THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
We’re heading off to Japan for our latest review, with another look at K-1’s mixed martial arts wing, and a look at the 2007 Middleweight World Championship tournament with the DVD release of Hero’s 2007 Volume Three: The Final Battle. Commentary duties here are handled by the most impressive fighter from the Ultimate Combat series of shows, Pierre Guillet, and Dale Adams.
Disc one begins with the always impressive parade of fighters, and then it’s down to the action, with Harvey Harra facing Kazuyuki Miyata in a reserve tournament fight. The entrances lasted longer than the actual fight, with Miyata taking it to the ground almost immediately, and transitioning well so he could get the quick armbar submission. A pity my fellow Brit didn’t well, but Miyata was very impressive here.
Then it was on to the first tournament semi-final, with Andre Dida facing Caol Uno. This certainly was an explosive fight. Fought over two rounds, the first clearly belonged to Dida, who caught Uno with a right knee to the jaw, which clearly hampered him for the remainder of the fight. Uno looked the superior fighter in the second, controlling everything on the ground. But unfortunately for Japan’s only fighter in the tournament it wasn’t enough, as the judges decision went in favour of the Brazilian.
The second semi-final saw Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro take on J.Z. Calvan. This was another case of an entrance lasting longer than the fight. After Calvan took an absolute age to get to the ring, he made short work of his fellow Brazilian. A trip led to an onslaught that Shaolin simply had no answer to, and although he was able to defend himself, the referee stepped in, booking Calvan’s place in the final, and rounding off what was a very good semi-final round.
The first of the super fights was next, with Kevin Casey and Minowaman. This fight had a lot to live up to, Casey because he had the legendary Rickson Gracie in his corner, and Minowaman because of his entrance. The ten minute first round, fought mainly on the ground, saw Casey in control, but the second round was an entirely different story. Casey kept to the same game plan, and after a minute or so Minowaman suddenly exploded with a barrage of blows that knocked Casey off his feet. The barrage continued, Casey didn’t reply, and the referee stepped in. Proof that the tide can turn very quickly in an MMA fight.
Next up was Dong Sik Yoon against Zelg “Benkei” Galesic. Despite only having one victory out of five fights, Dong put in a nice little performance in this one, quickly getting the leg trip, working well on the ground, and securing the arm bar submission to get the win.
So after that quick victory, it was on to Melvin Manhoef against Fabio Silva. Silva came into this fight with all the mannerisms of his namesake Wanderlei. A shame he didn’t fight like him though. A knee below the equator early on didn’t endear himself to the Dutchman, and after a brief rest period, a hard right cross caught Silva square on the chin, knocking him off his feet. A short ground and pound later, and the referee stepped in giving Manhoef the win. Another good display from the Dutchman, but not much of one from Silva.
Then it’s on to one of the fights I was looking forward to, with Alistair Overeem facing Sergei Kharitonov. A re-match from their previous encounter in Pride was a back and forth match. Both men had their fair share of good shots, but it was the big Russian who had the most success, staggering the Dutchman on a number of occasions. Overeem had his successes as well, although the ending did look to be a little dodgy, as the punch that Kharitonov threw to knock Overeem down for the final time looked like it caught him in the back of the head. A very interesting fight, although I’m left wondering about the ending.
Japan’s most popular fighter was up next, as Kazushi Sakuraba took on Katsuyori Shibata. Shibata almost cost himself dearly during his entrance, tripping up as he came running down the ramp to the ring. Once again it was a joy to watch the legend at work, although he didn’t have it all his own way. As soon as he took Shibata down to the mat, Shibata unloaded with a torrent of unanswered blows from his back. But Sakuraba quickly shook these blows off, transitioning to side control, and showed who the boss was by actually slapping Shibata. He then moved into position so he could execute an arm bar, with Shibata quickly tapping, giving the great man another impressive victory.
The next fight featured Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto taking on Bibiano Fernandes. This was an excellent fight, but was almost ruined in the first round – by the referee. When both fighters were on the ground grappling, their movements took them into the ropes. This wasn’t the first time this had happened, but on this occasion there was a great deal of confusion as the referee tried to put them back in their original positions in the middle of the ring. Things didn’t sit well with either man, and it got to a point where four referees eventually decided that the fight should be re-started from the stand-up position. Aside from this, there was a ton of great action in this one, with Fernandes, going into this one as something of an unknown quantity, more than a match with the favourite Yamamoto. However, as the fight went the three round distance, the judges gave their unanimous decision to Yamamoto, which surprised me a little. But then again, maybe a little hometown bias came into play here.
The final bout of the show was the Middleweight World Championship tournament final, featuring Andre Dida against J.Z. Calvan. A great fight to close the show with. Dida caught Calvan a couple of times, but when it went to the mat it was all Calvan, who transitioned well, went for a side choke, before finally locking in an arm bar for the submission win. A well deserved tournament win for the Brazilian.
Disc two is where you’ll find the special features, and they are many and plentiful, with two bonus fights, training sessions with Sakuraba, Uno, Minowaman and Kharitonov, as well as an interview with the legendary Rickson Gracie.
In conclusion – once again Hero’s delivers. There’s not one bad fight here, and what more can you say about that? Production wise, you can’t fault the Japanese for their production values here. The glitz and glamour they add to their MMA shows is outstanding, and a joy to watch. Commentary wise, messrs Adams and Guillet did a great job of calling the action. Old Pierre is as good as commentating as he is at fighting.
So if you’re looking for an alternative to the UFC, then this, or any of the Hero’s DVD releases, comes highly recommended.
With thanks to MMA Universe for supplying a copy of this release. Hero’s 2007 Volume Three: The Final Battle is available to buy online at www.mmauniverse.com.