First fight: Imamura vs. Choi Mu Bae
With the loss of Minoru Toyonaga, Yusuke Imamura has stepped up to be the #3 man from the Takada dojo. This may seem impressive when the #1 man is Kazushi Sakuraba, but talent at the Takada dojo quickly fades once we reach the #2 spot, with Daijiro Matsui. While Matsui has shown some lapses of talent, he seems to be forever relagated to journeyman status. Being a step behind Matsui has spelled doom for Imamura in his fights with ring veterans. His highest profile win is against Joe Son. In this match, he faces newcomer Choi Mu Bae.
Choi Mu Bae is a former member of the Corean National Greco-Roman team. Needless to say, he has great takedowns, and his ground game is solid. His biggest weakness is a lack of experience.
Imamura will need to strike in order to win this one. This won't be an easy task given his height, reach disadvantage and Choi's wrestling skills. Look for Choi Mu Bae to take this fight to the ground right away, pass Imamura's guard, and lock up the submission.
Fight Two: Crocop vs Norihisa Yamamoto
Can lightening strike twice? After pulling off a stunning upset of Mark Kerr, Yamamoto looks to continue toppling the legends of this sport with a victory over Crocop. Yamamoto won his match with Kerr when Kerr knocked himself out after a takedown attempt. Unless Crocop manages to KO himself with his own high kick, Yamamoto's chances for victory are slim. Crocop by first round obliteration.
Fight Three: Sean Sherk vs. Ryuki Ueyama
Sherk may seem like a one dimensional fighter, but when you can pound most of your opponents into oblivion on the ground, there really isn't a need to showcase other skills. However, Sherk is not a one-dimensional fighter. He showed a decent guard against GnP giant Matt Hughes (surviving much better than some "guard specialists"), and he also has a few victories by submission. He claims that his striking is constantly improving, although he hasn't shown much of it.
Sherk's opponent is Ruyki Ueyama. Ueyama is a skilled veteran who has tangled with the best of them. His last fight was a draw with Shooto champion Masunori Suda. His most impressive victory is over Laverne Clarke. Look for him to work for submissions from beneath Sherk. This fight will be decided on Ueyama's ability to elude Sherk's GnP onslaught and catch him in a submission. With a total of ZERO losses by submission, look for Sherk to do what he has always done: GnP to victory.
Fight Four: Yasuhito Namekawa vs. Egidijis Valavicius
This fight is actually a rematch from a 2001 fight. Namekawa is a game fighter with lots of fight experience. He is in great shape, and defeated Hawaiian fighter Falaniko Vitale by feigning exhaustion and then unleshing a barrage of punches. Yamakawa is a well-rounded fighter (as are most RINGS products) with skills on his feet and the ground.
Despite Namekawa's impressive resume, Valavicius holds a TKO victory over him in RINGS. Although I know little about him, two of his wins come by TKO. I expect this fight to be better-than-expected, with Namekawa aggressively trying to take the fight to the ground and Valavisius trying score the KO on his feet. I know little about Valavicius, so I'll have to pick Namekawa by decision in this match up.
More to come later. Please post your own thoughts.
First fight: Imamura vs. Choi Mu Bae
Fight Five: Daiju Takase vs. Chris Brennan
Takase briefly emerged from his shell to pull off a HUGE upset victory against Anderson Silva. Takase has a reputation as one of the best grapplers in Japan, but he has never seemed to be able to put it together in the ring, save for his match with Silva.
Brennan had an impressive outing in the last Bushido, submitting his opponent not once but twice -both in the first round! Brennan is a well rounded fighter with improving stand-up skills. Look for him to try and keep the match on his feet and KO Takase. If it goes to the ground, expect either an action-packed grappling clinic or a boring chess-match. Given Takase's inability to string together wins, combined with Brennan's momentum from the last Bushido, it is difficult to pick against Brennan. Brennan by judges decision in a good fight.
Fight Six: Mike Bencic vs. Mario Sperry
Bencic trains with Cro Cop, with only two fights under his belt, he is nowhere near as seasoned as his mentor. A TKO loss to Alstair Overeem seems to indiate that he is no Cro-Cop either when it comes to striking. I expect Bencic to try to keep it standing with Sperry, which will be his best chance for victory.
However, in his years of fighting, Sperry has only showed improvements in his takedown ability. Once the fight gets to the ground, it'll be over. Sperry has shown superlative submission skills in the past. Expect him to make short work of Bencic. Sperry by first round submission (arm triangle).
More to come...
Fight Seven: Hayato Sakurai vs. Rodrigo Gracie
I think that Pride made the right decision to not invite all the Gracies back for this Bushido. For me, the fun in watching the Gracies is watching them get beat, not in watching them patiently grind out decision victories. However, Rodrigo Gracie seems to be more along the lines of Renzo Gracie rather than Royce Gracie. His cross-training will be put to the test against Sakurai.
Lately Sakurai has me wondering if his career hasn't taken a downward spiral, like his contemporary, Rumina Sato. This match will be a good litmus test for Sakurai. Is Sakurai still capable of dynamic and aggressive performances like his inspired destruction of Jutaro Nakao (IMHO, this was the height of his career.) Rumors circulated in 2000, that Sakurai became lazy and unmotivated. Has his string of losses (Silva, Hughes, Conan) rekindled his fighting spirit? Or have they extinguished what little he had left? Also, there has been a lot of talk about Sakurai's nagging injuries. This will definitely play a role in his performance as well.
I expect this match up to be frustrating. Look for Rodrigo to try and SLOW the match down. Although such a strategy is less-than-exciting, Sakurai is not a fighter you want to get into scrambles with. Rodrigo should try to set the pace for this match. Expect him to clinch and hug while on the feet and play a methodical game of inches on the ground. This fight could really go either way. Sometimes cross-training can be a bad thing because ground specialists try to do things they are not so good at. At some point in the fight Sakurai will goad Rodrigo into an exchange and drop him with a left hook. Sakurai by ref stoppage in the 2nd.
I hope you are right about Sakurai 5 O... Sakurai has been fairly inconsistent this past year...
I hope Sakurai can get the w.
I will be rooting for sakurai but i think rodrigo will keep him grounded and grind out a decision with some decent ground and pound. However I predict Sakurai by ref stoppage in the third!!!
Rodrigo will win!!
Sorry fellas, I got a phone call... I'll finish up the analysis in a bit. I also really do hope that Sakurai comes back into form. He was capable of pulling off some crazy shit back in his Shooto days.
Although I often root against the Gracies, you gotta respect their abilities as fighters. One Gracie that I am interested in seeing more of is Ralph. He looked good against Mishima, and I think that a match against Gomi would be thrilling!
"Has his string of losses (Silva, Hughes, Conan"
I think you measn Ryo Chonan? Also remember that Sakurai beat Dave Menne (and showed some impressive knees) dominated Ryuki (who is fighting Sherk) and hellhooked Dan Gilbert. All of these matches were after Sakurai's loss to Anderson Silva.
I like your analysis. Although I'm pretty confident that Imamura will win over Choi. I am rooting for Sakurai with all my heart but I think Rodrigo will win in a boring and uninspired fashion.
BTW Gomi VS Ralph would be awesome. I would also love to see Sudo VS Ralph.
when is this?
It is this Sunday. But the US PPV won't be until March 21st
Is Mike Bencic the guy who got TKO'd by knees to the body from rampage a few prides back?
Imamura vs. Choi? I hadn't heard of that one before. What happened to Ryuta Sakurai vs. Yushin Okami?
Good thread, BTW. I always enjoy reading your analyses on Japanese fighters/events. I'd like to add one thing, though...
"Takase has a reputation as one of the best grapplers in Japan, but he has never seemed to be able to put it together in the ring, save for his match with Silva."
Takase's ground game also looked spectacular against Nathan Marquardt back in 2000. Takase completely neutralized Marquardt on the ground and really made Marquardt look bad. And Marquardt is no joke, he's great. Takase got ROBBED on the decision after regulation with the fight being scored a draw, sending it into OT. Takase again scored a nice takedown and controlled from side mount to begin the OT. The ref called for a standup, and Takase got viciously KO'd by a knee as he shot for another takedown. Takase was out on the mat for about 10 minutes with a breathing tube in his mouth. But until that knee, he totally dominated Marquardt. BTW, that was the first round of the KOP tournament, and Marquardt went on to win the tournament, which was completed 3 months later.
Takase has shown flashes of brilliance, but is extremely inconsistent. When he's on, his ground game is top notch.
"I hope you are right about Sakurai 5 O... Sakurai has been fairly inconsistent this past year..."
Didn't Sakurai go 3-1 in 2003?
Yeah I thought Okami is gonna fight Sakurai's brother Ryuta.
Fight Eight: Jadson Costa vs. Takanori Gomi
Costa comes into Bushido rather green and with a 1-1 record from two fights in MECA Brazil. I don't know much about Costa, so I can't comment too much on either him or his style.
I was told that Japan brings in two kinds of gaijin to fight Japanse fighters. One kind is brought in to fight competitive bouts with Japanese fighters of equal caliber. The other is brought in to make Japanese fighters look good.
Unforutnately, Costa seems to be more of the latter than the former. Gomi has readily beaten BJJ black belts, has great takedowns, and he even has decent standup when he decides to trade. Gomi is durable, tough to submit, and has good GnP. Costa looks to be over his head in this one. Look for Gomi to GnP to a stoppage early in the second.
Ninth Fight: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Akihiro Gono
Shogun is an aggressive fighter from Chutebox, and IMO, this point may be a turning point for his career. He has racked up an impressive record, with all his victories being by KO. His opponents have been good, but not quite top-notch. He lost against Babalu, in what many were calling an inspired performance by Babalu, but nonetheless, he has failed to secure the W, in his biggest test to date.
Akihiro Gono is another fighter looking to turn the corner and breakthrough into the top ranks. Gono looks impressive against fighters he has out-matched. He feeds off of momentum which he builds in a match. Gono doesn't fight well against fighters who pressure him, and he tends to buckle under heat. Sometimes just hanging on and surviving with him is enough to discourage him, as in his fight with Marcos Da Silva. Gono was destroying him early, but simply fizzled out in the end as Da Silva held on for the draw. In his fights with competition that is a little less skilled, but more tenacious, he tends to hang on for a draw, as he has with Papadolous, Denes, Shibuya, Ninja and Sonnen. Gono has proved that he can hang with some of the top competition, but he has yet to show that he can put them away.
It is hard not to root for Gono's arrogant, shit-talking, "heel" act. However, when things get really hot, Gono has shown difficulty withstanding the heat. Look for Shogun to bring a lot of heat in this one. I think that Gono will show more heart than before, but ultimately, I think that Shogun's will is stronger than Gono's. Look for Shogun to finish of Gono in the second after an exciting, hard fought battle.
Costa is 3-1, with 3-0 after joining Chute Boxe.
Despite the two MECA fights he has also a win in Sao Bento Vale Tudo (I was there and even wrote for FCF on the web, it's somewhere on the archives) winning by armbar, and has a win (I think KO) at STORM SAMURAI a bit before the last MECA.
Fight Ten (*phew*): Wanderlei Silva vs. Ikuhisa Minowa
Minowa is a great fighter and one of my favorites from the Pancrase organization. He has smooth takedowns, great escapes and fantastic submissions. With his recent training with the Brazilian Top Team, expect him to show improved ground work.
Unfortunately, Minowa is pretty much a blown up 170 lber. His talents were neutralized by the size difference with Quinton Jackson (and Semmy Schilt)- look for more of the same in this fight.
Silva looked unstoppable in the Pride GP. His striking keeps getting better and his ground game keeps surprising everyone.
Minowa's ground game is loose -which allows him to latch on to a lot of submissions, but also make him vulnerable to guys who can control and GnP him. Look for Silva to hurt Minowa on the ground and then stand up and finish him. Silva by stoppage in round one.
SA: Thanks for the comments. I am wondering why you think Imamura will beat Choi? What are your other picks for Bushido and why?
Ryan G: I always enjoy reading your comments as well. Thanks for the info on Takase vs. Marquart. Marquart is no slouch on the ground, so it is surprising to hear that he got owned by Takase. I actually like Takase and I hope that he can do whatever he needs to in order to turn the corner and move beyond "flashes of brilliance" to more consistent performances. I feel that he has the potential to be the next big thing. BTW: What are your picks for Bushido and why?
Everyone else, please let me know your thoughts and picks! I think that this Bushido has the makings of a great show.
Have you seen him fight? What is his style like and how do you think that he matches up against Gomi?
"Unless Crocop manages to KO himself with his own high kick, Yamamoto's chances for victory are slim."