Saturday, June 24, 2017


10th Anniversary World Title Series 2nd
June 15, 2001 in Yokohama, Japan
Bunka Gym drawing 3,500

THE DOLPHINS FROLIC WHILST MELLOW GUITAR IS COAXED WITH HUMBLE ELEGANCE AS WE READY OURSELVES FOR RINGS 10th ANNIVERSARY WORLD TITLE SERIES 2nd and I must confess again that I employ non-idiomatic "2nd" rather than "II" here because of the strange fealty I have sworn in my heart to steps astral. We open with sombre footage of Kiyoshi Tamura following his profoundly unstirring loss to Gustavo Ximo (né Machado) before looking into the training of the remaining Japanese hopes in the two eight-man tournaments being contested (I am really very sure about this now) for the RINGS middleweight and heavyweight championships. I am pretty excited about this show, which is true of all of the shows, but especially true of this one as its two final bouts are said to be Ricardo Arona vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara and "Renato" Babalu "Sobral" vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, whose tracking is off to sikk effect:

WOWOW Excite Match's Kenichi Takayanagi welcomes us to 横浜文化体育館 Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan/Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, which hosted the volleyball events at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games and is only a five-minute walk from Kannai station (or so I have read), and introduces us yet again to his broadcast partner Hideyuki Kumakubo of Gong Kakutogi, a publication which I hope will one day appear in a near-complete google-books archive as Black Belt magazine does currently but I don't know if that is at all possible in any way. I wonder if maybe this show did not run all that long, because of how we are getting a full parade of fighters in this our two-hour WOWOW window (WOWindow [WINDOWINDOW])? We also get announcements of upcoming shows (the few that remain! this is sad!) including the 8/11 one which, if my dumb ears do not mistake me, will feature no less noble a contest than Volk Han vs. YOSHIAKI FUJIWARA, who has not been seen amongst these RINGS since his 11/22/96 (I remembered the year but had to look up the month and day) loss to Akira Maeda in a bout whose finish was cut off of our copy but which was revealed to us when, in the run-up to Akira Maeda's sort-of-retirement match against Yoshihisa Yamamoto, WOWOW ran the finish of every Maeda RINGS match from 1991 right through the then-present (they did not include the Dolman match that was part of the April 1995 thirteen-promotion Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine Bridge Of Dreams ~ Dome Spring Full Bloom Tokyo Dome show but television rights are complicated I guess). So that's something to look forward to for sure! The crowd buzzes at the announcement, which speaks volumes of its taste-level in aggregate.     

Our opening match is non-tournament, but were it tournament, it would be the heavyweight one, because both RINGS Russia's Bazigit "Volk" Atajev and RINGS Australia's Maynard Marcum are really very big. In but 1:08, Atajev knocks Marcum out in the worst and most dangerous way we have seen anyone knocked out in a full decade of this Fighting Network: Marcum was just running right at him, and Atajev landed a left exactly to the very jaw of his very face and it was a full-on, total-lack-of-personhood-collapse to the mat upon which his face fully bounced. He is helped to his feet but is absolutely unable to walk or stand as he asks with great earnestness what happened. If we were not prepared to end hitting before this match (we were), we should resolve to follow that path now. It's just bad to hit! Atajev is an interesting figure in that he had a 16-1 record with some good wins and with his only loss coming late in the second round to Alistair Overeem in PRIDE (there is no shame in this), but then that was it for him, he seemed to have retired in 2006 only to reemerge and win +90kg gold at the 2013 World Wushu Championships at Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium. What a story! 

In the first round of our second bout, Masutatsu Yano comes about as close to strangling Yasuhito Namekawa with the naked strangle of 裸絞 hadaka-jime as anyone has ever come to strangling anyone with anything without actually strangling them. It was so close! And then Namekawa catches Yano with the mae-hadaka-jime or front-naked-strangle or front-choke (or guillotine) mere seconds into the next round, like twenty-two of them. He rushes over to kneel before Akira Maeda in tribute but then is either super emotional or really hurt because he is back on the mat in seeming agony and I can't understand it. Neither can Kenichi Takayanagi nor Hideyuki Kumakubo, who make inquisitive sounds like that fish in Wind Waker. Maybe he just got up weird and hurt his knee? These things can happen. Oh okay it's his hand that is severely taped in the locker room afterwards, so maybe he has broken it? That's too bad, if so. It was a very good little match. 

In what is definitely (I think) a middleweight tournament bout, the consistently-better-than-you-might-think Christopher Haseman is in with "Alexander Cacareco" which is again how they are billing Alexandre Ferreira, Brazilian jiujiteiro and four-time ADCC medalist who lost an opening-round WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING OF KINGS 2000 match to affable pal Hiromitsu Kanehara by sumi-gaeshi into gyaku-ude-garami just like Masahiko Kimura demonstrates here in our favourite gif:

So let's see! This could be good! Ferreira attempts a low, tackling morote-gari two-hand reap but Haseman sprawls atop him until he decides to grab a mae-hadaka-jime front choke, at which point he goes to his back for a little, but then he's right back up top. Haseman looks very lean and strong and I think his back has mostly cleared up. Ferreira grabs a gyaku-ude-garami from below but he doesn't have either leg under control and will have to watch out for this Masahiko Kimura waza gif:

I have no idea how often I have posted those over the course of our eight months of this but I bet it's lots! And especially lately. But it keeps coming up! Ferreira narrowly avoids this grim (I guess it's not really that grim) fate but a moment later is front-choked from tate-shiho-gatame. I know that there is all kinds of objective evidence that Alexandre Ferreira is an excellent græppler and a fine mixed-fighter but he has not done especially well in either of his RINGS matches so far; I think it is fair to him to say that.

Boris Jeliazkov of RINGS Bulgaria enters to high-level trance as his contest against Mikhail Ilioukhine draws ever nearer. Ilioukhine opens with a kani-basami crab-scissor into a hiza-juji knee-bar which is an exquisite way to have started. Jeliazkov is wily, though, and not only escapes but ends up nicely on top. and passes to a fine kesa-gatame scarf hold. Oh no okay he has been totally countered and now Ilioukhine is right up top in tate-shiho-gatame. Until he rolls under for gyaku-ude-garami! But Jeliazkov escapes with a cræftig knee to the wrist. This match is awesome. I expected good things from these two good guys but my expectations have been surpassed by a lot in these first, I guess, four minutes? They just keep going! It's all reversals! So good; so good. Ilioukhine finally gets a juji-gatame to really take at 2:06 of the second round. I loved it! And so Ilioukhine advances in this heavyweight tournament. 

This next image might not look like much, but we are told that it is Maeda Dojo . . .

. . . which changes things, right? Inside we find Tsuyoshi Kohsaka getting stretched out as we revisit (in highlight-and-voice-over form) Kohsaka's recent spirited bout (he knows no other kind) against UFC Heavy-kyu Champion Randy Couture. Babalu, Kohsaka's opponent in this our present heavyweight title tournament, is also coming off a loss (Valentijn Overeem by ashi-gatame of some kind), we are reminded. They are both fine athletes and competitors and will want to do their best! I like both of these guys a lot, as longtime (or even pretty recent readers) may recall. TK (clap clap) TK (clap clap) along with kohsakAAAAAAA are the crowd's thoughts so far. Babalu probably lands the first round's biggest strike, a knee to TK's large head, and when they are on the ground, he is the more on top of the two, but not a lot happening down there: Kohsaka hunts for things, chiefly an arm drag (ah, but to what? there are so many possibilities!), but Babablu is steady and sturdy on his knees and there is not much to be had. Babalu helps Kohsaka to his feet as the bell sounds, because he is a sportsman when he is not holding chokes extra long against people whose company he does not enjoy. Babalu takes Kohsaka down early in the second and assumes the north/south, head-and-neck pin of kami-shiho-gatame UNTIL Kohsaka TK Scissors his way back to the hikikomi or guard position; it is magnificent. Babalu gets the same pin again only to be similarly scissored, and this is stating the obvious but TK is a pretty big guy to be hitting this dexterous technique so consistently against high-level competition. It really is a marvel! Aside from these lovely escapes, there's not much happening on the mat and so the fighters are asked to stand. Kohsaka attempts a kani-basami crab scissors (it is all scissors all the time from this guy right now) but gets squished from it; he tries a rolling hiza-juji knee-bar too, but is squished once more. Maeda has it a draw, but the other two have it for Babalu, who is really very surprised at this: 

Babalu fought cautiously but well, and although Kohsaka by far demonstrated the more compelling waza, Babalu exercised a stout control that must be rewarded. I would have preferred to see a third round but that is selfishness. Babalu advances to face Fedor! Which is, I am pretty sure, the first early-Fedor match I ever saw and so it holds a semi-special place in my dumb græppz-heart.

Our main event returns us to the middleweight title tournament and sees Ricardo Arona who I can't imagine has ever really been anybody's favourite (excluding family/training partners; I mean no real disrespect, just the playful sporting kind) face Hiromitsu Kanehara, rightly loved by all forever. Obviously Ricardo Arona is better than Hiromitsu Kanehara--obviously--but Kanehara totally has a way of sticking around, and so I am intrigued. Arona continues to be remarkably lean and muscular and to not compete anywhere where anyone tests for anything; who can say what we might make of this. That Arona wrangles Kanehara to the ground and assumes a solid top-position cannot be doubted, but that Arona actually swings through and attempts a series of ashi-gatame (leg holds) is uncharacteristic. As Kanehara stands, he punches to Arona's, like, upper chest, and Arona, understandably, tucks his chin with a punch coming towards that general area, and the punch grazes his jaw. I am not sure if this is a yellow card but Arona takes his time getting back into things (as is his right). Some wild, unschooled punching (even to me, and I know nothing) follows with neither fellow really getting much done with it, and we are thankfully back on the mat soon. Kanehara hits a lovely hikikomi-gaeshi(pulling reversal)-style sweep just as Arona tries to hop up and over the legs:

Kanehara looks for a leg-lock from there but finds none. This has been a good round! I guess it's probably Arona's but Kanehara is definitely hanging around and sneaking neat things in, as is his custom. Kanehara slips out of a pretty tight mae-hadaka-jime front choke early on in the second round but as he stands up and away he is severely hiza-juji knee-barred to such an extent that he is electing to not exactly stand up right now as Ricardo Arona seeks a blessing from Mario Sperry. 

SOMETHING OF A DARK NIGHT THEN for the good people of 横浜文化体育館 Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan as their beloved Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and Hiromitsu Kanehara fall from their respective title tournaments one after the other, leaving not a single RINGS Japan representative in either bracket. You know who is not really all that down about it though? The irrepressible Hiromitsu Kanehara!

I mean he doesn't seem thrilled, but he's still discernibly merry. 

As we too shall be when next we meet to further discuss RINGS! Let's say tomorrow? As ever and always I thank you for your attention and for your time.



  1. In reference to the previous episode of your journey through RINGS connor mcgregor is indeed the lineal bfa champion although only if you count mixed rules matches so the title is not on the line in his match against mayweather
    I made a video a while ago