MMA Review: #37: Pride/K1 Shockwave 2002 Jan05


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MMA Review: #37: Pride/K1 Shockwave 2002

Pride/K1 Shockwave 2002


Tokyo, Japan

-This was a special one-off show that featured both Pride and K1 matches and fighters, as well as an appearance from Antonio Inoki (that we’ll get to in a while). It was held at the Tokyo National Stadium, and drew 91,107 fans.

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten, and they open the show by running down the card, before introducing their special guest…Bill Goldberg! Goldberg is apparently a huge MMA fan who’s been watching since the first UFC, and he credits his wrestling character to MMA fighters.

-The president of K1 joins us in the ring, and says Shockwave is the ‘World Cup of MMA’. We then get a drum introduction, and a segment with Antonio Inoki and Helio Gracie lighting a torch, ala the Olympics. Very, very cool.

Wanderlei Silva vs Tatsuya Iwasaki

The announcers basically admit that this is a mismatch before they even start, as Iwasaki’s a karate expert making his MMA debut. C’mon, there’s NO reason to stick a debutant against Wanderlei.

Iwasaki opens with an attempt at a knee, but Silva comes forward with a quick combo and a HUGE knee strike that drops Iwasaki, down into a full mount. Silva pounds away, so Iwasaki rolls to his stomach. Silva goes for the choke, but then decides to stand, and lands a SICK SOCCER KICK!~! to the face of Iwasaki as he’s getting up. Iwasaki falls towards the ropes, and Silva pounds away for the quick stoppage. No surprises here, as Silva was just Silva, and Iwasaki looked lost.

Jerrel Venetiaan vs Daijiro Matsui

Venetiaan is apparently Ernesto Hoost’s Thai boxing protege, making his MMA debut here. Now this is more like it, you put a debutant against someone like Matsui, not Wanderlei Silva. This is clipped to the third round for time constraints.

They get underway and Venetiaan sprawls to avoid a takedown, then narrowly misses a soccer kick. Matsui tries a dropkick (!) but obviously it misses by about a mile. Venetiaan avoids another takedown, and this time lands a kick to the face, before Matsui manages to get him to the ground, in the closed guard of Venetiaan. Matsui passes into the half-guard, and then gets a full mount, but Venetiaan holds on, and gets a guard back, before sweeping him off! Nice skill there. Matsui attempts a stomp, but misses, and Venetiaan avoids another takedown and lands a couple of low kicks. Venetiaan sprawls again, grabbing him in a front facelock this time, but he works the body with punches rather than kneeing to the head, as Rutten mentions that he doesn’t think Venetiaan realizes you can use the knees on the ground. Matsui actually tries a scorpion kick from the position, but it doesn’t really land clean. Venetiaan stands, and lands some more kicks to end the round. We go to the judges, and it’s a decision win for Venetiaan. If that round was indicative of the whole fight, you have to think Venetiaan would’ve killed him if he’d known about the knees rule. As it was, Pride bought him back later in the year, but he got armbarred by Hirotaka Yokoi and hasn’t done Pride since.

-We go backstage, as Goldberg meets Gary Goodridge and Mark Coleman. Nothing really of note here.

Gary Goodridge vs Lloyd Van Dams

Van Dams is a HUGE kickboxer from K1 Holland, who’s actually bigger than Goodridge. Pre-fight Goodridge says he’ll take Van Dams down and pound him to the TKO. The announcers mention that Goodridge actually beat a K1 fighter called Mike Bernardo in a kickboxing bout, but still think he’d be best off getting this to the ground early.

They begin, and Goodridge grabs a quick bodylock and takes him down early, right into a side mount. Goodridge starts to land the strikes, as Van Dams already looks clueless on the ground, eating lefts. Goodridge bloodies his nose, then takes a full mount, and starts to throw HUGE punches that Van Dams just takes, before the referee comes in for the stoppage. Van Dams just got overwhelmed on the ground here and wasn’t able to show anything standing before it got there, either.

Ernesto Hoost vs Semmy Schilt

This was the first K1 rules fight of the night, and thus, I’m not going to play-by-play it. Hoost – probably the greatest K1 fighter of all time, with four World Grand Prix titles – was expected to dispose of Schilt (making his K1 debut) easily here, but Schilt was basically able to use his size to his advantage. Basically, play-by-play would look like this for five rounds: Schilt keeps Hoost at bay with his reach by using the left front kick, throwing a knee in the clinch every so often, while Hoost lands the odd counterpunch. Pretty boring stuff, as I’m not a huge fan of K1, and watching it got very repetitive after the first two rounds. Fight goes to the judges and ends up a draw.

-Bill Goldberg meets Don Frye backstage, and they discuss how glad Goldberg is that HE’S not the one going out and fighting Jerome Lebanner. Man has a point.

Don Frye vs Jerome Lebanner

Second K1 rules fight of the night, this was originally meant to be Frye facing current Pride star Mark Hunt, but Hunt dropped out through injury and poor Frye ended up with French wrecking machine Jerome Lebanner as his opponent. I may not be into K1 much, but I know enough to know that Lebanner is an absolute badass.

Quadros mentions that the Pride guys that have beaten K1 fighters – Quinton Jackson and Gary Goodridge – did so by basically going out and taking the fight to them, so Frye tries that tactic, coming out swinging. Big mistake, as Lebanner basically hammers him with combos, giving him a standing eight count off a high kick before knocking him SILLY with some brutal punches in 1.30. Nasty, nasty fight for Frye, as the replay shows his eyes actually CLOSING after the knockout punch.

-A ceremony to honour Helio Gracie – ‘the godfather of Jiu-Jitsu’ is up next, as they present him with an award and pay tribute to him.

-Next up, Goldberg comes out to his WCW music, getting a MONSTER pop from the Japanese fans, and cuts a promo in the ring. Not sure why Goldberg didn’t stick around in Japan actually, as the money probably would’ve been huge, and his look would’ve been enough to get him over.

-Finally Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki – in his 60’s – PARACHUTES down into the stadium to a mega-pop and cuts a promo. The guy is crazy for doing that.

-Goldberg is backstage with Bob Sapp, who remarks that he wants to change ‘ground and pound’ to ‘pound and pound’.

Bob Sapp vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

After crushing some Japanese middleweights in his first few appearances, Sapp was finally given a huge test here, against the Pride Heavyweight Champion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – the #1 HW in the world at this point. Size difference isn’t quite as bad here – Nog’s still outweighed by over 100lbs – but it’s nowhere near as much as the Japanese fighters were giving up. Sapp has the AMC Pankration team – including Josh Barnett – in his corner here. Goldberg joins us on commentary, and the general consensus is that Sapp needs to try to finish things fast before he gasses if he wants to have any chance of winning.

Round 1 begins, and Nogueira immediately shoots in for the takedown, but Sapp sprawls back, lifts him up, and delivers a GANSO BOMB!~!~! HOLY SHIT, that’s one of the sickest things I’ve seen in MMA, almost as bad as the Randleman suplex. Sapp pounds the body and then picks him up to do it again, but Nog holds onto Sapp’s leg for dear life, blocking it. Nog pulls guard, as the stadium lights go out momentarily, while Nog looks to prep a submission. Sapp stands, so Nog shoots and pulls guard again. Sapp grabs him in a headlock, and lands some NASTY punches, before standing again. Sapp looks a bit winded now, so Nogueira peppers him with some combos on the feet, and then shoots in for another takedown. Sapp blocks, but Nog grabs his arm and manoeuvres around, out-grappling him and ending up on top in a side mount! Nog lands some punches to the face, then goes for an armbar, but Sapp blocks, and lands some upkicks before they stop the fight to check on a cut underneath Sapp’s eye. They restart in the same position, but the break’s allowed Sapp to get some gas back, and he quickly powers over into a side mount of his own. Sapp lands some punches, but Nogueira gets his guard back, so Sapp goes POSTAL, landing some HUGE PUNCHES TO THE FACE. Nog looks stunned, as Sapp stands, and nails him with a SICK LEAPING PUNCH, ending up back in side mount. Good God, Nogueira should be dead at this point.

Nog gets his guard back, but keeps eating punches, so he tries a triangle, but Sapp blocks easily. Sapp stands, and Nog joins him, but Sapp THROWS HIM DOWN LIKE A RAG DOLL. The official stands Nogueira, and he comes forward, and lands a great right to the face, then shoots in, but Sapp blocks the takedown, so Nog pulls guard again. Nog gets a triangle locked on, so Sapp POWERBOMBS OUT. Back up, and Sapp rocks him standing with some punches, then blocks a takedown and sends Nogueira onto his back again. Nogueira tries a leglock, but ends up looking like a Koala climbing a tree, so Sapp simply folds him in half, eventually ending up in Nog’s guard. They finally stop the fight to check the facial damage on Nogueira, but they give him the all-clear, and the round ends with Sapp pounding in Nogueira’s guard. I have no idea how Nog managed to finish that round.

They come out for the second and Nogueira presses with some punches, but Sapp rocks him, so he shoots in and pulls guard again. Sapp pounds away, as Nog preps a triangle choke and locks it on, only for Sapp to powerbomb his way out again. Nogueira keeps the legs wrapped around, but can’t get it properly, so Sapp folds him over into a front facelock. Sapp looks GASSED at this point, as Nogueira pulls guard again. Nog tries a kimura from the bottom, but Sapp blocks, so Nog somehow grapples his way into a full mount! Sapp looks done for, but suddenly gets a burst of energy, and tosses Nogueira right off, into Nog’s guard. Sapp tries to pass the guard, but now he’s REALLY gassed, and Nogueira grapples into a side mount, and lands some punches. Nogueira works for an armbar, Sapp blocks, but Nog keeps working’and working, and finally Sapp’s grip goes and Nog GETS THE ARMBAR, and Sapp TAPS OUT!~! Crowd goes APESHIT, as Nog’s corner lift him onto their shoulders in celebration.

Jesus Christ, THAT is a fight. Probably the best Heavyweight fight I’ve ever seen in fact, and definitely the biggest comeback I’ve seen in MMA. The punishment Nogueira took here was inhuman, as Sapp’s sheer size and strength advantage nullified his lack of skill for the most part, and allowed him to beat Nogueira within an inch of his life, and really it was only Sapp’s lack of stamina that ended up costing him the fight in the end. It’s funny to note that after this, the announcers were saying that Sapp would be *unstoppable* once he’d done more training, but just two years later everyone just sees him as some kind of joke fighter. As for Nogueira, what can you say? This is probably his greatest ever victory, in my opinion, as he came away with two broken cheekbones, and God knows how many other painful reminders of the beating, but more importantly, he came away with probably the greatest win of his career. Incredible fight.

Royce Gracie vs Hidehiko Yoshida

Pre-fight the announcers explain that this isn’t actually full MMA rules, as striking to the body is only allowed on the feet, no striking on the ground, and the fight can only be won by submission, otherwise it’s a draw. This was Yoshida’s Pride debut, and both guys are wearing their trademark gi’s here. For Royce, this was his first fight after suffering the loss to Kazushi Sakuraba two years previous.

They get started by circling, before Royce tries to pull guard, and they grapple for position using the gis. Royce tries a leglock, and then an armbar, as Yoshida blocks and looks for a gi choke. They keep grappling, with Royce still looking for the leglock, as nothing of note happens, before Yoshida goes for a leglock of his own, and they end up both on the mat exchanging heel hook attempts. Back up, and Royce pulls guard once more, but this time Yoshida grabs his gi and slams him to the mat. Yoshida works through to side mount, and looks for a kimura, but Royce blocks easily, so Yoshida goes for a front choke, and the official checks Royce and stops the fight! Announcers are in shock, as the rules stated that the fight could only be won by submission, not stoppage, and besides, Royce jumps right up to his feet proving that he wasn’t actually choked out. Chaos erupts in the ring as Yoshida tries to celebrate, while Royce puts in an official protest, which quickly gets thrown out. The Gracie corner goes APESHIT and storms out, leaving Yoshida celebrating, while a replay shows the official actually look at Royce from a different angle, showing that he clearly saw Royce breathing without a problem and working to escape the choke.

Honestly, the first word that came into my head when I saw this was ‘screwjob’, and the fact that they wouldn’t restart the fight, even when it was clear that the official had made a mistake suggests that it was planned out from the beginning. From what I’ve read on Sherdog, though, the referee simply made a mistake, but it’s still a black eye on the show in that they refused to restart the fight. The issue would eventually be settled on New Year’s Eve 2003, as Royce pretty much owned Yoshida in a rematch that went the distance and was declared a draw due to the modified rules, even though Royce for all intents and purposes won.

Mirko Cro Cop vs Kazushi Sakuraba

Sakuraba, unsurprisingly, gets a huge, Steve Austin-like pop for his entrance, as he comes out wearing a stormtrooper-style mask, before removing it to reveal an S&M style mask. Cro Cop was still technically a K1 fighter at this point, and thus this match was billed as K1 vs. Pride, with modified rounds – three five-minute rounds instead of the usual 10-5-5.

They get underway and Sakuraba shoots in twice for takedowns, but Mirko shows off his now-legendary sprawl, avoiding both easily. Cro Cop lands a good right-left combo, then grabs a front facelock and lands a knee to the head. They stand, and Mirko pushes him away, before rocking him twice with some punches, and following with a HARD left leg kick. Cro Cop lands two more left leg kicks, hurting Sakuraba who’s clearly favouring the leg at this point. Saku shoots again, but Cro Cop avoids with another sprawl, and lands another leg kick while avoiding some punches. Cro Cop tries another kick, but this time Sakuraba avoids, and gets a single leg takedown to guard! Crowd explode, as Mirko ties him up, holding him for a while, before Sakuraba delivers a Mongolian chop, then stands, and nails Mirko with a right as he’s getting up! Mirko falls to his back, and then gets a monkey flip to send Sakuraba over the top, and they stand as the round ends.

They circle to begin the 2nd, with Mirko landing the left leg kick again, causing Sakuraba to limp. Saku shoots, but Mirko sprawls once more, and comes back up, where Sakuraba counters a kick with a left, and Cro Cop goes down to half-guard! Cro Cop looks for an arm triangle from the bottom, shocking the hell out of the announcers, but Sakuraba blocks, so Mirko bashes him in the eye with some left punches from the bottom, and gets a full guard. Cro Cop defends well, as Sakuraba stacks up and tries to pound him. Cro Cop pushes him away with his legs, but Sakuraba gets him back down into guard, and they end the round there. Between rounds, though, Sakuraba stays in the same position, and the doctors come out to check him, as his eye is swollen completely shut, so they stop the fight there. Post-fight they reveal that Sakuraba’s orbital bone was broken by the punches from the bottom, holy shit, Mirko hits hard.

-Rutten and Quadros plug the next show, ‘Beasts From The East II’ to end.

Final Thoughts…

Well, this would be worth a look for Sapp/Nogueira alone, as it’s definitely one of the greatest Heavyweight fights ever and also one of the biggest displays of heart that you’ll see in MMA. Lebanner/Frye is a nice, sick knockout, as is Silva/Iwasaki, and Cro Cop/Sakuraba isn’t bad, but really it’s a one-fight show as everything else outside of the ones I mentioned is pretty slow. That said, it’s a huge, huge show and to date I believe it’s the only joint K1/Pride venture, and with 91, 107 fans packing an outdoor stadium to watch, it’s definitely worth a look. If you do nothing else, try to get hold of Sapp/Nogueira, at least.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: