Five months removed from the first PRIDE event, KRS is back with the second ever event for the new MMA promotion. The very first event was a mishmash of UFC fighters, members of the Gracie family, kickboxers, and Japanese professional wrestlers in what was a very unusual and somewhat entertaining spectacle.
Unsurprisingly, PRIDE 2 will feature a mishmash of UFC fighters, members of the Gracie family, kickboxers, and Japanese professional wrestlers. Gary Goodridge, Renzo Gracie, Akira Shoji, and Branko Cikatic all return from the promotion’s inaugural event, while we’ll also see the debut of UFC fighters Mark Kerr and Kazushi Sakuraba. Renzo Gracie’s cousin Royler, another Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu great, will also make his PRIDE debut on this event.
Looking at the card, I get the feeling that PRIDE 2 isn’t going to be much different from PRIDE 1, as KRS is following the same formula from their first event five months ago. The most notable difference is that I won’t have to sit through a fight between Dan Severn and Kimo, but there’s always a chance that some other fight could take its place as the worst in PRIDE history. I’m not saying it’s likely, I’m just saying there’s a chance. Let’s cross our fingers that we won’t see anything like that on PRIDE 2.
PRIDE 2 – March 15, 1998
PRIDE 2 is taking place in the Yokohama Arena, the same arena that housed the UFC’s last event. We’re joined again by “Fight Professor” Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten. I feel very close to Bas and Quadros after we three sat through the torture of Severn vs. Kimo from PRIDE 1. It’s almost like we’re all best friends. Bas even gave me cable provider advice on Twitter recently, so we’re pretty tight. You can’t get closer to a person than by watching shitty fights and exchanging 140 character notes about how I can get HDNet.
We get right into the action as Royler Gracie fights Yuhi Sano in an openweight contest. At 202 pounds, Sano is more than 50 pounds heavier than his opponent in this contest. Sano is also a professional wrestler for the Kingdom promotion, which likely means he’s at a serious disadvantage against a grappling great like Gracie. He’ll need every bit of that 52 pound weight advantage in this fight.
Gracie opens the fight by touching gloves with his opponent. Sano stands flat-footed with his hands at his waist while Gracie stands straight in front of him shuffling his feet. Neither fighter looks at all inclined to strike and this fight has just begun. Sano looks more than one inch taller than Gracie. Sano’s weight advantage is great and he appears to be the much stronger fighter, but will he be able to put that advantage to good use?
Sano and Gracie clinch and Gracie makes a very lazy attempt to pull Sano into his guard. Gracie slowly sits down on the mat and tries to drag Sano to the mat. Despite his weight advantage, Sano is unable to free himself from Gracie’s grasp before the Brazilian uses a nice sweep to move into Sano’s guard. Gracie easily moves into full mount with little resistance from Sano, who’s now just trying to hold Gracie close to avoid any offense.
Sano tries to use his strength to buck Gracie off, but he merely forces Gracie back into side control. Sano might have a weight advantage, but he has little clue what technique he should utilize to maximize this advantage. Gracie moves back into the full mount and he holds onto his opponent reverses positions and Sano ends up on top. Gracie almost immediately locks in a triangle, but Sano picks Gracie up and lightly drops him to the mat to escape the hold. After a brief struggle, both fighters are back on their feet.
Sano and Gracie clinch again and we see Royler try to pull Sano into guard again. We’ve yet to see a single strike thrown in this fight, meaning that Sano is probably equally uncomfortable on his feet as Royler Gracie. Gracie tries to move into the butterfly guard and sweep Sano again, but Sano is too big and strong for Royler. Sano is oddly clinching with Royler while on his knees, showing he has little clue how to grapple.
So wait…Yuhi Sano doesn’t know how to strike and he doesn’t know how to grapple. He has spent the duration of this fight following Gracie around and doing the least amount possible to stay active. I’m really confused why Sano is even participating given what we’ve seen out of him thus far. Knowing that he’s supposed to be fighting, we’ve seen nothing from Sano but some incompetent idleness.
Quadros wonders what Sano’s gameplan might be and suspects that Sano is a grappler based on the lack of strikes. If Sano really is a grappler, then why does he look so clueless while grappling? The only reason he’s still in this fight is because he ways 33% more than Royler Gracie. From the butterfly, Gracie pulls off another sweep and is in side control once again. Gracie comfortably rests in this position with little resistance before moving back to full mount.
The Fight Professor notes how quiet the crowd is, prompting Bas to sing some of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” as only El Guapo can do. I make a note of this not only because it’s funny, but because there is nothing happening in this fight. Gracie in mount, Sano being mounted, crowd sitting quietly. Bas sings a little more Simon and Garfunkel and I wish he would continue to do so all fight. This has been pretty uninteresting thus far.
It looks like Royler might be trying for an arm triangle but he doesn’t get close to ending the fight. Sano’s defense is just to hold Gracie down and keep the BJJ practitioner from finishing the fight, though something tells me Gracie could finish this fight easily if he were a little more motivated to do so.
Quadros uses this as an opportunity to ask Bas if this fight is boring. Bas responds with “Right now, it is. Yes, it is. Ask me something else.” At the fifteen minute mark, Bas and Quadros start betting upon the outcome of the fight. Quadros offers to bet Bas one million dollars that the fight won’t end in a knockout. Both announcers reveal that they, in fact, don’t have one million dollars to bet.
Sano works to sweep Gracie but is unsuccessful. He at least gets Gracie to move back into side control, but he quickly gets back to mount where he’s spent a significant portion of the fight. Gracie is starting to throw some very weak punches that don’t do any damage and Sano answers back with weak punches of his own. Bas Rutten starts speaking in a Hispanic voice in what seems to be a Tony Montana impression. It’s a really bad sign that Bas is punchy just twenty minutes into this event. I wondered previously if any fight can match Severn vs. Kimo and in the first fight of the evening, we have an early contender.
Bas jokes that fatigue is kicking in at this point in such a “high energy” fight. Quadros says that MMA needs to take some lessons from boxing and professional wrestling to become more entertaining. He says that fighters should be mindful that fans are paying to be entertained and that fighters need to oblige the fans. Bas says that he makes a point of being active in his fights and suspects that he has so many fans because of that. He neglects to mention that he’s also awesome, but maybe that’s just because he’s humble. But can somebody nicknamed “El Guapo” be humble? Fuck, I don’t know. This fight is giving me a headache.
Gracie has been in full mount doing absolutely nothing for about fifteen minutes. Out of nowhere, Sano sweeps Gracie and moves into the butterfly guard. Unsurprisingly, Sano doesn’t do a thing with the position. He doesn’t strike, he doesn’t try to advance position, he doesn’t try to submit Gracie. Not only is Sano in the butterfly guard, but he’s leaning over with his head between Gracie’s legs. Sano is eating some punches to the face and is doing nothing about it. Why is this man even fighting? How is Yuhi Sano even a successful pro wrestler? He has to be the most boring and useless athlete I’ve ever seen in my life, this is miserable!
As Sano backs away, Gracie lands some really nice upkicks. Gracie is now turning up the heat and is throwing some really big strikes. Royler has to be keenly aware that Sano is doing absolutely nothing to stay competitive and he’s really doing some damage to Sano, whose nose appears to be bloodied. Gracie is in control of this fight, even while laying on his back. He’s facing the most passive, timid, awful opponent in MMA history, so how is it that this fight has gone 30 minutes without a finish?
Sano’s face is covered in blood and Gracie continues to throw kicks while laying on his back. Bas wonders out loud what Sano’s gameplan was for this fight, while Quadros says Sano can get a job at Everlast as a heavy bag. Quadros and Bas correct that and say the 200 pounds Sano should just be a light heavyweight bag. Sano is leaning forward with his face squeezed between Gracie’s knees, prompting Quadros and Bas to recall the Kids in the Hall head crushing skit. This fight has devolved into some kind of strange fever dream where Stephen Quadros is doing a Mark McKinney impression.
Gracie adjusts positions and lands some additional upkicks to Sano, who inexplicably kneels in front of Gracie which does nothing but allows Sano to be abused. Sano slowly moves into guard and Gracie quickly reverses position and takes full mount. Gracie pounds on Sano before mercifully sinking in an armbar for the submission win. Holy shit, this was a terrible fight. If this fight wasn’t 35 minutes long, I would wonder if the fight was fixed. That’s how bad of a fighter Sano is.
Yuhi Sano is a miserable fighter. He is a terrible person for putting me through this, though I hold KRS responsible for booking the fight. Royler is also not off the hook, since it shouldn’t have taken him this long to finish such a massively inferior fighter. Still, I place the blame on Yuhi Sano. Yes, he was fighting a dangerous opponent, but don’t sign for the fight if you’re scared of getting hurt. Sano got busted up and looked like a fool. This is a total fail by Sano, who is now perhaps my least favorite fighter of all time.
To Gracie’s credit, he really worked hard for the last 5-10 minutes of the fight. He used some heavy strikes and did some damage to his opponent, so I’ll at least give him the credit for picking up the pace and finishing the fight. Royler Gracie is presented a medium sized trophy for defeating a medium sized opponent and this fight is officially in the books.
Fight number two is between Juan Mott and Akira Shoki. We’ll remember Shoji from a very fun fight with Renzo Gracie at PRIDE 1, where Shoji showed great spirit and very good ring awareness against a very tough opponent. I was really impressed by Shoji in his first fight, since it would have been very easy for him to collapse against a very dangerous opponent.
Mott opens the fight with a pawing front kick that he seems to be using as a jab. He’s really taking his time and measuring Shoji early on, while Shoji appears to be doing the same right now. Shoji fakes a jab and lands a nice leg kick, but Mott responds with an inside leg kick of his own. Shoji moves in with a nice jab/takedown combination and moves into full mount, a very dangerous position for Mott right now.
Mott is holding Shoji down in this position, while Shoji waits a bit before posturing up and throwing some big punches. Mott quickly gives up his back to try and defend the punches and Shoji sinks in both hooks and locks in a rear naked choke. Mott waits quite a while and Bas worries that he’s going to pass out, but Mott taps out to the choke giving Shoji a submission win. A pretty unspectacular fight, but Akira Shoji looked good in scoring a quick victory. After a draw against Renzo Gracie and this win over Mott, Shoji has the potential to make a name for himself in PRIDE.
It’s now time for kickboxing and a fight between William van Roosmalen and Ralph White, who we remember from PRIDE 1 for having his head turned into big lumpy mess. These are two big men with van Roosmalen at 6’4″ and White at 6’3″, so I expect to see another serious hematoma in this contest.
This ring announcer is awesome. It’s like if Michael Buffer were Asian and wore an ascot. I can’t understand a thing he says, but he announces with serious authority. Also, he has a really sweet ascot. He appears to be somewhat confused by the microphone, which leads me to believe that he doesn’t typically announce at events like this. The crowd also seems amused by what the announcer says, so perhaps he’s some kind of funny man. Rutten says he used to be a bouncer at the same bar as van Roosmalen, so he’s automatically my pick in this fight.
White opens up the fight with some nick low kicks and a big push kick to the body. The fighters are trading low kicks and White is definitely getting the best of these exchanges. White has quickly seemed to time van Roosmalen’s punches and is landing some nice counter strikes. White is definitely landing some nice kicks in this one, though van Roosmalen is landing some strikes of his own. White clinches, but van Roosmalen lands some very nice knees from the clinch.
After the clinch, van Roosmalen seems to be more comfortable landing some nice punches and a really great low kick/body kick combo. White seems a bit more tentative now and van Roosmalen is having more success, though White backs his opponent against the ropes and lands some big punches. The first round is over with both fighters having success early on. Between rounds, Koji Kitao is shown in the crowd with a really ugly blond streak in his hair.
The second round is another close one and is pretty even, though White threw more strikes in the round. His shots seemed to land more cleanly though van Roosmalen had some nice punches and more knees in the clinch. The Dutchman van Roosmalen had the nicer combos and was able to string together some nicer kick. White had more success toward the end of the round, though Quadros suspected that White was limping back to his corner after the bell.
This man is shown between innings and Bas simply calls him a samurai. For a moment, I worried that Lemmy turned Asian.
White opens the third round with some big punches, though van Roosmalen has more success in the clinch. White is eating some low kicks, but insists on clinching with an opponent who has proven to be dangerous in close. White is knocked down by van Roosmalen with a low kick/shove combination. White must be tired as he keeps draping himself on his opponent. White is still throwing some shots, but now van Roosmalen is in control with big knees to the legs and body of his opponent. Most of White’s shots are being blocked at this point and he doesn’t appear to be 100% as this round ends.
Quadros suspects that White won’t come out for the third round, but he does indeed come out. White comes out swinging and the fighters trade some punches. When back in the clinch, van Roosmalen lands a very powerful knee to the body and White is dropped! He fails to answer the ten count and William van Roosmalen is the winner of this contest! When the bout is complete, the winner helps White to his feet and is very gracious toward his opponent in victory. The replay shows that the knee was very heavy and landed right on White’s midsection, a devastating knockout!
Back to MMA action and we’ll see Vernon White take on Kazushi Sakuraba, who we last saw winning the UFC Ultimate Japan heavyweight tournament. Sakuraba is the lighter fighter by 20 pounds, so he’s at a bit of a weight disadvantage here. We’ve yet to see Vernon White in action so we’ll get a good idea where he stands against a tough fighter like Sakuraba.
Sakuraba opens up with a low kick, to which Vernon White responds with indignation. White answers back with a huge left hand that appears to stun Sakuraba, who promptly responds with a takedown. A struggle ends with Sakuraba in side control as he tries to pull White’s arm away from his body for a submission. Sakuraba is close to locking in the key lock but White escapes and gets back to his feet, only to sprawl on top of Sakuraba. White looks interested in some kind of submission or he possibly wants to take Sakuraba’s back, but is unsuccessful.
Sakuraba is able to regain top position and is in half guard and transitions into full mount while White tries to control Sakuraba’s head. White bucks Sakuraba and rolls Sakuraba onto his back and White moves back to his feet. Sakuraba attempts a single leg takedown and it looks like White has it defended, but Sakuraba is able to position himself into full guard and then side control. Bas and Quadros are surprised by Sakuraba’s success, as he transitions almost seamlessly from position to position against a tough opponent.
Sakuraba positions himself for a potential armbar but White successfully escapes after threatening to slam Sakuraba from a standing position and then just yanking his arms from the hold. After a struggle, Sakuraba gives up his back and White tries for a rear naked choke. Unfortunately, he doesn’t sink the hooks in and Sakuraba casually shrugs White off and takes north/south position. Sakuraba doesn’t spend more than a moment there and he adjusts positions multiple times ending up in side control.
From side control, Sakuraba places a knee on White’s stomach and seems interested in an armbar, but gives that up. The fighters are too close to the ropes and we have the first awkward adjustment of the night. Three officials gently shift the fighters back to the middle of the cage, where White kicks Saku off of him. Sakuraba is persistent and follows White back to the crowd, trying for yet another armbar as they approach the ropes yet again. A nice exchange sees White trying to roll through and Sakuraba briefly maintaining position before White breaks free and takes Saku’s back yet again!
White doesn’t spend much time there, throwing a single punch to Sakuraba’s head before backing off. As Sakuraba sits up, White feints a soccer kick and Sakuraba backs off. Sakuraba is then able to pick White’s ankle and score a takedown bringing White back to the mat. You can hear someone in White’s corner, potentially Tra Telligman, telling White to “move his fucking ass” and to get aggressive. Quadros and Bas echo these sentiments.
Sakuraba is able to move back into side control and he works for a potential kimura. He ends up giving up on the hold and moves to full mount just as the first round ends. I should note that I have no clue how long these rounds are, but that seemed to be about ten minutes long. At this point, I don’t even know what rules we’re following. Gracie vs. Sano didn’t have rounds, so why does this fight have rounds? Were rules chosen using a dart board? Is it possible we’ll see two competitors later in the evening fight in some kind of crazy Japanese rules death match with exploding barbed wire covered boards?
Sakuraba tries some low kicks to start the second round, but White avoids both attacks. Sakuraba has no fear of White’s striking as he’ll keep his back turned for extended periods of time after missing his kicks. Sakuraba is successful with another takedown and is back in side control, then effortlessly transitions to full mount. White works to buck Sakuraba but his opponent nicely maintains his position. White ends up giving his back and the moment he does, Sakuraba tries to lock in another armbar. As we’ve seen before, the hold is unsuccessful and White has Sakuraba’s back yet again.
Vernon White does a really poor job from this position, though Sakuraba is keeping a nice, compact base to keep White from sinking in his hooks. White tries maybe one punch, but insists upon working for a choke that seems unlikely to succeed. Indeed, Sakuraba reverses positions with White sitting too high and he reclaims top position. White tries to escape, but Sakuraba pounces and tries for another takedown. Sakuraba gives up his back once more and is now working for an armbar with White’s hands around his waist. Sakuraba is able to roll through from this spot and claim side control yet again, all the while working for a submission.
This is probably the closest Sakuraba has come pulling off the submission, but White escapes and has Sakuraba’s back again. I feel like I keep writing the same paragraph over and over, but Sakuraba is absolutely relentless. He seems like a really unpleasant opponent since he’s a crafty fighter who absolutely does not stop working for a submission. White’s defense has been good considering Sakuraba’s constant grappling onslaught, but he’s really had no offense of his own thus far.
Sakuraba tries to roll through on White with an armbar but White defends by grapevining one of Saku’s legs. White now sinks in a a hook on Sakuraba and goes for the rear naked choke, but Sakuraba breaks free once more and moves to full guard. Saku moves to side control, White gives up his back, and Sakuraba tries for another armbar. White breaks free and takes Sakuraba’s back once more, but I don’t have any confidence that White can do anything from here. Quadros notes that Sakuraba seems absolutely fearless in giving up his back so regularly.
White is able to position himself where he can lock in a double underhook on Sakuraba. Bas suggest that White stand and level Sakuraba with some big knees, but White inexplicably gives up the hold. It doesn’t look like there was a lot of resistance from Sakuraba. White uses this opportunity to knee Sakuraba in the body before both fighters stand. After another submission attempt, the fighters break and are now standing. Unsurprisngly, Sakuraba scores a takedown and ends up in half guard and moves to mount once more.
This fight has been a remarkably technical grappling contest and very few strikes have been thrown all fight. Sakuraba has attempted maybe a dozen or more submissions and has been busy for the entire fight, keeping his opponent on defense. White is hanging in there, but he’ll have to mount some more offense to stand a chance of winning. With Saku in guard, White goes out the backdoor and slips out from underneath Sakuraba and takes his back just as the second round ends. This has been a very fun fight through twenty minutes.
Sakuraba opens the third round with some kicks that land and he’s really putting some muscle behind these strikes. As White goes to feint a kick, Sakuraba rushes in with a takedown. A struggle sees Sakuraba move into side control and then he transitions to mount after a brief rest. White tries to escape the position like he did at the end of the second round, but Sakuraba postures up and lands some punches to soften up White. Sakuraba is grabbing for an arm and is very interested in an armbar at this point. White breaks free, but Sakuraba again works to soften up his opponent in anticipation of a potential submission.
White goes to escape and seems to put himself into more danger, but White explodes out from the armbar and moves into side control. Sakuraba turns his back and tries to roll through on White, but White maintain position. He’s no longer trying to submit Sakuraba from his back since he knows those attempts would likely be futile at this point. Quadros and Bas think this fight should be ruled a draw at this point, which is a ridiculous assertion. Sakuraba has been more aggressive and has controlled this fight and I see nothing that White has done to warrant a draw. Successful defense is great, but an aggressive fighter like Sakuraba needs to be rewarded for his frequent attempts to finish the fight.
With White on his back, Sakuraba rolls through and tries to move into side control, but White keeps working and tries to maintain what little control he has over Sakuraba. Sakuraba gains the upper hand as White adjusts and gives up his back, Sakuraba again working for the arm. White works to roll out of the hold, but White looks to roll himself into trouble! Sakuraba’s position is even better than it was before and he sinks in a very deep armbar! With little hesitation, White submits to the hold and Kazushi Sakuraba has taken the victory!
After more than 25 minutes of a grappling war, Sakuraba has come out victorious in impressive fashion. Bas and Quadros marvel at Sakuraba’s success and are openly stunned about how good this professional wrestler has looked in MMA thus far. White may not be the best MMA fighter with an 11-20-1 record coming into this fight, but Sakuraba has implemented a very successful grappling style in his very young MMA career.
We’ll now see the second PRIDE appearance for Renzo Gracie as he takes on Sanae Kikuta. Gracie was challenged by Akira Shoji in his PRIDE debut so we’ll see how things go against Kikuta, a judo practitioner with kickboxing experience. Kikuta is the heavier fighter by 15 pounds in this contest.
As the bell rings the fighters almost immediately clinch with Gracie backing Kikuta into the corner. Kikuta appears to pull Gracie into his guard and Renzo has been quick to throw some punches in this contest. Renzo immediately threw some punches from guard before Kikuta grabbed onto Gracie’s head for defensive purposes. Kikuta escapes from the ground, but Gracie rushes his opponent when he gets to his feet and backs Kikuta into the corner again.
Gracie is throwing some punches to the body from clinch, but Kikuta is successful with a takedown near the ropes and moves into half guard. Immediately after the takedown, we get yet another comical readjustment of positions before the round is restarted. Kikuta is extremely inactive from this position, as he’s likely and justifiably worried about Renzo’s grappling ability. Quadros says there needs to be some kind of rule where fighters are stood up after being inactive, which we’ll eventually see somewhat implemented with PRIDE’s card system.
The remainder of the first round is spent with Renzo on his back and trying to box his opponent’s ears while Kikuta is pretty much turtled in fear of being submitted. Kikuta seems interested in transitioning toward the end of the round, but he doesn’t make a very strong effort to advance. Renzo throws some body shots that sound punishing and he’s at least trying to stay busy here. The bell sounds and that’s the end of the first round.
Kikuta misses each of the four punches he throws to open the second round while Renzo lands a really nice straight left. Kikuta immediately freaks out and clinches, where Renzo backs him into the corner. Kikuta works for a trip takedown, but Renzo defends the attempt and moves back into the corner. Renzo is throwing some knees from this spot while Kikuta is just trying to either break free or score takedowns.
The first five minutes of this round have basically been spent in the corner. As Kikuta tries for a takedown, Gracie lands some punches before Kikuta moves in for the clinch again. When they move back to the corner, Gracie tries for a hip throw that is reversed by Kikuta, who ends up in full guard. Kikuta is a very boring fighter from this position and a highlight comes when the officials once again move both fighters away from the ropes. Gracie kicks Kikuta off of him and back to his feet. Kikuta stands over the downed Gracie but is very hesitant to attack. He lands a couple of kicks to Gracie’s legs, but somehow thinks going back into the guard is a good idea.
Kikuta rests in guard, Kikuta rests in guard, Kikuta rests in guard, Bas offers to tell a joke to entertain the masses. He actually doesn’t tell the joke since the announcer says there is just one minute left in the round. I think El Guapo is relieved to hear that there is little time left in the round and nothing exciting happens up to the bell.
Kikuta scores a quick trip to start the third round and is back in Gracie’s guard. Quadros wonders if Gracie tickling Kikuta might be a good strategy at this point. Hey, anything else would be more interesting that this. Kikuta keeps a very, very boring guard and this fight hasn’t been very good so far. Maybe four or five minutes into the round, Renzo is finally able to free himself from Kikuta and force his opponent to his feet, but Kikuta rushes back into guard again. If he’s this willing to fight on the ground with Renzo Gracie, he must not be much of a striker.
This entire round consists of Kikuta laying on top of Gracie and the third round comes to a close. Bas suspects the fight will now be ruled a draw, but wait…this fight will continue? Quadros begins to wonder out loud what both fighters’ strategy will be and you can hear a confused Bas trying to figure out what on earth is happening. Quadros finally stops talking and Bas asks how many rounds this fight is, with the Fight Professor clarifying that the fight is unlimited rounds until a fighter wins the contest. Bas doesn’t have the heart to respond to this and I think I’m going to throw up. This fight will last forever.
The fourth round opens with Renzo trying a quick lateral drop takedown which is defended by Kikuta. Both fighters move back into the corner where Bas says he sees no way that Kikuta can win this fight with unlimited rounds. So far, I’ve given Kikuta 38 red cards and he now owes me a significant portion of his fight purse. Just as I say that, Kikuta lands yet another takedown and is in Gracie’s guard. Oh no, here we go again.
I just skipped ahead four minutes and nothing changed. Thankfully, I stopped at a place where Bas says the longest fight in history was a prolonged battle with his ex-wife, but that it was largely a mental battle. The referee stops the fight and calls for a restart after Kikuta lands some strikes to the back of Gracie’s head, though they were very weak strikes. Now that both men are on their feet, they’re throwing strikes a bit more and Kikuta is actually looking a bit more aggressive at this point. And now the fourth round is complete.
Bas says “there are no words right now” and is very hopeful that the fight ends in this fifth round. I should note that these aren’t five minute rounds, but insanely long ten minute rounds. I’m 40 minutes into this fight and I’m ready to pull a Hideki Irabu here. This is miserable. I thought Gracie vs. Sano was unpleasant, but this is really something else.
Fifth round opens, fighters clinch in the corner. Kikuta drops down for a takedown, but Gracie defends the hold and actually locks in a guillotine. While he’s sinking in the choke, Gracie throws some knees to Kikuta’s head and Kikuta is desperately trying to defend. Gracie tries to pull guard with the guillotine, but unfortunately, Kikuta pulls out and is in guard and out of danger. Bas can only exclaim “oh my God” out of disappointment that this fight isn’t over.
I swear to God, the rest of this round is spent with Kikuta hanging out in guard. This is really terrible and I’m so thankful I can skip ahead, but I feel so bad for Bas and Quadros. Bas gets all nihilistic about this fight and says that “there is no point” to this competition. This fight is really sucking the life out of El Guapo and it makes me so sad. I really hope these guys can survive.
Now it’s the sixth round, which now means we’re 50 minutes into the fight. The fight is briefly stopped to repair the tape on one of Kikuta’s gloves. Kikuta charges after the restart and goes for a takedown, but Gracie catches him and tries for another guillotine choke. This one is definitely a lot tighter and Kikuta is forced to tap to the arm-in guillotine! Both announcers exclaim “thank God!” since this fight is now over. Quadros says nobody in the audience reacted to the victory since they were all asleep. Let us never speak of that fight again.
It’s time for another kickboxing contest, this between Tasis Petridis and George Randolph. Petridis is at a serious disadvantage here being six inches shorter and 73 pounds lighter than the American Randolph. The 6’7″, 287 pound Randolph is just a massive specimen. He’s also very pale. The ascot wearing announcer is back and I wonder if they just bring him out for the kickboxing fights? Either way, I’m glad he’s here to class the joint up.
Both fighters come out swinging heavy blows and Randolph scores early with a nice trip that knock Petridis to the mat. Petridis is very quick to clinch his bigger opponent, who lands some really big shots with Petridis backed against the ropes. Randolph lands some heavy knees and punches which look scary coming from a near 300 pound man.
Randolph definitely has a huge reach advantage here, but I don’t know that Petridis has been that badly impacted by the difference. The first round is pretty even with both fighters landing big strikes before the round ends. That one was a little too close to call, though I worry about Randolph getting gassed as this fight goes on. The replays show Randolph landing some crisp punches and knees in that first round.
The action slows a bit in the second round, though Randolph already seems to be gassing. Petridis looks more active circling his opponent and landing big punches, while Randolph is flat footed and not throwing nearly as much right now. Petridis is throwing some leg kicks, but Randolph starts to get a second wind and is rushing Petridis. Randolph actually drops Petridis to the mat twice, though they both look more like knockdowns. Toward the end of the round, Petridis begins to land some really big shots and more leg kicks that appear to damage the winded Randolph. The second round ends and it was a clear Petridis round.
Randolph is aggressive coming out in the third round with some punches, but Petridis is the one pushing the pace here. He’s moving in with combinations and keeping Randolph off guard. The bigger fighter is also moving in to hug Petridis with great frequency, appearing very tired even in the early parts of this round. Randolph is still landing his shots in large part because of his size, but Petridis’ leg kicks and punches look much cleaner. With one minute remaining, Randolph has a noticeable limp and is just swatting at his opponent. Petridis finishes the round strong with leg kicks and a huge left hook.
The fighters touch gloves to start the fourth round. Petridis is quick to back away when Randolph throws his punches and Randolph is trying his best to pursue his smaller, quicker fighter. Petridis lands a huge right that appears to rock his opponent and he’s in control now. Quadros is convinced that Randolph is rocked, but it definitely could be fatigue coming into play. Randolph is no longer throwing shots from the clinch, instead using that as an opportunity to catch his breath.
Petridis is the one pushing the action and he lands a massive head kick at the end of the round! Petridis follows up with some punches before Randolph clinches to stop the onslaught. Petridis uses a big knee to end the fourth round, another one for Petridis. Replays show some really devastating punches from Petridis during the round and big George Randolph is taking a lot of damage.
The fifth and final round begins and Petridis’ weapon seems to be the low kick right now. Randolph looks really hurt and is basically limping around the cage at this point. Petridis’ kicks have been dangerous all fight and we’re seeing evidence of this. Randolph is still hanging in there and eating shots, but he’s out of it. At one point, he falls on top of Petridis during a clinch. Petridis’ corner offers this brilliant strategy: “don’t let him fall on you!” Quadros totally telegraphs a spinning back kick from Petridis that lands. Petridis is finishing this fight strong with really big punches and Randolph finishes the fight with a knee to the groin. He also is working very hard to suck in enough oxygen to power his massive frame.
Petridis is declared the winner via decision, which comes to a surprise to absolutely nobody. That was not a bad fight and was pretty entertaining, but I’m not sure how it compares to other kickboxing matches. I’m not at all familiar with the sport, but I definitely enjoyed this one.
This should be a very interesting fight between UFC veterans Gary Goodridge and Marco Ruas. We haven’t seen Ruas since the Ultimate Ultimate 1995, but he’s stated active in Vale Tudo competitions. We last saw “Big Daddy” knocking out Oleg Taktarov at the very first PRIDE event, but Ruas will be another challenge for the Trinidad and Toboggan. Wait, is that right? What do you call somebody from Trinidad and Tobago? I’ll just stick with my idea. Goodridge is the bigger fighter by 30 pounds, but we all remember Ruas taking an exciting win over giant at large Paul Varelans in the UFC.
Goodridge opens up with some big punches that catch Ruas and then lands a big knee. Ruas follows up with a roundhouse kick and a spinning backfist, both of which miss. Ruas is favoring the low kick early on and he likes to follow those up with spinning backfists. Goodridge backs Ruas in the corner and starts to land some big punches. Ruas tries to pull Goodridge down into guard, but Goodridge ends up falling into half guard. Goodridge has some very strong ground and pound and this could be trouble.
We can see that Marco Ruas is already cut around his left eye from some of the punches that Goodridge has thrown. Goodridge postures up after a brief rest and is throwing some really strong punches. Ruas appears to block some of the shots, but Goodridge lands a number of big right hands from this position. Goodridge tries to use his strength and position to leverage a neck crank on multiple occasions, but Ruas breaks the hold and never looks to be in serious trouble. Ruas adjusts and moves Goodridge into the full guard.
As we’ve seen before from “Big Daddy”, he’s really tired just five minutes into this first round. He’s still landing some big punches, but the flurries are coming with less frequency and less power. Gary Goodridge briefly considers going for a leg lock, but abandons that idea and transitions into side control instead. Ruas is able to reposition himself and pulls a very tired Gary Goodridge into his guard. Goodridge is making effort to move forward and advance positions, but he can’t do a whole lot based on his increasing exhaustion.
Goodridge decides to stand up from guard and Ruas follows to his feet. Ruas is circling the flat footed Goodridge, but Goodridge corners his opponent and throws some big punches. At that time, Goodridge appears to slip and possibly jams his right leg. He grabs for what appears to be his knee and now Ruas moves in with punches and knees of his own. Goodridge throws Ruas to the mat, but Ruas grabs his opponent’s left leg and sinks in the heel hook. Goodridge struggles briefly, but he’s forced to submit to the hold! A nice submission victory for Marco Ruas!
It should be noted that Goodridge’s potential injury didn’t seem to factor into Ruas’ victory. He pulled off the heel hook on the left leg, while it was Goodridge’s right that appeared to be injured. This was a pretty enjoyable fight between two fighters who tend to have more exciting bouts.
Now it’s time for the main event pitting Branko Cikatic against Mark Kerr. This will be Branko’s first MMA fight in PRIDE, as he competed against Ralph White in a kickboxing match at PRIDE 1. Kerr will be making his debut with the promotion here after a successful run in the UFC. Kerr is billed at 255 pounds and his muscles appear to be growing muscles at this point. His back appears to be covered in acne, the poor guy! He needs to get some Proactive or something to clear that up!
The fighters feel each other out a bit to start this fight and there’s a prolonged period of initial inactivity. Kerr is the first to act when he shoots in for a takedown and Cikatic reacts like he’s trying to fight off a wild animal. He starts throwing downward elbows to the back of Kerr’s head while also hooking onto the ropes with his other arm. The referee immediately tries to stop the action and Cikatic keeps trying to throw elbows like a mad man! It takes multiple officials to stop the action and separate the fighters and the fight is restarted from a standing position.
Kerr again goes for a takedown and Cikatic does the same thing once again! He grabs onto the ropes and throws these elbows to the back of Kerr’s head despite the fact that the fight was just stopped for that 30 seconds ago! Not only is Cikatic breaking the rules, but he has really pissed off Mark Kerr. Kerr gives up the takedown and starts punching wildly at Cikatic until the referees stop the fight once more. Cikatic is laying on the mat and Quadros says that Kerr kicked Cikatic while he was down. I don’t know who says it, but somebody says in broken English, “Come on, bastard…fuck off you!” Fuck off you, indeed.
The bell is sounded and this fight is apparently over. Both Kerr and Cikatic seem ready to fight, but I think the two separate flagrant rule violations have led to this fight being stopped. It becomes evident that Quadros and Bas are recording their commentary after the fact when you see Bas standing in the ring while Bas is simultaneously on commentary. Bas in in Cikatic’s corner, which explains his presence. Branko Cikatic is disqualified for his rule violations and the crowd is very unhappy about this. Kerr gets on the microphone and tries to thank the fans and is met with a smattering of applause. Branko gets on the microphone to…I don’t know, slur? He is met with overwhelming jeers.
Well that’s a nice way to end PRIDE 2 – a Croatian lunatic being disqualified from a fight for violating the same rules twice in the span of 30 seconds. I came into this event with admittedly low expectations: I just didn’t want to see another fight as bad as Kimo vs. Dan Severn. Well even that was defied since I saw two fights that were just as bad, if not worse! And not only that, but those were two fights featuring Gracies! We really need to get some better competition for the Gracies – Sano and Kikuta shouldn’t have been anywhere near those fighters.
PRIDE 2 was an unmitigated disaster. We saw a good fight between Sakuraba and Vernon White, but the card was pretty lackluster otherwise. It’s still early for KRS, but they really need to make some changes going into PRIDE 3 to make this product more acceptable. If that means Sakuraba has to fight in every fight, then so be it. I’m keeping my expectations low going into PRIDE 3 and I can’t see another card being this bad, but in a promotion with unclear rules and round structure and unqualified fighters, you never know what might happen.
Greatest Fights of PRIDE 2
- Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Vernon White
- Marco Ruas vs. Gary Goodridge
- Akira Shoji vs. Juan Mott
- Mark Kerr vs. Branko Cikatic
- Royler Gracie vs. Yuhi Sano
- Renzo Gracie vs. Sanae Kikuta
Top Ten Fights Through PRIDE 2
- Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Vernon White – PRIDE 2
- Akira Shoji vs. Renzo Gracie – PRIDE 1
- Gary Goodridge vs. Oleg Taktarov – PRIDE 1
- Marco Ruas vs. Gary Goodridge – PRIDE 2
- Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada – PRIDE 1
- Kazunari Murakami vs. John Dixson – PRIDE 1
- Akira Shoji vs. Juan Mott – PRIDE 2
- Koji Kitao vs. Nathan Jones – PRIDE 1
- Mark Kerr vs. Branko Cikatic – PRIDE 2
- Dan Severn vs. Kimo Leopoldo – PRIDE 1
Greatest Fighters of PRIDE 2
- Kazushi Sakuraba (1-0)
- Akira Shoji (1-0)
- Marco Ruas (1-0)
- Renzo Gracie (1-0)
- Royler Gracie (1-0)
- Mark Kerr (1-0)
- Vernon White (0-1)
- Gary Goodridge (0-1)
- Juan Mott (0-1)
- Branko Cikatic (0-1)
- Sanae Kikuta (0-1)
- Yuhi Sano (0-1)
Top Ten Fighters Through PRIDE 2
- Kazushi Sakuraba (1-0)
- Rickson Gracie (1-0)
- Marco Ruas (1-0)
- Renzo Gracie (1-0-1)
- Akira Shoji (1-0-1)
- Royler Gracie (1-0)
- Kazunari Murakami (1-0)
- Gary Goodridge (1-1)
- Mark Kerr (1-0)
- Koji Kitao (1-0)