
two was more of the class from Musashi and
the workrate from Amada and there wasn't a
clinch in sight. It was still more strategic
than wild, and Musashi earned a time out in
the 3rd for receiving a knee to the stots.
Amada tried to finish strong but it was taken
all on the gloves.
after 3 rounds (30-30 / 30-30 / 30-30), so
it went to an extra round
started even but then Amada's conditioning
betrayed him and he couldn't offer any offense
in the last two minutes, leaving Musashi to
peck away and coast to an easy 10-9 extra
verdict: Hardly a match to get excited about,
as the whole bad-blood angle could only interest
a native Japanese fan. Musashi definitely
earned the close decision.
5 - Mike Bernardo vs Tom Erikson
what the sfuk is a wrestler doing in
the main event of a kickboxing match. No doubt
he'd destroy the South African bible-basher
in an mma match, but kickboxing rules? This
makes Don Frye's decision to match wits with
Jerome Le Banner look smart. Bernardo is another
member of the 'humiliated in one round by
a Pride fighter' club, going down to Gary
Goodridge in under 2 minutes recently. In
his favour he's big, can box properly, has
a decent chin and good power. On the down
side, he's been having tough fights against
the top K-1 guys for 9 years and his body
is starting to creak under the strain. The
Big Cat is really up against it here, having
only a 60lb weight advantage in his favour
to balance what he gives up in experience
and skill. The gimmick here was that K-1 owner
Ishii told Bernardo it was a win-or-quit bout.
belly-to-belly suplexed Bernardo in the first
ten seconds and got a warning. His gameplan
seemed to be to bull into close range and
swing madly. The ferocity of it had Bernardo
going backwards for the first minute. Then
the first real punch he threw, a left hook,
stiffened Erikson. As he went to follow up,
the wrestler drilled him with a right that
landed high up the head and dropped the South
African. On the restart Erikson put him back
on the canvas with an even better shot and
the whole crowd were 'what the sfuk?'. Bernardo
looked on the verge of going home early. He
just covered up with his gloves up high while
Erikson had 2 minutes to get the clinching
knockdown. It didn't happen so Bernardo looked
up and threw his own combo to drop Erikson.
It was all fairly crazy now. Erikson was up
at nine and didn't look too steady. Bernardo
dropped him again with clean shots and this
time Erikson stayed face down after briefly
trying to get up.
Bernardo by ko 1RD 2:05
verdict: This was almost another shocker where
a top K-1 guy (admittedly on the slide) is
starched in a round by a wrestler in his first
kickboxing match. Erikson was literally one
clean punch from a crushing kayo victory.
When Bernardo did fire, the difference in
class was obvious and Erikson had no defence.
6 - Kiyoshi Nakasako vs Yusuke Fujimoto
was a fairly dull effort until Nakasako caught
up with his tired and outclassed opponent
late in round two and put him down flat with
a kick. He put him down for good right after.
Nakasako by ko 2RD 2:30
verdict: Fujimoto didn't have the skills to
match K-1's top light-heavy and he's also
shipped plenty in his previous bout. Nakasako
just wore him down at his own pace.
7 - Musashi vs Tatsufumi Tomihira
missed Tomihira's decision win in the opening
round. He was carded for fouling within 10
seconds and clearly doesn't like Musashi.
Musashi wobbled him with a hook soon after
and punched him into a corner. Tomihira was
hurt bad and just covered up. Whatever things
you can say about Musashi, being a finisher
isn't one of them. He flurried aimlessly and
his opponent recovered enough to wobble him
right back with a trio of clubbing shots.
Musashi lost his mouthpiece as he stumbled
into the ropes. He was in trouble but turned
the tide again and now it was Tomihira backed
up against the corner post. Musashi was able
to pound away and even rested his left glove
on his opponent's forehead to pick his shots
with the right. Tomihira rushed forward to
take him down and fell over, receiving a count.
The bell went to end a wild round.
was well in control of round two and staggered
his man with a knee and them an uppercut that
rocked his head right back, but didn't finish.
Tomihira backpedalled to stay in it and then
with 2:45 gone was wobbled bad by another
had figured out how to survive by round three
and didn't draw Musashi out of his patient
game until 2 minutes in when he foolishly
traded and Musashi cracked him with two picture
perfect left hooks that sent him reeling backwards
a few steps. He gamely stayed in it.
by unanimous decision after three rounds (30-26
/ 30-25 / 30-26)
verdict: Another wildly exciting fight (or
at least the first round) in a night that
was blessed with several eventful bouts
Event - Tsuyoshi Nakasako vs Musashi
was called up to the ring to present both
fighters with envelopes pre-fight for this
8-man tourney final. These two were clearly
the class of the field so no surprise they
made it through to this showdown for a place
in the World GP. This was a typical kickboxing
match with plenty of jabbing, flurries ending
in low kicks and feinting. Nakasako owned
the ring centre while Musashi was happy to
walk back and look to counter one-twos with
his fast left hook.
of the same followed in round two, but by
round three they really let it all go. They
stood toe-to-toe and traded in long bursts,
eating enough shots to turn their brains to
mush. No doubt both fighters really wanted
the win and they are tough guys. I was waiting
for a spectacular collapse from Musashi in
the last minute, like when he failed at this
final hurdle last year to Nicholas Pettas.
But it didn't come and both handed it over
to the judges after a great finish.
after three rounds (30-30 / 30-30 / 30-30)
the judges passed the buck it was on to the
extra round. And after both fighters once
more dug deep, would you believe it but the
sfuking judges still wouldn't render a proper
decision and ordered them out for a fifth
round (I had it for Musashi, just). They were
too tired to do much in that round and eventually
Musashi took it unanimously. A come-back fairytale
for him, and heartbreak for Nakasako.
wins K-1 Japan Grand Prix by unanimous decision
(all 10-9) after the second extra round
K-1 guys have been mugged in their cross-promotion
battle with Pride. Cro-cop is the only K-1
fighter to earn a win under mma rules, and
both Jerome Le Banner and Matt Skelton were
flat-out humiliated. For the much anticipated
'away match' under K-1 rules, they haven't
done much better. Abidi starched within a
round by both Sapp and Jackson, Ernesto Hoost
and Musashi decisioned by Semmy Schilt, Bernardo
in a round by Goodridge and then so close
to another helping from Erikson. It all seems
to point to one inescapable conclusion: K-1
fighters are crap. Or maybe the fact most
of them were fighting at big weight disadvantages
didn't help. Is it any coincedence that the
only guys to buck the trend were Ray Sefo
(with an iron chin) and Jerome Le Banner (awesome
puncher under K-1 rules), two heavy guys in
match-ups are likely to inflame the debate
over who are the better athletes, what the
standard of kickboxing is like at K-1 level,
how does a boxer match against a kickboxer
(all the Pride fighters won on punching alone),
how important is weight in a match and so
on. Personally, I find it hard to believe
Sapp, Erikson, Goodridge or Jackson could
face a guy like Lennox Lewis and just bullrush
him into a corner for a quickie kayo. Something
is up in K-1.