Photos from http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/
By John Hearn
Ernie again, not exactly ringside due to it being Golden Week and most of the population of Japan not working, the place was totally filled in the lower sections, about 3/4 in the nose bleeds seats.
The show kicked off at 5pm with a large introduction of fighters to a backdrop of strange microscopic images of feotuses and sperm!! Probably something to do with their trademark "Only 1 in 6,000,000,000" can be the champion. Also screened was a good review of the history of Pride fights from 2003 to the present.
Another interesting introduction was that of the ring card girls. All in different colour miniskirts and each saying just a stupid a quote as the next. The opitomy of cuteness and unfortunately dumbness, as is expected and somehow admired by the general public.
"Tonight I'm going to do my best to be a good model" to quote one. Yeah, we don't care, just get on with the show!
"Check that out. It's so sexist...but so right" as the guy with me quoted.
Takada took centre stage with special guest Fedor who basically said (after Takada non-stopped talked for 10 minutes) "I won't be fighting tonight but sit back and enjoy the show, I'll be back soon"
So, first up........
Gilbert Yvel vs. Roman Zentsov
What is it with Russian fighters and always looking steely calm when entering the ring? No frills, No showmanship, just that "down to business look"
Quick exchanges followed by Zentsov tripping Yvel and landing in side mount then easy to full mount. Yvel bridges to escape. Zentsov in Yvel's guard trying to G+P mostly with short right hands. Zentsov gets side mount position and puts on a keylock and really cranks it hard. Yvel's arm is at a hideous angle and a submission looks imminent before he eventually slips out of it and almost gets a good left knee in as both men stand followed by a right cross which Zentsov ducks and counters with a peach of a left hook at 4:55. Goodnight Yvel.
Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum
Werdum flies in with a flying front kick from the bell. He tries to land a few of these but ineffectively. Both fighters very tentative and the action slows a little. Lots of standing clinch techniques ensue with Overeem trying to put in knees and short hooks. Overeem Picks up Werdum and takes him down but lands in Werdums guard.Most of this round both fighters were engaged in a standing clinch.
Lots of standing exchanges, Overeem kneeing but Werdum comes back with straight punches. Action goes to ground and Werdum looked like he almost had a guillotine on but Overeems right arm's caught inside. Overeem slips out and tries to G+P from inside Werdums gaurd but Werdum manages to get a kimura on from underneath and Overeem taps out at 3.23 of the second round.
Mark Hunt vs. Tsuyoshi Kosaka
Respect to Kosaka. Being over 30KG lighter than Hunt, Kosaka really takes the fight to Hunt from the start and Hunt seems to be continually on the back foot. Loads of exchanges from both men but it seems Kosaka just doesn't have the power to really hurt Hunt, but not many fighters do. Kosaka hits Hunt with a low blow and we take a short breather. Hunt, throwing mostly power shots downs Kosaka. From the floor Kosaka has his best chance and the crowd start going wild. Hunt's in turtle with Kosaka rear mounting, continually slapping the back of Hunt's head with right hands. Kosaka rolls and almost gets position for a rear naked choke but Hunt's resilliant and the effort comes to nothing so Kosaka switches and almost has an arm bar on. Tense moment for Hunt but he uses his strength to pull free to stand up. The exchanges are furious and it turns into a bit of a standing war. Kosaka takes so many shots to the head below his nose to his chin is totally bloodied but still continues to wade forward putting Hunt on the back foot while Hunt seems to be keeping him off using more single jabs now. Hunt seems to be gassing a bit and doesn't have the usual snap in his punches but is still landing a lot of shots. Awesome round.
Slower start but a good straight right from Hunt starts Kosaka bleeding again. Kosaka ducking and diving trying to slip Hunt's punches but he's getting bloodied. Quick doctor check, but it's just a bleeding nose. I think frustrated by being a bit of a punching bag Kosaka goes for about 5 diving takedowns in a row. Each time Hunt steps back and really showed some sportmanship. Each time he could've easily football kicked kosaka's head but elected not to. Hunt had chances to finish it here but tiredness or respect? could've been either. Shortly after Hunt finishes it with a right hook but when Kosaka goes down, again he doesn't go in for the finish. Referee stops it at 4:15. Most exciting match of the night and Kosaka showed some great guts and heart.
Josh Barnett vs. Alexander Emelianenko
Again with the Russian entrances! The team, including Fedor have faces like they're going to a funeral. Well, don't like Barnett so much so I kind of hope they are! Barnett's entrance however shows his popularity among the Japanese fans as the whole place erupts.
Good exchanges. Mostly Alexander hitting Barnett who ducks and bobs awkwardly showing his lack of boxing dexterity. When it goes to standing clinch you can see Alexander trying to push Barnett of. It's obvious he wants a stand up fight. Alexander gets out of the standing clinches well to continue throwing some useful leather at Barnett. Barnett stops and nurses his eye for a while as the ref steps in. Think his mascara might be running!! Some Russian in the crowd takes the opportunity to scream "UUSOOO AMERICAJIN!!" (lying American) which has some of the crowd laughing. Barnett continues to get nowhere in the stand up game although lands one or two good rights. Alexander goes more for the counter puching on the back foot, making Barnett miss and picking his shots a little better.
Barnett starts a lot better and after a few exchanges takes Alexander down and gets side mount. From here Barnett puts in a few knees to the head and goes for the keylock on the left arm. Alexander straightens his arm down and slips out but almost instantly Barnnet takes his arm again and does the very same thing and got the tapout at 1:57! It looked almost to easy so i guessed that those knees from side mount must've rocked him a bit and he didn't know what was going on 100%. Considering it took Alexander a few minutes to get up I suppose the knees had more effect than what they looked.
In a typical Pro Wrestling fashion, Barnett has to shoot his mouth off again, even if it is for the paying public. His in-ring speach included,
"I'm back" although, wasn't he talking about re-thinking his career a few months ago?
"I'm aiming for one man.......FEDOR!" followed by "O-MAE WA SHINDEIRU" (you're dead).......eh, I beg to differ.
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. James Thompson
Slower start than Thompson's usual "Let's have some outside the pub" style. Maybe that new RED MOHAWK hairstyle did something to his normal train of thought. Anyway, slow start, most of the action being standing clinches with Thompson really leaning on Fujita in the corner trying to get knees in of which some looked to be a bit low. Thompson puts in some low kicks although none with any real power, more just feeling out Fujita or wanting him to make a move first. Scrappy windmilling in the corner. Fujita takes Thompsons left leg and it goes to ground. Thompson on top but not so effective G+P as his punches lack sting at this point.
The exchanges, although scrappy come thick and fast and once again this evening we're seeing a stand up war. Both Fighters desperately innacurate at landing any kind of good shot and Fujita resorts to holding the back of Thompson's head and pumping in short right uppercuts. Thompson continues to barely skim Fujita's head with every shot as does Fujita attempting to hit Thompson until on decent right hook drops Thompson and it's over at 8:25.
Really scrappy but an exciting ending.
Mirko Filipovic vs. Ikuhisa Minowa
Minowa gets quite a standing ovation upon entering the ring.
Not much to say. This almost instantly goes to Minowa on his back and it's reminiscent of Silva. Minowa can't take the G+P from someone in a top position and Crocop finishes it in half a dozen punches at 1:10.
Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera vs. Zulu
Quickly Nog finds himself in a strange position at 90 degrees to Zulu in almost a fireman's carry position but both guys on the floor. He spins to his right to get Zulu's back but settles for a side mount. Pumping in a few knees and left hammerfists from here he quickly flips over Zulu and continues the G+P from full mount. Zulu makes a catastrophic mistake. His arms are longer than Nog's so basically he extends his right arm to push up under the chin of Nog so he can avoid the punches. He should've just worn a T-shirt that said "ARM BAR ME NOW PLEASE"
Nog must've thought he was joking at presenting such an easy submission opportunity....obviously he took it. Zulu taps from the arm bar at 2:17.
Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Yousuke Nishima
This was billed as Boxing vs. Judo. Those fantastic ideas that make no sense at all but both being Japanese and national celebrities were top of the bill for no other reason than that. You knew what would happen before the bell even rang.
Yoshida tries a few high kicks which looked a bit poor. Nishima stands off trying to tee up the jab but isn't doing much. Yoshida takes down Nishima and has a full mount position for a minute as Nishima struggles underneath and manages to roll out but only as far as Yoshida clamping on a triangle at 2:33.
All in all, not a bad show with some quick stoppages, a few wars and generally a lot of stand up slugging for a Pride show.
Hats of to Kosaka for the most gutsy performance I've seen from a guy 30kg lighter since I can remember.
See you next time at Osaka Dome.