Saturday, June 17, 2017

RINGS 8/23/00: MILLENNIUM COMBINE 3rd

Millennium Combine 3rd
August 23, 2000 in Osaka, Japan
Furitsu Gym drawing 4,270


WILL I NEVER BE FREE OF THE TYRANNY OF RINGS U.S.A. is what I wonder as the next RINGSbox offering visits upon me the WOWOW broadcast of the Rising Stars A and B Block shows we have already examined in all their villainy. And so certainly we will not dwell on them, but before moving on I will watch the prefatory matters to see if anything notable arises from them. Okay not especially, although we have Monte Cox (not yet imprisoned) explaining that after Akira Maeda booked a number of the fighters Cox represents for WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING OF KINGS 1999, talk turned to promoting RINGS U.S.A. events, and now here we are, depraved. I do enjoy any all footage of Maurice Smith and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka being pals, however:


WITH THEIR EXAMPLE OF FELLOWSHIP BEFORE US LET US TURN TO MILLENNIUM COMBINE 3rd OSAKA and I must confess that even though the actual graphics display "Millennium Combine III" just as they read "Millennium Combine II" last time, I have chosen to maintain the unidiomatic but superior numbering system displayed in previous RINGS event titles going all the way back to the sundry ASTRAL STEPS and this is I feel within the bounds of poetic licence. Still on the subject of graphics, if you pause just right whilst things are flickering past you can get it to say karate, look:


  
Kenichi Takayanagi and Hideyuki Kumakubo welcome us (thank you both) and indicate that a number of fighters from World Extreme Fighting (a "shoot" horrible name) will join the friends to whom we are already accustomed. The first such a one is Matt Hughes, who would go on to be the finest of UFC welterweights until Georges St. Pierre surpassed him. Matt Hughes is also notable for writing a volume of autobiography in which he unwittingly paints himself as a monster (I have read only excerpts of monstrosity and perhaps I lack proper monstrous context), for trophy hunting in Africa/letting his thirteen-year-old son shoot a zebra, and for teasing Din Thomas about his "big lips." This guy is not my kind of guy! (I wrote those things right before we learned Hughes' truck had been struck by a train and had been air-lifted to hospital; I did not write them to be a jerk and yet here I am, a jerk). Here he wins a hard-græppled two-round decision over Christopher Haseman, who came closest to finishing the match with a kata-ashi-hishigi ankle-lock, but who was on the whole clearly outworked.   

Hey look who's here with his enormous trunks: 



Just this morning whilst doing chores I listened to Bryan and Dave's "shoot" delightful interview with Matt Riddle, and my favourite part of it was when they asked about his match with Dan Severn and Matt Riddle's response was that hyaaah that was pretty legit. I bet! (I still haven't seen it, forgive me.) I am pleased that Severn's opponent here is Andrei Kopilov, because I really like him! Severn has little trouble taking Kopilov down, which is very much what one would expect, but Kopilov manages to sweep Severn to the side, come up on top, and and kind of harass from there with the vaguest indications of sanakaku-waza (triangling technique) until he kind of slips off. I am no expert but Dan Severn really seems very good at wrestling. I may have mentioned to you that there's a pretty good Dan Severn interview on youtube that's like an hour long? There is more talk  of his WWF time than I was interested in (I did not watch WWF in that era at all, an early indication of the taste level that would later exhibit itself more robustly) but there's all kinds of great stuff there. You might expect these two fairly old fellows to be pretty worn out by the end of their ten-minute opening round and to that I would say kind of but mostly Kopilov, whose face has been slightly bloodied by something at some point. Perhaps a weird blood-eruption from the sheer force of being squished by Dan Severn? In not one instant throughout the fifteen minutes of this match did Dan Severn come even remotely close to applying a technique that would achieve ippon, nor was their any indication that he ever even formulated in the fleetingmost way a thought towards that end, and yet the decision is rightly his. Severn addresses his locker-room interlocutor in a strange halting manner like I hope, Dan Severn hope, to fight three more year, then Dan Severn retire, Dan Severn hope, three more years RINGS. I don't know about any of that!

Ricardo Arona vs. Jeremy Horn is an interesting match and is received as such by the lore-wise Osaka crowd. That the ne-waza conducted here is pleasing is a given, and the people are indeed well-pleased by it, but the tachi-waza (standing technique) is not without its rewards, either, particularly when Horn half-counters Arona's aggro 小外掛 kosoto gake (minor outer hook) with a nifty 内股 uchi mata (inner thigh). In keeping with the most ancient RINGS ethos, Horn and Arona (their celebrity couple name shall be . . . Hornona) engage in a true ashi-kansetsu leg bone-locking duel, although not to completion. A very nice first round! I think I think Jeremy Horn did better in it than Arona but I am not sure I think that. The second round is much the same only this time I am pretty sure Jeremy Horn did better but when it ends Ricardo Arona carries on like a fool and is then awarded the split decision so what do I know (little).    

Valentijn Overeem faces Joe Slick, who has a shirtless Jeremy Horn in his corner. Oh dear that's a kata-ashi-hishigi ankle-lock in a mere thirty-six seconds! Slick was very near the ropes, and in another era might well have grabbed them; but no. Overeem says afterwards that he heard a crack before Slick tapped, which is too bad. He adds that he hopes that the fans are not disappointed with a short match but when he sees a chance to finish he feels that he really should take it. This didn't seem like humble-bragging or false humility or anything, I think he's just a nice fellow.

TSUYOSHI KOHSAKA VS. ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA and because this is a battle between two men of judo (if you are like uhhhhh *actually* Nogueira is a man of jiujitsu I would first say to you yes of course he is that but I would also say secondly to you that Nogueira has had a deep and abiding love for judo since he was six years old, and he was moved beyond measure to visit and train at Tokai, and when he spoke to Bryan and Dave about it all he was like first of all *I* am a zhoodo guy; *I am* a zhoodo *guy* and if you are going to deny Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, of all people, the way he chooses to identify as a martial artist then I denounce and attaint you so hard right now) anyway because of that I would like to take a moment to direct you, if I may, to the 1986 Animated Classics of Japanese Literature presentation of Sanshiro the Judoist, an adaptation of Tsuneo Tomita's long-admired historical novel that became the peerless Akira Kurosawa's Sanshiro Sugata, which we have spoken of previously in these pages. And recently! My old pal David brought this to my attention, and I am very glad he did (THANKS DAVID), because it is intense:







 
Do you think this maybe has something to do with the ritual purity and symbolic death of ippon? Because I think it might! But I am but the merest 初段 shodan (I really should test for nidan, I have the points; but when teaching rather than training under others your priorities change [even so I need to just go ahead and do it {to that end I am working on nage-no-kata with a pal these days!}]) and I am unlearnèd in the deeper mysteries of the way unlike say for example Tsuyoshi Kohsaka who is a 四段 yodan and for the first time it occurs to me that Kohsaka was a yodan (that's fourth degree) in his twenties; if he had stayed within the world of judo proper rather than turning to the the Fighting Network that comforts us as RINGS and then also into the world of kakutogi more broadly, you would have to think Kohsaka could easily have been a man of the red-and-white kohaku obi as worn (on occasions calling for formality, not daily training) by rokudan (through hachidan) by now! But he has chosen a different path, one that I obviously admire a great deal and which, judging from the ongoing pleasantness of his gym's blog, seems a joy to him to this day. If I may digress for a moment about rank in judo I would like to say that rank in judo really totally works out, in my view, in that if it is something that matters to you, it is right there for you, and people are nice about it (it is genuinely seen as neat when somebody is like a sixth dan or something, and everybody is rightly like "oh hey wow great"), but it also doesn't have to matter at all, and you'll sometimes have World and Olympic Champions who are shodans and who just don't grade after that, it's not something they pursue, as they have different priorities, and that's fine too, nobody gets weird about it. It's like there are these two separate hierarchies in judo, one of championships, and one of rank, and it's clear to everybody whose words you should most heed regarding launching people from Georgian grips and whose you should attend to for the finer points of obscuremost kata and all hold their place in the divine economy. Anyway as a final word on judo rank for now I will say a while ago I was talking about rank a little with another shodan pal of mine and we were talking about how, for both of us, the whole kind of rank-quest attitude that we had (and a lot of people have, I think) en route to black belt totally melted away for us as soon as we got them and we were both like "I don't know if I will ever grade again, really?" but then like a minute later we both totally agreed that it would be sikk to be sandans some day.       

TSUYOSHI KOHSAKA VS. ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGEUIRA THEN OKAY SO Nogueira is coming off of the first loss of his career (a KING OF KINGS decision, you will recall, that went Dan Henderson's way), and Kohsaka won his two bouts in RINGS U.S.A. but did not continue in that tournament, presumably due to injury? And before those two wins he had been pitilessly battered by Gilbert Yvel so who knows what's going on with him. Dave Meltzer was right that he's spreading himself too thin (such is his hunger for the fight [TK's not Dave's {although who can say}]). But this should be great! Nogueira and Kohsaka are the first fighters whose entrances are shown in full and both (especially Kohsaka of course) are warmly received at their introduction. 

   
Seconds after the opening bell Kohsaka hits Nogueira with a pretty good right that has Nogueira looking for a low, tackling morote-gari (two-hand reap) rather than eat another one of those but he gets halfway uchi-mata'd (inner thigh thrown) for that. Nogueira is doggèd, though, and in time Kohsaka elects to grab a mae-hadaka-jime front choke and just see how things go in ne-waza. But Nogueira is very good there! He slips out of TK's choke, passes to first the chest hold of mune-gatame and then to tate-shiho-gatame (right up top), but when he has second thoughts and switches back to mune, Kohsaka gets to his knees. But for only a moment! They are back down and Nogueira does a great job in terms of position. There isn't anything anywhere in terms of submission but that's okay, he should not feel bad: Kohsaka has never lost by submission in a shoot (that Dave has written more than once that the first TK/Tamura bout was a shoot is unfortunate, but understandable in that unfolded at the highest levels of shoot-style and so one is easily mislead; such was its art). Nogueira rides high in tate-shiho-gatame, and Kohsaka's hips start moving more dynamically and the crowd buzzes slightly in what must be anticipation of TK Scissors but instead Kohsaka scoops his right arm in deeply at Nogueira's knee and sweeps him over and at the four-minute mark this match is awesome. TK (clap clap) TK (clap clap) TK (clap clap). Action is stopped due to Kohsaka being pretty cut up already (it has been so for a couple of minutes) despite having barely been touched; he cuts very easily, as we know. YESSSSS okay Kohsaka was resisting a double-leg takedown by grabbing between Nogueira's legs, one arm over the back and one arm just right up the middle (there is probably a charming wrestling name for this but I do not know it, and it is an unnamed though of course not unknown position in judo), and instead of sprawling out and away from there he has hucked his foe over the top in the mode of 俵返 tawara-gaeshi, the rice-bale reversal. I love it! Nogueira rides it out beautifully though and ends up on top in TK's niju-garami (double entanglement); when he tries to pass he is nearly swept, and ends up in TK Guard. But then right back to njiu-garami, don't worry, Nogueira fans! (We are all Nogueira fans.) THIS MATCH IS AWESOME one cannot help but note again as the fighters are stood and restarted; again Kohsaka gets the best of the boxing, such as it is, and Nogueira would prefer to go to ground. This time Kohsaka is on top, though Nogueira is comfortable playing off his back, you have noticed at other times probably. Nogueira doesn't come at all close with anything in this final minute of this exquisite ten-minute first round, but he throws up sanakaku-jime and gyaku-ude-garami and juji-gatame attempts with really impressive frequency for a great big guy.  

WILL WE FIND LIKE GLORY IN ROUND TWO well it's hard to say, isn't it. It looks to me as though TK hurts his knee defending a takedown; he grimaces pretty hard, and he is not, generally speaking, a grimacer:



And he's sure not doing much about Nogueira's excellent position. Oh my goodness he just swept out of tate-shiho-gatame with an ashi-gatame attack and I still think he is hurt but that was ridiculous. Nogueira sweeps! TK sweeps again! This is so good. It is so good. Of a match. Again, Nogueira doesn't come close with anything he throws up from the bottom, and two sankaku-jime/triangle-choke attempts even cost him pretty badly in terms of position, but it's all very dynamic and pleasing in terms of æsthetics and also ethos (a different kind of æsthetics). Yeah, as soon as the bell sounds Kohsaka gets his knee super-iced immediately, he was totally hurt earlier in the round. Hiza, desu ("yeah that's his knee alright") is the word from the commentary table, and Kohsaka can make neither Nogueira's corner (gooood fight, he is told when he gets there, probably by Mario Sperry? You get looooah and you poooosh, you pooooooosh may God bless and keep Mario Sperry) nor the centre of the ring without help from a young boy and also the referee. This match that pleased me greatly is deservedly judged a draw, desu, and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira have a nice hug after.
  



AND NOW KIYOSHI TAMURA VS. PAT MILETICH who comes out to Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff" in a grim reminder of how dark the past can be. Let us take a moment to consider where, exactly, Miletich was in his fine career at this time, okay: Miletich was 26-3-2, and had held (and held currently [then-currently]) the UFC welterweight title for nearly two years at this time of RINGSing. Tamura remains loved by the people of Osaka despite all of the still-recent unpleasantness involving Gilbert Yvel. Perhaps it humanized him? Miletich is faster and a better boxer than I remember, but I really haven't gone back and watched a single Pat Miletich match since they happened (I mean no disrespect at all). "He doesn't want to stand up; go to work on him," is the advice from Miletich's corner (Jeremy Horn?). But they are on the ground at once. "Lace the leg and run around!" But Miletich finds he cannot. His corner really wants him standing, and I am not going to tell you they are wrong, but I am going to tell you that Tamura lands a kick to the legs that sounds just awful and then shoots in and takes Miletich down with little trouble. "You gotta get busy, Pat." His corner pleads for Nogueira-esque dynamism from the bottom but how many of us are so capable, how many so blessed. When they're back up, Tamura's kicks, which Frank Shamrock told us are harder than Bas Rutten's, continue to sound aaaaawful whenever they land. Matt Riddle this morning was saying that one of the reasons he likes to wrestle barefoot is that it makes his kicks sound so much better, but Tamura is wearing little wrestling shoes (they look terrific) and his kicks still sound unreal. What a close round! Tamura's kicks were totally the main thing of it, though; totally the thing of it. Jeremy Horn (I really think that's who I'm hearing, though I am of course a fool) is strongly of the view that Pat Miletich can't keep letting Tamura just have those kicks to the body, and I bet Pat Miletich agrees. Both Tamura and Miletich get takedowns (takesdown) in the second round, but Tamura does more with his in terms of position. There is a growing air of desperation coming from Miletich's corner, well not desperation, that's the wrong word, but of real concern with how much time is left for there guy to get anything done. We end with Miletich throwing a lot of punches to the body but I don't know! Two judges score it for Tamura, one has it a draw, and Miletich receives this disappointing (though not, seemingly, surprising) news as a true sportsman and raises Tamura's hand in victory. There's a lot of energy in the crowd as Tamura makes his way to the back, more people crowding against the barricades than we are used to seeing for Tamura. That's not what I would have expected for him at this time! We have not reached Tanahashi-wiping-his-brow-with-ladies'-towels-and-returning-them=levels, but it's not nothing, either. 





IN TIME THE WORDS OF DAVE MELTZER WILL END THIS POST BUT THEY ARE NOT YET AVAILABLE TO US so instead I will thank you once again for your time. A great show! Maybe the next one will be too!

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