Dawn and I watched the Pride Fighting Championship sunday night.
These fights took place at the saitama super arena in Saitama Japan on new years eve in front of a capacity crowd of 49,000.
For fans who are interested in blood and guts and brutal knockout this was probably not a good card. For fans like me who enjoy watching amazing atheletes with tremendous skills compete against one another this was a very entertaining show.
Fedor vs zuluzinho: Fedor Emelianeko is the Pride heavyweight champion and I think of him as the Michael Jordan of Mixed Martial Arts because he is head and shoulders aboce everyone else. This guy has gone toe to toe with some of the best kickboxers in the world and he's rolled with some of the best graplers in the world and no one has come close to beating this guy. Tonight Fedor is getting a late christmas/ hanukkah present in the form of Brazilian giant Zuluzinho. For 99.9% of the population stepping in to the ring with Zulinho would be their worst nightmare. this guy is 6'7 370lbs. Unfortunatly for zuluzinho he is screwed any direction he goes here as he does not have the skills to kick box with fedor and if the fight goes to the ground Fedor would likely make zuluzinho cry uncle very quickly. Sure enough 15 seconds into this fight Fedor floors the giant Zulinho with a left and continues to pummel him until the ref jumps in and mercifully stops the fight at the 26 second mark.
Yoshida vs Ogawa: This was the second fight shown on the u.s. ppv. In Japan it was the main event that drew the capacity crowd. Yoshida is a 1992 Olimpic Judo gold medalist. Ogawa was a Judo prodigy who was the all Japan Judo champion several occasions. Ogawa retired from Judo and got envolved in japaneese pro wrestling where he became the Hulk Hogan of Pro wrestling in Japan. Over the years when the price has been right ogawa has appeared in legit fights. This is one of those occasions. This fight was an interesting contrast as Yoshida was the technicaly superior grappler but ogawa was considerably larger. The ironic thing about this bout was that for six minutes these to grappled for the dominant/top position and at the six minute mark the larger ogawa muscled his way into the desired top position. then he made a mistake, he posted(extented) his arm for balance. Yoshida took advantage of Ogawa's error and passed his leg over ogawa head and trapped the extented arm in a arm lock. Initially it looked like ogawa would escape but Yoshida the olimpic gold medalist persisted as he rolled though and completed the arm bar leaving Ogawa with no choice but to tap out(say uncle).
Takanori Gomi vs "Mach" Sakurai: This bout is for the inaugural 160lb title. Sakurai
was a big star in the early part of this decade but he has seen his career stall the last few years until he had a successful run last fall in the 160lb tournament.
Takanori Gomi is one of my favorite fighters this guy has a tremendous presence/ charisma that shines through even though he does not speak a word of English. Gomi also represents the new generation of fighters who can do it all weather it's a grappling match or kickboxing. This bout started with a couple of spirited exchanges on the feet. Then sakurai went for a take down. Unfortunately for sakurai, gomi reverse it and ended up taking sakurai's back. Gomi went for a choke hold which Sakurai did a good job of defending. In the process gomi manage to get some good punches in. Eventually Sakurai was able to scramble up to his feet, but he was on rubbery legs and Gomi Poured it on throwing and combanation of punches that sent saurai down and caused the ref to jump in and stop the bout. Taknori Gomi becomes the first pride 160lb champion.
The last three fight on this card went to decisions.
American Dan Henderson won the inaugural Pride 183 pound title with a narrow split decision victory over Brazilian Maurilio Bustamante.
Austrailian Mark Hunt a frormer k-1 world Kick boxing champion defeated pride golden boy "the croation sensation" Mirco "cro cop" Filipovic by decision.
Vanderlei Silva who has held the pride 205lb title for five years reatined his title by controversial split decision over fellow brazilian Ricardo Arona.