Heroic Blitz: Akiyama KOs Kang

By John Lee and Joo-Young Jung Oct 29, 2007
SEOUL, South Korea, Oct. 28 -- In a steaming, filled Jang Choong Stadium on Sunday, an electrified audience bore witness to the redemption and birth of a heroic figure, Yoshihiro Akiyama (Pictures), who knocked out Denis Kang (Pictures) with a zinging right uppercut at 4:45 of the first round.

Once the match got underway, the amped up crowd quickly died down and watched on with bated breath as the two fighters cautiously engaged.

Kang struck first with hard low kicks that sent Akiyama whirling, and then he momentarily wobbled the athletic judoka with a piercing right straight.

However, Kang's demise came when Akiyama landed a lunging left jab that hit him square on the nose, drawing blood. After a brief flurry of punches, the blood splattered over Kang's face and seemingly into his eyes.

Blinking erratically and breathing heavily through his mouth, Kang was backed into the corner by a stalking Akiyama.

With Kang trapped, Akiyama faked a left jab, recoiled and let loose a right cross-uppercut that darted across Kang's open jaw and sent the highly ranked middleweight's mouthpiece flying into orbit.

Kang collapsed in the corner, and there was a touch of the macabre as he sat listless, his milky eyes wide open.

He was jolted back to semi-consciousness when Akiyama threw a right hook for good measure.

The knockout galvanized the crowd, which roared in excitement. After the fight, Akiyama -- who usually yells "Judo rocks!" following his victories -- appealed to the elated local Korean fans by blaring out "Korea rocks!"

Another gruesome battle was between grappling prodigy Marcelo Garcia (Pictures) and Dae Won Kim (Pictures). During the introductions, Garcia stood in his corner shadowboxing, seemingly wanting to communicate to his adversary that he was prepared to strike.

The mind game worked beautifully: Once the bell rang, Kim came out looking to exchange, but Garcia immediately dropped for a single-leg takedown. Although Kim showed good balance, Garcia's tenacity eventually prevailed, and he dragged his larger opponent to the mat with a body-lock takedown.

From there Garcia made a slick transition from the half guard to mount. He then rolled into an armbar attempt and, when he didn't find it, took Kim's back and sank in his hooks.

In this position Garcia, who is renowned for his rear-naked chokes, came closest to ending the fight. Kim, however, defended well against the attacks by folding his arm against the side of his head much like holding a telephone to one's ear, thereby protecting his neck.

Yet a lithe Garcia used his right leg to trap Kim's right arm -- a move B.J. Penn (Pictures) used to help tap out Jens Pulver (Pictures). Near the end of the round, Garcia almost had the choke sunk, but Kim twisted out in time.

In the second round, Kim stormed out of his corner and landed a series of thudding right hooks that left the grappling prodigy reeling. A visibly shaken Garcia looked for a double leg, but as he was coming in, Kim telegraphed a vicious knee that exploded on Garcia's forehead like an IED.

The ringside doctor called the fight at 20 seconds of the second round. As an exuberant Kim rejoiced in the ring, Garcia exited with a large towel draped around his head.

In the bout between grappler Dong Sik Yoon (Pictures) and striker Fabio Silva (Pictures), the outcome was -- you guessed it -- "Yoon by Dongbar!"

This was a lopsided affair with Yoon taking the "Axe Murderer" impersonator down and passing his guard at will. With Yoon in top mount, the audience began to cheer "Armbar! Armbar!"

He did not disappoint, rolling into an armbar at 6:12 of the first round. Yoon is a one-trick pony, but at least he does his trick very well.

Fans were robbed of a slugfest between Zelg Galesic (Pictures) and Taiei Kin (Pictures). In the opening moments, Galesic threw a grazing taekwondo front kick that sliced Kin's eyelid and rendered the Seidokaikan fighter unable to continue.

The fight was called at 36 seconds, awarding Galesic his first victory in Asia.

In a battle of veterans, Shungo Oyama (Pictures) pounded on former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton (Pictures).

With a flabby midsection in full view, Newton looked out of shape at 185 pounds. His defeat was a combination of poor conditioning and an inability to adapt to Oyama's awkward southpaw stance.

A sprightly Oyama continued to pop Newton with lefts throughout the match. Moments before the tap, Oyama landed flush with a left straight that dropped his opponent and caused him to turtle up.

The Japanese fighter followed with a series of hammerfists, and a bloodied "Ronin," who had felt he had taken enough punishment, surrendered by way of tapout at 2:42 of the third.

Ikuhisa Minowa (Pictures), although not the most skilled fighter, has found his niche against larger opponents. With his role of the underdog and his charismatic otherworldly personality, it was amusing to see the local crowd cheer louder for "Minowaman" than their own national hero, Min Soo Kim (Pictures), who has caught flak for his poor performances -- especially his frantic tapout loss to Brock Lesnar (Pictures).

But it was the heavier Kim who won this fight after a barrage of unanswered punches led the referee to intervene at 3:46 of the first round. Minowa protested, but it was clear he had taken far too much punishment.

Heavyweight Tae Hyun Lee, a decorated Korean-style wrestling champion and national icon, garnered his first victory in MMA over Pride veteran Yoshihisa Yamamoto (Pictures) with strikes at 1:03 of the first round.

Lee's training camp with widely regarded top heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) at the Red Devil Camp in Russia seems to have been beneficial, as the Korean heavyweight showed improved striking and footwork.

Pancrase standout Poai Suganuma (Pictures), who trains out of B.J. Penn (Pictures) MMA Academy, defeated polyglot comedian, Bernard Ackah (Pictures), in a controversial referee stoppage.

A strong wrestler, Suganuma immediately took down Ackah and rolled into an armbar. As Ackah was face down, his arm was extended and hidden under Suganuma's stomach. While he did not tap, Ackah was stuck in that position for a prolonged period of time, causing the referee to halt the contest at 3:05 of the first round.

Decorated Russian Muay Thai champion Magomed Sultanakhmedov easily disposed of former heavyweight prospect Eun Soo Lee, who had dropped 44 pounds to make the cut to 187 pounds.

Forcing Lee to pull guard after a vicious low kick, Sultanakhmedov pounded on his opponent's head on the ground, caroming it off the mat. The referee saw enough and stopped the fight at 3:33 of the first round.

Daisuke Nakamura (Pictures) finished off Korean lightweight sensation A Sol Kwon with a beautiful submission 3:09 into the third.

Nakamura fended off Kwon's punch combinations in the early rounds with a stiff jab and wowed the crowd with flying armbar attempts. In the third a gassed Kwon inexplicably shot in on the well-versed grappler, who did not miss the opportunity and transitioned into a slick armbar.

First-year veteran of the Korean version of "TUF" Ryo Kakigawa dropped Masanori Tonooka with a running straight right in the pre-event fight, earning a TKO victory at 1:30 of the first with follow-up strikes.

Brawny Korean fighter Heo Min Seok defeated Katsuyori Shibata (Pictures), a popular Japanese pro wrestler who is a pupil of MMA pioneer Masakatsu Funaki (Pictures), via strikes 1:31 into the second round.
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