UFC brings the modern version of the ancient and, may I say, hallowed tradition of dudes fighting it out for money to a land that appreciates the warrior spirit: Japan.
In Japan, its called 'Budo', what we could call 'martial arts'. And like when UFC travelled to Brazil, it was like they just changed the word 'Brazil' with 'Japan' in regards to their pandering to the origins of MMA. And though most of the warriors don't exactly express everything that 'Bushido' represents (I don't consider owning a Hummer or other high priced vehicle as 'simple living'), the self-discipline and bravery on display in the cage is always top-notch.
At any rate, we return to MMA's 'spiritual home' in the Saitama Super Arena for UFC 144.
|The epic first confrontation at the UFC I tournament, First Round match.|
It opens with Gracie/Shamrock, the blood feud that financed UFC for several shows in its early SEG/Art Davie/Rorion Gracie days. I don't know about you, but I would have rather seen Dutch kickboxing rogue Gerard Gordeu kicking sumo Telia Tuli in the mouth, knocking his tooth into Bill "Superfoot" Wallace's beverage. Let's face it, that was the first fight of UFC, and it was a true harbinger of the brutality that was to arrive that we've all come to know and love.
More luminaries from the past are put on display in some of their greatest moments and transitional periods in UFC. They include Tito Ortiz dropping the late Evan Tanner on his back and knocking him out and cracking the pavement as well. Redneck stomper Matt Hughes big comeback against Frank Trigg, dropping Trigg in a running slam. Chuck Liddell just pwning bully Tito Ortiz against a digital wall that falls apart at his might. BJ Penn sends a flying knee to Sean Sherk, knocking Sherk through a digital wall. George St. Pierre knocking out Matt Hughes with a high kick. Randy Coture making history by knocking out heavyweight Tim Sylvia.
It moves into the modern era with Rampage knocking out Wanderlai Silva. Brock Lesnar punching Heath Herring in the face, making Heath literally roll backwards, giving Brock a chance to spear him as he rises. Rick Franklin KO'ing Nate Quarry. Junior Dos Santos KO'ing one of the dirtiest fighters in the game, Gilbert Yvel, who once punched a ref and knocked him out.
Then there's an amazing German Suplex. I wish I knew who those two were, but it's awesome.
Basically, it was an awesome opening, and it seems to be the new one replacing the old 'Gladiator' rip-off intro. Unfortunately, its still the same douchbag-heavy soundtrack. I guess I should be thankful its not a BroStep version.
JOE 'J-LO' LAUZAN vs. ANTHONY 'SHOWTIME' PETTIS
Joe Lauzan's fight name, "J-Lau" is stupid.
There. I said it.
With that said, 'J-Lau' was doing alright until Pettis kicked him in the face and knocked him out. In the end, Pettis petitioned for a shot at the winner of Henderson/Edgar. Why not, I say.
HATSU HIOKI vs. BART PALASZEWSKI
This was a great fight, and Hioki takes the decision win.
YUSHIN 'THUNDER' OKAMI vs. TIM 'THE BARBARIAN' BOESTCH
As a fan of pro-wrestling, its hard for me not to support a guy whose nickname is an open homage to Japanese pro-wrestling legend, Jushin 'Thunder' Liger. And you can't help but like a guy who uses one of the most fearsome images in history to completely supplement his crappy non-fighter first name. And then these two threw down.
I was disappointed Tim didn't come into the 'Conan' theme as he had before. And, naturally, that means I'm upset Yushin didn't come in to the Jushin Liger theme song. But then again, if I heard that, I'd expect a masked dude in red and white coming into the Octagon to whip ass. Anyway...
For two solid rounds, 'Thunder' dominated 'The Barbarian' with crisp jabs and assorted strikes. That was, until the third, when Boestch decided to use some dirty boxing and simply hold on to Okami's head against the cage and punch him about the face until he fell to the mat, in which he then continued to pepper Okami's face with punches until the ref stopped the fight. Winner: Tim 'The Barbarian'
|"Time tooooo say Goodbye"|
Actor, singer, and fighter, Yoshihiro Akiyama is the renaissance man of MMA. He sings to sold out crowds and also whips ass. Of course, he enters to "Time to Say Goodbye" by Boccelli/featuring Sarah Brightman, and does the O-Rei, which is always awesome.
At any rate, Shields just looked stupid and desperate during this fight, throwing punches with no meaning or power. I don't remember him looking so scared as he fought, either. He threw a lot, but none of the punches really had meaning.
Meanwhile, Akiyama defended many shots at his legs and took down Shields with Judo techniques like trips and gorgeous hip tosses. He didn't throw as many strikes as Shields. But every time he did, it was solid and precise. You wouldn't know how well Akiyama was doing hearing Rogan, who spent the whole three rounds getting Shields over.
Generally, Akiyama made Shields look stupid for two rounds, and part of the third, where Shields finally did something and got one takedown. Shields may have 'peppered' Akiyama with strikes, but Nick Diaz does the same thing, but they actually hurt.
Many people saw the same thing. Even Sherdog.com editors thought the same thing. But apparently, the judges saw another fight and gave the decision to Shields unanimously. Whatever.
Two heavyweight sluggers threw down in another fight, and both had potential for quick knockouts. And it didn't take long for the 'Oceana SuperFighter' (sorry, UFC, I like his old Pride moniker over the new title) to pop Kongo in the face, stunning him before a flurry of heavy punches knocked him out for good. Hunt takes it.
'RAMPAGE' JACKSON vs. RYAN 'DARTH' BADER
Rampage looked like garbage, and was easily picked apart by a game and hungry Bader. In fact, he missed weight and gave up a part of his purse to Bader. He did, however, make up for it by coming in to the old Pride music, which was cool to hear again after so many years.
Rampage is such a good fighter, but you could tell that he just sometimes half-asses his training, and it showed here. At the end of the fight, he was smoked, and just remained there in the middle of the ring for a few moments before the decision to Bader was done.
UFC LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE MATCH
The Benson Henderson/Frankie Edgar match was a high-speed, hard hitting affair. The two guys were swinging for the fences, striking each other with precise and brutal strikes.
Edgar had a tendency this match to catch kicks from Henderson. At one point early, Henderson tried to hit an Enziguri/Back Brain Kick on Edgar, who very luckily ducked it. Eat your heart out, Fighter Hayabusa!
But Edgar is as tough as a two-dollar steak from an east coast dive diner, and stayed in the game to take and dish out more punishment.
In the end, Henderson took a decision win over Edgar, who thought he won the fight.
Yeah, you look like the winner, Edgar. Go back to the Garden State, GTL, and get back to the drawing board.
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Bowie Ibarra is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror story. His upcoming book, "Pit Fighters: Baptism by Fire", is a combat sports themed action/adventure book.
Network with Bowie at his official website ZombieBloodFights.com.