MMA Review: #420: PRIDE 4

-So I guess after he beat Kyle Sturgeon last time around in PRIDE 3, whoever was behind PRIDE at this point decided to give Nobuhiko Takada another crack at Rickson Gracie, and that’s the reasoning behind this show. Erm, I don’t have much else to say, sorry for the shit intro. Show looks like a mixed bag glancing at the results!

PRIDE 4

10/11/98
Tokyo, Japan

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs Gary Goodridge

This was Igor’s PRIDE debut and from what I know he would’ve been bringing in a terrifying reputation, as he was a crazy 30-2 at this point with his last loss being a 1995 submission to a chin in the eye (!) of all things. Not that Goodridge cared I guess as he’d already fought tough dudes like Frye and Coleman and was a badass himself.

Fight begins and they circle a little before Goodridge ties Igor up, clearly bothered about his reputation as a striker. Takedown follows due to brute force, and they land in Vovchanchyn’s guard. Looks like Igor’s cut already over the right eye. Probably a clash of heads on the way down as I didn’t catch Goodridge actually land anything on him. Goodridge decides to drop back for a heel hook, but totally botches it and somehow Igor winds up in mount. Goodridge gives his back and hits a reversal from there, ending up on top in guard again. Very little happens from there as Igor’s t-rex style arms can’t reach Goodridge with some punches from the bottom. Flurry from Goodridge misses and Igor pops back up to his feet. Goodridge clinches again immediately and leans him into the ropes, and Igor is badly cut. Takedown follows again into Igor’s guard. This time he passes to half-guard and Igor looks a bit stuck from his back. Igor tries to kick him away, and then Goodridge decides to stand up anyway. We go into a stalemate with Igor still on his back, and finally he explodes to his feet. Combo from Igor but Goodridge grabs a clinch again. This time though Igor breaks off and cracks him with two left hooks. BIG LEFT HOOK sends Goodridge wobbling into the ropes….and the ref calls it there in an odd decision. Not sure about that one as Goodridge was still standing and looked okay to me. Huh.

I saw a TKO for Vovchanchyn on the results and at least expected something highlight worthy but instead the fight sucked and had an anticlimactic finish. Sigh. Next!

Akira Shoji vs Wallid Ismail

We all know about Shoji but this was Ismail’s PRIDE debut and for those who don’t know who he is, the guy is a LEGEND. Nowadays he’s the promoter of Jungle Fight and I believe he represents UFC fighters like Paulo Thiago and Erick Silva, but back here the guy was a BJJ icon but also (from what I’ve heard and read) a total lunatic, famous for his feud with Ryan Gracie but also for choking out Royce Gracie in one of the infamous Gracie Challenges. Dude looks like a total psychopath prior to this fight with his eyes bugging out wildly.

Fight begins and Ismail comes in wildly, eating a right hand en route to attempting a takedown. Shoji shows some good defense initially to stuff it, but Ismail keeps on going and eventually forces him to the ground right in the corner of the ring. Shoji ends up in a seated position as Ismail tries to force him to his back properly, and naturally the action slows down to a crawl. Good job from Shoji to use the ropes to stand, but Wallid stays on him like glue and tries to get him down again. Shoji manages to remain standing though and seems pretty chilled. Another attempt allows Wallid to put him down in full guard, where he lands a couple of punches. Quick reversal brings Shoji back up but Wallid puts him back down instantly. Guillotine attempt from Shoji is easily avoided and Ismail steps into half-guard. Couple of strikes get through for the Brazilian as he makes his way into full mount and Shoji might be in trouble. He does a tremendous job of reversing to his feet though and lands some good punches standing while avoiding a couple of takedown attempts. Crowd pop loudly for this which makes a change from the absolute silence you usually hear. Or don’t hear as it may be. Ismail manages to grab him again though and wrestles him to the ground once more, this time landing in side mount. This time he lands a couple of forearm shots and it looks like Shoji might be cut under the right eye. Full mount for Wallid and he lands some solid punches although Shoji does a decent job of deflecting a couple of them. Nice reversal from Shoji and he explodes to his feet again. Good right hand allows him to escape a single leg and they almost go through the ropes when Wallid tries the takedown again. Shoji looks like he’s breathing really heavily. Takedown from Wallid into full guard. Round ends just after. Interesting round as Wallid was in control but had some obvious problems with the Japanese fighter.

Second round and Wallid looks GASSED. Good leg kick from Shoji has him wobbled right away. BIG COMBO from Shoji rocks him and sends him down, and he takes a while to get up and looks really wobbly. He lumbers forward some more but seems totally out on his feet, and Shoji cracks him with a left hook! Ismail tries to swing back and lunges for Shoji, but he’s getting LIT UP and the ref comes running in to call it with Wallid looking out on his feet. Weird stoppage but I think it was the correct call as Ismail was totally done. Not sure what happened to him really but I suspect he just ran out of gas after spending ten minutes trying to wrestle a fireplug like Shoji and keep him on the ground. Watching this, it’s more understandable now why PRIDE had such a hard-on for Shoji even years later as this was a fun little fight with a big win for a Japanese native against a Brazilian with quite the reputation!

Daijiro Matsui vs Sanae Kikuta

Oh lord. Not looking forward to this one, sorry. I mean how could I after Kikuta’s stinker with Renzo Gracie and Matsui’s awful fight with Akira Shoji on the last PRIDE show? I’m shuddering to think what this one might hold. Odd pre-fight video package shows Matsui doing these odd sort-of half squats. No idea why they’d show that.

Fight begins and they clinch right away. Oh God no. Kikuta keeps trying to trip Matsui down but can’t quite manage it and they spin around a few times before he lands it and ends up in the guard. Bas is begging them to do something right away, ha! Quadros just seems terrified of seeing another Kikuta/Gracie debacle. This time Kikuta lands some punches at least as Matsui just clings on from the bottom. Kikuta tries to pass the guard, and manages to get into half-guard which pleases Bas greatly. Reversal from Matsui though and he almost takes the back, but Kikuta pops back up and grabs the clinch again. Good takedown from Kikuta lands him back in half-guard. Into side mount for Kikuta and oh how I wish PRIDE would’ve put a clock on the screen so I’d know how much longer this is going to go on for. Full mount now for Kikuta and then for some reason he gives it up to take side mount again. Huh. Quadros calls the fight “pedantic” which is pretty fucking hilarious. Reversal from Matsui but naturally they pop back to their feet and Kikuta clinches and trips him back down. Ugh. This time Matsui kicks him away with some upkicks to the body, and then when Kikuta gets back on top he hits a reversal to take top position himself. Matsui’s almost got a mounted crucifix here in fact but it doesn’t look like he even realizes that. Eventually he just sort of lets Kikuta up to his feet. Right hook glances for Matsui but you can tell neither man is a proper striker. Round ends there. Total yawner.

Second round and Kikuta throws a jab, but the ref calls time to have him wiped down with a towel. Side kick to the body from Matsui. Head kick misses and causes him to fall to his back and of course Kikuta dives on him and settles into half-guard. Slap to the mat from Kikuta. Can’t the ref just claim he’s tapped and end this rubbish there? Ha. Seriously though for those who claim Ben Askren is a lay-and-pray artist (he’s not, for the record) they should be forced to watch this and Kikuta/Gracie over and over. Kikuta moves his way into side mount but STILL does nothing. Full mount follows and he looks for a mounted guillotine variant, actually trying to finish the fight (!), but Matsui escapes and Kikuta takes north/south instead. Comical quote from Quadros: “Kikuta is just not….an exciting fighter because he just….doesn’t create any excitement”. Well, you don’t say! He’s now in side mount for those who care, not that it matters as he’s just laying there anyway. Random angry yell from Matsui as Kikuta mounts him and continues to do nothing. Matsui tries to roll but gives his back and Kikuta tries the choke…but Matsui slips free and winds up on top in half-guard. And now, naturally, he returns the favour and lays there while hitting Kikuta a couple of times with punches to the ribs. Mount attempt from Matsui goes wrong and we end up with Kikuta back on top in guard. Lord have mercy! Matsui channels Royce Gracie with the kicks to the kidneys from his back, and Kikuta responds by….well, if you guessed laying there, you’d be right. Round ends there.

Third round and I’m honestly unsure as to whether all of these fights are automatically three rounds, or whether they’ve tagged on an extra round instead. If it’s the latter then man, fuck them. Kikuta charges in and eats a right hook, but it doesn’t stop him getting to the clinch. Bas sounds disgusted at this point. Trip from Kikuta and we’re back to square one. Kikuta does land some punches from there but I mean, they’re hardly damaging or anything. He does pass into side mount though. Full mount follows and it looks like he’s going for the mounted guillotine again, but this time Matsui flips him over. Kikuta holds onto the guillotine, but has to let go and now Matsui’s on top in guard. Even less happens with Matsui on top than when Kikuta was on top. This is such a fucking garbage fight. Quadros outright says this isn’t the fight you’d use to get new fans into MMA. Well no shit Sherlock. Few short punches land for Matsui but that’s about it. Fight mercifully ends there.

And apparently there’s NO JUDGES so it’s automatically a draw. Which essentially renders the entire thing pointless and means it was a WASTE OF HALF AN HOUR. Bah.

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Allan Goes

This one should be interesting as it was (as far as I’m aware) the first time Sakuraba had fought a proper Gracie-lineage BJJ black belt in PRIDE (he had fought Conan Silveira in the UFC, however). At this point Goes’ only loss was his UFC 17 one to Dan Henderson, and he – like Bustamante, Belfort, et al were still under the tutelage of Carlson Gracie pre-Brazilian Top Team. Tale of the tape tells us Sakuraba is giving up around 20lbs to Goes.

Round One begins and the crowd are hot for this one. Well for the opening second as they instantly go silent of course. Front kick (!) opens for Sakuraba and then he shoots on a low single and gets Goes down. He looks to pass the guard and they jockey for position on the mat and by the way, more action in this fight already than in the previous one. Goes does a good job of retaining full guard and looks to use butterfly guard, but Sakuraba’s base is too good to get swept like that. Couple of punches from Sakuraba and he just about defends a triangle attempt. Guillotine attempt follows for Goes and it looks quite tight. He doesn’t quite have full guard locked in though, only half-guard, and that allows Saku to sneak his head free and stand. Good upkick almost takes Sakuraba off his feet, but he returns the favour by kicking Goes as he stays in the butt-scoot position. Sakuraba has a bad cut on his right ear. He looks pissed off here which is surprising as he’s usually stoic as hell. Cartwheel guard pass from Sakuraba and he follows with a big flurry from the top. Goes lashes out with an upkick to slow him down though and we’re back to Sakuraba kicking the legs while standing over the Brazilian. Action slows down a little from there. Sakuraba leans in a little too much and eats a NASTY pair of upkicks, but he looks okay and drops down into the guard. Punches from Sakuraba and then he goes for a leglock, but Goes avoids and takes the back. Slick reversal from Sakuraba lands him in side mount, but Goes manages to escape into guard. More upkicks force Sakuraba to his feet, and this time Sakuraba practically turns his back before trying to spin around over the guard. Slick foot sweep from Goes puts Sakuraba down for a second but he pops back up and drops for a leglock. Goes avoids and looks to get on top, then takes the back from a kneeling position. Rear naked choke looks locked in (!) but somehow Sakuraba slips free and takes top position! This is a great fight. Sakuraba’s nose looks busted up too now. He stands over Goes again and both men are breathing heavily. SICK ankle pick from Goes forces Sakuraba onto his back and this time Goes gets on top in guard. He passes into side mount, but Sakuraba reverses, only to land in a choke attempt. He quickly escapes though and gets on top in guard. Good punch from Sakuraba ends the round. Well, that was good.

Second round and Sakuraba hits an easy low single to guard. This time he keeps his head really low to the ground, although he takes some short strikes from Goes. Sakuraba stands to look to pass the guard, but he can’t do it and he takes some more punches from the Brazilian. NICE sweep from Goes puts him into top position and Sakuraba immediately works from the guard for a possible armbar, it looks like. Goes evidently has zero fear of a possible triangle from Sakuraba here as he’s right in the position for it. He winds up settling into the guard and the action slows down measurably. Sakuraba ends up giving his back and rolls for a kimura, but Goes avoids it and looks to slap on the choke at the same time as he leaps for hooks. Sakuraba avoids it though and gets back into top position. Action slows down again before Goes sits up into a guillotine attempt. Sakuraba reverses that and DIVES on the kimura before switching it into an armbar, and this looks like trouble for Goes! He stays calm though and gets his arm free before taking the back again. No hooks though and Sakuraba looks chilled. Goes tries to roll his way into full back control but Sakuraba gets out and stands over him again. Axe kick attempt (!) from Goes from his back but it doesn’t land. Pair of beautiful kicks from the bottom do buckle Sakuraba’s right leg, though. Sakuraba stays standing over him and turns sidewards again, but he can’t seem to work out how to pass Goes’ guard. Couple more kicks from Goes connect with Sakuraba’s knee. Sakuraba lands some kicks of his own and Goes has a huge red welt on his left thigh from them. Round ends there.

Third and final round and Quadros says Goes is “as serious as a heart attack” about defeating Sakuraba which isn’t the greatest turn of phrase. Sakuraba attempts a takedown but this time Goes defends and finds his way into top position, pinning Sakuraba into the corner of the ring. He tries to pass but Sakuraba does a good job of retaining full guard. Refs finally move them to the center of the ring – literally by dragging both men. Comical stuff. Goes passes into side mount for a second but Sakuraba instantly regains guard. Goes is really working hard to pass into a better position. He manages to take the back again and looks for the choke once more, but as before he doesn’t have the hooks in. Quadros points out that Sakuraba is so tightly turtled up that it’s near impossible to get hooks in, which is obviously smart. Goes manages to lock up the choke and it looks SUNK, with Sakuraba really gritting his teeth, but the lack of hooks allows Sakuraba to wriggle and he manages to twist his neck free to get into top position. Great escape there. Both men look pretty spent now and the action slows down from inside Goes’ guard. Sakuraba stands over him again and there’s a lot of blood running from his nose now. Some good kicks from Sakuraba connect with Goes’ legs, but Goes kicks him back with a shot to the body. Goes gets back up, but Sakuraba hits a quick ankle pick and puts him back down before standing, and we’re back to the butt-scoot position. Goes continues to land kicks on Sakuraba’s taped-up knee, and Sakuraba for once actually seems confused as to what to do.

Bell sounds there and as there’s no judges it’s an automatic draw, but to be honest if the judges were there the fight probably would’ve gone to Goes who seemed to figure Sakuraba out. Did not expect that at ALL as I was always lead to believe that Sakuraba had BJJ guys totally figured out, but I guess that comes after this fight as Goes’ groundwork and particularly his kicks from the butt-scoot position appeared to have him baffled. I mean in a way it’s still a moral victory for Sakuraba as he was giving up a lot of size, but to see Goes actually be able to outsmart the guy was surprising to me. Fight was excellent for the time period, too – I mean it wouldn’t be special today but for 1998 when there’s shit like Kikuta/Matsui on the same card this was hot shit.

Satoshi Honma vs Naoki Sano

Never heard of Honma but judging by Sano’s last fight – the stinker with Royler Gracie – the guy SUCKED BEYOND BELIEF so this probably isn’t going to be any good. Sigh.

Fight begins with a whole lot of circling and staring, but suddenly Honma lands a BIG RIGHT HAND that drops Sano! Whoa. He pops back up though into a brief clinch, and then the camera randomly cuts to some dude at ringside, pissing Bas off INSTANTLY. Takedown from Sano follows and again the dude at ringside is shown. The fucking cameraman is evidently on drugs or something. I don’t give a fuck about some Japanese guy at ringside, bro. I barely give a fuck about this fight but at least it’s MMA. Anyway Sano sits in the guard and takes some punches from the bottom from Honma. Honma kicks him away and pops back up to his feet, and they trade some strikes although the odd camera angle makes it difficult to see what landed. What, is this KOTC or something now? Jesus Christ. Combo connects from Honma but Sano manages to get a clinch. And of course we now get a loooong camera shot of Kiyoshi Tamura at ringside. Who the fuck cares? This means we miss the clinch breaking. Not that it matters but you know. They trade punches and both men land this time to little effect. Sano literally looks terrified of being hit. Honma rocks him with another combo but again he manages to clinch. Sano has this look on his face like he was expecting another dull fight or something that probably wouldn’t hurt him. He was WRONG, dude. He’s also busted up, bleeding from the nose. Now we get STEREO ZOOMING SHOTS of the guys at ringside. And a close-up of Sano’s face which is all cut up. Good low kick from Honma. Sano is literally flailing at him with some really shitty punches. Honma is basically landing at will and this seems like a matter of time before Sano goes down. More combinations from Honma but he decides to clinch in a confusing move. There’s a ton of blood from Sano’s face now, a real mess. Back out and Sano wildly trades off with him before the ref steps in to check the cuts over. Apparently he’s okay to go and they restart. Honma continues to pick him apart and lands a ton of knees to the head to go with his punching combos now too. Sano evidently has a good chin to take all of this punishment. Either that or Honma’s striking power is nil, but he’s throwing with good form so I guess it’s Sano’s chin. Sano tries to trade back but it’s to no avail at ALL. Finally a low kick drops Sano and he appears to be crying. Honma stands back and yet the ref LETS IT GO, forcing poor Honma to have to squat down and just SMASH Sano with punches in order to finish it.

Criminal ref job and a pretty criminal, one-sided beatdown of a fight in fact. Sano looked lost in there although to his credit, even when it seemed like he was terrified of trading he did actually swing, so fair play to the guy. Still got his ass kicked badly though. Ending in particular was just needlessly violent as the ref should’ve stepped in when the kick put Sano down, but you know, it’s Japan and stuff. This was a watchable fight minus the shitty camera work.

Alexander Otsuka vs Marco Ruas

Well, back when I was watching and reviewing some of the later PRIDE shows – from like 12 onwards – Otsuka was like the bane of my existence as he was continually on the shows in either shitty squash fights or awful stuff based on his pro-wrestling career, so I mean, I’m not looking forward to this one at all even though I like Ruas and respect him a lot. From what I know though this fight was the reason Otsuka was kept around in PRIDE so we shall see I guess.

Fight begins and they circle a little as Otsuka feints a few takedowns but doesn’t really shoot. Single leg from Otsuka but he eats a kick on his way in and Ruas grabs hjm to attempt a choke. Otsuka scrambles though and ends up on top in half-guard. Otsuka doesn’t do much from the top and it looks like Ruas is prepping a sweep, but it never comes. Couple of good punches begin to land for Otsuka actually but it allows Ruas to scramble into full guard. Short punches to the body connect for Otsuka but the action’s really ground to a halt now. It is worth mentioning that one of Otsuka’s cornermen has a full furry pro-wrestling mask on. Otsuka stands free of the guard now and kicks the legs with Ruas down in the butt-scoot position. He’s doing a surprisingly good job here actually. Suddenly Ruas goes for a heel hook and snaps Otsuka down, but he can’t lock it up and the Japanese fighter takes top position instead. Reversal attempt from Ruas is also avoided by Otsuka. SLICK sweep from Ruas puts him on top in full mount. Methinks Otsuka could be in trouble. Otsuka holds on for dear life, but he eats some punches from the Brazilian who has a super-tight mount too. Ref seems to be moaning about something and Bas thinks it’s Ruas pushing his chin into Otsuka’s eye, which is a really dirty move. Otsuka gives his back though and Ruas gets both hooks in, but the Japanese fighter holds on for dear life and somehow he manages to survive a TIGHT looking choke. Saved by the bell pretty much!

Second round and they circle cautiously to begin with both guys really hanging their hands. Guess they expended a lot of energy in the first. Takedown attempt from Otsuka but Ruas sprawls to defend it and grabs a front facelock. Looks like he might be setting up a front choke variant actually. They come back to their feet and Otsuka slips free of the Brazilian’s grip. Good right hand from Otsuka sets up a clinch. Action slows down again as Otuska keeps Ruas in the corner of the ring but doesn’t really do much with the position. Eventually a trip from Otsuka puts him on top in half-guard and he lands some solid punches. Ruas looks basically exhausted now. Otsuka continues to land short punches and he’s doing a really excellent job as it goes, although Ruas being gassed as hell probably helps him a lot. There’s some blood on Otsuka’s side strangely enough, no idea where it’s come from though. Really good flurry of punches lands for Otsuka and they open up some nasty cuts on Ruas’s face, blood running into his eyes quite badly. More shots continue to land and it looks like Otsuka’s on the verge of stopping this fight as Ruas can’t get him out of half-guard. Round ends shortly after and Ruas can’t get to his feet. He stumbles over to his corner eventually and slumps himself over the ropes, and from there the doctors call off the fight! Crowd are going wild as Quadros calls it one of the biggest upsets he’s ever seen in MMA.

Not a bad fight in the end although it did have some horrendously slow points. Otsuka fought well but I’m not sure what happened to Ruas between rounds as he seemed in control at the end of the first and then came out into the second with absolutely zero steam and got beaten on. Was this enough to keep Otsuka around for a further TEN fights that saw him win just two (one of which was possibly a work)? I’d say no, but I’m not a Japanese MMA promoter!

Mark Kerr vs Hugo Duarte

I’ve only seen Duarte fight once before to the best of my memory – that fight in the UFC that saw Tank Abbott beat the shit out of him – but I believe he’s best known for challenging – and being beaten up by – Rickson Gracie in one of those legendary Gracie Challenges on the beach. Those two losses notwithstanding I’m sure he was a tough guy. Unfortunately for him here he was faced with steroid-fuelled gorilla Mark Kerr, a guy widely recognized at this point as pretty much the baddest man in the sport. Kerr is just ridiculous here in terms of how he looks. I’m talking Ubereem circa 2009 levels, holy shit.

Fight begins and Kerr just about misses a head kick. Kerr closes him down and hits an easy single leg down into guard. Surprisingly he’s a bit inactive from the top, although Duarte seems to be doing a good job of tying him up from the guard. Pretty much nothing happens before Kerr decides to stand up and kick the legs of the downed Brazilian instead. There seems to be quite a lot of dialogue between the two fighters here but you can’t tell what they’re saying. Kerr drops back into the guard and we’re in a shitty position now as poor Duarte has his head wedged into the turnbuckle. HA, holy shit, Quadros mentions that Duarte is saying something to the ref, but he SOUNDS LIKE A SEAL. This is another of those fights that the announcing is saving as it sucks so far. Again Kerr stands over him and kicks the legs before Duarte makes some cycling motions like he’s in some odd core strength exercise class. Down into half-guard now for Kerr but Duarte quickly shifts to full guard. Nothing happens from there and this is possibly as bad as Kikuta/Matsui from earlier. Couple of punches land for Kerr and then he stands over Duarte, but eats a nasty upkick . Duarte remains in the butt-scoot position as he continues to bark like a seal. Seals DO bark, right? Kerr decides to land some hammer fists to the feet (!?!) to end the round. Well, that fucking stunk.

LOL. Between rounds we see BAS in Kerr’s corner meaning the commentary was added after the event. If I were Bas I’d be predicting all the finishes and looking like a powerful psychic to the people unaware of this. Well, unless he jumped up from his announcing position to offer Kerr advice? Nah, surely not.

Second round and Kerr shoots immediately and gets a takedown to guard. Evidently the commentary IS added after the fact because we get a shot of Bas at ringside. While he’s talking on commentary. A LONG camera shot at that because I guess the awesomeness of El Guapo beats the shitty fight in the ring. Something lands for Kerr though and busts Duarte open, and the ref has to call time. Holy shit his eye is a MESS. Looks like he’s been glassed in a bar fight. They clean him up though and it’s not too bad of a cut at all actually. Crazy. Unfortunately it means a restart in the guard again. Couple of punches land for Kerr and now Duarte finally starts to try some punches from the bottom. More wild seal noises come from Duarte and I have no idea why he’s doing that. He’s bleeding badly again. Ref steps in now to speak to Duarte and he’s furious at something but obviously we have a serious language barrier and so nothing is sorted. Few moments later….something happens, no clue what and Duarte starts screaming in pain so the ref calls time as he rolls around like Cristiano Ronaldo. Ref ought to throw this out right now. They let it go instead and after a while we restart. Kerr of course gets a takedown, easily avoids a heel hook, and gets on top in guard again. No action from there, naturally. I don’t get why Kerr isn’t looking to pound this guy out. Instead he stands over him and looks to stomp his feet. Back down into the guard and that’s the round. Urgh.

Third round and instantly Duarte dives to his back. This is fucking ridiculous. Crowd are outright booing now. Bas is fucking disgusted. Duarte won’t get up and the ref needs to stop this. Instead Kerr completely loses his temper, and lands a stomp and some punches that force Duarte to attempt to escape the ring. This is truly shameful. Ref stops it to check Duarte’s foot now. Why the fuck hasn’t this been stopped yet? They restart standing and right away Duarte falls to his back, not even being taken down. Kerr obliges and starts to land shots from the top, finally going to work on this guy. Why didn’t he do this from the start? Bas is now whistling the X Files theme tune as they can’t understand why Duarte would use such a gameplan. Again Duarte tries to crawl out of the ring and FINALLY the ref calls for the bell and stops the fight there.

Well, that was a supremely shitty fight to say the least. Very little aggression from Kerr until late in the fight and it didn’t look like Duarte wanted to be there from the start. Drqshadow was laughing the other day about how the records show that the fight ended by TKO (Retirement) and how maybe Duarte decided to call it a career midway through the third, and after actually watching that fight I’m thinking he fucking SHOULD have called it a career. Disgraceful stuff.

Rickson Gracie vs Nobuhiko Takada

Pre-fight Quadros says that the public in Japan wanted this rematch, Takada wanted this rematch and so they paid Gracie enough to do it. I guess the Japanese are super gullible because there’s just nothing to suggest the result would be any different, given Takada’s only other fight was a likely work against Kyle Sturgeon. Takada is wearing this ridiculous garish robe pre-fight which is sort-of cool to be honest. Rickson looks totally stoic, like he’s ready to tap this idiot and take his cheque and go home.

They get underway and Rickson goes for the takedown instantly, but Takada stuffs it by grabbing double underhooks. They exchange a couple of knees and Takada almost gets a takedown, but the ropes get in the way. They jockey for position before Rickson breaks and stuns him with a right hook. Takada clinches again but he looks a little rattled now. They exchange from the clinch with Takada kneeing the legs and Rickson landing short punches to the body. The clinch exchange continues and they move all over the ring with Takada desperate to stop Rickson from getting double underhooks. Takada hits Rickson with a good knee and Rickson tries to pull guard, but smartly Takada refuses to go down and stays up in the clinch. Another guard pull succeeds though and Takada stays down there this time. Short punches land for both men and Rickson adds in some heel kicks to the kidneys for good measure ala his cousin Royce. Takada decides to stand in the guard and of course Rickson hits a reversal by grabbing the ankles, allowing him to take side mount. Not sure what Takada was thinking there. Rickson takes full mount but Takada bucks him off. Right away though Gracie hops back into full mount and lands punches and Takada is in serious trouble. Takada actually tries to go for a heel hook with Gracie in full mount, but Rickson easily avoids that. Another mount follows and Takada’s flailing his arms now, and of course that leads into a textbook armbar for the tapout.

Takada fought much better in this fight than he did in the first meeting and evidently he’d trained better, gameplanned better and was more ready, but in the end he just wasn’t anywhere near as good a fighter as Rickson and so the result remained the same. Fight was fun at least though given Takada’s effort, which you have to respect when you compare it to Hugo Duarte in the previous fight. This would be Rickson’s final appearance in PRIDE as they never were able to lure him back, even for what would’ve been a huge fight with Sakuraba in like 2000.

-Show ends there with Rickson celebrating.

Final Thoughts….

Another pretty awful show from the early days of PRIDE, to be honest. Sakuraba/Goes was a very good fight and Otsuka/Ruas and Ismail/Shoji were fine, but Kikuta/Matsui was god-awful, Kerr/Duarte was somehow both bizarre and terrible in the same breath, the Vovchanchyn fight had a shitty finish and Honma/Sano was one-sided and had a criminal refereeing job. Better than PRIDE 2 I guess by virtue of not having any contenders for the worst fight ever, but I mean, even in comparison to UFC shows at this time this was not good at all. Thumbs down. Way down.

Best Fight: Sakuraba vs. Goes
Worst Fight: Matsui vs. Kikuta

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com