OKAYAMA, Japan -- Ikuhisa Minowa (Pictures) defeated Don Frye (Pictures) in the main event at Deep “Gladiator” on Saturday at the Momotaro Arena, as the Japanese journeyman submitted the American with a first-round kneebar.
The always entertaining Minowa (40-28-8), appearing in his 76th career fight, was a heavy crowd favorite and entered the arena to noisy applause. The tension mounted as the two Pride Fighting Championships veterans met in the center of the ring for pre-fight instructions, as it became clear both had come to win.
At the bell, Minowa brought the action to Frye, as he attempted a takedown that his opponent initially defended. He then put Frye (19-7-1) on his back with a beautiful double-leg takedown. Minowa locked on to Frye’s leg and immediately went for a heel hook, and though the American was in obvious pain, he refused to tap out. After a few minutes and several more submission attempts, Minowa transitioned to a kneebar and coaxed the tapout at 3:56 of the first round.
In a pair of K-1 rules bouts, Gary Goodridge (Pictures) dropped a unanimous decision to Hiromi Amada, and Jan Nortje (Pictures) finished Tom Erikson (Pictures) in just a shade more than a minute.
Goodridge got off to unlucky start, as Amada fired a low kick that missed its mark and struck the Canadian in the cup. When the action resumed, Amada was the aggressor, as he threw punching combinations punctuated by powerful left low kicks.
Round two brought more of the same, and while Goodridge landed a big punch that seemed to drop Amada momentarily, the referee ruled it a slip. After absorbing another low blow, Goodridge ate a nasty kick from Amada that floored him briefly. By the third round, Goodridge was limping noticeably from the low kicks but continued to push forward, though his efforts were in vain. All three judges saw the bout in Amada’s favor.
Nortje and Erikson, meanwhile, came out swinging heavy leather. Erikson was first to land and sent Nortje crashing to the canvas. The 6-foot-11 South African recovered, however, and almost immediately scored a knockdown of his own. Erikson survived the count, but Nortje flattened him again, and the referee called an end to the action 65 seconds into round one.
Four of the five bouts held under the Japan vs. Korea Friendship Match theme were won by the Koreans. Jutaro Nakao (Pictures) was the lone victor for the Japanese side, as he stopped Yong Fun Lee (Pictures) on second-round strikes.
In other Japan vs. Korea action, Chul Hyun Jung handed Michihiro Omigawa (Pictures) his third straight defeat, as he earned a unanimous decision over the UFC veteran. Meanwhile, Min Sok Ho victimized Pancrase regular Hikaru Sato (Pictures) with a vicious hammer fist attack that forced the referee to step in 1:08 into round one. Lee Sang Soo and Kim Tae Kyun were also victorious.
Elsewhere, Daijiro Matsui (Pictures) failed to damage Eun Soo Lee (Pictures), and after three rounds, the judges awarded Lee a unanimous decision. With it came the CMA KPW open weight championship. In another K-1 rules bout, Bernard Ackah (Pictures) -- a man perhaps best known for knocking out former NFL wide receiver Johnnie Morton (Pictures) -- was himself the victim of a brutal KO, as he fell to Keigo Takamori 1:36 into the first round.
Finally, Karate prodigy Tsuyoshi Yokoyama put on an impressive display in his K-1 rules debut, as he defeated Marcel Nascimento by unanimous decision.