Report by John and pictures by SportsNavi
The show kicked off in its usual fashion. Takada giving a speech some 40 feet up standing in front of a huge model of a silver hand pointing as if to say "number 1" surrounded by a backdrop of lights and flames on the video screens.
The fighters were introduced, all of which seemed very serious except Silva who had a huge smile. Overeem carrying his usual oversized mallet and Sakuraba who got the biggest round of applause by far.
The championship belt sat proud in the middle of the ring just to remind the fighters why they were there......
As the judges were introduced a raptuous amount of "BOOing" went around the stadium with the introduction of SHIMADA UJI. Who was he? (maybe he`d judged a few K-1 fights?) anyway the crowd didnt like him.
The crowd, although not a complete sell out was none the less pretty big, although i did manage to sneak into a seat some 10 rows back from the ring apron (thanks Roland) as many of the expensive seats seemed to be free.
One thing that was immediately noticeable was the amount of women around. Actually it was hard to concentrate on the fights. Although a mens kind of sport, (or so you would think) there were more hot women around than in an osaka nightclub.....anyway, back to the fights.
Randleman vs. Nakamura
Randlleman enters looking menacing and as ever, always looking in great shape to a rap tune full of swearing which he was lip syncing a lot of "F**k you" to!!
A tentative start from both fighters. Nakamura throwing a few right hands which Randleman slipped under for a take down. A lot of time is spent on the floor before before Nakamura manages to get to his feet in the corner but a break is called due to a lack of action. most of the action was very subdued with a few moments of excitement . Randleman catching Nakamura mid air from a flying knee and taking him down. Nakamura executing a good trip to get position and then knee-ing from a side mount which turned into Randleman on the verge of being submitted by a painfull looking chicken wing like arm lock which he managed to escape from after a 30 second or so struggle.
(i apologise now for not knowing actual technique names as i`m a kickboxer, not a grappler)
1st round was pretty slow.
Randleman slips under a right high kick from Nakamura but fails to punish his mistake. Nakamura gets position again from a side mount and manages to trap Randlemans right arm under his right leg giving him free shots on an unprotected face. Crowd cheer along to every punch going in. Nakamura has the best of the round with Randleman having to escape or just being defensive.
During the break Nakamura comes out of his corner dancing and shadow boxing in the middle of the ring! he looks confident of the decision before the last round has gone.
Pretty quiet crowd and same slow action through round 3. the silence of the crowd became a laugh as you could actually hear 1 guy scream something in japanese from up in the nose bleed seats.
Nakamura continues to have the upper position and the unanimous decision is unquestionable.
Arona vs. Lister
Punches from Arona. Personally I think one day he going to get knocked out cold. As he comes in his head is so far back and his chin is so high he`s just begging for a big punch on it, however it won`t be Lister doing it. Arona gets top position throwing punches through the guard and an attempted football kick. Ref continually calls "Dean, action" and is yellow carded for lack of it. Arona comes in swinging (chin up) again which turns into both men feet to chest and Lister trying a heel hold. Arona gets a slapping punch in which although lacking power seems to be the shot that opens up Listers right brow. First blood to the ring courtesy of Lister.
round ends with Lister pulling guard.
Lister in guard mostly. looks tired. Mouth open and the cut seems to be bleeding quite a bit although not a fight stopper. pretty boring 2nd round.
Highlights were Arona almost getting figure 4 (nog.style) lock on Listers head which goes to heel hold. lots of mount and reverse.
Unanimous decision for Arona.
Vovchanchyn vs. Kondo
Vovs choice of T-shirt is quite amusing. A picture of himself!! On screen they show the amount of weight he`s lost. coming down from 112kg to 98kg. He`s shaped himself impressively and even more so for this one. weighed in at 92.5kg according to the announcer.
Both start cautiously. Vov gets side mount, Kondo goes to guard and narrowly misses some big punches coming in from a top position. Kondo reverses into a 69 position and goes for heel hold. vov football kicks kondo`s head from floor. Kondo`s pretty slippery and manages to get top position for a while from a good escape. From a side mount Vov gets an arm lock on, same as what Randleman suffered in the 1st match.
From arm lock Vov gets full mount and starts putting in a lot of hooks as Kondo tries to dismount him and does his best to cover from a barage of punches but none land really cleanly. Kondo manages to turn it around before the end of the round but got his face marked up a lot from that position.
More of the same. Vov getting a good position to pound from, Kondo spending the whole round either defending or escaping. Little offensive work from Kondo.
Same again. Vov elects to get a pounding position. the only real other highlight was Kondo getting guillotined which he had to front roll out of. Vovs pounding continues but as its at the end of the fight the punches lack any real sting. Kondo`s face was pretty marked up by the sheer amount of glancing blows
unanimous decision for Vovchanchyn.
Overeem vs. Belfort
Overeems knees work pretty effectively from the start and puts in a good shot. Tries a flying stomp as Belfort is on his back. All of a sudden as both go to the floor Belfort taps out. Had to look at the screen replay to see it.
A right knee inside connected pretty well which shook Belfort followed by a few punches and as the 2 go down with Belfort seeming as though he`d have a top position Overeem gets a guillotine on from underneath and wraps his legs around Belforts back. Overeem by Submission...who predicted that one??
Noguiera vs. Henderson
Both come out punching. Nogs boxing skill seems somewhat cleaner than hendersons who moves really awkwardly bent over at the waist and coming in low with punches. Looks well off balance. First exchanges although exciting compared to what`s passed in previous matches is really scrappy. (and i thought theyd stopped serving beer after the first match) On the ground Nog. uses his legs like another pair of arms catching hendersons left arm in a figure 4 like lock, pinning him to the floor. almost putting on a submission without using his hands.
Things aren`t going well for Henderson and Nog. from a side mount pulls perfect position for an arm bar. Henderson holds on trying not to let him grip be broken but can only manage to delay the innevitable for about 10 seconds.
Sakuraba vs. Yoong Dong Sik
Lack of experience showed here. Sik started with an intention to trade a few punches. Sakuraba starts the Koreans demise with a glancing left that didnt look like it connected cleanly. Sik goes down and rather than roll onto his back and pull a defensive position, elects to kiss the ring apron and put his hands over his head. Bob Sapp style when he starts taking a caning on the floor. Sakuraba just puts in about 4 or 5 rights before the ref stops it. Sik not really hurt or in trouble, just didnt know what to do.
Jackson vs. Shogun
The anouncement of names by that woman who rolls her "R" sounds is going beyond a joke now. "From BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAZIL"
went on for about 5 seconds. I thought she was going to run out of breath!!! hope she don`t learn to speak spanish it`ll take her all day to have a 2 minute conversation.
A quick exchange goes to a standing clinch in the corner which the ref breaks due to lack of action. Jacksons really on the recieving end and Shogun even attempts a flying high round kick which Jackson covers for. Jacksons confidence seems a bit knocked. Jacksons punches seem laboured and slow, and those are the ones he manages to throw. Its all Shogun on the offensive and Jackson hardly threw a technique. This is one of his poorest performances ever. Shogun takes advantage of Jacksons achilles heel and pumps in the knee strikes. Jackson really has to do something about knee defense, everyone will come to know to beat him with this technique. Eventually Jackson goes down and Shogun attempts to football his head before the ref. stops it.
What was Jackson doing? Shogun barely broke a sweat.
As he left the ring he was holding his side. I`m guessing he could have a cracked lower left rib. this would explain his lack of throwing techniques and getting winded very quickly....that or he didnt take his training seriously. Bad night for Jackson. Ended about 5 mins into the 1st.
Silva vs. Yoshida
Silva looked pumped up for it, continually bobbing up and down, nodding his head. Strange how Silva was first out of the dressing room and into the ring. Japanese playing to their home crowd again. Doesn`t the challenger usually come out first?? Yoshida to me looked a little nervous. His eyes were wide and he kept fidgeting and playing with his mouth guard. Osaka dome erupted at his entrance.
Silva comes out quick, striking but Yoshidas not shying away from the exchange and puts in some dangerous looking punches of his own. Yoshida seems very up for the toe to toe, not giving any ground to Silva.
Silva back trips Yoshida from a standing clinch, Yoshida pulls guard and isnt taking any chances. Yoshidas guard is watertight . Silvas only option is to put a few right hands into the ribs. Break is called and again Silva comes in swinging with his chin a bit too exposed which looked like a bit of a mistake as Yoshida again is up for the exchange. Both men land big rights simultaneously. Yoshidas been doing his homework for this one for sure. Yoshida takes Silva down with a great trip and gets position. From side mount Yoshida starts putting in some right hands. Silva pulls him in close and is warned by the ref. for rabbit punches. Yoshida tries to pound from top but the action is starting to slow down a bit. Round ends just as Silva is coming in for a stomp but the refs in a god position and fair play to Silva who walks away as he`s about to execute the technique.
Both start a bit more cautiously. Silva stands in the middle of the ring and drops his hands whilst eyeballing Yoshida. Crowd is very quiet. 2nd round is a bit slower. highlight being Silva narrowly missing Yoshidas head with a stomp through his guard. Again Yoshida pulls guard and locks Silva in tight.
Slow start again. Silva starts putting in a few decent low kicks although very few punches are thrown this round. A few times Yoshida loses balance from Silvas low kicks.
The end minute the crowd goes mad. Again Silva attempts to stomp through Yoshidas guard but misses. As Silva turns to walk away Yoshida takes his leg and starts putting a heel hold on. Its like Silva didn`t expect to get his leg wrapped up and tries to pull away in the opposite direction pulling Yoshida across the floor like an animal with its leg in a trap. Yoshida gains position and has a headlock on from a side mount. You can`t see Silva face as its covered by the Gi and Yoshidas putting putting a lot of effort into which will be the last technique of the match. The crowd think Yoshidas got a submission chance and the volume rises as this position is held for half a minute until the final bell. Silva emerges from Yoshidas Gi with a slightly red face as although unable to escape from the lock wasnt actually in a great deal of danger.
Silva by split decision. 2-1 but a good show from Yoshida.
All in all a long night with a few upsets and not any moments really memorable of Pride history.