Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Pride FC: 1997-2007. In 2017.

Recommended Posts

wandshogun09    30



July 4th, 1999

Yokohama Arena, Yokohama Japan 

For the first time in this trip down Pride memory lane, we get the FIGHTER PARADE!!! to open the show. I was wondering when that would start. 

Then we're straight down to business. 


Second Pride fight for Inoue, and his second time opening the show. Carl Malenko was born Carl Contini. He was taken off the streets by Boris Malenko and trained to be a pro wrestler. He's also the stepbrother of Dean Malenko according to his wiki page. Coming into this fight he'd had one MMA fight, which he lost, 2 years previously in 1997. So it's probably safe to assume that Pride didn't expect too much from him here and likely brought him in to feed to the very marketable Egan Inoue.

Round 1: Snazzy stars and stripes shorts on Malenko. They engage in a clinch battle early, and it's a decent struggle to watch with both very active, unlike some of the fights I've seen so far on these early shows. Malenko wins the battle and lands a takedown. Aaaaand I've jinxed it as Malenko proceeds to do NOTHING for the rest of the round. Like 7 minutes of nothing. He won the round but in the most dull way imaginable. 

Round 2: Starts the same as the first with clinch work. Malenko gets him down again for more nothingness. Egan attempts a triangle from the bottom but no joy. Malenko smothers his way to the end of another dud of a round. 

And mercifully, we have a decision. No, we don't. They're tied so we now go to a 5 minute sudden death round. Another round of this. Yippee! 

Round 3: Egan flips the script and comes right out and gets a takedown of his own! OK, now maybe this gets interesting. It's not. He gets nothing done, they end up standing and from they trade top position a couple of times. Malenko ends the round, and fight, in top position. 

Winner - Carl Malenko by unanimous decision 

Well, the rest of this show has its work cut out if anything is going to beat that for 'Shite Of The Night'. 


OK, this has to be better. It just has to be. Newton is making his second appearance for Pride here. His first was that classic against Sakuraba at Pride 3. 

Round 1: About 30 seconds in and it's already better than Malenko vs Egan! Newton rocks Matsui early on and Matsui is looking to grapple. But Newton is fine with that and transitions into an armbar attempt. Matsui escapes and they trade positions for a bit. Suplex by Newton! And another unsuccessful armbar attempt. This is great so far. Breath of fresh air after the opener.

I've lost track of how many times the advantage has switched from one guy to the other. Back on the feet. 


And Matsui is going for it! He's missing everything but he's really going for broke and it's fun to watch. Newton's round but Matsui was always game and fuck me what a round! That 10 minutes just whizzed by. 

Before the second round can even begin, Matsui starts marching over to continue the fight before Newton is even off the stool. He can't wait. 

Round 2: Matsui finding some success with leg kicks. And he takes Newton down. Pace has slowed big time and it's a much less action packed round than the first. Again, these 10 minute rounds are a hinderence in a way. Matsui controlled nearly all of that round from the top. 

And unsurprisingly, we go to the sudden death round again. 

Round 3: Matsui on top again early but doesn't do much. They wind up standing again and Newton is getting the better of it. Matsui looks knackered now and Newton is starting to pull ahead. 

Winner - Carlos Newton by unanimous decision 

Really good fight that. Second round stopped it being remembered as a Pride classic but the first round was incredible. 


Igor was 2-0 in Pride coming into this one, with wins over Gary Goodridge and Akira Shoji. Pride debut for Barreto but he was a BJJ black belt under Carlson Gracie and had a 9-1 record with wins over such names as Kevin Randleman, Paul Varelans and Dave Beneteau. No slouch at all. He's a big fucker as well. 6'4" and built. 

Round 1: Lots and lots and lots of circling and little else the first few minutes. Igor starts connecting with a little bit more frequency as the round progresses but the action is few and far between. Barreto just too passive and he's doing nothing to get Igor to the ground. He's just circling around. Rare booing from the Japanese audience as the round ends. 

Round 2: Same shit different round. Man, this is cack. Towards the end of the round Barreto FINALLY scores a takedown! Surely now he'll do something. He eventually gets the mount but loses position and they're back on the feet. Couple of minutes of sod all happening later and there's another round in the books.

Sudden death round again? Oh fuck you. There's nothing 'sudden' about this that's for sure.

Round 3: Rinse and repeat circling until Barreto takes Igor down again. And he just lays in Igor's guard until the time runs out. 

Quadros and Bas reckon Barreto did enough to take the decision. Neither of them deserved to be called a 'winner' of this turd. But I get what they mean because he did 'win' the sudden death round IMO. 

Winner - Igor Vovchanchyn by split decision 

Terrible fight. I know things pick up but Igor has been shockingly disappointing to watch back so far. 


Change of pace here with a Kyokyshin match. Both listed at 5'7" and 193lbs. Bare knuckle here but no punches to the head. And it'll be 5x3 minute rounds. Kakuda looks pretty old in the intros here. 

I won't bother going round by round with this. It's alright to watch for the novelty of it but it's not really my thing. Give me MMA or straight Muay Thai or Boxing any day. 

Winner - Hiroki Kurasawa by decision 

Moving on. 


Another Pride debut here. This time it's Guy Mezger's turn.


Mezger was from Ken Shamrock's famous Lions Den camp. A team that were huge back then. He was already a veteran of 32 fights at this point (22-8-2 record) and had fought almost exclusively in the UFC and Pancrase. He was coming in off a TKO loss at UFC 19 to a rising young emerging star in Tito Ortiz. So this was Mezger trying to get back on track. 

Round 1: For some reason, Mezger is wearing kickpads. Like some ROH div. Lots of clinchwork early on. We see a very babyfaced looking Caol Uno at ringside looking about 9. More clinch stuff. When Mezger strikes he looks good and appears to have a significant advantage, but he instead keeps opting to clinch up which I find baffling. Definitely a Mezger round. 

Round 2: Shoji with a nice trip takedown at the start of the round. Not much going on though as he just lies in Mezger's guard. They end up standing again. 


And Mezger is having his way again. Really good kicks. Keeps bastard clinching again though. Don't get it. Shoji with another takedown and a mount. Mezger escapes to his feet but Shoji swings for the fences as the round ends. 

Again, sudden death. 

Round 3: Pretty even round with not too much going on again. Fuck knows? 

Winner - Akira Shoji by split decision 

The losses pile up for Mezger and Shoji scores the biggest win of his career to this point. 

Here we go. The Pride debut of Naoya Ogawa. 


Ogawa had only had one MMA fight at this point. It was a quick submission win in Holland in 1997. But he was a massive name in Japan due to his Judo career. He won an Olympic silver medal in the 1992 Games in Barcelona and he was a Judo world champion. He'd also gained fame for his pro wrestling career. He was a big name in New Japan and wrestled pretty much all their top stars like the Great Muta, Shinya Hashimoto etc. He was big business over there so it makes sense that Pride would want in on the action. And given his status in Japan, they couldn't exactly give him some jobber opponent. 


Yes, Gary Goodridge. Big Daddy was an absolute beast around this time, as you can see by reading my reviews of his previous Pride outings in this very thread. A big black ball of power and aggression. 

Round 1: The bell rings and right away Goodridge is coming the fuck after him! He's throwing wild hooks, uppercuts and knees and Ogawa is just covering up. The crowd is going bananas for this! 

Amidst the chaos, Ogawa manages to get the underhooks and takes Goodridge down. He tries a keylock and fails but he's controlling Goodridge in every position, as you'd expect of an Olympic level Judoka. He keeps working from mount to back mount to side control. Just generally doing what he wants. 

Round 2: Goodridge looks exhausted but he does clip Ogawa with a right hand. Ogawa gets an easy takedown though and finally locks up the keylock for for the tap. 

Finally a finish on this fucking show!! 

Winner - Naoya Ogawa by submission. Rd 2 - 0:36

I've read the rumours of this fight possibly being fixed and I read Noah's post that Goodridge confirmed they tried but the money offered wasn't enough and the fight we got was legit. I believe him. If he'd agreed to throw the fight then those uppercuts he was flinging about willy nilly at the start of the fight were a bit risky. The only thing you could say really is 'why did it take Ogawa so long to submit him?' But when you factor in Goodridge's size and strength plus the fact that it was only Ogawa's second MMA fight and he was used to Judo in the gi, I don't think it's that big a deal. 

On we go.

On the day he is inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame, here's Sakuraba doing his thing. 


Sakuraba was unbeaten in Pride having soundly beaten Vernon White, Carlos Newton and Vitor Belfort in really ground breaking performances for the time. 

Braga was a Luta Livre fighter. Luta Livre means 'free fight' and was basically a mixture of catch wrestling, Judo and striking. It was a rival style to BJJ and there were apparently many street fights in Brazil in the 80s and 90s due to the rivalry. 

Braga had a 10-3-1 record at the time of this fight and had surprised everyone by submitting Jeremy Horn at UFC's Ultimate Brazil event in 1998. 

Anyway, let's get cracking. 

Round 1: Braga's looking good in the opening exchanges. Really relaxed and comfortable in the striking and the clinch. Saku gets a takedown and Braga is threatening with a triangle but they get tangled in the ropes. 

Sakuraba maintains control from there and after some scrambling on the ground he manages to snatch up an armbar that looks fucking grim...


And Braga is forced to tap. 

Winner - Kazushi Sakuraba by submission. Rd 1 - 9:23 

Really enjoyed that fight and I forgot all about Braga. Shame we never got to see much more of him because he looked good here despite losing and I remember the win over Horn being really impressive as well.

Post-fight, with Sakuraba still in the ring, we're graced by the presence of Frank Shamrock. He says something on the mic which the crowd react to but the sound isn't the best. He said something about wanting to fight Sakuraba though and that makes me weep for what could've been. 


Imagine how good a fight between these two could've been at this time? Both were really on top of their game in 1999 and injuries and beatdowns hadn't caught up to them. It really could've been something truly special if Pride had got it sorted for sometime in 1999 or 2000. 

Pride were the kings of the tease, weren't they? I'm only up to Pride 6 and already we've been teased with Bas vs Rickson and Sakuraba vs Shamrock. 

Main event time. 


OK, after Takada's huge and totally legit win over Mark Coleman at Pride 5, they threw him in with an even bigger and more monstrous wrestler. Takada would take on 'The Smashing Machine'. 

Round 1: Takada rushes Kerr on the bell but it's like running into a wall. Kerr doesn't budge. Kerr gets two takedowns that Takada somehow escapes and gets up from. Hmmmm? 

Whatever. Kerr gets him down a third time and quickly cranks on a kimura and that's a wrap. 


Winner - Mark Kerr by submission. Rd 1 - 3:04 

Yeah, Takada getting up as easily as he did from under Kerr looked fishy as fuck. I think Kerr was told to allow that to let Takada save some face before inevitably getting wrecked. There was nothing fake about that kimura though. 

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Ebenezer Fontes Braga

Igor Vovchanchyn vs Carlos Barreto


Kazushi Sakuraba

Edited by wandshogun09

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
jimufctna24    7
15 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

Post-fight, with Sakuraba still in the ring, we're graced by the presence of Frank Shamrock. He says something on the mic which the crowd react to but the sound isn't the best. He said something about wanting to fight Sakuraba though and that makes me weep for what could've been. 


Imagine how good a fight between these two could've been at this time? Both were really on top of their game in 1999 and injuries and beatdowns hadn't caught up to them. It really could've been something truly special if Pride had got it sorted for sometime in 1999 or 2000. 

I didn't know about this confrontation, but it makes sense. 

It was Frank's run in the late 90's that netted him fighter of the decade in the Wrestling Observer. It was 3 months after this that he scored his most famous win against Ortiz. He then went on hiatus; only fighting twice in the next 6 years, and one of those was against a journeyman in 2003. Sakuraba was his successor as P4P chart-topper. Saku remained the reference point of the sport for a good 18 months.

This confrontation shows that Sakuraba was well on his to being considered a P4P kingpin by mid-99. The debate had clearly begun, even if it was grandstanding on Pride's part. Interestingly, Frank fought in K1 in late 2000 against Sinosic. It hurts to know that, because it shows that Frank wasn't just grandstanding about fighting in the far east. 

For what it is worth. I think Sakuraba was all wrong for Frank. I think Sakuraba would have beaten him had they met in 2000. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
wandshogun09    30

I think so as well. But it would've been great to see how it would've played out in reality rather than just in my head. 

Its one of the fights that got away that bothers me most. If it happened in 1999 or 2000, it really would've been the first time in MMA that THE two best P4P fighters in the sport faced off. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Egg Shen    11

i don't recall that Igor fight, he was rarely in turkey's though was he? seems like it was just one of those fights where both were coiled ready to fire and they just didn't go off...Igor was the man.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
wandshogun09    30

Yeah I love Igor but it's a fact, his first few Pride fights weren't much cop. Before this he had a dull fight with Akira Shoji at Pride 5 and even the first Goodridge fight at Pride 4 was disappointing and not as good as l remembered. I might've been thinking of the rematch in the GP in 2000 though. 

This Barreto fight was the worst yet and it wasn't just Barreto to blame. He was a big guy but from what I could tell he was mostly a grappler. He was offering no threat on the feet whatsoever yet Igor just hung back most of the fight and watched him move around. It always felt like if he upped the aggression, just a bit, he could've done some damage and maybe ended the fight. As it was he was very fortunate to get the decision. He left it way closer than it probably should've been. 

I know it picks up soon though. 


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Egg Shen    11

i'm starting to feel i may have rose-tinted glasses on when it comes to Igor :(

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
wandshogun09    30

Nah, you know things get better with him. I don't know what it was. Maybe he was adjusting to the Pride rule set, pacing himself to the point of being passive at times because of the 10 minute rounds etc. There's plenty of good stuff to come from Igor yet. 



September 12th, 1999

Yokohama Arena, Yokohama Japan 

No show opening bollocks or fighter parade at all this time :( we're straight to it.


Matsui is coming off a loss in a really good fight against Carlos Newton at Pride 6. Meanwhile, Schrijber is popping his Pride cherry. 

Bob Schrijber was 11-4 in his MMA career at the time of this fight. He was originally a kickboxer though. Being a fellow Dutchman, Bas knows him well. 

"Oh yeah, I know him. He fights a lot in Holland. He's a good striker, you don't wanna go and start striking with him. What you do wanna do is take him to the ground because then you will take him right out of his gameplan. Very dangerous striker. In the ring and outside the ring" - Bas Rutten 

OK then. 

Round 1: Schrijber comes out aggressive and obviously wants to throw hands. Matsui is having none of it and gets an easy takedown. Bas then gives us a bit more background on Schrijber...

"And with Bob you can always expect something. A headbutt or a kick in the groin or an elbow when it's not legal. They call him 'Dirty' Bob. That's his name" - Bas Rutten 

We had a 'Dirty' Pete in our road when I was a kid but he had that moniker for different reasons. 

Matsui wisely keeps this a grappling match and he's controlling Big Bad Bob. Schrijber always looks a threat though. He catches Matsui with a few particularly nasty strikes, including a knee as Matsui shot in for a takedown. Then he cracked Matsui with a kick in the head on the ground. That wasn't yet legal in Pride so we now have a time out. Another case of Bob's 'dirtiness' or an honest mistake? 

Matsui controls the majority of the rest of the round. But Schrijber again lives up to his nickname when the ref separates them at one point and he sucker punches Matsui anyway. He's all apologetic after but there's a pattern emerging and Matsui is livid. The dirty one gets a yellow card for that. 

Matsui goes for a takedown and Schrijber falls out of the ring. Like right out to the floor. What a strange fight this is. 

Back in the ring and Matsui is again getting the better of it with his grappling. At the end of the round he's going for a heel hook while Schrijber is standing up. And  as the bell rings to end the round, Schrijber absolutely whacks him with a fucking AXE KICK of all things, right on the head while he's again a downed opponent. Jesus wept. No way he can claim innocence this time. That was dirty as fuck. 

We're not getting a Round 2. This shit's done. 

Winner - Daijiro Matsui disqualification. Rd 1 - 10:00 

That was a crazy fight. 

From there we usher in the debut of a very familiar face...


Wanderlei motherfucking Silva has arrived! 


Looking forward to this to say the least. I have zero recollection of this fight. Malenko stunk the joint out in his debut against Egan Inoue at Pride 6. Surely this one will be better just by having Wanderlei involved. 

"Wanderlei Silva is a veteran of the rough and tumble world of Vale Tudo competition in Brazil. And they allow headbutts, elbows, elbows to the back of the head, groin shots. He is an IVC world middleweight champion. And he's a dangerous striker with his knees, punches and kicks. He's pretty much a Terminator" - Stephen Quadros 

The bell rings and this one is underway.

Round 1: Malenko wants none of Wandy's striking and immediately gets a takedown. But Wand hits a fucking beautiful sweep and ends up on top! That was incredible. They get back up and Wand lands some vicious knees from the clinch before Malenko gets him down again. He blankets Wandy for a big chunk of the round and it's boring as shit. But Wand uses his BJJ to take the back and get up again, where he delivers more hard knees in the clinch. Wand spends the rest of the round in control on the ground. Definitely Wanderlei's round on both damage and advantageous positions in the grappling. 

Round 2: Wand is making Malenko work HARD for these takedowns. He eventually gets one and then does his usual of just lying there in Wand's guard for what feels like eternity. After a few minutes of this Wand hits a slick reversal into full mount. Sweet! Last minute of the round and Wandy's got his back and is going for chokes and punishing him with knees to the body. A miserable experience for Malenko. 

Winner - Wanderlei Silva by unanimous decision 

No third round needed. Wasn't one of Wandy's best but it was certainly a very solid performance in his introduction to the Pride audience. 


Second time in the Pride ring for Enson. He's keeping the gi on for this and is looking chubby as fuck. 

Round 1: This is a pure grappling squash match. Enson just does whatever he wants and armbars his man quick. 

Winner - Enson Inoue by submission. Rd 1 - 1:15

This is timely. The Pride debut of Maurice Smith, who's just gone into the UFC Hall Of Fame with Sakuraba. 



At this stage Maurice Smith was a pretty damn big name in MMA. He'd been the first man to beat Mark Coleman in the UFC, knocking him out with a brutal headkick. He beat Tank Abbott. He beat Marco Ruas. He beat Conan Silveira. But he had a losing record of 8-9 coming into Pride. Most of his losses were to top guys though like Randy Couture, Bas Rutten and Ken Shamrock. On top of this, Smith had a fuckload of kickboxing fights. He was a bad bastard. 

Cikatic had even more kickboxing experience and was the first ever K-1 Grand Prix champion. I covered Cikatic earlier in this thread when talking about his odd fights with Mark Kerr and Ralph White. In short - he's a fucking nut. 

Round 1: Surprisingly for two kickboxers, they end up in a ground fight. And Maurice is clearly the better grappler here. Much of the fight is spent with them clinched up and it's sloppy and lacklustre stuff. Smith takes him down again and out of nowhere Cikatic taps from a forearm choke of all things! Shit the bed. Amateur hour stuff that but Cikatic had no concept of grappling in any of his Pride fights so it's not a huge shock. 

Winner - Maurice Smith by submission. Rd 1 - 7:33 

That would end up being the last time Branko Cikatic fought in Pride. 


Round 1: Shitty round. Basically consists of both getting takedowns then doing nothing on top and being content to just sit in guard. For 10 minutes. 

Round 2: This round was even worse. Just as boring but this time it's one sided as well, with Shoji just smothering him the entire 10 minutes. Abysmal. 

Round 3: Sudden death 5 minutes. And now Shoji is finally on the attack and upping the aggression. Only to once again revert back to lying in Parker's guard. And that's your lot for the remainder of the 5 minutes. Awful fight.

Winner - Akira Shoji by unanimous decision 

Oh well, this should perk me up. 


Round 1: Macias is best known as the guy on the receiving end of a bunch of nasty looking German suplexes from Dan Severn at UFC 4. Let's see how he does against the MMA wizard that was Sakuraba in 1999. 

He's doing alright in the opening exchanges but Saku soon has him on the ground. He's schooling him here. They end up standing but not for long as Sakuraba hits a fucking majestic looking belly-to-belly suplexy/throwy thing. He's hitting Macias with the Mongolian chops now! I love Sakuraba. I mean, even today, who does shit like this? ...


Saku clowns around a little bit more and that's round one in the books. 

Round 2: Some mad scrambles kick off the round but Sakuraba always seems to have an answer for whatever Macias throws at him. Always one step ahead. And it isn't long before he catches Macias in his web of submissions. An armbar spells the end. 

Winner - Kazushi Sakuraba by submission. Rd 2 - 2:30 

Excellent fight. Just what the doctor ordered after the Shoji vs Parker snoozefest. Sakuraba from this time is just so awesome to watch. 


I mostly remember this because of the clips of it in the 'Smashing Machine' documentary. 

Round 1: Igor is fighting with a lot more urgency here than he has in his last couple of Pride fights. He recognises that Kerr is nobody to arse around with. He's landing some good shots in the clinch but Kerr inevitably gets the takedown and Igor is cut around the eye. Not good. From there the bulk of the round sees Kerr on top but there are a couple of lively exchanges on the feet in between, with Igor even appearing to wobble Kerr with an overhand right at one point. Kerr got most of the round though for sure. 

Round 2: Kerr with a takedown again. This is all Mark Kerr. He's not doing much damage but he's in total control. About midway through the round Igor gets back to his feet. And here's where it happens. Kerr shoots for another takedown. Igor sprawls to defend it. But then Igor lands a knee to Kerr's head while he's down on all fours. He follows that up with 2 more knees and Kerr is all fucked up. He's KO'd Mark Kerr. And Igor is celebrating and going nuts. As are the crowd. 

It was originally ruled a knockout victory for Vovchanchyn but was later overturned to a No Contest because of the illegal knees. 


They'd meet again down the road. It was a pretty good fight actually. 

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Anthony Macias

Akira Shoji vs Larry Parker 


Kazushi Sakuraba 

Man, Sakuraba is killing these awards. 

Edited by wandshogun09

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
wandshogun09    30



November 21st, 1999

Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo Japan


Round 1: Right then, this should be good. Pride fight #2 for Wandy here. Nice action to kick us off and Matsui, to his credit, is giving as good as he gets in the striking. But it's not long before Wand is taking over with brutal knees from the old Thai clinch. He's controlling all the grappling exchanges as well so the future is looking fairly bleak for Matsui here. 

His face is all bloodied up now. 


Fair play, he's not backing down. He's fighting his balls off but Wand is just too much animal for him. 

"Matsui can't trade here with Wanderlei. He's trying but this is crazy, it's like a suicide mission. Matsui seems to be in over his head in this fight" - Stephen Quadros 

Wandy's mauling him. He rocks Matsui with a head kick and the first round comes to an end.

Round 2: They touch gloves. I think Matsui has earned Wanderlei's respect with his toughness in this one. But we pick up where we left off. Just a merciless beating being dished out by the 'Axe Murderer'. 


I actually feel sorry for Matsui here but the nutter is actually probably enjoying this. He actually does wind up in top position and stays in Wandy's guard for the rest of the round but he does nothing from there but bleed all over Wand and the canvas. He's a mess. The fight is over and they both look worse for wear as Wandy is sporting a nasty looking swelling under his right eye as well. Don't know what caused that. 

Winner - Wanderlei Silva by unanimous decision 

No surprise there. Really, really good fight that. It was one sided but Matsui was always trying despite being outgunned in every area. 

Another familiar face arrives in the Pride ring next. 



Wrestling vs Jiu-Jitsu here. Trigg was 5-0 with all his wins being finishes and he'd just had a big win over Jean Jacques Machado in Vale Tudo Japan. Iha was only 3-1 but had submitted Yves Edwards in just his second MMA fight. He'd also had one fight in the UFC previous to this, suffering his first defeat to Laverne Clark at UFC 20. 

Round 1: Trigg hurting Iha with strikes in the clinch right away and Iha pulls guard. Trigg does a good job staying out of submissions and then starts lighting Iha up again on the feet. Iha is crumbling fast here. Trigg must've watched Wanderlei's fight because he's loving the knees. He hurts Iha again and finishes him off with punches. 

Winner - Frank Trigg by TKO. Rd 1 - 5:00 

Strong Pride debut for Trigg. 


Round 1: Goes had a good showing against Sakuraba at Pride 4 so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with dullard Malenko. Goes immediately gets a takedown and he's dictating the grappling from the off. You can really see the difference in levels of grappling here. Goes looks so smooth as he advances to side control and full mount. Malenko looks to be in trouble here and we're only about 5 minutes in. Goes briefly loses position, Malenko gets on top but it's fleeting and it isn't long before Goes is on top again and he ends Malenko's night with a sweet arm triangle choke. Nice. Really impressive from Goes. 

Winner - Allan Goes by submission. Rd 1 - 9:16 

Onto the big boys for the next couple of fights. 


Coleman is back on the Pride canvas for the first time since doing the favours for Takada. And they've put him against this bastard...


Ricardo 'The Mutant' Morais. The Mutant! 6ft8. He looks like fucking Sagat off Street Fighter. Just a massive scary looking freak of a man. 

Round 1: Sloppy strikes thrown by Morais but Coleman is understandably weary of the big lump.


After a few minutes of playing the cautious game, Coleman finally goes to his bread and butter and plants Sagat on his back with a big double-leg. Nothing of note happens from there. Just Coleman neutralising Morais from inside the guard until the round ends. 

Round 2: Coleman isn't fucking about this time. He takes Morais down straight away with a big takedown that looks more like a Spear. From here it's the same as the first. Proper tedious stuff to watch. Morais can't get up but Coleman is content to just ride out the clock. Sporadically going for the odd can opener neck crank thingy but that's it. Boring fight. 

Winner - Mark Coleman by unanimous decision 


It's Tom Erikson's turn to enter Pride. It's great seeing these debuts on each show. All these faces from the past popping up who I kind of forgot about. 

Erikson was a huge grizzly bear of a man. NCAA Div 1 wrestler who clocked in for this fight at 6'3" and 280lbs. At the time of this fight he was 5-0-1 with a one minute KO win over Kevin Randleman on his record. 

He hasn't been given an easy debut opponent. 


Seems to be a pattern that heavyweights debuting in Pride have to go through Goodridge to get in. Like an initiation. Igor Vovchanchyn, Marco Ruas and Naoya Ogawa all had to face Big Daddy in their first Pride outing. 

Round 1: Wild brawl to start off. They're both throwing heavy shots with bad intentions. This is like a bar room brawl. Erikson wisely takes Goodridge down and dominates from the top for the rest of the opening round. It's not quite as boring as Coleman-Morais but not far off. 

Round 2: Same story as the first but without the redeeming feature of the pub brawl at the start. Erikson cruises in another shitty round. 

Winner - Tom Erikson by unanimous decision 

Now we're talking...


Quadros tells us during the intros that Bueno has been training boxing for 2 years under the same coach who trained Rocky Marciano! Cool bit of trivia. Let's see how that works out for him. 

Meanwhile Igor has that blonde lady in his corner that he always had there. She looks like a school dinnerlady but I bet she could batter me and you within an inch of our lives. She just looks like she can have it. 

Round 1: Circling, circling, circling. Then Igor backs Rocky Marciano Jr into the corner and...


Basically recreates the Drago-Creed scene from Rocky IV. Bueno just collapses like Tower 7. 

Winner - Igor Vovchanchyn by KO. Rd 1 - 1:23

After two slow, sluggish, snoozer heavyweight fights, this was exactly the injection of excitement needed to bring this show back to life. One of the most well known and replayed knockouts in Pride history. 


Here we go. Hopefully this is better than Renzo's first two Pride fights. He had two really awful stinkers against Akira Shoji and Sanae Kikuta at Prides 1 and 2. Otsuka was 1-2 in his career coming into this one but he had just scored a massive upset over Marco Ruas at Pride 4. Would he be able to upset another Brazilian legend here? 

Otsuka has some really bright pink and blue shorts on for this one. Once again with 'DIET BUTCHER' in big white letters on the back. 

Round 1: Master Onion with a takedown and the crowd erupts. They seem to sense the potential for another upset and they're well behind Otsuka. It's slow stuff again. There's the odd burst of action but the bulk of it is just Otsuka on top of Renzo. 

Back on the feet and Renzo is getting the better of it. 


Renzo landing leg kicks and it isn't long before Otsuka is favouring the leg and gets a takedown again. 

Round 2: Otsuka takedown again. Little going on here and Otsuka is bleeding from somewhere on the head. Renzo with a STRONG armbar attempt and Otsuka escapes! I like this Onion head. He's game as fuck. Renzo's got the upper hand from there though. He controls the ground work from side control and even hits a German suplex near the end of the round. This is no FOTY contender or anything but it's way better than Renzo's previous Pride fights. Otsuka is trying for a fucking kimura on Gracie! I love it. The time expires though and they're all smiles and hugs post-fight. 

"That's one thing. Anybody that has met Renzo Gracie knows that this guy is a real charmer. He loves people. He's well respected. He's truly got the heart of a champion" - Stephen Quadros 

Winner - Renzo Gracie by unanimous decision 

I liked that fight. It was slow in places but it had enough going on to keep my attention and I'm really warming to Otsuka. I like him more on these rewatches than I did the first time around. He's great fun. 

And with that, it's time for the main event. And it's Chapter 1 in what would become one of the great rivalries in MMA history. 


With Sakuraba at 6-1-1 in his MMA career, undefeated in Pride and with a few wins over Brazilians in his recent fights, it was only a matter of time until he would come up against a member of the Gracie clan. 


The first Gracie to take the test would be Royler. Son of Helio, the legendary founder of Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brother of Royce, the original poster boy of the UFC. Half brother of Rickson. And the cousin of Renzo and Ryan Gracie. But while the smallest, Royler was a highly skilled BJJ fighter in his own right. In fact, he was often regarded as the best actual technician of the lot for a long time. He was a BJJ black-belt and multi-time BJJ world champion. He was 3-0 in MMA at this time and had won his only Pride fight, a submission over Yuhi Sano at Pride 2. 

This would also be the first time Sakuraba would really hold a size advantage over his opponent. All his previous fights were against guys either way bigger or slightly bigger than him. Royler was noticably the smaller man in the staredown. Sakuraba has got a good 20-30lb weight advantage here. 

Round 1: They're grappling right away. Very slow early on with Royler literally just holding on from butterfly guard. He's doing nothing more than stalling here. After a couple of minutes of that pish, Sakuraba breaks free and the action picks up. 

Royler is in the old butt-scoot position now and Sakuraba stands over him and just kicks the living shit out of his legs! He's absolutely battering his legs to bits as Royler just pulls himself around the ring on his arse. His leg is just red raw now. 

I don't know what Royler's plan was here. He's getting royally fucked up and offering nothing back in the way of offence himself.

That opening round really couldn't have gone much worse for Royler. 

Round 2: Right off the bat Royler eats a HARD knee from the clinch. This is just the worst day at the office ever for Royler. He can't do anything to Sakuraba. He's trying to stand with him now but he's all jumpy and flinching at everything Saku does.

Sakuraba then drops him with a headkick and continues smashing his legs in. 

"This is almost...becoming comical" - Stephen Quadros 

That's Quadros' response to seeing Sakuraba actually dragging Royler around the ring by his bastard ankles! 

They cut to Rickson looking on from the corner. I can only imagine what was going through his head seeing this. 


He looks like he's fucking seething as Sakuraba just clowns Royler. 

It's late in the round and Royler FINALLY manages to drag Sakuraba to the ground. He's finally got the fight back where he wants it and...


Sakuraba just fucking mangles his arm with a kimura and it's over! 

Winner - Kazushi Sakuraba by submission. Rd 2 - 13:16 

Incredible! The Gracies had never officially lost in MMA before this. Sakuraba broke that streak and not just that, he did it with a submission. 

And for his part, Royler never tapped. He was going to let his shit break to uphold the family's honour. I don't know whether that's admirable or stupid but thankfully the referee spared him getting his shoulder completely torn apart. 

Rickson is going nuts at the ref for stopping the fight. Fuck me. And Royler keeps saying "I didn't tap! I didn't tap!" to a Sakuraba who looks like he couldn't give less of a fuck if he tried :laugh: 

Good show that. One of the better Prides yet. 

Wanderlei Silva vs Daijiro Matsui 

Mark Coleman vs Ricardo Morais 

Igor Vovchanchyn 

Kazushi Sakuraba 

Edited by wandshogun09

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

Rickson is going nuts at the ref for stopping the fight.

Because the referee didn't have the power to stop the fight. The Gracie's had basically written the rules for the fight to their advantage, and those rules included the stipulation that the only way for the fight to be stopped was for Royler to tap or his corner to throw in the towel. Nobody else, not the referee and not even the doctor could stop the fight. For all the knocks they deserve, and they do, the Gracie's are right to complain about this one.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
wandshogun09    30

I know that but it always amazes me anyway. Royler was seconds away from never being able to wank or wipe his arse with that arm again and all Rickson cares about is the 'W'. To the Gracies with their mindset it's nothing but to normal people it's crackers. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
jimufctna24    7
57 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

Ricardo 'The Mutant' Morais. The Mutant! 6ft8. He looks like fucking Sagat off Street Fighter. Just a massive scary looking freak of a man. 

The Smashing Machine documentary did an outstanding job of presenting Morais as a scary motherfucker. It made you think that Coleman was going to get walloped. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
wandshogun09    30
1 hour ago, jimufctna24 said:

The Smashing Machine documentary did an outstanding job of presenting Morais as a scary motherfucker. It made you think that Coleman was going to get walloped. 

Oh yeah! That bit when he's in the pool with the Gracies looking like the Loch Ness monster on steroids, with Renzo laughing maniacally. I was scared for Coleman's wellbeing. 

Renzo quote from 'Smashing Machine'...


"I said 'Don't hit him too hard. Be a gentleman'. He said 'No, Renzo. I have four mouths to feed. No mercy.'

For some reason Renzo found that hilarious. I shit my pants. 

Edited by wandshogun09

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
wandshogun09    30

We finally enter the new millennium as we kick off Pride's first tournament. 



January 30th, 2000

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Japan 

So this was Pride's first tournament. I guess this was their first really big show since they started in 97 as well. They had a reported 48,000 plus in attendance and they filled the card up with big names from both the MMA and pro wrestling world. 

At this point there were still no champions in the promotion. Odd really when you think we're into Pride's third year as a company. And this tournament isn't to crown a champ either. They went with an Openweight field, I guess so they could add the likes of Sakuraba and Royce and potentially do freakshows with them and the Kerrs and Colemans of the world later in the tournament. You know Pride. 

Look at this for a group shot...


We kick off the show and the fighter parade is back! And we also hear that lovely Pride theme music for the first time. 

Worth noting, all the tournament bouts on this show will be contested under one 15 minute round. With a second round if necessary. 


So this is a reserve match. The winner will be on standby to enter the tournament if someone gets injured and drops out of the second phase of the tournament in May. 

This should be a wild one. It's The Axe Murderer vs Dirty Bob, for fuck's sake! 

And it appears that Quadros and Rutten are finally doing live commentary now. Ken Shamrock is joining them for this fight. 

Round 1: Wand doesn't fear Schrijber's rep as a striker one bit by the looks of it. He's aggressive with kicks, punches and knees right off the bat and has Schrijber backpeddling 


Wand then decides to take it to the ground. Wise move as Dirty Bob doesn't have a clue on the ground. Wand's in mount within seconds, then has his back, punches, rear naked choke, tap. 

Winner - Wanderlei Silva by submission. Rd 1 - 2:42 

No controversy this time, as Dirty Bob didn't even get chance to be dirty. 

Ken Shamrock still has to criticise as they watch the replays though. 

"I don't understand why he didn't take him down sooner" - Ken Shamrock 

Eh? It only lasted 2:42 and Wandy bossed it from bell to bell. On the feet and the ground. You've got to be just being a dick to find a fault with this performance. 

From there we head back to the ring for a SUPER DUPER SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!! Ken Shamrock is introduced, and he's entering to his WWF theme music! Gotta love Japan. 

Ken announces that he's signed a 2 fight deal with Pride. They confirm that his next fight will take place in May on the GP Final card. 


Here we go with the first proper tournament match. We're getting pre-fight video packages and everything now. The improvements in production values for this tournament are very noticeable in comparison to the earlier shows. 

Tachihikari, we're told by Quadros, is a former Sumo wrestler. He looks like one as well. Chunky fucker. He's also been doing pro wrestling. No mention of any actual fighting experience. And once again they're having him debut against Gary Goodridge. 

Round 1: I've got a feeling this isn't going to be pretty. The fat bloke gets a nice loud response from the crowd during the intros. We're underway and yep, Goodridge is battering him already. They fall to the ground and Goodridge taps him with a forearm choke. The poor fat get didn't have any business in there with Goodridge. 

Winner - Gary Goodridge by submission. Rd 1 - 0:51 

***Quadros mentioned during this fight that the Pride rules have been updated. Kicks and knees to a downed opponent are allowed now but only if the opponent is face up. If they're face down or on all fours, not allowed. OK then. 


This could be good. I really liked Braga's performance against Sakuraba. And matched with the right guy, Shoji can be fun too. 

Oh, we get entrances now as well. Progress! Braga's out to some weird Jesusy sounding song that sounds like something off Sister Act. 

Round 1: The story of this one is that when they're striking Braga is winning. The rest of the time it's Shoji getting takedowns and sitting in guard. And that's most of the fight. Not the most entertaining to watch. Few strikes from Braga on the feet, including dropping Shoji as he threw a kick, and the 15 minutes is up. 

Winner - Akira Shoji by unanimous decision

Hmmmm, I'm not sure about that. It was an uneventful fight but I felt like if you were going to score it for anyone and not go to a second round, I'd say Braga shaded it on aggression, damage and the late knockdown. Shoji had 'control' for the bulk of the fight but he did nothing to Braga really. Oh well.


This is where Kazuyuki Fujita lands in Pride! A popular pro wrestler who was also a really good amateur wrestler in both Freestyle and Greco. He narrowly missed out on making the Japanese Olympic team in his wrestling days.

This would be Fujita's MMA debut. He'd be taking on Dutch striker Hans Nijman. Not your typical easy debut for Fujita as Nijman is a RINGS veteran with a 9-3 record. Certainly no squash match. 


Round 1: The crowd is going nuts for Fujita. They're oohing and ahhing at the fucking glove touch! Didn't realise quite how big Fujita must've been with the people over there. They love him. 

Nijman hurts him with a body kick right away. He follows up with a left hand that connects and just misses a big headkick. That would've been it if it connected. Even old Ironhead Fujita couldn't have withstood that one. Fujita gets a takedown, much to the relief of the crowd. Nijman doesn't know what he's doing here, he's just trying to survive. And it doesn't take long for Fujita to lock up a headlock choke thing, Nijman panics and taps out. 

Winner - Kazuyuki Fujita by submission. Rd 1 - 2:48 

A successful MMA debut for Fujita. And a very happy Japanese crowd. 


Sakuraba comes out to his signature theme music we all remember. But there's no theatrics yet. No wacky masks or weird outfits. He just walks out. 

Ken Shamrock is in Mezger's corner. He's all over this show. 

Sakuraba is already 1-0 over the Lions Den here, having submitted Vernon White at Pride 2. This is the Den's chance to get one back. 

Round 1: Good striking battle early on. Mezger's ditched those stupid ROH kickpads he had on for his fight with Shoji.


This is getting interesting as Sakuraba is struggling to take Mezger down big time. And he's losing the standup as well. Quadros and Bas are already speculating that we might see a hometown decision. It's not going well for Sakuraba at all. He's not getting battered or anything but he's clearly losing the fight and nothing he's tried has been effective. 


More of the same from Mezger. This is a really good performance. His sprawl is on point and combined with his striking he's shutting Saku down. Sakuraba is being forced to stand. He manages to kind of get Mezger down late in the round but gets nothing going from there and Mezger is always back up within no time. And the 15 minutes is up. 

If I didn't already know the result I'd say this has got to be a Mezger win or maybe go to a second round. 

The judges call it a draw and we're getting a second round. 

Wait, no we're not!

Ken Shamrock is in the ring throwing a tantrum. He thinks Mezger should've got the decision. And for what it's worth, I agree with that. But now he's ordering Mezger to get out of the ring. It's the way he does it as well though. Like he's Mezger's dad telling him to get to bed or something. Now he's stomping around doing his 'I'M IN THE ZONE' face like he's still in the WWF. He's waving his finger in Sakuraba's face as if it's his fault. Sakuraba don't give a fuck. Mezger's heading back to the dressing room. Crazy scenes. 

Due to Shamrock sending Mezger to the dressing room, the Pride officials get what they wanted all along anyway. Mezger has forfeited his place in the tournament and Sakuraba advances by default. 

Winner - Kazushi Sakuraba by TKO via corner retirement. Rd 1 - 15:00 

Shamrock eh? Fucking numbskull. If he'd just let things go Mezger was handling Sakuraba anyway. Mezger should've told him to fuck off. He must look back and regret this big time. He was getting the better of the fight, chances are he'd have beat up Saku some more in the next round. And Shamrock quit for him.


Satake was a quality striker. A Kyokushin fighter with K-1 experience. But this would be his MMA debut and he's fighting fucking Coleman. Good luck with that. 

Gary Goodridge joins Quadros and Rutten in the announce booth for this one. 

Winner - Mark Coleman by submission. Rd 1 - 1:14 

The Diet Butcher is back! 


Oh. But he's being fed to Igor. Poor Onion :( 

Actually, Otsuka mustn't have been too worried. Quadros just said that Otsuka worked a pro wrestling match earlier this same day! Imagine that. You're fighting Igor Vovchanchyn later and you think 'nah, I reckon I can still squeeze in a quick wrestling match in the afternoon'. Nutter. 


Round 1: Igor very much going for the sprawl and brawl strategy. He's not putting a whole lot out offence-wise but he's winning this one comfortably just by stuffing takedowns and landing occasional punches. Otsuka is bleeding. 

Otsuka having a good old bash at a triangle but Igor defends and continues to punish Otsuka on the ground with punches. The Onion is always going for something though. Late in the round he lands a spinning back kick to the body and I'm sure he was trying a fucking Russian Leg Sweep of all things at one point! The absolute mentalist. 

Igor with the mount and Otsuka is stuck there for the rest of the round. 

Winner - Igor Vovchanchyn by unanimous decision 

Say what you want about Otsuka and his record but he beat Marco Ruas and went 15 minutes with Igor Vovchanchyn. 


Enson Inoue has had a really easy run so far in Pride. Two quick submissions over jobbers. That's over now though. He's got Mark Kerr. 

We see clips of Enson's Vale Tudo Japan fights with Frank Shamrock and Randy Couture before cutting to Kerr chucking fuckers about. 

Round 1: Enson looks in better shape for this than his last outing. He better be. And Kerr fucking mauls him to the mat with a big power double within like 3 seconds. Man, what do you do against that. It looked like Enson got ran over by a truck. Not much going on after that though. Kerr is smothering him. He lands the odd punch here or there and, with Kerr's size and strength, it's enough to mark Enson up. But it's not what you'd call an action fight by any stretch. 

Winner - Mark Kerr by majority decision 

One of the judges scored that a draw?! What in the fuck? It was as one sided as it gets.


This was Royce's first fight in 5 years. He hadn't fought since the second Shamrock fight at UFC V in 1995. So this was a bit of a big deal that Pride had managed to get his comeback and not the UFC. 

There was a bit of a storyline to this as well because of Sakuraba's win over Royler on the last show. Sakuraba trained at the Takada Dojo so this was kind of a spin-off of that. Royler's loss to Sakuraba was the first time a Gracie had officially lost as well so Royce coming back to avenge the family's honour made sense. The Japanese love all that shit. 

Round 1: We kick off and they clinch up. 


And that's about as much action as we're getting from this motherfucker. After that they drop to the mat, with Takada in Royce's guard...and they do FUCK ALL. This is awful. Like a horizontal version of Severn vs Kimo from Pride 1. Just nothing happening at all. Takada just lies there on top while Royce does the same on bottom and very occasionally rubs his gi in Takada's face or hits him with some of the most polite and gentle love taps you'll see in your life. Jesus, if this is as rough as Royce gets I bet his wife had the time of her life on their honeymoon. 


Winner - Royce Gracie by unanimous decision 

It wasn't the best of shows as it was but this was a really deflating note to end on. There were no winners in this one. Royce got the nod by default because Takada did zero and he did 0.1. That's how shit this was. Bas agrees...

"That is not a victory. Look at the people in the audience. And Takada did NOTHING. He didn't wanna fight. Not good" - Bas Rutten 

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Guy Mezger 

Nobuhiko Takada vs Royce Gracie 


Mark Coleman 

Edited by wandshogun09

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
jimufctna24    7

Aye, Ken's inability to control his temper might have cost Guy a famous victory. When he's calm, Ken can be a joy to listen to. The Sherdog staff once commented on how easy it is to interview him. However, when he loses his rag, his brain malfunctions. Ortiz managed to play him like fiddle for years. It wasn't just on TUF 3 either. Ortiz had him kicking chairs around in the lead-up to their UFC 40 bout. His meltdown after Sakuraba stopped him in 2005 was also mildly amusing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc7PCrjBmOo

Also, don't quote me on this, but I think Goodridge was MMA's premier gatekeeper. He was mostly used as a barometer for new fighters, in order to separate the contenders from the pretenders. You don't really hear the term "gatekeeper" these days, but it was pretty common term in the mid-00's, and I presume before that. 

Edited by jimufctna24

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
wandshogun09    30
7 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

Also, don't quote me on this, but I think Goodridge was MMA's premier gatekeeper. He was mostly used as a barometer for new fighters, in order to separate the contenders from the pretenders. You don't really hear the term "gatekeeper" these days, but it was pretty common term in the mid-00's, and I presume before that. 

He really was. I didn't really notice until I started doing these reviews but it seems like if you were a heavyweight coming into Pride in that time period, you were probably going to be matched with Goodridge as soon as you got in the door. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this