My god, what a show.
If you were reading Twitter throughout the Rizin FF broadcast you'll either be under the impression that this was the greatest show to ever grace this good Earth or the biggest monstrosity to ever happen to mankind. That's the kind of divisiveness Japanese fight sports brings to the table. What I can say is that this was one of the most entertaining nights of fights in perhaps years. As someone who gave up watching MMA after the UFC's homogenization went into full force I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of just how exciting that MMA really can be.
Jiki Prochazka vs. Vadim Nemkov was perhaps one of the most exciting and active MMA fights that I've seen in a very long time, a stark contrast from the weekly fights that turned me away from the sport over the past few years.
Of course, kickboxing was represented in quite a few ways throughout the show as well. In fact, the show began with Shoot Boxing superstar RENA making her MMA debut against the very tough Jleanna Valentino. Many quickly wrote off Valentino, but she is a decent muay thai fighter who trains in Italy with Giorgio and Armen Petrosyan, which has to count for something. What we got was a really good striking display from both women before RENA pulled off a flying armbar for the amazing win.
On the K-1 front K-1 55kg champion Takeru came in and destroyed Yang Ming just like you thought that he would. Peter Aerts stepped in on two days notice against sumo wrestler Kaido Hoovelson in what was an ugly bout, especially considering the kinds of injuries that Aerts has been suffering from and having to watch this behemoth of a man just fall on Aerts and put him in all sorts of awful circumstances. That being said, Aerts went for a choke and an armbar, which was entertaining.
Speaking of entertainment, Cesar Takeshi, the founder of Shoot Boxing, was out in full force to be the special guest referee in a Shoot Boxing rules bout between Bob Sapp and Akebono. Yes. This happened. Sapp hit Akebono so hard in the back of the head that a cut literally exploded open and Sapp spent the rest of the fight hitting him in the back of the head and Takeshi pausing the fight to let Stitch Duran work on Akebono. This happened like eight times. Sapp eventually won and nobody understood how or what happened to make that happen.
Andy Souwer, after years of waiting, finally made his MMA debut and he did it against Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima. Nagashima was looking for submissions against Souwer but Souwer had a pretty solid ground game, all things considered, and was pounding and kneeing Jienotsu in the face. When they got back up to their feet Souwer landed a crazy combination and knocked Jienotsu out with body shots. Damn.
The main event saw Fedor Emelianenko make short work of former K-1 and GLORY fighter Jaideep "Heart" Singh. Former New Japan Pro Wrestling star and current Minister of Education Hiroshi Hase came to the ring to present Fedor with the WCW International Heavyweight Championship. I'm not kidding. He presented Fedor with the big gold belt from when NJPW had a working relationship with WCW and Hase briefly held WCW's kind of world championship. Anyway, he gave that belt to Fedor and it was weird but it owned.
Seriously, that was an amazing night of fights.
Rizin FF GP Final: King Mo (R1 - TKO) Jiri Prochazka
Fedor Emelianenko (R1 - TKO) Jaideep Singh
Kron Gracie (R1 - Submission) Asen Yamamoto
Andy Souwer (R1 - KO) Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima
Kaido "Baruto" Hoovelson (R2 - Decision) Peter Aerts
Shoot Boxing Rules: Bob Sapp (R3 - Decision) Akebono
Gabi Garcia (R1 - KO) Lei'd Tapa
K-1 Rules: Takeru (R2 - TKO) Yang Ming
Soo Chul Kim (R2 - Decision)
Bellator Rules: Brennan Ward (R2 - Submission) Ken Hasegawa
Rizin FF GP: Jiri Prochazka (R1 - TKO) Vadim Nemkov
Rizin FF GP: King Mo (R2 - Decision) Teodoras Aukstuolis
RENA (R2 - Submission) Jleana Valentino