Dynamite!! 2009 delivered a heady year-end combat sports extravaganza with promotional war for supremacy, long overdue MMA debut of the great, white hope of Japanese MMA, and picture-perfect ending to an illustrious career.
The night kicked off with captivating action from four sprightly, high school kids as they fought for the K-1 Koshien 2009 crown. The K-1 Koshien finalists, Hiroya, Masaaki Noiri, Shota Shimada, and Katsuki Ishida displayed relentless action and precocious technical polish.
The unheralded Masaaki Noiri upset the Koshien 2008 winner and K-1 golden child, Hiroya in the semi-final and bested Shota Shimada to become the new K-1 Koshien champion.
In the final match of the infamous Super Hulk Tournament, the always charismatic Minowaman defied the odds to cement his status as the ultimate "David." Against Sokoudjou -- perhaps the "Goliath" of the tournament in spite of his less-than-towering stature -- Minowaman struggled to gain traction during the first two rounds.
After a lengthy stalemate in the third round, he stunned the crowd of 37,000 in Saitama Arena with an overhand right-left hook combo to score a TKO victory and become the "Super Hulk."
38 year-old K-1 veteran, Ray Sefo returned to the ring for the first time in a year and half against the former professional boxer, Yosuke Nishijima. Showing he still has fights left in him, Sefo staged a K-1 clinic against Nishijima, landing crisp, accurate strikes at will.
In an inaugural war for the promotional triumph and honor, DREAM edged Sengoku 5-4.
The Sengoku trio of Hiroshi Izumi, Michihiro Omigawa, and Akihiro Gono took home an early 3-0 lead. The 2004 Olympic judo silver medalist notched his first professional MMA victory and evened his record to 1-1 with a close, hard-fought decision over Katsuyori Shibata.
As expected, the scruffy, grizzled veterans, Michihiro Omigawa and Hiroyuki Takaya lit the fistic firework early. Omigawa showcased his ever-improving boxing prowess to take rein of the fight and clipped Takaya with a brutal right cross for an easy TKO victory.
In a battle of perennial Japanese fan favorites, Akihiro Gono demonstrated his slick submission magic in his arm bar victory over Hayato "Mach" Sakurai. Sakurai looked anemic throughout without a shred of his trademark vigor.
After a rocky year with conspicuous losses in MMA and K-1, the Dutch cyclone, Melvin Manhoef showed his old moxie as he blitzed through 2006 PRIDE Welterweight champion, Kazuo Misaki with a flurry of punches in the first round.
The "cinderella boy," Hideo Tokoro rode the momentum generated by Manhoef to thoroughly pick apart Jong Man Kim, the late replacement for the original opponent, Marlon Sandro. Tokoro used his much-improved striking to pick Kim apart, mixing crisp, straight punches with kicks and jumping knees.
Again showing a glimpse of his high-octane grappling, Tokoro threatened Kim with flying triangle choke and arm bar attempts. Kim fought valiantly to the end, even knocking Tokoro down and briefly turning the tide in the third round.
In a battle between top lightweight contenders in DREAM and Sengoku, Tatsuya "Crusher" Kawajiri demonstrated his trademark tenacity in grinding out Kazunori Yokota with stifling top control. Alternating between ground-and-pound and submission attempt whenever Yokota gave up his back, the "Crusher" seized unanimous decision victory. Yokota, for his part, showed incredible perseverance in surviving tight, painful arm bar at the end of the third round.
2009 has not been kind to Japanese MMA icon, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto. After suffering unprecedented back-to-back losses in MMA and K-1, Kid saw his stock plummet further in his hard-fought decision loss against Sengoku featherweight champion, Masanori Kanehara.
Despite having his moments in the striking exchanges, Kid failed to mount offense once the fight hit the mat. Kanehara continued his rise and defended the honor of Sengoku belt, as he showed sound counter-striking, takedown, and ground control.
In a battle of champions, DREAM lightweight champion, Shinya Aoki easily dismantled his Sengoku counterpart, Mizuto Hirota with a particularly nasty rendition of his submission game. Aoki wasted no time getting the fight to the mat and controlling Hirota`s arm, twisting it behind his back in the process.
Passing to mount and then taking Hirota`s back, Aoki continued wrenching the arm until the referee intervened to award him a technical submission victory.
Strikeforce champions, Gegard Mousasi and Alistair Overeem made quick work of Gary Goodridge and Kazuyuki Fujita, respectively. The red-hot Mousasi pummeled the over-the-hill Goodridge for a TKO win and Overeem unleashed a hellacious knee strike to knock Fujita out cold without breaking a sweat.
The showdown between former Olympic judo gold medalists saw the 40-year old veteran, Hidehiko Yoshida, put on a MMA clinic against the MMA debutant, Satoshi Ishii in the first round. Landing a big right hand to Ishii`s jaw, Yoshida battered the younger judoka with knees and uppercuts from the clinch.
A painful lowblow from Ishii forced a lengthy pause of action but Ishii started to loosen up and settle into his groove in the second and third round; however, he failed to pick up the slack from the first round and Yoshida walked away with a unanimous decision.
The action-packed night culminated with the farewell bout of the Japanese combat sport icon, Masato. Facing his nemesis, Andy Souwer, in a rubber match, Masato set the pace early in the first round. After two close rounds, Souwer began to settle into his groove, landing effective counters and staggering Masato in a few instances.
Round four and five saw both fighters engage toe to toe, sending the crowd in Saitama Arena into delirium. In a storybook ending to a prodigious career, Masato completed the unfinished business by defeating Souwer via unanimous decision.
With a victory over an opponent who had previously defeated him twice in as many encounters, Masato seals his legacy as one of the most decorated figures in Japanese combat sports.
Stay tuned to MMAmania for Dynamite!! 2009 post-fight wrap-ups and Happy New Year to all the Maniacs!!
For all the live results and fight recaps click here.