MMA Review: #36: Pride 21: Demolition Dec27

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MMA Review: #36: Pride 21: Demolition

Pride 21: Demolition

06/23/02

Saitama, Japan

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten (!~!), and Rutten runs down the card whilst wearing a hard hat and wielding a ridiculously big hammer. Cause, you know, the show is called Demolition. They run down the card, with the big matches being Frye-Takayama, Schilt-Fedor, and Sapp’s latest mismatch.

-Into the arena, with a cool intro segment that sees the ring girls setting something alight in the ring, leading to a curtain of fire graphic in the ring, which pretty much rules.

Bob Sapp vs Kiyoshi Tamura

Unsurprisingly it’s another huge mismatch here, as Sapp DWARFS Tamura, towering six inches taller than him and outweighing him by over 150lbs.

They begin and Tamura comes out with a quick low kick, but Sapp bullrushes forward, drops him with a sledgehammer right, and hits him some more on the ground as the towel comes in. Eleven seconds, and I believe a Pride record. This was perversely entertaining, of course, but a total mismatch that probably shouldn’t have happened. Sapp went on to fight Nogueira in one of the all-time great HW matches, before being exposed as a bit of a fraud with little skill earlier this year.

Gary Goodridge vs Achmed Labasanov

Goodridge promised to KO this guy and make it a quick and painful night for him. Labasanov’s part of Russian Top Team, and he’s mainly a RINGS veteran.

They get underway and Labasanov comes out swinging, landing a right hook. He bombs his way into a clinch, and gets a takedown to guard, but then just holds Goodridge down without trying any ground and pound. Must be his RINGS instincts, as you can’t punch on the ground under their rules. They lie there without doing much for a while, before Labasanov sits back and tries a heel hook. Goodridge powers out and gets into Labasanov’s guard, where he tries a crazy leg cradle neck crank, but Achmed reverses it into a triangle. Goodridge powers out of that and gets a side mount, where he lands some knees and punches. Goodridge finally opens up with some vicious knees to the head, controlling him well, but then suddenly stops the offense, and decides to lie there. They lie there for the rest of the round, before Labasanov reverses into Goodridge’s guard to end the round.

Let’s hope the 2nd is better…Goodridge fires off some leg kicks, as Labasanov throws bombs that miss. Labasanov gets a takedown to guard, and just holds him again without throwing any strikes. It gets really, really boring from here as Goodridge loses his temper, and starts screaming at Labasanov to ‘Hit me!’, but he still just lies there, before finally passing into half-guard. He tries a side choke, but Goodridge easily blocks it, and the round ends shortly afterwards.

Goodridge looks uber-pumped between rounds. They come out for the third and final one, and Labasanov gets a quick takedown to guard, as Rutten is just DESPAIRING on commentary. He lies there again, before trying a mount, but Goodridge reverses and gets into a side mount. Goodridge finally attacks with some knees to the face, and lands some decent punches too, as Labasanov looks gassed, incredible considering he’s done just about nothing. They come back to standing, and Labasanov swings his way into a clinch, and gets another takedown to guard, where he just lies there again, throwing absolutely no strikes until the fight finally ends.

We’re going to the judges, and the winner via a split decision is Goodridge. This was a terrible, terrible fight as Labasanov seemed just content to lie on Big Daddy without striking, probably due to his RINGS experience and instincts. What I don’t get, is why the referee didn’t just stand them when it was clear that they weren’t doing a thing on the ground. Just a bad, bad showing here.

Anderson Silva vs Alex Stiebling

This was at the height of Stiebling’s ‘Brazilian Killa’ phase, as Quadros mentions that practically the whole country wants to kill the guy. Josh Barnett joins us on commentary here, as Rutten’s gone to corner Stiebling as a favour to Stiebling’s trainer, who couldn’t make the show for whatever reason. Chute Boxe’s Silva, the current #1 ranked Middleweight in the world comes out dancing like Michael Jackson, while Wanderlei looks ridiculous, pumping his fist behind him. Stiebling comes out with a full Muay Thai entrance, complete with the music, robe, and feathered headband. He’s wearing his DOPE ‘Brazilian Killa’ shorts, too.

Both men press forward with leg kicks, as Barnett questions Stiebling’s conditioning as he took the fight on short notice (three days). Silva lands a solid left straight, and follows with a good combo, before he catches Stiebling with a SICK high kick, right into the side of the head. Stiebling grabs him and slams him down into a cradle, but the referee stops the fight to check a cut on Stiebling, revealing that his head is SPLIT OPEN LIKE A MELON. They stop it there, and Stiebling hands his offensive shorts over to the Chute Boxe guys as they celebrate. Nasty, nasty cut there. Replays show that the high kick caused the cut, the shin-bone right on the side of the head. It’s official – Anderson Silva has RAZORBLADES FOR SHINS!~!

Short, exciting match here that I would’ve liked to see go on longer.

Gilbert Yvel vs Jeremy Horn

Yvel was coming off a couple of losses that really exposed his weaknesses against submission, including a loss via rear naked choke to Igor Vovchanchyn, of all people. Pre-fight, the announcers joke with him about his reputation as a dirty fighter, as they ask him how he’ll beat Horn, and he says, “I don’t know…maybe a finger to the eye or something?”. I’ve always kinda liked him, to be fair, except when he totally fought dirty against Don Frye. This actually turned out to be Horn’s last venture into either of the ‘Big Two’, as he’s just fought in the smaller shows since.

Yvel opens with a low kick, so Horn catches it and tries the takedown. Yvel grabs the ropes for balance, but Horn pulls him off and slams him down to guard. He works the body with some chopping punches, as Yvel tries to twist his way out. Yvel tries a triangle choke from the bottom (!) but Horn blocks, and then stacks up, so Yvel quickly gets to his feet in the clinch. Horn grabs a guillotine, and rides it down to a mount, where he looks for a side choke, but Yvel defends it nicely. Horn tries an armbar instead, but Yvel defends that and stands, so Horn brings him down again into a side mount. Horn goes for the full mount, and works the side choke again, but Yvel rolls over, giving his back. Horn gets his hooks in and tries for the rear naked choke, but Yvel blocks, and suddenly turns and stands, opening up with some punches! Yvel lands a big soccer kick, then NAILS HIM WITH A STOMP TO THE HEAD!~!, but Horn grabs the leg and gets a takedown into guard. Horn works over to side mount, but Yvel gets his guard back with a nice reversal. Horn works to pass again, and gets into half-guard, but Yvel gets a beautiful sweep over into Horn’s guard! Horn tries a kimura from the bottom, blocked by Yvel, so Horn flips him right over to the full mount! Yvel works from the bottom, and escapes back to his feet, sprawling to avoid a takedown, and grabbing a guillotine, but Horn pops out and takes him down into half-guard. Horn leans back and tries a toehold, but Yvel lands some punches to block, and they exchange kicks on the mat, before coming back up, where Yvel gets a takedown to mount, only for Horn to reverse to end the round.

AWESOME opening round right there.

They come out for the 2nd, and Yvel tries a flying knee, but Horn spins away and gets a takedown to guard. He passes through to half-guard, but Yvel reverses and stands, landing the SOCCER KICK!~! The official stands Horn, and he tries a takedown, but Yvel sprawls, so he works through and gets the takedown to guard. Horn passes into a full mount, and Yvel rolls and flattens out, risking the choke, which Horn goes for, but Yvel escapes and rolls back over to the mounted position. Horn works the position as Yvel struggles to escape, and Horn goes to a side mount, then back to full mount where he pounds to end the round.

Into the third and final round, and Yvel opens with a BIG knee and a right hand. Horn goes down to his back, so the referee stands him, where Yvel lands a flying knee! Horn tries a takedown, so Yvel sprawls, but Horn gets it anyway. Yvel flips over, but Horn keeps going, and eventually ends up in Yvel’s half-guard. Horn passes into the side mount, and then into full, where he tries a keylock, blocked by Yvel. Now Yvel reverses over into Horn’s guard, and stands, where he lands a hard knee as Horn comes up! Horn tries a takedown and gets it despite Gilbert’s sprawl, into full guard where Horn tries to pass, but Yvel blocks and they exchange punches to end.

We’re going to the judges for the second time of the night, where Horn picks up the unanimous decision. Definitely the right one as he had most of the control and sub attempts on the mat, and although Gilbert did do some damage with his strikes, it wasn’t overwhelming and Horn wasn’t really hurt or in danger of being stopped. Yvel to his credit showed some awesome sub defences here, and although his takedown defense didn’t look too hot he was great at getting out from the bottom, which hadn’t been his strength in the past. Just an awesome back and forth fight here, with some nice reversals and good strikes from Yvel.

Shungo Oyama vs Renzo Gracie

The old Gracie vs. Japan rivalry again here. The announcers are expecting Renzo to school Oyama as he was 0-3 in Pride at this point, and hadn’t exactly looked great in those performances.

Oyama comes out with some bizarre kicks, and taunts Renzo to strike with him. Renzo lands a good left, then gets a bodylock and a takedown to side mount, but Oyama works and gets the guard back. Renzo pounds a bit, but nothing major lands, as Oyama tries to escape, but Renzo controls him well. The referee finally stands them and books them both when nothing happens, so Oyama taunts him again, causing Renzo to throw a high kick that he slips to his back on. The ref stands him, and Oyama blocks a takedown and goes into a clinch. Oyama gets a takedown, but Renzo pushes him off, and they exchange punches briefly before Oyama taunts him again, and lands a nice high kick! Renzo clinches, but Oyama avoids a takedown, and lands a spin-kick to the chest, before he continues to taunt, and sprawls to avoid a takedown to end the round.

Into the 2nd, and they press and exchange from distance, with nothing really landing. Oyama blocks a takedown, and Renzo drops to his back, so Oyama kicks the legs before the official stands him. Oyama lands a one-two, so Renzo jumps into guard, but Oyama slams him down, and lands some nice punches! Oyama stands and avoids some upkicks, before the ref stands Renzo. They clinch, and Oyama gets a nice Judo throw to guard, before standing, and cartwheeling over him! Oyama starts to do a full Sakuraba impression, throwing some flashy kicks at the legs, before Renzo’s stood by the referee. Oyama taunts him, and then Renzo loses his temper, and spits in his face, as they strike from distance. End round.

Into the third, and they strike from distance and taunt again, before Renzo finally catches him in a waistlock and gets a suplex. Oyama reverses up to his feet, and gets his own tripping takedown to guard. Oyama stands, and tries a stomp, before the official stands Gracie back up. Oyama blocks a takedown, and the official stands Renzo again, and they continue to strike from distance. Oyama blocks another takedown, then tries a Sakuraba jumping stomp, but it misses and Renzo gets stood again, before Oyama blocks a takedown to end. We go to the judges, and Oyama picks up the unanimous decision. Pretty bleh fight here, as Oyama was basically a poor man’s Sakuraba, and Renzo just put in a really poor performance by his standards.

Fedor Emelianenko vs Semmy Schilt

This was Fedor’s debut, as he was coming over from RINGS with a good reputation. His theme music sounds intimidating as hell even here (I have an mp3 now, it’s ERA’s ‘Enae Volare’!) but the announcers mention how Labasanov struggled to make the transition earlier from the RINGS rules, and wonder whether Fedor will be the same. Schilt was 3-0 in Pride, but his wins were mismatches against small Japanese fighters. I think this will be a bit different…

They get underway and Fedor quickly clinches, and gets a hard takedown to side mount. Schilt gets a half-guard back, but Fedor controls him well from the top, preventing any kind of escape with some incredible balance. Fedor gets a full mount, and looks for an armbar, almost locking it on, but Schilt rolls him over, and manages to block it. Fedor stays in control though with a side mount, and nails him with some knees to the face for his troubles. Fedor mounts him again, and lands some BRUTAL right hands to the face, shocking the announcers. The brutal punches continue, as Schilt gets a half-guard, but can’t escape. Fedor mounts again, and does take some punches from the bottom from Semmy, but this only causes Fedor to open up with some more ground and pound. Fedor goes into a side mount, but Schilt gets his guard back, only to eat some more hard punches. Fedor tries a can opener, but Schilt blocks with some punches, so Fedor goes back to the side mount and lands some more, before passing into full mount again and closing the round with some ground and pound. Classic Fedor here.

Into the 2nd, and Schilt closes in looking to strike, but Fedor gets a takedown to guard just as he’s about to unleash the front kick. Schilt desperately tries to escape, but Fedor begins to pound again, albeit not as well as Schilt defends from the guard nicely. Fedor lands some good punches, but the round ends up being slower than the first, as no major damage is done.

Into the third round, and Schilt tries to kick again, only for Fedor to close in and get another takedown to side mount. Fedor lands some knees to the head and body, and controls him well, going into a full mount. Fedor lands some nasty lefts from the mount, and continues to pound away, as Schilt looks pretty much screwed. Schilt tries to buck him off, but Fedor continues to control and pound to close the fight. We go to the judges, where Fedor picks up the unanimous decision, impressing the hell out of the announcers, especially with his ground and pound as he’s a former RINGS guy. This wasn’t quite vintage ‘SMASH KILL’ Fedor, but he did what he had to do, and controlled a dangerous opponent from the top, while working him over with some vicious ground and pound, and sending a clear message: the best (or worst, if you’re an opponent) is yet to come.

Don Frye vs Yoshihiro Takayama

This was supposed to be Frye-Coleman, but Coleman ended up with a neck injury, and huge pro-wrestler Takayama stepped in instead. Just as a pointer, he’s already quite…well, quite an ugly guy, to be blunt. And that’s BEFORE the fight.

They come out and get underway, and GRAB THE BACK OF EACH OTHER’S HEADS and start SMASHING EACH OTHER WITH RIGHTS!~! Crowd go APESHIT as Takayama lands some knees to the gut, but looks badly hurt. They finally slow down inside a clinch, but Takayama breaks with a takedown, and lands a good knee to the face. Frye comes up, and HERE WE GO AGAIN!~! They wildly exchange some more with Frye’s mouthpiece going flying, this is INSANE. Into a clinch, and Takayama’s face is FUCKED. Frye lands some more punches in the clinch, basically closing Takayama’s left eye at this point as he comes back with some knees to the gut. Back out, and Frye rocks him again, back into a clinch where it looks like Takayama’s crying on Frye’s shoulder. They stop to check the facial damage, but God knows how, decide he’s okay to continue, and they exchange some more, with Frye rocking him brutally again. Frye uppercuts him HARD in the clinch, so Takayama tries a takedown, and gets mounted. Uh-oh. Frye pounds away to the face with some BRUTAL HAMMER STRIKES, and the official mercifully stops it there.

Good lord, that was brutal. Camera catches a look at Takayama’s face, and it’s FLAT. Literally, FLAT. Looks like melted candle-wax, or something. Just an incredible, incredible brawl, probably the best in the history of MMA, as they just said to hell with the tactics, and punched the hell out of one another.

-Show ends with some hype for Pride Shockwave, as Quadros and Rutten still seem in awe of the main event, and rightfully so.

Final Thoughts…

Without that main event, this would probably be one of the worse Pride shows, as Goodridge/Labasanov is boring as hell, as is Oyama/Gracie. But with that awesome main event, along with the Silva/Stiebling fight, the Yvel/Horn throwdown, and then Fedor’s brutal showing, it’s definitely a show I’d be willing to recommend. Skip over the slower fights, and watch the rest, and you’ll definitely be entertained. Takayama/Frye should be required viewing for any MMA fan, anyway.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

OratoryNewman@gmail.com