Friday, April 28, 2017


Free Fight Gala 1998: The Kings of Rings
February 8, 1998 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sport Hall South drawing 8,500

IT IS TIME ONCE MORE FOR THE LOW, LURID SPECTACLE OF RINGS HOLLAND; IT IS NOT, NOR IT CANNOT COME TO GOOD as the annual Free Fight Gala is upon us. Historically I have found this horrifying, despite the opportunity to catch up with the rightly beloved Chris Dolman, and look at old pictures of him, like these:

The last image we are shown before we descend into sheer depravity is of Dolman and Akira Maeda walking beside the water . . .

. . . and then it is upon us; all of it. 

The first bout is between Christopher Haseman and a Valentijn Overeem who has put on an enormous amount of muscle, as though through his brother's horse-meat regimen. This is a shoot, surely, as I have little doubt all will be on this dark night. Again, the ring is tiny, and everyone is kind of in the ropes pretty much any time they are down, which makes a fairly gross farce of the RINGS rules we hold so dear. It looks like this fight ends a bunch of times as one or the other taps to a hold, but each time a rope is being held, too. Haseman has put on a good deal of muscle; it's not just Overeem. These bros have made gains. So swole are they, these two swolemen, that their big dumb muscles are worn out before the end of two rounds as they limp towards Overeem's decision win. (A while ago, a match that went a full thirty minutes I reported as having seemingly gone 30:07 officially, but I have since figured it to have been a kanji or katakana that I do not understand [obviously] that looks like a 7; please forgive me yet again.) 

Next we have Pedro Palm, a fat guy with hideous tattoos, falling to Sander MacKilljan in 2:13 and nearly dying, I think. Sander Thonhauser beats Cees Bezems with a kesa-garami arm-entanglement from kesa-gatame in fifty-eight seconds before we are offered the reprieve of watching people drill rolling knee-bars and other worthy waza in Dolman's gym. Dave van der Veen, who looks very strong, is profiled in his strength; he defeats Johan Boolean by hadaka-jime at 1:54 and seems rightly pleased with his little trophy. Willie Peeters is greeted as a hero as he enters the tiny ring to face Wataru Sakata, who comes reasonably close to finishing with several ashi-gatame (leg holds) but no, the ropes are always there in this tiny, dumb ring. Willie Peeters, who is dirty as shit, throws punches on the ground, which is plainly illegal, and when someone in Sakata's corner (not TK, who I can see, but someone else, who I cannot) objects, Peeters throws punches at him. Maybe Sakata's guy started it? I don't know, but Akira Maeda is up, and furious. This is stupid, and a no contest, in the end, after first looking like a filthy Willie Peeters win. Jon Bluming, who in 1958 was the first to teach judo at the university where I now do the same, in my own feeble fashion, as we have discussed previously and at length, comes to apologize or at least explain to Sakata, but even that is not enough to atone for what has been. 

I hate this.

Joop Kasteel finishes Bitsadze Ameran in a mere 2:15; Gilbert Yvel and "Dirty" Bob Schrijber somehow manage to get through one whole round and 1:12 of another without fouling each other or their own souls any more than usual as Yvel wins by kata-ashi-hishigi, the Achilles hold, let us say. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka puts Rob van Esdonk down really any number of times, but always amidst the ever-present ropes, and so it is not until 0:57 of the second round that he finishes with a heel holdo. The enormous Paul Varelans comes back from a fairly awful first-round beating to knock Dick Vrij radically out in probably the biggest win of his career? It's that or Cal Worsham, I guess. In another time, in another place (actually right here), and certainly in another voice, someone wrote the following of Paul Varelans in a dark tome that, if you have it, I hope you did not pay for but instead downloaded it, because it is everywhere, and the publisher should rightly be denied his profit as he is nearly as repellent as this whole ruin now before us:  

"As far as we know, Paul Varelans is the only professional mixed martial 
artist to represent the art of trap fighting — whatever that is. Varelans 
fought 18 pro bouts over the course of his career, so we had plenty of op- 
portunities to figure it out, but it was never clear what exactly was supposed 
to be trapped. As best as anybody could tell, trap fighting involved being ab- 
solutely enormous, and getting pasted by any and every name fighter you 
come up against. Varelans' size and his ability to take a beating were his 
calling cards, and while that didn't exactly translate into MMA success, it 
did earn him a relatively high-profile shoot-style professional wrestling bout 
against Peter "Taz" Senerchia, who worked a pseudo-MMA gimmick. 
According to the incredibly lurid autobiography of wrestling personality 
Missy Hyatt, Varelans was induced to lose the bout when Hyatt promised 
him a blow job. Afterward, in an impressive bit of wordplay, she then in- 
formed him that she didn't blow jobbers, the losers of pro wrestling 
matches. Varelans then apparently went berserk and trap fought the back- 
stage area into complete disarray."

WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER SAY that might deliver us from this artlessness:

February 16, 1998: 

"OTHER JAPAN NOTES: This didn't get a lot of pub in Japan and we don't have much in the way of details, but RINGS ran its annual big show in Amsterdam, Holland that Chris Dolman always promotes on 2/8 before a reported sellout crowd of 7,500. We only have sketchy details of the show at press time. There was a huge upset in the main event as Paul Varelans of UFC fame, trimmed down to 260 pounds under the training of Frank Shamrock just seven days after taking a beating from Nick Nutter in Brazil, knocked out local hero Dick Vrij in the second round of a match that was fought entirely on their feet with neither attempting to take the other down and said to have been a war. RINGS runs every year at this time in Holland with all shoot matches and has sold out the past several years. The shows are usually the wildest RINGS show of the year because they use mainly Dutch kickboxing types as opposed to ground specialists or more well-rounded fighters. The only two Japanese fighters on the show were Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, who beat Rob Von Esdank of Holland in 57 seconds of the second round with a heel hook submission, and Wataru Sakata, who went to a non-decision with Willie Peeters when apparently Peeters committed a major foul."


"RINGS has a minor show on 3/3 (probably at Korakuen Hall) and a bigger show on 3/28 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall."


"Not a lot new regarding the next UFC show. Nothing has been officially signed although there are also no changes from the proposed matches we've been listing. There will be a heavyweight match most likely involving two of these three fighters, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka from RINGS, Hugo Duarte from Brazil and Kimo. There is virtually no chance that Nobuhiko Takada will be in UFC in May in Japan after all (and it's still not a lock the May UFC will be in Japan in the first place). Apparently his contract for the Gracie fight with KRS stipulates he can't appear as a participant for any other promotion until the fight in October. As mentioned before, there is still an outstanding huge money contract between UFC Japan and Ken Shamrock and the World Wrestling Federation but whether it'll be honored if/when there is a Japan show in May isn't clear either. There has been a lot of talk that the May main event would be Randy Couture defending his title against Mark Coleman."

February 23, 1998:

"2/8 Amsterdam, Holland (RINGS - 7,500 sellout): Dave van der Veen b Johan Buur, Valentijn Overeem b Christopher Hazemann, Pieter Von Gammeren b Jerry Kalia, Sander McKillian b John Verstegen, Sander Thonhauser b Kees Beezems, Willie Peeters b Wataru Sakata, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka b Rob Van Esdank, Joop Kasteel b Bitzsadze Amiran, Gilbert Yvel b Bob Schreiber, Paul Varelans b Dick Vrij"


"Some notes on the RINGS show on 2/8 in Amsterdam, Holland. Actually Willie Peeters beat Wataru Sakata on points and it was not a no contest. Apparently the decision was very controversial due to reported inconsistent officiating, so much so that it was reported in Japan it was a no contest. RINGS will return to Amsterdam in June. Paul Varelans was actually himself thinking he was going to lose to Dick Vrij, and got hammered badly in the first round. He had gone into the fight busted up from a match in Brazil with Nick Nutter, and super-glued his cut shut before the fight. But he saw that once the round was over, Vrij was totally blown up and he came back in the second round and knocked him out in 1:38 of that round."

So nothing at all, then, and we are condemned. Until next time, that is! See you then! Thanks for abiding this horror!


  1. I remember having read Vrij was heavily in ephedrine during his match with Varelans due to an injury, as well as that the referee was inconsistent and (accidentally?) favored Varelans. How sad.

  2. These Dutch shows are just complete debacles.