Pride GP Preview

Silva vs. Kondo

Aug 12, 2004
Wanderlei Silva “The Axe Murderer” vs. Yuki Kondo

SILVA: Wanderlei Silva is a Muay Thai fighter and Jiu-Jitsu black belt out of the Chute Boxe Academy and the current PFC Middleweight Champion. “The Axe Murderer” is the IVC 2 eight-man tournament champion, and a UFC, MECA and Brazilian Vale Tudo veteran with a record of 25-3-1 in MMA. He is making his nineteenth appearance (16-0-1-1) in the ring of the PFC and won last year’s PFC Middleweight Grand Prix.

Silva hasn’t tasted defeat since his decision loss in 2000 to former UFC light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. A rematch has been speculated and certainly desired by Silva but nothing has come of it. Wanderlei fought some solid competition since making the permanent move to Pride in the form of Kazushi Sakuraba, Dan Henderson, Guy Mezger, Gilbert Yvel and Mirko Filipovic, but many felt Silva had been “taking it easy” recently and padding his record with Japanese opponents. Most of his doubters were silenced when, after defeating Kazushi Sakuraba for a third time (via devastating knockout), he beat both judo Olympian Hidehiko Yoshida and American wrestler Quinton Jackson in one night.

Now Silva will face Yuki Kondo in a non-title middleweight duel and hope to get revenge against the perpetrator of another rare defeat, current UFC light-heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort. With all the talking he’s doing, one might question if Silva is looking past his current opponent but his recent competitive history shows he can remain focused and achieve his goals.

KONDO: Yuki Kondo is 42-13-5 in MMA and training under Masakatsu Funaki, the founder of the Pancrase Organization and another former multi-time King of Pancrase, who retired after fighting Rickson Gracie in 2000.

He is a 2nd Dan in Shorinji Kempo and has trained in Western Boxing. Yuki became the third light-heavyweight King of Pancrase by knocking out Pride veteran Sanae Kikuta, and is the number-one-ranked fighter for Josh Barnett’s Open Weight King of Pancrase title. He won the 1996 Neo Blood Tournament, became the fifth King of Pancrase in 1997 and the eighth King of Pancrase in 1999.

Over the course of his eight-year MMA career, Kondo has battled many well known fighters, including Frank Shamrock, Pete Williams, Guy Mezger (three times, beating him once), Semmy Schilt (four times, beating him on three occasions) Paulo Filho, Josh Barnett and even mentor Masakatsu Funaki (three times, beating him on one occasion).

In the UFC, Kondo faced Vladimir Matyushenko, Alexander Dantas and was the first to face Tito Ortiz for his then-middleweight title (205 pounds) in Japan. Kondo gained much respect from American fans for his efforts in taking on significantly larger opponents in Schilt, Matyushenko, Ortiz and Barnett and truly embodies the “Japanese spirit” that all fighters strive to exemplify.

Yuki’s recent match with Brazilian Top Team leader Mario Sperry was the final statement bout that earned him a shot at Silva’s title. 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.

MY PICK: Silva. This is a huge test for Kondo. In some respect his biggest test ever, surpassing the KOP title fight with Barnett and the UFC title fight with Ortiz. At the same time, Silva faces one of the better ground fighters he’s ever come across as well. Yoshida provided more of a challenge than many thought he would in last year’s Middleweight GP but Hidehiko wore a Gi. He tested Silva’s jiu-jitsu skills, but Wanderlei fought valiantly and eventually won a decision.

In this bout, with his more seasoned MMA-style gi-less ground game, Kondo has to be approached more like Silva is facing a Luta Livre competitor. Aside from Sakuraba, this is the best ground fighter Silva has faced in quite some time. One could expect overconfidence on the part of Silva but it is unlikely given the focus Wanderlei has shown in previous challenges.

This could also be one of his last fight as light heavyweight as he is expected to move to heavyweight for Pride’s New Year’s Eve show. However, a win here almost guarantees a rematch with Quinton Jackson in October. If Kondo wins, expect to see a rematch between he and Silva real soon too. Silva by knockout in round one.
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