MMA Review: #100: Pride 11: Battle Of The Rising Sun Dec07


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MMA Review: #100: Pride 11: Battle Of The Rising Sun

Pride 11: Battle Of The Rising Sun


Osaka, Japan

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Eddie Bravo.

-We open with the Fighter Introductions and the crowd give big pops to Gary Goodridge, Alexander Otsuka, Nobuhiko Takada, and of course Kazushi Sakuraba. I’m guessing they would’ve popped for Naoya Ogawa too, but naturally he no-shows.

Heath Herring vs Tom Erikson

This is a pretty well-known fight actually, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it in full. Herring had debuted in Pride a couple of shows earlier, with a quick win over a completely overmatched opponent, while Erikson was also making his second Pride appearance, carrying an impressive record of 7-0-1. Eddie Bravo tells us that Erikson believes he’s the best fighter in the world and that the top fighters (Mark Coleman, Mark Kerr, et al) have been ducking him for years. We shall see.

They begin and Erikson quickly gets a takedown to half-guard, and looks for a keylock right away, but can’t get it. Herring rolls from the bottom, looking for a kneebar, but Erikson avoids it and Heath ends up back in half-guard. Erikson tries some offense from the top, landing a couple of heavy shots, but Herring uses this to scramble to his feet. Erikson quickly grabs him in a rear waistlock, so Herring drops and rolls back to half-guard. Erikson passes momentarily into side mount, but Heath quickly gets full guard back, and manages to force his way out of a can opener attempt. Herring stays active from the bottom, constantly shifting his hips and managing to avoid most of Erikson’s punches, and eventually the referee calls them up for inactivity. Herring looks FIRED UP, and lands a BIG LEFT HIGH KICK off the restart! Erikson looks wobbled, and shoots in, right into a RIGHT HIGH KICK that sends him crashing to the mat on his stomach! Herring wastes no time in pouncing, and gets both hooks in a back mount, pulling him over for the rear naked choke for the tapout! Announcers are stunned, calling it one of the biggest upsets in Pride history.

This was the fight that put Herring on the map as a real top Heavyweight prospect, and pretty much sent Erikson right down the ladder, as he’s only fought four times since. Not the most compelling fight in itself – it’s basically a shorter version of Heath’s fight with Kerr on a later Pride show – but it’s a must-see for any fans of the Texas Crazy Horse, as he showed really good defensive skill from the bottom before finishing the fight with pretty much the first chance he got.

Wanderlei Silva vs Gilbert Yvel

Announcers are HYPED for this one, calling it probably the most explosive fight of the night. I won’t disagree with that. Yvel doesn’t actually look that much bigger than Silva, despite Quadros claiming that Gilbert has a big size advantage, too. Crowd are pretty hot for this one as well.

They come out tentatively, and both miss punches, before Yvel lands a left low kick. Silva comes back with one of his own…but hits Yvel right in the groin instead, and naturally he hits the deck, looking in serious, serious pain. The officials give Yvel about three or four minutes to try to recover, and it looks for a moment like he’ll fight, but it’s clear that he’s in a lot of pain, and they decide to call the no-contest.

Post-fight Yvel gets on the mic and apologises to the crowd, saying he’s in a hell of a lot of pain, but he’ll be more than happy to rematch Silva and fight next time. Not sure why they didn’t book the rematch between these two, actually, as it probably would’ve been a really explosive fight. Major disappointment there even if it was nobody’s fault really.

Gary Goodridge vs Yoshiaki Yatsu

I believe Yatsu is a pro-wrestler of some note in Japan, but I’m afraid he means absolutely nothing to me. No clue why this was set up, of course.

They begin and Yatsu tries a feeble shot that Goodridge easily blocks, and then he tries to avoid the striking as Goodridge swings. Yatsu reverts to possibly the worst striking stance I’ve ever seen, holding his right fist out, and Goodridge starts to land shots at will, as it becomes blatantly obvious that there’s only going to be one winner here. Yatsu tries a shot again, but it fails miserably and Goodridge starts to work him over with some hard kicks to the left leg, as well as some heavy punches. An especially nasty low kick puts Yatsu down, and he tries a desperation single leg, but Goodridge simply shoves him away. More leg kicks and left jabs follow, as the announcers wonder how Yatsu’s still standing. Me too, me too. Goodridge continues to nail him, landing left jabs and right crosses, before grabbing a half-guillotine and landing a big knee.

Yatsu staggers back, but STILL won’t go down and Goodridge continues to nail him, until the pro-wrestler suddenly catches him with a single leg and gets him down! He falls back for a leglock attempt though, and clearly hasn’t done his proper homework, as he’s basically got a grapevine on the leg that applies no pressure whatsoever. Goodridge sits up and works his way free, then gets a rear waistlock and lands some heavy punches. Yatsu flattens himself out, so Goodridge hits him with a big knee to the side of the head, causing the referee to step in, calling time for the illegal blow – knees and kicks to a downed opponent weren’t legalized until Pride 13, for those who’ve forgotten. Goodridge gets the yellow card, but they restart standing, and this time Goodridge absolutely DESTROYS him with a series of uppercuts that snap his head back, and the referee steps into stop things, despite Yatsu STILL not going down.

Guy had a hell of a chin, but that’s about it, as Goodridge hit him with everything but the kitchen sink and he couldn’t put him down. Absolutely criminal beatdown though – Yatsu had no place in an MMA ring whatsoever – and it seriously makes you wonder why they would book a rematch for Pride 16 (which saw another, albeit shorter, beating for poor Yatsu).

Alexander Otsuka vs Mike Bourke

Apparently Bourke took this fight on ten days notice, and it shows, as he looks completely unprepared, like some random guy they found on the streets of Osaka, wearing a loose-fitting vest and baggy gym shorts. Announcers mention that Otsuka’s actually prepared for this one properly – meaning that he hasn’t done a pro-wrestling bout earlier in the same night, of course.

Otsuka opens with a low kick, and then shoots in for a takedown, but Bourke manages to avoid it. Otsuka then tries something that resembles a pro-wrestling dropkick, completely missing it, and Bourke gets him down in guard. Otsuka immediately starts to work for an armbar from the bottom, but Bourke manages to flip him over and take his back. Bourke goes for a choke, but Otsuka reverses easily, taking a side mount, before Bourke reverses THAT into Otsuka’s guard again. Otsuka looks for the armbar once more, and this time gets *both* legs around the front, trapping Bourke in a double armbar, and causing him to tap out using his knee!

Whoa, credit where credit is due, I’ve never seen that used in an MMA fight before, and it was a nice finish for sure. That said, the fight itself was an utterly pointless exercise.

Akira Shoji vs Herman Renting

Renting is apparently a Dutch street fighter, no clue why Pride brought him in but really it’s pointless questioning some of the fighters they fished out for these early shows. Let’s be blunt – he’s been brought in, clearly, to lose to the popular Shoji.

They get underway, and Renting comes out throwing some jabs, but Shoji quickly closes the distance and gets a bodylock takedown to guard. He passes nicely into side mount, and then steps into full mount, but for some reason decides against that, and goes back into side mount. Nope, he’s changed his mind again and takes full mount once more. Bear in mind Renting’s doing NOTHING to stop this. Shoji tries an armbar from the top, but doesn’t secure it properly and ends up slipping, allowing Renting to get free and back to his feet. Shoji follows him up and wastes no time, getting the takedown and hopping right into mount, and this time there’s no mistake, as he locks on a textbook armbar for the tapout.

Quick and easy victory for Shoji against a clearly overmatched opponent. Next!

Igor Vovchanchyn vs Nobuhiko Takada

Poor Takada looks like he’s ready to place his head on the block even before the ring introductions, and the announcers mention that while he’s fought some greats in Mark Kerr and Rickson and Royce Gracie, he’s never actually faced someone who would properly hit him. I’ve got a feeling that’s about to change. Takada actually has Ricco Rodriguez in his corner, and that would’ve made a much more compelling match I think. Ricco vs. Igor that is, not Ricco vs. Takada. Still, the man has the crowd behind him.

They begin, and Takada makes his intentions clear immediately – DON’T GET HIT – as he leans back in desperation, somehow hoping that Igor’s short limbs won’t reach him, I guess. He throws some kicks to a monstrous pop from the crowd, but Igor slowly backs him into the corner of the ring, and then comes in swinging with a flurry…but Takada somehow survives! Igor comes forward, but Takada manages to get a single leg, and actually puts Vovchanchyn on his back! Crowd naturally go apeshit. The action slows down pretty badly here, with Igor simply holding on for the stand-up, while Takada simply knees to the tailbone. The official inevitably stands them up, and they exchange kicks, with Takada actually landing some nice shots, bruising Igor’s leg up and narrowly missing a high kick. Takada shoots in, but Igor sprawls and does his trademark spin-to-back move, grabbing Takada in a half-waistlock and landing punches from behind. Takada rolls down into a side mount, but Igor takes full mount and the announcers start to have Enson Inoue flashbacks. To his credit, Takada holds on desperately, and somehow manages to survive the round as Igor can do nothing more than pepper his ears with punches.

Takada actually did well there, to be perfectly honest.

Into the 2nd, and Igor counters a low kick attempt and throws an overhand left, catching Takada off-balance and knocking him to the mat. He mounts, but Takada is underneath the ropes and the ref stops things and restarts them…in Takada’s guard. Eh, might as well give him a chance I guess. Igor wastes no time in taking side mount, and then full mount, as Takada holds on desperately again, taking some more shots to the side of the head. Takada tries to buck from the bottom, getting half-guard, but only momentarily as Igor mounts again. The end is inevitable now, and sure enough, Igor creates some distance and starts to pound to the body and head, and Takada smartly taps out before he gets his brain completely bashed in.

Post-fight Quadros mentions that this might be Takada’s last MMA bout; I can’t blame him after that, even if it wasn’t half as brutal as I was expecting. At least he tapped out when he did, I guess, but hey, not everyone’s got the absolute crazy balls of Enson Inoue.

Naoya Ogawa vs Masaaki Satake

I’m thinking there was some sort of ‘rivalry’ here, probably Judo vs. Karate or something, as we get a crazy staredown between the two, but as always with Ogawa it just comes off as hokey and not legitimate like say, the Rampage-Silva staredown was. For the record, I can’t stand Ogawa and I’m really not looking forward to having to sit through this. Crowd are the exact opposite though, completely rabid as always for an Ogawa fight.

Satake comes out looking to strike, throwing out punches while Ogawa looks uncomfortable, attempting to return fire with some left jabs, but constantly leaning forward, and he clearly looks worried about being hit. Ogawa continues to throw some straight punches that actually look pretty good, but nothing really lands well at all, from Satake either for that matter, and it becomes pretty tiresome. Satake finally begins to work him over with some low kicks, causing Ogawa to shoot in for a takedown, but Satake avoids it nicely and lands some more leg kicks. Another takedown is blocked, and Satake continues to pick Ogawa apart, landing punches and leg kicks to end the round. Definitely his round there.

They come out for the 2nd and Satake lands another couple of leg kicks, but this time Ogawa manages to grab a single leg, and takes him down to half-guard, looking immediately for a keylock. Satake manages to escape it, but Ogawa passes into side mount, and then takes full mount, to which Satake reacts by giving his back. Crowd go mental, as Ogawa quickly applies a rear naked choke for the tapout.

I’m sure Ogawa’s fans loved this, but bleh, it wasn’t a good fight in my view. Satake was completely picking him apart standing before the takedown, but as soon as it hit the mat it was all Ogawa, which is pretty unsurprising. Would’ve preferred to see Ogawa’s head get knocked off, but hey.

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Shannon Ritch

Yeah, this should be good, note the sarcasm. On one side of the coin there’s Sakuraba, who was probably pound-for-pound the best fighter around at this time, and on the other side there’s the 13-18 at the time ‘Cannon’, Shannon Ritch, who practically defines the term ‘journeyman’. I guess they were throwing Sakuraba a bone after his tough fights with the Gracies and Vovchanchyn and so on though, which is fair enough. Let’s hope it’s better than Sakuraba/Arsene, though!

Sakuraba blocks a high kick attempt to open, then tries one of his own, but Ritch catches it and throws him to the ground. Sakuraba comes back up, and Ritch charges in swinging, but Sakuraba calmly ducks, gets a single leg takedown, right into a straight Achilles hold for the tapout.

Better than Sakuraba/Arsene, then, but a completely pointless exercise overall. And naturally with these old Prides, the show suddenly ends there.

Final Thoughts…

Pride 11 isn’t necessarily a bad show – there’s no real stinkers here and it’s watchable enough – but rather than being bad, it’s just, well, pointless. The only fight that’s really memorable at all is Herring vs. Erikson, and the rest is just a bunch of squash matches that aren’t really worth a look at all. I wouldn’t say go out of your way to avoid the show – it came in a double-DVD set with Pride 12 for me, which isn’t a bad one at all – but it’s definitely not worth a look unless you’re a collector.

Coming Soon…

Pride: 18.

UFC: 23, 24, 26, 62, 63, 64 and 65.

Cage Rage: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.

WEC: 10 and 11.

WFA: 1, 2 and 3.

King of the Cage: 15, 18, 21, 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42 and 48.

Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: