Posted On:12/01/2004 11:56am
Style: Kyokushinkai / Kajukenbo
I followed this one because it's from my hometown. And BJ Penn is an interesting fighter (see fave fighter thread). And it had two Gracies. And O'Haire, an ex pro wrestler.
HONOLULU, November 20, 2004 -- To the delight of a sellout crowd at the Neal Blaisdell Center in downtown Honolulu, a sensational BJ Penn of Hawaii defeated Brazilian Rodrigo Gracie in the main event at the Rumble on the Rock mixed martial arts extravaganza.
On a stage set with gigantic carved tiki heads, the event opened with a performance which included conch-blowing and inspired traditional singing. A team of fierce ipo drummers then propelled a bevy of gorgeous women in grass skirts and coconut shell bikinis to shake their hips in a most mesmerizing fashion, before the 20 warriors made their entrances through a simulated volcano eruption.
The rules here were similar to those found in ROMANEX -- with three, five minute rounds per bout and a one-minute rest period between rounds. The action took place in an octagon-shaped ring, this enclosed not by ropes as is the norm for K-1 and ROMANEX events, but rather by a chain link fence, which allowed fighters to engage in "against the wall" maneuvers as well as standup strikes and grappling. The judges worked with standard ten point per round scorecards.
The first fight saw Hawaii's Kaynan "The Barbarian" Kaku, who fights with Penn's team, step in against Gilbert Mendez of California in an under 155 lb (70kg) matchup.
From the bell Mendez worked a single leg takedown and the fight deadlocked on the canvas. Kaku stayed in full guard early on, then bucked up to a standing position and challenged Martinez to effect, rocking him with several hooks. In the second, however, Mendez again got in, moved to a side mount and connected with more than a few knees to Kaku's head, For most of the round, Mendez was able to press Kaku against the cage and rain punches down as his opponent appeared less and less able to defend. After attempting to twist away in vain late in the round, Kaku ate a dozen hard rights before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
In the second bout, Ross Ebanez of Hawaii met Dennis Hallman of Washington. Ebanez threw punches from the start, but Hallman quickly answered with a double leg takedown, and was able to twist Ebanez round and work a body triangle to go to rear mount. Ebanez thrust back a couple of elbows, but was vulnerable now to the naked choke, which Hallman worked easily to earn a tap-out just 1:13 into the fight.
Next up, behemoth Wes "The Project" Sims of Ohio took on another heavyweight, Muay Thai fighter Antoni Hardonk of the Vos Gym in Holland (home to four-time K-1 World GP Champion Ernesto Hoost). Hardonk wanted to stay on his feet and strike, and rattled Sims with a couple of punches, throwing him off with some hard low kicks as well. When Sims got the double leg takedown it backfired as Hardonk executed a deft reverse to get into a full mount position. From this point it was only a matter of time, Hardonk throwing in rights before grabbing Sims' unprotected left arm and working a keylock to submit his opponent just seconds from the end of the round.
"I don't know much about my opponent," said Michael Malone before stepping in to the ring for the fourth bout against Kristof "The Phoenix" Midoux, "but I know he's from France, so I'm going to kick his ass!" The American audience loved the jingoism, but French K-1 Superstar Jerome LeBanner, who was in Hawaii as Midoux's trainer, possibly did not. Midoux, who splits his time training with LeBanner's Extreme Team in France and teaching fighters in the mixed martial arts hotspot of Quebec, now had an extra measure of motivation for the bout.
And use it he did. The two stayed on heir feet here, trading blows, Midoux tossing high kicks and combinations, Malone putting in the low kicks. It was after Malone had just grazed his opponent with a low kick that Midoux stepped forward with a devastating right hook (LeBanner could not have done it better) that dropped Malone to the canvas in a heap. Midoux jumped in to finish his opponent off, but the referee quickly intervened, literally yanking the still flailing Frenchman off from downed opponent. That was it, an impressive KO victory.
In the fifth matchup, Aitor Canup of North Carolina stepped in against Hawaiian Juda Aalona. Canup belongs to the Team Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, while Aalona fights with former Sumo Grand Champion Akebono's Team Yokozuna.
Canup raced in here, throwing several low kicks then, as Aalona made to retreat, grabbing him for a rear mount and taking him to the four point position. But Aalona resisted mightily, standing and then bucking his piggybacked opponent off. Canup was quicker again, though, and reached over for a front sleeper, which didn't quite work. Canup then commenced to holding his opponent's head and bringing up the knees. Still, Aalona remained standing, and it was not until Canup muscled in with a standing guillotine that Aalona was finally forced to submit
Glaringly obvious was the weight and height difference between fighters Shungo Oyama and Sean O'Hare, who battled in the fifth fight. Oyama weighed in at 200 lbs (90kg) while O'Hare tipped the scales at 265 lbs (120kg). O'Hare also stands some eight inches (20cm) taller than Oyama, and this lead the Japanese fighter to remark at the press conference, "It looks like a David versus Goliath fight, and I believe it will play out the same way as the original story."
Alas, it as not to be. O'Hare came out like a loaded gun, charged in on Oyama with haymakers, and landed four quick rights and a couple of lefts to down his opponent a couple of times. As Oyama lay defenseless on the canvas with O'Hare poised to punish further, the referee moved in to stop the bout and O'Hare had the TKO victory.
Wesley "Cabbage" Correira, a Hawaiian slugger known for his quick KOs and an iron chin, met Yoshihiro Nakao of Japan in the next match. There is no love lost between these two -- at the weigh-in and again at the press conference, Cabbage had put the evil eye on Nakao, and assured the media: "This is no game, this is business. I'm going to do something unique with this guy -- I'm going to make a chain out of his teeth!"
The crowd was boisterously behind Cabbage, who from the start came in on Nakao. For his part, Nakao was always looking to go low for a takedown. Once, Cabbage stymied the takedown attempt but the second time Nakao got Cabbage to the canvas and took the mount, soon turned to a side mount and, with Cabbage pressed alongside the cage, began to put the punches in. Cabbage was unable to push off, and after Nakao got the knees working and opened a gash under Cabbage's left eye, the crowd was silenced considerably.
There was a glimmer of hope when Cabbage got to his feet and looked ready to box, but here and throughout the Hawaiian was unable to do much with his strikes, and, again, Nakao got the leg takedown stayed in control. In the second, Nakao again got in, and the referee called a break for Cabbage's eye to be examined by the ringside doctor.
When he was cleared to continue, Cabbage tried to rally, but the pace of his attack was slow. Meanwhile, Nakao kept connecting, and soon Cabbage was bleeding from the side of his right eye as well. Cabbage's best chance came when he put on a head arm guillotine after another of Nakao's takedown attempts, but Nakao was, as always, able to twist and slip out of trouble. The crowd liked it when Cabbage got some knees up while the two were in the clinch, but these did not seem to bother Nakao.
The third was slow, Nakao getting takedowns again but the two standing more here than in the earlier going. Although they were on their feet, neither fighter was doing much. Cabbage looked increasingly fatigued and was bleeding badly, while Nakao also seemed tired if relatively unscathed. One judge gave this one to Cabbage, which elicited a confused cheer of hope and disbelief from the crowd. The other two saw the Nakao win, which gave the Japanese fighter a split decision.
The next bout featured the card's other Gracie brother, Royler, who is a five-time Brazilian Jiu-jitsu champion and holds the most medals in the Gracie clan. Here the veteran went up against a fighter making his mixed martial arts debut, Japanese Olympic wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata. The soft-spoken Miyata has been tapped by insiders to follow in the footsteps of the elite Japanese now working the under 70kg weight mixed martial arts class -- fighters such as Genki Sudo and Kid Yamamoto.
This was a thrilling contest, both fighters working smart strategy and effective counters. It was kicks and punches in the early going, before Miyata executed the first takedown and got in. But Gracie was comfortable in the closed guard, and was able to skillfully limber his leg up toward a triangle choke. Miyata, however, was prepared for this, stretching up and then slamming his opponent to break the hold. Gracie's head made hard contact with the canvas, and the Brazilian looked in trouble here, so Miyata seized the opportunity to stand over and fire down punches. With the concerned referee stepping in for a closer look, Gracie managed, before it was too late, to assume a defensive posture and fire a kick up at Miyata's head from the ground. The referee restarted the two standing, but they went to the mat again quickly, Gracie again in closed guard going for the triangle, Miyata using leverage to slam and break.
In the second, Gracie stared with a high kick that made partial contact, and Miyata answered with a nice spinning back punch. Soon the two were back on the ground, and this time Gracie locked up Miyata's legs better as he worked the triangle choke, and Miyata was unable to counter as before. After a few seconds, Gracie had Miyata where he wanted him, and tightened for the submission.
Said Gracie post-bout: "I had a hard time, the fight changed, it changes, it changes again, that is the way it goes. It's very nice to win when you fight someone who is fighting with heart, and Miyata is very strong -- it's his first time but he is in very good shape and a good wrestler. If he trains in Gracie Jiu-jitsu he will get even better, actually if he practices too much, I won't want to fight him again!"
The penultimate bout featured a couple of Californians. The 2003 K-1 USA Champion Carter Williams making his return to mixed martial arts after a less-than-perfect year, with a fight against veteran Wrestler Tom "The Green Beret" Howard.
Howard got off to an aggressive start, and had Williams on his back in no time. The groundwork was sloppy, though, and when the two settled Howard got into a dangerous full mount, but fortunately for Williams he was able to twist round and out and get in on Howard's guard. Williams arched upwards, pressed Howard against the cage, and threw in a half dozen rights. The punches connected, rendering Howard badly bloodied and unresponsive and so the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
No Hawaiian had won on the card through the nine preceding bouts, and so in the main event, the fight everyone was waiting for, the last chance at glory for the Aloha State rested on the shoulders of "bruddah" BJ Penn. This bout, even before the first bell, was charged with terrific tension. The fighters stared at one another during introductions, and such was the drama throughout that the crowd was on its feet repeatedly.
The Gracies of Brazil are fightsport's most revered family, so rich is their fighting heritage that their name is synonymous with Jiu-jitsu in Brazil. They have the pedigree, but Penn may have had the tiki gods on his side. Explained one Mike Gecko, Hawaii's most respected contemporary tiki artist, a man devoted to a celebration of the mythological pan-Polynesian man-god and all his incarnations: "The tiki named 'Ku' is a war god of Hawaii, and our Great King Kamehameha had carvings of Ku on Big Island to strike fear in the hearts of any evil spirits or enemies. This is a sacred part of our tradition, and because we are all family in Hawaii, I am sure that 'Ku' was in Penn's corner for the fight."
Are Hawaiians that spiritual? Yes indeed, said Malani Alemeda, a one-time schoolmate of BJ's who flew in from Hilo City to see his old pal fight. "Hawaiians are not humans who have spiritual experiences," he said, "we are spirits having human experiences!"
The bout began with both fighters focused and cautious, Gracie attempting a takedown but Penn scurrying deftly, sidestepping like a crab on the beach, to stay on his feet and make it to the cage. Here, the two remained locked up, Gracie with his legs spread and pressing forward as a fulcrum, occasionally firing in a punch. Penn turned the tide midway through the first, and the fight had gone to the ground at the buzzer, although neither fighter had a clear advantage through the round.
It was apparent that Penn was relaxed -- never rushing, always sure of himself. In the second, Penn got in on a side mount, and worked the elbows and knees with increasing brutality. Here, also, a trend emerged -- as Gracie pushed away then elected to stay on his back and attempt to keep Penn at bay with bicycle kicks. Penn did not want to go into Gracie's guard, instead he patiently made several passes with punches and occasional leaping stomps. Late in the round the two went to the mat again. Twisted up tightly, Penn began mashing his opponent into the cage, all the while coolly earning points with tight hooks.
In the third Gracie seemed really off his form, again staying on his back with the bicycle kicks while Penn brought a far more varied attack -- locking up the legs and passing in quickly with punches, leaping over for stomps, showing maturity and poise throughout.
It was an easy call for the judges -- unanimous decision for Penn.
Said an emotional BJ afterwards: "I'm happy with the fight, I believe in three words -- 'never give up!' I had asked for a no time limit fight, because I wanted to finish him, but that's the way it goes, and I'm happy with the fight, and the crowd was as I expected, full of love and support!"
Produced by Jay Dee Penn in association with the K-1 Fighting Network, Rumble on the Rock attracted a sellout crowd of almost 13,000 to the Neal Blaisdell Center. It was pay-per-view broadcast in the United States and Japan, and will be shown on a delayed basis in a number of other countries -- check with you local provider for scheduling information.
In spite of what looks like a very bad position, imo, Royler won this match.
Last edited by patfromlogan; 12/01/2004 12:06pm at .
"Preparing mentally, the most important thing is, if you aren't doing it for the love of it, then don't do it." - Benny Urquidez
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