GP Champions Crowned, Silva-Arona Resolution

Yoshida and Aleksander win

By Jason Nowe Jan 1, 2006
The night’s main event was a match between Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures) and Naoya Ogawa (Pictures). This match was absolutely huge in Japan, due largely in part to the history that these two have together. They were both on the same university judo team, and while Yoshida won an Olympic gold medal and rose to prominence within the judo community, Ogawa always seemed to be playing second fiddle to him, finally turning to pro wrestling and falling out of the good graces of judo’s elite.

There was a lot of animosity between these two that had been building for years. At the press conference to announce this fight, the two refused to look at each other.

I’m not the biggest Ogawa fan, but I have to admit I was drawn to the bandwagon by the cheers he received from the fans. Yoshida wore a gi down to the ring, and to the surprise of all the fans he took it off before the fight. In the center of the ring the two did not touch gloves after receiving the referee’s instructions.

Ogawa’s boxing looked a bit sloppy, but most of this fight happened on the mat anyway. Yoshida scored a trip at the ropes and had a good leg-submission attempt, but Ogawa held on and managed to escape to the guard. Later Ogawa went for his own leg-submission attempt, which Yoshida escaped.

Yoshida scored good positions, getting the mount and back. Eventually Yoshida applied an armbar from his back. Ogawa stood and tried to defend against the technique by bringing his knee down on Yoshida’s face, but eventually he lost his balance and fell back to the mat. Yoshida had the armbar fully extended and the referee stopped the fight at the 6:04 mark.

In his match-up against Aleksander Emelianenko (Pictures), judo legend Pawel Nastula (Pictures) came out swinging and seemed willing to stand with the dangerous striker. Aleksander has got some deadly hands — I will never forget his knockout of Ricardo Morais (Pictures) at Bushido 6, absolutely devastating.

Nastula had some good armbar attempts on the ground and was able to escape when Emelianenko scored mount on him. Aleksander had a great Kimura attempt, but couldn’t finish it. He gave up this technique and moved back to the mount, then managed to take Nastula’s back and sink in a rear-naked choke at 8:45 of the first round.

Grabaka boss and 2001 Abu Dhabi grappling champion Sanae Kikuta (Pictures) totally dominated Makoto Takimoto (Pictures) in their match-up. Kikuta’s last appearance in a PRIDE ring was at PRIDE 20 against Alexander Otsuka (Pictures).

This fight remained mostly on the ground and Kikuta seemed to have no trouble passing Takimoto’s guard, often getting to side and mount. The Grabaka fighter went for leg submissions and often took Takimoto’s back, looking to sink in a choke.

Takimoto survived the onslaught and took the fight the distance. Kikuta took the unanimous decision.

British fighter James Thompson (Pictures) took on “Giant” Paulo Cesar Silva (Pictures). I have always wondered why PRIDE keeps bringing Giant Silva back because it’s clear he just doesn’t have any skills as a fighter. Silva came out in a fairly ridiculous-looking blue wrestling singlet.

Thompson charged out at the opening bell and basically mauled Silva. This beat down was thankfully stopped at 1:28 of the first round as Thompson stomped Silva’s head.

Yuki Kondo (Pictures) was the victim of a robbery in his fight against Kazuhiro Nakamura (Pictures). This bout was pretty even at the start, but as the bout wore on Nakamura took more shots and got much more tired than Kondo.

Kondo had better positions throughout, especially in the last round when he got side-, mount- and back-position on Nakamura. I’d say Kondo was in the driver’s seat by the second round and definitely by the third. The fight went to the judges and Nakamura got the unanimous decision.

Shocked by the judges’ ruling, several in the crowd began to boo loudly. In his post-fight interview, when asked what he thought about the decision, Kondo merely replied, “no comment.”

In a “Special Challenge Match” actor Ken Kaneko (Pictures) faced off against King of the Cage veteran Charles Bennett (Pictures).

Bennett was upset about having to fight an actor and said that he was going to break everything in Kaneko’s body. The match started with Kaneko charging in for the takedown, but Bennett sprawled out at the ropes. Eventually Bennett scored the takedown and got to side, and later to the mount. From here he threw down some punches and then transitioned to an armbar for the victory.
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