Home > Uncategorized > Thoughts on UFC 69 & Pride 34

Thoughts on UFC 69 & Pride 34

Though I missed it live, I was able to catch most of UFC 69 and the live Japanese feed of Pride 34 – meaning yes, I was a big enough dork to stay up until 6:30am Sunday morning. God bless the internet and all that.

* FIGHTS I DIDN’T SEE: Marcus Davis def. Pete Spratt in the 2nd via submission (ankle lock); Thales Leites def. Pete Sell via unanimous decision; Heath Herring def. Brad Imes via unanimous decision in a fight that supposedly got a standing ovation after it was over. I guess he’s worked out whatever kinks needed to be worked out after that last fight, which was atrocious.
* Luke Cummo def. Josh Haynes via KO in the 2nd Luke Cummo, everyone’s favorite weirdo, hit Haynes so hard that after hitting the ground Haynes shot in on the ref. Fucking hilarious.
* Kendall Grove def. Alan Belcher via Submission (D’Arce choke) in the 2nd. Alright fight. Grove looked good.
* Yushin Okami def. Mike Swick via unanimous decision. Okami’s pretty underrated, and Swick…just didn’t have it tonight. I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but from the moment the fight started (and with the exception of two bursts at the end of the 2nd and the middle of the 3rd) he came across as hesitant. Okami completely dominated him in the 1st, which didn’t help matters. There’s something about him that completely destroys the confidence of the fighters he faces and subsequently beats, with another example being David Louiseau. Hopefully Swick bounces back from this loss better than Louiseau did from his.
* Roger Huerta def. Leonard Garcia via unanimous decision. Another candidate for Fight of the Year from the Lightweight division. Huerta is just so damn good, and Garcia fights with more heart than anyone else in the UFC. At the end of the fight, both men dropped to their knees in the center of the Octagon and embraced. Great moment. Go out of your way to see this fight.
* Josh Koscheck def. Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision. After hearing and reading all of the negative reviews this fight received, I decided to avoid watching this fight as if my life depended on not seeing it. Many called it one of the worst fights in UFC history, if not THE worst. I’m not so sure…I remember Shamrock/Severn, which was pretty awful.
* Matt Serra def. Georges St. Pierre via TKO in the 1st. This wasn’t just a win. Matty FUCKED HIM UP, and it was awesome. St. Pierre is the classiest guy in the UFC, and Matt Serra is my favorite fighter (right now anyway). Great moment.

Pride 34
This was the final Pride show under the DSE banner, ushering in the end of an era. No more 10-5-5 rounds (all rounds will be five minutes each), and say goodbye to all those stomps that Wanderlei de Silva loves so much.
* Yoshihiro Nakao def. Edson Drago via Submission (neck crank) in the 1st. I opted out of this fight and instead watched the video of Serra/St. Pierre. Supposedly I didn’t miss all that much. I did watch enough to see Nakao come out to swing jazz music and be announced as “that jumpin’, jivin’, lovable guy.” I’ll be so depressed if the Fertittas get rid of this aspect of Pride.
* Butterbean def. Zulu via Submission (keylock) in the 1st. You read that right – Butterbean fucking SUBMITTED somebody! This was a Freak Show Fight at its finest. There was a hilarious moment early on where Zulu took Butterbean down to the ground, but Bean is so morbidly obese that the curve of his backfat combined with the momentum caused them to roll over to where Butterbean was on top. I’m not exaggerating – Butterbean didn’t reverse it, his back fat was so prominent that it was impossible to get him to stay on his back. I thought I’d seen the most ridiculous aspect of the fight until Bean went for a fucking Keylock and actually got it. Hey, can we talk more about how ungodly heavy Butterbean is now? I mean, he was always big, but Jesus! He resembled that creature in “The 300” that Xerxes had decapitate one of his own generals.
* Makoto Takimoto def. Zelg Galesic via Submission (Kimura) in the 1st. It was dull for the first minute or so, but it didn’t stay that way. At one point Galesic tried a stomp while Takimoto was on the ground, which Takimoto prevented by putting his foot up. This resulted in Galesic catapulting over Takimoto’s torso and landing crotch-first on his face. This opened up a BAD cut near Takimoto’s eye, and I was surprised that they didn’t stop to take a closer look at it. Galesic put up a good fight, but Takimoto’s ground game was just too much for him. The setup for the armbar on Galesic was fucking gorgeous, and poor Zelg had this look on his face that indicated he knew what was coming as soon as he felt Takimoto reposition himself. Good fight.
* Gilbert Yvel def. Akira Shoji via TKO in the 1st. Shoji, always the blue chipper, took this fight on days’, if not day’s (singular), notice. Of course, he lost. Not because he took the fight last minute, mind you, but because he’s Shoji and that’s what Shoji does. The Japanese ring announcer that looks like Tazz (JapaTazz) pronounces Yvel’s name as “Gerber Eyeball,” which is how I will refer to him from here on in. The fight was okay, I guess. Poor Shoji at one point went with what appeared to be a figure four – and I don’t mean a shoot figure four, more like straight-up Ric Flair figure four. I was half-expecting him to put his hands out towards ringside so Arn Anderson could grab hold of them for extra leverage. They had an interesting video package for Yvel Eyeball before the fight. They kept showing clips of him fighting and clips of the UFC representatives at the press conference announcing the Pride sale. My first reaction, of course, was “WILL GERBER EYEBALL JOIN NWO JAPAN?!” Then they showed various examples of his poor sportsmanship, which is what ultimately got him a total ban by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. So I guess the package was asking if he’ll be kept around once the new ownership is in place. I’m going to go out on a limb and say “no.” Bye bye, Gerber Eyeball. Have fun fighting Semmy Schilt on the undercard for K-1, and here’s hoping they do a video package of you and him fighting in black-and-white to ragtime piano music.
* James Thompson def. Don Frye via TKO in the 1st. It was a fun fight to watch, but man, is Don ever starting to show his age. I will give him credit in that if you’ve seen any pictures of him in the last six months, put them out of your mind. He was in fantastic shape for this fight. The pre-fight video package was one of the strangest I’ve ever seen from Pride, and that’s saying quite a bit. They still portrayed Thompson as a joke, as Pride tends to be really harsh on the poor guy, but they at least showed clips of him beating Yoshida. The fight started with another classic moment – Thompson went in for a shoot on Don Frye and fell flat on his ass, just like he does in every one of his fights. OH, JAMES. They should play bonewahs when he does shit like that. From that point on, however, it was all Thompson. Eventually he got Frye in the corner and wailed on him for what seemed like an eternity. Either Don’s still the toughest bastard on the planet or James Thompson’s strength coach is Nick Diaz. I’m betting on Don still being a tough, tough dude. Whatever the case, it made for an entertaining bout. Don cut a promo after the fight that was incoherent in the beginning, where he apologized for his performance and put over Thompson. I was hoping that, in a sign of respect, he would take off his moustache and give it to Thompson. Unfortunately, this was not to be.
* Intermission went on forever. They plugged the Pride DVDs and trading cards. It’s worth noting that Takada’s Ass in a Muwashi, which was on display in the opening ceremonies for the “Final Conflict” New Year’s Eve Show has its own trading card. A video package aired of Pride highlights mixed with clips of an interview with outgoing President Sakakibara. This, for some reason, had English subtitles, which I’m guessing means it also aired on the English broadcast of the show. He said that Pride was like a daughter to him, though I don’t think he’d whore his real daughters out to the Yakuza. Sorry, that was low. After the video, Nobuhiko Takada cut a promo thanking Sakakibara. Unfortunately, he did not show up as his HUSTLE character, Generalissimo Takada, and promise to thwart the American invasion with his MONSTER ARMY. It’s a shame, because I’d really like to see Esperanza do the thing where he mimes shooting a gun with his finger and three or four guys standing six feet away from him go flying as if he has telekinetic powers. Go search out HUSTLE on YouTube. Sakakibara then spoke, saying God only knows what, and out came KAZUSHI SAKURABA in a total “holy shit” moment, wearing a white Tiger Mask in honor of one of his heroes (the original Tiger Mask). The crowd reaction to his appearance gave me chills. They also brought out Kiyoshi Tamura, who I guess just wanted people to know he was still relevant. Sakakibara spoke more about Pride, and Saku was crying. Saku then spoke. I found out later he thanked Pride, announced he was returning, and basically guilted Tamura into saying he wanted to fight him. It’s a grudge that goes back to when Sakuraba was being trained, and Tamura was just a total dick to him the entire time. Tamura’s avoided this fight for years, and something tells me that isn’t going to change. In addition to mentioning he’d “like to fight” Sakuraba, he also said “I hope our President does not die by a mysterious ‘hanging’ after all is said and done. Sakuraba, please retire before you die in the ring. Takada, you should be commended for being able to adopt American babies and grow facial hair. Hai.” Sakuraba took off the mask and threw it into the crowd as he was leaving, and his cauliflower ear is so bad on his left ear that it looks like a tumor’s growing out the side of his head.
* Shinya Aoki def. Brian Lo-A-Njoe via Submission (armbar) in the 1st. Aoki’s so good and so much fun to watch on the ground that he could’ve been put up against a dustpan and it would’ve been a good fight. Lo-A-Njoe has heart, but he was totally outclassed.
* Sokoudjou def. Ricardo Arona via KO in the 1st. The pre-fight video package showed Ricardo Arona preparing to fight Sokoudjou by training in the jungle (Sokoudjou is marketed in Pride as “the real Tarzan” because he’s originally from Cameroon) and having a dog pull him on a skateboard. Also in the package, Sokoudjou said he was training for the fight by fighting lions and giraffes. I shit you not. For those of us who were wondering after he knocked out Little Nog last February – it’s no fluke. Sokoudjou is the real deal. He absolutely owned Arona every which way. Arona tried shooting in on him, but Sokoudjou’s take-down defense has gotten so good that Arona couldn’t even get leverage. Sokoudjou then punished him with the stiffest low kicks this side of Mirko Cro Cop, and finished him off with a great long range uppercut that sent Arona into next week. This guy is scary good.
* Jeff Monson def. Kazuyuki Fujita via Submission (rear naked choke) in the 1st. If Fujita were a better fighter, I’d call it an upset. They marketed this as UFC vs. Pride with Monson representing the UFC, although in reality his UFC contract ended with the title shot against Tim Sylvia and he signed a contract with Pride before it was bought out. There wasn’t anything too dull here, but it’s just about as average as you would expect this fight to be.
* After the show, Sakakibara and virtually all fighers under a Pride contract came out. Dan Henderson spoke, with the basic gist being that they were saying goodbye to Sakakibara but that Pride wasn’t going anywhere. They all celebrated and then tossed Sakakibara into the air to end the show.

Great show. It far exceeded the expectations I had when I first saw the fight card. The emotional vibe throughout the show was fantastic, and at times it was gut-wrenching. I really, really hope that the Fertittas don’t fuck around too much with Pride and keep everything intact – which seems to be the indication, but you never know.

More later…

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