MMA Review: #15: Pride 13: Collision Course May31

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MMA Review: #15: Pride 13: Collision Course

Bonjour.

Welcome to my latest Pride review. This time, I’m looking at the first Pride show of 2001, Pride 13: Collision Course. This is a pretty significant show historically, as it’s main evented by the first Kazushi Sakuraba-Wanderlei Silva meeting. Elsewhere, Dan Henderson battles Renzo Gracie, and Lions Den fighter Tracy Telligman faces Igor Vovchanchyn. This looked like a pretty solid card on paper. The major news was the addition of a new rule that made knees to the head when an opponent was on all fours legal. As you’ll see, it made for some very interesting happenings.

Pride 13: Collision Course

03/25/2001

Tokyo, Japan

-We open with a somewhat bizarre ceremony, featuring a Japanese drummer. Apparently it’s an ancient Samurai ritual that inspires warrior spirit. Pretty cool actually. The usual fighter intro thing comes next. Your hosts, as always, are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten.

Bobby Southworth vs Vitor Belfort

The announcers don’t seem to know a great deal about Southworth, and I’ve never heard of him outside of this show. This was during Vitor’s ground and pound phase, which didn’t really work too well for him for the most part. He would of course re-debut the ‘Old Vitor’ with the machine gun hands over two years after this, at UFC 43.

Southworth comes out leading with the right hand, before Vitor tries a combo, which Southworth avoids. Vitor throws a low kick – the first of his career, according to Quadros (!) – before Southworth shoots in for the takedown. Vitor reverses, and takes him down into the guard. Southworth tries to fight up, and does so, but Vitor gets him back down, and tries to create some distance to strike. Vitor works to pass the guard, and then manages to take Southworth’s back, before slapping on a nice rear naked choke, and getting the hooks in for the tapout victory. Very quick opener here, as Southworth looked completely outmatched.

Guy Mezger vs Egan Inoue

Apparently Mezger wanted a fight with Egan’s brother, Enson here, because they missed out on their fight at UFC 13’s tournament when Enson got injured. Enson ‘retired’ after losing to Herring at Pride 12 though, so Guy ended up with his brother here.

Guy presses to open and gets a couple of leg kicks, before they go into the clinch, both men muscling to try and get the takedown. They don’t do much, holding in the clinch rather than using it to strike, before coming back out. Mezger presses in close, and gets a good punch and a knee to the head. BIG left rocks Egan, and Mezger follows with a solid knee to the head and a hard right, to knock Inoue out at just over two minutes. Another really one-sided contest, but Mezger was looking pretty hot at this time, as he’d just come off another good KO in the last Pride show.

Heath Herring vs Denis Sobolev

Sobolev’s a Russian fighter, and gets announced in the same way as the Japanese fighters, that being his surname first, then his first name following. ‘Sobolev Denis’ sounds a lot stranger than ‘Sakuraba Kazushi’, though. Herring’s hairstyle of choice? Very short on the top, and bleached white, with a longer purple fringe, purple goatee, and pink sideburns. Very cool.

Heath comes out immediately with that front kick of his, and then gets the takedown into side control. Herring gets some knees from the position, then grabs Sobolev in a keylock for the tapout at 22 seconds! Lord. If the first two fights were one-sided, this was a total mismatch as it was not only Sobolev’s Pride debut, but only his third MMA fight. Herring was on a complete roll here, coming off wins over Tom Erikson and Enson Inoue, and made very fast work of a lesser opponent, looking good doing so.

Dan Henderson vs Renzo Gracie

This should be a bit more competitive. It’s the old rivalry of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs American Wrestling, too. Henderson’s only appearance in Pride prior to this was his awesome fight at Pride 12 with Wanderlei Silva.

Both guys press to open the fight, before Henderson throws his big right, which Gracie avoids. Henderson sprawls into a front facelock to avoid a takedown, then they come back up where Renzo gets a good left. Henderson answers with a one-two punch combo, then sprawls to avoid another takedown. Henderson lands some knees to the head in the position, making full use of the new rule, before Renzo goes onto his back. Henderson waits for him to get up rather than go into the guard, and they trade inside the clinch. Back out, and Gracie shoots in again, and Henderson sprawls once more, landing some more knees in the front facelock position. Back up, and Gracie dodges a knee to the head. He shoots in for another takedown, and CRUMPLES as Henderson sprawls! Henderson smacks him with a right-left combo, and Gracie hits the mat and is OUT COLD. Henderson seems almost shocked, as the official quickly checks on Renzo. The announcers think that Henderson slammed Gracie’s head into the canvas as he sprawled, but replays show that Hendo simply nailed him with a sweet uppercut right on the chin as he sprawled downwards. Henderson is THE MAN, and becomes the first fighter to ever knock out a Gracie. Some decent action here.

Mark Coleman vs Allan Goes

This was Coleman’s big return to Pride, his first fight after winning the 2000 Grand Prix, and also his first fight in almost a year. Goes, at just over 200lbs, is outweighed by over 30lbs for this one.

Goes comes out with two jumping kicks that Coleman easily avoids. He then tries a totally outlandish Capoeira kick, which Coleman again avoids with ease. Goes shoots in for the takedown, but Coleman avoids and hammers away in the front facelock. Goes almost gets the fight to guard, but he punches away and outmuscles Goes completely, getting back into the front facelock. From there, he proceeds to hit Goes with two of the most VICIOUS KNEES I’ve ever seen from that position, the second one completely KOing him as his body actually goes limp. Coleman hits three more, equally as vicious, before the official quickly calls the stoppage. Coleman celebrates, but as he does so, Goes actually grabs his leg and tries a takedown! Chaos insues, as officials and cornermen haul Goes off, much to the shock of Coleman. Eventually Goes gets to his feet and they embrace. Apparently, Goes was KOd so badly that he didn’t even realize it, and thought the fight was still going on when he came around. Jesus, those knees were hard. Total mismatch.

Masaaki Satake vs Tadao Yasuda

Tadao’s a big pro-wrestler, who’s making his debut in MMA. Satake I believe has some kickboxing credibility, having fought and done okay in K1, but his MMA record at this point wasn’t good at all – one win to three losses. Like most of the Japanese pro-wrestler fights, I’m not expecting much here. Especially as Yasuda’s like 75lbs heavier than Satake.

Satake tries to strike from the bell, throwing a right, but Yasuda simply grabs him in double underhooks and muscles him into the corner. He holds him in the position, doing absolutely NOTHING, while Satake’s just stuck in the corner. Finally, after what seems like forever, the official breaks them and shows Satake the yellow card for holding the ropes. They restart, and Yasuda muscles him into the corner again, and just holds like before. The referee restarts them again after a bit less time, and Satake finally gets some shots in, rocking Yasuda with a couple of rights before Yasuda grabs the underhooks once more and muscles him back into the corner. He does hit a couple of knees this time, but no damage is done. The official restarts eventually, and Yasuda gets the yellow for stalling. Finally! Satake gets a good right after the restart, but again Yasuda muscles him to the corner and holds him. This is getting REALLY tiresome at this point. The official’s forced to do the restart again, and Yasuda immediately does the exact same thing from that, getting Satake to the corner and holding again, while Satake gets a couple of shots inside the clinch.

I think that might have been the most boring round of MMA I’ve ever seen. If the next two rounds are bad, I may have found a worse fight than Vovchanchyn/Kerr. Okay, they’re out for the 2nd, and Yasuda immediately charges and shoves Satake into the corner again. Satake tries to dodge this time, but Yasuda’s too big. Satake manages to get a couple of good knees in, before the inevitable restart. Satake manages to avoid the charge this time, attempting to hit a combo as he dodges. He circles a bit, but Yasuda catches him in the bum-rush again, and holds him in the corner as usual. Yasuda weakly works the clinch before the restart. Satake again tries to dodge, but right upon the restart Yasuda muscles him to the corner once more. Satake tries to get out, but ends up being taken down as the round ends.

That was just as bad as the first round – Satake tried to get some shots in, but the huge strength disadvantage meant that he was always getting caught by Yasuda. In all honesty, I would’ve disqualified Yasuda for stalling at this point, as it was clear that he was not interested in putting on anything resembling a ‘fight’. Yasuda comes out for the third round looking tired. Amazing, considering he’s done pretty much SQUAT. Satake tries a kick, but Yasuda grabs the bodylock and brings him into the corner again. They restart after a while, and Yasuda avoids some punches and repeats his only move, but this time tries for a single leg. Satake manages to scoot out, trying some punches, but Yasuda pushes him into the corner again. After another restart, Satake throws some big punches, desperately trying for the KO as the fight approaches the end, but Yasuda muscles him to the corner again. Satake ends the fight with a high knee, and we go to the judge’s decision, where Yasuda gets the split decision.

Ugh. It was clear from the opening moments that Yasuda wasn’t there to put on a proper fight, and his only offensive move involved weakly working the clinch in the corner. Satake tried, but he was horribly outweighed and kept getting trapped. A better fighter would probably have KOd Yasuda, but I don’t think Satake deserved to lose this one. He at least came to fight. The use of guys like Yasuda is probably the only thing that really irks me when it comes to Pride. And yeah, this outranks Kerr/Vovchanchyn as the worst fight I’ve ever seen.

Tracy Telligman vs Igor Vovchanchyn

As I mentioned in the introduction, Telligman is one of Ken Shamrock’s Lions Den fighters, and he’s actually replacing the injured Ken here, taking the fight on just two weeks notice. I’ve seen him once before, fighting Pedro Rizzo in a slugfest at UFC 43, so I’m expecting a similar showing here, as Vovchanchyn’s a well-known striker. Before the fight, Tito Ortiz enters the ring to hand both men a bunch of flowers, wearing the most ludicrous pair of shades I’ve ever seen.

They circle to open, exchanging some shots from distance, before Igor comes in close and gets a combo. Telligman responds with a low kick, which Igor grabs and shoves him away. They circle some more, not throwing many shots, and Vovchanchyn comes with a good right and follows up with a low kick. Telligman swings a nice combo, that Vovchanchyn mostly ducks, before Igor tries a combo of his own that Tra manages to block. They continue the stand-up, with nothing major connecting, and Igor pressing more. Igor gets a good left hook, but follows with an inadvertent kick to the groin, and the referee calls time out. They restart, and Tra presses, before they exchange with Vovchanchyn getting the better shots in. Telligman gets a good left hook, and blocks a takedown attempt, before they both swing punches and miss. Igor clinches, but they come out quickly and Tra gets a couple of good low kicks. Telligman gets two good lefts, and PUTS IGOR ON THE CANVAS! Holy shit. Telligman goes down, punching in the guard, but Vovchanchyn recovers and holds him inside the guard. Telligman works to pass, but then stands, hitting some kicks to the legs, before going back into the guard. He tries to work the guard some more, but as he tries to pass Igor gets back up, and throws some punches, but slips on a kick and goes back down. Telligman enters the guard again to end the round.

Not bad, actually, as the stand-up got better towards the end of the round as Telligman began to press the action some more. We open the 2nd round with both men pressing the fight, but nothing really connecting. They finally exchange some good shots, and Telligman snaps Igor’s head back with a left hook. Igor tries the takedown, and they clinch, before going into Vovchanchyn’s guard where Telligman continues to work to end the round. Pretty uneventful round outside of a couple of good shots from Telligman.

Igor gets a good right in close as the final round is in it’s early stages, then tries some really hard shots which Tra manages to block. Into the clinch, and Telligman uses the position to get a sweet takedown into Vovchanchyn’s guard. Telligman works a little to try to pass, but can’t really improve the position. Igor tries to sweep him over to get on top, but Telligman blocks and gets into the half-guard. Vovchanchyn tries to hold him in that position, before they get back up and into the clinch to end the fight. We’re going to the judges for only the second time tonight, and the winner is…Telligman! This was a huge shock at the time, as Vovchanchyn was rated as one of the best heavyweights in the game. I think it was the right decision though, as Telligman got in the better shots, rocking Vovchanchyn with the left hook a few times. This wasn’t the most exciting fight, but there were periods of good action, and ANYTHING would have been better than the fight before it.

Wanderlei Silva vs Kazushi Sakuraba

This is a very famous fight in Pride. Sakuraba was pretty much on the top of the sport here, and up until this point had only lost to the much larger Igor Vovchanchyn in Pride. Silva had come into the organization with big wins over Guy Mezger and Dan Henderson. Ortiz once again comes into the ring to present the fighters with flowers, and in a funny moment, Silva refuses to take his bunch himself, so Ortiz gives it to the ring girl in Silva’s corner, and kisses her on the cheek. Sakuraba accepts his personally, so Ortiz kisses him, too. As always, Silva looks like a MANIAC in the staredown.

Silva comes out immediately on the bell, and throws some strikes which Sakuraba manages to avoid. They exchange, and Sakuraba ROCKS HIM BADLY with a right, but Silva comes back up and clinches. Saku breaks, and starts swinging, clearly looking for the KO, but Silva grabs the Muay Thai clinch and gives him a hard knee to the head. Silva follows with some HARD RIGHTS, and grabs the front facelock as Sakuraba kneels on all fours. Taking full advantage of the new rule, Silva BRINGS THE PAIN with knees to the head, then gets some BIG punches as Sakuraba comes up. Saku goes for a single leg, but eats some HARD SOCCER KICKS, Silva actually taking a run-up on the final one. Sakuraba’s clearly in trouble at this point, and he takes some more hard knees on all fours, before Silva lashes out with a SICK SOCCER KICK TO THE HEAD as the referee stops the fight.

Holy love of God, that was one hell of a beating. I think it was a shock that Silva had actually beaten Sakuraba, but to butcher him like that was just amazing. If any fighter benefited from the new rule, it’s Wanderlei Silva, as it fits his style of fighting perfectly, allowing for all those soccer kicks and knees to the head. The torch is seemingly passed after the fight, as Sakuraba presents Silva with his personal ‘Saku’ title belt that he’d been wearing. This was a very historically important fight, as it marked the beginning of the end of Sakuraba’s dominance, while also really sparking the beginning of Silva’s own dominating run in Pride. Great main event to cap off the show.

Final Thoughts…

On one hand, outside of the atrocious Satake/Yasuda match, there are no really boring fights on this card, and only two out of eight go to decision. On the other hand though, there’s a ton of mismatches (Belfort/Southworth, Herring/Sobolev, Goes/Coleman) and most of the card is uber-short, including the Henderson/Gracie fight which is pretty exciting until it’s abrupt (but cool) ending. Still, I’d recommend this show for the Silva/Sakuraba match alone, as the beating that Silva dishes out should be enough to whet the appetite of any MMA fan.

Next up? Pride 14: Clash Of The Titans, featuring Chuck Liddell’s first Pride appearance, as well as a clash between Heath Herring and Vitor Belfort, another fight from Dan Henderson, and one of the better Japanese pro-wrestler fights to round up the card. Until then’

Peace

Scott Newman:

OratoryNewman@gmail.com