EliteXC/K-1 HERO*S Dynamite USA Review

K-1 Dynamite USA Review

Following a deeply embarrassing run of bad decisions, fighter cancellations, and other nonsense, K-1 is finally ready to get this whole mess over with. Was it all worth it? Let’s see!


Are you in the mood for a radio DJ spouting cliches, a former NBA personality disinterestedly carrying a torch, a giant in an orange t-shirt slowly climbing some stairs, some nice four-part harmony, and a guy blowing high notes on a trumpet? If so, you’ll love the interminable opening ceremonies of K-1 Dynamite USA!

Actually want to watch some fights? Ha ha! You must be kidding! It’s time for the fighters’ parade, some more trumpet playing, and some friendly announcer chatter. Also, the cameramen need time to find shots that don’t make it look like the fights are taking place in an empty arena.

To be fair, the few thousand people who did show up seem to be fairly enthusiastic. They erupt when Gracie and Saku are introduced, much more so than for Lesnar, so I’d guess that there are some knowledgeable fans in the crowd. Dennis Rodman actually gets booed. I bet that the promoters still don’t pick up on the fact that people come to MMA shows to watch fighters fight.

Brock vs. Min Soo Kim

The set-up: I haven’t exactly been the biggest Brock Lesnar fan over the past few years, but I am in fact hoping that he can keep from embarrassing himself in his MMA debut. The glass-jawed judo silver medalist seems like an ideal opponent, with his only MMA wins coming against the over-matched former pro wrestlers Sean O’Haire and Yoshihisa Yamamoto.

The action: Mauro works in an F-5 reference, and he sounds very pleased with himself for doing so.

Lesnar’s MMA debut proves to be very impressive, as he instantly takes Kim down, easily gains full mount, and just pounds on the judoka until Kim taps out. The over/under on people making jokes about Lesnar being the next big thing in MMA is: one million.

Royce vs. Sakuraba

The set-up: Saku is well into his thirties, and Royce has celebrated his fortieth birthday. Both are among the tiny handful of genuine MMA legends, and their epic battle from PRIDE’s 2000 GP is one of the key fights in the relatively brief history of MMA. Saku is probably my personal favourite MMA fighter of all time, but it’s plain to see that the ravages of battle have taken their toll on his body. Gracie was one of the fighters who put MMA on the map, but it’s also clear that the sport has evolved to the point where well-rounded competitors are at a distinct advantage over even the very best of the one-style fighters.

The action: Goldberg is doing a terrible job on commentary tonight. Mauro must really be missing Bas.

The crowd gives the two legends a proper reception, but quickly switch to boos as Gracie kicks at Saku from his back like Antonio Inoki fighting Muhammad Ali. The two veterans fight carefully and tactically for the first ten minutes, and the crowd continues to grumble, only getting excited for a brief Mui Thai clinch half way through the second. The crowd and the action both pick up early in the third, only to stall out once more against the ropes. With forty seconds left, the referee finally separates the fighters, and they finish off their mildly disappointing rematch with a brief run of activity. Gracie takes the unanimous decision.

Brad Pickett vs. Hideo Tokoro

The set-up: Tokoro is a popular up and coming fighter, at his best on the ground. He is riding three straight wins into this fight. He’s ironically most famous for having worked as a janitor while he was fighting for ZST. The over/under for how many times that will be mentioned tonight is: three. Pickett’s nickname is “One-punch” but he actually has more submission victories than knock-outs on his record.

The action: After two and a half minutes of rapid fire, back and forth, technical action, Tokoro locks on a slick arm bar, forcing Pickett to tap.

Dong Sik Yoon vs. Melvin Manhoef

The set-up: Manhoef is a tremendously powerful kickboxer with 15 K0 victories on his pro MMA record. Dong Sik Yoon is a decorated judoka who came in with an 0-4 record, but who impressively took Rampage Jackson to a decision at PRIDE 31. This looks to be an old-fashioned striker vs. grappler match-up.

The action: The fight is an exciting contrast of styles. Manhoef attacks at full speed with wild flurries while Dong Sik Yoon calmly works for take-downs, position, and submission attempts. Yoon’s eye is swollen shut, but early in the second he earns his first pro MMA win by trapping Manhoef in a great-looking arm bar.

Mighty Mo vs. Warpath

The set-up: Siala “Mighty Mo” Siliga is a knock-out artist. Ruben “Warpath” Villareal, once again a late addition to the card, is tough and crazy enough to stand and trade with Mo. This shouldn’t take long.

The action: It takes a minute and a half. Warpath looks like he was pretty badly hurt.

Johnnie Morton vs. Bernard Ackah

The set-up: Morton is a former NFL wide receiver. He has a few month of kick-boxing training under his belt. Ackah is a Japanese television personality who at least trains with a real MMA camp. He actually looked pretty good in his debut at K-1 HERO*S 8.

The action: Morton comes out swinging. Ackah comes right back at him. After nearly forty seconds of non-stop action, Ackah lands a hard straight right flush on Morton’s jaw. The former UFC Trojan is out cold, and in a deeply disturbing visual he is strapped to a spine board before, to everyone’s relief, regaining his senses.


Things start off poorly, as they are still advertising Gino Carano minutes before the card starts, even though she withdrew from the event ages ago, due to illness. Also, there are skanky-looking women dancing badly in a failed attempt to entertain the sparse crowd at the Mausoleum.

On the plus side, Mauro Ranallo is calling the fights. Goldberg is there, too. I wonder if Mauro will bring up Goldberg vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania XX some time tonight. I kind of hope he does.

Jake Shields vs. Ido Pariente

The set-up: Cesar Gracie protégé Jake Shields is a talented grappler with a Koscheck-esque ground control style. Pariente has one of the coolest nicknames in MMA (“The Hebrew Hammer”) but he may not have the takedown defense to keep Shields from laying and praying.

The action
: Shields puts on an absolute clinic. He takes Pariente down, passes guard, gets full mount, and beats on Pariente until he gives up his back. Shields locks the figure four around his opponent’s midsection, and sinks the RNC to earn a quick and decisive victory.

Jonathan Wiezorek vs. Tim Persey

The set-up: These are two big bulky heavyweights. Weizorek is at his best working for submissions. Persey has the more exciting style (Wild stand-up brawling) and the better nickname (“Big Perm”).

The “action”: The two behemoths cuddle against the ropes for about three minutes before a frustrated Wiezork unloads multiple knees on Big Perm’s groin. Herb Dean separates the fighters, and Persey gets off a big right and goes for the G&P. Weizorek catches Persey’s arm, but Persey powers out. In the second, Big Perm lands another big right, but Weizorek gets a clinch and a trip, takes Persey’s back, sinks his hooks, and flattens Persey out. Big Perm just completely turtles, and after issuing several warnings Dean stops the fight, handing Wiezork the biggest win of his career.


Gesias “JZ Calvan” Calvancanti vs. Nam Phan

The set-up: JZ was unstoppable in 2006, reeling off four straight wins and taking the HERO*S lightweight tournament and title. Nam Phan is a very good all-around fighter, but he is not yet in JZ’s league.

The action: JZ completely schools Nam Phan, taking him down and beating him out in less than half a minute.


Isaiah Hill vs. Katsuhiko Nagata

The set-up: Nagata took a silver medal for Japan in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2000 Olympics. He’s mainly a ground and pound fighter. Hill is a young up and comer who was brought in as a last-minute replacement for the flamboyant Javier Vazquez.

The action: Hill smashes Nagata’s nose early in the first, but the wrestler just keeps coming, taking Hill down more or less at will. In the third, Hill scores with a flurry, but Nagata just puts him on the mat again. It goes to the judges, and Nagata takes a split decision. Probably just as well they didn’t show this one on TV.

The Inside Pulse
Overall a pretty disappointing card, but not quite the total disaster that it looked like it was going to be. JZ, Lesnar and Shields were very impressive, Tokoro vs. Pickett was all action, and Manhoef vs. Yoon was a very good fight. A lot of annoying peripheral stuff (The DJ, Goldberg, etc.) served to drag the overall experience down.