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Pride FC: 1997-2007. In 2017.


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This month (8th April, to be exact) marks the 10 year anniversary of Pride 34, their last ever show. And this October it'll be 20 years since Pride's debut show. 

So let's talk about Pride. I'm going to start working through all the Pride events this weekend. I don't know how long that will take me. Probably ages. But I'll stick with it and post some shit in here as I work my way through them. It's been ages since I watched Pride outside of the odd highlight video here and there. I definitely haven't watched a whole show in years. So a lot of it will probably almost be like watching it for the first time. 

I'd love to see the UFC do something this year to mark what would've been Pride's 20th anniversary (a big documentary like the UFC one would be amazing) but I can't see it. Maybe they could induct a couple of Pride vets into the Hall Of Fame at least? Is Big Nog in now? 

Anyway, let's celebrate the awesomeness that was those ten beautiful years of Pride. The incredible fights, the freakshows, the PED crazed brawls, the Chute Boxe faction wars, Lenne Hardt, that glorious theme song, the fighter parades at the start of the events, Bas & Quadros' ridiculous show openings on the early shows, the Wandy reign of terror, the Frye vs Takayama madness, Sakuraba clowning the Gracie family, the Yakuza links and that Pride official who was found dead in the shower, the emergence of a young Shogun, Nog vs Sapp, Fedor's dominance. There's so much shit to talk about where Pride's concerned. 

Edit - only just seen in the Past Fights thread that a couple of you have started watching the UFC's from 1 onwards. So yeah, fuck it I'm copying you but with Pride :p it'll be interesting to compare the two actually as we work through the shows. If we actually stick with it of course. 

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Pride has now been defunct longer than it was actually in business. I know Zuffa kept Pride's offices open in Japan for 6 months after it purchased it from Dreamstage, but for me, Pride ceased to exist the second Monson extracted a submission from Fujita at the climax of Pride 34. With respect to Fujita and Monson, neither deserved to be the ones who brought down the curtain on Pride.

The final show in general was a complete dud. Frye vs Thompson and Arona vs Soko were fine. I could even stomach Yvel vs Shoji as an ode to Pride's freakshow past. However, it still fell well short as a farewell. The organisation probably didn't deserve better, but the fans and fighters almost certainly did. The opening video was pretty nifty though.


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Was it you who told me once that Pride were trying to put together a Wanderlei Silva vs Igor Vovchanchyn fight to main event that last show? That would've been insanity and a much more fitting way for Pride to go out. 

I agree on 34 though. It was a shame really. Pride was built on them having some absolutely monster cards. You look at Shockwave 2004 or some of the Final Conflicts. Just stacked to fuck. For them to go out with such a bare bones card like 34 was sad. 

33 was miles better with Wandy vs Hendo 2, Nick Diaz vs Gomi etc. In hindsight they should've stopped there really. But 33 was in Vegas and I guess they understandably wanted to do the final show back home in Japan. 

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42 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

Was it you who told me once that Pride were trying to put together a Wanderlei Silva vs Igor Vovchanchyn fight to main event that last show? 

I suspect so.

As is stated on Wiki, they wanted Wanderlei to fight on the card, but they couldn't get a doctor to clear him. Beforehand, a few potential opponents were put forward for Wanderlei. One amazingly was meant to be Shogun. Now, this was just a rumour, but it is one that I remember for obvious reasons. The more realistic option was Sakuraba, who had expressed interest in fighting Wanderlei anyway. That would have been a decent fight for Pride to end on. It would have been similar to how WCW ended with Flair vs Sting. One of Pride's most memorable rivalries. 

Igor was heavily rumoured for the card. I can't remember if he was linked to fighting Wanderlei or not. Although, it would not surprise me. In the weeks leading up to the event, little was set in concrete. Hunt was also on the event poster. Fuck knows who he was touted to face. 

Edit: You were correct. Wanderlei vs Igor was indeed on the cards, and even announced by ChuteBoxe - http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/pride-fights-that-never-happened.3170413/

42 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

33 was miles better with Wandy vs Hendo 2, Nick Diaz vs Gomi etc. In hindsight they should've stopped there really. But 33 was in Vegas and I guess they understandably wanted to do the final show back home in Japan. 

That was the kicker.

As you said, it was only fitting to do the last event in Japan. However, if they had called it a day after Pride 33, then the promotion would have gone out on a high. Not only was Pride 33 a terrific show, but Pride had been on a hot-streak before that. Despite all the issues going on behind the scenes, and the UFC growing into a powerhouse Stateside, Pride had a banner year in 2006 in terms of show quality. 

You were spoilt for memorable moments. Cro Cop kicking Wandy into orbit, the Chute Boxe vs Hammerhouse riot, Barnett and Nog's ground battles, etc. 

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OK, I'm finally getting to it. I'm going to work my way through all the Pride shows, so I might as well post about them in here. Like I said in the OP, this year it'll be 20 years since Pride was born, and 10 years since it died. So I guess it's kind of a good time to relive some of that stuff.



October 11th 1997

Tokyo, Japan 

Tokyo Dome

Right then. Been absolutely ages since I watched a whole Pride show so I'm quite looking forward to this. 

We kick off with a 'this is so 90s' intro. Check it out for yourself...

Sounds like something Alex Wright would be dancing to in WCW. A far cry from their later production values and certainly not a patch on what would later become the official Pride theme music but it's still preferable to 'Face The Pain'. Reminds me of those little videos you'd unlock on Tekken for completing Arcade Mode with a certain character. Although why they chose to feature Alexander Otsuka in this intro, I don't know. 

Anyway, after the intro we're straight to business with the first fight. No fucking about.



Already a big weight differential here. Murakami is listed as weighing 209lbs, Dixon is 275lbs. Pride never gave a fuck, did they? 

Fans of Japanese pro wrestling might know Murakami. He worked for New Japan, NOAH and ZERO-1. He's got a Nike t-shirt on during the intros. Yeah, fuck Reebok! 

Round 1: This is probably going to be ugly. Dixon mauls him to the ground early and is smothering him with his tits. Not much happens and they're back on their feet. They clinch and Murakami hits a big judo throw. Impressive given Dixon's weight! Within seconds he's locked on an armbar and it's over. 

Winner - Kazunari Murakami by submission. Rd 1 - 1:34. 



Two UFC vets here. I remember this one well. Again, a considerable size difference as Goodridge enjoys a 40lb weight advantage. 

Round 1: Both seem content to box early on. Not a good idea if you're Oleg and he's already bleeding under the eye. Big Daddy Goodridge drops him within like a minute and GG's beating him up on the floor. Oleg's a warrior but you can sort of tell from the look on his face that he's realising he might've bitten off more than he can chew here. They're back standing and Oleg looks timid now. And with good reason. They collide again and Goodridge fucking flattens him with a right hand and follows up with two BRUTAL punches to an already unconscious Taktarov on the ground.


It's done. That was scary. 

Winner - Gary Goodridge by KO. Rd 1 - 4:57.



I remember this being shit. Let's see. First appearance of a Gracie in Pride. Renzo's previous two fights were very notable. He knocked out Oleg Taktarov (him again, poor cunt) with an upkick in 1996 and then in his next fight he took on Eugenio Tadeu. A fight which had to be stopped when the crowd started rioting. So Renzo was coming into this show with some hype, and not just because of his surname. 

Round 1: After a half decent opening couple of minutes, I'm already bored as they just hug against the ropes. Renzo keeps trying for a guillotine choke, which was his go-to technique, but Shoji is doing well to defend and escape time and time again. It's just so slow moving. And these rounds are 10 minutes each. For fuck's sake. 

Round 2: Lively start again as Shoji almost surprises Renzo by nearly taking his back. Aaand...we're back to them just lying there. Renzo is trying for a rubber guard! In 97? I thought that came much later with Eddie Bravo. Not a lot going on. Great moment later in the round as Renzo almost gets an armbar and Shoji stands up and dumps him. Crowd went mental for that. Then they go back to doing nothing for ages. Jesus. Round ends with Renzo on his back and Shoji just standing there staring at him for what felt like a week but was probably a couple of minutes. 

Round 3: These rounds are just too bastard long. Every time they start doing something it quickly fizzles out. Action happens but in bursts. Massive chunk of Shoji just lying in Renzo's guard. Renzo finally manages to scoot out and take the back and Shoji escapes again. He's doing way better than expected and the crowd are loving that. Closing stretch now and Shoji's getting fired up. He's on the attack but then spends the last minute doing nothing again. 

Mercifully, it's over. And it's declared a draw. All that for a fucking draw! 

This was basically the Pride version of the Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels ironman match for me. In that you could probably make a highlight video of it and fool people that it was really good. There is some good action to be found but it's always after massive lulls of fuck all. I think the 10 minute rounds were just too long and forced guys to pace themselves to the point of being too passive. 


I completely forgot Nathan Jones fought in Pride! And he's fighting fat dickhead Kitao. I knew about the match with Earthquake where he turned it into a shoot and was fired but reading more about him, he was also fired by New Japan as well, was forced out of Sumo and Takada legitimately deliberately knocked him out in a UWFi match that was supposed to be a work because he was being difficult. Quite a CV, Kitao's got. 

Look at this...


I guess this is Pride's first freakshow fight. 

Round 1: Quadros is already comparing this to a Godzilla movie :laugh: Jones just tried a fucking spinning kick! What the? Not only was that a surprise given his size, but this was long before it was thought that that shit would work in a real competition setting. This was years before Barboza-Etim and Belfort-Rockhold etc. Anyway, it missed. Jones goes for a front facelock and Kitao takes him down. Jones looks like he's bricking it. Kitao slaps on a keylock and Jones taps before it's even fully applied.

Winner - Koji Kitao by submission. Rd 1 - 2:14.

Quadros doesn't pull any punches when assessing Jones' lack of a ground game. 

"This guy knew nothing on the ground. NOTHING" - Stephen Quadros. 

I've seen comments over the years that this was a work but I don't even think it was. I just think Jones panicked when it hit the ground, he didn't know what to do and he had a big heavy fucker on top of him trying to twist his arm. I think it was just a case of him panicking and wanting out. 


Change of pace here as this is a kickboxing match. Cikatic is Croatian and ended up with a record of 87-9-1-1 in kickboxing. And of his 87 wins, 82 were knockouts. He also had 170 amateur fights with a further 138 knockouts! He was the first K-1 Grand Prix champion, trained Mirko Cro Cop and beat the legendary Ernesto Hoost twice. So yeah, this guy doesn't play.


Ralph White is American and looks a bit like a bigger version of King Mo. That's about all I know about him.

Round 1: Branko with a dick move right off the bat as he fakes a glove touch and throws a spinning kick to the body. That wasn't very nice. They trade kicks for a bit then Branko drops him. But he also kicks White in the head while he's on the ground. And bloody hell, a big fuck off lump comes up on White's head immediately.


Horrible. Looks even worse in motion.

There's confusion over whether or not the fight will continue and in the meantime Quadros and Rutten  talk about what a wild character Branko is. Guy sounds like a bit of a nut. The fight is called off and ruled a No Contest as Ralph White can't continue due to the golf ball growing under his scalp. 


Oh fuck. Here we go. I don't know why I'm putting myself through this again but here goes. No rounds here, just one long 30 minute time limit. Smashing. 

Quadros is already telling us that Severn "isn't really a boxer". No shit. Lots of circling and not much else. When they do strike it's sloppy flailing and the rest of the time the only contact being made is eye contact. "Well right now we've got anything but an exciting fight", says Quadros. Bas is now busting out the Freddie Mercury/Dan Severn comparisons. He's that bored. This is basically Severn vs Shamrock 2 in a ring. I don't know what Severn is doing here at all. He's hardly attempting any takedowns. His gameplan seems to be circling with the odd slap. That's it. "Severn...really...cannot punch". Harsh stuff from Quadros. But very true. 

Halfway point now as they just announced we're 15 minutes in. The usually mega polite Japanese crowd are even getting restless now. God, this is so shit. Even worse than I remember. I'm crying out for the Best Of Jake Shields at this point. I've never seen two people look so knackered doing nothing. Severn punches like he's never even seen anyone throw a punch. 

Bas is audibly losing the will to live. "Oh my god, keep going. He should do something now. Jesus Christ!" If he had any hair he'd have definitely ripped it out by now. I know I have. Quadros is equally frustrated... "Don't let him pull the kneepads. Punch him!"


"This is tedium personified" - Stephen Quadros. 

The fight is about to end any second and NOW they decide to fight. Fuck you. The bell rings. And the crowd boos and mumbles in a mix of frustration and relief that this is finally over. It's a draw but somehow we all lose anyway. 

This was every bit as terrible as I remembered. If not worse. Never again. 


Main event time and they're playing the national anthems. The cheerful sounding Brazilian anthem is already more entertaining than the entire Severn-Kimo farce was. 

I loved that Pride used to play the national anthems before the big fights. Really gives it a feeling of importance. 

Round 1: Rickson comes out cool as a cucumber. They're circling. Come on fellas. We've just watched 30 sodding minutes of that bollocks. This just feels like a matter of time. They're talking about Rickson's unbeaten record and Quadros mentions that there are claims he's 400-0. Bas rightly isn't buying that and responds with a sarcy "Yep. It's a beautiful even number also". Love that. Rickson finally gets hold of Takada, hits a big slam and immediately gets the mount. Takada is fucked. Rickson takes his time like he knows, he just knows, he's going to catch him. And he does. An armbar ends Takada's night.


Winner - Rickson Gracie by submission. Rd 1 - 4:47. 

Showcase fight for Rickson over a huge name in Japan. Perfect way to kick off Pride in that sense. 

FIGHT OF THE NIGHT: Gary Goodridge vs Oleg Taktarov 

SHITE OF THE NIGHT: Dan Severn vs Kimo 



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That massive knot on White's skull has refreshed my memory. When I bought the Pride video game for the PS2, it came with a Pride Highlights DVD, and it was on that. It was probably one of the first exposure I had to MMA. 

Some of this is new information though. I didn't know Goodridge KO'ed Oleg for example, or at least forgot about it completely. I also have read that the Jones fight was a work. It's probably similar to Bigelow claiming the fight with Kimo was a work - when it clearly wasn't. Jones was probably trying to save face.

I love how informal Bas and Quadros were. I know it's largely a product of its time, and would not fly in the UFC today, but I loved their commentary style. I do remember that by 2005 - when I first got into MMA - some thought that Bas's shtick had outstayed its welcome. Quadros was long gone, and the Bas and Mauro tandem was in full-force, but they followed the same blueprint. Bas and Mauro received plaudits for their commentary on Fedor vs Cro Cop, based on the merit of them taking it seriously. That was the kicker as time went on, and MMA become more professional - a portion of the audience expected the commentators to take it more seriously.

I'm looking forward to future reviews if you have the time. My knowledge of this era is very patchy. 


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I’m pretty sure the Murakami fight was a work because they wanted to rehab Murakami after he got knocked out by Maurice Smith earlier in the year and this was the place to do it. The Kitao fight was a complete work. Kitao had no interest in shoots after his previous experiences, and in both his and Murakami’s cases, they also wanted to protect the Japanese on the undercard because they knew that Takada was going down against Gracie.

The Kitao-Earthquake match didn‚Äôt turn into a shoot but it did completely fall apart. Kitao and Earthquake had had a match a few days before, with Earthquake going over, and Earthquake was meant to go over again in the second match. Kitao, who had a big head and hot temper, wasn‚Äôt down with that and stopped cooperating entirely and you ended up with a standoff as both men were unwilling to back down but neither wanted to make the first move. Kitao ended up kicking the referee to get the match thrown out and then grabbed the microphone, getting out a few lines, something along the lines of ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre nothing but a monkey in this fake circus of pro wrestling‚ÄĚ before the power to the microphone was cut and Kitao was promptly fired.

Dan Severn got major heat with the UFC for taking the fight with Kimo and it’s the reason he was never brought back until UFC 27 in 2000. Severn was meant to be facing Maurice Smith at UFC 15, six days later, and had agreed to the fight. But before he actually signed the contract for that fight, which prohibited him from taking any other fights within a certain timeframe prior to the Smith fight, or maybe any fights at all until after the Smith fight had taken place, Smith signed to face Kimo. Severn assured UFC that he’d be able to do both fights but UFC put Tank Abbott on standby in case Severn couldn’t fight Maurice Smith, which he couldn’t due to calcium deposits in his thighs/quads.

I’ll also be following this walk down memory lane. I liked PRIDE, almost as much for the behind the scenes manoeuvrings as the fights themselves.

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Thanks for filling in the gaps there. I'm not going to bother really reading into the backstories and stuff, I'm just going off my memory on stuff like the Kitao-Earthquake thing so I probably will miss out some details. Plus these posts are ending up long enough as it is! 

Didnt know the background of the Dan Severn stuff at all there. 

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Upon digging up the Sturgeon quote that I posted in another thread, I came across this. 

From Clyde Gentry:


Realising both Renzo and Rickson Gracie would win their matches, they (Pride), cut deals with Nathan Jones and John Dixson to work their bouts against Japanese opponents according to Dixson.

It appears that Noah was correct. Gentry goes on to say that Japanese promoters regularly threw money at American fighters on late notice, so they would not have time to prepare properly. 

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I can believe the Dixon fight was a work as well. The armbar just looked too easy.

And yeah, there's been stuff out there for years that Pride used to keep everything under wraps until the last minute. A few American and Brazilian fighters over the years have said they didn't know who their opponent was going to be until a week before the event. I know the Wandy vs Hunt fight in 2004 was proper 11th hour stuff with neither guy getting more than a couple of days notice. I suspect the Japanese fighters were given a lot more notice.

They were crafty fuckers and it sounds like they pulled all sorts of tricks to stack the odds in their home guys' favour. Sure Rampage said they fucked with his food at one point as well, or kept changing the time of his weigh in so he'd be dehydrated longer. Proper shady shit. 

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14 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

Sure Rampage said they fucked with his food at one point as well, or kept changing the time of his weigh in so he'd be dehydrated longer. Proper shady shit. 

Yeah, I remember that. After checking, Rampage thinks he was "poisoned" before the Sakuraba fight. He also mentioned that he was offered 12k to lose that fight, but only 10k to win. Understandably, he read between the lines, but still decided to give it "100 percent".

It really was the wild west of MMA. 

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I wouldn't put any of it past Pride. At the same time though it's Rampage. He's got excuses for all his losses. Apparently he lost the second Wanderlei fight because he 'found God'. Don't know why that would hinder him. Don't fighters usually credit the man upstairs when they win? Rampage is probably only second behind Tito when it comes to excuse making and being a sore loser. 

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