New Years Eve Previews: K-1, Shockwave, and Inoki

PRIDE Shockwave 2003

Dec 30, 2003
Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira" vs. Kazushi Sakuraba

Rogerio Nogueira is the twin brother of current Pride interim heavyweight champion (for now) Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira. He trains with the Brazilian Top Team comprised of Paulo Filho, Mario Sperry, Murilo Bustamante and others. Rogerio is 6-1 in MMA with wins over Guy Mezger and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. He will face Japanese submission wrestler Kazushi Sakuraba, once referred to as "The Gracie Hunter" who is currently trying to pull himself out of a lengthy period of strife (Sak has not won back-to-back fights in 3 years). His record is still solid at 15-6-1 but his best years in the ring seem to be behind him. Sakuraba beat Kevin Randleman at the Pride GP but he'll need a more convincing and dominant performance here against Nogueira to maintain a legitimate level of interest in him outside Japan. Sak should be able to catch the somewhat green (and possibly injured) Nogueira.

Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Rony Sefo

Japanese submission wrestler Kiyoshi Tamura, a member of U-File Camp and former RINGS champion is 26-11-3 in MMA competition (including worked bouts in RINGS) and makes his 5th appearance in Pride. Tamura showed a great deal of ability in the Pride GP against Hidehiko Yoshida and will need every ounce of that skill to keep the bout with "Ninja" competitive. Rony Sefo is the brother of K-1World GP 2000 finalist Ray Sefo and has a K-1 record of 7-5. He's been in the ring with Mike Bernardo and Mark Hunt and is coming off a decision victory in the K-1 Lord of the Rings show last April. With Tamura's solid stand-up skills and depth of MMA experience, he should have little trouble with a MMA newbie like Sefo.

Mario "The Zen Machine" Sperry vs. Yuki Kondo

Mario Sperry is regarded as a leader of the Brazilian Top Team and this will be his first fight in over a year since beating RINGS veteran Andrei Kopylov at Pride 22. Sperry returned to MMA in 2000 after 3 years out of the ring and is 4-1 (including a stunning submission win over Igor Vovchanchyn) since the comeback. His opponent Yuki Kondo is the 5th ('97) and 8th ('99) King of Pancrase and the current (3rd) Light Heavyweight King of Pancrase. He makes his Pride debut and has wins over Guy Mezger, Akihiro Gono and giant Semmy Schilt. Kondo also holds a KO win over Frank Shamrock and destroyed BTT fighter Saulo Ribeiro in just 22 seconds at the Colosseum 2000 show. Kondo (2-1-2 in '03) gives up significant height (4 inches) but he's nearly a decade younger than Sperry. It's a tough call but Yuki's been more active and has more to lose here.

Daniel Gracie vs. Wataru Sakata

Daniel Simões or Daniel Gracie is a black belt under Carlos "Carlinhos" Gracie Jr. and is currently training with cousin Renzo and his fighters in New York. He makes 3rd appearance under the Pride banner and all 3 of his previous MMA opponents have been Japanese fighters. Gracie comes in off a decision loss at the inaugural Pride Bushido show last October. Wataru Sakata is not a well known name in the U.S. but he's fought his share of solid competition and though recognized primarily as a RINGS veteran, he's been fighting Vale Tudo since early '98. Sakata has battled recognizable MMA veterans Renzo Gracie, Dave Menne, Sean Alvarez, and Gustavo "Ximu" Machado in RINGS competition and is coming off a loss to Mario Sperry in the revamped UFO show. Sakata was able to go the distance with Sperry and will likely be able to hang with Daniel Gracie as well.

Don "The Predator" Frye vs. Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge

Don "The Predator" Frye returns to Pride in his 6th appearance since returning to MMA in 2001. He has a record of 16-3 in MMA and is considered the first American to display cross-trained skills in the sport of mixed martial arts. Frye's background included wrestling, Judo and Western Boxing. Gary Goodridge, the unofficial "gatekeeper of the heavyweight division" in Pride, is retiring from the sport of MMA after this match. He currently sports an 18-14-1 record in MMA and a 1-5-1 record in K-1.Goodridge is a big striker and likes to settle it standing. With both fighters having made their pro debut at UFC 8 and this being their third meeting, it seems an appropriate swan song bout for Goodridge. Luckily for those watching the fight, neither fighter regularly goes the distance.

Royce Gracie vs. Hidehiko Yoshida

Royce Gracie is part of the "First family of MMA" responsible for bringing the sport of Vale Tudo to the U.S. and putting together some of the early Ultimate Fighting Championships. He is 12-2-1 in professional MMA bouts and will be fighting for the first time in nearly three and a half years. For those unfamiliar with his opponent, Hidehiko Yoshida is an Olympic Judo Gold Medallist and World Games Gold Medallist with a 3-1 record in MMA. He's fought over 1000 judo matches and trains with UFC veteran Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and PFC veteran Shungo Oyama as well as K-1 fighter and trainer Chris Johnson. These two met before at the first Pride Shockwave show in a grappling bout which ended in controversy. This bout will be under full MMA rules with no judges or doctor's stoppages. I may have wavered a bit before but after Yoshida's incredible performance against Wanderlei Silva in the Pride Middleweight GP, I think he'll win the bout in dramatic fashion.

Murilo "Ninja" Rua vs. Akira "Mr. Pride" Shoji

Murilo "Ninja" Rua from the Chute Boxe Academy is still one of the most exciting fighters in the light heavyweight division but he's been on a slide lately. At 22 years old, he is 8-3-1 in MMA but has lost his last two bouts and 2 of his last 5. Rua has an undefeated record in the Brazilian Meca Vale Tudo events but has been fighting stiffer competition in Japan. Akira Shoji will make his 19th appearance under the Pride banner (8-8-2 in the PFC, 11-9-5 overall). Shoji is fighting out of the A-3 Gym in Japan (comprised of RINGS, Pancrase and GCM fighters) and has trained at Maurice Smith's gym in Seattle in the U.S. This could be a great fight with Shoji coming off a KO loss to Ninja's brother "Shogun" Rua and looking to even the score with Chute Boxe.

Hayato "Mach" Sakurai vs. Daiju Takase

Former Shooto Middleweight Champion Hayato "Mach" Sakurai makes his Pride debut after spending 6 years on the Shooto circuit. Sakurai made the move the DEEP show in '03 and has only fought outside Japan on one occasion (UFC 36 against Matt Hughes). From jumping reverse roundhouse kicks to aerial guard passes, you're sure to get an exciting bout out of Sakurai. Wajyutsu Keisyukai practitioner Daiju Takase fights out of the same camp as Caol Uno and many fighters that compete in Shooto, RINGS and Pancrase. Takase is a ground specialist and has competed in MMA since 1998. He has fought in the UFC, Pancrase and Pride where he submitted Anderson Silva via triangle choke. Daiju lost a decision to Rodrigo Gracie in Pride Bushido. This has all the makings of a ground war but if he can keep it standing, it will be all Sakurai.

Heath "The Texas Crazyhorse" Herring vs. Giant Silva

Heath Herring, once the #1 contender for the PFC heavyweight title, now finds himself climbing the long road back to the top after losing 2 out of 3 and 3 of his last 6 bouts. "The Texas Crazy Horse" dominated his Pride bouts in '00 and '01, going 5-2 and losing two decisions. He's 21-9 in MMA and makes his 13th appearance (8-4) in the ring of the PFC. The Golden Glory fighter will face Giant Silva, a Brazilian professional wrestler who spent two years with the WWF and wrestles with New Japan. Silva is 7'7 and 525lbs but very agile for his size and competed in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. I believe this is the man Antoni Inoki "fought" on his '01 Inoki Bom Be Ye show. Herring is just 25 years old and there is plenty of time to regain his top form in his chosen sport. The 40 year old Silva is an opponent Herring should beat and, at this point, better beat if he wants to stay fighting in Japan.

Ikuhisa "The Punk" Minowa vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

Ikuhisa Minowa is another name that may be new to American MMA audiences but is highly accomplished in Japan. "The Punk" is 23-17-8 in MMA, has competed against Semmy Schilt, Chris Lytle, Paulo Filho and Ricardo Almeida and is a UFC 25 veteran. A new addition to the Brazilian Top Team, Minowa has been fighting in Pancrase, DEEP and in the recent Brazil Super Fight show. American wrestler Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, 19-4 in MMA and one of Pride's most popular fighters, is making his 11th appearance (7-3) in the ring of the PFC. He is trained by Colin Oyama and made it to the final of the Pride GP Middleweight tournament against Wanderlei Silva losing in a toe-to-toe battle. I expect Jackson to beat Minowa but I don't think he'll run right through him like some do.
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