WEDNESDAY, December 31st 2003, AT 10:15 AM, PT

Fields K-1 Premium 2003 Dynamite Results.
Monty DiPietro - K-1

NAGOYA, JAPAN, December 31, 2003: Six of the ten fights will be fought under the new K-1 MMA Rules, including the first bout, which was one of a number of David and Goliath matches on the card. American fighter Butterbean (R, Standing) brought a 100 kg weight advantage into the ring against opponent Genki Sudo (R, Jumping) of Japan. At the pre-event press conference, Butterbean said the match would be "brute strength against skill." Replied Sudo, "I am an expert in MMA, I'll show everyone that skill is greater than power." This time, skill won out. After dancing into the ring with a team of cheerleaders (to the old rock and roll hit Wild Thing!), the wily Sudo deftly drew Butterbean into a game of cat-and-mouse. Sudo kept circling his opponent, staying close to the ropes, then periodically snuck in to hit Butterbean with low Kung Fu kicks. The frustrated Butterbean tried to get a hold of Sudo, who slipped away repeatedly -- on one occasion executing a summersault to narrowly escape. Late in the first, Sudo dove in on Butterbean's leg and got the big guy down. They mixed it up for awhile, Sudo showing that superior skill. Early in the second, Sudo and Butterbean again went to the mat, and here Sudo slipped down to get an ankle hold on, then twisted a bit to submit Butterbean. The crowd loved this fight, and exploded in with delight when Butterbean tapped out.

There was another Japanese giant killer in the second MMA bout. Masayoshi Naruse, who is 50 kg lighter than opponent Jan "The Giant" Norte, simply outmaneuvered his South African opponent, staying in, moving to a side mount position midway through he first. When Nortje went to the four point position in an attempt to get back to his feet, Naruse got around and Naruse submitted him with a rear sleeper.

With Cyril Abidi sidelined due a shoulder injury, Brazilian fighter Mauricio Da Silva stepped in against American wrestler The Predator. The Predator said that although he is not used to obeying the rules, he would try to do so against Da Silva. Actually, rules were never an issue, because this time around, size did matter (The Predator weighed in at 139kg to Da Silva's 97kg). It took mere seconds for The Predator to connect with a left-right straight punch combination to put Da Silva on the canvas. In a flash, the Brazilian's corner threw the white towel into the ring, and that was that.

In the first of three consecutive K-1 rules fights, Francois "The White Buffalo" Botha (R, White) met Karate fighter Yusuke Fujimoto. (L, Red) When the bell sounded both men came out with fire in their eyes for what turned out to be a fast and hard-fought bout.

Botha had taken a lot of punishment from Abidi's low kicks at the GP Final, and here he tried to close the distance faster, coming in to work hooks and uppercuts. Fujimoto did get some low kicks in, and from the second threw more kicks to the body and up toward the head. Botha's punches, meanwhile, just were not connecting.

In the third, as the White Buffalo was charging, Fujimoto got a tight left hook up to the jaw to score a down. Try as he might, Botha could not get back into this one -- when he stayed outside Fujimoto worked the kicks, and when he closed in, too often he ended up in the clinch. Judges awarded Fujimoto a well-earned unanimous decision.

New Zealand's Toa promised he would make a war out of his K-1 rules fight with Kyokushin legend Francisco Filho, but it was Filho who took charge here. The Brazilian kept Toa at bay in the early going, peppering the big Maori Warrior with low kicks, repeatedly launching high kicks up to the head. In the second, Toa came out more animated and tried to deke his way inside, but Filho quickly connected with a solid right straight punch, and after that it looked like Toa simply did not know how to proceed.

Filho kept up the pressure, and a frustrated Toa faded further and further out of the fight. The unanimous decision was a good way for Filho to end what had been a disappointing year in the K-1 ring -- in July he and Mike Bernardo went through the motions in a soporific slow dance that ended in a draw (although some thought both fighters should have been disqualified for lack of fighting spirit), and in October he lost to Stefan Leko. Japanese fans love Filho -- he got one of the loudest receptions of the night -- and it was great to see him back in good form.

The next fight saw four-time K-1 World GP Champion Ernesto "Mr. Perfect" Hoost in a K-1 rules bout with big Brazilian Montanha Silva. Here again we had a big size difference -- Silva at 225cm towers a full 36cm over Hoost, and outweighs him 152 to 109kg.

Hoost said he was back to 100% after a severe skin ailment kept him out of action for the last couple of months, and started this fight in trademark fashion -- patient, well-defended, looking for openings. Silva actually looked faster than he has in the past, but Hoost still was able to stay out of harm's way. When Hoost got his 12th low kick in during the second round, Silva started twitching, obviously his front leg was very tender. Silva also got his second Yellow Card for clinching in this round. In the third, Hoost had only to stick with the game plan, Silva jabbed a bit and did throw some hard rights, but did not have follow-ups to any of his attacks. A unanimous decision for Hoost.

"This year was very difficult for me," said Hoost, in Japanese, in the ring after the fight. "My brother Andrew died, my wife got sick, and I had my health problems as well. I promise all my K-1 fans that next year will be better."

The next two fights were again fought under K-1 MMA rules.
It was David and Goliath time again when Barcelona Olympics Judo Gold medallist David Khakhaleishvili of Georgia (175kg) stepped into the ring against wrestler Yoshihiro Nakao (98kg). At the pre-event press conference, Khakhaleishvili said this would be "a fight of honor."

Khakhaleishvili clearly did not want to go to the mat with Nakao, and throughout the first he threw hard right straight punches to keep Nakao at bay. When Khakhaleishvili did slip, he was remarkably quick to bounce back to his feet.

Nakao threw a fair number of low kicks in the first, and continued that line of attack in the second. Then, suddenly, he was able to dive in and get a hold of Khakhaleishvili's foot, and twist the big Georgian to the ground. Getting in quickly, Nakao threw a half dozen punches in perhaps twice as many seconds against a semi-prone Khakhaleishvili, who saw no escape and so tapped out.

In his MMA debut, Belorussian K-1 star Alexey "The Scorpion" Ignashov met the very tough pro-wrestler Shinsuke Nakamura. Ignashov looked relaxed here, perhaps too relaxed. Repeatedly, Nakamura was able to charge in on Ignashov's knees and take the Belorussian down to get in. Ignashov repeatedly wrapped his legs round Nakamura, locked up Nakamura's right arm, and defended from the closed guard, but really it was Nakamura who was the more aggressive and successful fighter in round one.

The second round was also almost all on the mat, although Ignashov did get a knee up to slow down the charging Nakamura in the early going. But soon afterward, Ignashov was assessed a Yellow Card when he threw a kick at his prone opponent. In the late part of the round, Ignashov focused on to staying on his feet, and when he was on the mat was able to slip out of the closed guard position on a couple of occasions. Nakamura knew what sort of fight he wanted, and was persistent in mounting Ignashov to effect. But Ignashov's counters were getting better, and Nakamura's face was paying the price.

Early in the third round, a cut opened under Ignashov's left eye, but the ringside doctor decided the Belorussian could continue. And then, as he is wont to do, "The Scorpion" struck. Throughout the fight, Nakamura had dove at his knees for the takedown. But Ignashov read this, and when Nakamura, relentless in his style, again came in at the legs, Ignashov brought the knee up and in on the attacking Japanese fighter, who went down in a heap. So devastating was the contact, the referee immediately stepped in to stop the fight, and Ignashov had a KO victory.

Bob Sapp vs Akebono

The Bob Sapp vs Akebono main event was one of the most-anticipated fights in K-1 history. At the pre-event press conference, K-1 veteran Sam Greco introduced Sapp, who was led in restrained in straightjacket and a plastic mouth guard: "Bob likes to eat blowfish," said Greco, "so that is why he is dressed like this, he will do the eating tomorrow."

Soon afterward, former Sumo Grand Champion Akebono thanked his trainers and sparring partners, "I have learned a lot, all that is left to do is put all I've learned into practice tomorrow."

From the bell, Sapp rushed in, Beast-style, but Akebono was effective in pushing him back, Sumo-style. Akebono then attempted a low kick, but Sapp got in close and brought up the knee. An Akebono left uppercut looked good, but as the round wore on, Sapp, for perhaps the first time in his K-1 career, had more stamina than his opponent.

"The Beast" threw some nice low kicks, and when a fatigued Akebono relaxed his guard, got a solid left punch through that stunned the Sumo wrestler. It was a right hook that sent Akebono to the canvas for the first down. But to his credit, Akebono struggled to his feet to beat the count.

Akebono came back with another pushing attack, but Sapp answered this with a left straight punch and then a right hook to put the big guy down for good.

"Akebono accepted the challenge," thundered the victorious Sapp afterward from center ring, "he is a big man and he accepted the challenge!"

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