FanPost

UFC Ultimate Japan

**This is the 18th post in a lengthy series taken from my MMA blog.  Be sure to check Fight Rankings for more in this series, which includes cumulative fight and fighter rankings from the first eighteen UFC events.**

The UFC goes to Japan, how exciting!  The UFC is in Japan for the very first time featuring their latest non-numbered event, UFC Ultimate Japan.  With few friendly locales left for the UFC, Japan is a country that has already been exposed to mixed martial arts.  Pancrase has been putting on successful shows in Japan for years, while we just saw the debut of the PRIDE promotion not too long ago.

Regarding Ultimate Japan, we’ve got some pretty good fights ahead of us.  Randy Couture will challenge kickboxer Maurice Smith for the UFC Heavyweight Title.  Couture shocked the world by defeating Vitor Belfort at UFC 15, while Maurice Smith has won consecutive fights against Mark Coleman and Tank Abbott.  Olympian Kevin Jackson will be making his return to the UFC’s middleweight division when he takes on Pancrase veteran Frank Shamrock in the first ever UFC Middleweight Title match.

We’ll see another heavyweight tournament featuring Tank Abbott and Japanese professional wrestler Kazushi Sakuraba and Vitor Belfort will be participating in a heavyweight Superfight against the man with the best nickname in the UFC, “Ghetto Man” Joe Charles.  Please note that the term Superfight is used loosely when it involved Charles, a fighter who is 5-8 in MMA at this point in his career.  Nonetheless, we still have a nice card taking place in the Land of the Rising Sun.

UFC Ultimate Japan – December 21, 1997

Previous Editions

We open up with the typical UFC highlight package which just includes a few extra mentions of Japan.  However, one noticeable difference is that Bruce Beck isn’t doing the voice over on these highlights – it sounds like current UFC play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg.

Holy shit, it is Mike Goldberg!  Look how young he is!  Yes, he still looks an sounds like an all-around doofus, but a much younger and more fresh-faced doofus.  Jeff Blatnick is back with us, but I guess Bruce Beck is now done with the UFC.  Beck always did a decent job and he and Blatnick seemed to have a good rapport and I will certainly miss him.

Along with the aforementioned bouts, the matches for the evening include Tank Abbott vs. Yoji Anjo and Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus “Conan” Silveira in the heavyweight tournament semifinals with Brad Kohler fighting Tra Telligman in an alternate bout. Footage of the Kohler vs. Telligman fight isn’t shown, but Telligman is successful in this contest winning via submission at 10:10.

The “laws of the octagon” seem to be ever expanding and it takes Goldberg a while to go through the list.  All of the rule changes over the last events have taken away the mystique of “no holds barred” combat and have changed the UFC into more of an actual sporting organization.  This is something that I’m sure fans like the “just bleed” guy aren’t happy about.

We move on to the first bout, which is the heavyweight tournament semifinal contest between Tank Abbott and Yoji Anjo.  We all know Tank Abbott as the most average ass-kicker in the UFC at 6-6, while Anjo is a professional wrestler for Japan’s Kingdom promotion.  This is the same promotion that Nobuhiko Takada and Kazushi Sakuraba compete under, but we’ll have to wait and see if Anjo has more success in MMA than Takada did at PRIDE 1.

Anjo enters the cage to some kind of bass-thumping club music, which is markedly different from the normal gladiator themed music we’re treated to in the UFC.  Abbott enters the cage to Devil’s Dance from Metallica’s ReLoad album.  I really liked that album in 1997 as well, but I was only 13 – what’s your excuse, Tank?  Oh right, that he’s criminally insane.

Bruce Buffer is back and has still yet to hone his announcing style.  I worry that the Japanese crowd will confuse Buffer’s shouting style of announcing with outright hostility, leading to some kind of international incident.  We know that Buffer was never brutally murdered by the Yakuza, so I’m guessing this never occurred.

Abbott is the much bigger fighter in this contest having an extra two inches and 55 pounds over his opponent.  Tank is typically the bigger fighter in these contests, but he’s also the fighter who typically gasses out after five minutes.  We’ll have to see if Anjo is able to capitalize on this.

Abbott opens up the fight stalking Anjo and he moves in for some punches, but Anjo is quick to clinch.  Tank pushes Anjo against the cage and he scores a quick takedown.  Tank is opening up with some big punches while postured up in Anjo’s guard.  We’ve seen Tank have great success with fighters pinned against the cage and this is bad news for Anjo.

Tank is being fairly patient from this position, throwing occasional left hands and spending ample time resting.  We’re only two minutes into the fight so I’m not sure that resting so soon is a very good sign.  Abbott doesn’t seem to be doing a ton of damage, but Anjo is clearly uncomfortable having his head shoved into the cage wall by his opponent.  Tank leaves himself open for a submission and Anjo tries to lock in an arm bar, but Tank is able to adjust and avoid the hold.

Just four minutes in, referee John McCarthy restarts both fighters on their feet.  It seems like Big John is much quicker to restart a fight as of late, since I remember earlier fights where he would allow fighters to spend significant portions resting.  Then again, I wonder if some of this is bias against Tank Abbott.  We know that Abbott was suspended for an altercation involving McCarthy’s wife and I don’t think Big John is above fucking with Tank in the cage as a form of retribution.  Big John doesn’t seem to be as lenient with Tank’s need to recuperate in a dominant position, so I don’t think we can rule out some kind of bias.

Just four minutes in, Tank seems to be very tired and is breathing heavy with his mouth open.  Anjo attempts a leg kick after the restart, but Tank swings wildly in response.  Anjo tries for a weak takedown, which Tank takes advantage of by pushing forward on the takedown defense, ending up in guard yet again.  This time, Anjo seems to be the more active fighter.  He’s striking from the bottom and looking for some kind of submission as Tank lands single strikes.

Whenever Tank moves to posture up and throw multiple punches, Anjo moves to lock in an arm bar.  Abbott seems to be cognizant of this and avoids any holds, while he’s powerful enough to muscle out of bad positions with brute force.  We’re seeing typical Tank Abbott here, which involves brief periods of heavy strikes followed by longer periods of inactivity.  Anjo is mounting little offense and has spent the vast majority of this fight on his back.

At nine minutes we get another restart in the fight.  Anjo is now in a much better position, landing leg kicks on his exhausted opponent.  Tank leans forward and rests his hands on his knees while Anjo is bouncing around the cage and looks much fresher.  With each leg kick from Anjo, Tank moves in with some heavy punches that Anjo is able to avoid.  Unfortunately for Anjo, he isn’t aware of his surroundings and gets backed against the cage.  Tank scores another takedown and we’re back on the mat.

The last minute of regulation involves Tank standing over Anjo and doing a whole lot of nothing.  The buzzer sounds and that means it’s time for the three minute overtime.  Anjo is definitely in a position to win this fight.  If he keeps throwing leg kicks and avoids Tank’s power, he might be able to do some damage.

Anjo lands maybe two leg kicks, but Tank backs Anjo against the cage and is taken down yet again.  Anjo is at a severe strength disadvantage and has no answer for Tank’s takedowns, regardless of how tired he is.  Overtime plays out like the rest of the fight, with Tank in a dominant position and throwing infrequent punches.  This was a pretty unremarkable fight.

And unsurprisingly, Tank is declared the winner via unanimous decision.  He definitely was the better fighter in this one, but that’s not saying a whole lot.  Tank moves on to the tournament finals, though I’m sure he spent quite a bit of energy in this one.  If Sakuraba or Silveira could win their fight quickly, they might have a pretty easy time in the tournament finals.  Tank tells Jeff Blatnick that he injured his left hand early in the fight, so the prospects of Abbott advancing seem slim right now.

It’s time for the second heayweight tournament semifinal fight between Marcus Silveira and Kazushi Sakuraba.  Silveira enters the cage to a song that’s inaudibly heavy.  Since Silveira is Brazilian and I have no clue who the artist is, I’m going to guess Brazilian metal band Sepultura.  Sakuraba comes out to dance music similar to what teammate Yoji Anjo used.  I feel like Sakuraba and Anjo may have accidentally gone to a gay bar the one time they were in America and mistook their dance music for American pop music.  It’s probably just a cultural thing.

Silveira is the bigger fighter in this contest as he’s more than five inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than Sakuraba.  Silveira is a very good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and I’m not sure if Sakuraba will have the submission skills to keep up with Silveira.  Sakuraba was submitted by Kimo in his very first MMA contest, definitely not a good sign for the Japanese fighter in this contest.  Oddly enough, the tale of the tape lists Sakuraba at 5’9″ but he’s announced at 6’0″.  A quick search on Sakuraba indicates that the 6’0″ figure is correct, so I wonder where 5’9″ came from.  Regardless, Silveira is the bigger fighter.

Sakuraba seems interested in scoring a takedown early in this contest.  He shoots in on Silveira from very far out and it looks like Silveira defends the takedown, but Sakuraba pushes forward and ends up on top.  Sakuraba is standing over Silveira and the Brazilian grabs Sakuraba’s leg for a potential submission.  Sakuraba is looking for a leg lock of his own, but Silveira is throwing up kicks that prevent Sakuraba from setting anything up.

Silveira seems to have a grapevine around Sakuraba’s right leg as he tries to control his opponent’s right wrist.  Silveira is still throwing up kicks and is largely able to control Sakuraba from this position.  Controlling Sakuraba’s right arm and leg, Silveira is able to drag his opponent to the mat and take his back!  That was a really nice move by Silveira to significantly advance positions.

Sakuraba attempts to stand out of this position, but Silveira brings him back to the mat.  Silveira goes to sink in a submission from Sakuraba’s back, but he gets too high and is shrugged off by Sakuraba.  Silveira attempts a kimura and appears to be close, but Sakuraba changes positions to eliminate Silveira’s leverage.  Silveira does not want to let go of the arm, but he can’t lock in a submission and both men are back to their feet.

Here’s where things get interesting.  Silveira starts to land some big punches with Sakuraba backed against the cage.  Big John is watching the action closely as Sakuraba moves in for an ankle pick takedown.  However, Big John mistakes Sakuraba’s takedown attempt for a knockdown due to Silveira’s strikes.  Big John calls a stop to the action and declares Silveira the winner.  Big John emphatically tells Sakuraba’s corner that the fighter went out, but I’m pretty sure he’s wrong.  This is very disappointing since this fight was exciting for all of two minutes.

This Japanese crowd is extremely displeased with the decision as Silveira is announced the winner via knockout.  Sakuraba tries to grab the microphone from Bruce Buffer after the result is announced and Sakuraba is visibly angry about this stoppage.  The replays show that Sakuraba seemed to be conscious for the entirety of the final sequence and Big John simply made a mistake.  Sakuraba ends up getting a microphone and rallies the crowd behind him, but this decision has been made.

And now we’re learning that Tank Abbott has broken his hand and is out of the tournament.  The UFC has also determined that the stoppage in Silveira/Sakuraba was too quick, so now the two fighters will compete again in what will be the tournament finals.  It’s good that the fighters will have a chance to fight once more, but let’s not forget the real victim in all of this: alternate fighter Tra Telligman.  Can’t we just declare Telligman the winner of the tournament and move on?

Now it’s time for the inaugural UFC Middleweight Title fight between Kevin Jackson and Frank Shamrock.  Shamrock chooses the Scorpions’ No Pain, No Gain as his entrance music, breaking all boundaries when it comes to fighting cliches.  Kevin Jackson uses some kind of rap song, which sounds more upbeat than I’m accustomed to.  I’m very grateful that the fighters are using actual music during their entrances, since it’s the late 1990′s and the music selections have the potential to be awesome, terrible, or just plain weird.

Jackson and Shamrock are both 5’10″ and within six pounds of one another, but that’s according to the tale of the tape which has been wrong at least once tonight.  A search reveals that the tale of the tape is actually correct, so here we have two fighters who are similarly sized with tendencies to fight on the ground.

This fight should be pretty competitive since both fighters are very decorated.  Jackson won a single UFC tournament but has an Olympic gold medal to his name.  Shamrock is 14-7-1 at this point in his career and is a former interim King of Pancrase.  He holds wins over Bas Rutten, Vernon “Tiger” White, and Minoru Suzuki and is long overdue in making his debut for the UFC.  I anticipate this being a very close fight to crown the first ever UFC Middleweight Champion.

And this fight is over!  In a matter of sixteen seconds, the fighters trade punches before Kevin Jackson lands a takedown.  It takes Shamrock just four seconds to lock in the arm bar and score the submission victory!  That was an absolutely incredible victory and this Japanese crowd has been thoroughly excited by Shamrock’s very quick arm bar win.  Shamrock effortlessly locked in the arm bar just moments after being taken to the mat and has become the UFC Middleweight Champion!

This is pretty surprising and I guess it’s safe to say that Kevin Jackson has a lot of work to do on his submission game.  He may be a world class wrestler, but he just got submitted by an MMA veteran in less than twenty seconds.  You never see submissions this quickly unless Anthony Macias is throwing a fight and this just proves that Jackson is still a bit of an MMA novice.

For whatever reason, Mike Goldberg talks over Shamrock’s post fight speech like a giant knob.  You can make out Shamrock saying how much he appreciates the support of the Japanese fans.  I really would have liked to hear Shamrock’s victory speech, but I’ll just have to settle on hearing Jeff Blatnick interview Shamrock.  Shamrock gives thanks to his team at the Lion’s Den and gives Jackson credit for being a great athlete.  For those who are wondering, it doesn’t look like Shamrock is wearing braces – it just feels like he’s been wearing the braces for 15 years.

Now we move on to the heavyweight bout between Joe Charles and Vitor Belfort.  Charles makes his way to the cage to Metallica’s Sad But True, making me wonder if these fighters are actually choosing their entrance songs.  I wouldn’t guess that a guy known as “The Ghetto Man” is much of a Metallica fan.  I’m unfortunately unable to make out Belfort’s entrance music, but it is somewhat heavy.  Whatever, now I’m disillusioned about this entrance music thing.  I was expecting so much more from “The Ghetto Man” and now I’m sad.

Charles is one inch taller and 35 pounds heavier than Belfort.  He was also 18 years old when Vitor Belfort was born, which would make this fight interesting if the identity of Belfort’s father was unknown and if Charles spent time in Brazil during his youth.  We definitely need something to make this fight interesting since I don’t think Joe Charles will be able to do it himself.

Charles opens up with a leg kick but is backed against the cage by Belfort.  Vitor successfully takes Charles to the mat and moves to side control.  He effortlessly moves to full mount where Charles does his best to hold onto Belfort.  Vitor surprisingly moves from full mount and goes back to side control where he attempts a kimura.  Charles is able to escape the hold but gives up his back to Belfort, but Charles quickly reverse the positions and is on top of Belfort.

This doesn’t last long as Belfort moves back to his feet and takes Charles down again, quickly taking Charles’ back with little effort.  Charles tries to roll out of the hold, but Belfort maintains control and tries for a rear naked choke.  Belfort has both hooks in and is working for the choke, though it doesn’t appear to be tight at this point.

This is a very embarrassing performance by Charles so far, as he seems absolutely clueless with this fight on the mat.  For a guy who is supposed to know judo, Joe Charles appears to not have the first clue regarding how to fight.  Charles doesn’t even have the strength advantage as he’s just fatter than Belfort.  He has these skinny legs and a massively distended stomach and he’s letting his leaner, smaller opponent impose his will.  So far, not a good showing for “Ghetto Man” Joe Charles.

After some time working the choke, Belfort tries to transition to full mount.  In defending the transition, Charles gives up his back once more.  Belfort keeps working to move to full mount, but Charles is writhing and thrashing about sufficiently to keep Belfort from assuming the position.  At the four minute mark, Belfort looks to throttle Charles with both hands and then is able to pull mount.  It takes Belfort all of three seconds to lock in the arm bar for the submission victory.

This fight didn’t seem to be completely legitimate to me.  I wondered why Joe Charles was in a Superfight and that could just have been to get Belfort back to winning ways.  Either that, or Joe Charles is amongst the worst judo practitioners in the world.  His primary means of defense was flailing his limbs about like a turtle pinned on its back.  I would say Kevin Jackson was more impressive in his sixteen seconds against Frank Shamrock since Jackson actually scored a takedown.  I’m so mad that I had to just watch Joe Charles, but I’m glad this is the last time we’ll see him in the UFC.

Goldberg and Blatnick note that Belfort didn’t throw any punches during this fight, something I probably wouldn’t have realized had the announcers not drawn attention to it.  This wasn’t the most impressive performance from Belfort, but that’s solely because of his opponent.  Belfort was in control for the entirety of this bout and was the decisive victor, even if his opponent was terrible.

Blatnick interviews Belfort after the fight, who makes a point of saying he wanted to display his ground work in this contest.  Belfort also says that he was sick coming into this contest, which explains why Belfort didn’t finish Joe Charles in a matter of seconds instead of minutes.

There are just two fights remaining in the evening and the next contest will be the heavyweight tournament finals which will be a rematch of Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus Silveira.  This feels very familiar, with Sakuraba entering to his dance music and Buffer introducing both fighters again.  It’s so strange seeing a fight take place twice in a single evening, especially under these circumstances.

Both fighters come out swinging, though neither connects with punches.  The men clinch and Silveira uses his strength to force Sakuraba against the cage.  Silveira takes Sakuraba to the mat, but Sakuraba is working for an arm submission.  Sakuraba is unable to get leverage as Silveira has taken Sakuraba’s back.  Sakuraba tries to roll into a more advantageous position and he is not letting go of his opponent’s arm.  Silveira is finally able to free his arm and pushes forward to try and take a dominant position, but both men end up back on their feet.

Now it’s Sakuraba scoring the takedown, though Silveira is now working for a submission of his own.  Silveira is staying busy enough to keep Sakuraba from claiming a dominant position.  Sakuraba is strangely crouched near Silveira’s legs as the Brazilian is trying to torque Sakuraba’s left arm.  Sakuraba quickly spins from Silveira’s right side to his left and moves into side control, which alleviates the pressure being put on his arm.  Sakuraba then transitions into an arm bar of his own and Silveira is forced to submit!  Out of nowhere, Sakuraba has scored the submission victory in this rematch!

Sakuraba has been redeemed following the early stoppage from his first bout with Silveira.  Though it’s come in a roundabout way, Kazushi Sakuraba has won the UFC Ultimate Japan heavyweight tournament.  Sakuraba was very relentless and was impressive in submitting a talented opponent.  The crowd cheers wildly as Sakuraba is victorious, clearly behind their native fighter who had been wronged earlier in the evening.  Sakuraba is awarded his tournament medal and is then repeatedly thrown into the air by his corner.  The UFC needs more Japanese fighters so we can see celebrations like this.

We’re down to the last fight of the evening, pitting UFC Heavyweight Champion Maurice Smith against Randy Couture.  This is a styles clash if we’ve ever seen won, though Couture has proven to be a more than capable fighter.  I’m not sure if he can match the kickboxing of Maurice Smith, though Smith’s wrestling isn’t on the level of Couture’s.  The Star Spangled Banner is played prior to this contest which seems strange since the fight is taking place in Yokohama, Japan.

Couture has busted out the full length tights for this fight, though they’re just plain black instead of being awesomely colorful like Shinya Aoki’s trunks.  These two fighters are evenly matched with both fighters at 220 pounds and Smith being just an inch taller than his opponent.  It’s amazing to see Couture listed at 34 years old all the way back in 1997.  I can’t emphasize enough how strange it is to me that Couture had such great success in the octagon up until his late forties.  No one can say that Couture didn’t take care of his body all of these years, that’s for sure.

The fight opens with Smith landing a leg kick and a clean right hand to Couture.  Smith keeps working the leg kick but is taken down by Couture in the opening minute.  Smith is holding onto Couture’s head to keep Couture from advancing, but Couture frees himself and is in side control with Smith pinned against the cage.  Couture throws some short elbows but is mostly content driving his left bicep and shoulder into Smith’s face and throat.

Smith shows that he’s been working on his submissions by trying a kimura but quickly releases the hold.  Couture has been pretty inactive from this position, though he seems interested in moving to full mount.  When that doesn’t work, Couture stands in side control and throws some punches.  He tries for a keylock that isn’t successful, but is able to move into full mount.

Again, couture seems mostly content to maintain position, though he does stay busy.  He initially tries for an arm triangle, but isn’t able to finish the hold from the mounted position.  Couture throws short punches and is really smothering Smith with his body weight.  Couture is doing a good job making Smith uncomfortable from this position, but his offense has been far from devastating.

Smith goes to sweep Couture and forces his opponent from full mount to half guard.  Smith has Couture’s left leg grapevined which keeps Couture from moving back to side control, though Randy is still keeping his arms locked around Smith’s head to keep Smith uncomfortable.  Smith is still staying busy and trying to keep Couture off guard, maneuvering the wrestler into the closed guard.

Couture postures up from the guard but doesn’t do much of anything.  He tries to push Smith’s leg aside to move into side control, but Smith reacts with wild up kicks that keep Couture in guard.  Smith has a butterfly hook on Couture and then pushes Couture off of him with his legs, but Couture is just too fast and gets right back on top of Smith.  Couture might not be throwing a lot of strikes, but he’s fighting a smart fight and staying in control.

This has been a pretty uneventful fight, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it boring.  Both fighters are active enough to keep the action on the mat and Smith has shown enough ground skills to keep Couture from having his way.  We’re ten minutes into this fight and Couture has to be ahead on the judges’ scorecards.  He’s spent the duration of this fight in dominant positions, though he hasn’t done significant damage to his opponent.

From half guard, Couture is able to posture up and he begins to throw some big left handed punches.  Couture also throws some big elbows during the sequence and lands some unanswered strikes.  I wonder if part of Couture’s strategy was to soften Smith up before using his strikes.  Smith has survived the wrestling of fighters like Coleman and Tank, though neither of those fighters have the gas tank of Randy Couture.

In a very quick sequence, Couture tries to go into full mount but gets swept by Smith.  It looks like the kickboxer is going to escape, but Couture again is quick enough to stay on top of Smith and moves back into guard.  Smith is pinned against the cage and Couture postures up, throwing some more punches.  Smith does a nice job defending and blocks some of the strikes and Couture drops back into side control.

You can hear Frank Shamrock in Smith’s corner, imploring Smith to throw knees to Couture’s side.  Smith briefly obliges but Couture unleashes again with some big left hands.  Smith gives up his back in an attempt to defend and again rolls to his back with Couture in side control.  Couture postures up again just as the buzzer sounds ending regulation at fifteen minutes.  From here, we have two three minute overtime periods with Smith surely behind on the scorecards.

After a brief break, the overtime period begins.  When Smith attempts his first leg kick, Couture catches the kick and score a takedown.  Couture is back in side control with Smith trying to grapevine Couture’s right leg.  Couture throws a couple of knees to Smith’s head but isn’t very active.  Smith tries for a sweep but Couture maintains side control for the duration of the first overtime.

Between the first and second overtimes, Mike Goldberg refers to this competition as mixed-match martial arts.  This is the first time I’ve heard anybody refer to the sport as anything even resembling MMA and MMMA is pretty close!  I’m not exactly sure why “match” needed to be added in there.  Mixed martial arts is a self-explanatory label while mixed-match martial arts is just a little confusing.

The second overtime opens with Smith moving in quickly with some punches and he ends up landing some pretty clean shots.  Couture doesn’t seem hurt, but Smith’s punches land right on the chin.  As expected, Couture lands yet another takedown and moves quickly from side control into the north-south position.  Couture throws some knees to the top of Smith’s head from the position and moves back into side control, where Randy Couture has spent the majority of this fight and where this fight ends.

Of the 21 minutes in this fight, I’d be surprised if Smith spent any less than 19 of them on his back.  One of the judges scores the fight as a draw, surprising since I thought judges had to pick one fighter as the winner.  The other two judges have the winner listed as the new UFC Heavyweight Champion, Randy Couture!

Maurice Smith speculates that Couture won the fight because he spent more time on top.  I wonder how he came to that conclusion?  He did just spent 20 minutes laying on his back, I’m sure he had lots of time to think about why exactly he wouldn’t be keeping his title.  Smith does confirm that he’ll be returning to the octagon very soon.

Couture is as humble as ever during his post fight interview with Jeff Blatnick.  Couture says he’s not much of a showboat, but he’s a good competitor and he’ll always give his all in the UFC.  Another notable thing coming from the interview is Jeff Blatnick accidentally calling the sport “mixed martial arts”, though he corrects himself afterwards and adds the unnecessary “match”.  Dammit Jeff, we almost had it!

Ultimate Japan is complete and this wasn’t a terrible card, though it was a bit lackluster.  We had the strange happenings of Sakuraba vs. Silveira, we had Vitor Belfort dominating an outmatched opponent, and we now have a new UFC Heavyweight Champion in Randy Couture.  Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Couture defend this title as he will leave the promotion due to a contract dispute.  Couture will go on to fight for the RINGS promotion over the next three years and the UFC Heavyweight Title will be vacated.

We have yet another talent leaving the UFC due to contract disputes, as Couture, Mark Kerr, and Don Frye have all left the promotion for greener pastures.  This regular defection is doing serious damage to the UFC, who can’t seem to hold on to their more talented fighters.  UFC 16 will take place in a few months and it will be interesting to see what fighters will be featured on this card.  Nothing is announced coming out of Ultimate Japan, so we’ll have to patiently wait to see what fighters will be in action.

Greatest Fights of Ultimate Japan

  1. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus Silveira 2
  2. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus Silveira 1
  3. Frank Shamrock vs. Kevin Jackson
  4. Randy Couture vs. Maurice Smith
  5. Vitor Belfort vs. Joe Charles
  6. Tank Abbott vs. Yoji Anjo

Top Ten Fights Through Ultimate Japan

  1. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo – UFC 3
  2. Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort – UFC 15
  3. Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott – UU96
  4. Maurice Smith vs. Mark ColemanUFC 14
  5. Royce Gracie vs. Dan SevernUFC 4
  6. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  7. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6
  8. Royce Gracie vs. Ken ShamrockUFC 1
  9. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6
  10. Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans – UFC 7

Greatest Fighters of Ultimate Japan

  1. Frank Shamrock (1-0)
  2. Randy Couture (1-0)
  3. Vitor Belfort (1-0)
  4. Kazushi Sakuraba (1-0, 1 NC)
  5. Tank Abbott (1-0)
  6. Marcus Silveira (0-1, 1 NC)
  7. Maurice Smith (0-1)
  8. Yoji Anjo (0-1)
  9. Kevin Jackson (0-1)
  10. Joe Charles (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through Ultimate Japan

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-1)
  3. Dan Severn (9-3)
  4. Ken Shamrock (6-2-2)
  5. Don Frye (9-1)
  6. Randy Couture (4-0)
  7. Oleg Taktarov (6-2-1)
  8. Maurice Smith (2-1)
  9. Vitor Belfort (4-1)
  10. Mark Kerr (4-0)

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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