Roughly 10,631 ticket holders entered the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan to witness the finale of the Hero’s 2006: 187 lb tournament. All of the fighters showed and people got their moneys worth when in the end Japanese fighter Yoshihrio Akiyama was crowned the tournament champion.
The semi-finals of the tournament started with a battle between Yishihiro Akiyama and Kestutis Smirnovas. Even though Smirnovas lost his quarterfinal fight against Kazushi Sakuraba he was still granted a spot as Sakuraba was unable to fight due to medical conditions. Akiyama earned his way to the semi-finals by defeating Taiei Kin by armbar.
Akiyama looked great from the start attacking Smirnovas with vicious leg kicks that left their mark. Smirnovas’s body began to show that damage during the middle of the round as a nice welt formed on the left thigh of Smirnovas.
Akiyama worked hard to avoid Smirnovas’s combinations and then late in the first he was able to connect with a leg kick that momentarily dropped Smirnovas. He then quickly charged in and nailed Smirnovas with a head kick followed by a combination which secured him a spot in the finals.
Next on the slate was a battle between Melvin Manhoef and Shungo Oyama. Oyama’s semi-final birth came after he earned a decision victory over Rodrigo Gracie. Manhoef earned his way to the semis by beating Crosley Gracie.
This fight proved to be a quick one alot like the earlier semi-final bout. Both fighters entered the ring hungry and ready to engage. After a short feeling out process Oyama attempted a few wild strikes which were unsuccessful. The much bigger Manhoef then decided to attack as he rushed forward with a combination of kicks and punches which eventually sent Oyama down and out.
With the win Melvin Manhoef earned his was to the finals of the 187 lb tournament with a battle against Akiyama bubbling for later in the fight.
The finals of the 187 lb tournament followed the path of many of the earlier fights. It was quick and exciting. One thing to take note of was Akiyama decided to wear his gi against Manhoef unlike his earlier fight against Smirnovas.
Both fighters felt each other out early and then Manhoef charged in with wild combinations that looked to hurt Akiyama. The scene was all too familiar but Akiyama was able to withstand the barrage and take Manhoef to the canvas.
When they returned to their feet Akiyama kept the fight in the clinch until Manhoef decided to go for a slam which ended up being the beginning of the end. Manhoef took the fight to the canvas but he put his opponent in a prime position which allowed Akiyama to secure an armbar. Manhoef was forced to tap at 1:58 of the first round crowning Yoshihiro Akiyama the Hero’s 187 lbs tournament champion.