John Chandler here again, breaking down Yarennoka! and K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!! fight-by-fight, including detailed predictions along the way.
Yarennoka! features the return of Fedor Emelianenko as he takes on K-1 kickboxer Hong Man Choi. The undercard includes Gilbert Melendez going up against Mitsuhiro Ishida and Kazuo Misaki battling with Yoshihiro Akiyama.
K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!! features an astounding total of 13 fights - 7 MMA bouts and 6 kickboxing matches. (I’ll only be previewing the MMA fights) The event is headlined by a main event between long-time Japanese veterans Kazushi Sakuraba and Masakatsu Funaki. Bob Sapp, “Kid” Yamamoto, Kiyoshi Tamura, Melvin Manhoef, and Ikuhisa Minowa will all be in action.
I’ll go ahead and break down Yarennoka! first. The event takes place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Hong Man Choi
I don’t see this fight lasting very long. Choi without a doubt wants to keep it on the feet while Fedor wants to take it to the ground. Once Fedor takes this thing to the canvas, it’s just about over. I see them exchanging on the feet for about a minute before Fedor scores a takedown. I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be for Fedor to lock a submission on with those long limbs so he’s probably just going to pound on Choi until the referee stops the fight.
Hayato Sakurai vs. Hidehiko Hasegawa
This fight is going to be a lot more competitive than it should be. It’s been over 10 months since Sakurai’s last fight sans a boxing match so I’m sure we’ll see some ring rust during the opening minutes. Hasegawa has improved a lot over the past two years but he’s still not the caliber fighter that Sakurai is. It might take a little while I’m thinking that Sakurai should be able to stop Hasegawa with strikes eventually.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida
This should be a good fight. If it wasn’t for Ishida’s inactivity over the last year, I think a lot more people would be giving him a chance in this fight. I kind of consider Melendez to be a question mark in this fight. He’s coming off of a broken hand that he suffered in his fight against Kato a few months ago so we can only guess as to whether or not Melendez has worked with his hands enough leading up to this fight. Still, I think his speed and striking will end up being too much for Ishida. Melendez should win this by decision.
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Luiz Azeredo
Both fighters haven’t fought since last year so expect some rust in this one. I don’t buy some people nagging on Azeredo for being inconsistent in recent years as his last three losses include two against Takanori Gomi. Azeredo will come into this one well-prepared but I don’t see him getting past Kawajiri. Even though Kawajiri is a little too aggressive with his wrestling at times, Azeredo rarely uses his jiu-jitsu skills to finish fights and I think it’ll be evident in this one. Kawajiri by TKO.
Shinya Aoki vs. Bukyung Jung
This one should be over relatively quickly. It sucks that we won’t be able to see Aoki go up against Calvancante but what can you do. I just don’t see Jung having any way to win this fight unless he knocks Aoki out with a head-smashing judo throw. Unfortunately for Jung, his grappling is light years behind Aoki’s, who will most likely submit the former Olympian in under three minutes or so. Aoki can end this however he wants. I think he’ll opt for a kimura.
Kazuo Misaki vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
An interesting battle between top ten level middleweights. I think both will want to keep this fight standing and put on a show. Akiyama should be riding a wave of confidence after his knockout of Denis Kang in October and it should show in this fight. This is all going to depend on which Misaki shows up for this fight. However even if the confident, prepared Misaki comes to battle, I’m not sure that his hands can hold off Akiyama for long. I like Akiyama to score a second consecutive knockout in this one.
Murilo Bustamante vs. Makoto Takimoto
A fight very similar to Aoki-Jung. An elite level grappler against a judo expert. Even though Bustamante is getting up there in age, he still has what it takes to compete. This one should end up on the ground in a mere matter of minutes where Bustamante should be able to swiftly submit Takimoto. I’m not sure that Bustamante will be able to select his choice of hold like Aoki will be able to as Takimoto has shown that he has decent skills on the ground. I like Bustamante by armbar though.
Roman Zentsov vs. Mike Russow
A late addition to the card. I like Russow with the upset in this one. Russow has decent hands but I don’t think that he’ll want to stand with a guy like Zentsov. Russow recently fought earlier this month so he’s going to be coming in shape without a doubt. I think it’ll be an interesting chess match but Zentsov’s weakness has always been his ground game and that’s where I think he’ll end up losing this fight. Russow by armbar.
Next up is K-1 Dynamite!!, which is taking place at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan. Remember that I’m only picking the MMA bouts, not the kickboxing matches.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Masakatsu Funaki
A fight between two legends that I’m sure everyone wishes could have happened years and years ago. Funaki hasn’t fought in seven years and you have to assume that it’s going to effect this fight at least somewhat. While Sakuraba hasn’t looked the best in recent fights, he’s still going to be much better off than Funaki. This one will probably spend a lot of time on the ground. I don’t really see either fighter being able to finish the other though. Sakuraba should pull this one out by decision.
Kid Yamamoto vs. Rani Yahya
This is definitely an interesting fight. Yamamoto is an elite striker and a phenomenal wrestler but Yahya’s submissions are second to none. Yahya’s takedowns are pretty poor and it showed against a solid wrestler like Chase Beebe that he can be controlled. Well it stinks for Yahya that Yamamoto’s wrestling is Olympic-caliber. A questionable gas tank isn’t going to help Yahya either. It was awesome that Zuffa lent Yahya out to K-1. Hopefully they can return the favor by sending Yamamoto to face Urijah Faber next year. By the way, Yamamoto should stop Yahya with strikes.
Joachim Hansen vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
I like what Miyata brings to the table but Hansen is just too well-rounded. He’s going to be desperately looking for a win in order to avenge getting upset by Eiji Mitsuoka last month and a determined Hansen is certainly something that Miyata isn’t going to want to see. Hansen’s wrestling should be able to counter Miyata’s. Hansen should be able to knock Miyata out or stop him with strikes.
Bob Sapp vs. Bobby Ologun
Let’s throw out the fact that Ologun is an actor here because the dude can fight. Yeah, Sapp is going to out-weigh Ologun by over 100 lbs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was in the same situation right? Ologun is no Nogueira my friends. Just like Ologun’s fight last New Year’s Eve, it’s going to be a quick one. Sapp is going to maul him. Sapp by TKO.
Melvin Manhoef vs. Yosuke Nishijima
This has the potential to be the most exciting fight on the card. Can you say slugfest? Nishijima has had some bad luck so far in his MMA career and I don’t see it ending in this fight. While I think Manhoef will try and stand a little longer than the others that have fought Nishijima have, I still think he’ll finish it off on the ground. This one should be quick, just like the rest of Manhoef’s fights. I really hope the UFC grabs this guy soon. Manhoef by TKO.
Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Wagner da Conceicao Martins
Another annual Japanese freak show. God bless Minowa for doing this “open-weight” journey that he’s currently on and it’s providing entertainment if nothing else. The only way I see “Zulu” winning this fight is if all 400 lbs of him winds up on top of Minowa because Minowa is not going to be able to get up. I think we’ll see Minowa get Martins to the ground some how and then possibly drop back for one of his patented heel hooks.
Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Hideo Tokoro
This is a really odd fight. You would think that Tamura would be able to handle Tokoro easily based on the size advantage but you have to remember that Tokoro has gone the distance with Royce Gracie, who still held a pretty sizable weight and height advantage even though Tamura’s is larger. I think Tokoro will impress in this one but the fact that Tamura is so good on the ground won’t help him here. Tamura by TKO.
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