MMA Review: #98: Pride 9: New Blood Nov21


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MMA Review: #98: Pride 9: New Blood

Pride 9: New Blood


Nagoya, Japan

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten. They run down the card – the first Pride event following the historic 2000 Grand Prix – and go through some of the bigger matches, including Belfort vs. Yvel, Vovchanchyn vs. Matsui, and Rodriguez vs. Goodridge. No fighter intro on this one, sadly. Hard to believe that June 2000 is over SIX years ago at this point too. I feel old.

-Oh, before we begin I better point out that Pride’s fights at this point were still two ten-minute rounds, with a five minute overtime period tacked onto the end in the event of a draw.

Heath Herring vs Willie Peeters

This was Herring’s debut in Pride, after fighting on some various smaller shows for a while, including Superbrawl and the World Vale Tudo Championships, amassing a record of 12-5 along the way. The announcers just bill Peeters as a street fighter from Holland, and mention that he took the bout on five days notice.

We get underway, and Herring comes out and lands a front kick to open, before landing some punches. He gets a takedown and goes right into a full back mount as they hit the mat, immediately working for a rear naked choke. Peeters starts groaning pretty loudly, giving us a weird audio, and Herring wastes no time in locking the choke up for the tapout in under a minute.

Decent debut for Herring but Peeters was quite blatantly overmatched, and the groaning is something I don’t want to be hearing again any time soon.

Carlos Barreto vs Tra Telligman

The announcers mention that Barreto is the first of three fighters on this card representing the ‘newly formed Brazilian Top Team’ (the others being Allan Goes and Vitor Belfort). So this was around the time it all began for them, then. Interesting. On a side note, Barreto is one of those guys who I was sort of interested in seeing again after his lone UFC appearance, but this is the first fight I’ve managed to get hold of from him. Telligman hadn’t fought for around a year after his loss in the exciting brawl with Pedro Rizzo at UFC 20, so this was his comeback fight, too.

They circle to begin and Barreto lands a couple of low kicks as Telligman seems content to wait for the counter. Barreto shoots in for a takedown, but Tra sprawls to avoid and holds him in a front facelock, without kneeing the head as that rule hadn’t been implemented at this point. They come back up into a clinch and Barreto knees the legs and lands a couple of foot stomps for good measure. Telligman blocks an attempted leg trip, and finally the official breaks them up for inactivity. They circle again, and Barreto works the leg kicks, but Telligman comes back with one of his own, and Barreto shoots in again, but Tra blocks once more. Barreto throws a big knee, and then pulls guard, but Telligman stands up immediately and then sprawls to avoid another takedown attempt. Back up, and Telligman lands a knee before sprawling again, but this time Barreto finally gets the takedown to guard. Tight guard though, which means not much action, and the round ends with Barreto working slow, short ground-and-pound.

Into the 2nd round, and Barreto circles to open, before clinching, where he grabs the back of Telligman’s head and delivers a HARD KNEE, stunning Telligman and sending him wobbling back! Barreto closes in looking for a takedown, but Tra defends well, only for Barreto to get the takedown to guard. Telligman tries to spin out from the bottom, but gives his back in the process and Barreto takes a side back-mount, landing punches as Telligman sits in the turtle position. Telligman manages to escape to standing, and then sprawls to avoid a takedown, standing as Barreto drops to his back. Back to standing, and Barreto lands a right hand, but Tra avoids another takedown attempt and they go down with Barreto on the bottom in guard. Nothing happens for a while, so Tra stands back up, and they go into the clinch, before Barreto gets another takedown and tries a neck crank. Telligman easily avoids, and so Barreto waits out the rest of the round chopping away with slow punches in Tra’s guard.

Announcers say they can see a draw coming from this one, but instead we get a decision for Barreto. I can see that as he was far more aggressive and landed the only effective shot of the fight, but man was this a snooze-fest for the most part. Moving on…

Allan Goes vs Vernon White

And it’s another BTT vs. Lion’s Den match. I believe Goes was pretty highly regarded at this point, as the announcers mention that he pretty much dominated Frank Shamrock, and also did well against Kazushi Sakuraba, two fights that ended in draws. Like a lot of the old-school Lion’s Den guys, White’s experience at this point mainly came from Pancrase.

They begin and White blocks a high kick to open, before landing a hard leg kick. He lands a one-two and then throws a high kick, but Goes catches the leg and gets a takedown to guard. Into the half-guard and he slowly works to pass to full mount, and this goes on for some time, with the action being INCREDIBLY slow. After what feels like a lifetime Goes finally gets the full mount, but White ties him up and Goes can’t create any distance, instead he lays on White and works the body. He moves higher up momentarily, but White rolls and escapes to his feet. Goes avoids a right hook, though, and gets another takedown to the guard. He stands to attempt a pass, and White shows some nice agility, doing a back roll to his feet, but Goes immediately comes forward and looks for the takedown again. They clinch up, and White jumps to guard, with Goes slamming him down to end the round.

Goes shoots quickly to open the 2nd, getting a single leg to guard and quickly passing to half-guard. White bucks him, trying to escape, but Goes mounts and White ties him up again. Goes works some shoulder strikes this time, triggering a debate between Quadros and Rutten over their legality (conclusion – they’re not going to KO anyone anyway, so who cares?) before White manages a reversal, rolling him over and getting to his feet. He lands a soccer kick as Goes is on his back, but then Goes catches an ankle pick and gets on top again in guard. He passes to half-guard, and then the full mount, but things really slow down from there again and all he lands are some punches to the body and the shoulder strikes. White keeps him close in, but seems unable to escape, and things stay like that until Goes sits up to attempt a flurry to end the fight.

Pretty clear decision win for Goes there, and the judges agree, thankfully not giving us any overtime. Terrible fight, even worse than Barreto-Telligman, as Goes just didn’t do a thing with the positions he got. You could probably say White had a good defensive game, but whatever, this was a boring fight.

Carlos Newton vs Yuhi Sano

And thankfully, we now get Carlos Newton to save the day, as he’s never had what I can recall to be a boring fight, and probably wouldn’t know one if it whacked him between the eyes. Sadly his opponent here is Yuhi Sano, one of those utterly useless pro-wrestlers that Pride used so often back in the day, his greatest claim to fame being that he lasted 33 minutes with Royler Gracie before being subbed. Methinks Newton will be a little quicker.

Newton comes right out and lands an uppercut into a clinch, where he trips Sano down to a loose half-guard. Carlos gets the mount almost immediately, and before you can say ‘sayonara’, it’s over, as Sano taps out to a textbook armbar in 40 seconds.

Impressively quick win for Newton, that was. A million times more exciting than the two previous bouts, but too quick and one-sided to be considered something really memorable.

Akira Shoji vs John Renken

Renken is nicknamed ‘The Saint’ and is apparently a real practicing pastor. First time I’ve heard of that in MMA outside of Ron Waterman I think. As far as I’m aware this was his only appearance in Pride, too. Shoji is looking really barrel-ish here, totally different shape to how he ended up last time I saw him, like a Japanese Igor Vovchanchyn or something.

They begin and Renken comes out striking aggressively, but nothing lands, and Shoji avoids his first takedown attempt, causing him to drop to his back. Shoji calls him back up, and Renken looks to strike, landing a knee, but Shoji trips him down to half-guard. Shoji works from the top and passes into side mount, where he starts hitting Renken with the point of his chin. I thought that was illegal actually, but I guess it’s not as long as you’re not shoving it into the guy’s eye, so hey. Shoji mounts him, but before he can get anything done, Renken hooks his legs around his shoulders from the bottom, and uses it to get a swank reversal out. Shoji stands up with Renken in the butt scoot position now and lands some kicks to the body, before attempting a cartwheel pass, down into half-guard! Into side mount quickly, and then the full mount follows. He keeps a tight mount for a while, before taking a straight armbar with surprisingly little resistance for the tapout. Post-fight Shoji runs the ropes and does a backflip in celebration.

Not a bad fight I guess, with some cool spots like the mount reversal and the cartwheel, but it wasn’t exactly fight of the year or anything. Renken seemed to be game, but was clearly outmatched by Shoji.

Ricco Rodriguez vs Gary Goodridge

Rodriguez was another debuting fighter on this show, bringing in a good reputation thanks to being the King of the Cage HW champion as well as having success in the Abu Dhabi grappling tournaments. He actually looks in really good shape here too, a long cry from what he would eventually become. Goodridge gets an absolutely MONSTER pop upon entrance too, the biggest on this show thus far.

They begin and Ricco circles around, teasing shooting for a takedown as Goodridge takes the center of the ring. Rodriguez tries the shot, but Goodridge sprawls well to avoid, and Ricco narrowly misses a big right as he comes back to standing. Goodridge avoids another takedown, but Ricco comes back with a spin kick to the body. They circle around again, and Ricco shoots in once more, but Goodridge sprawls into a clinch and then breaks with a clubbing right hand. Goodridge swings again, but this time Ricco ducks and gets the takedown, passing to half-guard, only for Goodridge to get full guard back quickly. Rodriguez lands some decent punches, sitting up in the guard to deliver, but manages somehow to land a punch right to the groin, and the official calls time. Rodriguez gets the yellow card, and they restart on their feet, where Goodridge gets a nice sprawl to avoid a takedown. Rodriguez tries the spinning kick again, teasing takedowns as well as working a left jab. Rodriguez shoots in, but Goodridge sprawls and clips him with a right hand, so he shoots in again, into a guillotine from Goodridge, but Ricco breaks with a big slam down to side mount. Into the full mount, but Goodridge holds on tightly and time runs out before Ricco can do any damage.

Into the 2nd, and Goodridge opens by countering a low kick with a grazing right hand. Rodriguez shoots in for the takedown, and Goodridge sprawls, but Ricco keeps coming and gets a single leg to half-guard. He works slowly from the top, and then looks to step over for a kneebar from half-guard, but Goodridge grabs his leg to block, and eats some punches for his efforts. Ricco finally gives up on the sub and settles back into half-guard, looking to create some distance and works with some ground-and-pound from the top, thumping away at the body. Goodridge gets full guard back as Ricco continues to work, landing to the body and head while sitting up for some distance. The slow, but solid ground-and-pound continues, with Ricco even slapping Goodridge’s ears at one point, until the round comes to an end.

To the judges, and Rodriguez gets the decision. Pretty one-sided, pedestrian fight for the most part as Ricco dominated Goodridge in every area, despite not really doing much damage. Solid enough Pride debut for Ricco then, but he’s had much better performances than this one.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs Daijiro Matsui

Aaah, Igor against a smaller Japanese fighter, surely this will make this show a bit more fun. For a guy who’s for all intents and purposes a sacrificial victim, Matsui actually looks in real good shape here. Igor, for his part, looks as stoic as ever. He was looking to rebound from his disappointing loss to Mark Coleman in the finals of the Grand Prix.

Matsui immediately shoots in to begin, showing some smarts, but Igor sprawls right into a front facelock, and then spins to the back, taking a rear waistlock with Matsui stuck in the turtle position. Igor begins to CLUB him with big right hands to the head from behind, literally looking like some sort of caveman, as Matsui tries to scramble free to no avail. Vovchanchyn continues to land heavy shots from behind, nailing Matsui over and over as Matsui tries to crawl into the corner of the ring to avoid some strikes. The tactic works, with Igor’s hands now bouncing off the ropes a few times, but the official is having none of that, and restarts them in the centre of the ring. Igor continues to bomb away on him, and the official stops things momentarily to check on a nasty cut over Matsui’s right eye, the blood everywhere at this point. The doctor decides he can fight on, but much to the horror of Matsui, the official decides to restart them in the same position. Matsui manages to flip over this time, but only ends up in a side mount from Igor, who controls from the top, but the blood begins to run into Matsui’s eyes now, and the official stops it again, and this time the doctors put an end to the massacre for good.

Total one-sided beatdown, as Igor just got a decent position and then clubbed away at Matsui mercilessly. It wasn’t even like Matsui could really show his famous heart either, as he was completely unable to escape the position and just took shot after shot until the fight was finally ended. Fight of the night, but on this show that isn’t saying much. Igor was a frightening human being at this time.

Vitor Belfort vs Gilbert Yvel

On paper this fight sounds sorta awesome, but I’ve heard from most people that it’s really not, so it should be interesting at least. This was Yvel’s debut in Pride and his little highlight video makes him look totally amazing, nailing guys with all sorts of mental strikes. Belfort on the other hand had taken around a year off after his loss to Kazushi Sakuraba and was looking to rebuild his career following that loss.

They get underway and Yvel comes right out and throws a mid-level kick, but Vitor counters with a BIG LEFT and puts Gilbert down with the first punch! Belfort follows him down into his guard, and works the body, then moves up to the head and works him over with some heavy punches, cutting him open badly under the right eye. Yvel scrambles to try to stand, but Vitor keeps him down, passing into half-guard now, but noticeably slowing down. He chops at the body and the head, but Yvel manages to get full guard on a scramble. No way out from the bottom though as Vitor controls him nicely and continues to land from the top, Gilbert’s eye swelling up now. Belfort continues his work from the top, passing to side mount momentarily before Yvel gets guard back, and Vitor then stacks up to land some punches and look to pass before the round ends.

Into the 2nd and Yvel decides to risk it all and throws a spinning back kick, but Vitor avoids it and immediately gets a takedown to guard. He controls Yvel, but his offense is REALLY slow at this point almost to the point of inactivity, so the official stands them back up. Yvel’s desperation continues as he throws a big knee, but Belfort just takes him down again, and passes into half-guard. He works from the top, but too slowly for the official once again, and they get brought right back up. Like the beginning of the fight, Vitor counters a low kick with the left hand, and gets another takedown, where he begins to chop away, but the official stands them again. Belfort looks angry now, trying to protest and claim that he was on offense. The official calls time, and then warns Yvel for stalling from the bottom, and they restart, but Belfort catches a kick again and gets another takedown. He passes into half-guard as Gilbert looks to scramble from the bottom, but again he’s got no way out, and Vitor continues to work with slow ground-and-pound to end the fight. Total domination.

Belfort gets the decision from the judges, but really he didn’t come off looking too great; even if the fight was one-sided, Vitor just didn’t do enough on offense to really impress here. This must’ve been really, really frustrating to watch at the time, too, as with Yvel’s reputation and Vitor’s UFC history, everyone must’ve expected an exciting slugfest, and instead they were given yet another slow-paced fight. On a side note though, I honestly think Belfort has to be one of the most underrated wrestlers in MMA – not that Yvel was a threat at all from the bottom here, but Vitor’s takedowns were very explosive and his top control was impressive too. Don’t forget as well that he was dominating Tito Ortiz from top position before he gassed, and he’s also one of the few people I can remember taking Chuck Liddell down. At any rate, this was the debut of the ‘new’, ground-and-pound Vitor as opposed to the ‘old’ machine-gun punching one, and to say that it wasn’t exactly an upgrade is an understatement.

And without warning the show ends there.

Final Thoughts…

Pride 9 might be the worst Pride, hell, the worst show I’ve ever seen from one of the larger MMA organizations thus far. Seriously – when the most entertaining fights are Carlos Newton armbarring a pro-wrestler in under a minute, and Igor Vovchanchyn bombing on a squash victim en route to a cut stoppage, you know it’s a crappy show. Some of the fights had potential on paper (Rodriguez-Goodridge, Belfort-Yvel), but turned out horribly, and other stuff like Goes-White is just outright foul. I mean, if you’re into slow paced ground-and-pound with maximum stalling, you’ll love this show, but if not, well, you get my drift. Thankfully though, if you’re in the UK the show comes in a dual-disc set with Pride 10, which is a really great show, so it’s not like you’re actually paying for this one anyway. A truly horrid show.

Coming Soon…

Pride: 10, 11, and 18.

UFC: 62, 63, 64 and 65.

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

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: