Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Hero's 2006 Volume Three: Elimination - DVD Review

It’s time to take another trip to the world of mixed martial arts, with a fourth visit to the K1 Hero’s promotion. This time we’ll be looking at Volume Three of their 2006 series, Elimination, and event that featured top notch fighters from around the world, including Kazushi Sakuraba, Don Frye, Caol Uno and Semmy Schilt. Once again the commentators for the show are Howard Hughes and Pierre Guillet.

After the usual parade of fighters, it’s on to the first bout, Semmy Schilt against Min Soo Kim in the heavyweight division. This one began very slowly, and it wasn’t until Schilt connected with a left jab which bloodied his opponent’s nose that things got interesting. After getting checked over by the doctor at ringside, Kim was allowed to continue, and took the big Dutchman down. It looked like he had the advantage for a few moments, but as the seconds ticked away to the end of the round, Schilt used his long legs to lock in a triangle choke to get the submission victory. An okay way to begin proceedings. Not the best fight I’ve ever seen, but okay I suppose.
Next up, Ivan Menjivar taking on Hideo Tokoro in the quarter-finals of the Middleweight Championship Tournament. To say that this was fast-paced would be an understatement. The first round was simply a blur as both fighters exchanged hold and counter hold as they both went for the submission. The second round saw Menjivar take control, and it looked like he was going to get the submission win on several occasions, only for Tokoro to fight back, and almost get the win himself with an arm bar in the dying seconds of the round. So with the fight going the two round distance, Menjivar took the unanimous decision, a worthy winner in what was a very exciting fight.
Then it’s on to J.Z. Calvan against Hiroyuki Takaya, the second quarter-final in the Middleweight tournament. Lasting mere seconds, Calvan caught Takaya with a flying knee which sent the Japanese fighter falling to the canvas. As Calvan went in for the kill, the referee had no choice but to stop the fight. Quick, but impressive stuff from the Brazilian fighter here.
The third Middleweight quarter final saw Kazuya Yasuhiro taking on Rani Yahya. Yahya looked very nervous before the fight, but as soon as the bell rang, he was all business, quickly taking his opponent down, almost getting an ankle lock applied, before quickly getting a side choke for the submission victory. Again, quick but impressive stuff from a Brazilian fighter.
The legendary Caol Uno follows, going up against Indian fighter Black Mamba in the last Middleweight quarter-final. This was the classic match-up of the striker versus the submission specialist. Mamba caught Uno early in the first with a hard knee that sent him sprawling to the mat, with the following flurry opening up a nasty cut near Uno’s right eye, but Uno had enough about him to recover and control the rest of the round, almost synching in a rear naked choke. The second saw Mamba trying to match Uno at his own game, but as the round progressed, Uno came out on top, finally synching in the rear naked choke for the submission victory. Certainly an interesting fight here. Mamba looked impressive in the stand-up game, but Uno was Uno, and once again showed what a great fighter he is.
Then it’s on to the Light-Heavyweight tournament, and to start things off, it’s an all Japanese fight, featuring Yoshihiro Akiyama and Taiei Kin. This tournament followed a different format. Whereas the Middleweight tournament matches were fought over two five minute rounds, with an extra round if needed, the Light-Heavyweights had to fight one ten minute and one five minute round, and again, with an extra round if needed. Now this one had a somewhat controversial ending. Akiyama locked in an arm bar, and Kin did all he could to escape, but then, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight, and awarded it to Akiyama even though Kin didn’t actually tap out. It was a decision that not only confused both fighters, but the fans in attendance as well. A rather confusing way to end the fight, a fight spoiled by a somewhat over-zealous referee.
The second quarter final was next, and it saw Crosley Gracie against Melvin Manhoef. Now when you hear that a fighter is a member of the Gracie family, you get certain expectations from that man. You expect them to at least be prepared to fight. Sadly, this wasn’t the case with Crosley Gracie. Manhoef is an impressive fighter, but whenever he went after Gracie or connected with a punch, Gracie flopped to his back, intending to defend himself by kicking from that position, refusing to stand up and exchange with his opponent. All this tactic did was earn him several warnings and eventually a yellow card from the referee. Gracie’s tactics were nothing more than infuriating to Manhoef, who in the end took matters into his own hand and attack Gracie while he was down on the canvas, and as he rained down a barrage of blows, Gracie still refused to fight back, and it must have been to the relief of everyone in the arena when the referee stepped in and stopped the fight, awarding it to Manhoef.. Gracie was extremely disappointing, and clearly had no intention to fight, and one can’t help but feel sorry for Manhoef for having to put up with that nonsense.
Then it was on to another legendary fighter, Don Frye, as he went up against Yoshihisa Yamamoto in the heavyweight division. Another interesting fight here. Although Frye was looking a bit slow as he moved around the ring, he got the job done. Yamamoto got off a few good shots, even opening up a cut on Frye’s left cheek, but as the round came to an end, and with his opponent sat on the mat and backed up into a corner, Frye applied a choke to get the submission victory.
Then it was the turn of the second Gracie on the card, Rodrigo, as he took on Shungo Oyama, the third quarter-final in the Light-Heavyweight tournament. Sadly, this Gracie didn’t fair much better than his clansman, opting to fight a purely defensive fight, with Oyama acting as the aggressor throughout the fight. Indeed, it seemed that the only offensive move Gracie made was an attempted guillotine choke in the second round, which Oyama easily escaped from. With the fight going the two round distance, Oyama got the unanimous decision, and rightly so. Not really a good fight here, although that can be blamed on Gracie’s very negative tactics.
The final fight sees one of my favourites, Kazushi Sakuraba, as he faces Kestutis Smirnovas in the final quarter-final. A see-saw match up saw Smirnovas unleash with a barrage of blows early on that clearly staggered Sakuraba, and with so many of them going unanswered, it looked like the Japanese legend would be defeated. But the fact that Smirnovas expended so much energy with that initial onslaught gave Sakuraba the time he needed to recover, and when he’d regained enough energy, he went back on the attack, bloodying Smirnovas’ face, taking him down, and then applying the arm bar for the submission victory. A remarkable comeback from Sakuraba here, when it looked like he could be knocked out at any moment.
Disc two is where you’ll find the extras, which includes the countdown show, training footage, pre-fight interviews, and a bonus fight featuring Alexandre Franca Nogueira against Kotestu Boku.
In conclusion - a definite mixed bag here. While the members of the Gracie clan were very disappointing, and the opener showed that Semmy Schilt is better as a stand-up fight, Elimination’s good points more than made up for these disappointments, with some great performances, especially from the likes of Sakuraba and Uno, both of whom looked like they were going to lose their respective fights. So it’s another good outing from the Hero’s crew, and a good addition to anyone’s DVD collection.
With thanks to MMA Universe for supplying a copy of this release. “Hero’s 2006 Volume Three: Elimination” is available to buy online by visiting www.mmauniverse.com.
Before I go, I must say a big thank you to the readers of the Canadian-based A1 Wrestling Newsletter, who voted me as their “Columnist of the Year” with 56 per cent of the vote. Your continued support for “The Two Sheds Review”, which has been going since 2000, is greatly appreciated.