Preview: PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix

Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Wanderlei Silva

Jun 30, 2006
FUJITA: 6’, 240 pounds, 36, Chiba, Japan, known as “Iron Head”

BACKGROUND: Fujita was an amateur freestyle wrestler in high school and participated in the World Championships in 1993. Among his titles are Wrestling All Japan Championship Free Style 100-kg Champion in '95; Wrestling All Japan Championship Free Style Champion 90-kg Champion in '93; and the Wrestling All Japan Students Championship Free Style 90-kg title in '89,'90,'91 and '92.

He is a former member of the Inoki Office and held a major Japanese pro wrestling belt. Fujita is currently training with UFC 7 tournament champion Marco Ruas (Pictures), Pedro Rizzo (Pictures) and the rest of the Ruas Vale Tudo camp. Kazuyuki won the Extreme Shootout tournament and has a professional record of 13-4 in MMA.

MMA CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Was stopped with strikes by Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) at the K-1 Andy Hug Memorial show. He fought “Cro Cop” again at the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 festival and went the distance to lose on points. He stopped Bob Sapp (Pictures) with strikes at K-1 ROMANEX and knocked out Karam Ibrahim (Pictures) at K-1 Premium 2004 Dynamite.

PFC EXPERIENCE: 6-2. Submitted Hans Nyman by choke at PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round. Beat Mark Kerr (Pictures) by decision at the PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals. He was injured in the bout and stepped into the ring (earning the purse) but withdrew from the bout with Mark Coleman (Pictures) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals. Fujita would stop Ken Shamrock (Pictures) with strikes at PRIDE 10, defeat Gilbert Yvel (Pictures) by decision at PRIDE 12 and submit Yoshihiro Takayama (Pictures) by choke at PRIDE 14 before losing. Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) won a war, choking Fujita at PRIDE 26. Fujita returned to knockout James Thompson (Pictures) at PRIDE Total Elimination Absolute 2006.

WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE BOUT: Highly decorated wrestler. He’s very thick and difficult to bring down (with strikes or by takedown attempt). He has a strong spirit. He another one who is always willing to take a beating on the chance he will outlast his opponent or fight long enough to find a way to earn a victory. He will absorb a lot of punishment and just keep coming.

SILVA: 5’11”, 210 pounds, 30, Parana, Brazil, known as “The Axe Murderer”

BACKGROUND: Silva is a Muay Thai fighter and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt out of the Chute Boxe Academy. He is both the current PFC middleweight champion and the winner of the 2003 PFC Middleweight Grand Prix. Wanderlei won an International Vale Tudo Championship title at IVC 6 and has a professional MMA record of 30-5-1 (1 NC).

MMA CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Knocked out Mike Van Arsdale (Pictures) at the IVC 6. Was stopped with strikes by Vitor Belfort (Pictures) at UFC Brazil. Finished Adrian Serrano (Pictures) at the IVC 9 and Eugene Jackson (Pictures) with strikes at IVC 10. Lost a decision to Tito Ortiz (Pictures) at UFC 25, failing to capture the vacant UFC 205-pound title.

PFC EXPERIENCE: 21-2-1 (1 NC). Beat Daijiro Matsui (Pictures) by decision at PRIDE 8. Submitted Bob Schrijber (Pictures) via rear choke at PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round. KO’d Guy Mezger (Pictures) at PRIDE 10. Fought to a No Contest due to a groin strike with Gilbert Yvel (Pictures) at PRIDE 11. Beat Dan Henderson (Pictures) by decision at PRIDE 12. Stopped Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures) with strikes at PRIDE 13. He also beat Sakuraba two more times. There was a doctor’s stoppage at PRIDE 17 and Sakuraba was KO’d at PRIDE Total Elimination 2003. Fought to draw with Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) at PRIDE 20. Beat Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures) by decision at PRIDE Final Conflict 2003. He also stopped Quinton Jackson (Pictures) with strikes later that same night to capture the tournament title. Knocked out Ikuhisa Minowa (Pictures), Yuki Kondo (Pictures) and Quinton Jackson (Pictures) in a rematch. Lost a decision to Mark Hunt (Pictures) at PRIDE Shockwave 2004. Beat Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures) by decision in a rematch at PRIDE Total Elimination 2005. Stopped Kazuhiro Nakamura (Pictures) with strikes at PRIDE Critical Countdown 2005. Lost a decision to Ricardo Arona (Pictures) at PRIDE Final Conflict 2005. He came back to win a decision over Arona at PRIDE Shockwave 2005.

WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE BOUT: He is a complete package. There was a time when the popular opinion was that Silva had limited ground skills. He dispelled that myth when he played the ground game with Yoshida two rounds and punished “Rampage” Jackson in the same night. Wanderlei is tenacious in the ring. He hunts his prey and will always work to finish his opponent on the feet. Soccer kicks, haymaker punches and even the occasional head butt (see the Mezger fight) are part of Silva’s arsenal. He still has a tendency to try to walk through the punches of opponents and has paid for it in the past. You’d be hard pressed to find a fighter who dedicates himself more to his craft and gets the crowd into the sport.

OVERALL OPINION OF MATCH-UP: Fantastic. This will end in a knockout. Both men will swing with reckless abandonment until the other is slumped in the corner unconscious. I also fear that if it is Silva who wins, he may have a broken hand from that hard-as-rock head of Fujita. Unlike the potential chess match of the Nogueira-Werdum fight, the rule book can be thrown out the window here. This will be all out war. And career highlights from this one for someone’s bio are guaranteed.
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