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April 10, 2011 / arnfurious

Masakatsu Funaki vs. Yuji Nagata (10th April 2011 – AJPW Champion Carnival)

Post by Arnold Furious:

Nagata gets around a bit. This was during a loan spell in All Japan, competing in the 2011 Champion Carnival. This is day three and Nagata already has a brace of victories over Suwama and Masayuki KONO. The Suwama victory is especially important as he’s the reigning Triple Crown champion. A run that lasted over a year. Funaki meanwhile has a win and a loss, the defeat to Suwama. A Block sees all these guys essentially trading wins and whipping fat boy Ryota Hama. When the match starts out Nagata is strangely tentative, not showing the kind of confidence you’d expect from a man who’s 2-0 in the tournament. Maybe he’s just showing Funaki respect as he’d not long retired from MMA after a successful career in shootfighting. This is the man who submitted both Ken and Frank Shamrock when that was a big deal. Kenny only submitted four times in his entire career (Royce Gracie and twice to Minoru Suzuki). Perhaps that explains Nagata’s more timid approach but it doesn’t explain his tactical approach to the match, essentially attempting to weaken Funaki’s arm to set up a submission. Funaki responds in kind with state of the art violence, kicks and submissions. It’s a tidy match of two guys with similar strengths. The kicks are suitably stiff and the counters are nicely innovative. It makes sense too with Nagata always looking for that armbar and Funaki too good to be caught in it. When he does catch Funaki he can’t get the hold locked on. The finish is electric with both guys going after knock out kicks, a tactic reminiscent of UWFi, only for Funaki to land one and leave Nagata counting lights. If you liked UWFi then chances are you’ll dig this. Nagata went on to win the Carnival, defeating surprise finalist Seiya Sanada, only to get beaten in his title match with Suwama. The giant skunk winning when it really mattered. Nagata would return to defend his Champion Carnival in 2012, going down in the semi-final to Taiyo Kea.

Final Rating: ***3/4

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