MMA Review: #432: PRIDE 6

-We’re two shows into the DSE era for PRIDE now and these shows are becoming the PRIDE that I knew from the early 2000’s. Good in terms of less shitty fights for me to watch, bad for some of my readers (hey Drq!) who love reading me rant on those shitty fights. Buuuut this show has both Takada in the main event and fucking Naoya Ogawa in one of the semi-mains, so there’s still time for me to get annoyed yet.


Yokahama, Kanagawa

-Crazy lights and pyro sequence opens the show like a WWE PPV or something. Yeah, you can definitely tell this is a DSE show rather than KRS. We even get a FIGHTER INTRO!~! although it’s nowhere near as overblown and dramatic as they would become years later.

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten.

Egan Inoue vs Carl Malenko

Egan had beaten overmatched opposition at PRIDE 5, while I’ve never seen Malenko fight before. Guessing he’s no relation to Dean Malenko though. Apparently his real name is Oginbene, according to sources like Wikipedia and Sherdog, so I’m guessing he’s a pro-wrestler. Bas outright says he knows nothing about the guy. Egan looks fucking JACKED.

Fight begins and Egan throws some kicks and then shoots for a takedown. Malenko blocks and then goes for one of his own, but Egan stuffs that and lands a knee from the clinch. Plum clinch from Malenko but he takes a couple of uppercuts from Inoue. Good knees inside from Inoue and he again blocks a takedown attempt. Malenko keeps trying for the takedown, pinning Egan into the corner of the ring, but he still can’t get him down. Blatant rope grab prevents Egan from going down, but Malenko continues to look for the double leg and finally gets it. Inoue immediately gets full guard, but he has to give up a possible guillotine. Oh fuck, Malenko looks like he’s quite willing to just lay there. That’s not good. Sure enough, very little happens from there as Malenko buries his head into the chest of Inoue and lands the odd punch. This fucking stinks, dude. This is unspeakably bad. Egan is doing more from the bottom with his own punches. This crap continues until the round ends. I’m getting Kikuta vs. Gracie flashbacks, fuck.

2nd round and Egan looks to throw some punches, but Malenko uses a jab to quickly clinch. They jockey for position and then Malenko drops for the takedown again. Double leg follows and we’re back in Inoue’s guard, same position as the first round. Action slows up again before Malenko decides to attempt to pass the guard. Inoue prevents that and goes for a triangle, but it doesn’t look close to me and Malenko manages to escape. He still can’t pass the guard though, but the crowd at least have something to applaud. Again though we’ve got the same situation with Malenko simply laying in the guard doing very little. He keeps posturing up, but he’s not actually doing anything with it at all. He does land a couple of punches and this time Inoue isn’t landing many of his own. Guard pass is prevented by Inoue. Another attempt ends with Malenko grabbing Egan’s left leg, but does he go for a leglock? Of course not. He decides to lay back in the guard. Action slows down from there again as Malenko lands a couple of punches. Egan shifts his hips at one point for an armbar, but the ring ropes put a firm stop to that. Round ends there.

We go to the judges, but it’s a draw so we’re getting a third overtime round. Argh. Apparently there MUST BE A WINNER after this round too even if it goes the distance. Okay then.

Third round and Inoue lands a right hand and actually hits a double leg on Malenko! Malenko immediately goes to closed guard. Egan doesn’t land many punches or anything but he does pass into half-guard. He attempts to go to mount, but Malenko turns and pops out the back door, exploding to his feet. They go right into a clinch, but from there Malenko gets a takedown to side mount. Egan right away gets to full guard and I can probably guess how the rest of this round is going to go. This time he actually does pass and almost takes Egan’s back, but he slips off and winds up on the bottom in north/south. Alright, that was pretty cool. Malenko spins around and then reverses, working to his feet. He goes for a takedown but Egan avoids and lands a knee to the head. Why didn’t they do this in the first two rounds? Takedown from Malenko and he’s back in Inoue’s guard. Round ends shortly after and that round was actually alright. Not great though.

Judges go for Carl Malenko. I don’t care, sorry. Fight absolutely stunk outside of a couple of minutes in the overtime round and Malenko was good at one thing – lay and pray. God-awful opener.

Carlos Newton vs Daijiro Matsui

This one should be better at least considering I’ve never seen Newton in a boring fight that I can remember and Matsui can usually hold his own end of the bargain against a decent opponent. This was Newton’s first PRIDE fight since the legendary Sakuraba clash and in fact he’d only fought once since then, surprisingly enough.

Round One and they circle before Matsui cracks Newton with a beautiful right hook. Newton eats it right up and pushes forward as Matsui continues to throw out some strikes. Heavy right hand lands for Newton and Matsui looks badly hurt, and he immediately shoots for a single leg. Newton sprawls to avoid and looks to spin onto the back, getting both hooks in with a slick move. Armbar attempt from Newton but Matsui does a good job of avoiding and he pulls out and lands a stomp to the body before dropping some good punches. Reversal from Newton though and he takes top position in side mount. Matsui rolls onto all fours and looks for a leg, but Newton spins onto the back again and rides him rather than put the hooks in. He lands a couple of shots to the body as Matsui just looks to be waiting for a chance to escape. Newton switches to the side, where he lands a knee to the body. Matsui gets to his feet and locks up Newton’s left arm ala Sakuraba, but Newton hits a SICK German suplex to stop that. He goes for an armbar from the back again and this time it looks tight. Matsui tries to slam his way free, dumping Newton onto his head twice, but it’s still locked up. Great job from Matsui though and he pulls his arm free and drops a pair of right hands onto Newton en route to getting top position in the guard. Punches land for Matsui but Newton locks up the armbar again. Once again though Matsui shows his inner Houdini to escape and he continues to bomb at the head with punches. Newton works up to his feet though and looks for a double leg, dumping Matsui onto his back in side mount. This is a phenomenal round. Full mount for Newton and Matsui tries to buck him off but can’t. Instead he gives his back and Newton looks for the choke this time, but Matsui turns on his side almost and they end up in quite a weird position with Newton still in control but not really close to a submission. Reversal from Matsui puts him in control again, taking the back of Newton this time, but he botches an attempt at getting the hooks and winds up on his back in guard. Action slows down a little from there but can you really blame them? SICK reversal from Matsui and he takes full mount! Newton immediately gets to half-guard though, and then he reverses that and gets back on top in side mount. Whew. Matsui gives his back and Newton stands to drop a knee to the body and then a wild axe-kick to the body. Matsui pops back to his feet and lands a right hand, then misses a couple of haymakers. Wild kicks miss for the Japanese fighter too. Takedown attempt from Matsui but Newton sprawls and lands a right hand, then takes the back for a second before Matsui goes to the butt-scoot to end the round. Damn that was so fucking great.

Round Two and Matsui is so pumped they have to send him back to his corner before the round begins. Word. Right hand connects for him from the off but Newton fires back with one of his own. Uncharacteristic chant for Matsui from the crowd. Hard low kick from Matsui. Left jab follows and snaps Newton’s head back. Good leg kick from the Japanese fighter but Newton backs him up with a combo. Matsui shoots and gets an ankle pick, putting Newton on his back in guard. Armbar again from Newton and it almost gets locked up, but Matsui slips through the ropes and that causes the break. No fault of Matsui’s there – just another example why the cage is better than the ring for MMA. Ref uses the opportunity to call time and check a cut over Matsui’s left eye, and on the restart he SHOVES THE REF OUT OF THE WAY TO GET TO NEWTON. That’s fucking BADASS. It also earns him a finger wagging from the official. Hard leg kick lands for Matsui. Nice single leg puts Newton on his back again in guard. Short punches land for Matsui from the top, but Newton continues to shift his hips from the bottom. He goes for an armbar again but this time Matsui counters by diving for a leglock, only to fail and allow Newton to his feet. Flying kick attempt misses for Matsui. Couple of haymakers miss for the Japanese fighter but he does get a single leg to guard. Short punches land for Matsui and at one point he pops the crowd loudly with a CARTWHEEL GUARD PASS ATTEMPT into a flurry. Action once again slows down but I mean if they’re tired then I’m not knocking them – the pace of the first round was insane. Not long left in the round and they pop back to their feet, and Matsui shoots again. This time Newton sprawls and spins onto the back, then slaps the hooks in as Matsui looks to crawl away. He can’t get a choke or anything though and loses one hook in fact. Round finally ends there.

I’m thinking we should get a third overtime round here and sure enough the judges go for that too. Amen guys, amen.

Round Three and Matsui throws a front kick to the body and then misses a haymaker, and that allows Newton to duck under and grab a rear waistlock. Matsui drops to his knees though and then turns over into the butt-scoot before Newton lets him stand. They exchange some good punches with both men landing, before Matsui hits a really low single leg to guard. Ground-and-pound from Matsui but Newton uses a kimura tease to escape to his feet. This is going to be tough to call. Left hand connects nicely for Newton. Matsui shoots again but this time Newton avoids. Right hook connects over the top for Matsui. Single leg is avoided by Newton again and he tags the Japanese fighter with a combination. HARD UPPERCUT wobbles Matsui and almost puts him down, but he just says FUCKING BRING IT and swings a ludicrous haymaker at Newton that wobbles him! Holy shit. Both men land stiff jabs and then Newton lands a glancing uppercut that causes a shooting Matsui to fall to the ground. He pops up and lands a left hand though. Clinch and Matsui tries a throw, but Newton reverses and gets on top, landing some punches with Matsui on all fours. They come back up and Matsui shoots, and somehow manages to get Newton down even though he looks tired now. Newton ties him up from the guard and restricts him to a couple of short hammer fists, and that’s the fight. Awesome stuff.

Judges decide to go with Newton – that final round was super-close but Newton just about pulled away late on once he landed that nasty uppercut, and from there Matsui seemed to really tire out suddenly. Still, in a fight like this there’s no true loser, and I mean, it was literally just action from start to finish, as good as anything you’d see on a modern-day UFC card in fact. Best PRIDE fight since Newton/Sakuraba and I don’t know, I’d maybe argue it was better. Post-fight both guys get on their knees and show mutual respect and quite rightfully so. Absolutely tremendous stuff.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs Carlos Barreto

Everyone knows about Igor of course although to be honest up to this point his early PRIDE fights hadn’t actually been that impressive – a dull decision over Akira Shoji and an odd TKO stoppage against Gary Goodridge. Opponent Barreto is one of those guys who gets a bit forgotten I think due to the Dark Ages type era he fought in, but for those who don’t know he was one of the original founders of the Brazilian Top Team and was an all-round bad ass in his day. At this point he was 9-1 and had beaten Kevin Randleman, Dan Bobish and Branden Lee Hinkle which for 1999 are three fucking impressive wins. On paper for the time this must’ve sounded like a SICK FIGHT.

First round and Igor takes the center of the ring as Barreto circles around him. High kick misses for Barreto. Left hook from Igor connects and he shrugs off a clinch attempt. Barreto is looking to use kicks to keep at a safe distance, but he isn’t really landing anything. Wild left hook misses for Vovchanchyn. Overhand right glances for Igor. They really need to turn up the action here because it’s been a circle-fest so far. Left hook from Igor sets up a right body shot. Couple more wild punches glance for Igor. Body kick lands for him. Igor’s punches are just about coming up short because of the height of Barreto. Left hook lands cleanly though as Barreto circles into the power. Leg kick from Vovchanchyn. Every time he closes the distance though Barreto manages to circle out. Looks like Igor’s face is a bit marked up which is surprising as all Barreto’s landed are some glancing jabs. Left hook from Igor but Barreto manages to grab a clinch. Igor shrugs him off right away and drops him with a short right, but it looked more like a slip to me. Sure enough Barreto pops up and he’s fine. Igor has blood running down his face from under his left eye. Low kicks land for both men. Barreto continues to flash the jab but it’s still not landing flush. Big overhand right misses for Igor. Barreto continues to circle and Igor looks for the left hook again but still can’t catch him clean. One-two glances for him. Right hand glances for Barreto. This has not been a good round. Front kick to the body from Barreto but Vovchanchyn counters with a straight right. Leg kick from Igor. Left to the body follows. Round ends shortly after. Crowd actually boo which is surprising for Japan but says a lot.

Second round and Barreto again circles and jabs as Igor looks to counter. Low kick lands for Vovchanchyn. This fight really sucks, sorry. Igor catches him with something that sends him to the ground for a second, but he doesn’t want to go to the guard and calls him back up. And we’re back to square one. Ref calls time and outright gives Barreto a caution (no yellow card though) for stalling. Word, Japanese ref! Barreto comes out kicking after the restart but still doesn’t especially land. I’d be tempted to warn Igor too as he’s in total counter mode here. Good left hook does land and Barreto goes down and then finally decides to go for the takedown. Vovchanchyn tries to defend it, but Carlos manages to trip him down and land in half-guard. Very little action from there too as Vovchanchyn ties the Brazilian up. Barreto manages to work a guard pass and just about gets full mount, but he isn’t landing any shots or going for a submission either. Finally he manages to work his way free and stacks up to deliver some punches, but he gets a little too wild and Igor manages to shake him off and explode to his feet. Barreto looks to drop to guard but Igor’s having none of that. Ref calls a momentary pause to fix Igor’s glove, because lord knows a random stoppage is what this fight needs. They restart and exchange with some kicks, and after a little trade Igor decides to go for a takedown. He gets Barreto down but then lets him back up, which is odd. High kick glances for Barreto. Good leg kick does land though. Body kick follows and I think Barreto is actually winning this fight. Wild left misses for Vovchanchyn. Kick from Barreto is caught and Vovchanchyn drops him with a right, but he pops right back up. More kicks from Barreto and the fight ends there.

Judges call it a draw so we’ve got the overtime round coming up. I’d almost have been tempted to go for Barreto there just because Vovchanchyn was SO fucking passive but what the hell, a draw is fair.

Third round and Barreto circles and jabs again as once more Igor goes into counter mode. Left hook glances for Igor. Barreto is throwing out a ton of low kicks to try to keep distance. Good leg kick from Igor. Wild left comes up short for Igor. Leg kick lands again. No idea why Barreto’s gone back to the circling as he was doing far better just throwing kicks in the second round. Igor finally pushes forward, and Barreto ducks under and tackles him to guard! Short punches land for Barreto as Igor holds on from the bottom. One minute to go and to me this is Barreto’s fight unless Igor can pull a rabbit out of the hat. Short hammer fists land for Barreto and Igor is just clinging onto him. Sure enough the fight ends in that position and Barreto stands and celebrates.

Judges somehow score it a split decision for Igor Vovchanchyn, which to me is fucking INSANE, especially as Quadros outright says once they go to overtime, only that third round counts. What did Vovchanchyn do in the third to win? Fuck knows. I mean there’s no point getting worked up about it because it’s a PRIDE show that’s fifteen years old, but that was a bogus decision for sure. Not that either man looked good here because that fight SUCKED for the most part.

-Next up is some sort of Kyokushin karate match which we’re going to skip over. Legit not sure why they put this on a PRIDE show unless they were toying with the idea of promoting karate too at this point.

Akira Shoji vs Guy Mezger

This was Mezger’s PRIDE debut, after he’d left the UFC following the semi-famous loss to Tito Ortiz that saw Tito flip Ken Shamrock off post-fight. Dude was always an excellent fighter for this era though so this might be good, especially as Shoji usually tends to at least try to be exciting himself. Mezger has the full-on Pancrase shinguards and everything here which is comical.

Fight begins and Shoji clinches early as Bas can’t understand why Mezger would wear the shinguards. Trip attempt from Mezger but Shoji defends by grabbing the ropes, boo! They move around the ring a bit and neither man can really gain the advantage. Shoji breaks but he eats a glancing left head kick. Another clinch is shrugged off by Shoji. Mezger clinches again and they continue to muscle for position with Guy throwing some body punches for good measure. Flurry breaks for Shoji. Low kick lands for Shoji. Mezger throws a left hook that sets up another clinch, and he moves Shoji into the corner of the ring. Left hook breaks for Mezger and he almost lands a left high kick. Shoji just about dodges it though. Clinch from Mezger and he takes the back standing, but Shoji blatantly grabs the ropes to avoid a suplex. Come on, man. Mezger yanks him back and drops him face-first with the suplex anyway, but he pops up and manages to turn into the regular clinch. They break off before clinching AGAIN and shit, this is beginning to suck. Good knee from Mezger breaks but he misses with a side kick. A high kick attempt sets up another clinch from Mezger before he breaks with a decent combo. I don’t get why he keeps clinching! Looks like Shoji’s cut too. Low kick lands for him. And Mezger clinches. Jesus fucking Christ. Another combo breaks for Guy and he follows with a sharp left body kick as Quadros sort of hints that the judges might fix the fight for Shoji. Round ends with a failed Mezger takedown.

Into the 2nd and Mezger opens with a jab and a side kick, but as he clinches Shoji gets a takedown to guard. Punches to the body land for Shoji as Mezger tries to use his legs to disrupt the base of the Japanese fighter. Reversal allows him to his feet and they’re back to standing. Mezger walks him down and lands a nice combination. Shoji swings back and Guy decides to clinch again, but Shoji clocks him with a right. Good left head kick fires right back for Mezger. Shoji’s chin is solid. Back into the clinch and Mezger lands some nice punches inside. Ref calls a break and hey, I didn’t know they could even DO that here. Shoji comes charging forward but Guy shrugs him off. Right hand from Guy sets up another clinch. This time Shoji goes for a high-elbow guillotine, which is mad rare for this time period, but Mezger easily pulls his head free. Quadros describes the fight as “sporadic action” and that’s being generous. Ref calls another clean break and they exchange kicks before Mezger lands with a hard right hand to the body. And he follows by clinching. Sigh. Knees to the legs from Mezger and he lands some short punches to the body too. Shoji breaks and then manages to get a nice trip takedown from a bodylock, landing in Mezger’s guard. Not much happens on the ground as Shoji works him with some short punches, and then suddenly he works from the guard into mount! Mezger gives his back, and then scoots out the back door and stands, and the fight ends with Shoji going MENTAL and swinging a wild flurry at him. Ref literally has to pull him back as the bell sounds.

Judges again call it a draw and so we’ve got ANOTHER overtime period. I thought Mezger did enough there but fuck him for all the clinching anyway.

3rd round and Mezger opens with a counter one-two. Good combination from Mezger but Shoji lands a flurry on him before clinching. Ref calls a clean break but Mezger just clinches again anyway. Crowd are booing again, poor bastards. Combo breaks for Guy. Another combo sets up another clinch but this time Shoji breaks off fast. Good combo from Guy. Shoji looks firmly on the defensive here. Takedown attempt from Shoji but Mezger sprawls and grabs a front facelock. Shoji manages to work to his feet and then gets a nice trip takedown from a Mezger-initiated clinch. Not much happens before Mezger gives his back and escapes out the back door, but from standing all he does is set up another clinch with a body kick. Right hand breaks for Mezger and that’s the round. I’ve got no idea how I’d score this actually. Probably for Mezger but it’s hard to reward such a shitty gameplan.

It’s another split decision and it’s in favour of Akira Shoji. I think that went the wrong way but I think Mezger has only himself to blame given all the takedowns and ground work Shoji managed to do came from clinches he initiated himself, despite seemingly being able to pick the Japanese fighter apart from range. Seriously, I have no idea what was with his gameplan, but I do know that for the most part, it made for an unfortunately shitty fight.

Naoya Ogawa vs Gary Goodridge

And things go from bad to potentially worse for me. Erm, I can’t stand Naoya Ogawa after he spoiled the 2004 PRIDE Grand Prix for me with his likely worked run to the semi-finals before Fedor Emelianenko destroyed him. For those not in the know Ogawa was a legit Olympic judoka but he’s better known for his pro-wrestling career which is how he ended up in PRIDE. As a fighter from what I’ve seen he truly sucks. Goodridge looks really intense for this fight which would usually be good but as it’s Ogawa the potential stench of a work hangs over it.

Fight begins and Goodridge NAILS Ogawa with some big punches right away. Ogawa is all over the place, doubling over and trying to avoid the power shots and sort-of flailing back at him. Crowd are absolutely deafening. Goodridge slows down a little and so Ogawa swings at him, and it looks like Gary might’ve been wobbled. Crude takedown follows and they crash to the ground with Ogawa landing on top attempting an Americana. Looks tight but Goodridge manages to turn him over, landing in Ogawa’s guard. It’s exciting at least. Triangle attempt from Ogawa but Goodridge postures free. He switches to a kimura instead but Goodridge powers out of that, too. Looks like he’s bleeding from the mouth though as Ogawa’s torso has blood on it. Goodridge stands to drop some punches, and then surprisingly goes for a kneebar (!), but Ogawa avoids and winds up on top. He gets side mount and goes for the Americana again, but he still can’t get it and so he lands some hammer fists right to the face instead. Goodridge tries to scramble free but gives his back in the process, but Ogawa doesn’t put the hooks in and it allows Goodridge to roll. He can’t get to his feet though and Ogawa remains in control from the back, still with no hooks. Choke attempt from Ogawa but Goodridge rolls over into half-guard. Full mount follows and Ogawa lands some punches. Couple more Americana attempts but Ogawa still can’t get it. Goodridge is either exhausted, or this is a DREADED WORK. I lean towards the latter. Punches land for Ogawa from the mount and Goodridge is just laying there taking them. I’m convinced this is a work, you know. Round ends with Ogawa in firm control.

Second round begins and they trade some crude punches into a clinch where Ogawa basically just falls onto him. From there he lands in half-guard and gets the Americana again, and this time Goodridge taps out.

Don’t like to accuse fighters of such things but I think that was a worked fight. Never seen Goodridge supposedly run out of gas so quickly and it looked like he’d be able to knock Ogawa out easily early on but then just stopped attempting to do it. Ogawa’s ground work was alright I guess but again, I’ve seen Goodridge deal with far better guys on the ground. Really fucking questionable stuff, even if it was more exciting than the preceding two matches.

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Ebenezer Fontes Braga

This was Sakuraba’s third match against a Brazilian opponent in succession then, after he’d taken a draw with Allan Goes in probably his toughest fight and then totally embarrassed Vitor Belfort in his last one. Unlike Goes and Belfort though, Braga was a Luta Livre rather than a BJJ Fighter. He was bringing in a lot of experience and had just choked out Jeremy Horn at UFC Ultimate Brazil and so he was definitely a legit opponent. This should be cool.

Fight begins and it looks like Sakuraba’s got his right ear taped up which is interesting. Couple of low kicks from Sakuraba but they don’t land cleanly. Braga clinches and lands a knee, but Sakuraba instantly turns his back and looks for the kimura. Braga lets go though and throws a wild high kick that glances off Sakuraba’s side. Clinch from Sakuraba but Braga absolutely NAILS him with a knee from the plum clinch. Sakuraba breaks off and just about avoids a massive high kick. Low single leg from Sakuraba but Braga sprawls nicely and lands a hard right hand from close range. Left hand and a high kick glance for Sakuraba. Single leg follows and this time he gets it, putting Braga on his back in guard. Triangle attempt from Braga is avoided by Sakuraba and he stands over the guard to deliver his kicks to the legs. Braga pops up in a RIDICULOUS move though, literally leaping to his feet as Sakuraba looks to be considering a flying guard pass. Braga charges in and avoids a takedown, grabbing the plum clinch as they come up. Sakuraba avoids a knee this time though and they separate. Low single works for Sakuraba off a caught leg kick, and he puts Braga on his back again. Triangle is shrugged off by Sakuraba and he passes into side mount. Braga shifts back to guard but Sakuraba right away passes into half-guard. Good body punches land for Sakuraba. Braga turns and ends up giving his back, and Sakuraba controls him albeit without the hooks. He goes for the choke but doesn’t quite control the body, and that allows Braga to escape to his feet. They trade jabs and Sakuraba lands a nice combination. Beautiful takedown follows but Braga almost gets an inverted triangle on the way down. Sakuraba escapes though and he’s got side mount. Braga rolls into guard immediately and lands an upkick. Triangle attempt is again avoided by Sakuraba and he lands a really nice left from the top. He passes into side mount again and almost gets an armbar as Braga scrambles, but can’t get it and so he settles into side mount with some hard punches. Sakuraba was so awesome at this point. Armbar follows and this time it’s properly locked up, and despite an attempted kick to the face Braga has to tap out.

Trust Sakuraba to be able to save a show like this. Awesome fight with an awesome finish. Credit to Braga too who was very game, it was just that Sakuraba was MORE GAME and seemed invincible at this stage. Fucking brilliant stuff.

Mark Kerr vs Nobuhiko Takada

Aw man. I guess this was always on the cards after the worked Takada/Coleman fight from the previous PRIDE show but I can’t believe I’m actually about to watch such a wretched-sounding fight. I mean seriously now, was Rickson Gracie exposing Takada as a fraud TWICE not enough for people? Ha. Can’t see this lasting long. Bas is talking this up as Kerr taking revenge for Coleman.

We get underway and Takada charges out swinging, but Kerr clinches and they sort-of muscle for position, not really putting much effort into it. Hmm, suspicious. I just can’t buy Takada not being taken down instantly by Kerr. Finally Kerr does take him down, but Takada slips free and pops up. Series of low kicks from Takada land, but Kerr tackles him to the ground and lands in half-guard. Takada works back to guard and Kerr doesn’t land anything, then decides to let him up. Double leg plants him right back down. Again we get zero ground-and-pound from a dude who made his name doing that, which is again suspicious. Kerr works easily into side mount and from there he locks up a kimura for the tapout.

I’m going out on a limb here and saying that was a worked fight, too. That sounds odd because usually a work means the guy who isn’t as skilled goes over the guy who does have the skill – like Takada beating Coleman for example – but here I think Takada knew he was overmatched and probably had DSE pay Kerr not to beat him up, but rather let him have a bit of offense (the kicks) and manage a reversal or two on the ground before tapping him out. Even the fight-ending kimura didn’t look like it was fully cranked or anything. So a bit of a damp squib to end the show with for sure – even if it leaves somewhat of a better taste than it would’ve had Takada gone over Kerr.

-Show ends there with some weird flute-ish music, ha.

Final Thoughts….

Pretty bad show right here, even for early PRIDE standards. I mean, Newton/Matsui was fantastic and the Sakuraba fight was really good, but sandwiching those two you’ve got awful stuff like Igor/Barreto, Mezger/Shoji, Malenko/Inoue and a pair of scummy-looking works. And there’s better Sakuraba fights around, so avoid this show but track down Newton/Matsui if you can because it really is a great fight. Otherwise, thumbs way down.

Best Fight: Newton vs. Matsui
Worst Fight: Malenko vs. Inoue

Until next time,

Scott Newman: