Silva Stops Jackson to Retain PRIDE Middleweight Title

By Josh Gross Nov 1, 2004
Full picture gallery coming soon!

Wanderlei Silva, 28, drilled a vicious fight-ending knee to the face of challenger Quinton Jackson, 26, Sunday night in Tokyo, Japan to retain his PRIDE middleweight title. Following a crunching right hook that propelled Jackson backwards, Silva moved in for the kill.

Securing a Thai-clinch, the 205-pound champion fired a series of knees towards Jackson's head. When the barrage ended, an unconscious Jackson dangled face-down between the ropes, his face a bloody mess.

Though the end came violently for the challenger, Jackson was no pushover. With 60 seconds remaining in the opening 10-minute period, Jackson connected with a straight right that put Silva to the mat. The heavy-fisted Jackson battered Silva to close out the round.

His advantage, however, quickly yielded as the fight continued. Unlike much of round one, where both Silva and Jackson scored with power punches and knees when the two men stood in front of each other, round two was largely the champion's.

Silva, who executed an effective, defensive fight from the guard during the middle of round one, managed to reverse Jackson from top to bottom as action moved into the second period.

Neither man was in danger of being submitted and, aside from the last minute of round one, neither scored heavily with strikes on the mat. But when action returned to the feet, it was Silva, whose power punches began to land with regularity, that fought with the momentum.

Looking fatigued and sluggish, Jackson was unable to counter Silva's crisp strikes. In the final exchange, Silva unleashed a right hook that caught Jackson square in the face. A solid left hook followed and Jackson, much like he did the first time these two men fought last November in the finals of the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix, retreated to the ropes.

Sensing the end was near, Silva swarmed the American, launching knee after knee until a perfectly-executed strike, one which saw the champion jerk Jackson's head to the right as a knee came up and to the left, dropped his rival through the ropes.

A small pool of blood, which poured from Jackson's battered face (he was cut above both eyes and had a badly damaged nose), soaked into the white canvas before officials could free him.

Aside from possibly UFC champion Randy Couture, it's difficult to argue that anyone other than Silva (27-3-1), unbeaten in over four years, can lay claim as the finest 205-pound fighter in the world. His stoppages of Jackson (21-5-0) in the last 12 months make sure of that.

Far less dramatic was the undercard. While none of the eight remaining fights went the distance, unfortunate injuries and sloppy stoppages rendered PRIDE 28: High Octane far from the organization's best effort.

After the Silva-Jackson showdown the most-anticipated fight featured former UFC heavyweight champion and current open-weight King of Pancrase Josh Barnett making his PRIDE debut versus knockout artist Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.

Barnett came out aggressively, pouncing on the Croatian kickboxer-turned-mixed-martial-artist after the opening bell. The hefty American looked strong in the early going, throwing strikes with conviction.

After a missed "Cro Cop" high kick, Barnett rushed him, using that momentum to take the fight to the floor where conventional wisdom held he'd enjoy a decisive advantage. On the way to securing top position, however, it appeared that when Barnett posted his left hand on the mat to absorb the impact of the fall, it forced a dislocation of his left shoulder.

The injury was not immediately noticed. As Barnett moved into Filipovic's guard, he looked comfortable. Yet, seconds later, Barnett desperately tapped the mat and the referee jumped in to stop the fight. "Cro Cop," possibly unaware of what had happened, threw several punches and a kick before he could be contained. Talking to the audience afterwards, Filipovic extended a rematch invitation to Barnett once his shoulder healed.

In other action, Dan Henderson aggressively went after Japanese judoka Kazuhiro Nakamura, displaying yet again why he's the best 185-pound mixed martial artist currently competing. After Nakamura charged at Henderson to open the contest, the heavy-handed wrestler landed several punches. Clinched, Nakamura threw Henderson to the canvas. Yet, like Barnett, Nakamura freakishly dislocated a shoulder and, with delayed reaction, tapped out only 75 seconds after the opening bell.

Winning for the first time in PRIDE, former K-1 World Grand Prix champion Mark Hunt took advantage of an exhausted Dan Bobish to win by referee stoppage 6:23 of round one. Bobish controlled Hunt on the mat for much of the fight, connecting with numerous knees from side control. Yet Hunt, known for his ability to take a shot to the head, was unfazed by Bobish.

Eventually, the fight made its way back to the feet. After a glancing Hunt uppercut, the New Zealander followed with a stinging knee to the back of Bobish's head while he knelt on the mat. The final blow came from a chopping kick to the American's midsection. Bobish, reacting as if the fight was taking place under water, stumbled back to the ropes before falling stomach-first to the mat.

Using an astounding eight-inch height advantage -- and what seemed like a two-foot reach advantage -- 24-year-old Alistair Overeem slaughtered a very tough Hiromitsu Kanehara to win by technical knockout 3:52 of round two.

Resembling a glorified sparring session, Overeem had his way with the athletically out-gunned Kanehara. Though the veteran Japanese fighter never ceased to engage, he had no answer to the punches, kicks and -- especially -- knees that came flying in his direction.

Ricardo Arona moved into the winner's circle, submitting a game Sergey Ignatev with less than a minute remaining in round one. Arona, who appeared much larger than his Russian counterpart, controlled the fight on the mat, refusing to give Ignatev an inch.

The end came when Arona powerfully squeezed around Ignatev's jaw. While the Russian tapped, Arona chose to hold the submission until he felt it was time to let go. He did, finally, and the unsportsmanlike act prompted a yellow card from the referee.

A slimmed down Heath Herring mangled promising Japanese heavyweight Hirotaka Yokoi, smashing him with knees to score a knockout 1:55 of round one. Yokoi never had a chance to get in the fight. From the beginning, Herring, who moved back to the United States after several years of training and living in Holland, was impressive.

As is his forte, Herring delivered a series of vicious knees while dominating Yokoi on the mat. At several points, Herring was warned about illegal knees to the back of Yokoi's head, but he never received a yellow card for the infractions. It wouldn't have mattered. Yokoi was simply overmatched by Herring's explosiveness.

Aleksander Emelianenko needed just 11 seconds to finish PRIDE rookie James Thompson. Though Thompson, a muscle-bound British brawler, looked the part when compared to Emelianenko, his chin could not stand up to the Russian's test.

Finally, Mu Bae Choi submitted Soa Palalei with a rear-naked choke 4:55 of round two. thanks Yoshinori Ihara of Boutreview for his assistance.
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