Black Tiger MMA Review: NJPW Ultimate Crush – 5.2.03
May 2, 2003
This is a show put on by New Japan Pro Wrestling, and no, it’s not in the wrong zone. This was when Antonio Inoki still had influence in the company, so the show featured both wrestling matches and legit MMA fights. The fights consist of three five minute rounds, with three judges to render a decision.
LYOTO MACHIDA vs. KENGO WATANABE
Watanabe fights for Pancrase, which is probably best known, stateside, for representing Ken Shamrock in the early days of UFC (Pancrase founder Masa Funaki worked Shamrock’s corner in UFC a few times). Machida starts off with a spin kick and they go into the clinch. Machida takes Kengo down and Kengo gets Machida in the guard. They spend the rest of the round in the guard, with Machida throwing punches, and Kengo not being able to do much of anything. Kengo tries a triangle early on, but Machida easily blocks it. Kengo gets a nice reversal and mounts Machida as the round ends, but Machida blocks it and winds up back on top.
They start the second round standing and trading strikes, but Machida accidentally knees Kengo in the groin and the give him time to recover. They go back to the mat and into the guard and it’s the same as the last round, with Kengo not being able to do much other than block punches. Machida tries to escape the guard by raising his vertical base, but Kengo holds on. Machida escapes and tries to end the fight with an armbar, but they almost fall out of the ring and the ref has to break them up. Back to the mat they go, and Machida looks to be an inch away from winning via ground and pound, he’s dropping bombs on Kengo’s face and he’s not even trying to block them. If this was UFC it’d have been over, but Kengo is saved by the bell it seems.
Machida starts off by throwing punches, and then gets Kengo in the clinch and takes him to the mat. Machida outsmarts Kengo by throwing a punch, and when Kengo rolls to avoid it, Machida tries to sink in a rear naked choke. Kengo blocks the choke and elbows his way out of it. They wind up with Machida on the bottom of the guard, but Machida keeps the gap closed to prevent Kengo from connecting with any devastating strikes. The ref stands them up and Machida takes down Kengo and gets the back mount and tries for the choke, Kengo blocks the choke as time runs out. We go to the judges and they award the fight to Machida by unanimous decision. Being Inoki’s golden boy, I’d have expected him to win anyway if it went the distance, regardless of how he performed, but it was the right call in this case. I expected more from a Pancrase fighter though.
TSUYOSHI KOSAKA vs. DOLGORSUREN SUMIYABAZAR
They start out with DS dancing a bit and throwing punches, he takes town TK and gets in the guard. TK isn’t is any danger, he pushes on DS’s shoulders to keep him from getting any punching power, and also takes openings and hits punches to the head. They get stood up, and DS goes back to dancing and trying leg kicks. DS takes TK down again, but hyper-extends him arm when they land. The ref checks him out and stops the fight.
SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. JAN NORTJE
Nakamura shoots in to try to take the big man down, but Jan sprawl to trap Nakamura underneath him. Jan tries to throw knees into Nakamura’s head, but Nakamura is able to protect himself. Nakamura uses his leverage to get out from under Jan and into a mount and he starts throwing punches into Jan’s face and bloodying up his eye. Nakamura tries for an armlock, but winds up in the ropes and the ref separates them. Nakamura shoots back in and gets Jan down again, and fires off more punches and also drops several knees on Jan’s face. Jan covers up and is able to make it to the end of the round.
Nakamura takes Jan right back to the ground and gets side control. Nakamura goes North-South and gets the side mount again and throws knees into the body, and then hits some punches to the face. They wind up in the ropes and the ref makes them move to the center and back into the same side mount position. Nakamura gets the full mount, ground and pounds, and sinks a Guillotine choke for the win. My initial impression was that Norte ought to be embarrassed for losing in such a decisive manner, but a look at his K-1 and MMA record prior to this, makes it look more like NJPW giving Nakamura someone the thought he could handle, instead of a competitive fight.
JOSH BARNETT vs. JIMMY AMBRIZ
They both come out swinging the heavy leather, Ambriz takes Barnett down and winds up in the guard. Barnett holds Ambriz close to prevent him from getting any punching power, Ambriz breaks his grip a couple of times, but doesn’t land any good shots. The ref stands them up and they go back to the big punches, they clinch and Barnett throws a couple of knees to the body. Barnett catches Ambriz with a big right and side steps Ambriz charging in and hits another. Barnett gets a side mount and starts unloading on Ambriz and the ref stops the fight.
KAZUYUKI FUJITA vs. MANABU NAKANISHI
Like Nakamura, Nakanishi is a NJPW wrestler, and not a very good one. Fujita hits a punch to the nose only seconds into the fight and Nakanishi is gushing like a water faucet. They stop so the doctor can look him over, they stop the bleeding and the fight resumes. There’s really not much that happens. Nakanishi moves in and gets clobbered with punches, and backs out. He moves in again, gets clobbered, you get the idea. Nakanishi tries to take Fujita down, but winds up on the wrong end of a mount. To their feet and all Nakanishi can really do is clinch and block knee strikes.
The second round is completely on their feet, and neither one does a whole lot. They both throw cautious jabs at each other, most of which are easily blocked, although Fujita connects a few times. Nakanishi clinches, but Fujita is able to block him from throwing any knees or punches. Five minutes sure seems like a long time during this sort of fight. Nakanishi gets a couple of big shots in toward the end that wake the crowd up, but Fujita recovers.
The final round starts like the second round, with them on their feet and throwing jabs. Nakanishi tries to shoot in but Fujita sprawls and hits a knee to the head. Fujita gets the full back mount and hits a series of punches to the head and the ref stops it.
The 411: A fun MMA-related outing from New Japan. The Fujita fight was a bit long (like Gone With The Wind), but everything else was rather enjoyable.
|Final Score: 7.5 [ Good ] legend|