MMA Review: #19: Pride 16: Beasts From The East Jun17


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MMA Review: #19: Pride 16: Beasts From The East


Turns out I was wrong to tell you that UFC 19 would be next, as the tapes haven’t arrived yet, so we’re still on the Pride trail, as we now reach Pride 16: Beasts From The East, featuring the quite famous fight between Mark Coleman and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, as well as one of the most long, cartoonish beatdowns I’ve seen thus far. The show took place on the 24th of September, 2001, just thirteen days after the tragedy that was the terrorist attacks of September 11th. So, for obvious reasons, emotions were running high going into this one.

Pride 16: Beasts From The East


Osaka, Japan

-We open with a minute’s silence to pay respect for the victims of 9/11, before the announcement is made that a percentage of the ticket sales will go to charities helping the 9/11 victims, very classy. We then get the Japanese drumming ritual (last seen at Pride 13) which I’ve decided now is so ‘out there’ that it’s uber-cool. The usual fighter intro follows. Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten.

Gary Goodridge vs Yoshiaki Yatsu

This is a rematch from the Pride 11 fight that saw Goodridge apparently dish out one of the worst beatings ever to the Japanese pro-wrestler Yatsu. Yatsu’s another of these guys who, to be fair, probably shouldn’t be in MMA.

Goodridge avoids a couple of weak takedown attempts to begin, and waits for his chance to really strike. He catches Yatsu with a hard uppercut as he shoots in. Yatsu suddenly reverts to the WORST STRIKING STANCE EVER, holding his right hand out for no reason and thus exposing his chin. Goodridge follows with a low kick, and a hard right, before hitting him with some uppercuts in the clinch. He keeps avoiding Yatsu’s weak shots, and then begins to tee off with uppercuts in the corner, catching Yatsu on the chin. Yatsu shoots lower this time, so Goodridge sprawls and grabs what’s almost a guillotine, and Yatsu quickly waves for the corner to throw in the towel, ending the fight. I try not to be really critical of MMA fighters, because it’s obviously such a tough thing to do…but this was pathetic. Yatsu clearly had no place inside the Pride ring, and putting the ring announcer against Goodridge probably would’ve made for a better fight. To his credit, Goodridge did what was needed.

-Pride judge Matt Hume joins us, to explain just how Pride judges a bout. Basically, points are awarded to the fighters for matching certain criteria. The criteria, in order of importance, are:

Ippon – basically the effort that a fighter puts in to attempt to finish the fight.

Damage – from both strikes and submission attempts.

Combinations and ground control.

Takedown attempts and takedown defense.

Aggression – in general, rather than the attempt to finish.

The other notable criteria concern the breaking of the rules – three yellow cards equals a disqualification – and weight difference. If there’s a difference of over 20kg, the lighter fighter automatically has an extra point for each round. That explains how Belfort beat Herring, actually. Hume then joins us for commentary on the next fight, to explain who’s winning, etc.

Assuerio Silva vs Yoshihisa Yamamoto

Silva has a big Chute Boxe entourage with him, including Wanderlei Silva and Jose ‘Pele’ Landi. Yamamoto charges out to open with some attempted kicks, but Silva avoids, and counters one of the kicks with a hard right. He then rushes in himself, and drops Yamamoto with a right, before raining down the MACHINE GUN PUNCHES for the quick stoppage at about 11 seconds. Cripes, that was fast. No judging needed from Hume here, this was Vitor Belfort stuff. Real sick beatdown.

Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua vs Daijiro Matsui

This was Ninja’s Pride debut, and there’s quite an interesting backstory here, as Matsui had just beaten Pele Landi, Ninja’s trainer, and as well as that, Matsui’s training partner is Sakuraba, who was destroyed before this by Wanderlei Silva, another of Ninja’s team-mates. So yeah, it’s Takada Dojo vs the Chute Boxe Academy, pretty much. Matt Hume joins us on commentary again, hoping to be able to explain the judging a little more than the last fight.

Matsui shoots to open, and Ninja sprawls back and takes Matsui’s back, holding him down in a waistlock. Matsui reaches over and works for an armlock, as the announcers mention that Sakuraba gave his back freely to the Gracies and was fine, so Matsui’s probably got some skill in that area too. Ninja tries a rear naked choke, and turns onto his back with the hooks almost in, but Matsui rolls to escape and lands some punches inside Ninja’s guard. Ninja fights his way back up, and gets a takedown into Matsui’s half-guard, before Matsui sweeps him right over and gets on top in Ninja’s full guard. Ninja works his way up, and Matsui grabs a front facelock so Ninja gets another takedown into the half-guard, then moves into the side mount to try a side choke. Matsui reverses over AGAIN, and stands inside the guard before throwing a nice head kick. Down into the guard, and Ninja kicks up and manages to get to his feet, but eats some knees in a front facelock. Ninja tries another takedown, but Matsui rolls right through back into the front facelock. Ninja works into Matsui’s half-guard, and passes that into the full mount, but Matsui reverses THAT and flips over into Ninja’s guard. Hella competitive groundwork here. Ninja gets an upkick, and reverses back into Matsui’s half-guard, before passing to the side mount again. Matsui gives his back, and then rolls over again onto his back, but Ninja catches him with a hard stomp. Ninja goes back into his half-guard and tries a keylock, but Matsui rolls out, only to eat another stomp.

Back to standing, and Matsui lands a good right, before they fall through the ropes while grappling and get restarted. They exchange kicks and punches, before Ninja lands some HARD KNEES in the Muay Thai clinch, and follows with a takedown that leaves Matsui in the turtle position. Ninja gives him some punches, then stands and LASHES OUT WITH THREE SOCCER KICKS, then leans down with some more punches. Matsui decides to roll onto his back, so Ninja lands a stomp, another soccer kick, and finally a BACKHEEL KICK!~! before leaning down for some more punishment. Matsui eats another big stomp, then rolls into the turtle position where Ninja lands some punches and hard knees. More knees, and Matsui rolls onto his back again, but gets stomped to end the round. Holy God, what started off as a competitive match, with Hume even discussing who was ahead on points (he said Ninja because he was getting the better positions on the mat) just turned into one hell of a brutal beating. Matsui looks fucked as his corner help him out between rounds.

Out for Round 2, and they exchange, before Ninja gets a takedown into the half-guard. Ninja’s really good at getting takedowns right into position. He works in the half-guard and then passes to the side mount, before standing and hitting a SICK SOCCER KICK. Down into the half-guard, and Ninja rains some more punches before getting the full mount. Matsui rolls and gives his back, but Ninja hooks his legs around the body to prevent a reversal, and punches away with Matsui now in the turtle position. Matsui manages to escape, getting back to his feet, but Ninja gets another takedown to the side mount, and lands a HARD KNEE DIRECTLY IN THE FACE to close the round. The beating’s just getting criminal at this point.

Round 3 begins, and they come out and trade with Ninja getting some good combos, and hard knees in the Muay Thai clinch. Ninja gets the takedown, and Matsui ends up in the turtle position again, so Ninja simply stands, and lashes out with a DISGUSTING SOCCER KICK that catches Matsui right in the head. He responds by rolling onto his side, holding his head in pain, so Ninja gets a couple of stomps and the official STOPS THE CARNAGE. Holy shit, that was a beating. Josh Kramer called this a ‘cartoon-like slaughter’ on the forums, and I wouldn’t disagree with him, as after somewhat of a competitive beginning, Ninja just brought the pain, and beat on Matsui for about ten minutes with Matsui just trying to survive. Absolutely brutal.

Guy Mezger vs Ricardo Arona

Another debut match, this time for the Brazilian Top Team’s Ricardo Arona, a submission wrestling expert. I’ve seen just two of his fights thus far (this, and vs Dan Henderson), and while admittedly he’s not the most exciting fighter, he’s still a definite badass with huge takedowns, and thus, I like him. Mezger comes out draped in the US flag as a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

They press to open, with Arona throwing some leg kicks, and Mezger looking to counter with the overhand right. Arona shoots in for the takedown, and gets the bodylock, but Mezger defends well and he can’t get him down. They stay clinched, exchanging some knees, before Guy tries a takedown only for Arona to end up on top. They come up quickly with Arona holding a waistlock, and he tries a pulldown suplex, but Guy sprawls through and gets on top, then stands over him. Mezger steps back and they exchange some jabs from distance, before Arona clinches for the takedown again. He can’t get it again, and after some more muscling around, Mezger ends on top in Arona’s guard and gets some shots in. Guy stands over him and fires off a couple of leg kicks before Arona gets stood by the official. Arona throws a low kick, then gets the clinch again and tries to muscle him down, before the official breaks for stalling. Mezger looks to box, and gets a few body shots in, before Arona throws an uncomfortable combo, and clinches again where they muscle to end the round. Not the most exciting opener here, but it wasn’t bad.

Guy circles to open the 2nd, throwing some jabs, before clinching and getting a tripping takedown into the side mount, but Arona manages to get up pretty quickly. Back up and they clinch, with Mezger getting a good combo, before they break and Arona swings with some crude punches, seemingly uncomfortable with striking. They trade punches, and Mezger sprawls into a front facelock. Back up, and Guy rocks him with a HUGE LEFT HIGH KICK, following with the sprawl into the facelock and some punches in Arona’s guard. Arona rolls through and trips him, going for a kneebar, but Mezger escapes and gets Arona down in the turtle position, but he flips onto his back and pulls guard. They get stood by the official, and Arona shoots in with Mezger sprawling to avoid, and they clinch. Arona looks completely gassed at this point. Mezger gets some punches in the clinch, then avoids a takedown and ends up in Arona’s guard, and Arona’s looking even more tired at this point, the announcers saying he looks close to being stopped.

Final round, and they press and clinch, before Arona gets a takedown into the guard. Arona gets some good shots inside the guard, holding Mezger down, before standing inside it and really raining down some hard shots. He keeps Mezger in the position for the whole of the round, pounding away, as the announcers speculate that he hasn’t done enough to get the job done. We go to the judges for a decision, and the winner is…Arona?!?! Damn, I didn’t think he’d won that one. I’m not honestly sure, though. Pride must’ve been kicking themselves for putting Matt Hume on commentary for the previous two fights, because this was the PERFECT fight for him to explain some of the more questionable decisions. Not bad once it got going.

Semmy Schilt vs Akira Shoji

The size difference here is ludicrous, as Schilt’s like 7’1’, and Shoji’s 5’8’. Apparently Shoji was supposed to be facing Brad Kohler, with Schilt facing Igor Vovchanchyn, but the respective opponents got injured so Shoji chose to face Schilt. The crazy bastard.

Shoji tries to circle around him, while Schilt stands and waits for a chance to strike. Finally Shoji attempts a takedown, and works hard, before GETTING IT and taking Schilt down into the guard! Holy shit, didn’t expect that. Schilt grabs his arms to prevent strikes, and it works for the best part as Shoji’s just overpowered. Shoji tries to work into the mount, but Schilt uses it to flip over into Shoji’s guard, and works it for a while, getting some good shots in. Semmy stands, and gets two high kicks that put Shoji on the mat, but doesn’t finish the fight there. He keeps pressing as Shoji gets up, and then traps him in the corner, and drops him with a HUGE KNEE. Shoji comes back up again, and Schilt gets some more punches and a big knee, then shoves him to the floor. Back up, and Schilt corners him once more, hitting a knee, a HUGE LEFT, and then a final kick to KO him late in the round. Well, this was a total mismatch. Shoji did well to get Schilt down, but couldn’t do anything with the position due to the size difference, and it was a total wipeout standing. Poor Shoji got fed to the lions here.

-Wanderlei Silva and Kazushi Sakuraba come out to hype their fight to decide Pride’s first Middleweight Champion, at the next show, Championship Chaos, in November. Silva’s just ridiculously intense in this part, staring a hole through Sakuraba throughout the promo.

Don Frye vs Gilbert Yvel

This was Frye’s big return to the MMA scene after nearly five years out doing pro-wrestling in Japan. He enters here to the US National Anthem, getting a HUGE pop, and actually sheds some tears on the way to the ring. You gotta love Don. Yvel’s knees and high kicks are CRAZY, but from what I’ve seen, he has little to no ground game.

Yvel comes out with his trademark leaping knee, and Frye counters with the takedown, but Yvel quickly gets it back to standing, and they both grab a headlock and begin to wildly brawl. Yvel gets his hands over Frye’s eyes as the leather continues to fly, before Gilbert comes out and ROCKS Frye with a combination of punches and some jumping knees. Frye manages to grab double underhooks, and slows the action down for a moment, but when he tries a takedown, Yvel holds the ropes to block, and subsequently receives the yellow card. Frye’s eyes look really, really red, and as the doctors examine them, we get a replay that shows Yvel somehow raking his eyes in the clinch – not sure whether it was intentional or not, though I’d lean towards not.

They restart, and Yvel tries another flying knee, but Frye grabs a single leg looking for the takedown. Yvel spins out of that, and Frye shoots in before they exchange wildly once more. Frye gets the underhooks and attempts another takedown, but Yvel blocks by holding the ropes again, and it’s a second yellow card. Yvel completely flips out at the referee, totally bitching him out, but the official’s having none of it and he shoves Yvel away. Restart, and Frye blocks another flying knee and gets the takedown into the guard. Frye punches away, as the announcers mention that his leg looks to be hurting. They get too close to the ropes, so the official attempts to restart them in the center, but Yvel refuses to go back to the guard and another argument between them erupts. Finally he goes down, and Frye works the guard with some punches before trying a neck crank. Yvel counters with an attempted armbar, which Frye then escapes, and goes into the 69 position, before moving to side mount. Frye tries a keylock, then gets the full mount and punches as Yvel tries to hold on. Yvel manages to roll through to Frye’s guard, and gets some punches before bringing it up to standing again.

Yvel throws a kick, but Frye grabs the leg and gets a double leg takedown into Yvel’s guard. He tries a smother choke, but Yvel pops his nose out to avoid, and begins to push Frye off with his legs. They come up and exchange, with Yvel landing a hard knee, and they go into the clinch. Frye tries another takedown, but Yvel grabs the ropes for the third time, and that’s the DQ. Frye’s badly limping, apparently he has a torn groin muscle. Gilbert’s uber-pissed afterwards, having to be held back by his corner, but I can’t say that I blame the official, as he showed a total disdain for the rules throughout. Frye offers him a rematch, but Yvel gets the mic and yells “Why do I always get fucked over?” Maybe because you don’t follow the rules? Despite the ending, this was probably the most wild, chaotic brawl I’ve ever seen in MMA. Just crazy stuff from two guys who seemed to get personal VERY quickly.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Mark Coleman

Coleman, having won the 2000 Pride GP, was still ranked as the #1 Heavyweight in Pride, and arguably the world at this point. He’d returned to Pride after almost a year out at 13: Collision Course and beaten Allen Goes, but had dropped out of his scheduled match with Nogueira at 15: Raging Rumble, so it ended up being re-scheduled to this show. Incredibly, this was just Nogueira’s second fight in Pride, and due to his fight with Goodridge lasting all of a couple of minutes, the announcers are still treating him as somewhat of an unknown quantity. From what I gather from Rutten and Quadros, Coleman was the huge favourite going into this, with the prevailing opinion being that he could finish the fight standing rather than risking going to the ground with Nogueira.

They come out, and clinch right away, muscling for position and shoving one another around a bit, before Nogueira comes out and hits a combo that rocks him! Whoa, seems Mark wasn’t expecting that. Back to the clinch, and they exchange some rabbit punches and knees inside it, before Nogueira opens up with some HARD uppercuts and another good shot as he steps out. Nogueira throws a low kick which Coleman gives right back, before they clinch again. Back out, and Nog tries a high kick, but slips, and ends up on his back. Coleman enters the guard, and uses some body shots, but Nogueira’s constantly looking for the submission, moving his legs for position while attempting to grip the arm for an armbar or triangle. Nogueira tries a kimura, and alllllmost gets it, but finally Coleman manages to escape and goes back to the body shots. He stands to attempt a big shot, but Nogueira quickly tries a triangle choke, and very nearly gets it, but Coleman fights it off and Nog chooses to give it up. Coleman continues to work in the guard, then stacks up and leans in for better shots, but Nogueira brings his legs up and catches him in a TIGHT TRIANGLE CHOKE, tightening it by pulling the horizontal leg downwards! Coleman desperately tries to escape, and manages to stand, but Nogueira simply transitions to a straight armbar, and Coleman taps out desperately as the announcers seem shocked.

Wow, that was a GREAT performance from Nogueira, considering it was his second fight in Pride and he was fighting the guy considered to be their #1 heavyweight. It seemed that Coleman had no idea how good Nogueira was standing, and when he realized, the only thing he could resort to was ground and pound, and it turned out to be his downfall as Nogueira has practically the best submission skills in the game. This is one of my favourite fights in Pride, as it’s the one that really put Nogueira on the map as THE MAN in Pride at the time. This win also set him up for a shot in the match to crown the first Pride Heavyweight Champion at the next show, and the announcers speculate who his opponent will be (it turned out to be Heath Herring) while pimping the talent in the division. Good main event to cap off the show.

Final Thoughts…

This is one of my personal favourite Pride shows, as I love the Nogueira/Coleman match, as well as the Ninja/Matsui beating and the Frye/Yvel brawl. There are some lesser fights here, but rather than any of them being really boring like we’ve seen in the past, they’re more mismatch type fights with quick and violent endings, which are always entertaining to see in a perverse kind of way. In fact, Mezger/Arona is probably the only fight you could consider ‘slow’ on the card, and even that’s pretty good once it gets going. I’ll give this one a very high recommendation, as although there’s nothing that’ll really blow your mind, it’s an entertaining show from top to bottom, and that’s all that matters, really.

Next up, I promise, UFC 19!


Scott Newman: