Friday, 25 April 2008

Hero's 2007 Volume 1: The Road to Victory - DVD Review

This edition of The Two Sheds Review sees us making a quick return to the mixed martial arts world, with another visit to the Japanese Hero’s promotion, as we take a look at their recent DVD release, 2007 Volume One: The Road To Victory, featuring the likes of Goodridge, Sakuraba, Uno, Mighty Mo, and many more. Our commentators for the evening are Pierre Guillet and Dale Adams.

After the opening parade of fighters, it’s straight down to business with Yoshiki Takahashi facing Melvin Manhoef. Now this one got interesting before the fight even began, as Manhoef was yellow carded for having body oil on his legs, which is illegal under MMA rules, and would have made escaping leg lock attempts very easy. As it turned out though this actually didn’t matter. The Dutchman showed incredible hand speed and good take-down defence here, and it wasn’t long before the hand speed came into play, as he sent Takahashi down with a right hand to the body, before moving in for the kill, with the referee stepping in to stop the onslaught, with Manhoef getting the TKO victory.
Then it was on to Mighty Mo, the K-1 veteran in his MMA debut, against Min Soo Kim. The first two minutes of this fight were actually quite dull, as both fighters seemed to spend a great deal of time just staring at each other trying to work out what to do. But then, as expected, Mo began to unload with the heavy shots, especially the right hand, and it was a final overhand right that sent Kim crashing to the mat out cold. It’s hard to actually grade Mo on his performance here, as, apart from his right hands, nothing much happened, so I think I’ll reserve judgement until I see more of him in MMA action.
Next, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro against Ryuki Ueyama. This was the first fight that saw some major ground work, with move for counter move which happened so fast that the commentators had a job keeping up with things. After some great transitions between both fighters, Ribeiro locked in a triangle choke, with Ueyama tapping out seconds later. Although this was a short one, it was a good example of MMA at it’s best. Good stuff here.
There was more Brazil/Japan action next, with Andre Dida against Hiroyuki Takaya. This one was action packed from the fast. A quick series of combinations from both fighters saw Dida connect with a right uppercut that broke Takaya’s nose, and after the doctor checked him over he was allowed to continue. But as the fight went on, and more blows from Dida saw a swelling develop under Takaya’s right eye and more blood coming from his nose, the doctors checked him over again, and ruled that he couldn’t continue, awarding Dida the victory by doctor’s stoppage. A shame that this one couldn’t go on longer, as it looked like developing into a tremendous fight, but, as always, safety comes first.
An all-Japan battle follows, with Yoshihisa Yamamoto against Katsuyori Shibata. This one doesn’t even last ten seconds, Shibata, who came to the ring completely focused, went for the kill straight away, knocking Yamamoto off his feet and then going in with a very fast barrage of blows. Just nine seconds into the fight, the referee stepped in and called a halt to the contest. An explosive performance from Shibata here, and probably one of the most intense fighters I’ve seen in any sport.
Two big guys next, with Gary Goodridge taking on Jan “The Giant” Nortje, although Goodridge looked dwarfed by the big South African. As was expected of these two, it was slow and methodical at times. Nortje had the upper hand early on, moving Goodridge into a corner and unleashing with a barrage of blows which only landed on the arms and hands as Goodridge defended himself. But Big Daddy managed to come back well, and took the big guy down before going to work with the ground and pound. But by then it was obvious that Nortje was gassed, and he had no answer to Goodridge’s onslaught, with the referee stepping in and stopping things just two minutes into the fight. A good enough fight, but this one probably won’t go down well with the purists.
Then came the one I was waiting for, as the Gracie hunter himself, Kazushi Sakuraba went up against Yurij “Playboy” Kyselov. Once again the master showed how great he was, taking Kyselov down early, who seemed put off with the warning he was given for pulling Sakuraba’s hair early on. But despite having the early advantage as he rained down with a torrent of blows, Sakuraba worked his way clear and after a couple of excellent transitions synched in the cross armbar for the submission victory, and just two minutes into the first round. Another excellent performance from Sakuraba here.
After that great fight came Black Mamba and Kazuyuki Miyata. Before he came into this fight Mamba was mainly known as a striker, but here he showed that he’d been working on his ground game as well. After the usual feeling out process at the start of the fight, Miyata took him down, and Mamba almost synched in an armbar before Miyata escaped and slammed him to the mat. It was then that the Japanese fighter went to work, first trying a key lock and then transitioning to a guillotine choke to get the win. Impressive win for Miyata, and a sign of improvement for Black Mamba.
Then came the other fight I was waiting for, Ali Ibrahim against Caol Uno. The Egyptian fighter started off quickly, and looked impressive as he took Uno down to the mat. But it wasn’t long before Uno went to work, moving off his back and synching in the armbar for the quick submission victory. Although Ibrahim looked good to start off with, Uno’s experience came to the fore here in another good performance.
More all-Japan action follows with Kazuya Yasuhiro and Hideo Tokoro. This one started off slowly, with only a couple of kicks and punches thrown in the first two minutes, but things got better when they went down to the mat, with Tokoro taking Yauhiro down, and soon transitioning to get the armbar submission. Not the best fight on the night, but still good to watch.
Disc two is where you’ll find the extras, including the three preliminary fights, show trailers, post fight interviews, and a short film, “A Day in the Life of Mighty Mo.”
In conclusion - having recently had to put up MMA shows that either had rounds where very little happens or fighters unwilling to fight (Kalib Starnes, I’m looking in your direction), this DVD was like a breath of fresh air. In case you haven’t noticed, but I didn’t actually write about any of the fights going into the second or third rounds. That’s because none of them did, and that’s because each and every fighter on this show came to do what they do best, and that’s what makes The Road to Victory such a great DVD, and one you should definitely add to you collection. It’s not just Japanese MMA at it’s finest, it’s worldwide MMA at it’s finest.
Hero’s 2007 Volume One: The Road to Victory can be purchased online by visiting the MMA Universe website at www.mmauniverse.com