Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA 1992 Mega-Thread

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Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 22 "An Intense Defense"

*Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his initials. *

Welcome, as we begin a new era in charting the ever unfolding martial-combat zeitgeist. Yes, 1992 is upon us and we have taken the solemn oath to forge ahead in traversing these uncharted waters, following headlong to wherever they may lead us. 1991 was revelatory in many ways, but ultimately functioned as an hors d'oeuvre of the possibilities of what modern MMA would and could become in the future. It also set the stage for three separate promotions to really start to discover their identity, so we can be sure that this year we will start to see a further development of the myriad of new ideas that were presented when the UWF was birthed in 1984.

We have now arrived to 1-9-92 as we return to the cozy confines of the Korakuen Hall, ready to kick off the year with another UWF-I event. 1991 ended with Takada and Co. making a bold move with their Berbick public relations stunt, that probably would have been a disaster had Berbick actually fought Takada instead of leaving the ring in disgust. Berbick’s actions, though one can’t really fault him for, have had the unfortunate consequences of playing into the narrative that the UWF-I has been trying to craft for the last year, in that Takada is a superhero and an unequalled master in kakutogi combat. We will now have to wait almost 6 years to see this narrative completely collapse when we see the birth and rise of PRIDE FC, but for now let us bathe in the warmth of Takada’s 15mins.

We are welcomed to a montage of some of the various fighters that were present during last months card, giving interviews, before it cuts away to footage of Nobuhiko Takada having a seat right by the front entrance of the Korakuen Hall, greeting fans as they come in, and shaking their hands. This is pretty neat if you think about it, as could you imagine Hulk Hogan hanging around the front of the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta Ga, greeting fans as they entered the studio for a taping of WCW Saturday Night? Neither can I. After a lengthy interview with Takada, of which I understood nothing outside of a reference to his fight with Berbick, we are off to the races, with a rematch between Hiromitsu Kanehara and the other Maeda, Masakazu (not Akira).

These two stole the show a couple of weeks prior when they opened, and while I’m surprised they would go back to the well so quickly, I won’t complain as any day to see Kanehara in action is a good one, indeed. They don’t waste anytime before getting right into the action, and other Maeda is looking a lot more confident this time out, as he immediately goes guns blazing towards Kanehara with a litany of palm-strikes, but is taken down quickly when he misses a Ushiro-Tobi-Mawashi-Geri (reverse jumping roundhouse kick). Maeda was able to quickly get out of Kanehara’s mount and ended the rapid sequence with a soccer kick to Kanehara’s back. We aren’t even a min into the match, and this is looking good, so far.

Maeda continues to press the action with a variety of strikes, that Kanehara is able to parry before closing the distance and executing a tasty Ippon-Seoinage (one arm throw). Kanehara looks for a quick kimura, but other Maeda does a good job of scrambling and his constant movement stifles Kanehara’s submission attempts, which causes Kanehara to simply stand back up, and give several soccer kicks of his own. What continued to follow was nothing short of excellent as there was a total non-stop flow between two men that outside of a few questionable suplexes, and a couple of Boston crab attempts from Kanehara, never felt hokey. It also helped that other Maeda exuded a lot more confidence this time around, and while you can tell that Kanehara is the better athlete, unlike their first bout where there were sequences that felt like Kanehara was just letting Maeda do what he wanted, everything here felt organic and earned.

There was one great spot where Kanehara was on his back, reaping the knee of other Maeda, looking for a leg-attack, in which Maeda countered by twisting around on one leg while stomping the body and face of Kanehara with the other. This sequence, along with others in this match, started to show an evolution in pro-wrestling logic, that had rarely been seen up to this point, where a wrestler had to find creative solutions to a submission as opposed to simply crying and screaming until he inched closer and closer to the ropes, looking for an escape. Speaking of which, there was a great moment in this match where Kanehara had other Maeda in an armbar, and as soon as he arched his back to put pressure on the elbow-joint, Maeda shrieked in pain, and immediately exploded towards the ropes, in what came across as a realistic approach to being put in this predicament, as opposed to the usual contrived theatrics. The fight ends in a 15min draw, and this was a great way to start the year. I suspect that this will wind up being in the 1992 year end highlight reel, and if they can manage to keep Kanehara, and give him a proper spot as a main player, then that coupled with Tamura, could be enough to push them over the top into the preeminent shoot-style promotion going forward.

ML: I can't in good conscience call this a rookie match given it's more evolved than at least 95% of the matches we saw in '91. Maeda made incredible strides in just a few weeks, now fighting with the confidence of a seasoned performer. That's really the difference here, as Maeda can be aggressive, taking it to Kanehara in standup where he has the advantage because he now has the belief to let it rip. While Kanehara is still the superior performer, the gap has lessened enough that they can do an organic, back & forth match counter laden bout where Maeda has the advantage in standup & Kanehara has the advantage on the ground, but from the viewer's perspective, it doesn't matter where they are because the quality is very high regardless. The matwork was better in the 1st match because it was more focused on Kanehara working his magic, and thus had some more evolved transitions, but the standup was 10 times better here. ***1/2

The Anti-Imanari Head Stomp

Next up is Masahito Kakihara vs Tom Burton. When we last saw Kakihara we witnessed him slap the stuffing out of Jim Boss, in what was probably the stiffest work of 1991. Now hopefully we will witness him continue his dragon-slaying ways, as we substitute one monster in Boss for another in Burton. True to form Kakihara immediately sends an open hand strike down the pipe to Burton, which awakens the wrath of the ferocious beast, and causes him to immediately charge into Kakihara. Interestingly, Kakihara immediately pulls something of an open guard, and tries to work a kimura from that position, but Burton is too strong, and simply powers out of it, and winds up with a side-mount for a brief moment, before Kakihara sneaks his way back to his feet. The next couple of mins saw the same pattern, as Kakihara would nail Burton with some strikes before getting mauled to the ground, but thankfully he was just too crafty to be kept there for long. There was an interesting sequence where Burton trapped the left ankle of Kakihara by wrapping his legs around his ankle, in what seemed like a primitive submission attempt, which allowed Kakihara enough space to slide his way into a rear naked choke, which prompted a rope-escape, and another great moment where Kakihara slid out of a side-headlock and when Burton responded by turtling up, he simply dived over his back and secured a toe-hold, which I could totally see being a viable move in a BJJ match.

The 2nd half of the match saw the tone shift considerably when Burton’s offense was largely negated, and he spent most of his time as a grappling dummy for Kakihara, who tried out various inventive kneebar entries. The one-way traffic ended abruptly towards the 9min mark, when Burton began with a single-leg takedown attempt, and quickly changed it to a clothesline. This led to a stunned Kakihara, who was quickly finished off with the ever-dubious crab from Boston. This wound up being a very bizarre match as the first half was logical and showed a nice contrast between a strong wrestler with a limited move-set vs a much slicker (albeit smaller) athlete in Kakihara. The 2nd half just showed dominating a befuddled Burton, who pulled a win out of nowhere towards the end. I don’t really think this was Burton’s fault as much as it was an issue of the two of them not meshing very well together. There were several nice transitions and sequences from Kakihara, but as a whole this match came off as jarring and bizarre.

ML: I don't get Kakihara's strategy here, he either leaped in with a wild low percentage kneel kick or locked up with the bigger, stronger man whose only standout skill is wrestling. Kakihara's strength is his striking, particularly his explosive barrages of palm blows, but we rarely saw them because he never fought at distance or in range. The match was adequate but being almost entirely in Burton's world wasn't to its benefit. Basically, Burton was okay, and he basically did his thing, without too much interplay.

Any hopes I had of the next match turning things around are quickly dashed, as JT Southern is set to make a return against Tatuyo Nakano. Surely this return to the well of shame was due to Billy Scott’s sudden departure from the promotion, as he was mandated to stop wearing his singlets and switch over to a more pro-wrestling flavored lime green outfit. Billy wasn’t crazy about having to do this, but was willing to keep them happy, that is until he got his paycheck from the last event and noticed that they had deducted $500 as a cost towards the outfit. This was a deal-breaker for Scott, who told them that he would not return unless they paid for the outfit, as it was their idea, and he didn’t want to wear it in the first place. This led to him being away from the promotion for almost two years, until they agreed to not only pay him his this money back, but to also hire Billy Robinson as his full time coach, which led to him coming back and staying him them until their closure in 1996.

The match hasn’t even started yet, and the fans are laughing at JT Southern for going to the wrong ring corner to start his match, after the ref shows JT where the correct corner is located, the bout begins with Nakano throwing a few kicks, and generally just feeling out his opponent. JT has a height and reach advantage that if he had any idea of what he was doing he could have certainly utilized, but instead kept opting to try and initiate a standard pro-wrestling tie-up. This match wound up being one of the worst so far, probably even worse than the JT/Takada bout from 91. Southern’s offense only seemed to consist of holding onto an appendage for as long as possible, until Nakano would get bored and hit or kick his way out. Nakano didn’t really seem to know what to do with JT, and thankfully after 7min, he simply kicked into high gear, hit a suplex and a single-leg crab for the win. This was terrible, and really is highlighting how much losing Scott is going to hurt their roster. There is now no foreign talent in this promotion that is a real asset and can work a high-caliber match in the shoot-style. They have Albright and his gimmick (which is fine for what it is) and Burton and Boss can be passable in small doses but they are going to have to find a solid replacement for Scott quickly, or step-up Kanehara’s role in the company.

ML: Nakano is the worst native, but he's fine when there's someone to pull something out of him. Unfortunately, Southern is the worst in our sphere, period, so this is just a disaster waiting to unfold. This wasn't as inept as JT's other performances, but it was possibly the worst match we've seen so far. It was just pointless, with both guys trading stretches of bending each others legs or arms until Nakano fired up for a cheap head kick, suplex, and carny submission.

Not a moment too soon, we get Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko Miyato, and this may be just what we need to turn this evening around. Thankfully things start off explosively as Tamura charges in with a high kick, and a relentless palm-strike assault, but Miyato stands his ground and fires back with several stiff slaps of his own, before downing Tamura with a spinning back kick to the stomach. So far this is very intense, and believable. Tamura gets back up, and Miyato tries to clinch with him while throwing some knees, but Tamura slickly switches behind him, and nails a standing rear naked choke followed by a takedown. Yuko spent a while deflecting the choke from being fully sunken in, before being able to pry out enough to attempt a straight-armbar against Tamura, who countered with a beautiful cartwheel, and right back into a RNC. However, Tamura made the same mistake that many BJJ white-belts do when he crossed his feet while attempting the choke, which allowed Miyato to attack one of his ankles.

They are now both back on their feet, and Tamura quickly goes for a wrist tie-up with Miyato, and after he gets it, starts to shift his bodyweight side to side, in something similar to a feint, as if he is weighing his next move, when suddenly Miyato explodes into the finest fireman’s takedown we’ve yet seen. Miyato then gives us some interesting ne-waza when he controls Tamura’s head with a modified leg-scissor while fishing for a kimura. Once he gets the kimura, he quickly forgoes the head control and explodes into the submission, causing an instant rope-escape and a cry of anguish from Tamura. The rest of this bout was total fire, as it saw Tamura dwarfed on the scoreboard by Miyato, as his occasional submission was worth a lot less than Miyato’s knockdowns. Eventually, Tamura was able to get Miyato in the center of the ring and secure an ankle-lock for the victory.

This was another excellent match, and it really has me rethinking my opinion of Miyato. Before this, I kind of just looked at him as an unassuming, and middling figure that could be good, but was too tethered to the old UWF ways to be of much interest, but he proved me wrong here, as a motivated Miyato is capable of a top-tier performance, and really shined here tonight. Both men brought a great explosive energy to the ring and has made me forget about the two matches prior.

ML: The much-anticipated rematch of the 2nd best UWF-I match of '91 was total fire, as these two just blitzed each other from start to finish. One of the great things about Tamura is he's able to up the speed, pace, and intensity in a manner that is not only believable, but based on the urgency that's so lacking in ordinary pro wrestling, where fighters are more concerned with playing to the crowd & posing, just stalling at every opportunity when the opponent is down so they have to do less. I really believed in the early near finishes because they were working at the rate that others can only approach when they kick it into high gear for the last minute or so. There was a great early sequence where Miyato countered into a hammerlock when Tamura was trying to pull him back into the center to reapply the rear naked choke, but Tamura did one of his crazy one-armed headstands to pivot into a position where he could retake Miyato's neck. Another great sequence saw Miyato do a hip toss into an armbar, but Tamura countered with a backwards roll into an Achilles' tendon hold. The whole match was back & forth like this. The only downside is it was even shorter than their 1st match, which was perhaps the shortest match I've ever rated great. I'm glad they never slowed down, the whole match had the feel of a finishing sequence because of that, and it was really brilliant, though their previous match was perhaps a little better because it was longer, or I was slightly disappointed that they ran through the points so quickly it was obviously not going to last much longer. Regardless though, this was amazing, and will surely wind up being one of the top matches of '92. ****1/4

Now it’s time for Japan vs America as Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoji Anjo must now face Jim Boss and Gary Albright. Surely this card was quickly thrown together on paper as it’s been less than three weeks since their mega year-end event so we have what appears to be a main event that was slapped together just so we can get more talent onto the card. Still, the last couple of tag-matches that the UWFI has put on, have been surprisingly awesome, so I’m going into this with some high expectations. The match starts with Anjo and Boss, and right away Boss has to take some stiff strikes on his way to a takedown of Anjo. The takedown doesn’t last long however, before Anjo is back on his feet and back to lighting up Boss some more in the standup exchanges. I have to give Boss a lot of credit, as he seems more willing than a lot of his peers to really take some abuse in the ring, which adds a lot to his credibility. It’s not long before things switch over to Yamazaki/Albright, and right away we see how Yamazaki is really above the rest of his peers in terms of craftsmanship, as it’s the subtleties that he adds to the proceedings that makes his work so good. Right away Yamazaki goes for a kick, and gets slammed down for his trouble, so he pauses, thinks about his next move, and begins to feint a grappling exchange in order to land a thunderous kick to Albright’s thigh. After their sequences we go back to Anjo/Boss, and Boss demonstrates a common problem that newcomers to this style have, as outside of his fearlessness and takedown abilities, Boss doesn’t seem to have any understanding of either striking or submissions, so there is little he can really do with Anjo once the fight is on the ground. The fight ends just shy of the 16min mark when our favorite zebra-warrior took a flight on Air Albright which resulted in a knockout loss. While this was certainly entertaining it was a few notches below the last couple of tag-matches we saw, and still suffers from what feels like a lack of purpose, or any real stakes, but that is going to be true of any tag-match that would exist in a format like this. It was easily the most akin to a standard pro-wrestling match out of what we saw this evening. Still, it was entertaining, and not a bad way to end the evening.

ML: Finally, Albright was in a match that was allowed to be somewhat competitive. This had the usual pro wrestling problem that tag matches with a big star or unstoppable force have, in that the match was all about them, but in order to save and/or protect them, they were only in sporadically. Boss worked hard, but there's no heat on or really interest in him, so while this was often the better portion of the match, it came off somewhat flat & meaningless. Yamazaki did a good job here. This wasn't his match, but he perhaps better found a balance between his old more pro wrestling style and his new more realistic style, still seeming thoughtful and patient but knowing this had to be quicker & he had to go. He actually managed to German suplex Gary, and nearly extended the armbar on the follow up. Though Albright was certainly the dominant force in the contest, and ultimately got the win despite this being the match he should have lost with Boss doing the job because he was miles below the other 3, it at least didn't seem a given that Albright would beat Yamazaki in a singles match. I wouldn't quite call this good, but at the same time it was at least better than most of Takada's main events.

Conclusion: This was not a bad way to kick off the new year. This was intended to be a small event as they were just coming off their huge year-end production, and when judged accordingly I would say that they succeeded, but not without exposing some problems that will hopefully be rectified in the days to come. They had two awesome matches in Kanehara/Maeda and Tamura/Miyato but they not only need to burn the rolodex that contains JT Southern’s phone number, but they also need to find a real replacement for Billy Scott, or at least be willing to give up on using gajin talent outside of cannon fodder. Kakihara is awesome, but unlike Tamura who was able to make Burton look good in their bout from 91, he didn’t seem up to the task of carrying an inferior opponent to an 8min match. His match with Boss from last month worked well, but that was also due to it being a blistering blitzkrieg that ended quickly and didn’t have prolonged grappling exchanges. Since they seem to be unwilling to show any weaknesses in Takada outside of a possible loss to Albright in the future, then they are going to have to figure out a way to cultivate their other talent in ways to keep an interesting and compelling narrative. They have a lot of good talent now, and with a couple more key players, used correctly, they could easily be an unstoppable force in the days ahead, but from what we’ve seen so far it seems inevitable that they are going to find a way to screw this up.

ML: Although a humble, small show, this is not to be missed with two very strong matches and some decent filler. If they could have had a standing bout in place of the Tennessee travesty, this could, perhaps, have been a memorable show.

If you would like to see this event in full, then head on over to www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad where it, and many other rare treasures await you! *

*In Other News*

On 1-12-91 the Sediokaikan Karate organization held the 1st Towa Cup Karate Tournament Championships in which 57 men competed for an unprecedented 10-million-yen grand prize (which approximates out to roughly 100,000 U.S. dollars.) This was an amazing tournament that took a variety of karate fighters and put them in a format similar to kickboxing, in that they had to wear boxing gloves and the fight took place in a ring, but unlike kickboxing, each round was individually judged on a ten-point must system, for as many rounds as it took to determine a winner. After each round, three judges would assess the fight and either award the fight to the blue corner, the red corner, or a draw. This led to a lot of exciting fights that ended in the first round, although there were a few that went several rounds. All strikes (outside of groin shots, or eye pokes) were legal, and clinching was allowed as well, although most fighters didn’t spend a lot of time stalling in a clinch as the rules necessitated going full-speed all the time, as if you didn’t win your round, you were eliminated for good.

The eventual final combatants were upcoming sediokaikan fighter, Taiei Kin (who had to have an absolute war of attrition against Yoshinori Nishi in his 2nd bout, which wound up being the best fight of the night) vs established karate and kickboxing star Masaaki Satake. This event had been running smoothly and without incident, until this final match, when the judges apparently did not like the prospect of having their established star in Satake lose, so they seemingly engaged in some blatant judging shenanigans to sway the fight to their liking.

Round 1 was a cautious round for both men, but when we did see action it was in the form of mutual exchanges, and Taiei got about 2-3 clean shots for every one of Satake’s during these encounters. He would also occasionally pepper Satake’s leg with well-timed kicks outside of these exchanges. 2 judges called the round a draw, while the one honest judge ruled it in favor of Kin. Round 2 saw Satake doing a bit better, as he was occasionally getting in some nice counter punches on Kin, but was still being out struck by Kin in a seeming 2-1 ratio, and what happened next was one of the most utterly corrupt things I’ve witnessed in kickboxing/karate. The round ended with 2 judges ruling in favor of Kin, and one calling it a draw. Then when Kin was celebrating, there was some commotion at the judges table, and the ref had the fighters sit down while the judges had a meeting with founder, Kazuyoshi Ishii, and some of the other event officials, all the while Akira Maeda (who was in attendance) looked bewildered at the entire affair. After their pow-wow Ishii grabbed a microphone and announced another round would take place. A 3rd round did indeed take place, and this time Satake brought his a-game and won convincingly by every metric. This was a shameful ending to what was otherwise a great event, and I really enjoyed the rule set. By having every round leading to a judge’s decision, it forced the fighters to always fight with 100% intensity, but by also having unlimited rounds, it didn’t force the judges to just arbitrarily pick a winner, either. Before the ending fiasco, everything was judged fairly in my estimation, and I wouldn’t mind seeing this type of round structure be used for future events. Also, Taiei Kin made a very impressive showing here tonight, and will be a force in the future if he continues to compete.

Even Maeda Knows This is Wrong....

This entire event along with many other breathless wonderments await you at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad

***Over 100 Japanese reporters attended the year end UWF-I event held on 12-22-91, which is remarkable as that is even more than the number of press that attended the 12-12-91 SWS event held in the Tokyo Dome, which featured Hulk Hogan in the main event.

***Rob Kaman is rumored to be planning on fighting at the next FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS event on 1-25-92, although his opponent is unknown at this time.

***The PWFG is reportedly negotiating to bring in Roberto Duran for a fight against Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Originally, they were going to use this match as the main event on the card in Miami, however Duran, for tax reasons, wants the match outside the United States. One has to wonder if the recent success of the UWF-I’s boxer vs wrestler gimmick is prompting the PWFG to follow suit?

***Cynthia Rothrock took some time out of her hectic schedule recently while shooting her latest movie, Tiger Claws, in order to join up with Matthew Broderick, Kris Kristofferson, and several members of the Toronto Blue Jays, in order to team up with the Church of Scientology’s “Say no to drugs…Say Yes to Life” campaign. Scientology spokeswoman, Shelly Oake commended the move by saying that when thought leaders like Rothrock took a stand, it helped to depopularize the idea of taking drugs as being a viable solution to life’s problems.

***Aikido black-belt, and action film star, Steven Seagal, recently opened a martial arts themed restaurant in the downtown area of Chicago. The restaurant is reportedly decorated with kendo gear, samurai armor, and all of this is contained within a new-wave aesthetic. Over 500 people attended the grand opening including Michael Jordan, Robert De Niro, John Candy, Bill Murray, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Seagal hired Singapore-based Wing Chun expert, Randy Williams to head up security for the restaurant.
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Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Now I won't get notifications when you post a new one :(
Hmm.... Good point. I'll continue to add them in the mega-thread then. I'll do both, that way if it continues to delete my pictures, it won't be the end of the world.


Posting Machine
Jan 31, 2015
Hmm.... Good point. I'll continue to add them in the mega-thread then. I'll do both, that way if it continues to delete my pictures, it won't be the end of the world.
You could keep adding them to this thread instead, and just have a thread for each year


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 23 "Roar of the Lion Kings"

*Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his initials.*

*Special thanks to Will Colosimo for his assistance in this column.*

We are all set to continue blazing through 1992, this time with the PWFG’s first offering of the year. This should prove to be a critical event for the company, as not only are Fujiwara and crew going into this at a disadvantage by having chosen to not have a powerful statement with a solid year-end event last month, but also because the UWFI fired some major warning shots with their 1-9-92 event. Not only did we get another great match between Hiromitsu Kanehara and Masakazu Maeda, but we were also provided a splendid affair (with what will surely be one of the best things to come out of 1992) with Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko MIyato. Needless to say, all the momentum is on the UWFI’s side coming into the new year, and while RINGS proved they are still in the hunt with the arrival of Volk Han and some of the Sediokaikan clan, Fujiwara’s group appears to be the most venerable going forward.

The Match That Never Was….

The date is 1-15-92 and we are now at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, a relatively small venue (with an approximate capacity of 5000) that recently closed its doors in September of 2020 as is due to be replaced with a grander version in the Yokohama United Arena in 2024. No time is wasted as we are only given some brief footage of the venue and a close up of a flyer for tonight’s event, which strangely seems to suggest some kind of bout between Minrou Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki, which would have been welcome by all, but was sadly only given to us later on in 1994 at Pancrase’s Road to the Championship 4 in a farce of a contest, which lasted under 2mins and was probably the most overtly worked match in that promotions history.

First up is Wellington Wilkins, Jr. vs Kazuo Takahashi, and the last time we saw Takahashi he was having his head punted off his body, courtesy of Ken Shamrock. I wouldn’t have blamed Takahashi for taking the two months off to heal from that confrontation, but keeping true to his insane warrior reputation, he instead fought a Thai kickboxer at an All Japan Kickboxing event on 12-22-91, which was also the same night that the UWF-I was having their Takada/Berbick blowout. This was reportedly a legit shoot, but we at Kakutogi HQ are attempting to locate a copy of this event to confirm and will update everyone should we be successful.

Takahashi Moonlighting on the Side... *Photo Provided by the W-Colosimo Archives*

The fight is underway and after a few moments of feeling each other out Takahashi quickly slams Wilkins onto the ground and starts looking for an armbar. Wilkins responded by rolling to his stomach and started to turtle when Takahashi pulled a slick move by moving off to the side of Wilkins and then proceeded to put his right forearm under Wilkin’s right armpit, and grabbed Wilkins right wrist with his left arm. He then grabbed his own left wrist with his right hand, and then rolled over Wilkins’ shoulder, thereby gaining a back-mount position, which he used to try and sink in a rear naked choke. Chael Sonnen tried something similar against Fedor Emelianenko in 2018, but he should have brushed up on his PWFG videos, as he failed miserably. The choke didn’t take however, as Wilkins was able to arch back enough to do something of a cartwheel onto his head, which allowed him to slide out and attempt a guillotine in the ensuing scramble. Takahashi made it to the ropes and the ref called for a break.

Sonnen Should Have Taken Notes…

What followed for the next ten minutes was a nice slice of a more understated approach to this style. Both fighters were always trying to punctuate their movements with strikes, either as a way to create an opening for a submission, or as a way to shift the movement of the other person, which in the context of early 90s pro wrestling is quite advanced. This also held true for when they were on the ground, and while it wasn’t all out ground and pound like we are used to seeing with modern eyes, it was refreshing to see them not forget that this was still an option. If there was a drawback to be found, it was that Wilkins has all the charisma and stage presence of sandpaper, and while his striking was a marked improvement from his last outing, he still tends to mix his decent shots with blows that are way too soft. Overall, this was a very solid way to start things off, though I can understand why some would find it dry.

ML: Wilkins get a better job here, but this was one of those matches that there's really no reason to recommend. It was neither exciting nor truly credible. It leaned more towards the former, but the matwork was more towards no control judo based laying in wait. The match was perhaps good by early UWF standards, but at this point that's not really cutting it. Takahashi was on the defensive the whole time then won out of nowhere.

Next up is Naoki Sano vs. Jerry Flynn, and this is a welcome matchup, as Sano has been a hit every time we’ve seen him thus far, and Flynn gave us a fantastic 30min broadway with Takaku Fuke, not long ago. It will be interesting to see how their styles are going to mesh, as Sano doesn’t come from a pure shooting background, and this somewhat hindered his ability to carry Bart Vale during his last appearance, so hopefully Flynn will be a better fit for him.

The fight starts with Flynn attempting to pepper Sano’s thigh with a low-kick, to which Sano responds by catching the leg and tripping him down, but gets quickly reversed when he tried to follow this up with a mount. Flynn instantly goes for a kimura, but Sano does a good job of defending it before getting back to his feet. Once the fight restarts, Flynn starts to utilize his significant reach advantage to wail away against Sano with a variety of kicks at different angles. After taking a rather nasty spinning back kick to the stomach, Sano wisely opts to blast Flynn down with a double leg, as the vertical plane does not seem to bode well for him. Sano tries to keep things on the ground by pressuring Flynn with some different submission attempts, but to my surprise Flynn is too fast and explosive to be kept in any real danger for very long. A bit of a standstill followed until Sano took an enziguri to the head after catching a kick from Flynn’s other leg, and from this point forward the dynamics of this match quickly shifted into more of your standard puroresu territory. The rest of the contest was taken right out of the pro-wrestling drama 101 playbook, and featured a lot of back and forth moments between Flynn and Sano trading rope escapes with Flynn maintaining the upper hand with striking, and Sano with submissions, Everything culminated with a poorly choreographed spot where Flynn misses another enziguri, only to meet his doom via half-crab.

I don’t want to make it sound like this was bad, because taken into isolation this was an exciting, somewhat stiff, and fast paced pro wrestling match. Rather, the issue I take with this is that coming off the first match that set a much more realistic and subdued tone, it wound up being a case of stylistic whiplash. Flynn looked sharp, especially with his kicks, but Sano’s offense seem to oscillate from solid to silly, and he suffered the same problem that he did with Vale, in that he isn’t versed enough in this style to carry a rookie within that framework. To me it was like a film that has several good scenes, but is undermined when taken as a whole, because they didn’t keep a consistent tone. As such, I find this difficult to rate, as it was good, but not really in the context that they were going for.

ML: This wasn't the most credible match you'll ever see, but it was fast paced and exciting despite being pretty long. While it wasn't advancing martial arts, it was one of the only mostly striking oriented matches we've seen in PWFG, especially at this length. The match would have played better on a UWF-I show, but PWFG needs some entertainment. My biggest gripe with the match, outside of the finish once again being pretty random, is Flynn was a bit erratic with his strikes, with some of the knees barely connecting. What made this more interesting, and to a certain extent more believable than the old UWF style, was simply that they kept moving. While this wasn't Sano's best performance, largely because he was forced into the role of the grappler, Flynn showed good improvement here, and was flowing really well in standup. ***

Now some people have informed me that the next match might be a shoot, so we will go into this with our antennas held up high, ready to detect any abnormalities. It is Takaku Fuke vs Minoru Suzki, and this is bound to be interesting as Fuke has been on a hot streak lately, first with a stupidly good 30min match with Jerry Flynn, and to my utter shock he even made Bart Vale look good at his last outing. Suzuki runs into the ring and right away gives Fuke a headbutt, in a weird “This is my territory!” kind of way, and this doesn’t seem like standard behavior, so I’m excited to see what’s next.

What proceeded was a very intense, and fast paced grappling match sans any striking. The first four mins saw Suzuki put non-stop pressure on Fuke, constantly looking for either a takedown or submission, and while Fuke couldn’t press any offense of his own, he was wily enough to ward off Suzuki’s submission attempts until a beautifully explosive armbar by Suzuki got a rope escape out of Fuke. This appears to be a shoot, with some kind of agreement to forgo strikes, which Suzuki kind of circumvented like a jerk, as there was a couple of times that he grinded his forearm or knee into Fuke’s face. I have to wonder if there was some kind of pissing contest behind the scenes that led to them wanting to make this a shoot. The match was over soon afterwards as after Fuke stood back up, Suzuki got into a clinch, and with his overhooks, hit an excellent hip-toss followed by a great sequence where he nailed another armbar onto Fuke, in which Fuke tried to cartwheel out of, but Suzuki instantly adjusted, and grabbed his left leg, thereby preventing the chance that Fuke could roll away from the pressure, thus securing the win. I have no doubt this was a shoot, nor do I doubt the many grappling accolades that have been bestowed upon this man, as here he completely clowned Fuke, and made him look like a mere scrappy novice. Fuke wasn’t able to do anything but slightly stall the inevitable. However, what I don’t understand is the point that this contest served, other than making the prior match with Sano seem even more out of place now that it’s wedged in-between a shoot, and a realistic shoot-style outing. I enjoyed seeing this, as I’m always curious to see how these guys did in real shoots, but looking at the entirety of this show objectively, I’m not sure if a 4min squash match for Suzuki is doing anyone any favors.

ML: As we'll see with many Pancrase matches, this was neither a work nor a true shoot. I'd call this a grappling exhibition, as they were going all out, however they clearly agreed not to strike each other. This was likely similar to what they do in the gym, but I don't see what purpose showing that served given Suzuki totally owned Fuke. The split second speed in which they are reacting to even the slightest adjustment from the opponent really sets this apart from the works.

Now it’s time for Captain America himself, Bart Vale, to come to the ring and represent truth, freedom, and the American way, as he faces a grave challenge in the PWFG overlord, Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Vale starts by pressing the action with a few cinematic kicks but is quickly taken down by something of a modified Kouchi-Gari (small inner reap), and we are all grateful that the Kodokan judo is still flowing through Fujiwara. To his credit, Vale is looking spryer than usual tonight, and is able to hip escape off to the side quickly enough to avoid a ground entanglement and gets the fight back to the feet. Fujiwara than works his way into a belly-to-back suplex, and long before Alex Oleynik was getting away with it in the octagon, Fujiwara breaks out his own version of a no-gi Ezekiel-choke, which prompts a rope escape from Vale. The rest of this match was….ok. Certainly, this was better than I expected it to be, and probably as good as a matchup between these two is going to get. Vale was pulling his kicks here, which is always bad news because they looked terrible, but the grappling portions were fine. There was one interesting moment where Fujiwara was attempting an armbar off his back, and Vale countered with a toe-hold, but overall this was passable, if unmemorable.

America Surrenders…

ML: I prefer these two fighting each other because, while it ensures one bad match, it also gives every other match the opportunity to be at least decent. Stand up was folly because Vale's kicks were slow motion, naked show kicks, while the mat was simply stasis.

Now for the final bout of the evening, a rematch from the August '91 event, which was a great match that really put Ken over as a force to be reckoned with. We are all counting on this being total fire to pull this show out of mediocrity and into worthy cannon status. The fight starts off with a bit of a measured kickboxing approach. Funaki is doing a good job peppering Shamrock’s legs with both inside and outside thigh kicks. Funaki then tries to shoot in deep with a single, but Shamrock sprawls off to the side, forcing Funaki to opt for attacking Ken’s left leg with a rolling kneebar that fails, and puts Funaki on his back in the guard position. Ken’s idea of passing the guard includes grinding his elbow on his opponents chin, and attempting several Kimuras, which of course don’t work, but did create enough space for him to slide over into a side-mount where he tries an Americana/armbar combination, but is simply too slow in his execution to catch Funaki. Next we get a long sequence when Ken is forced into his guard, but quickly slides out and takes Funaki’s back, and continually attempts a rear choke, but is forced to be more concerned about protecting his ankle as he initially crossed his feet around Funaki’s stomach leaving them vulnerable for attack. This is starting to feel like a basic BJJ roll, which doesn’t sound like much now, but considering that this is still almost 2 years away from UFC 1, this must have seemed completely esoteric to anyone that got to see it outside of Japan.

After a couple more mins of fighting for position and toe-hold attempts, they are back on their feet, but not for long as Shamrock quickly takes the fight back down to the ground and attempts something of a half-baked arm-triangle choke. We can see that Shamrock still has a ways to go in developing his submission arsenal, as he hasn’t honed his craft to the point where he is going to catch Funaki with any of these. The ground attrition wages on for a couple more mins before Funaki gains the first submission by getting a toehold on Shamrock. Once back on the feet Funaki comes out swinging with some lethal palm strikes, and after connecting with several, quickly takes the fight back to the ground. The next several mins follow the same pattern as before, only this time they are both moving with a lot more intensity and urgency, even occasionally striking each other on the ground to try and create an opening. Shamrock is the next to gain a point as he was able to secure a kneebar on Funaki, which was more a result of pure brute force, as opposed to slick technique. Once the fight restarted it turned into a kickboxing war, with Funaki out landing Shamrock by a 3-1 ratio. This continued until it appeared that Funaki got accidently eye poked when exchanging with Ken

After recovering from the eye attack , the fight quickly goes to the ground again, and now the ground strikes are starting to get more frequent as we are now past the 20min mark, and the desperation is taking hold. A frantic footsie battle takes place, until Shamrock is now ahead on points, this time by securing a heel-hook. This probably doesn’t mean anything as I’m assuming that like the UWF-I, matches will go to an automatic draw if there isn’t a conclusive winner. The match ends at the 30 min mark, just as Shamrock was inches away from securing a back choke.

ML: A nice step forward for Funaki, as he managed to do more without sacrificing the realism. The stand up in this match was at an much higher level. Both men were very light on their feet, engaging with caution while looking to avoid. The grappling was pretty slow, but in a sense almost too fast because they randomly gave up positions just to do something. For instance, Shamrock inexplicably released an arm triangle. The problem with no closed fist punches on the mat is that you almost have to annoy your opponent into a mistake. They really fired up for about 30 seconds down the stretch, and I felt that if they could give us even 8 minutes like that they could do a match of the year, but for the most part this was almost totally devoid of intensity. While still better and more eventful than their first match, it was still somewhat dull and felt long and laid back. I can see rating this higher because it feels like the first true Pancrase match, but I wouldn't want to watch it again anytime soon. ***

Conclusion: As far as entertainment value goes, I would probably give the main event ***, but in terms of historical importance, this is invaluable. To me, this was the first fully formed pancrase match, or in other words, an MMA format with less emphasis on ground strikes, and more on grappling. It again demonstrated that Japan was light years ahead of the curve in understanding a fight in all its ranges, which is something that took the rest of the world almost 10 years to catch up with. Even crazier, is that these guys probably had no exposure to BJJ at this point in time which makes it all the more impressive. It’s also easy to see why Funaki had a desire to expand this concept of fighting without the limitations of having to put it in a worked format, thus birthing the Pancrase promotion. This also exposes a major problem with the PWFG moving forward, and that is one of an identity crisis. We have a good portion of the roster that is moving more and more into shoot territory, but the marquee name, presumably Fujiwara, is unable to credibly perform in this style. Compounding matters further, is a lack of a deep enough roster to put on an entire event without having to include more standard pro wrestling fare. Maeda was thankfully in a position where he was able to avoid this, as at this stage he could still get away with putting on a decent match for 4-7 min with most people, and he was so over with the Japanese public that it didn’t really matter what he did, but the same can’t be said about Fujiwara, who only looks good against far inferior performers. The only logical way forward for the PWFG is to decide to go full shoot, and rework Fujiwara into an ambassador role, but financial politics would probably make this impossible. As it stands, this was a middling affair with all the matches being fine to good in and of themselves, but as a whole this was probably a portent of things to come, as it was too uneven to be a memorable event.

ML: This isn't a great show, but it has a lot to offer. I'm glad we get a shoot, but unfortunately that was the match that probably would have torn the house down as a work. You don't usually get two good matches on a PWFG show, especially when neither involve Suzuki.

*This entire event, along with many other hallowed treasures, can be found over at www.Patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

*In other news*

It is being reported that after his match with Billy Scott at the 12-22-91 UWF-I event, that James Warring was questioned by approximately 100 reporters and asked how he could lose a fight to an unknown, smaller pro wrestler. He reportedly protested, saying that the match was fake, and that he was promised that he was going to win if he went a full ten rounds, but since he was double crossed, then he had no problem blowing the whistle. If this report is accurate, then it sounds like sour grapes from Warring, who from this scribes’ standpoint lost fairly in an obvious shoot.

More news from that same event: We are now told that the attorneys for Trevor Berbick held up the UWFI for an additional $5000 at the last min, threating to not perform if he didn’t get it. Also, after he stormed to the back, he reportedly threatened to fight Takada in the dressing room.

Rick London who is the founder of the satirical Scandal Tours which takes place in Washington, D.C., recently met with the Los Angeles Department of Corrections, in an effort to spearhead a program to keep youth away from gangs, and off the streets. If the program is approved, then London will take selected youths and place them in acting classes and provide martial arts training via John Kreng and Stuart Quam. At the end of the course, the youths will be provided a chance to appear in a martial arts film. London is currently seeking sponsorship from film studios, or major corporations.


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.24 "Terminal Velocity"

*Editors Note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his initials*

Welcome to the beginning of the richest of combat sports traditions, as we have now arrived to the first of many MEGA-BATTLE events that FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS will put forth, and no sooner do we arrive, when we are welcomed by a montage featuring freezing fog, a full moon, and an eerie 2-note synth bassline that will forever be etched into our collective psyche. The date is 1-25-92, and now it is Maeda’s turn to kick off the new year, with what will hopefully be another powerful statement. When we last saw this outfit, we were able to behold the debut of perhaps the greatest fake fighter of them all in Volk Han, and while he is set to be mysteriously absent from tonight’s proceedings, hopefully this will be made up by an appearance from foot-fighting master Rob Kaman. This outfit will have its work cut out for them, as the UWF-I launched the new year with an amazing performance from Kiyoshi Tamura and Yuko Miyato that the PWFG was unable to find an adequate response to, so now we turn our eyes to Maeda to see if he can rise to the challenge.

After the moon visuals that wouldn’t be out of place on a Scandinavian metal album fade away, we are taken to the sparse settings within the Tokyo NK hall, where they are conducting a weigh-in of all the fighters, despite there not being any weight classes in effect. After this, we are greeted to the fighters coming out one-by-one to the Hip-Hop version of the Rings theme, rife with an unbridled lyricism that would have A Tribe Called Quest in a state of envy. Seriously, check out this gem: “I am the champion! I rule all the rings! I am high…. the king of the universe! I am I who conquers all. If you mess with me, hey It’s you who’s gonna get slayed. Because I’m the king of all kings, I mean what I mean. Hey, lemme tell ya, let’s step into the ring!” Poetry. In. Motion.

Our first match of the evening will be an EARTH BOUT featuring Herman Renting vs Shtorm Koba. As of press time, I’ve been unable to find out any meaningful information about Koba, and this appears to be his only appearance in any kind of pro wrestling/MMA setting, but he does appear to be a possible harbinger of esoteric levels of Judo/Sambo knowledge, so we are hopeful. When we last saw Renting he was in a quasi-shoot with sediokaikan master Nobuaki Kakuda (in that they were basically having a legit sparring contest, but not fully utilizing all the rules/techniques at their disposal). The fight starts with some deliciously stiff kicks from Renting, before being taken down by an excellent ouchi-gari (major inner-reap) which seems to confirm my suspicions about his judo acumen. After the takedown they immediately go for dueling foot-locks but are quickly stood back up by the ref for getting under the ropes.

Once they are back on their feet, they continue to lay into each other with neither man seeming to pull their strikes (but wisely keeping them all to the body to avoid injury) and this is already much better than I could have anticipated. The action continued at a brisk pace until Renting botched a throw, and wound up accidently headbutting Koba, causing a nasty cut over his eye. The doctors eventually cleaned the cut up, and authorized the fight to continue, which prompted Koba to display how a proper throw is to be executed with a tasty yoko-otoshi (lateral drop). Things eventually go sour for Koba as he falls prey to a reverse achilles-lock and must take a rope-escape. Renting eventually wins via an ankle submission at the 13:40 mark. This was a good match that had a nice blend of realism and entertainment, that is hard to accomplish. It could have used some more striking sequences, and there were times that Koba’s newness was apparent, but overall this was a great way to start things off, and it’s a shame that this will be the last we will see of Koba, as he genuinely seems to have loads of potential in this format, with his obvious judo skills.

ML: Renting remains one of the better talents Maeda is renting. He was clearly the better athlete, and could have picked apart Koba with his standup. However, Renting did a good job carrying this as a judo inspired match, which allowed Koba to follow pretty well, and show a lot of potential. Koba really stepped up the intensity after he was busted open hard way when a suplex went awry, and the matwork became pretty interesting due to the urgency. The match seemed to peak in this early to mid portion though. 14 minutes was too long for a debuting wrestler, especially if this was basically just going to be a grappling match. Still, this was pretty good, and it's a shame Koba never returned.

Now it’s time for an AQUA BOUT (which will be our first shoot of the evening) between Mitsuya Nagai and Koichiro Kimura. Kimura impressed me last time with both good footwork, and a solid judo repertoire, but was unfortunately hampered by an overly long match with another rookie, which negated his ability to properly shine. Here he will be facing Nagai, who was on the receiving end of a one way drubbing at the hands of Gerard Gordeau last month, in what was this promotions first proper shoot.

The match is underway, and Kimura immediately takes two nasty thigh kicks before blasting Nagai down with a double-leg takedown, but when doing so it placed Nagai too close to the ropes and thus prompted a quick restart. Kimura continued to take some more leg punishment before getting the fight to the ground again, but he quickly found himself at a loss while inside Nagai’s open guard, and his only answer was to try a rudimentary ankle-lock, which not only failed, but prompted Nagai to secure a heel hook which led to our first rope-escape. The next several mins saw a continuing pattern of Kimura getting lit-up by Nagai on the feet, before securing a favorable position via takedown, but finding himself unable or unsure of what to do once he had the superior position. After a string of mat failures, Kimura eventually just opted to soccer kick Nagai after his takedowns, at least until the ref could intervene and stand Nagai back up. The last few mins saw Nagai ratcheting up the intensity of his striking, until he unleased a never-ending torrent of palm strikes, which eventually prompted the ref to call for a knockdown. Kimura was able to get up for two more servings of this, before being eliminated for good. Despite Kimura’s only weapon being his takedown skills, this was an exciting match due to the intensity on display, especially from Nagai, and it was good to see him back in form after his humiliating loss to Gordeau last month. I’m not sure if apprehensiveness to striking his grounded opponent is what held Kimura back, or his grappling skills aren’t as good as I originally esteemed them to be, but the only thing he really showed here today was a solid wrestling base, and I’m confident that he is capable of a lot more. Still, I feel like we are off to a great start with 2 good matches.

ML: This was a shoot, but, for the most part, they didn't really manage to get any big shots in until the final minutes. The fight was very intense though, and the transitions, scrambles, and takedowns were very fast and urgent. It was Shootboxing vs. SAW, and while Caesar's skills are clearly more interesting than Tobin Bell's, Kimura should have owned this match once he was able to get Nagai down, which he regularly was. Kimura had some pretty neat takedowns where he kept twisting Nagai until he spun him down, but didn't have much of an arsenal of submission arts once he succeeded. In the days largely before striking created the opening for the submission, Kimura found himself doing too much waiting for the opening. In his defense, Nagai was a dangerous striker even off his back. The problem with this match is they just kept seeming to negate each other. Nagai couldn't really kick because Kimura would just catch it and up end him. Whether Kimura got a takedown off a body lock or off catching Nagai's kick, he really didn't have any method of opening up a submission, and the match just stalled out. Nagai had much better luck using his hands, but without gloves it was difficult for him to do a big damage. He swelled Kimura's eye, but probably could have scored a late knockout if he could have used closed fists. Kimura nonetheless seemed about ready to just quit, hunching over, and still wasn't ready to restart after the Ref gave him an eight count, but finally threw some fierce palms of his own. Still, Kimura was just out of gas, and eventually wilted to Nagai's superior cardio. While this had more than its share of downtime, Nagai's comeback finish was exciting, and I think this was a good shoot given the time period. Good match.

The Pangs of Defeat…

Now it’s time for the rematch that we have all been waiting for, as everyone’s favorite cartoon character Willie Peeters is set to take rekindle his fued with Bert Kops Jr. The last time these two met we witnessed a totally spazztastic performance from Peeters, who was all over the place both figuratively and literally, in what wound up being an entertaining bout that was somewhat cut short due to an injury that Kops received. Things start with Peeters throwing some flashy cinema kicks, with a somewhat reserved demeanor, but just when I think he might be getting too subdued, he starts to blast Kops with his usual super-stiff body shots. He then shifts back into full cartoon-mode, and we get a kickboxing-heavy affair that sees Peeters all over the place between silly roundhouse kicks that will never land and nasty body blows. What is new this time around is the dreaded body stomp. A couple of times when Kops was on the ground, Peeters broke out a new toy in his arsenal, and stomped Kops’ body while holding the ropes, which is a good fit for his character. The beginning of the end was when Kops shot in for a deep double-leg takedown, but was reversed into a sloppy shoot-style piledriver from Peeters, who then took the time to smirk about it and share some words with his cornerman, Dick Vrij. The crowed totally ate this up, with the biggest pop thus far, but it was for naught, as shortly afterwards Kops won with a straight ankle-lock, seemingly out of nowhere. This was a step down from their last outing, as the ending was just too abrupt, but it was still vintage Peeters, and as such, was entertaining. Like last time, Kops was probably too well behaved, staying professional throughout, and performing with the requisite tempo and stiffness that you would expect in a work, but I kind of wished he would have just lost it with Peeters, and tried to put him in his place.

ML: Peeters kept trying to provoke Kops, who was a bit too straight-laced here, mostly just trying to get in for the takedown. Peeters was much more under control tonight, but for the most part, that wasn't really good thing. This certainly had its moments, but they had a hard time finding the balance. I liked the spot were Peeters tried to drop into a double leg, but Kops nearly applied a rear naked choke as they went through the ropes. The crowd went nuts for Peeters piledriver, which was cooler than Suzuki's. This match would come off better if they followed less credible action, but Peeters has a ton of charisma. The finish was pretty terrible though, and the less selling Peeters does the better.

Peeters….Admiring His Handywork

Next up is footfighting legend Rob Kaman vs a legend in his own right, Nobuaki Kakuda. Kaman is interviewed before the match, and while it’s hard to ascertain the exact specifics, it seems like we are going to have a mixed rules match where the first three rounds will be under Rings rules, followed by gloves and kickboxing rules afterwards? I’m unsure if I understood this correctly, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Round 1 starts and neither are wearing boxing gloves, but instead have their hands wrapped, and it appears that face strikes are legal in this round but must be open-handed. This is a 100% shoot fight, and outside of sneaking in a few low-kicks, Kakuda is getting walloped by Kaman, who’s reach, and explosiveness is just too much for him to handle.

Round 2 sees almost no offense from Kakuda, who sadly only served as a heavy bag for Kaman this entire round.

Round 3 sees Kakuda manage to get a takedown, but Kaman lands too close to the ropes, so the fight is instantly restarted. It seemed like something of a hail-mary anyway, as Kakuda showed no interest in even trying to take the fight to the ground prior to this. Kakuda is unable to stand back up, and starts to bleed profusely from his nose, which prompts the doctors to attend to him. While this is happening, a grave look of concern washes over Kazuyoshi Ishii’s face, who may be regretting his decision to allow Kakuda to participate in this. The referee seemingly called the fight off, but to the shock of everyone, Kakuda got back up, and in a daze demanded to fight another round. This was pure heart on Kakuda’s part, and while they probably shouldn’t have allowed this to continue, they gave Kakuda the opportunity to go out on his shield. After the restart, Kakuda immediately shot in for a take down, but Kaman simply sprawled on top of Kakuda with one knee, and kneed him in the head with his other, which ended the fight.

I’m happy to see another shoot on the card, but it surely would have been more competitive as a work. I would rather have seen Kaman keep his gloves on and face a grappler, which is something we would see several times from Maurice Smith in the years to come.

ML: I think the first three rounds were RINGS rules, which means only open hands to the face, while the final two rounds were more towards regular kickboxing rules with punches legal. While these rules somewhat benefitted karate champion Kakuda, he's also 4 inches shorter, and reach was a primary factor here. Kaman was also too quick for Kakuda, which pretty much eliminated Kakuda's chances of doing anything. The biggest difference in the fight was actually the footwork, as Kakuda is to used to the tournament karate style of striking where youe largely either just in front of the opponent or move directly in and out. Kaman instead kept moving laterally, creating angles for his kicks. Kakuda tried to load up for the big shot, but Kaman hit him with three shot combos then slipped out of range. The fans went nuts for Kakuda eventually continuing after Kaman broke his nose, but sometimes you need to quit when you're less behind. Kakuda tried for a takedown, but Kaman kneed him in the injured nose for the stoppage.

Next up is Willy Wilhelm vs. Igor Kolmykov, and my hopes and prayers that the secretary within the RINGS office would have mysteriously misplaced Wilhelm’s phone number are now completely dashed. I can now only long for a swift and merciful fate of a forthcoming short match. This is the first time we will see Kolmykov, who is a Russian Sambo expert, and is coming into this having won both the 1985 Youth World Sambo Championships in addition to the Sambo All-Soviet Union Cup in 1989. I’m now realizing that Wilhelm looks like he was plucked from a mid-western YMCA where he was teaching a local judo club. Wilhelm is performing a lot better than last time, but Kolmykov is looking absolutely dreadful, throwing strikes that were so bad that the Japanese crowd was, at several points, laughing at him. Wilhelm initiates the ne-waza with a tawara-gaeshi (rice-bale-reversal, or gutwrench suplex if you prefer). The rest of this match was basically Kolmykov serving as a grappling dummy for Wilhelm, until Kolmykov abruptly wins with one of the worst armbar sequences in recorded history. J.T. Southern can now make way for Kolmykov, who now has the dubious distinction of being the worst performer in our sphere, or any sphere really. Southern may not do much of anything, but he at least has a baseline level of competence that far exceeds Igor’s. Wilhelm’s efforts may have kept this from being the worst match we’ve seen, but this will probably go down as the worst one of the year.

ML: This was excruciatingly bad because Wilhelm is terrible, and debuting Igor simply doesn't grasp the concept of working. Southern may or may not be worse than Igor, but this was worse than any of Southern's matches because he didn't have a competent opponent to carry him. This was only worth watching for a couple classic unintentional comedy spots, Igor throwing the slowest spinning something kick in history and Igor somehow managing to injure his nose(?) throwing a headbutt. This train wreck was definitely the worst match we've seen so far.

Anything has to be better than what we just witnessed, so I’m happy to see that the next bout will be another likely shoot, in Gerard Gordeau vs Masaaki Satake. When we last saw Gordeau, he completely dominated Mitsuya Nagai, but he is surely going to face a much tougher opponent in the (wrongful) winner of the recent Seidokaikan KARATE JAPAN OPEN TOURNAMENT 1st Towa Cup. Round 1 starts, and I’m assuming that this is under the same rules as the Kaman fight (RINGS rules for the first three rounds), but I’m unsure. Whatever the rules, both fighters seem to want to keep this as a kickboxing contest. Gordeau starts off cautiously, looking to react to Satake, as opposed to trying to initiate any of his own offense, and Satake spends most of the round doing a good job of backing Gordeau into a corner, but just when it seemed like Satake was going to unleash the kraken, Gordeau kicked his way out of a tough spot, and probably goes into round 2 with a slight edge.

One should never expect a Gordeau fight to end without shenanigans, and true to form that is what happened here. Round 2 started normally enough, but at some point the ref called for a break while both fighters were standing up against the ropes, and during the break Gordeau walked over to his corner and started saying something to his cornerman while the ref was calling for the fight to resume. The ref said, “Go! Go!” a couple of times, but Gordeau didn’t notice. Satake could see that Gordeau had his back turned, and wasn’t aware of the restart, but opted to give him a swift kick to the back of his leg anyway. Gordeau felt like this was a cheap shot and was angered, so when the fight then resumed, Gordeau charged Satake into the corner and gave him a couple of closed fist punches that led to his disqualification. While I’m not one to want to defend Gordeau, I have to say that Satake should have waited until his opponent understood that the fight was resuming, and while legal, did take a cheap shot. Of course, Gordeau did what Gordeau always does and finds a way to cheat, but at least this time, he had some justification for being upset, even though he should have kept his composure. What’s worse is that judging by round 1, it would seem that Gordeau had a legit shot of beating Satake, which surprised me, as I didn’t think that he would have had the skills to hang with him. This was on its way to becoming a good match (a much more even fight than Kaman/Kakuda), but was ruined by the usual Gordeau antics. This mess apparently pissed somebody off, as Gordeau never performed for Rings again.

ML: This shoot never really got going. They were really just feeling each other out, throwing some random low kicks. Satake did more to control position, but Gordeau had more snap on his strikes. Satake may have accidentally fingered Gordeau in the eyes and a few times, once trying to break a clinch, and another time doing the Jon Jones. Gordeau wasn't sure of the rules, and after the Ref broke up a clinch, he walked across the ring to ask his second why clinches weren't allowed, only to have Satake follow him and cheap shot him. Gordeau then began fighting angry, blitzing Satake with a big flurry that busted him open, which included closed fist punches, hence the requisite disqualification.

Now for the final act of the evening, a rubber match that no one in this modern age is excited to see, but one that surely was at the forefront of Japan’s public consciousness, as they were longing to see their hero Akira Maeda avenge his loss to Dick Vrij. The last time these two fought, Maeda’s knee was completely shot, which prompted him to suffer an eight-minute one-sided beat-down at the hands of everyone’s favorite Double Dragon boss. Maeda is walking unusually slow to the ring, so I’m not hopeful that he is in optimal shape for this match. Maeda opens things off with his “captured” suplex, which gets a great reaction from the crowd, but does little to establish any credibility going forward. He quickly follows it up with a Kimura, and we now have our first rope escape. Vrij responds with his usual shadowboxing medley gaining a knockdown, and is now ahead on points. After beating on Maeda some more, Maeda does what any Capcom fighting character would do at a time like this, and that’s attempt the most epic foot sweep of all time. Almost 6 months before Street Fighter 2 was released, Akira Maeda attempted a sweep right out of the Ken/Ryu playbook, and this may be one of the coolest things we have witnessed so far. They then pummel each other with stiff kicks, but with Maeda being on the worse end of the exchanges, as he has now suffered another 2 knockdowns, and by this point the crowd is going nuts. It’s not long until Maeda wins with another captured suplex, followed by a toe-hold. While not particularly credible, this was fast-paced, stiff, and entertaining. Not a bad way to end things at all, as this was the perfect match length for these two.

ML: Vrij was listed as Dick Fly, which I suppose makes him the evil version of McFly. I'd be OK if they just gave him a Tab and sent him packing. Akira was perhaps healthier, but clearly hadn't been able to train much, and was putting on a lot of weight. The match was more or less what it needed to be. It was aggressive, and highlight filled. Vrij's strikes looked powerful, and he was clearly the more impressive of the two, but this time Maeda was able to hang with him. This was the best of their three matches, mostly because Vrij was a lot more impressive.

Conclusion: This was on par with their last event (the 1991 year-end show), and easily the best of the three shoot shows for the month of January. While it didn’t have anything close to the awesomeness that was Tamura/Miyato, it was solid from start to finish, minus the travesty that was Kolmykov. Even with Han absent, things are looking a lot better, thanks to the inclusion of some of the Sediokaikan roster, and the fact that we are now having shoots mixed in with the usual fare.

ML: By far the best top to bottom Rings show we've seen so far, but well consistently fairly interesting, still not a lot to really recommend. For me, the UWF-I show was the best of the month because it has two matches people need to see.

*In other news*
There are rumors circulating that Antonio Inoki is negotiating with James "Buster" Douglas for a wrestler vs. boxer match for the Tokyo Dome as early as March.

UWFI drew a sellout 2,300 in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall at their event that took place on 1-9-92. Nobuhiko Takada was supposed to be in the tag match that featured Gary Albright, but was injured a few days before this event. Expect Albright vs Takada to be a major program in the days to come.

Travel in Mind, a travel company based out of Commack, New York, recently started organizing a tour of Japan that will focus on the historical and geographical aspects of Ninjitsu . The itinerary includes visits to the Iga region of Japan, which is considered the birthplace of ninjitsu, a three day stay at a monastery, as well as hikes to nearby mountain shrines. Tours are set to begin on 5-15-92 and will be led by John Dellinger, who is a top student of acclaimed ninja authority Stephen Hayes.


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
For some reason I never watched kimura vs nagai, will give it a look now
You should! It was a good match, and I was surprised that it was a shoot, which brought the shoot-total to a whopping 3 matches this time around. Remarkable for early 1992. Also, the version that I put up on the Patreon has the full 28min, where WowWow trimmed theirs.


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.25 "Blood in the Soil"

*Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his initials. *

The great Henry David Thoreau once quipped that, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Such is the same state that we now find ourselves in, as we continue to follow the beckoning of the hallowed Kakutogi Road, not simply to relive the glories of a lost era, but to seek out deeper truths of the human condition. Our latest task before us takes place on 2-15-92, and we will be returning to the infamous Korakuen Hall where the UWFI is once again ready to set the tone for the month. Last month, they nearly melted the ring with a match between Kiyoshi Tamura and Yuko Miyato that was a total blaze up, so hopefully they will be able to keep that momentum going.

Hiromitsu Kanehara vs Masakasu Maeda opens for the third time in a row. Normally, I would be prone to gripe about going to the same well over and over again, but these two just keep getting better, so if they can keep this up then I would be fine with them opening as many events as they please. Things start off with Kanehara taking the initiative as he bull rushes Maeda with a litany of stiff palm strikes, but after being initially taken off-guard, Maeda was able to regain his composure and return a volley of his own. Kanehara started to find himself on the losing end of this slap-fest, so he wisely opted to shoot in with an explosive double-leg, however Maeda is continuing to increase his skills from match to match, and was able to effortlessly switch from standing firepower to an effective sprawl.

Kanehara is simply too crafty with his grappling however, and was able to negate the sprawl by continually “turning the corner” until he was at an angle where he could forgo the takedown altogether and shift to attacking the leg of Maeda. He used this leg threat just long enough to create an opening to move to side mount, all the while subtly throwing in strikes on his grounded opponent so he could continue to move and tweak his positioning. So far this is light years ahead of what anyone in the game has produced outside of Tamura/Funaki/Han, which is amazing considering these two are “rookies” and this is only their thirst match.

Kanehara squandered his superior position with a failed armbar, which allowed Maeda to get up and start soccer kicking at will. Kanehara was able to fight his way back up and get the action back down to the ground, but not before taking another barrage of palm-strikes for his trouble. The next couple of minutes saw the two go back and forth on the mat, exchanging positions and submission attempts, but unlike most matches up to this point, or even a lot of future Pancrase matches for that matter, they would be willing to strike each other on the ground in an effort to create an opening for an attack. We have seen a little bit of this so far, but not in such a fluid and sustained way from both competitors, so this really gets a nod for being far ahead of the curve. Even the old and tired Boston crab got a breath of new life here, as there was one sequence where Maeda was going for the single-leg variation, and unlike every other pro wrestler in history, Kanehara was actually not cooperating with this, so Maeda started frantically kicking Kanehara in the back to try and force a way for him to continue to finish the maneuver. It didn’t wind up succeeding, but was brilliant all the same.

The next 10 minutes wound up being total lava, as they went to a 15 minute draw with a non-stop barrage of strikes, positions changes, and submission attempts that were traded between both men, with absolutely no let-up or dead space in-between. This might be one of my favorite matches so far, and will surely go down as one of the best matches of '92, and even if the rest of this card winds up being hot garbage, it won’t really matter as this was worth the price of admission all on its own.

ML: Kanehara arrived as one of the top 5 worked shooters in the world in this truly revolutionary bout! This was the first UWF-I match that came out of the gate looking like a shoot, and somehow it never really stopped, which would be truly amazing if it were simply a 5 minute match, but this went the whole 15. This may be the most intense worked match I've ever seen! The speed and aggression were just off the charts. That was absolutely the difference here, and totally the key to their success. They were throwing really fast open hands, and scrambling hard and fast on the canvas. There was simply no sense of cooperation at all, anywhere. Everything one fighter did, the other fighter fought against, as if for their life. If every worked match looked like this, there almost would have been no need for actual MMA. While this doesn't have the I need to rewind this awe factor of Tamura's works, it was the most relentlessly aggressive fight we've seen so far. Maeda was dead by the end from going so hard for so long. A classic! ****1/2

Seriously, whoever green-lit the idea of refusing to give Billy Scott his $500 back for that silly lime-green outfit should be waterboarded, as surely that suffering is not even worthy to be compared to what we must now endure with another JT Southern bout, this time against Masahito Kakihara. Things start off quickly, with Kakihara blitzing Southern with a palm strike assault so quick and stiff, that it’s clearly freaking the Tennessee native out. Southern starts frantically throwing some front snap-kicks to try and ward Kakihara off, when one of them connects and causes Kakihara to stumble onto the ground. Seeing this opening, JT wisely capitalized and tried to take the back of Kakihara. Though not at all pretty, JT did manage to force Kakihara into a rope escape, which would be the first and only time that JT was able to do this. The rest of this short fight saw Kakihara slap and kick the stuffing out of JT, before ending things with another northeastern crab. Thankfully, this will be the last time we see Southern, who sailed off to the more temperate waters of WCW, where he briefly managed Scotty Flamingo (Raven).

ML: The best Southern match we've seen by a mile. Kakihara put so much pressure on Southern that he had him fighting for his life. The standup was actually good because Kakihara was just blitzing him, so Southern was forced to simply react, which was at least better than him thinking. They kept it short and aggressive, which is where Kakihara is at his best. This actually found a nice balance between believably and entertainment. It wasn't great, but it was way better than the quick squashes Albright has done.

Next up, the fierce challengers from last month (Tamura and Miyato) will now be teaming up to fight Tatuyo Nakano and newcomer Mark Silver. Miyato and Nakano start first, and Miyato opens fire with some crisp kickboxing, but is completely overpowered in the clinch, and just winds up on the ground where Nakno can put all his weight on him. For whatever reason, Nakano just decides not to bother with it, and tags in Silver, who is able to move a lot quicker than his size would seem to suggest. After a brief back and forth, Miyato tags in Tamura who takes a minute or so to feel out his opponent, before taking it to the canvas and giving us ourfirst memorable moment when Silver tried a primitive toe-hold attack while being seated behind Tamura’s back, but found himself quickly countered with a slick armbar entry. Tamura and Silver continue for a couple more minutes, and Silver is moving well for a rookie. At this stage, he is showing some decent wrestling and kicking skills, placing him above Burton and Boss, but beneath Scott, so with some more refinement, I could see him being a solid addition to the roster.

Silver tags Nakano back in, which prompts Tamura to really turn up the volume as Nakano desperately tries to get a takedown, but Tamura scrambles and contorts in every way imaginable to prevent him from being successful. The fight eventually winds up on the mat when Tamura dives in for a kneebar, but only winds up plopping down on his backside, which allows Naknao to smother him, before eventually securing a kneebar of his own, prompting both a rope escape and a tag back in for Miyato. The match continued to be an entertaining and brisked pace affair, which really shined every time Miyato was in the ring. He brought all the same fire and intensity that he was showing us last month, and because of this, he was able to really elevate this match from standard boiler plate to an above-average entry. That’s not to say that the others didn’t do a good job (they all did), but he really brought his A-game, which forced Silver and Nakano to have to rise to the occasion as well. Tamura was a bit more subdued than usual, taking on more of a counter-fighter role, but even though this wasn’t his flashiest showing, it was still Tamura, and thus good. I would give this a solid *** 1/2 , as the only real drawback here was the randomness of the match/contestants, which caused it to lack any real emotional satisfaction, and simply served as a high-quality time killer.

ML: The biggest problem here was the pairings. We didn't get to see more of the best rivalry in the UWF-I because Tamura and Miyato were on the same team. On one hand, the debuting Silver did pretty well, but they kind of sacrificed Tamura & Miyato to achieve that. Nakano was more lively than one could have expected, and actually everyone was really doing a much better job tonight with the scrambling, as if they got a memo about being more urgent. While Tamura was, of course, good, it was really Miyato's energetic striking exchanges that made the match. ***

There is still a gnawing void that eats at the soul of the UWF-I, a giant Billy Scott shaped hole that is as glaring and obvious as a gaping head wound, and Shinji Sasazaki knowing this, continues to try and concoct a healing salve by sending in more Tennessee reinforcements. In this case, it’s famed NWA veteran Pez Whatley. Whatley’s most memorable run was probably an angle where he feuded with Jimmy Valiant for perceived racist comments, when Valiant said that he was the best black athlete in the NWA. After his NWA stint ran its course, he moved on to Florida and became a henchman for Kevin Sullivan, and then went to Alabama to become a top face for Southeast Championship Wrestling. Here he will be debuting against everyone’s favorite zebra-warrior, Yoji Anjo, who was able to get a decent match out of Bob Backlund, so I’m hoping that he can work his magic on Whatley, also.

The fight starts off with Anjo unleashing a fast clip of stiff kicks, but the much larger Whatley was able to take Anjo down with ease….and hold him. Anjo would get close enough to the ropes to prompt a stand up from the ref, get a few more shots in, before being taken down….and held some more. This pattern continued for the duration of the fight, until Anjo botched a throw, but when Whatley was going back to his huggy and controlling ways, Anjo was able to shift into some kind of weird variation of a reverse armbar, which seemed to cause a moment of genuine panic from Whatley, and led to a submission victory. This was bizarre, and actually came across credibly, as Whatley fought Anjo just how you would expect a huge guy with some wrestling skill (and nothing else) to, so while this wasn’t nearly as bad as last month’s Wilhelm/Kolmykov travesty, it hardly ranks as mandatory viewing either. Whatley will need a lot more training in this style before even being made an offer to return.

ML: Pez was UTC's first African-American wrestler. While I was ready to dispense with the dispenser about 30 seconds into the match, this wasn't a travesty so much as sheer boredom. It's hard to say if Whattley had any name value given WWE rightfully destroyed him by turning him into Saturday morning fodder, but he surely didn't have much potential to learn a new style given he was already 41. The finish was cool, but otherwise it was mostly lay and pray.

The savage plan to unleash the Albright-monster is now fully in motion, and there is nothing that can now be done to stop it. It is now an inevitability that the behemoth from Rhode Island will face his destiny and collide with Nobuhiko Takada for the stake of the future of the UWF-I and all that is both meet and right. Still, the time is not quite in its fullness, so this will simply be a precursor of things to come, and a way to pave the road that booker Miyato has been trying to set up now for several months.

Yes, it is time for a tag match between Nobuhiko Takada/Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Gary Albright/Tom Burton, and lonely is the path of sorrow that Yamazaki is now forced to tread upon, a once bright and shining star, the padawan to Satoru Sayama, and the seeming heir apparent to his legacy, now reduced to what will probably be another farcical exercise in putting over the suplex-monstrosity. Things open up with an interview where Tom Burton states that Nobuhiko Takada and Kazuo Yamazaki are currently the number one rated tag team in the UWF-I, which is amazing, considering that this is the first time that Takada and Yamazaki will be teaming up together in this promotion. The mic is passed to Albright, who sounds surprisingly thoughtful and lucid, and lays out the case that they can take leg-kick punishment that the Japanese will surely give them, but that the Japanese will not be able to withstand their combined size and strength for 60 minutes.

Yamazaki and Burton start the match, and it’s always a pleasure to see Yamazaki work, as he immediately throws some high kicks as feints to try and send a warning to Burton not to come charging in too quickly. Burton dodges the kick and blasts Yamazaki down with a double and passes Yamazaki’s guard by quickly sliding over into a side headlock. We then hear a very quiet, yet confidant, voice coming from Albright when he says “Let’s go Tom,” and this reminds me of how Frank Shamrock was always the best corner man that you could possibly have, as he would just quietly talk to Maurice Smith when he was in bad positions, smoothly explaining how to get out of them, and never having to yell or get overly excited. Burton didn’t seem to know how to follow up on his headlock, so when he started to shift to a new plan of attack, Yamazaki simply got up and initially went for a crab, and when he realized that was not likely, pulled out a nifty standing heel-hook, to which I don’t think I’ve yet witnessed. Not long afterwards, Yamazaki obtained an armbar, prompting another rope-escape and a tag-switch to Takada and Albright, which is the moment that the Japanese public has been waiting for. To his credit, Takada is at least pretending this is a big deal, and is moving around with a faux sense of urgency that he hasn’t been bothering to display lately, at least he is making an effort to create the façade. Albright and Takada were effectively neutralizing one another at first, with Albright stifling Takada’s offense by smothering him down to the ground, but unable to do much once the fight got there. This was until Takada was able to draw first blood with an armbar, prompting a rope escape.

The rest of the match saw Yamazaki do most of the heavy lifting, both with Burton and Albright, with a few Takada hors d'oeuvres sprinkled in to tease the audience of what was to come. Thankfully, they allowed Yamazaki more opportunities to shine against Albright than Tamura, giving him some offense, but it was for naught as it wasn’t long before Yamazaki took a trip on air Albright, and was suplexed into oblivion. This was nothing more than a trailer for the upcoming Albright/Takada bout, and on that basis, was marginally entertaining, but the real loser here is Yamazaki, who stands to be buried beyond repair from all of this. I don’t know what the terms of his contract were, but I would think now is a great time to bail for a different promotion, if at all possible.

ML: Everyone tried, but it was very uneven with Takada and Albright doing a traditional pro wrestling match, while Yamazaki and Burton at least tried to do something shoot oriented. Takada actually gave a good effort, but the match felt really out of place after all that had come before, and really came off as a silly kick and suplex exhibition that was hard to take seriously. It accomplished its goal off selling the big show main event, but even Maeda seems pretty realistic compared to what we were seeing from Takada and Albright.

Conclusion: Sort of a lateral move compared to last month if a slight downgrade. We had liquid magma in the Kanehara/Maeda match, and a very solid affair with the Tamura/Miyato/Nakano/Silver tag, but two abysmal outings with Whatley and Southern. The main event served a purpose for its time, but is hardly recommending viewing at this stage, and is rather depressing as it continues to show how much Yamazaki is being squandered. Still, two entertaining matches in a one hour event is not a bad way to go, and if Kanehara keeps getting better, then it’s going to be hard to compete with this promotion, unless they find a way to mess things up.

ML: I thought this was a big step forward until the main event. Overall, the action was faster, stiffer, and more urgent. Kanehara is improving by leaps and bounds, as is Maeda, and even though they are in the opener, others actually seemed to be following their lead and moving toward a more realistic style. There's way too many Americans though, and they are holding things back, though mainly it's the booking that on one hand wants to be a shoot league, but on the other keeps focusing on the least realistic guys to try to sell tickets.

* If you would like to see this event, along with many other priceless artifacts, then head on over to www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

*In other news *
Rumors continue to swirl that Roberto Duran is in talks with the PWFG to have a fight, now with the possibility of facing Masakatsu Funaki. Talk was originally centered around him fighting Yoshiaki Fujiwara at an upcoming event that’s set to take place in Florida, but Duran is reportedly only wanting to fight overseas, due to tax issues.

Willie Williams, who had a famous mixed match against Antonio Inoki on 2/27/80, signed with RINGS and due to start at their 3-5-92 event.

Legendary kickboxer, and World Karate Association heavyweight champion Maurice Smith (who worked a mixed match on a UWF show in 1989) is scheduled to face sediokaikan heavyweight, Masaaki Satake at an upcoming RINGS event.


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.26 "Cognitive Dissonanace"

*Mike Lorefice (From the amazing MMA/Puroresu emporium quebrada.net) will have his initials preceding his comments. *

Sometimes maturing can be the worst thing to happen to a rock band, while oftentimes it's the best thing that could happen to a jazz outfit. This is because growing up usually leads to a loss of raw power, reckless abandon, and unbridled angst that drives some of the best moments of rock, whereas a jazz outfit is likely to benefit when there is a slowing down and a greater emphasis on paying more attention to their craft. We are now in the early stages of 1992, and are seeing pro-wrestling in a similar situation. The creation of the UWF in 1984 led to the opportunity for pro-wrestling to evolve and mature, by seizing what it has always desired (and arguably had up until the 1930s), credibility. When Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Satoru Sayama, and Kazuo Yamazaki joined the nascent UWF, it offered an opportunity for a group of pro-wrestlers with varying degrees of martial arts training to sail uncharted waters by creating their idea of what a real fight would look like, if they really pretended to fight for real. Of course, the promotion fell apart before its concepts could be fleshed out to their logical conclusions, but the stage was set, and here we are now in the next evolution of what would later morph into modern MMA.

We are entering into the 2nd PWFG event of the year, and we are already seeing many on this roster bucking at the constraints that the world of worked pro-wrestling has confined them in. The last two events had actual shoots on them, and the new generation of guys like Funaki, Takahashi, and Fuke, are starting to push the envelope as to how much non-cooperation they can squeeze into their standard bouts with pre-determined finishes. Perhaps, it was their hunger to be taken seriously, or the need to prove themselves by testing their skills against one another, but one thing is certain, and that is the walls of tradition that have restricted pro-wrestling to the realms of hokum and carnival shenanigans are surely on the way to crumbling, as it won’t be long before full fledged MMA breaks forth.

First up is Lato Kiraware vs. Wellington Wilkins, and it has been a few months since we witnessed Kiroware in a surprisingly watchable match against Kazuo Takahashi. However, since he must now square off with “Block of Wood” Wilkins, I am hesitant to get my hopes up. Wilkins starts off with a deep and slow single-leg attempt, only to be neutered with an even slower sprawl from the massive Kiraware. This leads to Kiraware slamming Wilkins and slapping on one of the worst guillotine chokes we’ve seen thus far, but to his credit, he laid into Wilkins with a few heavy palm strikes when that didn’t work. Unfortunately, the striking did not last long, as Kiraware was quickly taken down with a textbook O-Goshi (full hip throw) and put into a headlock. The rest of this match was abysmal, as it was simultaneously slow, boring, and phony looking, which is quite sad considering the UWF-I has been offering molten lava for its openings for three months running. Thankfully, this was quickly over around the 6 minute mark with what could only be described as Kiraware putting Wilkins in something akin to a “rock bottom” followed by an arm-triangle choke. Bad.

ML: I keep wanted to call Lato "Killer Whale", but that would be an insult to Orcas everywhere. Lato is slow as molasses, while killer whales are among the fastest marine mammals, often reaching speeds in excess of 65 km. In any case, poor athletes don't have much of a home in worked shoots. This honestly didn't even feel like a shoot, as the main thing they had to "offer" were some fake suplexes. There's not much to say about this match beyond it's one of the worst that we've seen. It just had nothing going for it.

We are off to a bad start, and seeing Bart Vale return isn’t likely to change the course we have now found ourselves on. Thankfully he is going against Takahashi, who is spunky enough to potentially get a good match out of him, so we can only dare to dream. A somewhat subdued looking Takahashi starts the match with his usual single, but is negated by a surprisingly spry sprawl from Vale, who is moving a lot quicker than usual. The next sequence shows Takahashi grabbing one of Vale’s legs, and when Vale seemingly looks like he is going to attempt some variation of an enziguri, wisely decides to counter this with repeated slaps to Vale’s face, followed by a suplex and an armbar attempt. Sadly, the real Vale shows up next with an awful (and awfully slow) kick to Kazuo’s midsection, prompting both a down, and me wondering why it seems like everyone has their kid gloves on for this evening?

After getting up, Takahashi gets blasted flush in the face with a high kick from Vale that I don’t think was intended to actually connect. It did serve to wake him up though, and he responded by driving Vale to the mat with the energy that we are usually accustomed to seeing from him. We then got a nice sequence where Takahashi opened up Vale’s half-guard with a few palm strikes, and when Vale’s legs opened, engaged in a great spinning kneebar entry that forced Vale to get a rope escape. Vale is now starting to kick with some more urgency, which prompts Takahashi to take things back to the mat, and it is interesting to see some of the patterns that pre-BJJ grappling produced. Takahashi has Vale on his back in a full guard, and instead of trying to pass the guard, he simply opts to try to submit Vale with a Kimura. Obviously, he couldn’t get enough torque from that position, but it did prompt Vale to adjust to a half-guard, and Takahashi used that movement to crank harder on his submission, now causing an opening to pass his guard completely, which he did while instantly switching to an armbar. This was very clever, but for naught, as the weight disparity is simply too great, and all Vale had to do was stack Takahashi to escape and hit an armbar of his own. The match ends shortly thereafter when Vale energetically unleashes a flurry of awkward looking kicks that Takahashi sells for, ending the match via 10-count.

The first couple of minutes had me concerned, but once Takahashi woke up it prompted Vale to at least put forth some effort making this a somewhat entertaining, albeit disjointed, match. Takahashi’s grappling portions were on point, but the realism would be quickly thrown out the window when Vale was in standup mode. He needs to find a way to fully commit to his strikes (without hurting someone), as he tends to look way too slow and goofy when he is trying to be careful with his opponent.

ML: Takahashi give his best performance thus far, really making a strong effort to turn this into an actual match. He was aggressive and super explosive. The problem with Vale is always that his idea of matwork contains almost no actual movement. Chris Lytle may be MMA's most decorated real life firefighter, but nothing could extinguish grappling aggression like Vale taking top position. Once Takahashi made a fast move to take him down, Bart would immediately go about trying to slow the action down to a crawl, but Takahashi did as good a job of preventing that as one could hope, keeping things going as much as he could much by forcing Bart to escape from a submission, which set up his next standup blitz. Takahashi's striking and submission games were both much better: this is the first time he didn't simply look like an amateur wrestler. Vale will always provide some cringeworthy moments, but this was his most reasonable match thus far. Whilel I wouldn't call this good, it was at least a pleasant surprise.

Next up is Fujiwara vs Fuke, and Fuke is coming into this both as a winner and a loser. A winner in the sense that his output in his last couple of worked matches has been fantastic, and a loser due to being completely clowned by Minoru Suzuki in a shoot grappling match from last month's show. The outcome of this will likely come down to how much sincere effort Fujiwara wants to put forth, so we will see.

After a few moments of feeling each other out, Fujiwara surprised everyone with a swift Thai kick to Fuke’s thigh, which saw him collapse, and take a 9-count before getting back up. This forces Fuke to instantly activate his judo-mode, and he quickly throws Fujiwara to the mat, only to get tangled up in the ropes, prompting a restart. Fujiwara now quickly goes for a bodylock, and is able to get behind Fuke, and unlike Sakaraba, who would always use this as a way to set up his infamous standing kimura, Fuke instead opts to drop down and attack Fujiwara’s leg. This led to an interesting and rather long sequence, where both been fought for a leg, but just when it seemed that Fujiwara was getting closer and closer to a toehold, Fuke was able to continually smite Fujiwara in the body and face, until he could transition into a armbar attempt. Fujiwara rolled onto his stomach to avoid, but then put himself in the perfect position to be triangled, and that is exactly what Fuke saw too, so he wasted no time in switching from the armbar to a triangle, and years before Quinton “Rampage” Jackson hit the scene, Fujiwara’s answer to this was to powerbomb Fuke to escape the hold. The rest of this 16 minute bout was a pleasant surprise, as it had a nice constant flow of action that was both intelligent and credible. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this was the best that we’ve seen from Fujiwara so far in PWFG, which is really another argument for Fuke being the MVP of this promotion, as he has been able to get good matches out of guys that others have not been able to. Fujiwara wins the way he began with a kick to Fuke’s thighs, only this was one down too many, as apparently PWFG is now using a scoring system that seems to be unknown to anyone besides them.

ML: Similar to the previous match, the quickly improving youngster was able to pull a better than expected match out of the middling veteran. The match was a bit too pro wrestling oriented in its storyline it though, with Fujiwara seeming to only want to low kick, but Fuke constantly catching the kick and tripping him up into a leg lock or just getting him down off a single leg, which Fujiwara would soon counter. Fuke's urgency and desire helped carry the match, but it was rather repetitive, and his overselling of the leg kicks was annoying. There was really no reason for this match to be more than 10 minutes long, as there wasn't a single point where you felt Fuke had any chance of winning, and Fujiwara just seem to be toying with him half the time.

Jerry Flynn is now set to face Minoru Suzuki, and this should be good. Flynn looked great a couple of months ago when Fuke was carrying him to an excellent 30 minute match, so I have no doubts that Suzuki will work his magic, also. Flynn is a good talent if paired with a strong leader, so this should be a welcome lead-in to the main event. Right away, Suzuki is moving with a sense of urgency that is really the distinguishing characteristic that separates the new breed of Tamura, Kanehara, Han, etc, and the old guard, and is also the key element in being able to draw something good out of just about any opponent. Suzuki's quick moving in-and-out, feinting a takedown, forces Flynn to also react quickly, and put more snap on his kicks than you would probably see him throw in a more relaxed setting. After dodging a few of Flynn’s kicks, Suzuki wisely goes for a clinch, and is able to ward off a guillotine attempt by using his low center of gravity to his advantage, and just sort of falls on top of Flynn to secure the mount position. The next couple of minutes sees Suzuki easily maintaining a superior position, but Flynn is able to power out of several submission attempts from Suzuki before eventually being able to stand himself back up.

There were lots of interesting grappling ideas/techniques on display here, even to the jaded eyes of a modern audience. For example, there was one moment where Suzuki showed us an interesting technique by faking a standing Kimura, and instantly using Flynn’s reaction to set up a headlock takedown. Another was when he was close to securing an armbar against Flynn, but Flynn was doing a good job of holding his wrist and using his strength to defend it. Suzuki’s clever solution was to punch Flynn in the stomach several times to try and force an opening, and when he saw that this wasn’t going to work, he looked over at Flynn’s ankle, and immediately released the arm, dived over to Flynn’s leg, and nailed a toehold, which forced Flynn to roll into the ropes and take an escape. The match ends shortly afterwards with Suzuki trapping Flynn in an odd, but interesting, variation of a neck crank initiated from side control. This was short, and complete one-way dominance for Suzuki, but I still liked it, as it was fast, urgent, and realistic. Flynn’s lack of any meaningful offense will keep it from being in the top echelon of matches for this year, but I felt that Suzuki really shined here, and made it work. Momentum is now on our side, as we are two good matches going into the main event.

ML: A disappointing, one-sided match where was Suzuki was into outshining Flynn rather than carrying him. Suzuki was still in shoot mode, dominating the match on the ground by regularly taking mount and swinging into armbars. Flynn wasn't able to stay on his feet long enough to capitalize on his striking advantage. Suzuki took a lot more chances on the ground, giving up dominant position attempting to finish, but it felt as close to a Funaki match as he's done.

Now for the main event, a return to the last months well, with a repeat main event between Masakatsu Funaki and Ken Shamrock. Coming off a historically important, but somewhat dry affair that could arguably be called the first Pancrase match, it will be important for them to really elevate their games here, as the difference between this card being forgettable or recommendedall rides on their performance.

These two start things off a lot faster than their last two outings, with Ken throwing kicks right away, and Funaki answering with some knees from the clinch. After some haggling in the clinch, Ken eventually trips Funaki to the mat, when he was too focused on locking in a standing Kimura. Ken shows why he never tries fighting off of his back with an armbar that Funaki saw coming from miles away, and they are both back on their feet. The 2nd wave sees both men trying to be more calculated and patient in their strikes, waiting for openings. Ken lands a few palm strikes down the pipe to Funaki’s face, which prompts Funaki to go for a low single, and takes a hold of one of Ken’s legs. This prompts Ken to go from dancing on his planted foot to trying to fall into a kneebar attack, but he telegraphed this, and Funaki slyly jumps back just in time, causing Ken to simply plop on his butt.

Funaki spends some time waiting before deciding on falling back for an ankle-lock, and just when I thought that all of Ken’s submission attempts were going to be in slow motion, he shows some beautiful explosiveness by instantly standing up and putting Funaki in a heel-hook. Funaki was able to escape, and they spent the next several minutes fighting for position on the mat, before being stood up. On their feet, they take on a laid-back sparring vibe where Funaki is effectively using his kicks by targeting both the inside and outside of Shamrock’s thighs, but is leaving his hands too low, which opens up opportunities for Shamrock to counter with blasts to the face. The rest of this 40 minute match was moderately interesting, but devoid of any real high-level energy or intensity. It was disappointing in the sense that this should have burned the house down, but instead felt like I was popping on a Brian Eno record while watching the ocean tides. That is not to say that it did not have its good moments. Some of the striking exchanges had fire to them, the finish was cool (with Funaki countering a standing toehold with a triangle choke) and there were some cool subtle moments in the grappling (like a brief headbutt war between Shamrock and Funaki), but what this boils down to is that a 40 minute worked match in the shoot-style is going to be a difficult task for anyone to pull off well, and Funaki is simply too methodical to be the one to excel in this format. One really needs the constant barrage of urgent energy that a Suzuki, Tamura, Fuke, etc can bring, if you are going to even think about pulling off this kind of match.

ML: What an odd match! Set the speed to medium, set the timer to 40 minutes, spar! While the talent here was obvious, the drama was almost nonexistent. No one ever seemed to make any progress or come close to actually winning. This wasn't Funaki durdling, I thought the mat work was a lot more flowing then we've seen from him, and they did a pretty good job of going back and forth. The stand up was somewhat lacking though, it wasn't bad, but nothing really felt like it had ill intentions either. That was really the problem. The match was fairly credible, definitely moving even more towards shooting, or at least the Pancrase hard gym sparring variety, but this was just so laid back. If they did the same basic match with a handful major occurrences and some real intensity, it would have been memorable, but in this form it all kind of washed over me and felt like MMA for Deadheads. They needed to put us on edge, not chill us out. Shamrock is normally a wild man and a killer, but today he was so ridiculously polite. Although it was easily the best match on the show, adding ten minutes was largely responsible for making it the worst of their 3 matches because it was just so ridiculously long they never manage to find their way out of self preservation mode.

Conclusion: Disappointing. A slight net-positive overall, but with the talent available we should be able to do better than bad, mediocre, good, good, and ok. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Fujiwara’s fault this time, as we got a good match between him and Fuke, but the main event was a letdown. Not that it was bad (it wasn’t), but it needed to be a lot better than it was, and instead was probably the weakest of their three matches to date. If they had distilled it into a 15 minute war, we would be having a totally different conversation right now, but I would say that the writing is clearly on the wall with this promotion. Their only logical path forward is to start including a lot more shoots in their product, but that, of course, could lead to its own drawbacks, as the risk of injuries increases, and they already have a thin roster. I hate to be saying this, as if there is any roster that I am rooting for to be the best of the best, and win the shoot-style wars, it is the PWFG, but it looks like there are going to have to be some serious changes if they want to do more than tread water every month.

ML: The biggest problem with this show is the main event was the only match where the outcome was even remotely in doubt. If they're going to give us Suzuki versus Funaki, Fujiwara versus Shamrock, Fuke versus Takahashi, etc, then that doesn't matter because those are naturally even pairings, but they are not going to book that way. They are capable of delivering interesting jobber matches, but the performers have to have that mindset rather than going out to dominate.

*This entire event, and many other misadventures, await you over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

* In other news *
Apparently, Lou Thez has taken more than just a passing interest in the UWF-I, as he has recently been in talks to try and bring the promotion to the United States and start promoting events there.
Double Impact recently premiered in Japan, and one of the celebrities in attendance was Akira Maeda, who had several pictures taken with its lead actor Jean-Claude van Damme, and was reported to completely dwarf the much smaller action star.


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.27 "Reckless Abandon..."

*Note: Mike Lorefice (of MMA/PURO emporium quebrada.net) will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

World domination! A lofty and enticing goal that many have sought, bled, and died for, throughout the annals of history, and in this case the UWF-I is no different. Join us, as we once again witness their aspirations for martial arts supremacy, as we return to the Korakuen Hall where they are set to have their 3rd event of 1992. Not even three months into the new year, this promotion is making good on their quest to become the victor in the shoot-style wars with the constant inferno that Hiromitsu Kanehara, Kiyoshi Tamura, and (as of late) Yuko Miyato have been bringing to the table.

After the standard ceremony, we are greeted by legendary wrestling icon, Lou Thesz, who now appears to be the gaijin face of this outfit, like Karl Gotch is to the PWFG. In fact, as we reported in our last column, Thesz has been shopping the UWF-I around the United States, in an effort to hopefully start promoting events there. Here he gives us a few words, “Ladies and Gentlemen. I am pleased to be back in Japan, to witness true competitive wrestling. The UWF-International features real wrestling, not show-business. I am happy to be perpetuating a noble sport, wrestling, the thing that I have loved all my life. Thank you!”

This is a fascinating look at where we are at in the growing pains of MMA history, as you can see that the desire of people like Thesz, and others in his sphere, is for pro-wrestling to be taken seriously and treated as a legitimate martial art and sport, yet the powers that be are not confidant enough in the concept of shooting to allow it to stand on its own merits. This leads to him resorting to the chicanery that he decries, in this case, “show-business.” This also helps to explain how the promotion (and shoot-style wrestling in general) faded away and never recovered once the illusion was broken from Anjo’s dojo storming antics, and PRIDE FC exposing Takada’s false image.

Still, we will enjoy the artifice for the time being, as we are now set for round 4 in the never-ending magma stream that is Hiromitsu Kanehara and Masakazu Maeda. After their last outing, I am now fully in favor of them opening every wrestling card on every single promotion from here on out, as it was one of the best shoot-style matches I’ve seen, only coming behind some of Tamura and Han’s best work. No time is wasted as other Madea charges in with a plethora of kicks and palm strikes, but to his credit, Kanehara stands his ground, and fires off several kicks of his own. You can see that he is somewhat out of his element compared to Maeda in the striking dept, but he was able to fend off Maeda long enough to close in and execute a lovely koshi-guruma (headlock throw). Things did not stay static on the mat however, and Kanehara constantly tried to attack both the ankle and then the arm of Maeda, but Masakazu was simply too wily, and was able to defend himself from every submission entry until he got back on his feet and soccer kicked Maeda for his efforts.

After his first submission barrage did not work, Kanehara takes Maeda down again, only this time opting for a Kimura attack, but now Maeda is wisely starting to make Kanehara pay for every failed attempt on his elbow joints. After escaping the Kimura, Maeda jumped back to his feet, soccer kicked Kanehara again, but did not stop there, he kept kicking and kneeing Kanehara as he was standing back up, even to the point of wearing himself out, and eventually succumbed to a desperation throw by Kanehara.

The next 16mins were a total non-stop war, where neither opponent gave any pause and were constantly attacking or actively defending. What was really neat about this, is that it was a play on your classic grappler vs striker match, only both the grappler and the striker were also proficient in the other’s discipline, just not to the same degree. So, while Maeda was usually having to defend Kanehara’s submission attacks on the ground, he was able to launch several credible threats of his own, and while Kanehara is not as sharp on the feet as Maeda, he too was able to get some nice shots in. There were also plenty of nice subtleties throughout the match. For example, there was one nice sequence where Kanehara was standing up and grabbing Maeda’s ankle to attack and used that as a way to fake a swift kick to Maeda’s face, and later Maeda was able to return the favor, when Kanehara had him in a variation of a single-leg crab, and his response was to spin around and smash his foot into Kanehara’s head, which got a great pop from the audience.

The last minutes of the fight saw Maeda throwing palm strike after palm strike, until the point of exhaustion, but his show of heart was so profound that the crowd had a Rocky IV moment when they shouted their support with chants of “Mah-eh-da! Mah-eh-da!” This was the beginning of the end however, and it was not long afterwards that Kanehara secured a submission victory via half-crab.

Another excellent match, and I’m thankful as this will keep forcing the rest of the roster to take notice, and hopefully follow suit. While this may have been a smidge below their last outing, by virtue of the extra length and the somewhat contrived finish, make no mistake, this was still fire and well worth your time. Easily ****.

ML: I'd highly doubt that at any other time in history a feud between two rookies would be the best thing going on in pro wrestling. The latest fantastic chapter in this rivalry had a bit more of a striker vs. grappler feel, as Maeda was so aggressive, just non stop blitzing Kanehara in standup the entire match that Kanehara really had to just try to fend him off and rely on his submissions. The urgency was so out of control that they got a bit wild and sloppy at times with their striking even before Maeda gassed. If ever there was a match where both workers were possibly trying to hard, it was this one. I mean, as impressive as it was, it probably would have been a little better with a bit more patience, precision, and control of their emotions, as Maeda really exhausted himself by the final stages. The pace they kept was simply insane! They took everything to the max, if not beyond. After a series of full time draws, they utilized nearly every point at their disposal before Kanehara finally broke through. This was a really crazy match! Though it wasn't as good as their match 2 weeks earlier, it's still one of the better matches we've seen, and some of the best displays of heart and desire you'll ever come across. ****

Foot-fighting phenom, Makato Ohe, returns for a standing bout against Pat Kane. This is excellent news, as this is the first time we’ve seen Ohe this year, and if he had been on the last couple of cards (replacing JT Sothern for instance) we probably would have went from 2-classic fights, to an over-the-top 3 great matches, which would have pushed those events into legendary status. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find out any information on Pat Kane as of press time, but since Ohe is coming off of two back-to-back loses, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went back to the jobber mill to find an easy opponent for Ohe.

Both fighters come out of the gate aggressively, but while Kane is landing some good combinations, he seems to leave his face out in the open while doing so, and is eating some hard leather because of it. The rest of the fight shows an aggressive Kane varying his attacks, and showing some strong power in his fists, whereas Ohe seems to be content in patiently waiting and setting up his thunderous kicks. Even round.

Round 2 starts with more hyper-aggressive behavior from Kane, but he is still adhering to the ancient proverb that punches are best blocked with your face. While he is landing a lot of volume, Ohe is doing a great job of being the counterpuncher and setting up some truly nasty answers, both by vicious straights down the pipe, and nasty knees from the clinch. This round came down to quality vs quantity, with the former going to Kane.

Round 3 was Ohe’s turn to lead the attack, and he quickly laid into Kane with everything he had, prompting a knockdown early into the round. The rest of the round saw Kane make a bit of a comeback by wisely utilizing the uppercut whenever Ohe would try and get into clinch range. Still, this is now going to be an uphill battle for Kane to try and win this fight on points.

Round 4 has Kane coming on strong again, being the one landing the majority of the shots, but he still leaves himself wide open, and continues to suffer some very stiff counters from Ohe, particularly his left straight. Despite a strong early showing, Kane kept eating more and more counters until succumbing to another knockdown late in the round. Kane was able to get back up, right before the bell rang, but he is going to have to pull out a magic trick to win this fight in the 5th .

The final round was a strong showing for Kane, who kept pressing the attack, and continued the wise strategy of unloading uppercuts whenever Ohe tried to clinch. His impressive offensive output came at the cost of a good defense though, and he walked right into the game of a patient fighter like Ohe. Still, this round belonged to Kane, but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide, and the decision had to go to Makato. I give the UWF-I credit for continuing to find game opponents for Ohe, and this was a good match, as well as a strong showing from Kane.

ML: Kane was a strong boxer and athlete. He showed good quickness, and was generally the aggressor. His problem is his kicking game wasn't particularly developed. He basically never kicked after throwing a punch, instead just leading with a kick to control the distance and set up his punch combo. Ohe tried to work on the inside so Kane couldn't just beat him with hand speed. Kane's corner wanted to make certain he was completely refreshed going into the third, with his trainer even spraying water down his pants.Ohe probably lost the first 2 rounds, but started strong in the third, landing a big left straight then following with a series of clinch knees and a left high kick, repeating the sequence until he finally dropped Kane with the left hand. Even though Kane's defense throughout the fight was simply to attack, attack, and attack some more, Ohe still had much more success when he initiated then when he waited to land counters to Kane's open face. Kane had to be really active to make up for his lack of defense, and that was increasingly difficult In the later rounds, as Ohe's knees to the midsection really sapped his energy. Ohe landed a few big lefts in the fourth, but it felt like Kane went down from exhaustion as much as from Ohe's big shots. Kane had obviously trained hard in Xanadu, as he still fought hard trying to pull out the victory, though much of his speed was gone, with his right hand particularly lacking zip. Ohe's power advantage was just too much , especially in the second half of the fight. I had Ohe winning the last 3 rounds. Now that Ohe has dispatched of Kane, one can only hope that UWF-I can get Sidney Crosby in here next... Good match.

Now it is time for Pez Whatley vs Tatsuo Nakano. Earlier in the month, Whatley laid on top of Yoji Anjo for 5mins, and now it is his turn to lay all over Nakano. Whatley starts by continually trying to take Nakano down by way of a back body-lock, which prompts Nakano to try and counter with a standing Kimura. Whatley is wise enough to ward off the submission attempt, but while he succeeds in saving his shoulder, he does so at the expense of the takedown. After a while of vain takedown attempts, Takano changes his approach and goes into standup mode, with repeated strikes until he wins via knockout around the 4min mark. Whatley looked a little better this time, but thankfully this was noticeably shorter, and even more thankfully this will be the last time we have to see Whatley, as he went back to the states to work for WCW along with other indies.

ML: The big spot was Nakano ducking and lariat in the corner and coming back with a high kick for the face plant. This was terrible, but at least it was short, and they didn't waste Tamura or someone good on Nakano

Next up is Kiyoshi Tamura in the way that we all desire to see him, in a singles match, this time against newcomer Mark Silver. The last event showed a good debut from Silver, who seems like he could be a good hand, if properly cultivated. The first couple of mins sees the two cautiously feel each other out, until it’s Silver that draws first blood with a body-lock takedown. Once the fight is on the mat, Silver seems somewhat unsure of how to proceed, and awkwardly goes from a headlock to an armbar attempt that eventually sees Kimura take a rope escape on. Once on the feet, Silver is loosening up a bit and is starting to strike Tamura with some confidence. Tamura then shows an interesting counter to Silver’s punches by putting him in something akin to an inverted full-nelson, which stopped the striking but allowed Silver to taken twist him back down to the mat. Tamura quickly slithers out, and after standing back up, hits a nice rolling kneebar, which evens the score. The rest of the match showed a more subdued Tamura, as he put Silver through his paces before winning via a neck crank at 13:13. This was understandable as Silver needs a match like this to gain experience, as he is still very green. This wasn’t great, but not terrible either, as Silver did have some explosive moments, and Tamura did a good job of feeding him some opportunities to score some offense. Passable.

ML: This was decent, but obviously disappointing at the same time. Tamura made Silver better, but Silver did more to make Tamura worse. Silver can really only wrestle at this point, but he's also not very fast or agile, so Tamura couldn't really utilize his speed the way he normally does. Silver didn't have much in the way of submission holds or counters either, so once they got to the mat, he did something remedial or just watched Tamura rather than helping him or setting him up. Tamura's back was almost entirely taped up, so this wasn't his greatest effort, and probably everyone was just content to give Silver some time to figure things out.

Now we are heading into what could be the unexpected gold mine, with Yoji Anjo vs Yuko Miyato. Miyato is the one wrestler, that more than anyone else, has changed my perception of him compared to when we first started. This is due to his putting a lot more urgency and intensity into his matches lately, which is something that he only seemed to do sporadically before. The match starts and the atmosphere starts to gain an intense energy again, as these two are going right at it. Anjo keeps trying to push Miyato back with various kicks but keeps eating slaps to the face for his trouble. After a protracted leg-battle that didn’t yield any results, Anjo decides to go for some flying knees, and clinch work, to try and get his point across. He then eventually gets Miyato down and gains a point from forcing Miyato to take a rope escape off a rear naked choke attempt. The match then took on a disjointed flow that wound up making me like it less than I had wanted to. The stand-up portions where great, with a lot of energy and verve, but the intensity would immediately stall out whenever it hit the ground, mostly from Anjo just kind of chilling until it got back to the feet. The finish was cool though, with Anjo following up a nice throw with an instant straight armbar. A solid ***, but this should have been better, and probably a few mins longer.

ML: I really liked this match. It was realistic and intense, and they really did a nice job of escalating the tensions. The stand up here was quite impressive. They really put the extra effort into their footwork, showing some nice entries and exits, as well as feinting, and generally trying to keep each other off balance. The grappling may not have been quite as impressive from a 21st century standpoint, but that's from lack of proper BJJ training rather than giving anything less than 100% effort on their part. They definitely had some nice counters, and made some nice transitions. Miyato is really on fire the past 6 months, and after seeming rather dated at the start of '91, I'd currently rate him as the most improved veteran overall, as well as the third best worker in UWF-I behind Tamara in Kanehara. The only downside with this match is it was way too short. The 9 minutes felt like 4 because it was so good, but it would have been much more reasonable to give this 5 minutes from the Silver match, or better yet don't waste our time on the junk food man. ***1/2

Now Kazuo Yamazaki must take a break from the illustrious tag-team scene, to take on the unenviable task of getting a good match out of Tom Burton. Things are underway, with Burton trying to bait the usually patient Yamazaki by verbally goading him to attack him. This didn’t work, as Yamazaki wisely just chipped away at Burton’s thighs with some well-timed kicks, which prompted Burton to go for a takedown off a back body-lock, which Yamazaki instantly tried to counter with a standing Kimura. This serves to illustrate that before Sakuraba was breaking Renzo Gracie’s arm years later with this same technique, this counter seemed to be in the lexicon of every UWF fighter. Burton was able to get the fight to the ground, but could not seem to manage anything once it got there, as he quickly found himself defending various submission attempts from Yamazaki. The ne-waza finally ended when Burton was fishing for a toehold while Yamazaki was sitting behind him, and in a cool move, Yamazaki took an escape, not because he was in danger, but simply to get the fight back on the feet.

Yamazaki then does what we all adore about him and starts setting up feints by offering his hand to try and initiate a tie-up, only to instantly send nasty kicks to Burton’s thighs. He then gives us a nice sequence when he takes Burton down with a shoot-style schoolboy, and transitions off that into a straight ankle-lock. As nifty as it was, it didn’t work as Burton simply stood up, and muscled his way into his own standing ankle lock, forcing Yamazaki to take another escape. The end began when Burton hit an explosive tomoe-nage (monkey flip), but Yamazaki wound up landing on his feet like a cat, and this surprising technique from Burton prompted Yamazaki to stat wailing away with kicks, before finishing the fight with what can only be referred to as the shoot-style version of the Million Dollar Dream. I was pleasantly surprised. While the Miyato/Anjo match was a bit of a letdown, this wound up being a lot better than I would have anticipated, thanks to Yamazaki’s subtle and crafty ways. He always looked like the best fighter in the ring, but still wound-up making Burton look like a legit threat due to his size, and power. *** ½

ML: A pleasant surprise. Probably the best performance we've seen from Yamazaki since the restart, combined with quite a bit of improvement from Burton, seemingly out of nowhere. Somehow, Burton was actually flowing here, and Yamazaki managed to pull some pretty nice sequences out of him, whereas the match would normally stall out as soon as Burton got it to the ground with his wrestling. Yamazaki incorporated a lot of nice little touches, such as his ankle momentarily giving out after he escaped from Burton's ankle lock. Burton started off with some annoying cartoonish taunts, but Yamazaki was really on his game here, and played off everything Burton did very well. While this was by far the most pro wrestling oriented match so far, Yamazaki at least set up the fake spots pretty well. Again, the match was somewhat rushed, seeming to just end rather randomly because they suddenly had too many matches to squeeze in. ***

The $100,000,000 Yen Dream

Now it is time for a westerner that will be a most welcome addition to the roster, Lou Thesz protégé, and future head instructor of his wrestling school, Mark Fleming. Much in the same way that Billy Robinson took Billy Scott under his wing and looked over him and his career, Thesz did the same for Fleming. Fleming is coming into this with a wealth of experience, as outside of the Thesz connection, he is also a long time NWA veteran, and had a stint in New Japan Pro Wrestling before stopping here in the UWF-I. Oddly, he will be facing Takada straightaway, which I can only imagine is due to them waiting to book the Albright/Takada match at a larger venue in the future. The match starts with Takada peppering Fleming’s legs with kicks, and Fleming does not really seem to know how to deal with this, but to his credit, when the 2nd volley comes in, he just grabs Takada’s kicking leg and throws him down to the ground where he then tries to put Takada in an ankle-lock. His inexperience showed however, and it wasn’t hard for Takada to simply put Fleming in a heel-hook of his own, while Fleming struggled to finish.

Once the fight restarts, Fleming easily gets Takada back down to the mat, but like many pure wrestlers, doesn’t know what to do after that’s accomplished. He obviously has a good base in wrestling, and is athletic, but would need a lot of work on his submission and striking skills before proceeding further in this style. Eventually, he goes back to what he did the first time, which is dive for an ankle lock, and while it took longer this time, Takada was still able to counter with another heel-hook, forcing the 2nd rope escape. Not long after this, the match ends with Takada getting the win via armbar. Taken in isolation this match wasn’t particularly noteworthy, but I do believe that it shows that with the right training, and some time, Fleming could wind up being a solid asset for this company. While he is older than the missing Billy Scott, he still has a few more solid years left in him.

ML: Fleming showed good potential here, and Takada seemed interested in trying to impress Thesz. Fleming did a nice job of trying to defend Takada's kicks and transition to the takedown off of them. I liked the urgency he showed in catching a kick, tripping Takada up, and applying the Achilles' tendon hold. Takada was actually motivated for this match, moving around a lot, trying to keep away from Fleming in stand up so he could land his big kicks, and even doing more than "thinking" on the ground. While the outcome was never in doubt, this was neither dull nor completely unrealistic.

Possibly, the most impressive thing about Gary Albright was his articulate, and soft-spoken interview style. Here he tells us that he is impressed with Kakihara’s style of fighting, in which he aggressively fights in flurries, but feels that his experience in international competition will be enough to put him over. The magic ended there however, because as soon as the match started, Kakihara took a one-way trip on Air Albright, where he was smothered by the gargantuan beast, until having to take a rope escape from a full nelson. Shortly after this, Kakihara was flatlined by a couple of suplexes, and that was the end. The crowd was going nuts the entire time however, and that infectious energy helped to elevate this past the silly squash match that it was.

ML: What a waste time! Kakihara got in 3 strikes that Gary didn't even bother to sell.

Conclusion: Probably the best UWF-I show yet. We got another great match from Kanehara/Maeda, a good standing bout from Ohe/Kane, a decent match from Miyato/Anjo, and a good match between Yamazaki/Burton. Even the lesser moments of this card were more forgettable than abysmal, not only making this a recommended event, but also clearly puts the UWF-I as the front running promotion. RINGS are surely not far behind from being a threat, once they get solidified, but in the meantime they only thing standing in the way of this outfit is Takada, and the threat of bad booking derailing them. Until that happens, there is simply too much talent here to be ignored, as the PWFG struggles to even have two dynamite matches on their events.

ML: Unquestionably the best UWF-I show so far. We got 4 recommended matches, and amazingly Tamura wasn't even one of them. Though another Albright disgrace left something of a bad taste in my mouth, the undercard was so exceptional that it was hard to get too annoyed. Almost everyone in this promotion seems to be going in the right direction, except the two fighters they actually push.

Possibly, the most impressive thing about Gary Albright was his articulate, and soft-spoken interview Here he tells us that he is impressed with Kakihara’s of fighting, in which he aggressively fights in flurries, but feels that his experience in international competition will be enough to put him over. The magic ended there however, because as soon as the match started, Kakihara took a one-way trip on Air Albright, where he was smothered by the gargantuan beast, until having to take a rope escape from a full nelson. Shortly after this, Kakihara was flatlined by a couple of suplexes, and that was the end. The crowd was going nuts the entire time however, and that infectious energy helped to elevate this past the silly squash match that it was.

ML: What a waste time! Kakihara got in 3 strikes that Gary didn't even bother to sell.

Conclusion: Probably the best UWF-I show yet. We got another great match from Kanehara/Maeda, a good standing bout from Ohe/Kane, a decent match from Miyato/Anjo, and a good match between Yamazaki/Burton. Even the lesser moments of this card were more forgettable than abysmal, not only making this a recommended event, but also clearly puts the UWF-I as the front running promotion. RINGS are surely not far behind from being a threat, once they get solidified, but in the meantime they only thing standing in the way of this outfit is Takada, and the threat of bad booking derailing them. Until that happens, there is simply too much talent here to be ignored, as the PWFG struggles to even have two dynamite matches on their events.

ML: Unquestionably the best UWF-I show so far. We got 4 recommended matches, and amazingly Tamura wasn't even one of them. Though another Albright disgrace left something of a bad taste in my mouth, the undercard was so exceptional that it was hard to get too annoyed. Almost everyone in this promotion seems to be going in the right direction, except the two fighters they actually push.

*This entire event, along with many other rare treasures, await you at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

ML: Ramon Dekkers, a regular in Lumpinee Stadium since 1990, once again traveled to Thailand on 2-28-92 for his third match against former world champion Coban Lookchaomaesaitong, this time for the vacant IMF World Welterweight title. They split their previous bouts, with both ending in first round knockouts. This was a much more measured contest, where the first round was mostly kicking each others block. Dekkers was the more or explosive fighter, with more speed and certainly power, but he just couldn't break through Coban's defenses. Surprisingly, Coban was the better puncher, usually the weakness of the Thai fighters, and that was how he won this fight. Early on, Dekkers was beating him in the kick exchanges, but Coban began to take over in the second round countering with big hooks and overhands. Coban really made his mark in the fourth, when Dekkers backed him with a 1-2 then put out a right hand with his head fake to set up a big left, but Coban instead leveled him with a left hook for the knockdown. With the crowd going nuts, Coban made a big push for the finish including a right hook and a left high kick, leading to a seond knockdown through the accumulation of damage. Dekkers caught something of a break, in that his right eye was so bloody that he got a rest while the doctor took a look at it, which allowed him to stabilize and survive the round. Dekkers was obnoxious throughout the fight in is taunts for Coban to bring it, trying to get Coban out of his counter punching mode that was winning him the fight. That being said, Dekkers not only showed great heart and determination in refusing to give up, but was shockingly able to turn things around and win the fifth round, landing one stunning punch that almost got him the only throw of the match. Coban won a unanimous decision. Good match.

*This event, is available in full, over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.28 "Angular Momentum"

*Note: Mike Lorefice (of MMA/Puro emporium quebrada.net will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

We at Kakutogi HQ believe in the axiom that one should not go where the path may lead, but that it is best to go where there is no path and leave a trail. This puts us in good company, as all of these shoot-style promotions that we have been covering are in the process of blazing a new way forward that will help set the course for full-blown MMA to come to fruition.

The date is 3-5-92, and we are leaving behind the smoldering ruins of a fantastic UWF-I event that took place only 6-days prior with a (so far) record 4 recommended matches, so Maeda and co. have their work cut out for them. This time we will be traveling to the Amagasaki Memorial Park Stadium (now known as the Baycom Athletic Stadium) which is an all-purpose sports arena built in 1988, that typically holds events relating to Judo, Volleyball, Table Tennis, and Basketball.

We start this event by being greeted to a sneak peek of the backstage weigh-ins, along with some footage of Volk Han and his fellow sambo comrades showing us their finest flying arm attacks, rolling kneebars, and pre-sparring dance routines, thus winning both our hearts and minds.

The first match will be both an EARTH BOUT as well as the televised combat-sport debut of Adam Watt, a solid karateka and boxer, who would unfortunately gain infamy in later years for various legal troubles, but should also be remembered for his versatility, having competed at high levels in both karate, boxing, and kickboxing. Possibly, his crowning achievement was making it to a 2001 K1 World Grand Prix final by defeating South African fighter, Mike Bernardo. Here he will be facing Hans Nyman who made his debut at the 12-7-91 RINGS event, in a rather pointless karate bout vs Masaaki Satake. I’m not sure, but this fight appears to be under RINGS rules, albeit in a 5-round (3-min per round) format.

Round 1 is underway, and Watt fires off a couple of nice thigh kicks before being swiftly taken down by Nyman, and put into a side headlock, which eventually led to a Watt taking the first rope escape. The rest of the round saw Nyman just kind of stand and take Watt’s offense, without really trying to initiate another grappling exchange.

Round 2 starts with Watt taking the initiative and nailing Nyman with a great push kick. Nyman is tentative on what to do next, as he just kind of calmly assess the situation while being able to land a couple of leg kicks of his own. He tries a couple of times to get another takedown off a bodylock, but Watt wisely gets himself immediately into the ropes when this happens, prompting a break from the ref.

Round 3 sees Watt dancing around Nyman, weaving in and out, while Nyman opts to simply remain stationary. Oddly, despite hardly moving, Nyman seems to land more accurate kicks, perhaps due to his patience before committing to one. Nyman eventually gets his bodylock takedown, this time in the center of the ring, but he goes right back to a side headlock, which makes me think that he isn’t trying harder to grapple with Watt due to a lack of offensive moves in his arsenal.

Round 4 continued to be uneventful, with the only major happenings being an eye poke from Watt early on, and a nice counter when Watt grabbed an errant kick from Nyman and countered with a thunderous one of his own to Nyman’s chest.

Watt put more effort into round 5, sneaking through Nyman’s statue defenses more frequently, but still danced more than punched. Crazily, the crowd was really into this, going nuts at even the slightest sign of something happening. Not much did, and the fight seemed about to end when the judges called for an extra round, much to the dismay of Hans Nyman. After a few moments of Nyman complaining that the fight was only supposed to be 5 rounds, he reluctantly agreed to a round 6. To Watt’s credit he started to hit his stride in this round and was pushing through with several nasty kicks and knees, but it was too little, too late, as the fight was ruled a draw. Had he fought like this from the start, he would have easily won.

This was a shoot, but it was also a bizarre and mostly dull affair that I wanted to like more than I did. The best moments of the fight had to be the cornerman who constantly shouted sage advice like, “Kick! Kick! Punch! Punch!” and “Low-kick! Low-kick! Punch!” Watt did show some good speed and footwork, but somehow that rarely translated into significant strikes. Nyman on the other hand moved like a golem, but still managed to land most of the nastier blows. This probably came down to a lack of experience on both fighters’ parts, which led to a ** match.

ML: Though both fighters have a background in karate, Watt being from the Seido branch and Hans from Kyokushin, they couldn't have approached this fight more differently. Watt is very athletic, and utilized the more traditional karate style focusing on movement and misdirection to open up his kicks and body punches (they just had taped fists). Hans has no athleticism , and utilized more of a muay thai style, stationary and completely flat footed, mostly looking for the takedown. Hans got a take down early, which forced Adam to be more selective with his kicks. The big difference in the early rounds is Watt was actually throwing, while Nyman kept looking for the power kick, that never came because he did nothing to set it up. Nyman began to work the front kick in the third, opening up the takedown into what should have been an arm triangle, but since he presumably doesn't know the hold, wound up being a cheesy side headlock. Once Nyman was finally willing to kick, the fight really shifted in his favor, as he backed Watt with his front and low kicks, then when Watt tried to close the distance, he would grab the body lock and take him down. Nyman briefly had Watt's back in the fourth round before the immediate rope escape. I gave Nyman the final 3 rounds, but the fight was close enough that an extra round seemed reasonable. Nyman forced a rope escape after a quick takedown in the extra round, but then Watt finally woke up. Now with his back against the wall, Watt was, for the first time, fighting with aggression, and had his best round of the fight. Nyman was looking exhausted, and Watt seemed to get the Thai clinch going, but Nyman tripped him up the second time. A decent shoot.

Next up is the 2nd glorious appearance of Volk Han, who is seen warming up for the bout wearing what must surely be a holdover from his days in the Russian military, which is enough to intimidate any prospective challenger. Oddly, he is only on the 2nd match of the evening, this time facing a man who’s exact spelling remains a mystery (as does everything else about him) Gennady Gigant. One thing is certain which is that Mr. Gigant lives up to his name and is quite the portly fellow. Han quickly moves around Gigant, chopping down his opponent’s thighs with numerous low kicks, until Gigant sneaks in a desperation ippon seoi nage. Being a fellow of considerable girth, he was able to neutralize Han by simply smothering him, but unable to do much else, and eventually Han found a way to stand back up. A slick sequence followed where Han hits his patented standing kimura throw, several years before Karo Parasyian was making it all the rage, but to my shock this was countered by a scoop slam from Gigant, which was countered again by Han, when he simply held on and used Gigant’s own momentum against him, thereby toppling over him and attempting an armbar right afterwards. The fight restarts and Han quickly hits the tobi-juji-gatame (flying armbar) that he was so studiously practicing in the early vignettes. The rest of the fight saw Han throwing all sorts of submission tricks, from wristlock throws, rolling kneebars, and his eventual finish, which I can only describe as some kind of figure-four variation of an inverted omoplata, which had to be light years ahead of its time. What was most impressive about this though, was Han taking a rather lackluster opponent in Gigant, and getting an entertaining match out of him. ***

ML: Booking wise, this was just RINGS getting Han on the board to set up the rematch with Maeda, but it was another great one man show from Han. Ironically, the aspect that sets Han apart from Tamura, Kanehara, and Suzuki may be his striking. Han's movement is just fantastic; he looks like Machida out there. He's not only flowing on the mat, his stand up flows arguably just as well. Early on, Han hit a left front kick into a right middle kick, pushed off with his hands, and was back out of the pocket before Gigant could even think about a counter. Even the kickboxers weren't doing this kind of thing in these days. It may be unfair to say that Gigant is a performer of no particular grace or skill given he's a Russian judo champion, but this was his debut, and he didn't bring a lot on his own to the sport of worked pro wrestling. His offense was all standard real sports fair, but Han found numerous ways to turn these into interactive wrestling sequences to keep the match interesting, and it wound up feeling more like a top notch world of sport technical match that somehow still worked within the context of a shoot because of the standup and generally credible technique. The grappling really flowed together, with chain attacks going back and forth from both, though Gigant would squelch this when left to his devices. Just great sequences here all around! Gigant isn't as good as Maeda in a vacuum, but Han could just continually experiment with him because he didn't have a set or locked in style. The quality was 99% from Han, but Gigant was clearly a skilled martial artist who was pliable enough that everything was totally coming off. This felt a lot fresher and more experimental than the matches we were seeing from the other promotions because Han is so unique and creative. One of the things that made Han so great is he just refused to be held to or boxed in by convention. ***3/4

The Roll to Victory!

Now we have Dutch judoka Ruud “Rudy” Ewoldt vs the truly impressive, Nobuaki Kakuda. Impressive, as it was only a little over a month ago that Kakuda got his nose brutalized by kickboxing legend Rob Kaman in a shoot, and his is already back in time for a FIRE BOUT. Right away, the match is living up to its name, as Kakuda is throwing some insane low kicks at Ewoldt, and we appear to have the 2nd shoot of the evening on our hands. Ewoldt is no chump however, and he quickly presses in and uses his massive size and strength advantage to toss Kakuda like a rag doll. After quickly forcing Kakuda to get a rope escape they are back on their feet, and Kakuda is only able to fire off a reverse roundhouse kick before being dwarfed by the massive dutchman as he is again forced to the mat, but immediately puts his leg in the ropes, not even waiting to see what he had in store. The next couple of mins saw Kakuda get abused via throws, nasty body blows, and ground attacks, but he has the heart of a lion, and the advent of multiple rope escapes had to eventually play in his favor, and after weathering the early storm he was able to finally hit some nasty combos on Ewoldt, eventually winning by TKO. This only lasted around 6min but was an intense and exciting shoot.

ML: An intense, high quality karate versus judo shoot. Kakuda landed nice left/right body punch then lowkick combos, but he really needed to back Rudy with them because he refused to exit the pocket himself. As long as Rudy was forced to move backwards, Kakuda could keep landing the same combos on him. However, when Rudy simply held his ground, he was able to grab Kakuda and throw him. It looked like Rudy had the winning formula once he was willing to do what it took to get the fight to the ground, but Kakuda then begin to land several big shots to the liver or mid section, including 3 spinning heel kicks. Rudy survived 2 knockdowns, but was given no chance to recover, and was soon finished with a middle kick to the liver. Above average match.

Next, we are set for another AIR BOUT with 80s video game icon Dick F;y (Vrij) and Herman Renting, who has proven to be one of Maeda’s wiser investments, as he has been able to have decent, if understated, matches with all those he is put against. After an initial period of mutual footfighting, things are underway with some very slick judo from Renting when he valiantly fought and succeeded in obtaining a kosoto-gake (minor outer-hook) off an attempt from Vrij to defend. This doesn’t really yield any meaningful results as Vrij just powers his way out of side-control and the fight restarts on the feet. The rest of the contest was a clash of judo vs FLY-boxing, with the latter being victorious via head kick knockout. While hardly essential viewing, this was entertaining, and both Vrij and Renting looked good, if not particularly aggressive. *** for entertainment value.

ML: Though not a bad match, it was poorly positioned given it didn't have anything to offer that we hadn't already seen done better earlier on the card. The intensity was down dramatically, with Vrij's pulled kicks not helping any. It also never felt as though Renting could win, and once Dick put him down with a low kick, he just worked over the leg to set up the big high kick finish.

After a brief interlude where we are given a demonstration of Russian military sambo it is time for the RINGS debut of accomplished karateka Willie Williams, who has the distinction of having bouts against both a bear and Antonio Inoki on his resume. The match against Inoki was surely worked, but I am not certain I can say the same of the bear. Here he will be facing Pieter Smit who has been missing in action since 8-1-91, where he was forced to have a dreadful contest with the much inferior of the two “Willys,” Willy Wilhelm. This match was over almost as soon as it started, as it was not even a mere 3-mins of Willie using Smit as a shoot-style punching bag. This was clearly a work, and while Williams was lively enough to save this from being terrible, it was rather pointless.

ML: Williams had perhaps the first classic martial arts match with Inoki on 2/27/80, and was clearly the star of that match, showing amazing athleticism in making the normally dull and feeble Inoki works into something with genuine excitement and intensity. As the legendary Apollo Creed once said, "You know Stallion, it's too bad we gotta get old!" The classic bout with Inoki came soon after Williams peak as a karateka, reaching the semifinals of the 2nd World Open Championships in 1979, when he was 28 years old. Now, at nearly 41, he obviously didn't have the same explosion that separated him in his heyday. This slower Williams didn't do a good job of faking his strikes, with none of the several knees he threw looking remotely convincing. The bout was a squash to get him over, but unfortunately he wasn't able to look convincing.

We then head into a UNIVERSE BOUT where the focal point of all existence will be zeroed in on Masaaki Satake and dutch newcomer, Fred Oosterom. This appears to be our 3rd shoot with the lean Dutchman instantly going for a takedown and primitive armbar attempt on Satake, after a brief striking exchange. Satake gets back up, and tees off against Oosterom's legs with some powerful kicks, but Fred seems to be a scrapper, and despite eating some hard shots, is able to quickly close in and trip Satake. Sadly, this didn't gain him much headway, as they instantly fell too close to the ropes. However, Oosterom got a lot smoother in figuring out Satake's patterns and wins the next striking exchange by catching Satake's kicks and landing some hard gut shots of his own, before executing another explosive trip. The rest of the match saw Oosterom get the better of Satake both in the standing and ne waza portions, quickly depleting Satake of his rope escapes, but shortly after the 6min mark, Satake knocked Oosterom down with a spinning back kick, which didn't seem like something that would have put him away, but right after he did this, he followed up to a soccer kick to Fred's face, which wound up securing the knockdown victory for Satake. Chalk this up to another jerk move, and bogus win for Satake, as the ref shouldn't have allowed this, but he did, and the W is forever etched into the history books. Exciting match that unfortunately ended on a bad note.

ML: This felt like the 12/7/91 Nobuaki Kakuda vs. Herman Renting match where they sparred realistically, but weren't trying to hurt each other with their strikes, mostly kicking the block or the thighs. That match was a lot better, but they did a good job of making things look urgent here, and Oosterom had a few hard takedowns. The finish definitely looked planned, with Fred managing to block the cheap shot kick with both arms despite perhaps not even being able to see it coming. Either way, there's always some shenanigans when Satake is involved.

Now for the final conflict in this, the 2nd MEGA BATTLE event, a match between Akira Maeda and Ramazi Buzariashvili, a newcomer to RINGS that I have been unable to find any significant information about. The battle starts and Ramazi heaves Maeda down with ease, but opens himself up to a crafty toehold attempt from Maeda when he (slowly) dove in and tried to attack Maeda's turtle defenses. After successfully rolling off into the ropes we are back to the feet, and Ramazi again tosses Maeda around with total ease, but is only able to follow up his impressive strength with a pitifully slow armbar attempt. What followed was a fairly credible (by Maeda standards) worked bout, that saw several protracted grappling sequences where they would fight for a submission, as well as numerous instances of Maeda being tossed around like a sock puppet. Ramazi was slow to be sure, but he came across as a credible grappler with legit skills. The fight ended with Maeda winning via ankle-lock. Maybe I'm just in a generous mood, but I like this more than I thought I would, and am hereby deeming it to be ***.

ML: Ramazi is a master of the Georgian national martial art, Chidaoba. Maeda may not be the best competitor these days, but he's really opening peoples eyes to a lot of different styles and techniques. What other promotion is giving demonstrations on how to defeat men armed with knives or who have guns lodged in the small of your back? Ramazi made a strong impression in his debut, and seemed to have all the makings of a star, with intensity, hard suplexes, and too much charisma, if anything, for shoot fighting. He did a good job, outside of a few ill advised attempts at power moves. Maeda, for the most part, didn't have enough impact or credibility to his offense, but the match was mostly entertaining even though it was by far the least believable on the show.

Conclusion: Before I offer any criticisms, I should first commend Maeda for allowing 3 shoots to be on the card, for two months in a row now. This alone is groundbreaking and puts the bravery quotient considerably ahead of their other two competitors, even if this hasn't always translated into a satisfying or entertaining result. Now with that said, this event was fairly entertaining, but hardly mandatory viewing. 2 of the 3 shoots were exciting, but too short to really be strongly recommended, outside of historical interest. Volk Han's match was also worth watching, but again, hardly compares to his best moments. Still, this was leagues ahead of the last PWFG event, so it may be safe to put them in the 2nd place slot of the three, going forward. They are still finding their voice, and there appears to be an influx of new talent, so it's understandable that will take some time to work the kinks out.

ML: I feel the Dolman gym is proving itself to be the first MMA super gym. They may not have the best workers, but they are leading the way in the cross training department, and that's coming to bear now that RINGS is showcasing some real fights. Their judo guys can hang in there on their feet with karate and kickboxing specialists, while their kickboxers can beat other strikers by relying on the takedown.

*This entire event, along with other priceless artifacts, can be found over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

*In other news*
Rumors are circulating that the UWF-I is looking to bring in another pro boxer to face Nobuhiko Takada for their 5-8-92 event, scheduled to take place at the Yokohama Arena. No word yet on who that may be, but the last boxer he faced (Trevor Brebick) was convicted on a rape charge in Florida last week.

Leon Spinks and The Sheik are set to team up in an upcoming series of events within the FMW promotion in Japan. They are scheduled to start making appearances as of 3-20-92.


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.29 "Punishment by Design"

*Note: Mike Lorefice of the excellent MMA/Puroresu mega-center quebrada.net will have his comments be preceded by his initials. *

E=MC2. A formula that is almost as famous as the man who authored it. The heart of this equation is the implication that a small amount of resting mass corresponds to an enormous amount of energy, and in a way that is where we are at today. Any new shift in the cultural zeitgeist is simply waiting for an impetus to propel it into motion, and the players within this shoot-style sphere are just the ones to be that catalyst that will forever change the martial arts landscape. Yes, as unwitting as they may be, Nobuhiko Takada and others in his sphere are in the process of converting the spirit of modern MMA (which has been mostly inert heretofore) into an energy that will eventually take hold and change the dynamic of not only combat sports, but the face of pop culture as well.

The date is 3-17-92, and we will be joining the UWF-I clan at the esteemed Nagoya Tsuyuhashi Sport Center, an all-purpose athletic/recreation center, generally catering to judo, archery, tennis, and other sports related activities. The first match will be the 5th conflict between two of the greatest rookies in pro wrestling history, Hiromitsu Kanehara and Masukazu Maeda. We at Kakutogi HQ are now in full support of this opening pairing from now until the cessation of all things, but sadly this will be the 2nd to last time we get see other Maeda, so we should savor this while we can.

Neither man wastes any time unloading kicks into one another, and just when I think that Kanehara has dispensed with any grappling formalities, he quickly shifts gears and gets a takedown off an errant kick from Maeda, and immediately goes for a near naked choke. In the short amount of time that these two have been going at it (around 3 months now) Maeda has been getting smoother in his transitions, and that is evident here, as he manages to not only slither out of Kanehara’s vice grip but is able to convert that into an armbar attempt. This leads to a nice sequence where Kanehara stacks Maeda to escape the armbar and falls back for a straight ankle lock once Maeda’s foot became available. Maeda then countered with an ankle lock of his own, but Kanehara wisely kept slapping Maeda in the face while shifting his body position so that he could rotate into his own armbar attack. This worked, forcing a rope escape from Maeda, and it is nice to see the local Nagoya audience appreciate this fine waza display as much as I am.

The greatness did not stop there however, and as soon as Maeda got up, he went ballistic on Kanehara’s face, landing several hard strikes and kicks, until Kanehara was forced to dive in with a desperation single-leg attempt. It worked, but Maeda is getting to be way too wily on the ground, and simply will not stay still long enough for Kanehara to do anything. Eventually, Maeda stands back up and starts soccer kicking Kanehara when he does the same, and if that was not enough, he went into full E-Honda mode by unloading dozens of lightning fast palm strikes. I thought this would be the end of Kanehara, but he managed to respond to this assault with a plethora of his own fast hand combinations�The rest of this bout was…. who am I kidding? I am simply running out of adjectives to describe how good these two have been, and this was their best outing yet! Not only will this be a contender for best match of '92, but in its own way it is also one of the best pro wrestling matches that I have ever seen. It did not have the flashy innovation of a Volk Han, the slick transitions of a Tamura, or the subtle psychology of a Yamazaki, but the amount of abuse these two put each other through is simply unreal. That, and it had just the right amount of pro wrestling theatricality to push the entertainment value over the top while not detracting from the realism of their constant barrage of stiff striking. This was 18minute of pure cataclysmic fire before Maeda eventually succumbed to a crossface neck-crank, and for that I hereby award this my very first *****. Excellent!

ML: This match is simply outstanding, the best we've seen so far! If these two just fought every show for an entire year, there is no doubt that these would be the 2 best rookie years ever in pro wrestling! Unfortunately, Maeda won't be around much longer, but it's going to be hard to dethrone Kanehara from that lofty pedistal, unless Miyato just starts feeding him to Albright & Takada. What separates Kanehara & Maeda is they represent a new school of MMA rather than pro wrestling based training that's focused on fighting all out for the positions, particularly in the grappling, and thus looks wholly different then what the old pro wrestlers are doing, with constant pressure and movement, and a very palpable sense of urgency to win by being first. The number of adjustments these guys make in 3 seconds is more then Takada makes in 3 matches. There's no one in wrestling who's putting in the amount of nonstop effort that these two are. There's simply no downtime in their matches because it's not simply about the highspots, but rather the constant barrage of movement and aggression that actually allows for them. Maeda is getting better at being able to keep pushing forward with his onslaught of strikes without getting as sloppy trying to maintain the all out assault. These matches are crazy challenges for their cardio to be certain. Though they would probably be more amazing if Maeda ever so slightly backed off from his Diaz level of volume, and focused slightly more on connecting solidly with each shot, it feels like nitpicking, especially when we remember he's not even 4 months into his career. Also, the whole give 200% effort at all times philosophy is the main thing that's making these matches so realistic as fights even though the precision isn't always there. Kanehara won again, but it's the more obvious massive improvements of Maeda in confidence and execution that is allowing their matches to reach new heights. These matches are more quantity than quality, in the sense that there aren't amazing individual sequences and counters, but rather just an endless, all out push to seize better positions and overwhelm the opponent by beating them to the next strike or submission.****3/4

Although I am a believer in saving the best for last, I am thankful that we got that masterpiece out of the way, as no matter what happens from here on out this will be a memorable evening. Next, we have Masahito Kakihara vs Mark Silver. Kakihara will likely need thousands of dollars in therapy with his resident sports psychologist for the shameful and absurd treatment that was bestowed upon him at the last UWF-I event, in which he had to be squashed out by the gargantuan Gary Albright, who did not even permit Kakihara to have a full minute of offense before smothering him into oblivion. Here they are continuing to put Silver through his paces, as last month he got some invaluable experience going against Kiyoshi Tamura, and now he gets to advance in his training gauntlet by going against aggression ace Kakihara.

The great thing about Kakihara is that no matter who you are, when you are getting slapped a hundred times at a hundred mph, you are going to give some honest reactions no matter how entrenched you are in your old way of doing things. After getting blitzkrieged by an onslaught of naked aggression, Silver starts to slap back and is moving a lot faster than we have seen prior. He clinches up with Kakihara, and gives some knees that would definitely go into the “weak sauce” category, but otherwise he's looking lively, so far. This wound up being a rather strange booking choice in that it went to a full 30 minute draw, which is really too long for someone as green as Silver. Despite the long length, they both managed to be active the entire time and wound up being a lot more entertaining than I would have expected given the circumstances. Also, the 30 minute length did have some interesting side effects as we got to see that Kakihara is more than just a one-trick pony with his relentless striking skills, but that he has a solid submission/grappling game to go with it, and he nicely balanced his ground attacks with opportunities for Silver to fight back. The last ten minutes of this match were on fire, as Silver got his nose busted open with a really stiff palm-strike uppercut, and despite the blood and the pain neither he, nor Kakihara, would show any quit.

This was particularly good, minus some moments of greenness from Silver. His main problem isn’t his instincts, which are good, but rather he is inconsistent with his striking. Sometimes it looks good, but often he is too tentative, which causes some of what he is doing to look too soft and fake. He is getting better though, and if he starts to attack/move with more confidence, in addition to scaling back his output into 8-12 minute matches, then I have no doubt that he can be a good fit here. Still, this was a lot better than anyone could have guessed and managed to hold my interest for the entire 30 minutes. ***¾

ML: I was really surprised by the decision to make this a 30 minute draw given Kakihara has only fought about 36 minutes thus far in his UWF-I career, and Silver is in just his third match. I'm thankful Kakihara was finally given the opportunity to be more than pulsating palms, and this was definitely his most impressive performance so far, as he showed some legitimate ability on the mat. Silver did a better job both with his stand up, and in continuing to work on the ground. I thought this would be more of a striker versus grappler match, but Kakihara was actually initiating the ground game, and doing quite well against the wrestler, putting him on the defensive on the mat. I expected Kakihara to simply overwhelmed Silver with a barrage of stiff palms sooner or later, but this never felt like a draw in the sense that Kakihara mostly had Silver on the defensive, he just never found that one big shot or center of the ring submission to finally finish him. Silver certainly had his moments as well, but Kakihara did a much better job of taking the offensive out of the transition game. I liked the spot where Kakihara ducked a high kick, and clipped Silver's plant leg for the takedown. Though they certainly worked hard for the first 20 minutes, they somehow found the energy to make a big push in the standup down the stretch to really take this to the next level. It always felt like these two were trying for the win, rather than coasting towards the draw. Silver's nose was really a leaking blood, and Kakihara's stomach was being painted red when he tried for the triangle. ***1/2

Next up is Tatsuyo Nakano vs Tom Burton, and I would be lying if I said that I am looking forward to this, but to be fair Burton has been looking a lot better recently, though I am not sure if Nakano is going to be someone that can pull a good match out of him. The first 10 minutes of the match was mostly a lot of yawn inducing remedial matwork, and while the intensity picked up a bit for the following 16 minutes, it was not enough to save this from being mediocre. The problem really lies in bad booking, as both of these men (less so with Nakano, but still) are someone that needs a better/faster opponent to draw the best out of them. To further compound matters they had this go for almost 30 minute when it would have been much better served had it been stripped down to about 7-9. While not as bad as the recent Pez Whatley or JT Southern matches, this is one of the worst at overstaying its welcome in some time.

ML: At this point, it seems Miyato just got sick of people complaining about the short shows, and decided to throw everyone out there for half an hour. I mean, the point of having the actual workers go long should be to get away with having the mediocre workers who can't carry a match just give us 5 minutes of hopefully passable wrestling so we can move on to something of actual interest. The first two matches were largely good because they kept flowing on the mat, but this was mostly stagnant. This wasn't bad, but at the same time it never really captured my attention in any way.

Now it’s time for a tag match between Mark Fleming/Yoji Anjo and Yuko Miyato/Kiyoshi Tamura. Right now, I’m both excited for this match, and ready to slap booker Miyato in the face, as they could have an all-star event tonight if they had shortened the Nakano/Burton match to ten minutes and split these 4 up into two separate singles matches, which would have surely led to a much better result. Still, I can’t complain too much, as these 4 are surely a recipe for goodness. Mark Fleming and Yuko Miyato are going to start things off, and we are underway with Fleming stalking his much faster prey around the ring. Miyato is able to fire off some rapid kicks, before eventually being caught and slammed down on the mat like a rag doll. They are back on their feet, and while he clearly doesn’t have much experience with striking, Fleming has much faster double-leg takedown abilities than a man of his size would indicate. He is able to blast down Miyato easily, and succeeds in a rudimentary standing anklelock, prompting a rope escape, and a tag in for Tamura. They quickly get into a footsie war, which Fleming had no chance of winning, but didn’t wind up losing either, and is eventually able to tag Anjo in. Now things get turned up to 11, as they are both going full blast towards each other, and Tamura’s scrambling is so fast it has to be seen to be believed. When they are back on their feet, Tamura proves that he is more than just a machine gun, as he slows down and pulls a page out of the Yamazaki playbook by slowly feinting takedown attempts, which serves to take Anjo off guard and is immediately followed up with a quick slam/ankle lock attack. This did not yield fruit however, and Anjo was able to break free and counter with a Kimura from something sort of resembling an open guard.

The hyperactive and intense energy was able to stay over the course of this 20 minute match. It seemed like Miyato, Tamura, and Anjo would feed off each other which in turn would amp up the crowd, ratcheting this entire affair into one flaming crescendo. Fleming was also an asset, as while he doesn’t have much in the way of an offensive submission arsenal yet, his wrestling skills are top notch, and he brings a welcome amount of realism with him. The finish was great too, when Tamura tried to hit a rolling kneebar on Anjo, who saw it coming and immediately countered with a lighting quick armbar of his own. While I still maintain that I would have rather seen these 4 in singles competition, I can’t deny the palpable energy on display here. Great! **** ¼

ML: Tamura and Miyato are basically sparring with Fleming, but not only does he have years more wrestling training, he has at least 75 pounds on them. Whenever Miyato makes an adjustment, Fleming just weighs down on him more, usually putting in as bad as, if not a worse position. Tamura is so quick that it's hard for Fleming to get the lead on him or keep him in one place, but he's still able to neutralize him one way or the other. Fleming was apparently taught the STF by Lou Thesz as well, but Tamura manages to get the ropes before he can fully secure it. The match is much more interesting with Anjo in, as he's leaving openings, and thus there is a lot of speedy countering back and forth. The work is definitely a lot looser with Anjo in, but the rapid pace makes up for it, and is what makes the match exciting. I don't have anything against the segments with Fleming beyond them being rather one sided, but they're not in step with the style the others enjoy displaying. As the match progresses, it becomes more and more apparent that they're working interactive segments at warp speed when Anjo is in, then struggling to fend off the control of Fleming. Anjo does his best work of the year here. This is the first time it really feels like he's able to keep up with Tamura, and that's important because his counter of the kneebar role into an armbar for the finish feels believable because Tamura hasn't been a step ahead of him all night the way he usually is. This is basically half a great match, and half Tamura and Miyato getting schooled in Wrestling 101. ***3/4

Now it is time for the debut of Steve Day, who may be best known for being the amateur wrestling coach of future AEW superstar, and grandson of a plumber, Cody Rhodes. Day also comes into this event having been a P.E. teacher out of Murrieta, Georgia, but did not wind up having a very long career, only having 6 matches here in the UWF-I before calling it quits. He seems to be the newest cannon fodder for his opponent Nobuhiko Takada, presumably because they need to keep Takada busy until his inevitable showdown with the Albright juggernaut. I am pleasantly surprised by their match. Day clearly has a strong wrestling acumen (especially in the Greco-Roman dept.), and while not his main forte, you can also tell that he has a decent understanding of submissions like the heel-hook and armbar. The first few minutes were all realistic takedowns and mat wrestling, with Day getting the first point by putting Takada in a heel-hook. Day continued to mostly dominate the match with more great wrestling, until putting Takada in what I presume was a wrist lock (it was hard to tell from the camera angle) and scoring another rope escape.

Eventually, Takada gets a heel-hook of his own around the 10 ½ minute mark in the center of the ring, thus winning the match. I am shocked to hear myself saying this, but this was good, and my favorite Takada match since the UWF-I started. I do not know if it was a simple case of serendipity or what, but this flowed well, felt realistic the entire time, and Day’s serious approach caused Takada to look less like a cartoon character and more like a credible martial artist. Also, while Day does not possess any charisma, or striking abilities for that matter, he is clearly the most skilled pure wrestler that we have seen in this promotion so far and is one of the few raw rookies to have more than just a rudimentary grasp on submissions. I’m flabbergasted while giving this *** ¼

ML: Before Day had the misfortune of teaching the grandson of a... who does one, or if we're really lucky two interesting things amidst a dull, formulaic match he invariably wins since he's the one guy in AEW that never put anyone over, Day seemed poised to have a good run in the UWF-I. Day put Takada on the defensive, but this wasn't nearly as realistic as Fleming's work in the previous match. Day left a lot of openings for Takada, and allowed him to do whatever sort of counter he could muster, including this ridiculous Kurt Angle level nonsense where he rolled backwards onto his stomach to break up an armbar and go into 1/2 crab. Even though Takada was forcing submissions he didn't have the position or leverage for because he didn't know the legitimate counters, at least he was doing something. This is the first match we've seen where he looked like he was actually willing to move beyond 1988. Day was in a really tough spot because not only couldn't he simply school the promotions top dog, which would have been childs play, he couldn even rely on leaving the obvious openings because Takada is so lost he doesn't know what to do with them. Day thus had to keep adjusting, and trying to make the best of things because Takada wouldn't/couldn't just do the expected. Day gave a good performance, but the match was still mostly a mess. It just wasn't the usual Takada mess, it was actually an honest, if still feeble attempt at a legitimate martial arts match, rather than a showy kick filled spectacle.

Now for an exercise in delaying the inevitable, a main event with Gary Albright vs Kazuo Yamazaki. We all already know the outcome of this. It’s just a matter of how long, and how much face can Yamazaki possibly save, as he must be the next to job out to the freight train that is Gary Albright. I am seriously at a loss as to who may have got more of a raw deal in these shoot-style wars then Yamazaki, as his raw talent never correlated with the treatment he was given outside of his run in the Original UWF, when his sensei, Satoru Sayama, had some pull. Anyways, we are treated to another excellent understated interview from the suplex monster, where he puts over the skills of Yamazaki, but also speaks to his confidence in his size and strength, before starting this match.

Albright immediately gets Yamazaki to the mat and starts wailing away on his ribs, while Yamazaki defends from an open guard. Yamazaki did not stay long however, and was able to stand back up and obtain a rope break. It was only a brief respite as Albright threw Yamazaki right back down and started choking him with his forearm, which was quickly broken up by the ref, as they apparently are not legal for some reason. This seemed to anger Yamazaki who tried to retaliate, only to find himself on the receiving end of a monster suplex. The next several minutes saw Yamazaki as the main aggressor, getting some nice offense in, and even scoring a submission on Albright, but we all knew that it was only a matter of time before Yamazaki had to be the latest passenger on Air-Albright, suffering a KO loss to a double suplex whammy. So far, this was Albright’s best match IMO, as Yamazaki was allowed some offense, and did a good job making Gary look good. The ending was no surprise whatsoever, but it was entertaining and that is all you can hope for under these circumstances.

ML: This was the best Albright match so far in the sense that it was the only one that wasn't merely a Saturday morning special, but he was sloppy, and had no stamina. They would do 10 second explosions on their feet, then the matwork was really there for Albright to rest up for the next suplex. Yamazaki would gamble on a wild kick then spent a lot of time on his back with the Albright theoretically punching his ribs, though I'm not sure if a single one actually connected, or manipulating his appendages. There was a cool spot where Yamazaki landed a knee to the midsection of the lock up to open up a German suplex, by Yamazaki's highlights were few and far between. Yamazaki wasn't completely embarrassed, but there was never a moment where his odds swelled beyond -2000.

Conclusion: Another great UWF-I event, despite not having a nice standing bout to warm things up. Yes, Nakano/Burton was an overlong and boring affair, but otherwise this came out on top due to Kakihara carrying Silver to good match, a super exciting tag match, and Takada not messing things up to boot. Also, we got what was in my estimation our first 5-star classic with a rookie team, the likes that will probably never be duplicated in pro wrestling ever again. This promotion should be on a runaway course for total greatness, but its biggest obstacle is itself, or more specifically, the booking. With this event they seemed to try and address one of their main problems which was the short length of their cards but wound up doing this in the most lunkheaded way possible. Giving us two nearly 30 minute matches back-to-back, with a rookie, and the two slowest fighters on the roster, is not a great way to go about this, especially when they have plenty of other options. Still, they are the clear front runner as the entertainment value is simply too strong for anyone else to mess with, at least for the moment.

ML: If UWF-I wasn't dead set on the promoting more or less the two worst workers in the promotion at the expense of all else, they could have been one the greatest leagues ever. Luckily, in these days, people actually tried on the undercard, and this was another tremendous show until the featured matches. One has to be optimistic about the talent they are bringing in, as Fleming, Silver, and Day all showed a ton of potential, with Kanehara and Maeda somehow proving to be even more amazing with each match. As weakly as this finished, this was probably the best show we seen so far because of how fantastic the opener was.

*This entire event, along with many other priceless treasures, can be found over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

*In other news *

Rumors are swirling that a Roberto Duran vs Masakatsu Funaki match will be announced at a press conference in Miami on 3-19-92, a day before they are set to have an event take place there.

RINGS announced new rules in that pinfalls no longer count for a victory. The only way to win is either knockout or submission. This seems like a bizarre announcement as no one has even tried to win via pinfall, thus far.

Speaking of Rings… A rematch between Volk Han and Akira Maeda has been scheduled for 4-3-92.

The World Kickboxing Championships took place recently in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Thomas & Mack Center. This event featured bouts between Kathy Long vs Kyoko Kamikaze, and Dennis Alexio vs. Branko Cikatic. Long went into this event with a bit of controversy behind here, as she was recently featured in the February issue of Black Belt Magazine in an interview where she expressed opinions that weren’t exactly flattering to either Graciela Casillas or Lucia Rijker. Let’s check in with Mike Lorefice who will break down the action for us

WMAC Women's Feathweight Title: Kathy Long vs. Kyoko Kamikaze 5R. Very tough matchup for 21-year-old Kamikaze as Long has the experience, but also the speed & reach, and she happens to be a great fighter to boot. Typical high paced women's bout with a lot of action, but much better than average technique. It was pretty much one-way traffic though with Long winning every round, including dropping Kamikaze twice in the 5th, but failing to get the finish mostly because Kamikaze was tough & refused to surrender. I need to get a hold of more matches of Long, she is fantastic.



Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 30 "Diminishing Returns"

*Editors Note: Mike Lorefice of the great MMA/Puroresu emporium quebrada.net will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

Every major brand that sticks around long enough is eventually faced with a decision to either step out into the forefront of the marketplace with original proactive marketing (which comes the risk of failure and embarrassment) or taking a more reactive approach by trying to play off current events or copy ideas from more successful competitors within their marketplace. The date is 3-20-92 and it this axiom was just as true then as it is now. The PWFG has found themselves in a battle for supremacy within the shoot-style sphere, a conflict in which the successful promotion is going to come out intact with success and respectability as a genuine martial arts outfit in the eyes of the general public.

Unfortunately, Fujiwara and co. have found themselves in the unenviable position of having to react to some of the bold moves that the UWF-I has been making recently. By choosing to end 1991 with a mega spectacle with two shoots against well respected American boxers and loudly announcing what they were doing to anyone that would listen, they put themselves out in the front of the Japanese media as the forerunning martial arts promotion. Sadly, the irony is not lost on us as it was actually the PWFG that will forever have the distinction of having the very first post authorized MMA fight within a Japanese pro wrestling-based promotion (not counting the Ali-Inoki stunt) with their bout between the “Sultan of Slime”, Lawi Napataya, and Takaku Fuke. Still, despite this important accolade they clearly had no idea what ground they were really breaking and certainly did not know how to meaningfully market/differentiate themselves from the rest of the puroresu pack, despite their innovate and realistic style. So, with that in mind, we see the first major moves from Fujiwara to try and react to these market forces before it is too late, by traveling to Florida and promoting a full show on American soil.

This was actually a courageous move that may have paid dividends (as we will look at in more detail later) because they beat the UWF-I to the punch. From our interview with Billy Scott, we learned that the UWF-I had serious aspirations of cracking into not only the American market, but the world writ large, with the lofty goal of becoming the number 1 combat sport in the world. At this stage the UWF-I have been looking at possibly renting out the MSG arena in New York, and as we have reported in previous columns, Lou Thesz has now taken a great interest in this promotion and has been in talks with various people in an effort to possibly start promoting American events. Being the first to promote in America was a forward-thinking step, what was not however, was having a press conference the day prior on 3-19-92 where it was announced that Masakatsu Funaki would be facing famed American boxer, Roberto Duran, in an upcoming PWFG event to take place in Japan. That is not to say that a matchup between Funaki and Duran couldn’t be great, as it certainly wouldn’t be hard to upstage the Takada/Berbick disaster, but the move in and of itself smacks of desperation.

ML: The general problem with these early stabs at promoting in America is the Japanese promotions had no broadcasting in place, so it was hard to get any mainstream American media to actually care about covering an event for an unknown promotion that, in their opinion, literally no one in their audience was going to be able to see. If Roberto Duran says "no mas" in a forest, and nobody hears him, does he still make a sound?

With all that said, we now find ourselves at the James L. Knight Center in Miami Florida, which is strategic ground as it is close to both performer Bart Vale, and PWFG's head booker/talent scout/grand poobah, Masami Soronaka. This event was preceded by three “amateur shootfighting” bouts before the main card, and thanks to our good friend Wiliiam Colosimo, we have been exposed to two of them. All six of these participants were students of Vale's along with a different referee, who was present for the undercard. The first one was a pleasant surprise, a fight between John Lana and Herman Caicedo. This was a shoot, with rules similar to a pancrase bout, but far less restrictive. For example, strikes to the face had to be with an open hand, and there were rope escapes in effect, but soccer kicks, elbows, and knees to the head were all allowed. It felt like I was watching a USWF fight from the late 90s, but with less rules. It was a fast-paced fight that was a bit sloppy at times, but you could tell that both fighters had at least trained in all the ranges of a fight, even though they lacked the refinement of a Shooto fighter, or the positional awareness of a BJJ practitioner. This certainly felt way ahead of the curve (by American standards anyway) considering this was a little under two years before the first UFC took place, and this may have been the first real fight at an American pro wrestling event since the '30s (not counting matches that may have started as a work and devolved into a shoot). The crowd was really into this as well, even if they did not understand the nuances of what they were witnessing, which makes me think that there could have been a real market for this had it been advertised correctly. Taken in isolation this was hardly mandatory MMA viewing, but in historical context, this was fascinating, and an interesting look at what could have possibly happened had Fujiwara not lost most of his roster to the birth of Pancrase, and his audience to the rise of the UFC.

The 2nd bout of the undercard that we have available to us, a match between Ozzie Alvarez and Pedro Godrich was unfortunately not even in the same ballpark. I would classify this as an exhibition, and a sloppy one at that. It didn't seem like this was fixed or choreographed, but they were keeping their strikes towards each other as soft as Charmin, presumably because they were fellow students and didn't want to hurt each other. Their submission attempts seemed more genuine, but this basically boiled down to a messy sparring contest between two friends, and hardly worthy of being labeled a shoot.

Now onto the main course, but before we start, we are greeted to a long montage of several of the PWFG roster taking a trip to Karl Gotch's Tampa home on the 18th, where apparently working out in nothing but a speedo on a garage driveway is totally normal behavior. Karl Gotch puts Funaki, Suzuki, Fuke, and Takahashi through various interesting exercises, but while this was going on, I kept waiting for someone to bring Suzuki some pants, which sadly did not happen. After this excursion, we are taken to the press conference where a remarkably dapper Funaki and a considerably out of shape Duran are both speaking in their native tongue. All we are able to glean from this is that the two are set to fight at some point in the future, and for this we are glad.

The first match of the main card will be between Jerry Flynn and Kazuo Takahashi, who have both been on something of a tear lately with good output from both men in their last several outings. If Takahashi decides to go into all-out blitz mode for this match, it would be a welcome way to kick things off, for an audience that surely has no idea what to expect. True to form, Takahashi instantly shoots down low and slams Flynn, but Flynn simply has too much of a weight advantage, and easily stands back up. He is only able to fire off a few stiff slaps before Takahashi dives in for a successful kneebar, gaining a rope escape. Flynn tries to initiate some offense once they are stood back up, but Takahashi is able to not only shoot in quickly, but do it from an impressive distance, making it very difficult for Flynn to get more than a single strike in edgewise. The tide finally turned, and saw Flynn get repeated knockdowns from kicking Takahashi in the midsection, eventually It's it's an ending the fight. This started out promising, but it felt very rushed, and simply seemed a way to quickly put over the Florida native in front of his home state audience. Ok, but had the potential to be a lot better.

ML: You have to look at this as the introduction of the product to an entirely new audience, and in that respect this was clearly a success, at least as a match. You had two distinctly different styles, strategies that were easy to understand, and it was fast and pretty believable, at least in the sense that they were moving quickly and doing everything with a sense of urgency. Their approach allowed them to follow the shoots on the undercard without seeming out of place, more experienced and superior training being welcome attributes. It was too short to be a legitimately good match, but it was certainly good while it lasted, and set a good tone for the show, being a nice balance between credibility and entertainment.

Now we have a match between Dieuseul Berto and Takaku Fuke. Berto was a Haitian professional wrestler that transitioned to MMA in the later stages of his career, even appearing in both the inaugural UVF event, and UFC 10 all while being a regular fixture in the Japanese Battlarts promotion. Shortly after his UFC appearance he was in a major car accident, in which doctors told him he would never walk again. He was able to prove them wrong and wound up starting an MMA/Boxing gym. He eventually got to see his son Andre become a boxing champion, before passing away in late 2018. Here he will be facing the MVP of Fujiwara-Gumi, a man who has recently been making everyone he faces look good, despite the match length. This will be Berto's debut, so this should be interesting.

Right away we can see that Berto is a great athlete, who quickly lays into Fuke with some hard shots, and also shows a great sprawl when Fuke tries to counter with a takedown. After the takedown failed, we see Fuke get back up and throw some fairly tame kicks, and he appears to me to be taking it easy on the rookie. Berto, perhaps due to inexperience, doesn't show the same restraint for most of the match outside of letting Fuke fish for a couple of toeholds. This was another match that ended abruptly, this time a little past the 5 minute mark. Fuke was clearly more concerned with trying to carry Berto to a decent match, and while too short to be good, it at least shows that Berto could be a good hand with some refinement.

ML: Again, this is most likely a different match than they would have done for the Japanese audience. That probably help this match more than the last one given Berto was figuring things out on the fly, but this match was also clearly worse than the previous due to that. I'm not seeing Fuke as anywhere near the promotions MVP or best worker. He was fine here, but at the same time, really didn't do anything. The match was basically Berto's strikes, with Fuke only getting to tease the leglock finish. Berto was green, but clearly showed potential.

Next up is Masakatsu Funaki vs Mark Rush. When we last saw Rush, he was in a boring 18 minute affair with Fujiwara, so hopefully Funaki can pull something decent out of him. Right away we see some great footwork from Funaki as he quickly bounces in and out, throwing some fast leg kicks, and nicely bobbing and weaving in between landing palm strikes. All this smooth movement from Funaki is forcing Rush to concentrate and carefully try and close the distance with Funaki for a takedown. Eventually Rush is able to achieve that, but Funaki is slick off his back and easily manages to slither away and get back to his feet, via some nice hip movement. The most amusing part of this match came when Rush botched a slam by accidently dropping Fuanki, and you could hear one of the members of the audience shouting to his friend (off camera) how Rush was going “Powerslam him! Yeah, he's going to Powerslam him!” and when that didn't work, he followed up with, “Nah, he changed it to a backbreaker. Yeah, a backbreaker. He didn't do anything with that one!”

The rest of this bout went as well as can be expected with a man as limited as Rush. For 11 minutes, Funaki parried and toyed with him, allowing him some moments of offense before putting him away. While this wasn't amazing by any means and was probably 2 minutes too long, at least it was a nice showcase for Funaki's legit skills, which are obviously being wasted in the rigidity of a pro wrestling environment. One can clearly see why he felt the need to start Pancrase, as it is almost like getting all dressed up and having nowhere to go. Here you have several men training and living like fighters, wanting to test themselves, but rarely given a genuine opportunity to do so, outside of gym sparring, and the occasional shoot, so the transition to Pancrase was an inevitability, it's just a shame that Fujiwara couldn't make that happen first, and thus avoiding the shame of dying a slow death for the last 2-3 years of its existence.

ML: This never felt like a Funaki match. Funaki is always in control, but here Rush's wrestling had him mainly on the defensive, at least for long stretches until he got a reversal. We kind of keep seeing the same thing when the Japanese fighters face these strong one-dimensional American wrestlers, in that the match is mostly just wrestling practice, with the American controlling the majority before the Japanese fighter usually finds a submission. This was an even more bland variation of that than normal. Rush is a proficient wrestler, but little more, and he's very by the numbers. Even with the striking, Funaki was mostly on the defensive. Though he made Rush look like a fool avoiding his strikes, we didn't get much (counter) offense from him. Funaki, of course, won, but nothing he did here struck fear in the heart of Duran, or the millions of ignorant fans who believed boxing to be the preeminent combat sport.

Now we have the third encounter between Ken Shamrock and Minoru Suzuki, and what will likely be the only hope of getting a worthwhile match out of this evening. The last two matches these two had were great, but it will be interesting to see if they are allowed to shine within this venue. After a brief feeling out period, Shamrock quickly dives in for a rolling kneebar, but only winds up having his attack stifled by getting stuck under the ropes. Back on their feet, Shamrock shows some nice patience, feinting his way into landing a nice palm strike down the pipe. Equally impressive is Suzuki's quickness and constant minor shifts and adjustments. He quickly finds a way to close the gap and secure an impressive headlock takedown against the slower Ken. Once on the ground, Suzuki shifts and scrambles eventually positioning himself for a quick armbar attack that was again too close to the ropes, but it's great to see the kind of urgency and quick subtle movements that Suzuki brings to the shoot-style game. I was surprised at what happened next, as Ken was quickly taken down by Suzuki, but Ken responded by slapping on a totally decent triangle choke, even making the proper adjustments to shift it into a more secure and effective choke. Even though the triangle would be occasionally seen in UWF matches going back to 1984, I suppose it was interesting to see this as it is well before Ken's infamous meeting with Royce Gracie and BJJ.

The rest of this match was fast, urgent, exciting, and even had Suzuki throwing some elbows and headbutts at Shamrock in the mount. It ended around the 12 minute mark with a victory for Shamrock via straight armbar. This was great, and although it could have used a few extra mins to really flesh out a crescendo, it was entertaining, and probably the best PWFG match of '92, so far.

ML: I expected this show taking place in America would make it wind up being more pro-wrestling oriented, but in spite of a backbreaker by Rush, it actually wound up being PWFG's most realistic show thusfar. I don't feel that really helped this particular match though. That's not to say it was bad, there were some things I quite liked about it, but at the same time it was never really all that exciting or compelling. It was more like a well played chess match, they made the right moves to negate each other's threats, but at the same time they were too calm, specially since Shamrock is always better when he appears to be somewhat out of control. My favorite moment was Shamrock knowing the takedown was coming, and nicely timing a palm strike to stop it. I also liked Shamrock disengaging on the ground to stand and get some cheap kicks in before Suzuki could also get back to his feet. I'm not sure felt as though they were building to anything special, but it definitely randomly ended 15 minutes earlier than I was expecting when Suzuki blocked the Dragon suplex, but then submitted to a horribly applied wakigatame. ***

And now, for the final moment of dread. The main event between Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Bart “America” Vale. I have no pretense going into this that there will be anything of value to behold, but hopefully I'm wrong, and through a combination of prayers, vitamins, and the strength of all the Miami Bartamaniacs, we will see Vale pull out a good match. Fujiwara enters the ring after being announced as the “Champion of the World!” which shows us that in 1992 all you needed was a mysterious Japanese dude to baffle and mystify a paying audience.

Vale starts by charging towards Fujiwara with an uncommon speed, but quickly sees his angular momentum used against him, as he is instantly torqued down to the mat, and mounted by Fujiwara. After getting back to their feet they both throw a bunch of silly movie kicks before taking it back down to the ground, only the energy from the raucous crowd is making this more entertaining than it has any right to be. The rest of the fight oscillated between silly theatrics in the standup and stasis on the ground portions, but between the energy of the crowd, and the fact that Fujiwara allowed Vale to defeat him via a knockout victory elevated this to passable hokum. However, I am left to ponder the question, “Is Bart Vale now the “Champion of the World?” Only time will tell…

ML: This fight is mostly notable for Bart Vale creating the fictitious Shootfighting Championship of the World for him to win from Fujiwara. It was one of his key fictitious "MMA" bragging points for the rest of his career, along with his upcoming worked win over the future World's Most Dangerous Man on 5/15/92, which he tried his best to make notable after Shamrock made it big in UFC. Boy, this match was a steaming pile! I may need to rethink my comments about this being the most realistic PWFG show. Fujiwara has seemingly been trying to improve his kicks, but they were truly dreadful today, just poor technique using nothing but the leg. Vale was hit and miss, as usual, but at least he knows how to kick properly, when he wants to. He dominated the standup, but Fujiwara could take him down, for brief portions. It was really hard to take anything they did seriously. They weren't purposely screwing around, but the action was so awkward and sloppy they just felt like wannabes playing at being real fighters. Vale finally won by count out, after knocking Fujiwara to the floor with a high kick. Definitely one of the worst matches we've seen so far.

Conclusion: As an isolated event this was almost a total failure with only one good match to be found. It did not help that this entire affair felt very rushed from start to finish, which may have been caused by some technical aspects beyond their control. Still, it gained more success as an interesting historical look at what could have been the future of MMA in an alternate reality. Who knows… if Fujiwara had played his cards right, I could have possibly been writing a blog about the complete history of shootfighting right now, but he didn't, and I'm not. To be fair, there was probably very little Fujiwara could have done to make some serious inroads into the American market, with most of his key players being based out of Japan. Also, the only probable way into cracking the American zeitgeist at this time was to do what SEG did with the UFC, and initially promote it as a barely legal PPV spectacle of no holds barred bloodsport. That approach was the key to it becoming a hot property initially, but is also what almost killed MMA in this country for good, once John McCain crusaded against it, likening it to human cockfighting. Despite the uphill battle for the PWFG to try and break into the U.S., it would not have hurt to have some smarter booking at the helm. By taking a page out of the RINGS playbook, and mingling some shoots with the works, he may have had some better results.

As it stands now, there is really no stopping this promotion from sliding into the “almost was” section of history. When you can only manage to put forth one good match on a card when you have so much talent at your disposal, this is a true indicator of your impending doom. I take no pleasure in writing that, as I would personally prefer to see the PWFG ascend to the top of the mountain, but it's easy to see why that never happened.

ML: For me the big problem with PWFG is they aren't mixing the matches up or bringing in new fighters to change the cards in any way. Even the best matches are lesser versions of previous incarnations, and when the previous incarnations are less than a year ago, that can't really be blamed on the usual problem of guys now being old and broken. This card was even worse than usual because they completely gave into the jingoistic underbelly, pitting an American against a Japanese fighter in every match.

*This entire event, along with many other priceless artifacts, can be found over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

*In other news*

The Martial Arts Japan Kickboxing Federation (MAJKF) recently held an exciting kickboxing event on 3-21-92 at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall. This event featured several exciting bouts, and saw a return of American phenom Manson Gibson, who is an athletic powerhouse, holds an impressive win over Shootboxing founder Caesar Takeshi, completely demolishing him in under a round. Here he faced a man simply known as Sajitkan. This evening also featured a main event between Kimihiko Akatsuchi and Toshiyuki Toki. Let's check in with Mike Lorefice for some analysis of the action:

Manson Gibson vs. Sajitkan 5R. Gibson is at the top of the list of kickboxers I want to see more of. He's an amazing athlete with great movement, expertly utilizing the side stance, mixing sidekicks to keep the opponent away from him while he tries to create angles for his spinning strikes. I'm probably making him sound like the typical defensive oriented karate fighter, but Gibson was a certifiable wildman who not only wasn't afraid to throw double digit spinning strikes in a round, but had the speed to actually connect with many of them even though was no secret that they were the main thing he was trying to set up. He put Sajitkan down with a spinning high kick in the second. Gibson apparently had five titles at this point, while Sajitkan was the number three ranked welterweight at Lumpinee Stadium. Sajitkan really had a tough time ever even getting into range, and the problem with fighting an opponent such as Gibson is eventually you get so far behind you just have to force your way into the pocket, and then you charge into his counter punch. Gibson had another knockdown with a big right hook at the end of the second when Sajitkan simply tried to get into range for a right low kick. Sajitkan still had to press forward in order to have a chance to land anything, so now Gibson was just ready to time him with a big right hook. There was another amazing spot in the third where Sajitkan leaned away from a spinning heel kick to the midsection, only to have Gibson follow with a spinning heel kick to the head for another knockdown! Just when you thought Gibson was going to emerge completely unscathed, Sajitkan began landing some right low kicks, and Gibson's movement was clearly compromised. Gibson backed into the corner after taking a low kick, and finally Sajitkan was able to utilize his clinch knees for the rest of the round, as Gibson opted to employ the losing strategy of trying to punch his way out. While Gibson still won the decision, it was at least a moral victory for Sajitkan to take the final round. Good match.

Bantamweight World #1 Decision: Kimihiko Akatsuchi vs. Toshiyuki Toki 5R. This match was a big deal in Japan because Akatsuchi, who was the flyweight and bantamweight champion in All Japan Kickboxing vacated and jumped to MAJKF, facing their bantamweight champion Toki in his promotional debut. Akatsuchi appeared to be the more talented fighter, but Toki was a natural bantamweight, and had a distinctive height and reach advantage. This wasn't fancy, but it was entertaining, as they stood toe to toe and slugged it out. The problem is even though Toki didn't specifically try to take advantage of his reach, the default distance made the fight Toki's boxing vs. Akatsuchi's kicking, with Akatsuchi coming up short on almost every elbow he attempted. When Akatsuchi was actually willing back out of the pocket, he usually landed his first shot stepping back in, and that was the only real success he had punching, yet he was largely unwilling to utilize much footwork outside of round two. Nonetheless, these were close rounds, and it didn't feel a Toki really took over until he cut Akatsuchi just outside the left eye in the fourth. The fight was growing more action packed and intense with each round, with the fourth and fifth being decidedly better than the first three. Akatsuchi's cause was certainly aided by a left hook knockdown in the fifth, which probably should have been ruled a slip given Toki tried to immediately follow with a right low kick and lost his balance. Whether or not it was actually a knockdown, ruling it one changed everything, as I only had Akatsuchi winning the second round, but a 10-8 round here suddenly made the fight a draw. Good match.

*This entire MAJKF event, along with some of Manson Gibson's Shootboxing antics, can be found by going over to www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *


Active Member
Jul 27, 2020
Here are a couple of promotional flyers from this event ^^^ Notice the slight embellishment on the Gaijin's stats.


William C

Active Member
Sep 6, 2015
Those images are actually from the (March 1992 PWFG) fight program- I was lucky enough to get my mitts on a couple of copies of it. It definitely has some interesting info in there.

William C

Active Member
Sep 6, 2015
Yeah, it's a decent sized program. The covers and maybe 10 pages or so. It's smaller in dimensions and several pages less than most of the PWFG fight programs from 1991-1992.