PRIDE Open-Weight GP Field Halved to Seven

Fight of the night

By Jason Nowe May 5, 2006
Without a doubt, the fight of the night was the Aleksander Emelianenko (Pictures)-Josh Barnett (Pictures) bout.

Aleksander has some unbelievable boxing skills that are usually overlooked, so much so that I’m calling him the Russian Roy Jones Jr. Not only are his punches fast and pinpoint accurate, but he also puts together devastating, hard-hitting combos, slips punches and floats around the ring.

Emelianenko really peppered Barnett, throwing a huge amount of punches for a MMA fight. But the former UFC heavyweight champion weathered the storm and took some steam out of the Russian with body punches and overhand rights.

Aleksander may have punched himself out in the first, because in the final 60 seconds of the 10-minute round the Russian looked gassed.

The boxing match continued in the second until, eventually, the American submission wrestler took the fight to the ground and moved to side-control. He fired knees to Emelianenko’s head, then transitioned to the keylock. The Russian escaped Barnett’s first keylock, but was caught by the second attempt and was forced to tap 1:57 into round two.

Before joining this tournament, Japanese Pancrase legend Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (Pictures) announced that he would be retiring after this Grand Prix no matter what happened. After his performance tonight, he can only be described one way: heart and guts.

Kohsaka fought like he knew this would be his final, defining moment in the ring. Facing Mark Hunt (Pictures), who had a 30-kilogram weight advantage, Japanese legend was tagged with some heavy bombs. Despite being out on his feet several times, Kohsaka pressed on with an incredible fire and even called to Hunt to bring some more.

Emelianenko-Barnett may be the fight of the night, but Kohsaka’s iron will and determination definitely made him the fighter of the night.

Kohsaka often went for a takedown. The Pancrase veteran’s best chance at a submission came in the first when he got Hunt’s back with his hooks fully in. Hunt knew that he was in a precarious situation and was very careful not to expose his arm or neck to the submission specialist.

Hunt continued to land bombs throughout the second and with Kohsaka staggered, the former K-1 World Grand Prix champion landed the final big right hand that put Kohsaka to the canvas for good with only a mere 45 seconds left to go in the period.

With these words, I’d just like to congratulate Kohsaka for his gutsy performances throughout his stellar career. I wish him all the best in retirement.

In his bout with Fabricio Werdum (Pictures), Dutch fighter Alistair Overeem (Pictures) dominated with punches and knees throughout the first, often switching between orthodox and southpaw stances. The slow-motion replay between the first and second rounds highlighted a beautiful overhand right that Overeem laid on his opponent in the corner.

Werdum’s corner must have spoken some magic words to him during the break, because when he came out for the second he was a different fighter, charging forward with punches and pushing Overeem around the ring.

The Dutch fighter’s undoing came after a nice takedown. Werdum, showing why he’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu, applied a Kimura from his back and locked it in, leaving Overeem no other option but to tap 3:43 of round two.

In a non-tournament fight, Dutch fighter Gilbert Yvel (Pictures) faced PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures)’s training partner, Roman Zentsov (Pictures).

This bout was quite a back-and-forth grappling war, with both fighters getting good positions and making reversals. Zentsov went for a keylock submission twice, but twice Yvel escaped.

This unexpected grappling war ended when Zentsov caught Yvel, just as the two were coming to their feet at the end of a escape, with a big left hand that sent the Dutchman to the mat for good 4:55 of the first.
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