PRIDE 28: Final Conflict
by Scott Christ
I'm not yet sure how I want to go about doing these, but this is my first try. I took fight notes while watching the event live on pay-per-view!
So first off, my picks were as follows:
Goodridge-Bobish: Bobish via submission, first round
Jackson-Liddell: Jackson via decision
Silva-Yoshida: Silva via KO, first round
Henderson-Bustamante: Henderson via decision
Sakuraba-Randleman: Sakuraba via decision
Nogueira-Filipovic: Nogueira via decision
Jackson-Silva: Silva via submission
Also, I picked Heath Herring over Norihisa Yamamoto, but they didn't show that on the PPV. I guess no one needed three rounds of Heath Herring and a gift opponent clogging up the pace of the show. I was right, at least. The fight was said to be pretty bad, which is what you get from Japanese tomato cans because they won't engage. What can you do?
Live on November 8, 2003 from the Tokyo Dome (taped and show on PPV Nov. 9). Our hosts and commentators throughout the evening are Damon Perry and Bas Rutten. Before the show, Bas, in fatigues, shows a poster he had made of himself to support the U.S. troops, but it doesn't focus much on the FUCK TERRORISM message on the bottom of it, so it just looks like Bas Rutten sitting in the back of a truck giving the U.S. military the finger.
Gary Goodridge (17-14-1) v. Dan Bobish (9-4-0)
Bobish is listed at 290 but weighed in well over 300 for the show. He's a floppy-solid kind of build, really wide and stocky, and a wrestler. Goodridge comes in with two inches of height and a lot of experience on him. Mark Coleman is in Bobish's corner, which may or may not mean he has association with Hammer House now. I don't know. I picked Bobish because Goodridge has been getting gradually worse, plus he's 37 years old so it's pretty easily explained. That doesn't hold up, as Bobish starts complaining about his eye, perhaps getting one of Goodridge's fingers in there during an exchange, and after some punches Goodridge wins via TKO in 18 seconds.
Interview with Quinton Jackson, where he reveals that he doesn't give a fuck, and plans to do his shit.
Interview with Chuck Liddell, though the chyron says "Chack Liddel U.S.A." C'mon. Chack?
Middlweights - Grand Prix Semifinal
Chuck Liddell (12-2-0) v. Quinton Jackson (18-3-0)
Damon Perry mistakenly refers to Liddell's UFC hockey jersey as a "hockey-like sweater." Let me tell you, Damon Perry is really bad at this, and I want Stephen Quadros back. Perry doesn't know anything at all. Quadros knew everything. Quadros would tell me what the fighter's discipline was, who he trained with, and make every fight seem somehow interesting. And if it was truly bad, he'd just make fun of it and keep the mood light for you, but he did it in a classy manner. Perry is a dork. Jackson is wearing a wrestling mask but I couldn't tell you what it is, really. Well, he doesn't wear it during the fight. UFC's Dana White joins the commentary for this fight, since he did put up $250k on Liddell.
The grand prix fights are two rounds, 10 minutes and 5 minutes. The usual format is 10-5-5, of course.
The fight starts and the stay in the stand-up, which is surprising since I, and apparently everyone else, figured Jackson would try to put Liddell on the mat and use the Couture strategy against him. Jackson lands some big rights. Liddell gets wobbled and Jackson tries for the first slam of the fight, but it's a no-go. Dana White seems really worried at this point and talks about Chuck not following the gameplan of trying to use low kicks to wear out Jackson's knees. Liddell wobbled again, and again, slam attempt #2, and Liddell's arm gets caught in the top rope. That might have been the only thing saving him right there. Liddell up, he catches a knee. Liddell is rocked hard by a left and goes down briefly, gets up, Jackson backs off and may have been able to put him away. Jackson takes him down, that's the end of round one. Give it to Quinton Jackson.
Both guys are looking pretty gassed to start the round. Jackson hits the first slam of the fight and is completely in control, raining down body shots before Liddell's corner throws the towel in at 03'10". Liddell is a tough son of a bitch and wasn't going to tap there, so it was the right call. He was being dominated and seemed helpless. Very good fight even though it was overall pretty one-sided in Jackson's favor.
Middlweights - Grand Prix Semifinal
Wanderlei Silva (22-3-1) v. Hidehiko Yoshida (3-0-0)
The common line of thinking here is that with Yoshida, a judo gold medalist, having such a bad stand-up game (laughably, comically, hysterically bad), Silva should be able to punish him in quick order. I figured the two outcomes were that or Yoshida being savvy and making a fight of it. And right away, Silva gets in trouble on the mat, and Yoshida goes for an armbar but gets nothing. Silva hooks a triangle on from the bottom, but nothing comes of it and Yoshida gets out. Back to the center of the ring, three minutes left in the first. That really does cover the first seven minutes. Silva up and going for leg kicks, then we get a restart. Yoshida gets a throw, and goes for a gi smother, but Silva is out. Round is over, I'd give it to Silva but not by much. The way Damon Perry would tell it, since Yoshida is a heavy underdog and didn't die, that means he won the round.
Second round starts, Silva lands a knee and Yoshida apparently finds it terribly funny. Silva gets a high kick, a knee and some punches in. Silva rocks Yoshida, and this looks like it's it. Yoshida, to his credit, throws back in the stand-up, but he's bleeding from the mouth. Silva with a knee and a high kick, the round ends, Yoshida escapes with his life, and he's looking pretty, well, fucked up. Second round to Silva, too, and that's the unanimous decision. But a good showing from Yoshida, who may have gained more respect from MMA fans by losing this fight but pushing Silva to a decision than he did from beating Don Frye. If they ever outlaw the gi I don't know what he'll do though. Another good fight.
Middlweights - Grand Prix Alternate
Dan Henderson (13-3-0) v. Murilo Bustamante (9-2-1)
Henderson last fought in March, getting a nasty KO win against Shungo Oyama, and has since been out with an injury. Bustamante last fought against Quinton Jackson in August and lost a really good fight by split decision. This fight is also here to determine an injury replacement if one were needed for the GP final, but one isn't, so it's just a fight. I picked Henderson via decision.
Mario Sperry is in Bustamante's corner, Randy Couture is in Dan's. Fight is underway, Henderson hits a knee and Bustamante is pretty much out right there, but he gets a flurry of punches in before the referee pounces and declares it a TKO in 53 seconds. That's too bad, because I was really looking forward to this fight. At least this isn't UFC where Bustamante would never be heard from again for losing. He'll be back. Henderson put himself in line with this, though.
Kevin Randleman lets us all know about his horrific car crash where he nearly died and lost some of his cranial skin. Now he's focused and wants to take out all those who beat him, which would mean he will be coming for these people: Quinton Jackson, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Tom Erikson and Bas Rutten. Good luck, Kevin.
Kazushi Sakuraba (14-6-1) v. Kevin Randleman (14-6-0)
Sakuraba is dressed as Super Mario since the Japanese refer to Randleman as Donkey Kong, which is perhaps racist, but what can you do? Sakuraba sticks a left, but Randleman controls standing up. Restart, Randleman gets a big leg kick. Sakuraba tries for the triangle but isn't getting it. They end up seated and hugging, which amuses the crowd, and when a Japanese crowd laughs, it's pretty funny. Round one ends there, I give it to Randleman.
The entire second round contains Randleman getting another hard low kick, Sakuraba getting caught on a high kick and being taken down, and that's it. Mark Coleman yells at Randleman a lot from the corner but Randleman never seems to listen. Give it to Randleman again.
Third round starts, Randleman gets a suplex, they're up, and he gets another takedown right after. Sakuraba goes for an armlock, but Randleman rolls out pretty beautifully. Sakuraba gets another armlock, Randleman rolls, but doesn't get all the way through, and he's caught, and he taps at 02'36". That was pretty great, because who doesn't love Sakuraba? I got nothin' against Kevin Randleman but the dude ain't a warrior. The finish was vintage Sakuraba and the crowd ate it up. Damon Perry spent most of this fight pissing and moaning about it being boring, which it kind of was, but at least try, asshole.
Mirko Filipovic wants to stay in the stand-up, where he believes he will kill Nogueira.
Heavyweights - Interim PRIDE Heavyweight Title
Mirko Filipovic (7-0-2) v. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (20-2-1)
Nogueira lost the PRIDE heavyweight title to Fedor Emelianenko in March in the best heavyweight fight I've ever seen, and beat Ricco Rodriguez via somewhat controversial decision in August. Filipovic kicks people in the head. Fedor broke his hand training to fight Filipovic so now we need an interim title. My pick was Nogueira via decision since I think that while Filipovic is a great striker, he just isn't a complete MMA fighter yet.
Early in round one, Nogueira sprawls beautifully and gets Filipovic engaged on the mat, but Mirko is out of there pretty quickly. He seemed uneasy even being on top, though he did go for some punches while there. Nogueira sprawls again, but CroCop isn't going down this time. Nogueira is bleeding from the nose. Another sprawl, again Mirko doesn't want to go. Mirko with some kicks to the body, lands a hard straight left hand, Nogueira tries another sprawl, same thing. Sprawl, same thing. Nogueira lands a left. Nogueira is caught with a high kick and falls, and is probably saved by the bell right there. When they wave for the stop between rounds, Damon Perry shits his pants and declares the fight to be over. But he's really stupid. First round to Filipovic, but let me tell you, what I got out of that is he has absolutely no interest in being on the mat. Which, I mean, duh, but still.
Second round starts, Nogueira gets a great takedown and he's on top. CroCop looks really, really uneasy on the bottom. Nogueira gets an armlock, CroCop taps out! 01'45" of the second round, and that is exactly what I was talking about. Nogueira eventually got Filipovic into his fight and beat him by being a more complete fighter. CroCop needs ground work or he's going to run into this problem a lot. Sure, he can still strike you to death before you even get him there, but what if he gets there? Because he looked horrible on the mat. Nogueira accepts the title, Mirko CroCries, and Fedor gives the thumbs up from ringside.
Middlweights - Grand Prix Final
Quinton Jackson (19-3-0) v. Wanderlei Silva (23-3-1)
Randy Couture is on commentary, so him and Bas can shoot the shit and Damon Perry can shut up. This has been brewing for a long time now and I'm really glad they're finally going to fight. Jackson has in the past given great promos where he urges Wanderlei to stop performing fellatio on men and the like. Great staredown in the center of the ring before the fight, and right after the bell rings Jackson has Silva up in the air. Silva gets a headlock and just stays there, and then Jackson drops it to the mat. Out of that, Jackson connects with a right and some knees. Silva is cut by his right eye. On the mat, and we get a restart and a yellow card. Silva throws a high kick that would have ended it, but Jackson ducks. Silva starts landing knees. Then he continues landing knees. Hey. Silva isn't going to stop landing knees. TKO at 06'28" from strikes, and Silva is the 2003 Grand Prix champion. Jackson hugs him, hopefully they'll fight again down the road.
After the fight, a lot of the fighters come into the ring for the ceremony, including Liddell and Yoshida, who get their giant novelty checks. Couture says he'd love to fight Silva to unify the PRIDE and UFC 205 lb. titles, which would be quite a huge deal to be sure.
So here's what we get out of this show: Filipovic needs to work on his ground game. People can shut up about Yoshida because the guy took Silva to the limit and never got baited into something that would get him killed. Gary Goodridge will never, ever be gone from MMA. Sakuraba still has a little Sakuraba left in him. Kevin Randleman's road of payback will be long and impossible. Dan Henderson is pretty good. Brazilians are awesome.
Couture-Silva would be the ultimate payoff for the PRIDE-UFC working arrangement, but getting it to happen will be difficult. Do they fight in a PRIDE ring or the octagon? Who gets to hold the fight itself? The guess would be PRIDE, because there's much more money in it there than here, since they could do the Tokyo Dome or something and not the Mohegan Sun. But it would have to happen after January, since Couture is fighting Vitor Belfort then. PRIDE is back in Februray, probably headlined by Fedor-Nogueira II, which should be a war.