The Future of PRIDE after the Tremendous Non-Tourney Bouts

Aug 14, 2003
By: Mike Sloan ([email protected])

For starters, let me acknowledge my joy as I watched the last PRIDE event perched at the edge of the couch which sat in my brother’s apartment. This was seriously one of the best PRIDEs ever and easily one of the best MMA events in recent memory.

Almost every fight ended with a spectacular knockout and the fights that did go the distance were exceptionally exciting in their own respect. Also, the new commentator, Damon, wasn’t that bad, either. I’m partial to Quadros and still don’t understand fully why he was let go, but Damon did a good job.

This column will only be about the three non-tournament bouts (i.e.: Fedor/Goodridge, CroCop/Igor and Ricco/Minotauro), so if you’re waiting for commentary on the Grand Prix’s opening round, keep waiting.

Let’s talk about Fedor Emelianenko’s blistering destruction of Gary Goodridge. When the fight was announced, I was both excited and alarmed. I was excited because I knew it would end in an emphatic, fabulous knockout. I was alarmed, however, because I knew Goodridge stood little chance of taking out Emelianenko. Not to sound like some stuck up, snot-nosed braggart, but when the fighters entered the ring, I looked over to my brother and said, “Fedor will end this fight early in the first round. There’s no way Goodridge will be able to withstand Fedor’s onslaught.”

Sure enough, Fedor leaped all over Gary, landed a crushing left hook that wobbled ‘Big Daddy’ into the ropes and teed off until he was on the mat, kicked in the head and pummeled long enough until the ref mercifully jumped in and stopped the action. The fight ended quickly, like most probably expected it to, at just 1:09 of the very first round. It’s not saying a whole bunch for Fedor’s win because even though Goodridge is a fantastic fighter with some of the best highlight reel KOs in MMA history, the dude has lost his fair share of fights. 99% of the folks expected Fedor to win handily and he did. It appeared more or less of a showcase for Fedor’s fighting ability than it was to be a tough contest.

With his stoppage of Goodridge, the stage was set for Mirko ‘CroCop’ Filipovic to make waves and set up a war so obvious it’s sickening. Filipovic was pitted against one of the most dangerous men in MMA history; Igor Vovchanchyn. Igor sports some of the most powerful strikes in the game and even though he’s looked sluggish in his last few bouts against the sport’s top guys (fights that he has lost), many expected him (myself included) to give CroCop a tougher time than what actually happened.

There I sat, believing CroCop would win, but I anticipated a sluggers’ duel with both men becoming painfully staggered until CroCop finished him with a flash of a kick. No, not Guile’s Flash Kick from Street Fighter II, but a kick so hard and quick, it’s like a flash.

That kick did occur, of course, but it happened to land just 1:29 into the very first round. They squared off, tussled and when Igor backed away, CroCop leveled him with one of the most perfectly timed and placed high kicks I’ve ever seen. Vovchanchyn was out before he hit the deck. He fell flat on his back with a thunderous thud, much like the one Gigli created when it hit theatres. BAM! That’s it. Fight’s over.

After the win, CroCop called out Fedor, who was sitting ringside in observance. Is it just me, or did Emelianenko look a bit nervous while CroCop called him out? Maybe it is his regular demeanor, but Fedor didn’t look too fierce at that point in time. Ah…It’s just me. What am I talking about?

Either way, it sets up one helluva war! It’ll assuredly take place in November, snugly nestled on the Total Elimination finals card. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an MMA fan not dripping over this one. CroCop vs. Fedor? Come on! It almost doesn’t get any better than this. Supreme striker (CroCop) vs. supreme striker (Fedor). Brute strength (Fedor) vs. lightning speed (CroCop). Guy with an Eastern European accent (Fedor) vs. another guy with an Eastern European accent (CroCop).

With both men easily winning in dramatic fashion and so quickly in their respective matches, this one will be decided on who wants it more. My early pick is CroCop. I guarantee you that I’ll change my pick about 438 times before they actually step foot inside the ring and do battle, though, but I seriously cannot wait for this one.

Next up on my platter is the battle of former heavyweight champs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira scored a victory over Ricco Rodriguez. Well, at least that’s what the scorecards revealed and that is what it will go down in history as; a win for Nogueira. The fight was hella close, don’t get me wrong. You have to score points for the man who’s trying virtually every submission in the book. Nogueira attempted chimuras, armbars, triangles, oma platas. The list goes one and on. He’s being aggressive, scoring points and trying to end the fight early. But does the guy who escapes every single submission attempt get any points?! Ricco, when not escaping submission after submission, was busy punching away at Nogueira’s body and head. He even scored a few takedowns here and there. He did more damage than Nogueira and pressed the action the entire time.

As you can probably tell by reading this, I whole-heartedly disagree with the decision. I feel that Ricco won the fight hands down. I predicted that Nogueira would win the contest, probably by submission. I thought Ricco would fight well, but I doubted he’d come close to beating Minotauro. In fact, after witnessing Tim Sylvia wallop Ricco with one shot, hardly anybody gave Ricco a chance to beat the once ‘unbeatable’ Nogueira.

Ricco proved many people wrong and fought a near perfect fight that coincides with his style. Ricco almost could not have fought better. At first, I thought the PRIDE judges gave Nogueira the fight because it was the second UFC vs. PRIDE match of the day after Chuck Liddell iced Alistair Overeem to capture the early lead in the organizations’ competition. I figured that since Chuck had already won, PRIDE couldn’t possibly lose two fights in the same night on its home turf! ‘No matter what, give the fight to Nogueira!’ I felt them say.

On second and third thought, however, it’s hard for me to stomach such Tom Foolery. Rigged judging only happens in boxing, not in MMA, right? Now I’m not pointing fingers at PRIDE or its officials, but I honestly feel that Ricco won the fight. Maybe after watching it a few times again I may feel differently, but for now my feet are firmly planted on the side of Ricco getting robbed.

The only logical solution is an immediate rematch (yeah, right- wishful thinking) and this time, have it here on US soil and inside the trusty Octagon. We’ll see how things unravel then. Who knows? Maybe Ricco will get his ass handed to him in a rematch. But if Ricco wins a rematch, why not have the rubber match on neutral grounds? How about a place like the back room of a local Sav-On right in front of the cardboard baler?

How about the winner of Ricco/Nogueira II vs. the winner of Fedor/CroCop?
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>