It’s early as hell, so you bloodsuckers better appreciate this. If you’re awake too, reload the page every couple minutes and check out our commentary on this
sad freak show historic event after the jump. If not, do me a favor and read this when you do wake up. I need to feel like my life has a purpose.
6:00: We’re rolling, live from the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo. New Year’s Eve is a “super day for Japanese.” Konichiwa!
6:02: Kenny Rice says Fedor Emelianenko is kind of like Dick Clark and Guy Lombardo to the Japanese, while Choi is a “Bunyan-esque figure, at least in size.” Frank Trigg says Randy Couture is the best heavyweight in the world, not Fedor. Well then what the hell am I doing up this early?
6:05: The clip of Randy talking about Fedor at “Reckless Abandon” is played, and the possible future matchup is discussed. Kenny: “What if Fedor is defeated tonight? That’ll just turn over the apple cart and roll it down the hill, wouldn’t it?”
6:08: The rules are run down. 10 minute first round, 5 minute second round, 90 seconds between rounds. Knees to the head and face are legal, except in the Fedor/Choi fight. Soccer kicks and stomps are illegal.
6:10: Fedor on the UFC: “You must be a foolish person to sign that kind of contract.”
6:13-15: Fedor on Hong Man Choi: “I probably will try to take him down to the floor…it all depends on how he wants to fight with me.” Fedor says that he wants to prove he can fight bigger fighters.
6:20: They’re playing those big-ass drums on stage. What are they called, taiko drums or something? Anyway, it gets the Japanese hyped.
6:23: The fighters all come out, as the the drummers play along to Rage Against the Machine’s “Sleep Now in the Fire.” Okay, now I’m hyped…
6:26: Rice: “This is Times Square times three.”
6:28: Chicago’s Mike Russow comes out. Never heard of this guy, but he has a 4-1 record and weighs 250 pounds. His opponent is Roman Zentsov, a 230-pounder from the Red Devil club. His record is 16-11, but he’s won 7 of his last 8. The tale of the tape says Russow’s record is actually 6-1, but who’s counting.
6:31-5: Round 1…Russow slams Zentsov to the ground right away. He moves to half-guard and works to secure an anaconda choke. And he gets it about 3 minutes into the first round. I guess the stuff about the first round being ten minutes long in these fights doesn’t always apply, because that one was only going to be five minutes. Anyway.
6:39-6:42: Luiz Azeredo from Chute Boxe enters the arena dancin’ and throwing high kicks. Tatsuya Kawajiri follows. He hasn’t fought since New Year’s Eve last year. Both men weigh 156 pounds.
6:44-7: Here we go, this one’s a ten-minute round. Kawajiri gets a takedown after some clinching on the ropes and tries for some GnP. They’re repositioned in the center of the ring. Every time Kawajiri punches Azeredo in the face, the crowd cheers “yaaaaay!”
6:48: Azeredo tries to find an armbar as Kawa keeps bashing him. No luck.
6:50-4: Kawajiri is still GnP’ing. Man, I feel bad for Azeredo. Ten minutes of this? Okay, finally they’re stood up. And Kawajiri uses the same leg-sweep to take Azeredo again. More GnP. Whoa, Azeredo slips out and takes Kawajiri’s back! Kawajiri slips it and goes back to pounding Azeredo, who “has become a human punching bag.” Thankfully, round 1 comes to a close.
6:55: Kawajiri’s cauliflower ear is disgusting.
6:56-8: Round 2 starts. Kawajiri takes Azeredo down again, but Azeredo gets to his feet. Why is Frank Trigg talking about his wife’s love of baseball? Azeredo is on his back again. He’s cut above his left eye.
6:59-7:01: Kawajiri continues to dominate. Azeredo’s face is a mess. The bell rings.
7:02: Unanimous decision, obviously.
7:05: Trigg: “The more success Monte Cox he has, the bigger he gets, figuratively and literally.”
7:06: I appreciate the brisk pace they’ve got going for these fights. Murilo Bustamante of Brazilian Top Team comes out. Makoto Takimoto, a judoka with a 3-3 record, comes out. Bustamante is 183 pounds, Takimoto is 179. I have to guess that Bustamante is going to take this one
7:09-7:13: Round 1 starts with some clinching, and Bustamante gets an immediate yellow card for holding the ropes. Bustmante throws some big punches, but is taken down by Takimoto. Bustamante snatches Takimoto’s arm and nearly has the submission, but Takimoto gets out of it and starts bashing Bustamante from the top. Bustmante gets a leg takedown and winds up on top. And another reversal, by Takimoto. Wild stuff…
7:14-8: Bustamante nearly gets another armbar. Takimoto gives up his back, but defends the choke. He gets up and is taken down again by Bustamante, who lands some big shots from the top. Bustmante takes Takimoto’s back and goes for a kneebar, which is also foiled by Takimoto. And they’re on their feet. Takimoto falls on his ass trying to throw a power punch.
7:19-7:20: They’re stood up, exchange some punches and go back to the ground. Round 1 ends.
7:21-7:25: Ooh, footage from the referee head cam is showed during the break…why don’t they use that more often? Round 2 starts, and they go back to sluggin’. Takimoto flips Bustamante to the ground, but Bustamante winds up on top. They’re stood up. Takimoto lands a huge shot and knocks Bustamante to the ground, where he tries to end it with GnP. Bustmante is screwed…but Takimoto needs to end it before Bustamante gets his senses back.
7:26: It looks like Bustamante may survive, as the final minute counts down. Bustamante looks for a last-ditch armbar, but Taki ain’t having it. And there’s the bell. Kenny Rice is giving the fight to Takimoto.
7:28: Takimoto wins in a split decision, and gets a little trophy. Fun!
7:30: Gilbert Melendez is droning on about something or other in a pre-recorded interview.
7:32-4: Melendez comes out. Frank Trigg marvels at how nice Melendez is outside of the ring, and how not nice he is inside of it.
Mitsuhiro Ishida comes out. Both men are 156 pounds, and Melendez is an undefeated 13-0.
7:35-9: Ishida works for a takedown right away but Melendez gets to his feet. Melendez takes Ishida’s back, but Ishida slips out. Now Ishida is on top and takes Melendez’s back. Melendez stands up with Ishida on top of him, and drops Ishida directly on his head. Amazingly, his neck doesn’t break.
7:40-3: Melendez tries to finish the fight with a choke but doesn’t find it. Ishida manages to stand up, and holds Melendez’s back against the ropes. Ishida slams him to the mat. Melendez tries for a kimura and is foiled. Ishida gets on Melendez’s back again — hasn’t he learned his lesson?
7:44-5: Melendez gets some knees and punches off, but Ishida hugs his back again. It’s an odd strategy, but clearly frustrating for Melendez. Ishida works his way into a guillotine choke, but Melendez is saved by the bell.
7:47-50: Round 2 starts, and both fighters come out trying to impose their will. This back-hugging thing is starting to upset me. Again, Melendez stands up with Ishida hanging on to his back, and again Ishida is slammed. Still, Ishida is pushing the pace and he may be on his way to giving Melendez his first loss. Ishida nearly snaps Melendez’s arm in an armbar but Melendez sneaks out of it.
7:52: Melendez is pounding Ishida from the mount, “with urgency.” Ishida is saved by the bell, but he’ll almost surely take the decision.
7:54: And he does, and it’s unanimous. Sorry Gilby…
7:57: Getting drowsy. I should have bought some of that “trucker speed.”
8:00: Again, Fedor is “the Dick Clark of Japan.”
8:01-3: Oh man, Yoshihiro Akiyama is coming out to a Japanese version of that Andrea Boccelli song that your mom likes. Him and his entourage bow to the crowd in unison. Now he’s holding hands with two of them as they walk out. If I was at the show, I’d be booing my ass off right now. It’s like “unintentionally homoerotic” isn’t even in their language.
8:05: Speaking of which, Kazuo Misaki just slapped his own ass, Hard Gay style. Both men are 187 pounds. My money’s on the fairy.
8:07-10: Misaki is nuts. Instead of touching Akiyama’s gloves, he punches them and hops back to his corner. As the round starts, he’s pumping his knees up and down in a sort of psyche-out dance, and lands some sharp leg kicks.
8:10-12: Akiyama gets in a couple good punches. That hopping thing that Misaki does is appropriately distracting, but no big exchanges yet.
8:13-15: Akiyama lays Misaki the eff out with a huge punch. He tries to finish it on the ground, but Misaki gets up and fires back. And now Misaki knocks Akiyama down with an even harder shot and punches Akiyama out on the ground. It’s over! Holy Shit!
8:17-19: Easily the fight of the night so far. Just from Misaki’s bizarre energy, I had a feeling it would end with a knockout, one way or the other. Misaki is hugging Akiyama and paying tribute to him on the mic while Akiyama’s nose leaks blood. Trigg does his best to translate, but he doesn’t seem to be getting much of it.
8:22: Fedor vs. HMC is next!
8:23: Ron Kruck is talking to Gilbert Melendez, who is a very sore loser. “Hey, it’s Japan, you can’t leave it to the judges.” You know what you also can’t do in Japan? Get dominated for the first 14-and-a-half minutes of a fight. Dick.
8:29: Trigg: “[HMC] is the kind of man who could pick me up and treat me like a little kid, and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.”
8:30: HDNet CEO Andrew Simon is being interviewed. I’m taking a piss.
8:38-9: That whole “brisk pace” thing? Not so much anymore. A Fedor highlight reel is being played on the screens, soundtracked by the Beatles’ rarity “Free As a Bird.” An interesting choice. Now Ron Kruck is talking about Buster Douglas upsetting Mike Tyson. You know, because a freak upset is always possible!
8:41: Hong Man Choi walks out, solemnly, wearing a spangled lightning-bolt t-shirt, with Japanese dance-techno pumping out of the speakers.
8:43: There he is (“In the Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrred corner!”) — Emelianenko, Fedor. It’s one thing to be stoic, but Emelianenko looks straight-up disinterested. As entrances go, HMC and Fedor didn’t really do the moment justice.
8:46: The size difference is awesome. There’s the bell. Fedor shoots in, but Choi lands on top of him. Oh no!
8:47: Fedor goes for the armbar, and Choi picks him up. Fedor has serious road rash on his face. Fedor shoots in again, and Choi is on top again. Fedor goes for the armbar again and gets it. That’s it! Anti-climactic, but it’s the only way it could have gone.
8:49: I shaved my balls for this?
8:50: Vadim Finkelchtein brings Jean Claude Van Damme into the ring to meet Fedor. I need to watch this fight again, because I don’t understand how Fedor’s face got so scraped up.
8:52: Van Damme grabs himself some spotlight, standing next to Fedor for the photos after the official announcement. The Muscles from Brussels doesn’t look older as much as sicker. Like, he’s still 30, but dying of tuberculosis.
8:55: Fedor walks back to the dressing room, while Rice and Trigg talk about how humble and good-natured he is.
8:56: Okay, so there are two more fights coming up.
9:00: Trigg says that he doesn’t think he’s seen Fedor Emelianenko buy a drink for himself in Japan, ever. Must be nice.
9:02: 170-pounders Hidehiko Hasegawa and Hayato Sakurai enter the arena.
9:04-9: Round one…a few decent punch exchanges, and it goes to the ground with Sakurai on top. They’re stood up and Hasegawa fails to grab a single-leg takedown. Sakurai pounds Hasegawa to the mat then lets him up. Man, I’m really not into this fight. You put the main event at the end for a reason, people.
9:13: I haven’t heard Trigg’s voice in at least five minutes. Bathroom break? Okay, there he is — he was probably just bored.
9:16-9:21: Hasegawa’s cornerman is slapping the shit out of him. He comes out swinging in round 2, but he’s taken down. He gets up, but is rocked by knees and punches from Sakurai and the fight goes to the floor again. They’re stood up, where Sakurai gets the better of most of the exchanges. Sakurai takes down Haesgawa and GnP’s him for a bit before getting up. The fight ends up on the ground with Sak on top. The decision will surely go in his favor.
9:22: No surprise, it’s unanimous.
9:25: Monte Cox comes out to address the crowd. Trigg is right — it looks like he’s gained some weight.
9:27: Sakurai keeps saying “CHAMPEEON.” And he’s dating the Jenna Jameson of Japan? What? Sak, you’ve brought dishonor to your family!
9:32-4: The finale is a 154-pound bout. Jung Bu-Kyung, a judoka who’s making his MMA debut, comes out to the ring. This is the part where I’d be heading to my car to beat the crowd. His opponent, Shinya Aoki (11-2), loves his disco music. Come on man, get this done quick so we can go back to bed.
9:37-42: Aoki’s gold stretch capri pants are sick. Round one…Bu-Kyung latches onto an armbar early, but Aoki pulls him upright and escapes. They go to the ground and both try leg locks. Aoki starts to smash BK from the top. Aoki goes for another leg lock, drops it, and kicks BK in the head. BK goes for an armbar attempt and it looks like Aoki is in trouble.
9:43-7: The momentum has turned. BK almost gets the armbar. But Aoki gets out of trouble, and gets back on top. BK’s eye is inspected; at this point, it’s completely closed. BK rocks Aoki with a punch and takes him to the mat.
9:48-9: The fight goes standing again, and Aoki fires back with strikes. Again, Aoki winds up in BK’s guard, and they rest on each other as the round ends.
9:50-3: Sleep is going to be so awesome. Round 2 starts…BK looks like Popeye. Aoki is on his way to a decision; it hasn’t been the most exciting fight, but he’s been controlling nearly all of it. There’s two minutes left, and Aoki is waiting it out on top of BK.
9:54-6: Aoki gets the mount and throws down some strikes. BK is done, and sure enough, he rolls and offers up his back. But Aoki can’t get the choke, or an armbar. The bell rings. Frank trigg tries to inject some drama, saying BK won most of the first round (?), but Aoki wins by unanimous decision.
9:58: Roll credits. All the fighters enter the ring.
10:00: It’s officially 2008 in Japan. Happy New Year!
10:01: And it’s officially bedtime in New York. Holla atcha boy…