Pride Fighting Championships made its way to the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan, for Pride 7, a card as notable for being plagued by fouls and controversy as for its slate of current and future superstars.
The main event between Igor Vovchanchyn and Mark Kerr offered perhaps the best heavyweight matchup MMA had to offer in 1999, between two of the most feared fighters in the sport. Kerr was at his absolute apex as "The Smashing Machine," his undefeated record capped off by eight straight finishes in Pride and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Meanwhile, Vovchanchyn was officially 38-2 and on an unthinkable 33-fight win streak.
After 15 minutes of grueling battle, much of it spent with the much larger Kerr in Vovchanchyn's guard, the Ukrainian escaped and drilled Kerr with a knee to the head. Kerr went down in a pained daze and Vovchanchyn celebrated his TKO win. However, Pride subsequently ruled that the knee strike had been illegal and declared the fight a no-contest.
From there, the two titans' paths diverged: Vovchanchyn would rack up four more straight wins before running into Kerr's friend and teammate, Mark Coleman, in Pride's 2000 Heavyweight Grand Prix, and would go on to walk away from the sport in 2005, very much on his own terms. Sadly, Kerr would go 3-12 over the remainder of a career plagued by drug use and other personal problems. They rematched at Pride 12 in 2000, with Vovchanchyn winning via decision.
In the opening MMA bout of the card, "Dirty" Bob Schrijber lived up to his nickname, delivering one of the cheapest shots in MMA history in the form of an axe kick to the back of the head of Daijiro Matsui, who was on all fours at the time. Oh, and it was after the bell. Seriously, it takes a moment to even count up all the ways that that was a terrible thing to do. Matsui, of course, picked up the disqualification win.
Pride 7 also saw the likes of future UFC hall-of-famers Maurice Smith, who submitted Branko Cikatic, and Kazushi Sakuraba, who tapped out Anthony Macias.