Preview: PRIDE “Shockwave” ’05 Part II

Kazuhiro Nakamura vs. Yuki Kondo

Dec 30, 2005
NAKAMURA: Kazuhiro Nakamura (Pictures) is the 2002 All-Japan 100-kilo division judo champion and training protÈgÈ of Olympic judo champion and World gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures). He trains out of the Yoshida Dojo under the tutelage of Yoshida, training partner Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (Pictures) and Muay Thai with Sergio Cunha. He has also traveled to Brazil to train with Pedro Rizzo (Pictures) and Vitor Ribiero at Nova Uniao. Nakamura is 7-4 in MMA, all in PRIDE, and he makes his 12th appearance in the PFC.

Nakamura debuted at PRIDE 25 against Rogerio Nogueira. He applied an impressive body-lock throw to the floor, landing inside Nogueira’s guard. Late in the first round, Kazuhiro would jump back into guard and strike Rogerio a number of times in the face, avoiding armbars, triangles and even an omoplata in the process. In the second round “Minotoro” never let up, letting Nakamura think he was trying for a choke but instead maneuvering him into an armbar for the win.

At Bushido 1, Kazuhiro was pitted against Daniel Gracie. Early on there were no indications this was judo vs. jiu-jitsu as both fighters were happy to trade on the feet. Although lengthy, the ground battle was more entertaining than most because neither fighter backed down. Nakamura landed the better strikes in the exchanges and took the unanimous decision. Kazuhiro defeated pro wrestler Dos Caras Jr. (Pictures) by decision at PRIDE 27 and submitted Dutch striker Chalid Arrab (Pictures) by armbar at Bushido 3.

A rematch with “Minotoro” Nogueira took place at Bushido 4 but Kazuhiro lost the two-round decision. At the PRIDE “Final Conflict” show, he scored a career-making victory over Brazilian Top Team fighter Murilo Bustamante (Pictures). It was a unanimous decision win and opened the door for a bout with Team Quest fighter Dan Henderson (Pictures). Unfortunately, a bizarre slam caused a serious injury to Nakamura and the bout was over in less than 90 seconds.

Kazuhiro took out K-1 kickboxer Stefan Leko (Pictures) with strikes in less than a minute at Pride 29. He won an impressive unanimous decision over former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman (Pictures) at the 2005 “Total Elimination” show. The bout served as the opening round of the Middleweight Grand Prix and Nakamura advanced to face Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) in the quarterfinals.

It was an exciting battle, but a poorly timed attempt to discard his gi top left Nakamura open for attack and he fell to a barrage of strikes late in the first round. At the “Final Conflict” ’05 show in August, Nakamura faced MMA legend Igor Vovchanchyn (Pictures). The two fought to a decision and Kazuhiro pulled out the win, scoring his most significant win since the Bustamante defeat one year earlier.

KONDO: Yuki Kondo (Pictures) is a 2nd Dan in Shorinji Kempo and has supplemental training in Western Boxing under the direction of Masakatsu Funaki, the founder of the Pancrase Organization and another former multi-time King of Pancrase. Yuki became the third light heavyweight King of Pancrase by knocking out Sanae Kikuta (Pictures) and he is the number-one ranked fighter for Josh Barnett (Pictures)’s Open Weight King of Pancrase title.

Kondo won the 1996 Neo Blood Tournament, became the fifth King of Pancrase in 1997 and then became the eighth King of Pancrase in 1999. With a 44-16-5 record in MMA, Kondo makes his fifth appearance (1-3) in the PFC.

Over the course of his eight-year MMA career Kondo has battled many well known fighters including Frank Shamrock (Pictures), Pete Williams, Guy Mezger (1-2 against), Semmy Schilt (Pictures) (3-1 against) Paulo Filho (Pictures), Josh Barnett (Pictures) and Evangelista Santos (Pictures). With more than 50 fights under the Pancrase banner, he fought top Japanese fighters as well taking on Ikuhisa Minowa (Pictures), Yoshiki Takahashi (Pictures), Kei Yamamiya, and even mentor Masakatsu Funaki (1-2). A three-time UFC veteran (1-2), Kondo faced Vladimir Matyushenko (Pictures), Alexander Dantas and was the first to face Tito Ortiz (Pictures) for his middleweight title in Japan.

Yuki battled Brazilian Top Team leader Mario Sperry (Pictures) in his PFC debut at 2003 “Shockwave” show. Sperry absorbed punch after punch from Kondo and it opened a bloody cut near his eye. Kondo then capitalized on Sperry’s dazed state, landing more punishing knees to the head. The referee intervened and the fight would end by doctor stoppage due to Sperry’s wounds. The win earned Kondo a shot at Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) at the 2004 “Final Conflict” show, but he was shut down quickly and knocked out in less than three minutes.

Kondo faced Silva’s Chute Boxe teammate Evangelista Santos (Pictures) and took a decision win over the “Cyborg” in November of ‘04. The win in Pancrase set up a return to the PFC where Kondo lost a hard-fought split decision to Dan Henderson (Pictures) at “Shockwave” 2004. Yuki faced MMA iron man Igor Vovchanchyn (Pictures) and was dominated by a lighter, faster and more powerful Russian than we’d seen in some time. Although the bout went the distance the outcome was never in doubt.

And last October Kondo battled fading RINGS veteran Hiromitsu Kanehara (Pictures) (he has lost seven in a row). The bout was somewhat competitive but Kondo won a unanimous decision and now prepares to face Nakamura.

MY PICK: Nakamura. I hate to say it but these two premiere Japanese fighters appear to be going in different directions. Nakamura continues to put together significant win after significant win while Kondo seems to get by and give the warrior’s effort that is expected from a former King of Pancrase. He has lost three of his last five, including a knockout loss to Silva and a beat down from Vovchanchyn. Kazuhiro lost to Silva and Henderson as well but the wins over Bustamante, Randleman and Vovchanchyn go a long way to show depth to his game. He’s young and will only get better. Yuki is Yuki. I feel it will be Nakamura by decision in the third round.
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