MMA Review: #38: Pride 22: Beasts From The East II Jan08


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MMA Review: #38: Pride 22: Beasts From The East II

Pride 22: Beasts From The East II


Nagoya, Japan

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten, who run down the card. We’ve got the debut of Kevin Randleman, the return of Guy Mezger and Heath Herring, and Rampage vs. Vovchanchyn!~! Looks like a solid card.

-Down to ringside for the fighter intros, no fancy effects here, just the regular intro with a curtain dropping from over the ring to reveal Shungo Oyama and Ryan Gracie.

Kevin Randleman vs Michioyshi Ohara

We’re opening with the debut of ‘The Monster’ then. Randleman had just signed for Pride after a couple of unimpressive performances against Chuck Liddell and Babalu Sobral in UFC whilst partaking in a huge war of words with the then-UFC LHW champion Tito Ortiz. His opponent here? Japanese pro-wrestler and one half of one of the worst MMA fights I’ve ever seen, Michiyoshi Ohara.

They get underway, and Randleman immediately starts throwing bombs with his right hand looking for the KO. He comes forward with a good combo, but Ohara quickly clinches and holds on for dear life, until the official breaks. Ohara clinches again immediately so Randleman muscles him around for a bit, then breaks and rocks him with a combo, back into the clinch again. The official breaks again, and Randleman lands a solid uppercut as Ohara comes forward to clinch again. Back to the clinch, and Randleman muscles him into the corner, where he holds on before the ref breaks again. Ohara comes lumbering forward, so Randleman lands a hard right hand, then counters a low kick with another right that sends him tumbling to the canvas! Randleman moves in for the kill, but Ohara CRAWLS THROUGH THE ROPES to avoid the beating. Ugh, that should’ve been the stoppage there, if you don’t want to fight, it shouldn’t continue. At any rate, it’s a yellow card for Ohara and they restart, where Ohara screams at him as they circle. Randleman lands a combo, but Ohara screams again. Randleman comes forward with another combo, but Ohara turns away, wanting nothing to do with it. C’mon, STOP THIS CRAP. Randleman lands another right, so Ohara clinches as the crowd get restless, broken by the official. Randleman stands, sizing him up for what seems like forever, but only lands a couple of 1-2 combos without any follow-up, and that’s the round there. Lord, that was bad.

Round two, and Ohara comes out swinging, but Randleman ducks under a punch and delivers a SLAM into a rear waistlock. Randleman lands some hard punches to the head from the waistlock, as Ohara desperately crawls towards the ropes again. THIS IS MMA, NO ROPE BREAKS! God, I hate this guy. Ohara finally gets a guard, but Randleman works to pass into half-guard, where he starts to pound, and ends the round peppering the body with some strikes. Why the official doesn’t stop this when it’s clear Ohara doesn’t want to be there, I don’t know.

Third round now, and the crowd are as sick of this as I am. Randleman comes out and rocks him with a combo immediately, so Ohara turns away and gets waistlocked, where Randleman strikes the head from behind. Ohara goes down into guard, where they lay for a bit before the official stands them and shows Ohara his second yellow card. They restart and Randleman lands some punches, so Ohara turns away and tries to run to avoid him. FIGHT YOU USELESS FUCK. Referee still doesn’t stop the fight, so Randleman lands another punch, but doesn’t follow up, and Ohara clinches. The referee breaks them, and Ohara drops to his back and lays there for a bit before the official stands him. Should’ve DQd him, I think. Randleman lands another shot, but Ohara clinches again, and just hugs him until the referee breaks them. Crowd are pretty disgusted at this point. Randleman lands some more clean punches, but Ohara clinches, and the fight ends with the official separating them.

We’re going to the judges, where Randleman gets the unanimous decision, but he doesn’t even stick around to receive his trophy, looking pissed off and walking right to the back. Can you blame him really? This was a bad performance from him admittedly, but he definitely did enough for the stoppage at least twice, especially considering Ohara was doing stuff like rolling towards the ropes to avoid any more of a beating. I might rag on guys like Otsuka and Satake for being basically unskilled, but at least they come to fight. Ohara didn’t – he clearly had no intention of trying to fight Randleman right from the off-set, and just didn’t belong anywhere near a Pride ring. This wasn’t the worst fight I’ve ever seen as Randleman did land some nice shots, but it was one of the most frustrating, as Ohara basically wasted everyone’s time, and Randleman just didn’t seem to want to blast his head off like he should’ve.

Guy Mezger vs Yoshihisa Yamamoto

This was Mezger’s comeback fight after about a year away from Pride following what he thought was a shady decision against Ricardo Arona.

They press to open, and Mezger lands some good strikes, utilizing some low kicks and straight punches. Mezger lands some real good combos, basically picking Yamamoto apart, and continues to land throughout most of the round with no answer from the opponent. Finally Guy slips on a high kick attempt, and they trade into a clinch, before the official breaks it. Mezger picks up where he left off and continues to land punches and kicks, before a straight right finally sends Yamamoto crashing to the mat in the corner! Mezger closes in with a good left kick and some knees, looking for a KO, but Yamamoto manages to tie him up, so Mezger backs off to strike again. Mezger continues to land to end the round, delivering a nice spinning back kick at one point, as Yamamoto tries to counter, but it’s clear that he’s way out of his league.

Mezger begins the 2nd where he left off in the 1st, landing some beautiful combos including a twirling kick combination that looks like it came right out of a Van Damme flick. He continues to land shots, as Yamamoto defends well, not eating anything too major. This continues until Mezger rocks him with a combo, ending with a kick FLUSH TO THE FACE. Yamamoto somehow survives it, as Mezger corners him and lands some uppercuts and knees, but slips on a high kick attempt that narrowly misses, probably would’ve been the end had it landed. Yamamoto recovers, though, and Mezger continues to pick him apart to end the round.

Into the third now, and Yamamoto decides to press the action, but Mezger continues to pick him apart with strikes, landing some nice technical combos of punches and kicks, but nothing too damaging. It’s almost like a practice session for Mezger at this point, as Yamamoto suddenly stops countering, and just presses forward. Finally Mezger drops him with a right with 30 seconds left, but can’t finish as he closes in, and the fight ends with Mezger delivering a flurry of combos.

To the judges, and Mezger gets the unanimous decision. Unsurprising, as Yamamoto was clearly outmatched, and although he tried (and showed he had a decent chin) he was way out of his league with Mezger. Mezger basically decided to put on a clinic in kickboxing combos rather than blast Yamamoto away, though, and while it was good to watch in parts, most of it was pretty dull.

Anderson Silva vs Alexander Otuska

Announcers are expecting a total whitewash here, as Silva’s last fight had involved him cutting Alex Stiebling’s head open like a melon, while Otsuka’s whole career pretty much consists of him taking a good kicking. Announcers mention that Otsuka has finally given up pro-wrestling to concentrate fully on MMA, though.

They begin, and Otsuka immediately gets a nice takedown to guard, smart man. Silva rolls through quickly into what’s almost a reverse triangle choke, but Otsuka escapes, and then slams Silva back down into guard. Silva works for the sub right away, getting a TIGHT triangle choke locked on, but Otsuka somehow manoeuvres around, shoving his left knee down into Silva’s face, before rolling through to his back, then back over, and finally manages to escape the choke! Crazy submission escape there, no idea how he managed it. Otsuka works to pass Silva’s guard, lifting him up and slamming him again to get to half-guard. Silva tries a sweep, but Otsuka blocks, ending up back in full guard in the process. Silva goes for an armbar, so Otsuka stands up to avoid, casing Silva to grab a single leg. Otsuka blocks, and goes back into Silva’s half-guard, where Anderson tries a leglock, and ends up taking Otsuka’s back! Silva lands some hard shots to the head, using a body triangle for control, and almost gets a rear naked choke, but Otsuka manages to escape it twice. Silva continues to punch from Otsuka’s back to end the round.

Into the 2nd, and Otsuka opens with a push kick, and a takedown to guard. He stacks up, looking for a neck crank, but Silva blocks that easily. Silva tries the triangle again, but Otsuka avoids and passes into side mount, but he can’t control Silva who gets the guard back easily again. Otsuka starts to land some decent elbows to the body, and continues to work away in the guard until the round ends. Announcers are pretty shocked as Otsuka probably WON that round.

Final round, and Silva comes out with a combo, but Otsuka gets a quick takedown to guard, and lands another short slam. Silva then goes into SUBMISSION OVERDRIVE, trying a triangle choke, armbar, and an oma plata in an incredible use of transitions, but somehow Otsuka escapes them all! They come back up, and Silva blocks a takedown, but Otsuka keeps going, and gets it to Silva’s guard. Otsuka tries some very, very basic ground and pound, clearly wary of the submissions, before deciding to try a sub himself and grabbing a leg. They exchange leg lock attempts, with Silva unsurprisingly getting the better of it, and he almost has a heel hook as the fight ends.

To the judges for the third time in the night, where Anderson Silva gets the unanimous decision. While Silva clearly won this fight, the shocking thing was Otsuka actually showing some skill, taking down and keeping Anderson down throughout, and escaping from some incredible submissions. Makes you wish he’d quit pro-wrestling a few years earlier, because maybe we would’ve seen some competitive fights from him then.

Paulo Filho vs Akira Shoji

Shoji had been training with Matt Hume’s AMC Pankration for this fight, and has Hume, Josh Barnett, and Bob Sapp in his corner. Filho is a member of the Brazilian Top Team, a Jiu-Jitsu champion who hasn’t really done that much MMA, though. He basically looks like a smaller clone of Ricardo Arona in terms of physical build.

Round 1 begins, and Filho quickly clinches and tries to trip him down, but Shoji blocks it well. Filho punches away at the body, then tries a single leg, but Shoji reverses, and takes his back. Filho turns, and gets a full guard in the corner of the ring, where Shoji tries to work, but before they can be restarted in the center of the ring, Filho suddenly applies a TIGHT ARMBAR, and Shoji is forced to tap out for the first time in his career. That was some beautiful technique from Filho, and with his clear strength I don’t know why he hasn’t fought more in the 185lbs division.

Heath Herring vs Iouri Kotchkine

Herring hadn’t fought since Pride 19 against Igor Vovchanchyn, so this was his return after six months away. He looks in PHENOMENAL shape here, probably the best I’ve ever seen. The announcers don’t know much about Kotchkine other than he’s a member of the Russian Top Team with RINGS experience. Pride seem to bring in a ton of low-level Russian fighters, actually, not sure why.

They come out and Herring stuns him with a combo immediately, then grabs a single leg down to guard, and pounds his way to a side mount. Herring starts to work from there, but Kotchkine manages to stand, and eats a HUGE knee to the jaw for his troubles. Kotchkine looks stunned, and falls towards the ropes, where Herring hits a BRUTAL KICK that sends his head through the ropes! Herring gets a single leg back down to side mount, where he goes for a keylock, but Kotchkine rolls into a front facelock to avoid. Herring lands some big knees to the top of the head, and then stands, where he misses a shot, and Kotchkine takes his back. Herring quickly reverses him over into Kotchkine’s guard, and passes into side mount again, where he lands some vicious knees to the head and body. Heath tries another keylock, but Kotchkine avoids again and they come back to standing, where Herring wastes no time in getting another single leg to side mount. Heath lands some hammer strikes to the face, but Kotchkine tries a kimura from underneath. Heath blocks that like it’s nothing, and passes through to the 69 position where he goes POSTAL with a VICIOUS KNEE FLURRY!~! and the referee quickly steps in.

This was vintage Heath Herring as he sliced through this guy like a knife through butter, and if you’re a Herring fan like I am, it’s awesome to see. Heath’s pretty much unstoppable when he’s ‘on’ like he was here (unless your name is Nogueira, Cro Cop or Fedor that is) and the knees he was throwing at Kotchkine were stunning. Not a competitive fight, but an entertaining one all the same.

Mario Sperry vs Andrei Kopylov

This was basically the battle of the elder statesmen of their respective teams, the Russian and Brazilian Top Teams. Kopylov is well known for his leglocks, while Sperry was coming off his loss to Murilo Ninja at Pride 20.

Sperry swings his way into a brief clinch to begin, before sprawling to avoid a takedown. He lands a knee to the head, then stands as Kopylov drops to his back. Sperry tries a cartwheel guard pass (!) but Kopylov blocks, so Sperry enters his half-guard. Sperry lands some punches, and works to pass to side mount, while Kopylov tries to escape, getting his half-guard back. Kopylov turns into a front facelock, where Sperry lands some knees to the head, so the Russian drops to his back to avoid, only for Sperry to land a soccer kick! Didn’t expect this kind of aggression from Mario, that’s for sure. Sperry enters the guard and pounds away, passing to half-guard quickly, where he continues to land. Kopylov tries to escape, but ends up in another front facelock where he eats some more knees. Back into the half-guard, and Sperry continues to pound, before standing and landing a VICIOUS SOCCER KICK TO THE FACE! Kopylov grabs his leg for a leglock, but Sperry quickly pulls out, and they stop the fight to check a cut in Kopylov’s mouth. TONS of blood, looks like he’s bitten part of his tongue off. The announcers try to claim that his white mouthpiece is making it look worse, but they stop the fight there, as it’s a really deep cut.

Pretty surprising fight here overall, as I’d never seen Sperry come out with such aggression, and I certainly didn’t expect him to start busting out cartwheel guard passes or soccer kicks. I think Kopylov was expecting a grappling match, and just got overwhelmed here – even though it was stopped on a cut, I don’t think it would’ve gone past the first round anyway.

Quinton Jackson vs Igor Vovchanchyn

This was Jackson’s first match against a real, top-level opponent (besides his debut clash with Sakuraba) as he’d blown away all the Japanese competition Pride had given him up to this point. Vovchanchyn on the other hand had been on a downward swing for a while going into this, and hadn’t fought since his loss to Heath Herring six months prior. That said, he was coming into this fight in better shape than he’d been in in a long, long time, and had apparently worked six months non-stop on his boxing. Funny staredown here, as Rampage gives Vovchanchyn a note asking him “not to hit me too hard” while the referee’s explaining the rules! God, I love Rampage.

Round 1 begins, and they jab their way into a clinch and exchange some knees. The official breaks them after a while, and Igor lands a low kick before Rampage grabs the clinch again. Rampage lands a good knee in the exchange in the clinch, before the official breaks them again, and the announcers mention that both men are showing a lot of respect for the other’s abilities. Vovchanchyn comes forward with a combo into a high kick, then throws some wild punches before grabbing a guillotine, but Rampage lifts him up and delivers a HUGE BODYSLAM!~! Rampage lands in side mount, but Igor gets a half-guard back as Rampage lands some punches. Jackson passes into full mount and hammers away, as Vovchanchyn desperately tries to escape, eating some nasty strikes as he does so. Suddenly Vovchanchyn escapes up to his feet and surprises Rampage with a combo, but gets too close, so Rampage grabs him and delivers the SICK RELEASE BODYSLAM!~! Rutten marks out like CRAZY on commentary, as Igor tries a leglock from the guard, but Rampage avoids, standing over him and landing punches. They restart away from the ropes, and Rampage starts to land punches again, going body-body-head, but on a bodyshot, Igor verbally submits, and the referee stops the fight! Post-fight it looks like Vovchanchyn has broken ribs from the slams, and I’m not at all surprised.

Wow, this was an AWESOME performance from Rampage, as he basically dismantled a very, very tough opponent in about seven minutes flat with his brutal slams and punishing ground and pound. Granted Igor was past his best, but he was still by far the most dangerous opponent Rampage had faced up until this point, but in the end became another victim to the juggernaut. I actually bought the DVD of this show on the premise of this fight, and it certainly didn’t disappoint, as Rampage’s slams on Vovchanchyn are some of the best that I’ve ever seen in MMA. A classic fight, without a doubt.

Ryan Gracie vs Shungo Oyama

This was set up by firstly Oyama beating Ryan’s brother Renzo at Pride 21, and then Oyama challenging Ryan to a street fight, something that’s hardly a smart idea. Ryan’s psychotic interview before the fight gives you an idea of how pissed off he is.

They begin, and Gracie right away gets a nice slamming takedown to a side mount, where he holds Oyama waiting for an opening. Ryan passes into a full mount, but as he does, Oyama reverses over into Gracie’s guard. Oyama tries to drop a punch, but leaves his arm hanging down and Gracie applies the MOST VICIOUS ARMBAR EVER!~!, flipping right over onto his stomach, and Oyama SCREAMS IN PAIN as the official comes in to break things quickly. Holy shit, I think Oyama’s arm was snapped there. Ryan celebrates as they take Oyama to the back quickly in a sling.

This was definitely the sickest submission move I’ve ever seen, and that’s including Mir’s armbar on Sylvia. The arm snapping might’ve been a sick visual, but at least Tim wasn’t screaming in pain like Oyama was here. Hell, if you consider the fact that Mir hardly seemed to be applying any pressure, while Gracie was YANKING on the arm, then it’s almost certain that Shungo’s arm was broken. Very exciting, albeit nasty, way to end the show though.

Final Thoughts…

This was definitely a slow starter, as Randleman/Ohara and Mezger/Yamamoto were two of the dullest fights I’ve seen on a Pride card, and Otsuka/Silva was hardly a fight of the year candidate or anything. In fact, this is pretty much a three-fight show, with Herring’s devastating display, Vovchanchyn/Jackson, and the main event being the only really outstanding matches. If you’re a big fan of Quinton Jackson slamming the hell out of people, don’t miss out on this show. Otherwise though, unless you’re a completist like me, it’s probably one you could afford to skip on.

Next up in the reviews will either be Cage Rage 7, or Pride Bushido Vol. 1. I’ll be continuing with the regular Pride series where I’m leaving off here whenever Pride 23 is released, which should be some time soon.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: