March 27, 2010 – Saitama Super Arena, Community Arena, Japan – Last minute changes did nothing to damped what was one of MAX Japan Tournament’s best ever showings. At the press conference yesterday Kido said their true opponent was rival network shows, so they all had to do their best to make sure this event was off the wall. With 75% of the fights ending within regulation time and some 20 knockdowns, they more than delivered.
No doubt Kido being dropped in the opening seconds of his fight was not part of his plan, though Ryuji obliged him none the less. Ryuji used his boxing very well to rattle Kido early, and completely throw him off his game. The blond 2008 MAX Japan Champion settled down between rounds, and clawed his way back into the fight with a serious of brutal low kicks to Ryuji’s back leg. This not only took away from the alcohol producers’ mobility, but helped take the sting out of his solid hands. Kido rallied hard for the final 90 seconds of the final round, but it was only enough to earn a draw on one card. The other two put Ryuji through to the next round.
Yuji Nashiro, the only fighter in the GP with a 100% knockout ratio, came in to face the man that seems to have misunderstood when he heard MAX was the metro-sexual fighting sport, Yuichiro Nagashima. Yuji quickly managed to get cosplayer Nagashima on his back foot, but the confused young man planted that foot and drilled Yuji with a left hook. Yuji went down for an 8-count, though shook it off and came back out swinging. Nagashima used the same technique a second time, and as this is a tournament fight with the 2 knock down rule in place, Yuji’s run was over within half a round.
The infamous banger, TATSUJI came out to square off with Hiroki Nakajima in a bout in which it was clear from the start wouldn’t go through to the judges. They opened with some nice exchanges, and TATSUJI really worked to add the low kick at the end of every one of his flurries. Early in the second round Hiroki clipped him with a right hook that meet temple, and it put TATSUJI on that street the previous bouts’ winner may be better suited to; queer street. TATSUJI dropped for an 8-count, and once the fight was restarted, Hiroki gave him no room to recover. The more experienced TATSUJI hit the mat again in the very next exchange, and the fight was over.
Yuya Yamamoto came back for his first fight since last years’ MAX WGP., and he faced HINATA. Yuya went into this knowing he had to do something to stop HINATA’s mid kick, and he did so well. Every time the younger fighter threw it, Yuya pushed forward and planted a nice inside low kick to his supporting leg. Neither one of these fighters was willing to budge an inch. HINATA’s improved boxing held him well when Yuya did make it inside. The mid kick must have looked flashier than the low kick, as the judges gave the first 2 close rounds to Hinata. Try as he did, Yuya just couldn’t recover the points.
For a bit of almost comedy relief during the seriousness of the GP, Kazuhisa Watanabe came to the ring to face MMA fighter, D.J. Taiki. As expected from Watanabe, all the antics in and out of the ring had both the crowd and the Japanese commentary team laughing. Both fighters had promised to finish the other inside of 2 rounds, though at the end of the second round the scores were locked at 20/20 across the board. Taiki had a height advantage, and he used it well in avoiding Watanabe’s bombs. He mercilessly attacked the shorter fighters’ front leg with inside and outside low kicks. By the end of the final round both fighters could barely walk: Watanabe’s leg had taken so much damage Masato said he probably wouldn’t be able to walk properly for a month, Taiki was totally exhausted from the hundreds of lows he had powered in. The judges finally gave the bout to D.J. Taiki
The MAX Japan GP then recommenced with Ryuji facing Nagashima. Ryuji had survived a war with Kido in the prior round, while Nagashima had qualified after just 39 seconds. In this fight, it showed. A more energetic Nagashima started a flurry as the bell rang opening the fight and it didn’t stop until Ryuji crumpled to the mat. He beat the count, but Nagashima was all over him once again, and after barely any offense at all, Ryuji had sunk to the mat in the corner for the second and final time.
Recently university graduate, HINATA then came out for his semi-final bout against Hiroki Nakajima. The fight began with HINATA throwing that perfect mid kick once again. Hiroki seemed to just keep his guard up and stroll forward looking to counter it. After eating a few on the guard, he pressured HINATA into the corner and offloaded a massive right hook that landed just above HINATA’s temple. HINATA dropped, hard. He looked up from the mat once with a look of complete confusion that told us all there was no way he would be beating the count.
The K-1 World MAX 2010 -70kg Japan Tournament final was finally set. Neither Yuichiro Nagashima nor Hiroki Nakajima had been in a lengthy war, so expectations were high for fireworks in the bout to crown the champion. To ensure each had ample time to prepare for the match, 2 Superfights were slotted in here.
The first was between K-1 debutant Kosuke Komiyama, and the veteran TAKE HERO Murahama in his first match in the best part of 5 years. It is hard not to hope to see a display of old-man-power when there is a 12 year age gap between the combatants, however Komiyama had done his homework well. He used angles and attacks that it seemed like TAKE HERO couldn’t even conceive of an answer for. In the second round he was hit with everything, and met the canvas for the first time after being on the receiving end of a beautiful flying knee. He managed to convince the referee that he was okay to continue. That is, until Komiyama feed him a front kick to the grill ending his comeback.
Brave Heart fighter, Yoshihiro Sato Made his way to the ring. Sato was supposed to be facing 2009 World MAX Champion Petrosyan, however the champion dropped out claiming an injured hand. Thankfully Danilo Zanolini stepped up, ensuring that the “No fight, no life” Sato’s preparation wasn’t entirely in vain. And, Danilo was game. Right from the start he showed the world he wasn’t just there so that Sato could get an easy win. He was firing on all cylinders, and his hands were fast and powerful. Sato did what Sato does though. He kept calm, kept planting that low kick, and peppered Danilo just enough so that his guard would stay high so that the knee would land cleanly. In the second round, it did so perfectly. Twice. The second one laid Danilo out. He jumped to his feet to tried and beat the count, but then doubled over in pain again and the referee called it off.
Finally, the time had come to find out just who it would be carrying to torch for Japan this year in MAX. This match was one quite easily of the most exciting in the history of MAX Japan. It really has to be seen to be believed. It was almost as though these 2 warriors decided beforehand to throw defense out the window, and just beat the living hell out of each other. There was not even a hair between them after the first round, and in the second Hiroki managed to knock down the cross-dresser. Nagashima was far from done though, and he fought back hard for the remainder of the round. In this final they walked to the center of the ring, took a deep breath, and threw down. Both landed so much and so often it was amazing the match lasted as long as it did. The ending finally came when Nagashima landed a counter right hook above Hiroki’s left eye. The youngster wobbled, then fell to the mat. Bravely he attempted to get up and continue, but his nervous system refused to cooperate with his will, and the referee had to call it off.
In other fights on the card, Koshien -70kg Champion Shintaro Matsukura stopped Yuuki with punches in the second round, dropping him 3 times. Hiroyuki Owatari convinced Yojiro Uchimura’s corner to throw in the towel in the second round. And, Komiya Yukihiro busted open Luis Kubozono badly enough for the doctor to call it off.
If you have not already, you simply have to see this event. Make sure to check your local listings to find out when it will be shown in your area.
By: Stuart Tonkin
[Photos courtesy of FEG INC.]