Rickson Gracie dominates inaugural Vale Tudo Japan tournament (Retro)
July 29th 1994
Vale Tudo Japan held its first eight-man tournament tonight at the Tokyo Bay NK Hall. The eight man elimination competition featured practitioners from karate, wing chun, kickboxing, shoot wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
BJJ would prove to be the big winner with Rickson Gracie, whose younger brother Royce Gracie won the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tournament earlier this year, easily winning three fights to be crowned as champion.
The final pitted Gracie against Bud Smith, a kickboxer. But their respective paths were very different with the Brazilian fighting twice in succession while the American only had to win a single bout.
That’s because Jan Lomulder was forced to pull out of the penultimate round with a hand injury, giving Smith a bye into the final. By contrast Gracie had to beat two separate opponents.
Smith needed less than a minute to knock out Dutchman Chris Bass in the first fight of the night. His opponent lasted less than a minute despite getting a brief break when the referee gave him a standing eight count.
In the last of the four quarter-finals Gracie shared the ring with Daido-juku stylist Yoshinori Nishi. The Brazilian stormed out of his corner at the opening bell and secured a takedown, locking on a rear naked choke to find the finish less than three minutes into the opening round.
With the first semi final cancelled Gracie was back in action again, this time against UFC veteran David Levicki. Again, he needed less than three minutes to finish the fight, taking the American down and forcing him to submit to strikes.
It means that Smith was the fresher fighter going into the final having competed for less than a minute at the start of the night. If Gracie was at a disadvantage he didn’t let it show.
Smith, who had an enormous height advantage, tried attacking with a push kick only for Gracie to catch it and take him down. With the American on his back and the Brazilian sitting astride him the fight was effectively over.
The kickboxer had no strategy to slow Gracie’s attacks as the BJJ expert pounded him with punches to the body and head. With just 39 seconds of the first round having elapsed Smith tapped out, submitting to the Brazilian.
The ease with which Gracie won the tournament was yet another demonstration of the effectiveness of BJJ. He and his family are at the forefront of this new sport and the rest of the world clearly has some catching up to do.