Effin’ Awesome Little Dudes.

With the anti-climactic end to DREAM 9 and the strange mid-morning (for us here in California) nightmare-slash-colorfully-hilarious-dream of a Super Hulk Tournament, I knew I could count on the featherweights to reel in the real action. Aside from Imanari-Fernandes, every fight captured my attention, which through the intermission was drifting into sleep-deprived theorizing on time and space as I felt the night outside grow brighter.

Thank goodness for featherweight tournaments.  Woke me right up.  Just like the Sengoku FW tourney, full of action, but this one full of firey, Japanese stars.

Hideo Tokoro really impressed me. His body kicks and hooks were catching Abel Cullum left and right until Abel took him down to stop the attacks. And even though Cullum was the slight favorite over Tokoro, who has suffered consecutive losses, Tokoro’s experience certainly won him the fight. Cullum’s no newbie but even I forgot Tokoro is nearing forty bouts (with much of his start from ZST, one of my favorite orgs thanks to my buddy Andrew).

There’s plenty of analysis on this fight so I just wanted to share the first time I saw Tokoro fight live was at Dynamite!! USA at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 2007 where he defeated Brad Pickett with an armbar and the way Tokoro executed, was quite awe-inspiring. At that point, I’d been working in MMA for all of two months. I had no idea who Tokoro was but I was thrilled.  As the night wound down, I managed to take a photo of him leaving the arena.  I saw him walk by me, I remember the ecstatic crowd, and the screaming Japanese girls as Tokoro walked through, his half-smile, pleased and yet, pretending almost as if he didn’t know there were tons of people taking photos of him and shrieking his name.

It’s kind of an awkward shot and I was tempted to think I caught him with a weird expression, until I studied the other photos I took of him right before he fought Brad Pickett (about two hours after this photo was taken) and his mouth is half-open in all those shots too.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I was impressed then and I’m still a fan today.  Even though I was rooting for Cullum, but Cullum I’ve met and spoken with, and I wanted him to win simply because he is one of the nicest fighters ever, perhaps even to a fault.  It’s true, almost all fighters are really nice people, but Cullum is old-world courtesy, all cowboy chivalry, if there was any.  The nostalgic idea of the Western hero, except, a little shorter.

And Hiroyuki Takaya!  Wow.  That was a battle too!  And coming into it, Maeda vs Takaya?  I knew someone was going to lose their head.  C’mon, the dude’s nickname is Streetfight Bancho.

Norifumi Kid Yamamoto

Photo by friend of the site, Daniel Herbertson

And even though Kid Yamamoto was defeated, the world has yet to see what Joe Warren has to offer, he’s going to be a handful, hell — he already is.

I’m sad I didn’t get to see the return of the Krazy Bee, but I’m of course, still rooting for him and and can’t shake the feeling that he’d be awesome to chill with, perhaps I think he’ll fit right into my laid-back California lifestyle.  Maybe it’s the Crooks and Castles shorts and dope style.

I don’t know, I think I’m just a sucker for skilled, little dudes.

2009/05/28 | Filed under Japanese MMA, MMA, Photo and tagged with , , .

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  • BM2

    Don’t discount it, the Sengoku FWGP is pretty firey and Japanese too~! Although granted, they don’t have Tokoro. Damn, I love that guy.

    • BM2, I don’t discount Sengoku, I think their tourney is a much better reflection of who the big players are going to be in FW for the future, and more evenly matched. But DREAM certainly has bigger stars in theirs. Hioki is such a monster though! Guy is huge, and a featherweight? Insane.

  • Jess The joker

    Great site. Thanks for those cool footage and articles

  • Big McLargeHuge

    I always liked Hideo Tokoro. He’s gotta’ be one of the most unassuming looking/acting fighters on the planet. I’m really pulling for Kid and Gesias to bounce back in full form. It’s never fun to watch talented fighters held back by injuries, so hopefully it was just ring rust because they looked….slow.

  • Kevin

    i understand why they had the hulk tournament,
    but they really need a heavyweight GP.

    ps my new nick name for Sokoudjou is Sokoudouche

    if you put it on a tshirt, just send me one.

  • Earlblack1000

    I loved the tournament, but I also loved the whole card, full of surprises from JZ to Kid both losing, but both coming off of long layoffs against quality opponents. I can’t wait to see them fight again hopefully soon. I just want to say the Dream production quality and pre fighter introductions after the super hulk tournament was incredible, the whole “let me entertain you,” thing blew me away. Pride may be gone but Dream is the new Pride and I am confident they will continue to provide the kind of fights mma fans around the world.

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