Barnett submits Yoshida, Gomi victorious
Updated: March 5, 2008, 5:13 PM ETBy Jason Nowe | Sherdog.com
TOKYO -- World Victory Road, the first promotion to throw its hat in the vacuum left by the collapse of Pride, drew a near sell-out crowd of 15,523 to the Yoyogi Number One Olympic stadium Wednesday for the debut of the new Sengoku series.In the headline match, former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett squared off against Olympic judo gold medalist and Japanese hero Hidehiko Yoshida. Just seconds into the bout, Barnett got behind his opponent and pulled off a huge suplex reminiscent of the Kevin Randleman-Fedor Emelianenko slam at a Pride event in 2004.
Yoshida survived the impact of the tremendous suplex, but it was quite obvious he didn't want to go through it again. Barnett continued to try to slam his opponent whenever he got behind him, but the judoka wisely fell to the mat each time, nullifying Barnett's leverage to complete the technique. Yoshida's best chance at ending the fight came midway into the first round. As Barnett looked to suplex him, the Japanese fighter sank to the mat to counter the technique and caught the American in an extremely slick transition into a rolling armbar. Barnett was stuck in the perilous position for some time. Eventually, he resorted to going after Yoshida's ankle with his other hand to escape from the pressure. Yoshida tagged his foe with some hard shots on the feet, but Barnett's size and smothering ground control started to give him the advantage. By the end of the second round, Yoshida looked exhausted. In the third, Yoshida seemed absolutely gassed, and his only defense was to roll on the mat whenever Barnett had him in trouble. Barnett finally sealed the deal, locking Yoshida in a kneebar and eventually transitioning to a heel hook for the tapout. Barnett praised his opponent's hard jaw and strength in the postfight news conference. Barnett had hoped to display more catch wrestling but said Yoshida forced him to veer away from his game plan and do more ground-and-pound than he wanted to. When asked if he'd prefer to fight recently announced World Victory Road additions Kevin Randleman or Roger Gracie, Barnett stated that fighting Randleman would be like fighting a friend, and he'd prefer to take on Gracie.
Stephen Martinez/Sherdog.comBarnett, top, used his brute stength to command Yoshida's respect.
Gomi stops Ludwig on a cutDuane Ludwig had said he was excited to be competing against the best in the world in Takanori Gomi, but unfortunately for Ludwig and for fans, the fight was cut short before it could really develop.
Both fighters started out with sporadic jousting while circling the ring. Gomi, shifting his stance between orthodox and southpaw throughout, eventually caught his opponent with a good left hand that knocked him to the mat momentarily. However, Gomi couldn't capitalize on the advantage before Ludwig got back to his feet. Ludwig, while relatively unfazed by the punch, began to bleed heavily from a cut opened by the impact. The fighter was directed to the doctor, and it was determined that the cut was too severe for the match to continue, giving Gomi the TKO at the 2:28 mark of the first round. Gomi apologized to fans afterward and said he definitely wanted to fight Ludwig again.
Stephen Martinez/Sherdog.comGomi, left, wasted no time in tearing into Ludwig, stopping him in the first round.