29 September 2002
29th September 2002
and pictures by Nikuraba
head-to-head with Pride is a brave step. In
Pancrase's favour, Pride was way out west
in Nagoya. On the downside, Pride was on a
cheap ppv the same afternoon. Both Rings and
Shooto had shows at the Cultural Gymnasium
this year and both barely managed to half
fill the arena. With this show being aired
in full on free tv next weekend, we were expecting
empty seats and so it turned out.
1 - Makoto Kohira vs Masaki Tsuji
rules have no decisions and fighters wear
shin pads. This was a dull opener. Kohira
spent most of the match standing over his
downed opponent and kicking at his legs. The
only bright spot was when Tsuji slapped on
a triangle and Kohira defended by interlocking
his hands underneath to make his arm safe
then fished to the ropes. Its odd, but I can't
remember seeing a triangle defended that way.
Technical draw after 2 rounds.
2 - Hirotaka Tomiyama vs Tatsufumi Tsuchida
technical draw. A comic scene in round two
when Tsuchida got his head caught on the thin
rope that separates the ring ropes, tried
to turn into a right hook, but his head went
1 - Masakazu Imanari vs Yuji Oba
arena was just over half full by the time
the pro fights started. I hadn't seen these
two guys before and knew nothing about them.
Imanari was sporting a strong build and goofy
gandalf beard. Oba had one of his knees taped
up and the other thigh supported. The beard
started strong with some wild striking. He
definately has attitude. He landed a good
kick and right hand then tied up in the corner
holding a leg. He tried to pull Oba off his
feet and in the end Oba overbalanced himself.
They stayed in guard a while till Oba fought
to his feet and pulled off a judo throw. Beardo
came back by rolling up to an armbar, causing
his opponent to wisely stand up away from
it. Oba kicked at the downed man and landed
one on the beard itself. Imanari seemed okay
but pulled guard anyway to avoid seconds.
An even round.
ring girl had a white pvc two-piece with a
Pancrase logo across the chest and the sponsor's
logo down the skirt leg. Imanari rushed out
at the bell with a front kick and fell over,
pulling guard. Oba landed several light shots
to the beard until Imanari sorted his defence
out. A pedalo from the bottom persuaded Oba
to stand up but he went back down and took
full mount quickly. Imanari pushed him up
and forwards, scooting out the back and taking
an achilles hold on the way. It was close
and had Oba scrambling away off balance. Imanari
followed him and missed a go-home kick while
Oba was still stumbling to his feet. Imanari
showed a decent ground and pound that had
the crowd playing along while Oba just hung
on. Imanari went for a reckless arm bar that
got him reversed but a clean pedalo kick had
Oba scrambling again and the bell saved him
from a few more shots.
Imanari by 2R JD (19-19 / 20-19 / 19-18)
verdict: 20-19 Imanari. He's got a pleasing
style and presence about him but he seems
to give up the advantage through recklessness.
2 - Katsuhisa Fuji vs Hiroya Takada
been in fights that plenty of overseas fans
have seen, but he's lost most of them (5-8-1).
Being a Japanese heavyweight, he keeps getting
new chances. David Paalhui sparked him cold
in a memorable Superbrawl 2 bout, Kenichi
Yamamoto knee-barred him in a fantastic finish
to the UFC-J tournament, Yoshiki Takahashi
kayoed him in about 10 seconds, and he inexplicably
got choked out by Marcelo Tigre after dominating
every minute of the bout. His wins have come
against smaller guys. Takada is 1-2, and unlikely
to raise his record anytime soon. Takada doesn't
look like a pro, being Scott Ferrozzo-esque
in physique. But he's from RJW and he's most
definately a wrestler, in the strictest sense,
singlet and all.
one began with alot of circling with Takada
feinting a tackle while Fuji measured a jab
and fired occassional low kicks. That went
on for all 15 minutes of the bout, in fact.
When Takada went for his first tackle Fuji
greeted him with a knee to the face and followed
it up with another to the gut. Takada didn't
take it too well and stiffened up into a right
hook. He recovered enough to clinch and eventually
the ref broke it up. There was a long time
out while the doctor checked the wrestler's
two was like the first but without the tackle
or the action. Takada was nervous and Fuji
just plain lazy. By the end of the round Takada
was totally tamed and trying to lull Fuji
to sleep to get to the bell without getting
hit any more. Round three continued the pattern.
Takada didn't initiate a single tackle and
was pulling his lead leg back from every kick
that came near it.
Fuji by 3R JD (30-30 / 30-29 / 30-27)
verdict: 30-27 Fuji, though I can't be sure
I scored the third round right because I spent
most of it at the merchandise stall waiting
for the bell. A clear cut win for Fuji in
a real stinker.
3 - Daisuke Ishii vs Dean Lister
is the reigning King of the Cage champ and
had his 4-1 record (all wins by submission)
and his belt to prove it. His manager had
flown over an entourage decked out in Lister
t-shirts and reportedly took Dean out for
a $500 sushi. After the weigh-in, I'd hope.
On the day of the fight Ishii fell ill and
the doctor ruled him out. Big disappointment
for Dean. Pancrase introduced him in ring
centre, maybe just to prove to the fans that
he was ready to fight, and raised his arm
and declared a win by forfeit. No way was
it a win in any shape or form, but I doubt
it'll officially go down as such anyway.
4 - Kazuo Misaki (Grabaka) vs Kosei Kubota
has some lucky plums. In the recent Deep show
they earned him 4 points and two wins before
he had to sit out of the tournament finals.
They must have recovered now. Misaki was sporting
a soft mohican that will forever be known
as 'Beckham Hair' in Japan. Kubota got a single
immediately and was put in guard. Misaki wanted
to climb his legs up but Kubota held him down
hard. It was inactive for a while then Misaki
tried an achilles hold but he couldn't overbalance
the Pancrase man so he was just holding a
leg really. When Kubota did tip over backwards
Misaki scrambled to take the back with both
hooks in. Kubota was proactive in unhooking
him and got to his feet. Even round.
was comfortable chipping away at stand up
and 2 clean kicks prompted Kubota to tackle
and give his back. Again he escaped, eating
a knee before falling and pulling guard. Sanae
Kikuta and Akihiro Gono were giving good advice
from the corner which Misaki followed diligently.
In contrast, Minowa was silent at the other
end. They closed out the round with Misaki
glued to Kubota's back and he just missed
a football kick when he spun to the front.
Kubota was totally outpositioned.
was starting to bully his opponent on the
feet too and just pushed him over to guard
then took his back again. Kubota was having
a horrible night and a cut over his left eye
compounded his misery. Misaki was carded for
something I couldn't catch. From the position,
it may have been a fish-hook, but I didn't
Misaki by 3R JD (29-28 / 29-28 / 29-28)
verdict: 29-27 Misaki. Kubota was schooled
from the middle of the first round onwards.
Misaki lacks finishing but is otherwise complete.
The official cards made it read closer than
it was to watch.
5 - Mitsuyoshi Sato (Grabaka) vs Osami Shibuya
is the Travis Fulton of Japan. Well, he's
had 64 fights anyway (26-26-12). He's always
lost to the top guys and his only notable
win is a tko of Ian Freeman. I'm sure you've
seen the tape and know that 'tko' doesn't
really tell the story of Freeman's freakish
rib injury. Sato is 4-3-1 and a good solid
fighter these days.
clinched right away and they hugged in the
corner until he tried a trip and Sato pulled
him round to land on top. Shibuya tried a
triangle then switched to an arm bar as Sato
put his trailing arm through. Not sure how,
but Shibuya rolled him over and sat in mount
to apply the pressure from the top. He didn't
have it for long and was soon pulling guard.
Its an active guard too but they were on the
feet and hugging by the end of the round.
round two I was thinking only Shibuya was
capable of ending it inside the limit. More
hugging started it off and Sato gave his back
in a botched belly to belly attempt. The Pancrase
man couldn't keep it and ended in half mount.
He was crouching and thought about a heel
hook but Sato went for a quickly blocked knee
bar. Shibuya sat into full mount and then
flattened out trying to straighten an arm.
He punched well and followed with a normal
juji arm bar but Sato kept good enough position
to gut it out.
got a takedown opening round three and Shibuya
pedaloed him before giving up side mount.
As Shibuya tried to sit up against the ropes
they fell out the ring. On the break Sato
seemed gassed and was turning his back. He
regrouped but was pulled into guard and then
a triangle. Shibuya even turned him over to
cinch it from the top. Somehow Sato escaped
out the back but got slapped right into another
one. This time a transition to an arm bar
was very close but the Grabaka fighter turned
his arm and rode it out. He tried the knee
bar again but it was nuisance-value only.
Shibuya by 3R JD (30-28 / 30-28 / 30-28)
verdict: The paid judges were in agreement
with the free-loader. Sato was never a threat
and Shibuya had catch a few times.
6 - Kei Yamamiya (27-16-5 / Pancrase-ism)
vs Eiji Ishikawa (6-7 / Grabaka)
two biggest wins were over Ikuhisa Minowa
and Mitsuyoshi Sato. Eiji has an unremarkable
record and was trying to put Grabaka 3-1 up
against the dangerous southpaw Yamamiya. Ishikawa
looked like he'd been in the wars cos his
foot was wrapped up and cold sprayed plus
he had a Terry Butcher bandage around his
head too. Yamamiya was taped up under his
gloves, like a puncher, unlike his opponent.
Grabaka fighter started a clinch and hugged
until Yamamiya pushed him over to guard. Some
heel shots to the kidneys from the bottom
man were all that happened for a while and
the crowd were silent. When Ishikawa started
punching up, Yamamiya stood out of it and
got back into the upright game he is better
suited to. He landed a left-right-left burst
but then clinched and hugged. As they walked
back to their corners on the bell, I noticed
the ref had caulis too. 10-10
flurried then took a front headlock on Ishikawa's
dive, which he improved to side mount. He
kept up the pressure with a rapist's choke
until Ishikawa hip-scooted and bulled to his
feet. They soon fell over with Ishikawa pulling
guard. Again Yamamiya stood off and let his
man up. Now they were really working a hugging
game, cleaning the dust off the ropes as they
slid from corner to corner. Yamamiya had the
strength advantage and finally got another
crude takedown, putting a few punches on the
end of it. 10-9 Yamamiya.
smothered the puncher's flurry on the bell
but got put onto his back in the resulting
clinch. It was looking like there's be no
stoppages tonight. Yamamiya found himself
in full mount but gave it up to half mount
and then lost it completely and was put in
guard. Again he stood up. Ishikawa was all
grappler now and shot a long single. He nearly
paid for it when Yamamiya front headlocked
him and spun to his back, slapping on a choke.
The Grabaka man defended well, dodged the
hooks and even reversed to full mount. He
didn't milk it and was soon bridged off. 10-10
Yamamiya by 3R JD (30-30 / 30-28 / 30-28)
verdict: 30-29 Yamamiya. A good active fight
at a fast pace. Both fighters were successful
at taking the other out of his comfort zone.
Pancrase-ism is turning the tide in their
feud with Grabaka.
fights Minoru Suzuki was in-ring giving a
speech about his upcoming shoot against a
New Japan pro-wrestler. He was gonna fight
Kensuke Sasaki but apparently that's off,
and New Japan went to the Pancrase gym the
day before to make a new challenge. I didn't
catch the opponent's name, but it's big news
because all the Japanese press followed him
7 - Kengo Watanabe (6-6-2 / Pancrase-ism)
vs Ron Waterman (5-1-1)
is popular because he's by far the biggest
Japanese guy in Pancrase. He didn't get a
win until 2 years and 7 fights into his career.
Since then he's been sparked cold by Tim Lajick
and reversed a freakish loss due to broken
arm suffered against the Mexican Dos Caras.
Still waiting for a win of note. Big Ron was
on the comeback after being released by the
WWE. Apparently he was a good worker, and
he had the look. This would be his biggest
win if he could pull it off.
won the unofficial 'physique of the night'
easily. Kengo's feet were heavily taped and
somehow Waterman drew boos. That's unusual
in Japan. Big Ron rushed his man as soon as
Kengo threw a low kick and muscled him to
the mat. He worked a can opener from guard.
It didn't work, but it let everybody know
this was going to be a strength contest. As
Waterman started a ground and pound, Kengo
tried to kick him off but gave up an inside
cradle and then side mount. Waterman tied
up an arm and started an americana. His positioning
wasn't perfect but he cranked it hard and
drew a yelp from Kengo that had the ref jumping
Waterman by arm lock about 2min of 1R
verdict: One way traffic. Ron tackled, smothered
and muscled him.
8 - Yuki Sasaki (12-4-1 / Grabaka) vs Alex
was the Brazilian Killer's first fight back
since his tko loss to Anderson Silva in Pride.
Sasaki is a good submission guy, getting 9
of his 12 wins from taps, but has always come
up short at top level. His brawl with Kei
Yamamiya earlier this year was a classic come
from behind win in the last 10 seconds after
having been knocked silly 3 times. Steibling
came out with his Brazilian Killer shirt and
a smiley face bleached into his hair. He was
jumpy before the bell.
through the fight, Steibling was stalking,
looking to unload punches, while Sasaki circled
and hit him with kicks. Some good exchanges.
Sasaki lost his footing against the ropes
and Steibling jumped on his back. When the
Grabaka guy turned to guard, Steibling stood
up and kicked aggressively, mixing in a few
stomps. Sasaki took a chance and stood up,
taking a few glancing blows on the way. It
was clear Steibling had more power but he
wasn't making it count. Whenever he opened
up for real, Sasaki shot, Alex sprawled and
they stayed that way for a while. 10-10
ring girl was now sporting a one piece blue/white
race queen dress. Very nice. In round two,
Sasaki tackled to escape a flurry and again
got sprawled on. This time he switched his
grip to the other leg and did a fireman's
carry, flicking Steibling over the top to
take the top half of guard. Steibling held
his wrists for a while then upped the ante
with some punches and pedaloes. Neither man
advanced position. Steibling's left eye was
closing from a clean g'n'p right hand. Sasaki
has a good guard pass game but Steibling was
repelling everything tonight, like he did
with Wallid. 10-10
the third round Steibling still couldn't put
Sasaki in place long enough to finish a combo,
just getting occassional single shots. Sasaki
got in a good clean high kick. His tactic
was to circle, stop long enough for Steibling
to set himself, then beat him to it with a
kick. He was soon dropping for a leg after
a clean right hand and again he was sprawled
on. The Japanese fighter did a neat roll to
guard and Steibling opted to go to his feet.
In the last 30 Sasaki suckered a triangle
but Alex just had his hand in and stayed
safe until Sasaki went back to guard. 10-10
Sasaki by 3R JD (30-29 / 30-29 / 30-29)
verdict: Draw. This was close and neither
man was able to get off. Only one point in
it on each card, all leaning the same way,
so it was hardly a robbery. Big win for Sasaki
but expect an uproar on the American sites.
Event - Kiuma Kunioku (25-14-7 / Pancrase-ism)
vs Hiroki Nagaoka (4-2-1 / Rodeo Style)
is the reigning welterweight King of Pancrase
and his long records includes notable wins
over Masakatsu Funaki, Yuki Kondo, John Lober,
Genki Sudo, Guy Mezger and.... Frank Shamrock.
All on points, mind. Nagaoka doesn't have
anything on his record and going 1-2-1 in
his last fights is not the sort of streak
that normally earns a title shot. He must
have gammy knees too because he was heavily
strapped and had kneepads on both.
dropped Kunioku to his knees straight away
with a right hand but it was a flash knockdown
and he wouldn't have any more success over
the next three rounds. Kunioku hugged to clear
his head for a minute and then stepped off.
Nagaoka was having some adrenalin issues and
looking manic. More hugging ensued then the
champ landed a sweet punch, kick then takedown
to full mount, giving a few shoulder strikes
for desserts. He stood off for a football
kick (that's 'soccer kick' to American readers)
but missed. He finished the round by edging
the stand-up. 10-9 Kunioku on the highly respected
SFUK official scorecard.
two..... the challenger caught a kick and
rushed the champ to his back. Tight guard-play
followed and after a while Kunioku seemed
to turn towards a kimura but it was all very
indecisive so the ref broke it up. In the
last 2, Nagaoka pulled guard after missing
a shoot. Scrappy. Kunioku connected on a short
football kick right on the bell. 10-10
was landing much cleaner work in round three
so Nagaoka hugged him. The champ nailed him
with two knees to the teeth, a high kick and
a pair of right hands. Clean but nothing behind
them. On the clinch Kunioku tripped him to
a half mount. Nagaoka was tiring badly, the
champ had his measure, so he spent the whole
round on the verge of being overwhelmed but
gamely hung in. One spot showed the difference
in class - When Nagaoka trapped the champ
in a corner and unloaded, Kunioku bobbed and
weaved away from the entire flurry and took
Nagaoka down once he was done punching. Kunioku
really punished him with forearms from side
mount and you could see the fighting spirit
leave Nagaoka's body and fly up to heaven.
He surrendered a lazy rear naked choke in
the last 20 and tapped out straight away.
Kunioku by submission 3R 4:36
verdict: The champion really pulled away down
the stretch and never looked back, slowly
grinding down his opponent. Good fight.