MMA on DVD: Pride FC: Hardcore Knockouts, Volume 1

MMA on DVD: PRIDE FC Hardcore Knockouts, Volume 1

–So I saw this on sale for $9 and figured it was a pretty good investment; besides, I’m not really sure how many more PRIDE DVDs are going to be coming out, anyway.

–Your hosts are the somewhat recently-fired duo of Mauro Ranallo and Bas Rutten, which is odd, since this was released just a week ago.

Hardcore Knockouts:

Gilbert Yvel vs. Gary Goodridge: We have Yvel, widely considered to be the dirtiest fighter in MMA, vs. Goodridge, cult hero of the UFC’s early days and a ridiculously powerful puncher. The fight starts, both fighters circle tentatively for a few seconds, and then, out of nowhere, Yvel blasts Goodridge in the head with a left high kick. Goodridge is out cold, and the fight’s over.

Bob Sapp vs. Kiyoshi Tamura: Considering that Sapp seems to be at least twice Tamura’s size (and the fact that this video is titled Hardcore Knockouts), I don’t see this lasting long. Tamura scrambles around the ring to get away from the big man, but Sapp grabs him, holds him in place with his left hand, and almost takes his head off with a right hook. Tamura falls to the ground, and Sapp gets in three or four more massive shots before Tamura’s corner quickly throws in the towel.

Anderson Silva vs. Carlos Newton: Newton, the former UFC welterweight champ, takes on Silva, the current UFC middleweight champ. Both fighters trade jabs, then Newton takes Silva to the ground and tries to work through his guard. He mounts Silva and starts landing punches, but Silva manages to sneak out and push him back into his guard. Newton gets a couple of kidney punches, but the referee stands them both back up. Silva misses a jab, but Newton ducks down to try for a takedown and eats a flying knee (!) instead, and that’s it for Newton.

Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua vs. Sergei Kharitonov: Man, Kharitonov is huge. Rua jabs away at the big Russian, and Kharitonov returns fire with hooks. Rua tags Kharitonov with a big left hook, backing him off, but Kharitonov lands a jab and follows that up with two hooks to the head. Instead of backing up, Rua comes charging forward with a left hook and a big overhand right; he looks to clinch for the takedown, but Kharitonov takes him down instead with a huge judo throw. Rua goes for a leglock, but Kharitonov gets free and keeps punching him in the face; finally, Rua kicks up strongly, which backs Kharitonov up enough for Rua to get up. He dives at the Russian with a left hook, but Kharitonov pops him with a right uppercut as he comes in. Kharitonov changes tactics and unloads with a couple of right hooks to Rua’s ribs, and then blasts him with a left hook to the head. Kharitonov keeps nailing Rua with right hands to the body, and when Rua puts his hands down to block those, Kharitonov uncorks a nasty right hook to the head, and that’s all she wrote.

Ken Shamrock vs. Alexander Otsuka: Ken is still pro-wrestler big here, while Otsuka, the ‘Diet Butcher,’ had amassed a cult following in Japan due to his unorthodox fighting style. Shamrock opens up with a couple of nice leg kicks, but Otsuka smacks him with a big right hook. Shamrock ducks under an overhand right, takes Otsuka down, and passes right into mount; from the ground, Ken looks for a keylock but can’t get Otsuka to tap, and Otsuka rolls through and on top of Shamrock. Shamrock kicks him off and gets back to his feet, then wobbles him with a couple of hooks to the head; Otsuka, reeling, tries to clinch, but Ken knees him in the gut and then rocks him with a right hook to break the clinch. Ken hits three left-right combinations in a row, then finishes Otsuka off with a left hook. Watching Ken beat the crap out of someone with his standup feels a little weird, but he looked great here.

Don Frye vs. Gary Goodridge: We saw Goodridge on the business end of a flash knockout earlier in the video, and now we get to see him dispense the punishment here as both fighters circle and trade punches and then Goodridge swings in an enormous right head kick that instantly knocks Frye out.

Heath Herring vs. Yoshiki Takahashi: Heath’s got a pretty conservative look (well, for Heath) here, sporting only a blue Mohawk. He comes out and misses right away with a front kick, but smashes Takahashi with a high kick, another front kick, and then another high kick. Takahashi rushes in, grabs a front facelock, and knees Herring in the head a few times, as knees to the head of a downed opponent are legal in PRIDE. Herring powers to his feet and takes Takahashi down; after fighting his way out of a guillotine, he gets to a dominant position and starts raining down punches and hammer fists. Takahashi does a good job of moving his head around to start, but he can’t dodge from that position forever, and Herring lands roughly fifteen punches in a row before the ref steps in and stops it.

–We go back into the studio and take a closer look at Fedor Emelianenko. Personally, I’m jonesed about this, since I’ve only seen two of Fedor’s fights in their entirety and I’d like to see what all of the fuss is about.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera: In his book A Fighter’s Heart, Sam Sheridan describes the sound of Fedor’s punches landing as “an ax splitting a pile of meat,” and he’s absolutely spot on about that. Fedor smashes Noguiera with a big right, driving him through the ropes, and then blasts him with a huge left hook on the way down. From Noguiera’s guard, Fedor stands up and crushes Noguiera with a huge pinpoint right hook, then runs off a nine-punch combo to Noguiera’s face and ribs. He slides Noguiera’s body into a corner and just tees off with ten more sick and perfect overhand shots to the face, and then, miraculously, Noguiera somehow manages to get out from underneath Fedor, reverse positions, and mount the big Russian. He moves to side control, but that doesn’t last long, because Fedor rolls him back over into guard and goes back to pounding away on him. That’s all we see of the fight, which was obviously clipped, but hey, my appetite is whetted now.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Heath Herring: This is from 2002, and it’s the fight that put Fedor on the map in PRIDE’s heavyweight division. Herring comes charging out and tries for a flying knee, but Fedor catches him in mid-air and takes him down. This fight is obviously clipped too, as Fedor moves to side control and pounds away with long, powerful shots to Herring’s face. Herring tries to roll away, but Fedor just takes his back and continues the punishment. Herring keeps rolling, and Fedor just misses with a diving punch that would’ve put Herring through the mat if it’d landed. We cut to both men restarting on their feet: Herring sees a high kick blocked but lands a sharp kick to Fedor’s ribs. Heath charges in but Fedor sidesteps him, locks on a rear waistlock, and then suplexes Herring to the mat! We get clipped again as Fedor pounds away through Herring’s half-guard, eventually rolling Heath over into a rear naked choke. Fedor would go on to win this fight by doctor stoppage, for those of you that care about this sort of thing.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Kazuyuki Fujita: Fedor tries for a takedown, but Fujita stuffs it, so after circling, Fedor cracks Fujita on the side of the head with a right hook and throws him down. With Fujita on his back, Fedor lands a big punch, but Fujita rolls to his feet, so Fedor blasts him with a nasty front kick on the way up. Fujita tries a single-leg takedown, but Fedor hops free; moving in for the kill, Fedor lands a couple of wide hooks, but Fujita rocks him with a right hook of his own. Fedor has to clinch to save himself, and Fujita takes him down. Fujita gets a couple of punches through Fedor’s guard, but Fedor gets back to his feet, so Fujita goes for a big slam, and Fedor gets taken down but manages to roll away, get back up, and come up swinging. Fujita tries a leg kick, but Fedor hits him with two perfect punches right on the chin that drop Fujita to his knees and then slaps on a rear naked choke for the finish.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Kevin Randleman: This fight has also taken on a life of its own, and you’ll find out why in just a second. Randleman, the former UFC and NCAA heavyweight champion, rushes right across the ring, picks Fedor up, takes him down, and jumps into his guard. Fedor rolls over and starts to get up, so Randleman grabs a rear waistlock. As Fedor gets to his feet, Randleman needs to take him down again, and does so with one of the sickest moves in the history of MMA: from the rear waistlock, he picks Fedor up for a suplex and rotates Fedor’s body all the way past his shoulders, driving him head and neck-first into the mat. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it already, go to YouTube and find a clip of it–it’s completely insane.

Surprisingly, Fedor is not only a.) not dead, but also b.) actually conscious and moving. Randleman moves into side control and then into north-south position: Mauro Ranallo is practically having a coronary over the Randleplex, while Bas, always the tactician, immediately goes into a diatribe about how Randleman should start throwing knees to Fedor’s head. Somehow, Fedor not only manages to reverse positions and get into side control, but then starts ear-holing Randleman with punches to the side of his head. As soon as Randleman lets go of Fedor’s waist, he quickly slaps on an armbar and makes Randleman tap! In the span of basically 30 seconds, Fedor went from legally dead to winning the fight.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Gary Goodridge: Wow–lot of Gary Goodridge on this video. Fedor essentially comes out and just runs Goodridge over, blasting him from the start with hooks to the head and body, then taking him down. From Goodridge’s guard, Fedor just pounds away with punches, then switches to side control and drops hammer fists, and then gets bored with that and gets up and starts kicking Goodridge in the head, which is also legal in PRIDE. After a few soccer kicks, Goodridge’s body goes limp, and the ref stops the fight. This fight was uncut, by the way–it was just over that fast.

–Now Mauro and Bas switch topics and focus on one of the greatest strikers in MMA history, the “Axe Murderer,” Wanderlei Silva. The scariest thing about Silva, in my opinion, is how much he obviously loves hurting people. Don’t get me wrong: I know that the man gets paid to beat people up, but he seems to particularly enjoy his work.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Guy Mezger: Mezger, the former UFC light heavyweight champ, comes out jabbing and kicking while Silva patiently waits for an opening. Finally, Silva hustles in, gets a Thai clinch, and tries to knee Mezger in the head, but Guy blocks and manages to push him away. More trading blows, then another clinch, and then Mezger throws a nice head kick that catches Silva as they break. Silva leads with a leg kick, then just clobbers Mezger with a right hook, wobbling him; Silva tackles Mezger and looks to go immediately into ground-and-pound, but Guy gets up, clinches Silva, and knees him in the head. Silva nails Mezger with a knee in the clinch and smacks him with a right hook, but Mezger manages to scoot away before Silva can land a killing blow. More trading from both men up against the ropes, and then Silva catches Mezger with another overhand right; this time, it’s the beginning of the end, as Silva throws a flurry of shots (including a headbutt, which is not legal in PRIDE) and finishes with a right hook to end the fight.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Kiyoshi Tamura: And it’s our old buddy Tamura again as well. Say what you want about the guy, but he’s certainly not afraid to take a beating. Tamura throws a low kick to start, but Silva catches it, takes him down, and starts working in his guard. Silva starts landing huge ground-and-pound shots, but just when it looks like Tamura might be in major trouble, he manages to get back to his feet and almost gets Wandy’s back. Still, that bright spot is pretty short-lived, as Silva gets a takedown and knees Tamura in the face, but Tamura manages to sweep Silva’s legs and get back to his feet. Silva charges forward, misses a lunging hook, and slips, and Tamura kicks him in the ribs for his trouble. From a standing position, Tamura tries to roll Silva into a kneebar but ends up with Wandy on top of him and throwing punches.

We cut to the beginning of the second round as both fighters trade low kicks, and then Tamura unloads with a straight left hand, snapping Silva’s head back. Tamura lands a kick right into Silva’s ribs, but Silva just ignores it and starts whaling away at Tamura’s head, landing several punches and taking Tamura down. Both fighters get back to their feet, and Silva slips a left jab from Tamura and then nearly decapitates him with a right hook of his own, knocking him cold and ending Tamura’s night.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara: Both fighters come out with guns blazing, firing punches at each other at a frantic pace; Silva blasts Kanehara in the head with a left hook and then knocks him down with a right head kick. From Kanehara’s guard, we cut ahead to where Silva lets him back to his feet, as Silva blasts him with some more punches and takes him down again. Silva can’t break through his guard again, so he lets him back up again. After a brief exchange, Silva tries to clinch, but Kanehara punches his way free; in doing so, though, he puts his head down, and Silva takes advantage with a massive left uppercut, knocking him down. This time, Silva pries open Kanehara’s guard and starts dropping hammer fists, but then lets Kanehara back to his feet. He runs across the ring and catches Kanehara with a couple of hooks to the head, and then Kanehara falls to the ground, so Silva breaks out the soccer kick to Kanehara’s head. Kanehara rolls over on his back, so Silva tries an axe kick to his ribs, but then thinks better of it and lets him back up. Finally, Silva comes back after Kanehara, takes him down, and starts landing punch after punch through Kanehara’s guard. He gets up, blasts Kanehara with another soccer kick, and then starts stomping away, but Kanehara’s corner throws in the towel to prevent further injury.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson: In a neat little bonus here, we get Randy Couture on color commentary. Rampage immediately comes out and picks Silva up for a slam, but Silva locks on a guillotine choke. Rampage gets Silva down to guard and finally gets his head free, but can’t capitalize. We cut ahead to Silva grabbing an armbar from the bottom, but Rampage knees and punches his way free. Rampage knees away in side control, but Silva manages to switch him back to half-guard, so Rampage starts doing mean things to Silva’s ribcage. We cut ahead again to Rampage pounding away at Silva’s head from the half-guard, but the referee stands them back up after a little stretch of inactivity. From the restart, Rampage ducks under a high kick, but Silva nails him down there with a knee to the head. Silva throws a couple of punches and tries for a takedown, but Rampage blocks it, so Silva pulls his head down and blasts him with another knee to the head, which knocks him down. Rampage is quickly back up to his feet, but Silva keeps kneeing the shit out of him, hitting him in the head and the ribs.

Rampage finally gets away, but after a brief exchange of punches, he finds himself in the exact same situation, as Silva knees him ten straight times in the head. Desperate, Rampage goes for the slam, but his brain and body aren’t on the same page and he falls to the mat, which allows Silva to tee off on him with soccer kicks. Somehow, Rampage gets back up, so Silva goes back to that old familiar standard of kneeing him in the head, and the referee finally steps in and stops it there.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Yuki Kondo: Speaking of color commentators, the highlight of this match is listening to Mauro and Bas play straight men for Rampage, who joins us on color commentary. The running joke here is that Rampage actually has to root for Silva, whom he absolutely loathes, because the two of them have a match coming up and Rampage wants it to be for the title. Kondo’s game at the beginning of the fight, trading punches with Silva; quoth Rampage, “Is Wanderlei bleeding yet? ‘Cause he bleeds when you blow on him.”

Then he follows it up with this gem:
Mauro: “Silva’s considered one of the world’s greatest multi-dimensional strikers: he can hurt you with knees, punches, and kicks…”
Rampage (without missing a beat): “And his breath.”

Where was I? Oh, yeah–the fight: Kondo holds his own for a little while until Silva pops him right on the nose with a wide right hook. Silva starts landing more punches as Kondo finds all of his counter kicks blocked; as Kondo tries to circle away, Silva decks him with a left hook and commences stomping. He stomps Kondo in the head five or six times before the referee steps in to save the unconscious Japanese.

–Mauro and Bas talk about how the Japanese fans love to hate Silva because of his rivalry with Kazushi Sakuraba. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sakuraba, he’s sort of the Japanese equivalent of Ken Shamrock–an MMA legend who began his career as a pro wrestler in the early 1990s and switched over to MMA in the mid-90s. In another parallel with Shamrock, the Gracie name is forever intertwined with Sakuraba; after beating Royler, Renzo, Royce, and Ryan Gracie, the western press nicknamed Sakuraba “The Gracie Hunter.”

As the sport progressed, PRIDE still refused to add different weight classes, as the promotion’s only two weight classes were heavyweight (everything over 205) and middleweight (everything under 205). This meant that Sakuraba, whose natural fighting weight was between 180 and 185 pounds, was constantly fighting men who were 20 and 30 pounds heavier than he was.

In fact, when Dana White gave his now-infamous “the people who run PRIDE are f*cking idiots” diatribe a couple of months ago, he listed their treatment of Sakuraba as exhibit A. White pointed out that PRIDE didn’t add a 183-pound division until the end of 2005, after Sakuraba had absorbed beatings at the hands of heavier fighters like Silva, Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, and Ricardo Arona that may have permanently damaged both his body and his career.

But I digress: Silva won all three of his fights against the Japanese icon, and this is their first match in March of 2001.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Kazushi Sakuraba: Sakuraba starts with a leg kick, but Wanderlei comes out hunting for bear with a quick, strong flurry and a knee to the head. Both fighters trade punches, and Sakuraba actually knocks Silva down with a short right hook, but Silva gets right back up and pulls Saku into a clinch. Silva tries some punches and knees from the clinch, but Saku breaks free with punches and appears to be looking for the knockout. Silva clinches against the ropes and lands another knee to the head, and Sakuraba punches his way free, but Silva crushes him with a short right hook, knocking him down. Wandy grabs a front facelock and starts bouncing knees off Sakuraba’s forehead, but Sakuraba gets loose, so Silva blasts him with a couple of soccer kicks. On all fours, Sakuraba tries for a single-leg or an ankle pick, but Silva keeps kneeing him in the head and kicking him, finally forcing the referee to stop the fight.

We also see clips of their second fight, where Silva broke Sakuraba’s collarbone with a slam, forcing the doctors to stop the fight after the end of the first round. In the third fight, which we also see footage of, Sakuraba put on his best showing, but still got knocked out.

–Mauro and Bas introduce us to Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic: star kickboxer, anti-terrorist solider, member of the Croatian parliament, and all-around badass. According to Bas, it doesn’t matter that the haters out there only claim that he has one offensive weapon–his left leg–because no one’s been able to stop it.

Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic vs. Heath Herring: And here we see Heath looking a little more like his normal self, with some kind of bizarre pattern shaved into his head. Both fighters trade punches and Herring throws a low kick; Cro Cop catches it and throws him to the ground. Herring shoots in for a takedown, but Cro Cop shoves him off; it’s odd, though, to watch someone stuff a takedown with only their upper body. Herring throws a nice leg kick and circles, then Cro Cop tries for the left head kick, but Herring blocks it. Herring shoots in for another takedown, but Cro Cop sprawls, grabs a front facelock, and starts throwing knees at the top of Herring’s head, so Herring rolls out and gets back to his feet. Cro Cop blasts Herring with a kick to the ribs, knocking him down, and starts firing punches in over the top until the referee steps in to stop it.

Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic vs. Igor Vovchanchyn: Both fighters are tentative to start: Cro Cop throws the high kick but misses and Igor stays active on the outside. Igor throws a couple of high kicks himself, but Cro Cop shows him what a real high kick looks like by knocking him out with one, and just like that, the fight’s over.

Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic vs. Dos Caras, Jr.: Dos Caras is a luchador turned MMA fighter, and as such is still wearing his lucha libre mask, which makes for a pretty odd visual. In any case, Caras has the shit luck to make his PRIDE debut against Cro Cop, who doesn’t look even remotely amused by his opponent. Caras looks to clinch, but Cro Cop shoves him off, so Caras circles around as Cro Cop takes the center of the ring. Caras whiffs on a leg kick and backs into a corner, where Cro Cop punches him with a straight left. Caras goes back to circling, but ends up caught in a corner, and Cro Cop knocks him out almost immediately with the left high kick.

Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic vs. Ron Waterman: Waterman shoots out and takes Cro Cop down but can’t get a decisive advantage, so the Croatian kicks him off and gets back to his feet. Cro Cop grazes the top of Waterman’s head with the left high kick, then punches him square in the nose with three straight lefts, knocking him down. Waterman decides to go to the turtle position (essentially covering up on all fours), which makes him a perfect target for Cro Cop’s soccer kicks. The big man reaches out and almost snags one of Cro Cop’s ankles, but the Croatian steps back and knocks him out with one last ridiculous soccer kick to the head.

Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic vs. Aleksander Emelianenko: Yes, Aleks is Fedor’s younger brother, for those of you who weren’t already aware. Aleks comes out swinging, closing the gap on Cro Cop and not giving him room to throw kicks, but Cro Cop manages to get a nice leg kick off nonetheless. Aleks looks for a takedown, but Cro Cop knees him in the head and gets loose; still, Aleks is the much more aggressive fighter of the two, firing away and staying right on Cro Cop’s chest. Cro Cop catches Aleks in a corner with some nasty straight lefts and uppercuts, then throws him down and follows up with a soccer kick to the ribs. He lets Aleks up, then digs a left low kick into his ribs, but Aleks scores with a knee and just misses with a wide right hook that would have knocked Cro Cop’s head into the front row. Aleks starts to circle on the outside, and out of nowhere–BANG–Cro Cop knocks him out with the left high kick.

–Now Mauro and Bas introduce us to the Ukranian striker Igor Vovchanchyn, a PRIDE veteran with dynamite in his hands.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Gary Goodridge: Jesus, couldn’t they just give Gary his own section on the video? In any case, Goodridge takes Igor to the mat and tries to work through his guard; we cut ahead to Goodridge trying a leglock as Igor manages to escape and get into mount. Goodridge reverses, puts Igor back on his back, and lands a couple of punches, but Igor manages to kick him loose and get to his feet. Goodridge takes him down again, so Igor kicks loose again, gets back up, and fires off a couple of hooks as he retreats. Both men clinch and Goodridge gets off a knee, but Igor spins loose, tags Goodridge with a huge left hook, and Big Daddy is out on his feet.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Francisco Bueno: Both fighters circle for a while, and then Igor pastes Bueno with a sick pinpoint three-punch combination to the head, which causes Bueno to topple to the mat with eyes frozen in horror. The lights are on, but Bueno’s not home.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Enson Inoue: Inoue rushes Igor to start, which touches off an insane exchange of punches with both men swinging wildly. Finally, Igor blasts Inoue with a left hook and throws him to the ground. Igor pounds his way through Inoue’s guard and spends essentially the entire round kicking the crap out of Inoue on the ground. After the round ends, Inoue can’t even stay on his feet without help, so the referee stops the fight.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Dan Bobish: For those of you who haven’t seen him, Bobish looks like someone left Butterbean in the dryer a little too long, right down to the American flag trunks. Bobish charges, but Igor wards him off with an overhand right, so Bobish shoots in and takes Igor to the ground. Bas makes a great point: Bobish is so round that it’s almost impossible for Igor to wrap his legs around him and close his guard. Bobish lands a couple of shots and rolls into side control looking for a neck crank, but Igor rolls his head out, so Bobish starts kneeing him in the head. We cut to Bobish in full mount as Bas mentions that Vovchanchyn has to hang on for three more minutes to get out of the round, but the ref stands them up for the restart. Bobish is gassed big-time, so Igor lands a couple of hooks to the head and starts working on Bobish’s ample midsection. Bobish rushes in for a takedown, but Igor sprawls and punches him in the head a few times. Igor lands a big knee to Bobish’s gut, but Bobish catches the leg, takes him down, and goes back to side control.

We cut to the beginning of the second round, as Bobish keeps coming forward looking for a clinch or takedown attempt, and Igor keeps punching, kicking, and kneeing him to hold him off. Bobish reaches for a clinch and gets clocked by Igor’s right hook; in trouble, he shoots for a takedown, but Igor sprawls, gets a front facelock, and goes back to kneeing him in the head. Bobish rolls onto his side, so Igor mounts him and starts throwing big shots, and Bobish verbally submits.

Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Shamoji Fujii: Fujii shoots in, but Igor stuffs the takedown nicely and pops off a few knees to Fujii’s head. He grabs Fujii’s legs and gets a double-leg takedown, and starts working through Fujii’s butterfly guard, landing long-armed punches from the top. The ref stands them both up, then both men trade for a while; Igor smacks Fujii with a left hook and then buries a low kick into Fujii’s ribs, backing him up. As Fujii hits the ropes, Igor comes flying across the ring and hits him with a running right hook, knocking him into the middle of next week.

–According to Mauro and Bas, PRIDE’s got such a reputation that great fighters from professional organizations around the world are lining up to get a crack at PRIDE’s competition. Fighters like…oh, say, UFC icon Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, for example.

Chuck Liddell vs. Guy Mezger: Somehow, it feels odd that the only fight between these two guys should take place in PRIDE, but there you have it. Chuck and Guy trade punches and leg kicks to start, then Chuck pops Mezger with a nice flurry to the head here. Mezger tags Chuck with a left, then, after we cut to a little while later, Mezger comes forward and lands a nice combination. Guy’s sticking and moving and landing good punch/kick combos, while Chuck is just looking to brawl. Mezger lands three punches and then kicks Chuck square in the face, but Chuck starts to land a bit more as Mezger slowly decides to stand and trade. Chuck goes to the clinch with Guy and smashes him with a short overhand right in the corner, so Guy pulls him back into the clinch and rotates around the ring a bit. After breaking free, Guy has the temerity to almost knock Chuck out with his own signature punch, landing a huge looping overhand right and knocking Chuck on his ass, but Chuck recovers quickly (if somewhat wobbily) and gets back to his feet. Chuck’s reeling, and Mezger takes the opportunity to blast him with some more punches and a nice high kick.

We cut to the beginning of round two, with Chuck waiting to pick his spots and finding his range. He rushes poor Guy, who instinctively backs up, and blasts him with a wide right hook, then backs him up against the ropes and just goes apeshit on him, finishing him with a right hook that knocks him completely unconscious.

Chuck Liddell vs. Alastair Overeem: Dana White joins Stephen Quadros and Bas on color commentary. Neither Chuck nor Overeem waste any time, trading hard punches and knees right away. Overeem hits Chuck with a left hook, and Chuck, looking to buy time, shoots in for the takedown (!), which Overeem blocks. Chuck shoots in for the takedown again but eats a knee on the way in; still, he manages to get Overeem down and into guard. We cut to Overeem sitting up against the ropes, where Chuck takes the opportunity to knee him in the head while holding him in a front facelock. Overeem gets free and comes out throwing, digging a nice knee into Chuck’s ribs, smacking him with a beautiful left hook, and herding him into a corner, but Chuck finds his way out. Overeem is clearly the aggressor here, throwing with intent and landing punches and knees; of course, as soon as I type that, Chuck lands a big right hook and then another. Overeem sneers a bit at Chuck, so Chuck uncorks the overhand right bolo punch, which splits Overeem’s gloves perfectly and lands right on his forehead. Overeem can barely stand up straight or get his hands up now, and you know how Chuck gets when there’s blood in the water: he explodes on the kid, kneeing him against the ropes, throwing and landing haymakers, and finishing him off with a sick left hook.

–We go back to the studio: Mauro and Bas are willing to concede that Chuck’s a tough guy, but when he stepped into the ring with ‘Rampage’ Jackson, well…

Chuck Liddell vs. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson: Dana joins Stephen and Bas on color again: Stephen makes a little joke about Dana being nervous, to which Dana responds with a nervous laugh. Both fighters jab to start and keep jabbing and trading, but since it’s not really in either fighter’s nature to jab and circle for too long, both of them start barely missing crazy punches as well. Rampage lands a couple of wide right hooks, so Chuck circles away while Rampage, feeling his oats, chases him around the ring. Chuck tags Rampage with a nice combination, but Rampage keeps coming forward and pressing the pace. He pops Chuck with a stiff left jab and smacks him in the side of the head with another wide right hook, then forces a clinch. Rampage stalks Chuck around the ring and tries for a slam takedown, but Chuck wriggles free and Rampage gives chase. He blasts Chuck with four straight hooks to the head as Dana audibly laments Chuck’s decision to completely abandon his pre-fight strategy and slug it out instead.

As soon as Dana finishes speaking, Rampage drives Chuck across the ring with five straight big punches and takes him down against the ropes as Chuck looks completely out of his element here. Chuck starts to get up, but Rampage manages to unload with a knee to his ribs before he reaches his feet. Chuck eats a left hook and falls down in the corner, and Rampage knees him hard in the ribs again as he gets back to his feet. Dana’s commentary gets crankier as Chuck fails to cut the ring off; Rampage goes back to moving and jabbing and then knocks Chuck down with an uppercut. Rampage tries to go back to kneeing Chuck in the head, but Chuck makes it to his feet, so Rampage picks him up off the ground, slams him hard on his ribs and back, and starts brutalizing Chuck’s ribcage and midsection with elbows, forearms, and knees. After about two minutes of ass-whupping, the referee stops the fight: man, between Randy wiping the floor with him and this fight, 2003 was not a banner year for Chuck.

–Now it’s time for Mauro and Bas to focus on Rampage himself: he’s from Memphis, they tell us, and he likes to slam people.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. Yuki Ishikawa: Rampage, never one to draw attention to himself, is wearing Apollo Creed’s American flag trunks for this fight. Ishikawa comes out throwing, but Rampage blasts him with a right hook, driving him back, and follows up with three huge uppercuts. Ishikawa leans against the ropes, so Rampage picks him up, gets a huge slam, and passes right into side control. We cut ahead as Ishikawa starts getting back up, so Rampage grabs a front facelock and teases the piledriver (!), but Ishikawa upkicks his way out of it. Rampage grabs another front facelock and starts dropping knees on Ishikawa’s forehead, but Ishikawa gets up and moves back to the ropes. With the Japanese on the ropes, Rampage knees him in the gut and creams him with a left hook, knocking him out.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. Masaaki Satake: Rampage gets a big uppercut to start, then clinches in the corner, picks Satake up, and powerslams him to the mat. He jumps into side contol and starts pounding away with knees to the taller man’s ribcage and head. To add insult to injury, Rampage mounts Satake and tees off with punches; Satake almost reverses to a leglock, but only really succeeds in pushing Rampage into half-guard, which he passes pretty easily. With Rampage in side control, Satake starts to get up, so Rampage takes his back; when Satake gets to his feet, Rampage suplexes him right onto his back and ribs. At this point, Satake’s had enough of the withering body assault and taps.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. Igor Vovchanchyn: Both fighters clinch and trade knees for a long time to start, but the ref eventually restarts them. Igor throws a big head kick that Rampage barely blocks and follows that with some nice hooks, but makes a fatal mistake when he decides to go for a standing guillotine choke. He locks on the choke and tries to wrap his legs around Rampage’s waist, but Rampage just catches him, picks him up over his shoulders, and slams him to the mat, almost dropping him right on his head. Rampage starts throwing knees from side control, then we cut to Rampage throwing punches from Igor’s half-guard, which he soon passes into full mount. Rampage rains down punches as Igor tries like crazy to buck him off: finally, Igor gets free, gets back to his feet, and starts throwing bombs, but Rampage calmly picks him up, slams him to the mat again, climbs into his guard, and starts throwing more punches. Igor almost gets a kneebar, but Rampage walks out of it, stands up in Igor’s guard, and keeps hammering him with body shots. We cut ahead again as Igor’s stuck in the middle of the ring with Rampage on top of him; Rampage lands one more nasty body punch, and the referee stops it.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. Kevin Randleman: Rampage takes the former wrestling champion down to start, but Randleman quickly escapes and clinches. Randleman’s looking for a Rampage-esque slam, so Rampage knees him in the head and ribs. He breaks the clinch and then tags Randleman with an enormous left hook, then stuffs a Randleman takedown attempt. The ref calls for a restart and both fighters immediately clinch: Rampage pulls Randleman’s head down and knees him square in the jaw, then smashes him with a left hook/right uppercut combination that puts the blonde on the mat and into guard. Passing immediately into full mount, Rampage fires away with punches and hammer fists until the referee steps in for the stoppage. After the fight, Rampage gets on the house mic and calls out Wanderlei Silva, who happens to be sitting at ringside; in a true professional wrestling moment, Silva rushes the ring and both men have to be separated.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona: This match has also taken on a life of its own, for reasons that’ll become apparent momentarily. Arona lands some leg kicks and shoots in for a takedown but eats a knee for his troubles; rather than going into his guard, Rampage backs off and lets him up. Rampage rushes into a clinch, but Arona pulls him down into his closed guard: as Rampage is going for position, Arona clocks him with a vicious upkick, then complains to the ref that Rampage is unconscious. Rampage starts stirring in Arona’s guard, so Arona tries for a guillotine, then grabs Rampage’s left arm and goes for a triangle choke, and here’s where the magic happens. Rather than try and pull his head and arm out, Rampage calmly gets his feet underneath him, then stands up and lifts Arona into the air on his shoulders. As soon as Arona is completely vertical, Rampage powerbombs him to the mat, instantly knocking him out. Replays show just how insane this move is, as Arona’s head and neck snap back into the mat after an eight-foot fall.

–Mauro and Bas mention that one of the all-time great moments in PRIDE history came at the opening of the 2004 heavyweight tournament, when Kevin Randleman took on Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic.

Kevin Randleman vs. Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic: Cro Cop had only lost once in his professional MMA career, and his previous five wins had all ended by knockout, so no one was giving Randleman, who was mired in a two-fight losing streak, much of a chance here. Randleman rushes Cro Cop right away looking for the takedown, but Cro Cop manages to stuff it and the referee calls for a restart. Both fighters circle, and Randleman keeps his right hand next to his forehead to guard against Cro Cop’s infamous left high kick. Randleman half-heartedly tries to shoot, but then pops back up with his right hand still practically stapled to the side of his head. Finally, with the first offensive move of the match, Randleman bursts forward with a huge left hook that catches Cro Cop perfectly on the jaw, knocking him into oblivion. Cro Cop crumples into the mat and Randleman dives on top of him, first firing left hands at his head, then pinning his shoulders down and blasting him with hammer fists until the referee calls for the bell. This was easily the biggest upset in PRIDE history, and the Hammer House guys (and Chuck Liddell, for that matter) rush the ring to celebrate.

–Mauro and Bas recap the action and promise many more PRIDE knockouts to come. Well, Jerry Millen knocked them both out, so I guess they were right about that. According to the copyright at the end of the DVD, this was originally shot in 2004, which seems to summarize PRIDE’s problems in the North American market in a nutshell.

The Inside Pulse
For sheer entertainment value, it’s hard to top two hours of badass fighters knocking each other unconscious. From a more objective viewpoint, though, it’s an excellent history lesson for those of you who want to understand a little more about what helped PRIDE reach the pinnacle of MMA competition. Speaking of history, though, that’s what this ultimately is: with Cro Cop, Rampage, and Liddell in the UFC; Fedor in a contract dispute, Silva arguably in decline as a fighter, and Vovchanchyn seemingly in retirement, there isn’t a whole lot here for current PRIDE fans to look forward to. Still, it’s an excellent reminder of what you could have expected on a monthly basis when PRIDE was undoubtedly the number-one fighting promotion in the world.

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