Miraculous Moment in MMA History: PRIDE 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Final

Sometimes life demonstrates a knack for sorting itself out in an orderly fashion.

Even in the 20/20 hindsight, the auspicious turns of events through chance and unpredictability seem like lucky coincidences.

In the MMA world, the tournaments/grand prixes often mimic the vicissitudes of life: They are inherently subject to uncertainties and unforeseeable occurrences.

The unpredictability factor certainly speaks to the appeal of grand prixes.

The anticipation of how the matches unfold over the course of the tournaments keep the fans engaged, and they can appreciate a few unexpected wrenches thrown along the way.

As a case in point, who could have guessed that Joachim Hansen would step in as a last-minute replacement in the DREAM Lightweight GP, only to snatch the title and avenge his previous loss to Shinya Aoki?

By the same token, grand prix organizers and fighters must contend with a host of issues during the tournament proceedings: Withdrawals due to injuries and the difficulties concerning the logistics and scheduling of bouts are among the roadblocks that could send the tournaments veering off course.

While organizations such as PRIDE and DREAM have demonstrated the capacity for keeping the tournaments intact, one predicament often lurks as a possibility: Fights between teammates.

Presumably, when two fighters from the same camp enter a tournament, they acknowledge the possibility of having to face each other.

Nonetheless, fighting a teammate constitutes an unenviable dilemma for a fighter.  The teammates’ hesitation of going full-frontal on each other and the knowledge of the ins and outs of each other’s game create a recipe for a fight gone awry.

While the tournament organizers do what they can to avoid the collision between teammates, the match-up will be inevitable if the teammates win their way to the final.

In the PRIDE 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix, the said scenario came dangerously close to materializing.

Wanderlei Silva and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the standouts from the famed Chute Boxe Academy, were among the star-studded tournament roster that included Kazushi Sakuraba, Ricardo Arona, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, among others.

Silva and Shogun demonstrated their Chute Boxe modus operandi as they ripped through the tournament with devastating strikes to land in the semi-final rounds.  There, Silva faced Ricardo Arona from the arch rival camp, Brazilian Top Team, while Shogun took on Dutch striker, Alistair Overeem.

As top-level talents, Arona and Overeem had the potential to give Silva and Shogun a serious run for their money.

Nevertheless, the collision between the Chute Boxe teammates was palpable – and would have been a debacle in the climax of the otherwise memorable tournament.

If Silva and Rua were not teammates, the fight between them could very likely have gone down in the annals of MMA as one of the most fierce slugfests to ever take place inside the ring.

In reality, however, had they met in the finale, the bout would have been a lukewarm, anticlimactic affair between two fighters pawing at each other in careful avoidance of damage.

The forces that be sided with Arona and Rua in the semi final bouts: Arona surprised many by upsetting the then-middleweight champ, Silva via unanimous decision, and Rua breezed through Overeeem with a first-round TKO victory.

With the potential tournament implosion averted, the auspicious turn of events culminated with Rua’s completion of one of the most sensational winning streaks in the history of MMA.

In the span of a few months, Rua compiled a formidable list of victims, including Rampage Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem, and finally, Ricardo Arona, to cap off his run and earn the Grand Prix winner’s title – at the tender age of 23.

The loss suffered by Silva thus turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him, Shogun, and the entire Chute Boxe camp.

The tournament finale saw the immortalization of a young star.  Also, Shogun’s triumph etched Chute Boxe Academy into PRIDE history, particularly in light of its dynastic rivalry with Brazilian Top Team.

In the end, Silva and Shogun came out of the tournament as the big winners – and so did the fans, as they witnessed a miraculous conclusion to a spectacular grand prix after a nerve-wracking moment that put the fate of the entire tournament in jeopardy.

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