MMA Review: #39: Pride: Bushido Vol. 1 Jan09


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MMA Review: #39: Pride: Bushido Vol. 1

Pride: Bushido Vol. 1


Saitama, Japan

-Your hosts are Mauro Renallo (making his debut) and Bas Rutten. The premise behind the Bushido shows is to give the smaller fighters more exposure, while also giving lesser fighters somewhere to develop their craft, but this was the first Bushido show, so the card for this one is more packed than the other shows in the series. Renallo and Rutten run down the card, which features the Gracie Family vs. Team Japan five-match series, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua vs. Akira Shoji, and in the main event, Mirko Cro Cop vs. Dos Caras Jr.

-Into the arena for a fighter intro done using big screens ala WWE, and the drum intro.

Chris Brennan vs Eiji Mitsuoka

The fights on the Bushido shows are a little different to the regular ones as they’re fought with just two rounds (one ten-minute, one five-minute), but the preliminary fights are only two five-minute rounds, this being one of the prelims on this show. Brennan is a US grappler with one UFC appearance to his name (losing the UFC 16 tournament to Pat Miletich) and he’s mainly fought in King of the Cage, and smaller Japanese shows. Announcers don’t know much about Mitsuoka, and nor do I, really.

They begin and Brennan looks to strike, before grabbing a guillotine, only for Mitsuoka to slam him down to guard. Mitsuoka escapes the guillotine, so Brennan tries a triangle choke, but Mitsuoka escapes that too and eats an upkick. Mitsuoka kicks Brennan’s legs, then re-enters the guard where Brennan catches him in a textbook armbar, and locks it on, and it looks like Mitsuoka taps out. Brennan stands to celebrate, but apparently the referee didn’t notice the tapout, and calls for time! Brennan goes apeshit, as the senior official of Pride comes out, and they replay the armbar twice, with no camera angle able to catch the supposed tapout. Finally after what feels like an age, they restart the fight. Brennan is PISSED, and grabs a standing kimura as Mitsuoka tries a takedown, but Mitsuoka rolls through as he tries to pull guard, so Brennan transitions to the armbar instead. Mitsuoka works to block that, but Brennan keeps working, and finally gives up on it and takes a full mount. Brennan lands some punches, then passes to a side mount, and grabs a vicious kimura, forcing Mitsuoka to tap out for real this time. Post-fight Brennan blames himself, as he says he should’ve kept the armbar on until the referee actually stepped in.

Not a bad fight, actually, when you discount the controversy.

Rodney Faverus vs Challid Arrab

Faverus is known as the Golden Glory Hunter, as he’d beaten three of their guys coming into this fight. Challid Arrab (or Die Faust) was therefore looking for some revenge. This is two five-minute rounds again.

Faverus clinches to open and they muscle for position, exchanging some knees, before Faverus gets a takedown to half-guard. Faverus works the body, before Die Faust reverses over into Faverus’s guard. They brawl back up into the clinch, where Faverus gets another takedown to side mount. Die Faust gets a half-guard back, but Faverus pounds away for the remainder of the round.

Faverus comes out with a front kick into a clinch to open the 2nd, but this time Die Faust gets a takedown to side mount. Faverus reverses, so Die Faust sprawls back and lands a knee to the face, into Faverus’s guard. Faverus tries a triangle choke, but Die Faust blocks and passes into side mount along the way. Die Faust lands some strikes, and they come up into a clinch that the official breaks. They exchange briefly into another clinch, and Die Faust gets a takedown, but Faverus uses a headlock to get a half-guard back. Faverus reverses, and grabs a leg, but Die Faust moves back and grabs a front facelock. They restart and Faverus lands a jump kick, then gets a takedown to guard, and tries to work, but the referee ends up standing them. Faverus tries the jump kick again, but this time Die Faust gets a takedown right into a full mount. He starts to land some strikes, so Faverus rolls over to avoid, exposing himself for a rear naked choke. Die Faust tries it, but Faverus blocks, and turns back over, and Die Faust pounds away to end.

We go to the judges, where Die Faust gets a unanimous decision, ending Faverus’s run against Golden Glory fighters, but whatever. This was a major, major snoozer and probably should’ve been left off the PPV broadcast.

-We’re beginning the five-match Gracie Family vs. Team Japan series next, and we get a quick promo segment with all the Gracies, who’ve been training together. Renzo Gracie is acting as captain, with Royce Gracie (although he’s not fighting) as Team Leader. Team Leader for Team Japan is Royce’s nemesis Hidehiko Yoshida.

Carlos Newton vs Renzo Gracie

Newton is basically the ‘honorary member’ of Team Japan, and Renallo mentions that this fight is ‘ten years in the making’, which I’m thinking is rubbish, as Newton would’ve been 17 years old in 1993 and didn’t actually start fighting until 1996. I’d be more than happy to be corrected, though.

They get underway, and Renzo avoids some strikes with a takedown to half-guard. Renzo works for position, but Newton manages to get his full guard back, so Renzo continues to work, stands, and takes Newton’s back! Renzo goes for the rear naked choke, but Newton blocks nicely, and reverses, taking Renzo’s back. Renzo spins over as Newton punches, and tries a quick armbar, but Newton avoids and passes into a side mount. Carlos holds him down as Renzo lands a knee from the bottom, then tries an oma plata, but Newton blocks. Renzo gets a half-guard back, and rolls through to a toehold attempt, with Newton seated and Renzo working to isolate the leg. They grapple in this position for a while before Renzo transitions to a kneebar, and almost gets it, but Newton somehow pulls out of it, and escapes into Renzo’s half-guard landing punches! Newton passes into a side mount and pounds away, before landing a nice knee to the head, and taking his back. Renzo rolls to escape, but ends up side mounted again, where Newton works away to end the round.

Into the 2nd, and Renzo lands a low kick, but Newton comes in with a bodylock and a BIG slam to side mount! Newton works for position, moving into the 69, but Renzo reverses up and gets a single leg, only for Newton to reverse that into a front facelock. Newton shows incredible balance, as Renzo works for a single leg, and they come up to standing where Newton reverses the takedown attempt into a throw. The referee stands Renzo, and they exchange some sloppy punches on the feet, before Renzo grabs a guillotine choke and pulls guard. Newton works and pops his head out, and pounds away in the half-guard, but they stand and exchange on their feet to end the fight.

To the judges again, where Newton wins the split decision. Really close fight that could’ve gone either way, but I won’t argue with the win for Carlos. Really good grappling contest here, with a ton of high-quality reversals and close submission attempts that meant it never dragged at all.

Ralph Gracie vs Dokonjonosuke Mishima

Ralph ‘The Pitbull’ Gracie is the smallest member of the family team on show here (155lbs), but he’s also the most intense, judging on the staredown here, making Ryan look like the calmest fighter alive by comparison. Mishima is a member of the Japanese Cobra Kai (as opposed to Marc Laimon’s team), and his only losses at this point were to top ten fighters Takanori Gomi and Din Thomas.

Ralph opens with a kick, but Mishima gets a takedown. Ralph goes for a leglock right away, but Mishima passes into Ralph’s half-guard. Ralph reverses into the 69 position, so Mishima tries a leglock of his own, then reverses over into Ralph’s half-guard. Ralph works to escape from the bottom as Mishima lands some hammer strikes, and they exchange some short punches on the mat. Mishima stands to pass the guard, but ends up back in full guard, where he delivers a short slam. Ralph pushes him away with his legs and follows with an upkick, before Mishima goes back into the guard. Ralph uses a guillotine to work back to his feet, and they press, where Mishima misses a flying kick. They circle around without throwing many strikes for a while, before Mishima lands a knee, and gets a throw down to a side mount. Mishima lands some knees to the body, and a few more to the upper legs, but Ralph gets a sweep over to side mount! Ralph holds him down, and then stands, delivering a soccer kick! Mishima comes up, where Ralph rocks him with a hard combo! Mishima goes to the ground to recover, but Ralph mounts him, and takes his back, almost getting a rear naked choke, but the bell sounds, pretty much saving Mishima. Really picked up towards the end of the round.

Into the second, and Mishima presses with some kicks, before Ralph rocks him with another combo, causing Mishima to back away. He comes back with a body kick and a takedown to half-guard, but has a really bloody nose at this point. Ralph gets his full guard back, and Mishima lands some short strikes. Mishima stands, but Ralph blocks a stomp, and lands an upkick. Back into the guard, and Ralph tries a kimura, almost getting it, but Mishima manages to escape to a side mount. Ralph transitions to an armbar, but Mishima rolls to escape, and eats some upkicks on his way back into Ralph’s guard to end the fight.

To the judges again, and this time Ralph picks up the unanimous decision, tying the scores up at 1-1. This started off pretty slowly, but picked up steam towards the end of the first round, and got pretty exciting in parts. Ralph looked pretty impressive, as did Mishima actually.

Daniel Gracie vs Kazuhiro Nakamura

Daniel is the only Heavyweight member of the Gracie team, while Judo prodigy Nakamura hadn’t really established himself at this point, his only prior fight being an armbar loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

They exchange into a clinch to open, before Nakamura breaks with a couple of good left hooks. They press and strike from distance, and Nakamura tries a takedown, but botches it and Daniel ends up on top in Nakamura’s half-guard. Daniel works to pass, but Nakamura sweeps over to Daniel’s guard. They exchange some punches, before Nakamura stands to attempt a guard pass, but ends up back in the guard. Nakamura stands again, but this time just eats an upkick and goes back into the guard again. Nakamura works away, landing some hard left hands in the guard, but still can’t pass. Daniel lands a flurry from the bottom, so Nakamura stands to avoid, then re-enters the guard. This is a real snoozer so far. Nakamura tries to pass to side mount, but can only get the half-guard, so they come back up exchanging into a clinch. They break, and exchange some punches to end the round.

Round 2, and Daniel presses with a one-two combo and a low kick, before blocking a shot. Nakamura lands a nice left into a brief clinch, before they come back out where Daniel eats a combination. Nakamura grabs a clinch and lands some uppercuts, before Daniel returns the favour with a combo of his own. Daniel grabs a guillotine now, but Nakamura pops out quickly and they exchange some combos. Into the clinch, and Nakamura tries a takedown, but Gracie blocks and pulls guard for a guillotine. Nakamura escapes, and they end up being stood by the official and given yellow cards to boot, and they exchange punches to end.

To the judges AGAIN, where Nakamura gets the decision, and puts Team Japan 2-1 up. This was a real snoozer for the most part, Nakamura landed a couple of good shots, but that was about it, and neither man seemed willing to really press the action.

Rodrigo Gracie vs Daiju Takase

Rodrigo Gracie was still undefeated at this point and had a 2-0 record in Pride. Takase’s record would suggest that he’s not a good fighter, but his triangle choke win over Anderson Silva shows otherwise, and he does have some skill. Takase’s also a huge Sakuraba fan, and he’s wearing some Saku knock-off orange shorts here, complete with his initials on the back.

They begin with some jabs from distance, and Rodrigo gets a slam to guard. Rodrigo lands some punches, and avoids a triangle attempt by standing. Takase comes back up, and swings, but Rodrigo brings him back down. They come up into a clinch, and exchange some knees, before Rodrigo gets another takedown to guard. Rodrigo works to pass the guard, then creates some space to land some hard punches instead. Rodrigo keeps working for the guard pass, but Takase blocks well, so Rodrigo starts the ground and pound, landing punches to the body and head, before stacking up and dropping a HUGE right hand that hurts Takase. Rodrigo continues to land, then stands and kicks the legs for a bit, before going back to the guard and working away to end the round.

Second round begins with Rodrigo landing an overhead right into a clinch, and Rodrigo gets a takedown to half-guard. They stop the fight to check Takase’s bloody nose, before restarting, where Rodrigo avoids a takedown with a sprawl. He lands a knee to the head, then they come back up where Rodrigo pulls guard with a guillotine. Takase escapes, but doesn’t strike much from the top, as Rodrigo looks to sweep. They exchange some small punches, before the official restarts them, and Rodrigo lands another overhand right into the clinch. They muscle for position, before Rodrigo NAILS him with a hard knee to the head, and follows with a solid right hand to rock him! Takase clinches, so Rodrigo starts working the dirty boxing with some uppercuts, and then tries a takedown. Back into the clinch, and they exchange to end the fight.

Lord, ANOTHER judge’s decision. This time unsurprisingly it’s Rodrigo who wins the unanimous decision, making it 2-2 in the series. This wasn’t bad in places as Rodrigo worked the ground and pound nicely, and did well in the stand-up portion, but it certainly wasn’t a hugely exciting fight.

-We go backstage where Rutten interviews Royce Gracie, who talks about being screwed over by Yoshida at Shockwave, calling him a liar.

-Meanwhile Renallo interviews Yoshida, who accepts a rematch with Royce at any time.

Ryan Gracie vs Kazuhiro Hamanaka

The pressure’s on here, as the winner will also win the series for their team. Ryan’s my favourite Gracie, while Hamanaka is Sakuraba’s top student, according to the announcers.

Ryan presses the action immediately, and gets a single leg to guard. He works the body with some right hands, and then attempts a short slam, but Hamanaka uses the opportunity to get back to his feet in a clinch, only for Ryan to get another takedown, this time to mount. Hamanaka gives his back, so Ryan gets his hooks in and looks for the choke, landing some punches to the head. They lay there for a while without doing a thing, as Hamanaka blocks the choke, before the official finally stands them, and shows the yellow card to Hamanaka. They restart standing, but as Hamanaka presses, his knee buckles from under him and he goes down, where Ryan lashes out with TWO BRUTAL SOCCER KICKS TO THE HEAD! GOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!~! God, I LOVE that move. Hamanaka is OUT, and while I guess you could blame the knee injury mainly, it was nice to see Ryan finish the fight so violently, especially after a night of decisions.

That makes the series 3-2 to the Gracie Family, and post-fight the Gracies celebrate in the ring, and Ryan challenges Yoshida to a fight.

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua vs Akira Shoji

Shogun is the younger brother of Murilo Ninja Rua, and he’s also a member at the Chute Boxe Academy. Shoji dropped about 20lbs for this fight, too.

Shogun opens by trying to grab a Muay Thai clinch, but Shoji blocks with a takedown to guard. Shoji goes for a kneebar right away, but Shogun escapes and gets back to his feet, where he lands a soccer kick and two knees. Shogun follows up with a high kick, but then lands a low blow and they stop it to let Shoji recover. Restart, and Shogun lands a combo, but slips on a high kick and Shoji enters his guard. Shoji stands to pass the guard, but Shogun follows him, and NAILS him with a left, rocking him with a combo. Shoji recovers and gets a takedown to guard, passing to a mount quickly, but Shogun escapes back to his feet. They exchange punches, and Shogun gets the better of it, landing a BRUTAL combo to drop him before finishing with a stomp to the head.

Pretty brutal showing from Shogun here, in his Pride debut. It takes a lot to actually stop Shoji, and Shogun made it look easy here.

Mirko Cro Cop vs Dos Caras Jr.

Oh lord. The story behind this one is pretty horrific, as at this point, Cro Cop was looking unstoppable, having taken out Sakuraba, Heath Herring, and Igor Vovchanchyn in brutal fashion, with each fight being shorter than the last. He was scheduled to fight Fedor Emelianenko at Final Conflict 2003 (it ended up being Nogueira when Fedor got hurt), but wanted a warmup fight here, only problem being that they couldn’t find an opponent for him. Incredibly, Mexican pro-wrestler Dos Caras Jr. ended up taking the fight on two weeks notice, with no MMA experience, and his reasoning, as quoted from the pre-fight promo? “My trainer said I was in pretty good shape”. Announcers are expecting a massacre here, and rightfully so.

Caras actually wears his mask in the ring, becoming the first masked (and Hispanic, actually) fighter in the history of Pride. Rutten notes that he’s scared of what might happen in this fight. Nice of SOMEONE to show some compassion I guess. They begin, and Caras circles, and tries a clinch, but Mirko easily pushes him away. Caras lands a weak leg kick, but Mirko’s had enough at this point – 46 seconds – and corners him, landing a BRUTAL LEFT HIGH KICK for the KO, and adding a nasty left hand for kicks. Wow, replays show that the high kick didn’t even land flush, and Christ only knows what could’ve happened to Caras if it had. I guess Mirko ended this one mercifully quickly.

Renallo starts screaming that NOBODY can stop Cro Cop, and if I remember rightly, a lot of people expected him to beat Fedor, and when the Nogueira match was set up instead, they expected him to destroy Nog, too. Funny how things turn out, as this is over a year old and we still haven’t seen Mirko-Fedor yet. Maybe next year, eh? Anyway, uber-brutal showing from Cro Cop in this one.

-We end with a highlight reel of the night’s action.

Final Thoughts…

Well, there are a few snoozers here for sure, especially Faverus/Die Faust, Daniel Gracie/Nakamura, and a lot of the Ryan/Hamanaka match. There are a lot of judge’s decisions too, which is never good to see. That said, the shorter rounds mean that nothing drags too badly, and the end of the Ryan/Hamanaka fight, as well as the brutal showings from Shogun and Cro Cop are definitely worth a look. If you’re a big fan of the Gracie clan or Mirko Cro Cop, it’s a must, but otherwise, this certainly isn’t a brilliant show.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: