Post K-1 Dynamite Notes – The Revolution Has Begun

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

Appropriately for a K-1 event, the most stirring part of this event were the kickboxing bouts and knockouts. In an exciting night of fights, the Platonic Ideal of chins was cracked by one of the most pure strikers in MMA, some genetic freaks did their thing, a young star’s breakout year ended on a sour note, and MMA was scientifically proven to be superior to K-1.

Most of the bouts had little relevance to the sporting side of MMA, existing purely as entertainment. However, some of the individual performances showed a lot about the growth and decline of particular fighters.

Unfortunately for fans, the very exciting JZ Calvancanti vs. Joachim Hansen bout was cancelled at the last minute, as Hansen has apparently suffered some kind of severe head trauma before he showed up at the pre-fight medical checks, leading the doctors to immediately ship him off to the hospital. This robbed the evening of what would surely have been a very exciting fight, and certainly was one of the most relevant.

Kiyoshi Tamura def. Kazushi Sakuraba via unanimous decision

An otherwise crackling night of fights was put to bed by this nightcap. Everyone was probably exhausted from such a mammoth event, so this probably had half the arena snoring. Sakuraba didn’t look like he wanted to be there, and Tamura looked like he didn’t want Sakuraba to be there. I guess it’s good that two 39 year old men can go out and fight for 15 minutes after lifetimes of adversity… but this isn’t some kind of lifetime original movie. The only decision in the MMA rules bouts! On the plus side, Sakuraba could still walk and talk after the bout, and his body still contained almost all of his blood.

Shinya Aoki def. Eddie Alvarez via submission (heel hook) — Round 1, 1:32 (for WAMMA lightweight title)

Aoki is very good at forcing people to fight the ground game, as I said prior to the bout. Honestly I don’t think this takes anything away from Alvarez as a fighter, although the knee injury and the L on his record are a poor end to his breakout year. Fortunately his recovery shouldn’t take long, so we can expect a return to impressive performances from the little bruiser in the coming year.

Aoki is rightfully one of the 21st century kids of Japanese MMA. He may run his mouth a lot, but he is one of the guys keeping grappling relevant in the year of the knockout. He’s too predictable and fragile not to get knocked out again this year if he continues to face elite competition, but he’s too talented not to submit another fighter most expected to knock him out, as well.

Melvin Manhoef def. Mark Hunt via KO (punches) — Round 1, 0:18

Pure slop from Hunt. Manhoef is an absolute monster, although he can get knocked out and tries to power out of all things wrestling and submission-related (which leads to gassing), so don’t expect him to suddenly become Chuck Liddell circa 2006. This shouldn’t be interpreted as a case of Hunt’s chin deteriorating, so much as even the gold standard for chins having its limits.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic def. Hong Man Choi via TKO (leg injury) — Round 1, 6:32

This is what Cro-Cop does when matched up with people several levels below him – come in looking unexcited, slowly but methodically beat them unconcious, and then walk out. It’s like he’s some kind of industrial machine. Cro-Cop now has to get some knee surgery, so he’ll probably take several months off and get another tune-up match against some pro-wrestler.

Choi looked absolutely awful here. He barely even tried to attack Mirko. Prior to the bout Choi had something up on his blog about being depressed, wanting people to leave him alone, and wanting to die. After reading that and watching the fight, I felt bad for him. It really looked like he didn’t want to be in that ring at all.

Hayato “Mach” Sakurai def. Katsuyori Shibata via TKO (punches) — Round 1, 7:01

A good small man, even if he’s fat and lazy, will beat a garbage big man. Yawn.

Semmy Schilt def. Siala “Mighty Mo” Siliga via submission (trinagle choke) — Round 1, 5:31

It’s pretty impressive to think that Schilt is one of, if not THE best K-1 fighter in the world, but he’s also leaps and bounds ahead of the other K-1 guys on the ground. Lebanner is always making noise about training jiu-jitsu, maybe K-1 should arrange a grappling-rules fight with him and Schilt. God I hope FEG don’t read this, because they might actually think about doing this. Oh, and Schilt’s cameo in Transporter 3 was crap, in keeping with the rest of Transporter 3.

Bob Sapp def. Akihito “Kinniku Mantaro” Tanaka via TKO (punches) — Round 1, 5:22

Gong Show. Only thing worth watching was Sapp’s dancing after the bout.

Daisuke Nakamura def. Hideo Tokoro via technical submission (arm bar) — Round 1, 2:23

A very exciting tilt, if brief. Neither of these guys will ever wear a belt, because they fight with this kind of reckless abandon, letting opponents take advantage of their shortcomings. Still, there should always be a place for that kind of fighter as long as MMA is an entertainment product. This was really a poorly set line, gambling-wise, as Nakamura wasn’t really in any danger from those submission attempts, and was obviously a much bigger and better fighter.

Ikuhisa Minowa def. Errol Zimmerman via submission (toe hold) — Round 1, 1:01

Lesson to be learned for many MMA pundits-just because someone trains near fighters that cross-train (Zimmerman trains his kickboxing at Golden Glory, with many fighters that train MMA) doesn’t mean he is working on his guard in his spare time between kickboxing bouts. Just remember that Edson Drago had been the boxing trainer at Brazillian Top Team for years and years, yet still probably couldn’t get a submission even in a worked bout.

Minowa has really carved himself a niche by playing up his ridiculous antics. I wonder how much of that is due to all those knockouts he’s suffered.

Gegard Mousasi def. Musashi via TKO — Round 1, 2:32

Gegard looked very good here. Very crisp combinations and stunningly accurate. Musashi is past his prime as a fighter, but he’s still good, so this was a very impressive result. Gegard really is one of the top talents in the world at 185, and he has done the bulk of his training with his brother in a basement gym or something, which is just stupefying. I think he can make it at 205, but should wait until he can’t make 185 anymore, since he’ll be smallish for 205, which is full of gigantic guys like Forrest Griffin or Rampage, who could put Gegard on his back, where he’s weakest.

Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Kozo Takeda via TKO — Round 1, 2:37

How happy was Kawajiri to get this win? What a dominant win it was, too. Although Kawajiri’s wide-hand stance alarmed me in a kickboxing match, he certainly comported himself in a much better fashion than his outright brawls with Gil Melendez and Eddie Alvarez. Kawajiri has gotten to be pretty under-appreciated these days. The guy is a VERY solid fighter and should be competitive with any 155lb fighter in the world, especially if his standup is improved for real.

Alistair Overeem def. Bahr Hari via KO — Round 1, 2:07

This is the fight that has gotten the most attention on internet message boards (aside from billions of OMG HUNT = CAN posts). Overeem came out looking like Uncle Muscle and just mauled Hari like he was owed money. Hari was never known for having a great chin, and Overeem has always been difficult to handle early in fights, so the performance wasn’t totally unprecedented, but it was still a surprise.

His new muscles aside (more on that later) Overeem’s biggest improvement was in his punches. Overeem always had awesome knees and pretty good kicks, but you used to be able to predict him getting floored by counting 30 seconds after he started really letting his hands go. He’d do this weird no-look punch thing that left him wide open, and almost never even made contact with his opponent. Here, Overeem threw hard punches accurately and right through Hari’s guard, which really bodes ill for any opponent that can’t just take a 6 minute beating and wait for him to gas.

As for his size, Overeem has obviously bulked up a good bit in a short period of time, and he’s fighting in Japan, so internet experts immediately pronounced him a steroid addict. In Alistair’s favor are the fact that he fought in the United States, where he tested clean, and the fact that he’s always had quite a bit of muscle. Against this, while he peed clean at Strikeforce 12 months ago, where he defeated Paul Buentello, he also weighed in at 224 there. Overeem weighed in at 254 for Dynamite, indicating 30 lbs of lean growth in 12 months, enough to raise many an eyebrow. In the end, only his (hypothetical) steroid supplier knows for sure, but I ask you this—fighting in a venue where steroids are de facto legal, is it wrong for a fighter to take them? Is steroid use more or less of an uneven playing field than the in-born natural differences in athleticism or ability to withstand punishment?

In any case, an embarrassing loss for Hari, and a win for Overeem that has re-affirmed his relevance, just as many thought the sport would pass him by. It remains to be seen if anything Overeem has done will improve his chin or gas, however. I expect his worst enemies will continue to be opponents that can drag out the fight and withstand his initial blitz.

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?