With the death of the President of the Pride organization, shadows of doubt had crept into the once strong feeling of invincibility the show had garnered after their very strong Pride Shockwave show. With the money that the Pride organization has thrown around in past years it was obvious that they were capable of putting on super shows with enormous upsides, unfortunately some shows have not turned out that way. Legitimate fighters were fighting vastly inferior opponents in gross mismatches and boring fights book-marked the occasional all out war. Having said that, Pride has also put on shows that have blown the roof off the biggest stadiums in Japan, and that is saying a lot. It looks like Pride is past the rough patches and is not only looking stronger then ever in Japan, but they are also looking to step into the American market and grab a foothold in the USA. With Strong lineups such as this it seems that Pride is looking to make a mark in this show and for many more shows after. How they fare in the American market remains to be seen but judging from the strong looking card this time around it looks like they may have a good chance to make some noise in the near future. Without further ado, lets take a look at the card at hand.
Mark The Hammer Coleman Vs Don The Predator Frye
This fight, like Don Frye vs Ken Shamrock before it, is a fight built on UFC history. This is the fight that Don Frye came out of retirement to fight. The fight that he has yearned for enough to cut into his retirement and flourishing Pro Wrestling career, and pull him back to the MMA arena that kick started his career. He was originally set to fight Mark Coleman a year ago at Pride 21 but a neck injury forced Mark Coleman to the sidelines, the injury was serious enough that it put his career in jeopardy, but lucky for everyone involved, Coleman is healthy again and ready to take on Don Frye in a match that is years in the making. It has been seven long years since they last met in the UFC Octagon, and at long last they will finish what was started in the UFC on American soil, in Pride on Japanese turf. It happened at UFC 10, after two tough fights apiece, Coleman and Frye went toe to toe, Frye was beaten quite badly in that fight and it never sat well with him, bothering him ever since. Coleman ground him up in typical Mark Coleman ground and pound style and Frye was unable to mount any offence from his back and the ref stepped in and stopped the bloody bout. OF late, Frye has been training at AKA with Frank Shamrock, ironically the brother to one of Fryes former heated rivals, and looks to be improving his work from his back. I think he will need all the work from his back that he can get as he will likely spend a lot of time there. Colemans wrestling is for real and I dont see Frye being able to stifle the patented Mark Coleman double leg takedown. Frye has a solid wrestling background but it will not be enough to stop the bigger Mark Coleman from taking him down at will. Fryes boxing is solid, he is much better with the hands then Mark Coleman but it does not figure to stay on the feet long enough to see his hands fly. Coleman on the other hand is still Coleman, his style has never changed and it never will. One thing that may not work in his favor is the long layoff, Frye has been moderately active having fought several times in MMA and once in a K1 bout in the past year or so but I feel it will likely be a similar contest to the fight that happened years ago in the Octagon. The main difference here will be the fact that Coleman will not have a cage to trap Fryes head against. There are ropes in Pride and that may give Frye an easier time but not enough to get him out of trouble when it counts. Coleman should be able to ground and pound his way to another ref stoppage, he may even pass the guard at some point and go for the knees from the north south position but I feel that he will play it safe and punch his way to a ref stoppage in the 3rd round. Coleman via ground and pound round three.
Heath Herring Vs Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic
This is a great match up and a couple of things here are certain, one of those things is that Cro Cops stand up is dynamite, there are few in the world, let alone the world of MMA, that can stand and trade with Cro Cop. His brand of K-1 kickboxing is deadly and he can end a fight at anytime. One strike could be all it takes to end a fight, a blink of an eye, or the bat of a lash, and his opponent could be getting it on with the sandman. The second thing that is certain is that Heath Herring comes to fight, The Texas Crazy Horse is an exciting fighter that comes to fight every time out. He trains at the Golden Glory Academy in Holland which has fathered such notable fighters as Semmy Schilt, Allistair Overeem (who is also on the card), Valentijn Overeem, and Gilbert Yvel. He has all the tools to continue to be a star in this sport and I feel he has learned a lot from his previous losses. Although he has lost two of his last three fights he did lose to the top two heavyweights in the world. Emelianenko Fedor and Rodrigo Nogueira, who have had their way with almost everyone they have faced so there is no shame in losing to stars such as they. Herring has fought tough competition in the past and continues to fight the best fighters in the sport. Even though he is coming off a loss to Fedor he is not taking any easy fights. Herring will be looking for the takedown from the get go and ultimately should be able to take Cro Cop down as smaller fighters such as Vanderlei Silva, who is not known for grappling, and an even smaller Sakuraba were able to do so at various times in their fights with the K1 stalwart. Herring will want nothing to do with Filipovic on his feet, if he gets to confident on the feet or if he cant take the fight to the ground, Herring will be seeing stars before the night is out. With the untested guard work of Cro Cop I feel that Herring should be able to get the take down, pass the guard and punish Cro Cop with Knees to the head from the 69 position and or the side mount position. Cro Cop will have his opportunities on the feet and unless he connects I feel that he will get taken down and punished from the ground until the ref comes in to stop the bout. Herring via Ref stoppage Round 1.
Quinton Jackson Vs Mikhail Illoukhine
One of the most exciting fighters in the world of MMA will have a tune up fight before he gets his shot at the Pride Middleweight Champion Vanderlei Silva. Wait a minute did I just say tune up fight? Did I speak too soon? Looking past any fighter in the Pride arena would be a mistake, Illoukhine has faced off against some of the toughest fighters in the world of MMA. He has met such worthy competitors as Renato BabaluSobral, Ricardo Morais, and the infamous Bobby Hoffman in the ring at one point or another in his career. He has also defeated tough competitors such as Igor Vovchanchyn and the greatest UFC heavyweight champion ever, Randy Couture so his credentials are for real. He is a training partner of the Pride heavyweight champ Emelianenko Fedor to boot so he will have tough fighters to train with for this fight. Having said all that, with the exception of his wins over Couture and Vovchanchyn, he has struggled to take the big step against the top fighters at his weight. Now isnt necessarily too late, but to think that he couldnt take that step in his prime is to say that he probably wont be able to take that step now when his is 36. Jackson is 25 years old and not even in his prime yet. Illoukhine is a handful for anyone and at his age is still competitive but the likelihood of Illoukine being able to hurdle the tough fighter from Team Oyama drops considerably when considering his age. I dont think that Illoukine will be able to do too much to Rampage. Jackson is younger, stronger, faster, has better hands and better wrestling then Illoukhine. The only advantages that Illoukhine have over Jackson will be submissions and experience. I am sorry but that will not be enough this time around, he will take a beating and keep on coming but sooner or later he will fall to the mighty slams of Jackson. Rampage via Slam round two.
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