Oh PRIDE, how I miss your crazy intros, soccer kicks, and most importantly Grand Prix. Ten years ago to the date, PRIDE FC held the first stage of its biannual Middleweight (205lbs) Grand Prix tournament. Showcasing stars such as Wanderlei Silva, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Alistair Overeem and a young up-and-coming Mauricio “Shogun”Rua it was deemed at the time the greatest collection of MMA talent at the time. Let’s take a look back at the opening round of what turned out to be a legendary tournament.
Nakamura Versus Monster
The opening bout of this event was between decorated wrestler and former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman going up against Judo black belt Kazuhiro Nakamura.
The first round was a back and forth battle rife with high quality grappling on display, highlighted by Nakamura landing a flush flying knee to Randleman’s face only to be caught in midair and slammed to the mat.
In the second round, Nakamura took control against a fading Randleman, eventually landing a beautiful hip toss. Once on the ground, the judoka advanced position with ease putting Randleman in a crucifix position eating unanswered punches and elbows to the face to the point that commentator Mauro Ranallo thought that he was out.
The final stanza started out as the second had finished, with Nakamura landing a sneaky inside leg trip to his exhausted opponent. Randleman dug deep and found enough energy to sweep out of Nakamura’s mount, but was left with no gas to do much else. The judges saw the fight in Nakamura’s favor, sending him to the next round of the GP.
A Jiu-Jitsu Lover’s Dream
The second fight of the night was between elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players Dean Lister and Brazilian Top Team’s Ricardo Arona.
The opening round was essentially a stand-up affair, with Arona having a significant advantage eventually dropping Lister with a blistering right hand. While on the ground, Arona passed guard while Lister attempted submissions from his back. After a referee stand up, it was more of the same except this time Lister got a takedown and attempted a leg lock. The rest of the round was full of scrambles and more submission attempts from both men.
Round two and three pretty much echoed the first, being a back and forth display of top-notch Jiu-Jitsu with great scrambles and submission attempts from both. Arona was awarded the win for having the better striking and a slight edge in the grappling department.
The King Couldn’t Derail The Train
Igor “The Ukraine Freight Train” Vovchanchyn took on the King of Pancrase Yuki Kondo in the third fight of the night. While Kondo put up a valiant effort with flashes of great grappling, even having Vovchanchyn in a precarious position with a toe hold in the first-round, the discrepancy in strength and striking power in favor of the Ukrainian allowed him to control the vast majority of the fight. Top control, ground and pound, and throwing heavy leather lead the judges giving Vovchanchyn the unanimous nod.
The Demolition Man Demolishes The Phenom
Before there was the 250+lbs “The Reem”, there was the younger, slimmer “Demolition Man” version of Alistair Overeem that took on Vitor Belfort, who was entered into the tournament as a UFC representative. The current UFC veterans went toe to toe, both on the feet and on the ground before Overeem hurt Belfort with a knee which sent him bouncing off the roles then to the ground. After surviving some ground strikes, Vitor managed to scramble to his feet but left his neck exposed to which Overeem seized with a perfect guillotine. “The Demolition Man” fell back into guard eliciting the tap from Belfort with just a minute left in the first.
Henderson Fights Noguiera Again For The First Time…Wait What??
What happens when you pit two great fighters with excellent yet starkly different combinations of grappling and striking? In this case, we got a quick back and forth war between future legends in Dan Henderson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (not Rodrigo whom Henderson fought twice before). Both men came out throwing heat and they didn’t let up once the fight hit the ground. Henderson attempted to use his top position to land punches, but Nogueira’s constant guard work stifled his opponent. Midway through the round Henderson became noticeably fatigued and once Nogueira got him to the ground again the end was near. “Minotoro” fell into side control and instantly went to work on Henderson’s left arm. Starting off with a kimura, Nogueira stepped over and switched his hips transitioning into a slick arm bar that Henderson could not fight off.
“Like A Lamb To The Slaughter”
What happens when you put a Mixed Martial Arts novice into a tournament with the greatest collection of 205lbs talent and his first fight is against Kazushi Sakuraba? You get a 38 second KO (as predicted by the New York Bad Ass Phil Baroni who was guest commentating that night). Sik, came out with confidence walking Sakuraba down, but once he felt the first punch he folded like a lawn chair. Talk about being thrown to the wolves. Sik would go on to have a decent career with an 8-8 record and some decent wins.
The Birth Of A Legend
This was the fight that let the world know that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was for real. While “Rampage” initiated the fight, “Shogun” quickly took control landing solid knees from the Thai clinch, one of which broke one of Jackson’s ribs (at one point leading him to tell his corner of the fact while being clinched by Rua). From that point, Rua unloaded on his opponent, finishing him with a vicious barrage of knees, uppercuts, and soccer kicks. This was the first step in the run that would eventually give “Shogun” the cornerstone of his legacy.
The main event of Total Elimination was a rematch between Wanderlei Silva and Olympic judo gold medal winner Hidehiko Yoshida. In the first round, Yoshida stood toe to toe with a prime Wanderlei and lived to tell the tale. He would eventually take “The Axe Murderer” down usinga sneaky trip and spent the majority of the final half of the round in top position.
In the next two rounds, Silva took control battering Yoshida with heavy ground and pound, stiff punches, and wicked leg kicks. It was clear that Yoshida had given all he had in the first, but in the waning moments of the fight he showed signs of life threatening Wanderlei with a leg lock and having him in a guillotine choke as the bell sounded. Two of the three judges awarded the defending champion Silva the victory.
Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217
UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.
The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:
— Ovince Saint Preux (@003_OSP) October 19, 2017
It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.
Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.
Fight News update!!
— UFC (@ufc) October 19, 2017
This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.
With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th? Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.
*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results
Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.
Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.
Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)
Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)
Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)
Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams
Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.
Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.
Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.
Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.
⭐️ F I G H T W E E K ⭐️ . . Tickets/ T-shirt’s / Afterparty info at www.heather-hardy.com 🥂 link is in my bio 🥂 . . @bellatormma @dymatize @lululemon @jlewbags @rgfa @gleasonsgym @shihandevon . . #heatherhardy #heathertheheat #teamheat #boxing #femaleboxing #girlboxer #boxinglife #boxinghype #boxingnight #boxingday #boxinggloves #boxingfanatik #boxer #boxingfitness #womensboxing #boxeo #wmma #mma #teamrenzogracie #bjjgirls #womensmma #renzograciegirls
Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.
Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.
There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.
But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.
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