Pride has always been an organization that has placed the value of a sporting event in the excitement, and the excitement alone. The Common logistics that are involved in promoting a big time sports event have never been the same factor it has been in some other organizations. The concept of Number one contenders, rankings, and Belts have never settled into a comfortable niche in Pride. No time was that more evident then during the PPV broadcast of the Pride Shockwave event three days after the actual event took place in Japan.
Pride has always been an organization that has placed the value of a sporting event in the excitement, and the excitement alone. The common logistics that are involved in promoting a big time sports event have never been the same factor it has been in some other organizations. The concept of number one contenders, rankings, and belts have never settled into a comfortable niche in Pride. No time was that more evident then during the PPV broadcast of the Pride Shockwave event three days after the actual event took place in Japan. On the other hand, some of the production elements of the event were in a league of their own. The name recognition of the event was second to none, as Sakuraba, Vanderlei Silva, Ernesto Hoost, Royce Gracie, Don Frye, Jerome Lebanner, Bob Sapp and Rodrigo Nogueira were all on hand to duke it out in front of an announced crowd of 91,000 plus fans. This was the biggest crowd ever to grace an MMA event, even though MMA wasnt the only player in the ring, K-1 flexed its marketing muscle and brought over high profile K-1 fighters to fight in K-1 and Pride rules fights. All in all, it was an exciting event marred with horrible mismatches, unfathomable matchmaking, and the occasional incredible fight thrown in for good measure. For the most part, a good fun (Albeit a mixed bag) wrapped in a nifty package.
Vanderlei Silva Vs Tatsuya Iwasaki
Tatsuya who you ask? Truth be known I have never heard of the guy. To be honest I dont even know what he does, or what his background is. All I know is he is a Karate guy, this was his very first MMA bout, and he was thrown in against a calm young puppy named Vanderlei. I really cannot see why this match even took place but I am sure Pride has its reasons so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. It only took one minute and sixteen seconds for Vanderlei to dispose of a fighter that had no business in an IFC event let alone in the Pride Arena. Vanderlei came in took the clinch and fell into the mount position. He began raining down the blows from the mount that spelled the beginning of the end, nearly drowning Iwasaki before he had a chance to tie his shoes. Before long he gave Vanderlei his back but interestingly enough Vanderlei did not proceed to rain down punches to the side of the head, or take side or North South position to throw knees, instead he chose to take his back and go for the Rear naked Choke. He didnt get it but it didnt take long for him to cram Iwasaki into the corner and ground and pound him into hamburger. Vanderlei Celebrated, the Japanese fighter was attended to by the doctors, and the first fight of the evening was over. Whats new? Vanderlei Via Ref stoppage due to punishment Round one.
Jerrel Venetiaan Vs Daijiro Matsui
I really feel like sometimes Pride does not do what is best for their fighters, they do the best for the organization. That can be a good thing and a bad thing but giving Matsui one days notice to fight any credible fighter is a Joke. Matsui is a game fighter but I really believe that he could have been a credible fighter had he gotten groomed, trained properly, and fought within his weight class. This fight had the first two rounds edited out due to time constraints so I only got to see the last round of this fight. With the exception of a flurry here and there, this fight was basically Matsui going for the takedown, Matsui getting stuffed, Matsui eating a soccer kick, Rinse, and Repeat. Matsui threw in his trademark flying drop kick for good measure, and even attempted a Sakuraba-esque flying stomp, but it looked like he got up-kicked in the groin for his efforts. Matsui loses the Split decision after three rounds.
Gary Goodridge Vs Lloyd Van Dams
This was another One sided affair with Gary Goodridge taking control from the very beginning and never letting up as he schooled The stand up fighter from Europe. A quick Clinch started the fight with neither getting the position that they wanted for 30 seconds or so until Goodridge found what he was looking for, he whipped Van Dams with a nice hip toss taking the fight to the mat and Goodridge into Side Mount. "Goody" seemed content to use short chopping hammerfists and punches to batter Van dams who seemed clueless as to what he was to do from his back. He even resorted to fish-hooking Goodridge on a couple occations. The illegal tactics only seemed to anger Goodridge as he eventually took the mount and pounded out the win. Goodridge over Van dams via ref stoppage due to punishment Round one.
Ernesto Hoost Vs Semmy Schilt
Another high profile K-1 fighter would be taking on MMA fighter Semmy Schilt in a full K-1 rules fight. Semmy would be following in the footsteps of Quinton Jackson and Gary Goodridge before him and taking on a credible K-1 fighter at his own game! Semmy Schilt used his height and reach advantage to good effect as he went back to his left jab and his front kick again and again to gain what looked to me a win for Schilt. Ernesto was effective only sporadically and although he was the heavy favorite to win the fight, he never seemed to get into his comfort zone and settle into a groove. Schilt used the clinch, and his sizable height advantage to neutralize Hoosts punching, and stayed clear of the powerful leg kicks that were supposed to be "Mr.Perfects" main weapons on the night. He only took a couple solid leg kicks on the theigh and in my opinion, did enough to win the fight, but the fight was declared a draw after five three minute rounds. All five rounds followed a similar pattern with Schilt seemingly squeeking at least four out of five rounds, but the Draw was in the cards for Schilt. A good showing for MMA none the less.
Jerome Lebanner Vs Don "The Predator" Frye
Questions were about to be answered as two respected fighters in their respected organizations were to face off against each other under FULL K-1 rules. MMA fans were holding out hope that the previous efforts of Quinton Jackson, Gary Goodridge and Semmy Schilt were not flukes. Don Fryes strategy was simple, Do what the MMA fighters before him had done well, Jump on the fighter early, hope to catch him off guard and use the surprise to over power him before Lebanner could get set. The Surprise party was over because Lebanner was wise to what had transpired before him, and he was not about to let that happened again. It was clear early on that Frye was much smaller then the very large looking Jerome Lebanner. Lebanner looked twice as thick as Frye and every pound of Lebanner would soon be pounding on Don Frye. For the first time in Don Fryes career he was knocked out and was he ever knocked out cold. From the outset Frye tried to jump on Lebanner, but Lebanner would have none of that and used his superior boxing and a huge left kick to stun Frye, he followed up with a flurry of punches before the ref stepped in to give Frye the standing eight count. The standing eight count was short respite for Frye, because as soon as the ref cleared Frye to fight it was clear that MMA would be taking a backseat to K-1 at this fight. Don Frye ate another kick followed up by a right hand that knocked him out cold. Dons hands fell and he stooped over and crumpled to the ground. Another left for good measure and the fight was very obviously over. This fight was a dose of reality for the MMA fans who were holding out hope for Frye, the hopes were dashed as the prospects of future MMA Vs K-1 fights were put into perspective. On Sept 22nd, Tom Erikson will have his hands full against Mike Bernardo who took a lot of heat for losing to Gary Goodridge. Keep your hands up Tommy. Lebanner knocks out Don Frye early in round one.
Bob Sapp Vs Rodrigo Nogueira
David Vs Goliath. Nogueira Vs Sapp. 230 pounds Vs 370 pounds. This fight was one of the fights on the night that was defiantly part of the Entertainment part of the Pride show and in my opinion this fight was the best fight of the night. This fight had special rules with no Soccer kicks and knee strikes allowed to a downed opponent because of the ten kilo gram or more ( Much More) difference in weight rule that Pride has. Nogueira used those rules to good effect as his takedown attempts were stuffed from beginning to end by the enormous Bob Sapp. Nogueira shot out right from the start with a takedown attempt but Sapp stuffed it with little problem, lifted him clean off the ground, and piledrived Nogueira in a very dangerous looking maneuver face first into the mat. Nogueira looked physically outmatched and the piledriver was a sign of things to come. Nogueira repeatedly shot in but the size of Sapp proved to be all he needed to squash almost every single takedown attempt that Nogueira threw his way. Sapp spent much of the time in Nogueiras guard grounding and pounding him with his huge arms and sizable reach advantage. His long arms went through the punch defense of Nogueira and battered his face through out the round. At one point Nogueira was able to sneak out to side control but the strength of Sapp was too much as he simply pushed Nogueira off like he was a child and escaped the potentially dangerous position. Nogueira even went for a leg lock against Sapp but he simply collapsed on top of Nogueira to defend, and nearly crushed the Minotaur with his knee. The round was over with Nogueira looking the worse for the wear but Sapp looking visibly winded.
Sapp came out gunning early but it was clear that his gas tank was teetering on empty, and Nogueira saw his chance. Nogueira was able to take the mount position and swing into an armbar that would finish the fight and end the David Vs Goliath battle. Nogueira looked bruised and beaten but happy that it was over, Goliath looked defeated but upset with himself more then anything. After the fight was over Josh Barnett issued a challenge to Nogueira and Nogueira seemed to accept. Sapp used every ounce of his 370 pounds to ground an pound Nogueira for the duration of the fight, until he gassed out and succumbed to the armbar. Nogueira Via Armbar Round two. A very exciting fight, a guilty pleasure to be sure.
Royce Gracie Vs Hidehiko Yoshida
This fight was for the honor of Jiu Jitsu and Judo. It was billed as the Judo Vs Jiu Jitsu showdown that would settle the debate over which martial art was superior. In a match with no face strikes, it seemed as if Royce Gracie would be fighting in a fight that was perfectly suited to his style. Yoshida also not known for his striking would seem be at home in an environment with no strikes to the face. This "fight" started slowly with Gracie jumping to guard every opportunity he got. He was stifled on the bottom with neither fighter getting a clear advantage till Gracie seemed to get a hold of one of Yoshidas legs and put him in a Achilles hold. Gracies legs were left exposed simultaneously, so Yoshida went for the other leg and attempted a heel hook, both fighter cranked on the others respective legs until it was clear that neither had the position to finish the other. In Gracies guard Yoshida picked him up and slammed him on the mat, he then passed his guard rather easily and took side control. He looked for the Kinura but was unable to secure it and went to a gi choke instead. He seemed to be applying a Gi choke and the ref called the fight even though Royce did not Tap. Royce seemed visibly upset and jumped to his feet immediately to protest the stoppage. He seemed alert and intelligent and It looked like the stoppage was premature but because the ref stopped the fight, it will remain unclear if the choke was really there or not. A rematch is apparently in the works, and the fight may be declared a no contest, but the official line is Yoshida via ref stoppage due to choke. Round one.
Kazushi Sakuraba Vs Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic
Coming off a layoff of almost a year, Sakuraba was again in familiar territory fighting against a fighter that was much bigger and stronger then him. Sakuraba looked a little softer around the stomach then usual and did not look like he was in the same shape he normally is. Filipovic was now fighting his forth MMA bout in a year and has over a year now to work his takedown defense and his guardwork. His hard work has paid dividends as his sprawls looked very good as he stuffed Sakurabas takedown attempts repeatedly and punished him with leg kicks. Cro Cop was throwing and landing devastating leg kicks that were finding their mark and Sakurabas futile Takedown attempts were looking like a bad omen for Sakuraba. Sakuraba was trying desperately to take him down and on a couple of occasions resorted to coming in punching, but was finally able to secure the takedown. Cro Cop used the closed guard and to keep Sakuraba from improving position and held onto his wrists to protect the ground and pound. Round two was more of the same as Cro Cop was able to find a groove and spank Sakuraba with strong leg kicks and utilized an effective sprawl to protect the takedown. Cro Cop slipped off of a kick attempt, and Sakuraba was able to get into his guard, but Cro cop was the first with the submission attempt as he went for an usuccessful side choke. Sak was unable to pass or mount an effective offense from the guard and as the bell sounded to end round two it was apparent that something was wrong. His eye was swelling up and it looked like he had a nasty mouse on his eye. The Doctor called the fight and Mirko Cro Cop won via TKO due to doctor stoppage. Apparently he had a cracked orbital bone but the cause was uncertain as I couldnt see what it was that caused the eye to swell up so badly and so quickly. A painful ending for Sakuraba fans to be sure. Lets hupe he fights someone his own weight next time around.
Pride definitely knows how to put fans in the stadium, as enormous crowd came out to support the biggest MMA/K-1 event in the world. The number of fans in the stadium must be deemed a success but some of the fights on the night would be considered less successful. Vanderleis creaming of his Japanese Cohort was an embarrassing mismatch. On the production side of things the arena and all the production values of the event were top notch, the special ramp and the arena was a sight to behold i hope someday that an event of that size can migrate to the west.. Some of the other gimmicks were less successful as, Former pro-wrestler Bill Goldberg showed up to the event and commentated for the American audience, even going as far as delivering a painful " For the fans" speech, before rejoining the broadcast booth. All in all, the show was an entertaining one for the most part, but left a little to be desired. I believe with the right direction Pride could be the biggest sporting event in the world bar none. We will see if that potential becomes a reality.
This was "The Sushiboy" Arnold Lim
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