MMA Review: #18: Pride 15: Raging Rumble Jun13

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MMA Review: #18: Pride 15: Raging Rumble

Hey hey.

It’s back to Pride for my MMA reviews, and this show, Pride 15: Raging Rumble, is notable for a number of things, the main one being that it was the debut show for current Pride top stars Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Antonio Rodrigo ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira. Elsewhere on the card, Heath Herring would face his biggest test to date in the form of Mark ‘The Titan’ Kerr. The announcers at the beginning of the show hype the theme of the evening as ‘pressure’, and after a stellar card at Pride 14, I guess there was pressure on the fighters to live up to that show. Let’s get it on.

Pride 15: Raging Rumble

07/29/01

Saitama, Japan

-We begin with yet another high-production intro, as the Pride girls do some summer dancing over strobe firework effects. A huge curtain then falls over the stage, and as the fighters are announced, a UFO/elevator type thing lowers down over the ring, and from inside it, Kazushi Sakuraba and Quinton Jackson emerge. I can only begin to imagine what Rampage’s reaction to this whole intro would’ve been…Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten.

Assuerio Silva vs Valentijn Overeem

Silva is another lauded Brazilian striker out of the Chute Boxe Academy, which of course is led by Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva. Overeem was coming off his loss to Gary Goodridge at Pride 14, and was looking for some redemption with a victory here.

Overeem comes out with some low kicks, before Silva tries a takedown that Overeem counters with a guillotine. Silva escapes the choke, but Overeem sweeps him over, getting on top, and avoids an armbar inside Silva’s guard. Silva tries a triangle choke, but Overeem punches through it, and keeps hammering inside the guard, getting some really heavy shots in. Valentijn stands, and attempts to kick Silva in the face, but Silva grabs his leg and puts him on his back. Overeem lunges forward to attempt another shot, and then decides to go for the leg, but it’s too late as Silva CRANKS on a heel hook causing Overeem to SCREAM IN PAIN and tap out. Ouch, I’ve never seen someone in so much pain from a heel hook before, I don’t think. Good showing from Silva.

Wallid Ismael vs Shungo Oyama

Wallid is possibly the scariest looking fighter EVER, with maaaybe Wanderlei edging him out. Seriously, I’ve never seen someone look so intense before a fight. The announcers talk to him pre-fight, and mention his huge beef with Ryan Gracie, stemming over a street-fighting incident. If anyone can explain more about what happened, feel free to let me know.

They open patiently, pressing, before Ismael shoots in for the takedown, and Oyama pulls guard and tries a guillotine. Ismael pops his head out, and drops a few shots, keeping his head low to avoid any submission attempts inside the guard. Ismael stands and drops a flurry, then continues to land punches inside the guard, whilst working towards getting a side mount. He eventually gets it, and lands some right knees, before Oyama gives his back, but uses it to get to his feet. Ismael holds the double underhooks, so Oyama sprawls back and tries the guillotine again, but Wallid pops out and gets the takedown into the guard again, working the position with some shots to close out the round. Not a terribly exciting opener.

They press to open the second, and Ismael shoots for the takedown, which Oyama attempts to avoid by punching the top of his head. Ismael keeps trying, and then gives his back, but eventually gets it into Oyama’s guard. Ismael continues where he left off the first round, getting some shots inside the guard, before Oyama tries a triangle choke. Wallid avoids, and uses it to pass to the half-guard, before working that position and attempting to lock on a head and arm choke. Ismael locks the choke on, and then passes to the side mount, applying a ton of pressure, before Oyama passes out rather than tap out to award the match to Wallid. That’s another thing I’m noticing a ton in Pride – the Japanese fighters refusing to tap, and usually ending up unconscious. I know it’s their way and all…but there’s no shame in tapping. Ismael headbutts the camera to celebrate, the psycho.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs Masaaki Satake

This should be pretty good, if Satake’s striking skills are anywhere near the level that the announcers hype them to be. The last fight I saw him in currently ranks as the worst I’ve ever seen, so hey, it’s not gonna be any worse than that at any rate.

Very tentative beginning, as neither man looks willing to engage, and thus, no shots are thrown whatsoever, even small jabs. Finally Igor throws a good left hook, and gets the clinch, before they come back out and exchange some kicks and jabs from distance, with Vovchanchyn getting the better of the exchange. Igor begins to land with some REALLY heavy bombs, bloodying up Satake’s nose pretty badly. They clinch inside the corner at about five minutes, before Igor rocks him with some really hard shots, then gets the waistlock and reaches around, chopping away with the right to the face. Satake gets back into the clinch, but the official stops it to check his cut. Restart, and Satake begins to fight back with some leg kicks, but Igor keeps throwing the bombs and landing. Satake’s looking REALLY intense at this point, but intensity doesn’t win fights, and Vovchanchyn continues to land, getting some more heavy shots in. Satake throws some more leg kicks to come back, before Igor ends the round with another hard shot. Slow at the beginning, but they were REALLY throwing down at the end.

Round 2 opens with the same, as they continue to exchange, and go into the clinch in the corner where Satake gets some good knees in. Back out, and Igor gets a good combo, but Satake grabs the clinch again and gets some more knees. Satake keeps working the leg kicks, with Vovchanchyn countering with some hard punches, before they clinch and Vovchanchyn trips him down into a mount! Igor punches away, but he can’t really capitalize on the position as the round comes to an end.

Satake comes out for the final round throwing some HARD leg kicks as Igor’s leg begins to really swell up. They clinch in the corner, and Vovchanchyn tries the takedown again, but this time Satake blocks, and comes out with some more leg kicks. Back into the clinch, and Vovchanchyn gets a good combo, then gets the takedown into the mount again. Satake’s ground work is horrible, as Vovchanchyn’s getting the mount easily without much effort. Igor gets some ground and pound in the mount, and continues with that until the fight ends, with Vovchanchyn winning the unanimous decision. This was a pretty exciting stand-up fight, actually. I’m not a huge fan of fights that tend to just lean one way or another – I like a mix of groundwork and stand-up, but for a fight that was primarily striking, this wasn’t bad at all, as both guys came out and really threw down. Good stuff.

Heath Herring vs Mark Kerr

This was Herring’s toughest test to date, as Kerr only had two losses to his name at this point and although he was seen as not on the top of his game, he was still regarded pretty highly, which is obvious by the way the announcers are hyping this as a challenge for Heath. Hair watch for Herring – this time he has it blond, with a large brown diamond on top, and smaller, black diamonds inside that. The announcers mention that Kerr really needs an exciting fight to make his stock rise again.

Kerr immediately grabs a single leg, and Herring tries to escape, but Kerr drives in hard and takes Heath’s back, with Herring in the turtle position. Herring grabs his arm for a kimura, and almost gets it, but Kerr uses his strength to avoid, and holds Herring down into the half-guard. Herring works back to a full guard, and Kerr gets a few shots, but mainly just holds. Herring tries with all his might to get out, but Kerr simply holds him down until the end of the round. Yawn. Seriously, I REALLY don’t understand Kerr doing that – he doesn’t even work to pass the guard. It’s like he just can’t be bothered. Herring is noticeably frustrated as he walks back to his corner, and rightfully so.

Round 2, and Heath tries a body kick to open, but Kerr takes him straight down into the guard. He holds him down, getting some weak ground and pound, before the referee breaks them and calls them to their feet. Herring has a big smile on his face, until he realizes that they’re just being moved to the center of the ring, rather than being restarted on their feet. The fans begin to boo, as Kerr holds Herring down without doing anything again, as Heath tries to get up. Kerr holds him and gets the half-guard, but Herring quickly gets back to the full guard. The fans continue to boo, so Herring pumps his fist to them from inside the guard, and FINALLY the official stands them. Herring is JACKED as he gets up, screaming at Kerr to bring it. Kerr charges in, and Heath meets him with a HUGE KICK TO THE HEAD, but Kerr keeps coming. Herring misses another big kick, but Kerr finally shows the effects of the first one and ends up in the turtle position under Herring, who throws about 10 VICIOUS KNEES TO THE HEAD AND BODY for the stoppage. WHOOO!!

That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in MMA, and made me mark out as much as anything in the sport has thus far. The frustration for Herring, who, you know, actually wanted to fight, must have been huge, so when he finally landed the shot on Kerr that put him down, he really went to town with the violence to finish the fight with a bang, and it was uber-cool to watch. Great performance from Heath, not a great one from Kerr.

Ebenezer Fontes Braga vs Daijiro Matsui

Braga opens with a good combo as they circle, and gets a hard knee in the Muay Thai clinch, but Matsui escapes and throws a bomb that Braga easily avoids. Braga gets a standing waistlock, and gets a few knees to the legs, before they break. Braga presses, getting a combo and then a hard left, and Matsui goes down and rolls into guard. Braga stands inside the guard, getting some shots as Matsui tries to block. Matsui blocks most of the offense, and comes back by slapping the top of Braga’s head, ha. Very little damage is done, as the round comes to an end inside Matsui’s guard.

They press to open the 2nd, with Matsui shooting and Braga sprawling to avoid the takedown. Matsui spins onto his back as Braga remains standing, and then tries an up-kick, before Braga enters the guard. Braga stands, and gets a good combo, following with a knee and a guillotine, getting Matsui down onto all fours. Matsui rolls onto his back to avoid the knees to the head, and they come back up where Matsui gets a HUGE RIGHT that snaps Braga’s head back! Braga looks stunned, and Matsui…goes down onto his back again. Why didn’t he follow that up? Back up, and they clinch in the corner, where Braga gets some knees. Broken by the official, and they exchange, before Braga sprawls to avoid another takedown and gets a knee to the head, before Matsui rolls onto his back again. Braga misses a stomp, and enters the guard to end the round.

Braga opens the 3rd with a good combo, and sprawls to avoid a takedown before firing off with a liver kick. Matsui goes onto his back again. Braga stands over him, and gets a couple of leg kicks, before the referee stands Matsui. Braga presses, and hits a good combo, then Matsui comes back with his stupid dropkick, that, surprise surprise, misses. Matsui rolls onto his back again, and Braga stands over him, attempting to kick him in the head each time he sits up. Matsui gets up, and they trade, before Braga sprawls to avoid another takedown and gets a knee to the head before Matsui rolls onto his back again. Back up, and Braga avoids another takedown, and gets on top with Matsui in the turtle position, but Matsui rolls onto his back once more. Braga stands over him, kicking the legs, as the fight ends, and Braga wins the unanimous decision. Pretty ‘bleh’ fight overall.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Gary Goodridge

Before the classic fights, unbelievable submissions, and miraculous comebacks, Nogueira’s main claim to fame was his win in the 32 man Rings tournament of 2000, as this was his Pride debut. This match was supposed to be Nogueira vs Mark Coleman, but Coleman got injured in training, hurting his knee, and Goodridge stepped in on short notice.

They press to open, and Nogueira shoots, with Goodridge sprawling to avoid. Nogueira goes to his back, but Goodridge is having none of it and the official stands him. Nog fires off some leg kicks, and shoots in again, but when Goodridge sprawls this time, Nogueira pulls guard. Goodridge tries to pass, but Nogueira sweeps him over, landing on top in Goodridge’s half-guard. Nog gets some shots, before Goodridge reverses up almost to his feet, only for Nogueira to pull him back into the guard. Gary tries to rain some bombs down, but Nogueira counters with an attempted shoulder lock, and then transitions perfectly to a TIGHT TRIANGLE CHOKE, and Goodridge quickly taps out at just over 2 minutes. This was a very fast debut for Nogueira, who gave a fleeting show of his submission skills. Even in two minutes, you could tell that Nogueira’s skill on the ground was phenomenal. Awesome debut.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs Kazushi Sakuraba

This was Sakuraba’s first fight after he was butchered by Wanderlei Silva at Collision Course, and the announcers mention that the pressure on him here is immense. Rampage, making his Pride debut, gives a classic interview before the match, telling Quadros that he’ll take his chain into the ring with him because “Sakuraba tapped four Gracies! Of course I need a chain!” Ha, classic.

Rampage grabs his crotch and makes a gesture towards Saku during the introductions, and man, it’s easy to see why he became such a star in Pride, as he OOZES charisma. Rampage throws a right to open, and Sakuraba avoids and gets a single leg into Jackson’s guard. Saku quickly passes to the half-guard, but Rampage bridges up in the corner back to his feet. He tries for a bodyslam, but Sakuraba blocks and attempts a triangle choke. Rampage counters that with a HUGE POWERBOMB!~!, and holds on, lifting Sakuraba back up for another! Holy shit! Into Sakuraba’s guard, and he tries another triangle, but Rampage simply gives him ANOTHER double powerbomb, then tries to dump him through the ropes! Saku avoids that, and Rampage begins to work in the guard, getting some shots before standing, but Sakuraba then goes for an armbar. Rampage lifts him up, and almost drops him OVER the ropes this time, before hitting another huge powerbomb. For the love of God, those HAVE to be doing damage to Sakuraba. Rampage gets some shots in, then they come back up to standing where Sakuraba shoots in and gets a takedown into the side mount. Rampage gets some knees from the bottom, as Sakuraba tries a kimura, but Rampage somehow manages to escape that, gives his back, and escapes THAT with another slam into a waistlock. He tries a suplex, but Saku lands on top, and goes for a kneebar, which Rampage escapes again, doing a wonderful Houdini impression at this point. He gives his back again, though, and there’s no escaping a perfect rear naked choke from Sakuraba, as Rampage is forced to tap at just over five minutes into the opening round. The crowd go apeshit, and a star is born in Rampage.

Wow…I’d easily rate that within my top ten, possibly even five favourite MMA fights thus far. The pace was phenomenal, and though Sakuraba had all the submission attempts, and got the win, I’d say it was Rampage that actually ‘made’ the fight, hitting some amazing slams, and getting some submission escapes that would be considered almost impossible. I think this fight’s the perfect example of how a losing but exciting performance can help someone’s career, or in this case, launch a career, as Rampage would of course go on to become one of the most recognizable Pride fighters, and is set to face Ricardo Arona at next week’s Pride show to determine a #1 Contender for Wanderlei Silva’s Middleweight Title.

Ryan Gracie vs Tokimitsu Ishizawa

This is a rematch from one of the earlier Prides, as Ryan basically did what Phil Baroni did to Dave Menne, battering Ishizawa with punch after punch after punch on his way to a uber-brutal TKO. Ishizawa is better known as masked pro-wrestler Kendo Ka-Shin, and he’s promised that if he loses here, he’ll retire from all forms of fighting, including pro-wrestling. Very risky, given what happened in the first fight.

Ryan comes out with a guillotine attempt, but Ishizawa reverses and gets the side mount, before holding Gracie down in a cradle. Ishizawa stands, and Gracie attempts some up-kicks, before Ishizawa opens up with the leg kicks. Back up, and Gracie attempts another guillotine, with the same result, Ishizawa landing in the side mount. Ishizawa gets some shots, before Ryan gets back to guard, so Ishizawa smartly stands, not wanting to enter the Jiu-Jitsu man’s guard. Gracie gets stood, and then tries a kick, but slips badly, and begins waving frantically as Ishizawa tries to punch away. Gracie holds his ribs and apparently submits, as the referee flies in for the stoppage. Apparently Gracie dislocated or separated a rib as he attempted the kick, which is a really freaky injury, and obviously a painful one too, as he can’t even stand. Ishizawa celebrates like he’s won the Superbowl, which normally I’d frown on in this kind of ending, but hey, he still has his career. Pretty muted way to end the night, to be honest.

Final Thoughts…

I don’t think they managed to top Pride 14 with this show, but they came close and put in a great effort. Satake/Vovchanchyn was a good stand-up battle, and the ending of Kerr/Herring was worth the 12 minutes of lay and prey that preceded it. Nogueira and especially Jackson had great debuts, with Rampage/Sakuraba easily being the fight of the night, and more than enough to make me recommend this show. Obviously there were the lesser fights (Matsui/Braga and Oyama/Ismael), but they didn’t really drag the show down badly as they weren’t awful, just a little slow. The main event was somewhat of a letdown, as Gracie’s injury seemed to be a complete freak accident and robbed us of what looked like a potentially decent fight, but overall, Raging Rumble is another very solid show from Pride, bolstered hugely by the incredible Saku/Rampage war.

Next up? UFC 19: Young Guns, and the infamous Tito Ortiz-Guy Mezger showdown. Until then…

Peace

Scott Newman:

OratoryNewman@gmail.com