When a sport grows as quickly as Mixed Martial Arts, it is easy to forget the history. In fact, because so many new fans join all the time, and begin to watch the sport and its fighters, much of the history of MMA is unknown. Legends are referred to as "legends" by commentators, writers, and fans, and many people do not know why they are legends, myself included. Watching highlights of youtube provides a window into the past, but a narrow window at that. I wanted a more complete picture of the athletes I read, hear, and talk about.
I have acquired all the videos of the Pride Fighting Championship starting with the Opening Round of the January 2000 Grand Prix all the way through the 2007 Pride 34 Kamikaze show. If the readers of this blog express interest, I will write about each one, briefly describing fights and giving my comments, opinions and impressions of the events. A short written description of these Pride videos will not beat watching them, but readers may be directed to fights they are interested in or simply get an overall impression of a now defunct company, a company that housed many of the Mixed Martial Artists we watch today.
The first match was a "reserved match", Wanderlei Silva vs. Bob Schrijver, and Silva looked young, quick, and sharp. Silva won via a choke, which I found surprising.
Ken Shamrock made an announcement after this fight mentioning that he would fight two fights with pride. He mentioned the WWF.
Next was Tachihikari vs. Gary Goodridge. Goodridge won with a straight-down forearm choke. Bas Rutten, one of the announcers, commented that it was not a difficult choke to escape but that Tachihikari "just doesn't know."
Shoji won a decision in a relatively uneventful match with Ebenezer Fonttes Baraga.
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Hanse Nyman was next. Fujita won by a neck crank and Bas noted, "A lot of times the wrestlers try to strike but don't have the correct training because they spent most of their careers working on control and takedowns."
Next was Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Guy Mezger. After watching all the highlight reels of Sakuraba, I was not impressed with him in this fight. Mezger looked really good and stuffed Sakuraba's takedown attempts with a ridiculous sprawl. The fight ended in a draw and was going to go to another round but Lion's Den leader Ken Shamrock began to complain to the referee and told Mezger to leave the ring. The victory then went to Sakuraba. Bas explains that the judges ruled that Mezger lost his will to fight and Sakuraba got the win for this reason.
Mark Coleman vs. Masaaki Satake was the next fight. Satake came out to the Godzilla theme music. Goodridge joins the announcing during this match in Bas' absence, who was going to be in Mark Kerr's corner. Coleman submits Satake to a straight neck crank and looks crazy strong.
The next fight was Igor Volchanchyn vs. Alexander Otsuka. Volchanchyn won by unanimous decision but looked like he could have finished it at any time. During the fight Goodridge made the comment that "you should be able to knee or kick to the head any time you want." Pretty funny.
Next was Enson Inoue vs. Mark Kerr with Bas in Kerr's corner. The announcers note that Enson had defeated Randy Couture in 1998. This was a pretty tame fight, despite Kerr being an absolute beast. Enson kept Kerr low with his guard. Kerr won by a majority decision; one judge saw it as a draw.
After Inoue vs. Kerr, Bas rejoins the announcing table for the last match, Royce Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada. Apparently, Takada had lost to Rickson Gracie two times before, and had Sakuraba in his corner for this match. Takada held onto Royce's gi for dear life and mounted zero offense. Despite being in guard for the entire fight, Royce won by unanimous decision.
A few things caught my attention during this event. I was impressed with the announcers' ability to explain the moves during the action, much like Joe Rogan does today. The incredible sportsmanship also impressed me. I found it really funny that the announcers kept saying "no holds barred fighting", I wonder when "mixed martial arts" took over. There were also no knockouts or even TKO's, which surprised me.
I know this post is very long, but if I continue to do this I will try to shorten them. Comments and criticism are greatly appreciated.