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The eternal MMA thread

Pk Ripper

TRIBE Member
its in the extra footage.

I think the story goes, ricco was supposed to help train with kerr on a paticular day, but he went out partying the night before so he didnt show up. Kerr got pissed, told bas about it, next time ricco came into train bas let him have it.

Silva vs Rampage is going to be bad ass!!! Pick em fight IMO. I will be rooting for silva tho!

Cro-cop will KO barnet with a high kick. Barnet is a slick fighter, was once on top, but hes a pro-wreslter now.
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Pk Ripper

Silva vs Rampage is going to be bad ass!!! Pick em fight IMO. I will be rooting for silva tho!
Definitely a pickem fight. Although I'm going with Rampage. IMO he's just too powerful for Silva. He'll get inside with some nice clams I think.

Cro-cop will KO barnet with a high kick. Barnet is a slick fighter, was once on top, but hes a pro-wreslter now.
I wouldn't write off Barnet. He has the potential to pummel Cro-cop after a takedown. The only real question mark is what kind of MMA shape is Barnett in? Dunno. I'll be cheering for Cro-cop though. I'm sick of Barnet still being listed at 3rd in MMAWeekly's top 10 and the Barnet fans on that board make me sick. I hope an nice High Kick finishes it.
 

DeepSix

TRIBE Promoter
Too bad St. Pierre couldn't have held on for 1 more measly little second...of course, having the Farmboy trying to break your arm would make me tap faster instead of slower...

St. Pierre looked great actually, for being so young and this his first chance in the Octagon. I want a rematch at some point in the game!

Both Quebec fighters were slave to the fence though...I wonder if they'd fare better in Pride with the TKO-like ring.

The Cote/Ortiz fight was pretty much a sleeper though - it showcased Cote's resiliance vs. the elbow and Ortiz got the W - not much else though.

Of the other matches, the other Canadian (Ivan) looked slick, but he's kind of a showboat...rubbed me the wrong way.

Tanner looked like Ninja when he tried to up weight class - like a puffy sack of something other than lean mean fighting machine...

Oh, and the Eastman KO was funny. Poor Marvin - his highlight reel (other than KotC stuff) is full of the "Best of Other People's KOs / Cuts / Subs" etc.
 

DeepSix

TRIBE Promoter
^^^Whoops, "Tanner" should read "Lawler"

as for the Pride fights...

Wanderlei Silva (Brazil) vs. Quinton Jackson (USA)

> I'm going with Jackson, just cause he's fun and SOMEONE needs to beat Silva.

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (Croatia) vs. Josh Barnett (USA)

> same here...going with Barnett just cause SOMEONE needs to beat Mirko

Dan Henderson (USA) vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura (Japan)

> Woohoo the return of the Hendo! I see looping right hands in the future for Nakamura! BUT! That said, I really like Nakamura - boy has skills! Just needs some more stopping power - I'm liking Hendo in this one - KO Round 2

Hirotaka Yokoi (Japan) vs. Heath Herring (USA)

> Yokoi's got some slick escapes...but as Herring isn't the submission specialist that Nog is, I don't know if Yokoi will get to showcase that...I don't know if Yokoi can armlock Herring...I'm going with Herring knees to the head in Round 3

>

Mark Hunt (New Zealand) vs. Dan Bobish (USA)

> Bobish will get something in his eye. GO TEAM HUNT! The Newzie should take this one. Hunt can dish it out as well as take it...and with both fighters unlikely to go to ground, I see K1's former standout getting the W - TKO Round 1

Ricardo Arona (Brazil) vs. Sergei Ignatev (Russia)

> NOICE MATCH-UP! Pulling for Sergei - his game is more complete than Arona's IMO. Sergei by body shots in Round 2. Big up PRIDE for putting this one together!

Hiromitsu Kanehara (Japan) vs. Alistair Overeem (Holland)

> Want to see some nice flying knees from Overeem. This is the guy that took Cro Cop to a JD (albeit a laughable one). I don't know if Overeem will be able to finish him either...but look for it to be a striking clinic by the Flying Dutchman.

Aleksander Emelianenko (Russia) vs. James Thompson (England)

> Fedor's "little" brother (6'6", 275 lbs) vs. "The Colossus" (listed at 6'5", 264 lbs) - The Colossus looks more cut in his pics, but the World Sambo Champ really doesn't need to be Mr. Olympia to win...that said, neither have beaten very impressive fighters yet...so we shall see. Maybe just another "big men mauling each other and laying on top of each other" thing...but who knows! could be a sleeper (in a good way) match! I'm going with Aleks by leglock in round 2. You can never see too many leg locks.

Choi Mu Bae (Korea) vs. Soa Palelei (Australia)

> Hmm...Choi didn't impress me at all, even though he's got a spotless record...no clue who Soa is...but I'll choose him because I like the dark horse.
 
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redeyes

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by DeepSix
Oh, and the Eastman KO was funny. Poor Marvin - his highlight reel (other than KotC stuff) is full of the "Best of Other People's KOs / Cuts / Subs" etc.
lol. the cut vitor put on eastman was the worst cut i've ever seen. that made klitchko's cut look like a scrape.

peace
 

Subsonic Chronic

TRIBE Member
haha... the only cut that I've seen which was close to Eastman's was Fedor's after he knocked heads with Nog in their last fight.

And it was made worse by the extreme closeups of the medical staff opening and closing it like a little mouth. It would have made a hilarious animated gif at least. ;)

My pics for the bigger fights are Jackson over Silva, Cro Cop over Barnett, and Henderson over Nakamura. I'm so f'n excited for Silva/Jackson!
 

Dr. Grinch

TRIBE Member
W00t! Can't wait for Sunday!

I just watched the K1 GP Elims last night. Can't believe LeBanner pussied out there.
Really looking forward to the GP in December!

I also downloaded the 2003 Abu Dhabi Grappling finals. Haven't had a chance to watch them yet.

I think Silva is gonna dummy Jackson again. Silva's first fight at the tournament was every bit as hard as Jackson's (his went the distance, so that says a lot about stamina).

Also looking forward to watching another UFC flunky getting spanked.
 

Subsonic Chronic

TRIBE Member
Grinch... I've never actually seen a K1 show, although I'm vaguely familiar with the organization.

Do they even air them in North America? How do they compare to UFC & Pride as far as the quality of the fights, production value, stuff like that?
 

-Mercury-

TRIBE Member
the axe murderer will take down rampage again, but it should be a better fight than last time, with both of them being fresh and all.
 

-Mercury-

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by redeyes
i recently purchased "The Smashing Maching, The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr."

let me say that this is the best documentary i've ever saw. 10 time better then Beyond the Mat and i gave that an 11 out of 10.

mark kerr is very articulate. he also seems like one hell on a friendly guy. i hope he gotten his life back in order. i'd like to see him fight again. i was very disappointed in what happened in his last fight when he knocked himself out. i think he can really shake up the UFC heavyweight division if he got his life back on track.

there's some really good fight footage as well. mark kerr laid one serious beating on Paul Varlens back in the day. pete williams gave mark coleman a crocop-style knockout, it was fucking vicious.

i taped this off of HBO a few year back, and it's truly a wicked behind the scenes look into the lives of these MMA guys.
 

Dr. Grinch

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Subsonic Chronic
Grinch... I've never actually seen a K1 show, although I'm vaguely familiar with the organization.

Do they even air them in North America? How do they compare to UFC & Pride as far as the quality of the fights, production value, stuff like that?
K1 Rocks man. It's all standup kickboxing. In a tournament of a qualifying (not eliminations though), the format is 8 fighters then remaining 4 fight, then remaining 2 fight. So to win an event you must win 3 fights in the same night. Three 3 minute rounds. If it goes to a draw by decision, they can force you to fight up to another 2 rounds. Amazing athletes.

Production values on the Japanese and European tournies are usually very high. They've only had 1 event in NA that I know of so far (Vegas) and it looked a little cheap.

K1 is where Cro-cop comes from, and it's where the high kick is king. Remy Bojanksi (fought and lost to Chuck Liddell at the PRIDE tournament)

PM me and I might be able to hook you up with some shiz..
 

Dr. Grinch

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by silver1
Actually, it was Alistair Overeem that lost to Chuck in the Pride GP.
Doh! You're right!
Sorry, they're both really similar in their fighting styles. I think that fight would've gone a very very different direction if it was Remy. ;)
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Dr. Grinch
Doh! You're right!
Sorry, they're both really similar in their fighting styles. I think that fight would've gone a very very different direction if it was Remy. ;)
Well considering Remy's got like a 3 inch and 25 lbs advantage on Chuck, you're probably right
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
BARNETT GEARS UP FOR CRO COP

by Mick Hammond

It’s hard to believe that a fighter with a record of 13-1 would be an underdog to someone who has been fighting in the sport far less with a record of 12-2-2, but for “The Baby Faced Assassin†Josh Barnett, it may be the reality of the situation he’s stepped into at High Octane against Croatian Mirko “Cro Cop†Filipovic.


Yes it is hard to believe that he may be the underdog in many people’s eyes, but as Barnett would be quick to tell you, he is the last person in the world you would want to underestimate. Barnett, a veteran of MMA since his debut in 1999 has fought some of the best heavyweights in the world and come out on top all but once.


Training with Matt Hume and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Maurice Smith at AMC Pankration in Seattle, Washington, Barnett burst onto the MMA scene quickly capturing a 8-man single-night heavyweight tournament for the Superbrawl organization, defeating veteran MMA heavyweights John Marsh and Bobby Hoffman in the process. It was clear that Barnett was going to be a force on the scene from the start.


If his tournament accomplishment wasn’t enough, another trial by fire awaited Barnett as in his next appearance he was slated to face MMA legend Dan “The Beast†Severn at Superbrawl 16. In a fight scheduled for 5 rounds, Barnett would continue to set a precedent, not allowing a fight to go the distance as he caught Severn in an arm bar in the fourth round, winning his fourth professional fight and defeating a pillar of MMA in the process.


It wouldn’t be long for the UFC to come calling for the 6’3†245lb Barnett to help bring in some new blood to what was becoming a stagnate heavyweight division. Facing off against fellow up and comer Gan McGee at UFC 28, Barnett ever confident weathered the larger man’s attack and finished McGee off in the second round, succumbing the giant to a hailstorm of blows ending the fight. Barnett would then be given an opportunity to achieve greater success, but ironically it lead to his only failure.


Matched up against Pedro Rizzo at UFC 30 with a chance to go on to face Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, Barnett would learn a hard lesson in MMA, that no matter how good you are, there’s always a chance something can go wrong. Against the counter-striking specialist Rizzo, Barnett appeared to be in control and as he had before, working his way towards victory when something went wrong. Letting his guard down for just a second, Barnett was staggered by a shot from the powerful Rizzo and with his hands down staggering another heavy bomb from Rizzo landed, sending Barnett to the canvas in defeat. It would be a lesson he would learn from and use to motivate him to bigger and better things.


As Barnett watched Rizzo unsuccessfully battle Randy Couture twice, he continued his path unfettered by his only failure, defeating Semmy Schilt and Bobby Hoffman on the undercards of the Rizzo/Couture battles, keeping his eye on the prize. With his success and Rizzo’s failure, Barnett was given his chance to beat Couture, the man who had been dominating the heavyweight division for years and who had never been defeated for the title he held. It would be a bittersweet experience for Barnett to say the least.


Outsizing the naturally smaller Couture, Barnett imposed his will on the champion, pinning Couture down and hammering him with powerful shots, forcing the referee to step in and call an end to the fight in the second round. The man who had never been beaten for his title was beaten by the youngster, Josh Barnett had arrived, or so it seemed. Shortly after defeating Couture, drug tests and controversy stripped Barnett of his title, exiling him from the American MMA scene from which he has yet to return. Removed from the limelight of the UFC Barnett would head to Japan to make his fortune.


It would be a year before Barnett would get an opportunity to showcase his MMA skills as he spent his first year away from the UFC doing pro wrestling matches for Antonio Inoki’s New Japan Pro Wrestling organization. At NJPW’s Ultimate Crush show Barnett would step back into the MMA world successfully, defeating former King of the Cage Champion Jimmy Ambriz in just three minutes, returning Josh to familiar territory, MMA victory.


Then would come another opportunity to achieve a championship as Barnett was selected by Pancrase to fight Yuki Kondo at their 10th Anniversary show for the Open Weight King of Pancrase title. Jumping at the opportunity to show his first title win was no fluke, Barnett dominated the smaller Kondo, submitting him in the third round, becoming the 10th Open Weight KoP following in the footsteps of such MMA legends as Bas Rutten, Ken and Frank Shamrock.


Since then Barnett has defended his title three times and continued to grow into one of the most popular entities in NJPW, but still he yearned for more. Then came the news that he would finally be allowed to compete in Pride, the organization he had wanted to get into since leaving the States for over a year prior.


At High Octane Barnett will be facing the most feared striker in the heavyweight division, Mirko “Cro Cop†Filipovic. This is a battle in which both men hope to prove they are the top contender for the Pride Heavyweight Championship currently shared by Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. So you can expect a full out war between these two fighters with very different styles.


The strategy for both men is simple, Barnett will look to use his superior ground game to defeat Filipovic, while Mirko will look to use his phenomenal striking ability to KO Barnett and move onto a showdown with either Fedor or Nogueira. But things are easier said than done. Neither man is one-dimensional as their reputations may have lead many to believe. For all his ground game, Barnett is a very competent striker working with Maurice Smith, himself a world class kickboxer. If not for the image of Pedro Rizzo’s right hand slamming into the side of Barnett’s face at UFC 30, few would question Josh’s ability to stand and trade. Cro Cop on the other hand, a born and bred striker has shown growing competence in the ground game. Cro Cop has gone out and procured the services of Brazilian Jui-Jitsu World Champion Fabrizio Werdum to increase his knowledge of submissions and escapes, making him far better than he was in his early days of MMA fighting where he looked completely uncomfortable on the ground.


So it’s the clash of the heavyweight titans at High Octane, whomever wins will stake his claim to a top contender spot and possibly a title shot next year. For Josh Barnett it’s been two long years of exile from the largest spotlight in MMA and if he has his way it won’t be his last taste of it. At only 27 there is still very much he can accomplish and improve on, and that is a scary thought for anyone who dares get in his way.


Win – Juha Tuhkasaari – Submission (Arm Bar) – Superbrawl 13 – 9-7-99
Win – John Marsh – Submission (Hammerlock) – Superbrawl 13 – 9-7-99
Win – Bobby Hoffman – Decision (Unanimous) – Superbrawl 13 – 9-7-99
Win – Dan Severn – Submission (Arm Bar) – Superbrawl 16 – 2-8-00
Win – Gan McGee – TKO (Strikes) – UFC 28 – 11-17-00
Loss – Pedro Rizzo – KO – UFC 30 – 2-23-01
Win – Semmy Schilt – Submission (Arm Bar) – UFC 32 – 6-29-01
Win – Bobby Hoffman – Submission (Strikes) – UFC 34 – 11-2-01
Win – Randy Couture – TKO (Referee Stoppage) – UFC 36 – 3-22-02
Win – Jimmy Ambriz – TKO (Punches) – NJPW Ultimate Crush – 5-2-03
Win – Yuki Kondo – Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Pancrase – 8-31-03
Win – Yoshiki Takahashi – Submission (Triangle Choke) – NJPW Ultimate Crush 2 – 10-13-03
Win – Semmy Schilt – Submission (Arm Bar) – Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 – 12-31-03
Win – Rene Rooze – KO – K-1 Romanex – 5-22-04

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CRO COP WANTS TO SOLIDIFY TOP THREE RANKING

In just a few short years, Mirko “Cro Cop†Filipovic has gone from consistent but unregarded K-1 kickboxer to MMA superstar, all on the strength of what has become the most feared striking game in Pride’s heavyweight division. It has not been an easy ascension towards superstardom, but Cro Cop has done it in spectacular fashion, win or lose.

Mirko began his MMA career as an unsure fighter entering the unknown when he debuted against pro wrestler turned MMA fighter Kazuyuki Fujita at the annual K-1 Andy Hug Memorial show in 2001. Success came quickly for Cro Cop, stopping Fujita in just under a minute, but despite such quick success, growth as a fighter wasn’t as timely.

Cro Cop would then go on to draw Nobuhiko Takada in his Pride debut and then beat another wrestler turned fighter in Yuji Nagata at the first ever Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye show to finish out 2001. Still behind the banner of K-1, Cro Cop was then matched up in a special rules fight with Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva, which earned him his second draw. But still he was a striker whose development in the game of MMA was not yet realized.

Cro Cop’s superior size and strength served him well shattering middleweight Kazushi Sakuraba’s eye socket in the K-1 and Pride co-promoted Shock Wave show. Filipovic would finish out 2002 in the same manner he did 2001 as he defeated Fujita again at the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye, raising his record to 4-0-2.

2003 would see a change in Cro Cop as he returned to K-1. After breaking yet another eye socket, this time on the gargantuan Bob Sapp, Cro Cop laid down allegations that K-1 had been fixing fights. He turned his back on the company and announced that he would be a full time MMA fighter from there on out. This would be the turning point in Filipovic’s career as he went from average fighter to superstar over the next year.

In his time away from Pride, a new Heavyweight Champion was crowned as Fedor Emelianko defeated longtime champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, leading many to believe that these two Eastern European fighters would end up crossing horns that year, but things did not go as planned.

Cro Cop’s legend grew as he took out two highly ranked contenders in Heath Herring and Igor Vovchanchyn in explosive fashion before dismantling masked man Dos Caras Jr. on the inaugural Bushido card as 2003 winded down. Then would come the chance Mirko had been looking for, a shot at an MMA championship. All that was standing in his way was a seemingly undermatched Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at Final Conflict 2003.

But as the saying goes, “something funny happened on the way to the forum.†Cro Cop, still relying heavily on his striking, could not finish off Nogueira, despite landing continuously on the Brazilian’s body and head throughout the first round and a half. Filipovic had managed for the majority of the fight to successfully sprawl out of Rodrigo’s takedown attempts, but the one time he was unable to do so would cost him dearly. Nogueira, a submission specialist, locked on an arm bar, ending Cro Cop’s undefeated streak and shattering his championship dreams.

Cro Cop used the defeat to motivate him as he won two fights in two months to begin 2004 before entering into the Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix and a chance to possibly rematch Nogueira or get his long anticipated shot at Fedor. But things did not go the way he or many others had expected as he quickly felt the hard sting of defeat at the hands of Kevin Randleman. Mirko received the first knockout loss of his career, dashing his Grand Prix hopes.

Mirko would rebound in an uninspired performance dominating Hiromitsu Kanehara at Bushido 3. He then revamped his training team and brought in World Champion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Fabrizio Werdum to help develop his ground game. The changes have seemingly worked well for Cro Cop as he’s gone back into fine form KO’ing Shungo Oyama and Aleksander Emeliananko (Fedor’s younger brother) in back to back outings.

At High Octane, Cro Cop will be faced with the challenge of defeating a man who has only felt it once before, former UFC Heavyweight Champion and current Open Weight King of Pancrase Josh Barnett. In what could be the night’s biggest contrast in styles, the striker Cro Cop will go up against one of the best grappling heavyweights in the world in Barnett. This being Barnett’s highly anticipated Pride debut, he will also be seeking the chance to bask in the limelight and regain his place among the most visible heavyweight elite.

For Mirko the strategy is simple, strike and avoid Barnett’s ground game and hope to catch Barnett in an unfocused moment a la Pedro Rizzo at UFC 30. If he defeats Barnett, it could be the catalyst for a championship shot sometime in 2005, if not as early as New Year’s Eve.

Win – Kazuyuki Fujita – TKO (Doctor Stoppage) – K-1 Andy Hug Memorial – 8-19-01
Draw – Nobuhiko Takada – Draw – Pride 17 – 11-3-01
Win – Yuji Nagata – TKO (Punches) – Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2001 – 12-31-01
Draw – Wanderlei Silva – Draw – Pride 20 – 4-28-02
Win – Kazushi Sakuraba – TKO (Injury) – Pride Shock Wave 2002 – 8-28-02
Win – Kazuyuki Fujita – Decision (Unanimous) – Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2002 – 12-31-02
Win – Heath Herring – TKO – Pride 26 – 6-8-03
Win – Igor Vovchanchyn – KO – Pride Total Elimination 2003 – 8-10-03
Win – Dos Caras Jr. – KO – Pride Bushido 1 – 10-5-03
Loss – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Submission (Arm Bar) – Pride Final Conflict 2003 – 11-9-03
Win – Ron Waterman – KO – Pride 27 – 2-1-04
Win – Yoshihisa Yamamato – KO – Pride Bushido 2 – 2-15-04
Loss – Kevin Randleman – KO – Pride Total Elimination 2004 – 5-23-04
Win – Hiromitsu Kanehara – Decision (Unanimous) – Pride Bushido 3 – 5-23-04
Win – Shungo Oyama – KO – Pride Bushido 4 – 7-19-04
Win – Alexsander Emelianenko – KO – Pride Final Conflict 2004 – 8-15-04
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Nothing to do with the event coming up this weekend, but here is an awesome writeup on the career of Kazushi Sakuraba following his induction in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame this past year.

It really shows how he is literally one of, if not THE most important fighters in MMA history.

It's by Dave Meltzer

(sorry if the formatting is wonky)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

KAZUSHI SAKURABA - While others may have paved the way, it was Kazushi Sakuraba who bulldozed down the door, becoming MMA’s biggest drawing card and putting Pride on the map as being the most successful live event promotion in the world and opening doors to the much improved money in the sport.

While some will claim Sakuraba’s 16-8-1 record isn’t Hall of Fame material, his box office record is far more impressive, but 18 of those fighters were with people above his natural weight. Broken down, he’s 1-0 against fighters in a natural weight class below him, 8-1 within his weight class with the only loss being a fight he dominated but got careless and lost, 3-1 in people one weight class above him and 4-6-1 against people who are naturally two weight classes or more above him. He has headlined most of the top ten biggest PPV shows of any form in the history of Japan, including the top two for his matches with Royce Gracie and Mirko Cro Cop. He’s headlined the largest gates in history, topping $7 million for the Cro Cop match, and drawn the biggest crowds in MMA history, topped off by approximately 71,000 fans (billed, in a Wrestlemania III moment, and no doubt will be reported for centuries as the announced figure of 91,007 fans at Tokyo National Stadium, on August 28, 2002 for the Cro Cop match).

But bigger than numbers, he took a money losing and dying promotion, living off the fading, worked reputation of pro wrestler Nobuhiko Takada, who was unable to win real matches, and made it take off, starting with his November 21, 1999, match, which really can be called the birth of the real Pride organization, when he became the first Japanese wrestler to stop a Gracie, beating Royler Gracie in a very controversial match. Sakuraba followed it by drawing huge crowds for wins over Royce, Renzo and Ryan Gracie over the next year, and making himself a sports legend in his country. In early 2001, after becoming the second junior heavyweight and first person doing legitimate shoot matches to win the Tokyo Sports Wrestler of the Year award, he followed it up by placing 7th in a Japanese poll in Nikkan Sports as the greatest pro wrestler of the 20th century. He’s all over TV commercials, with his character as the not very good looking “boy next door class clown,†due to his great sense of humor. But his fame and drawing power have worked against him in the long run, as he’s been pressured into fighting when injured, which has been often, and in money matches against opponents considerably larger than himself, breaking him down physically even worse. He’s had a drinking problem for years, and can barely even bend his knees, but he’s still out there fighting top level competition.

Born July 14, 1969, in Akita, Japan, he was a wrestler and basketball player in high school. But he was a huge pro wrestling fan from childhood, particularly of the original Tiger Mask, Satoru Sayama. He went on to Chuo University in Tokyo, which is known for its sports program (Jumbo Tsuruta went to the college in the early 70s), and was captain of the college wrestling team. He didn’t place in nationals, and after graduation in 1992, starting training in submissions at Takada’s UWFI Dojo, before having his first match on August 13, 1993, in a prelim match at Budokan Hall, losing to Steve Nelson. He also worked a prelim on the December 5, 1993, Tokyo Jingu Stadium show before 46,148 fans, losing to Badnews Allen on the Takada vs. Vader first meeting show. At 5-9 ½ and 180 pounds, without much of a physique or special look, he hardly looked like superstar material. He quickly became a good worker in the ring. On what was, at the time, the biggest pro wrestling show in Japanese history, on October 9, 1995, at the Tokyo Dome with the Takada vs. Keiji Muto match after the New Japan/UWFI angle, Sakuraba worked the opener, teaming with Hiromitsu Kanehara to lose to New Japan’s Tokimitsu Ishizawa (now Kendo Kashin) & Yuji Nagata when Ishizawa made Sakuraba submit, before 67,000 fans (probably 57,000 would be more accurate) paying $6.1 million, then an all-time live gate record. Sakuraba worked the opener on January 4, 1996, in the same building, teaming with Kenichi Yamamoto & Kanehara to again lose to New Japan’s Nagata & Ishizawa & Shinjiro Otani.
Although still in prelims, his biggest singles match was March 1, 1996, at Budokan Hall, losing to Kiyoshi Tamura, a match that would draw huge money today. But UWFI was dying a painful death at this point, as the New Japan alliance was basically putting them on life support, while New Japan got to book and dominate the promotion vs. promotion feud. By the time Sakuraba got his first main event, teaming with Yoji Anjo to lose to Takada & Yuhi Sano (another name for the current Takuma Sano) in Shizuoka, the crowd was down to 2,300. His first shoot was hardly legendary. It came on July 14, 1996, on a Shoot Boxing show in Tokyo, against Kimo, who outweighed him by 75 pounds, beat on him with sick head-butts, before making him submit to a triangle. He wouldn’t lose again for four years.
His big-time debut was in a UFC heavyweight tournament on December 21, 1997, at the Yokohama Arena. At 28, with little prior experience and no wins against anyone of significance, the odds that a legend was being born were astronomical. The Kingdom promotion, which was a continuation of the dead UWFI, and continued in the dying direction, was co-promoting the event, and got to put two men in the tournament, Anjo and Sakuraba. The UFC put in Tank Abbott and Marcus “Conan†Silveira. The idea among the UFC in the U.S. was to build toward Tank vs. Conan, while the Japanese felt Anjo could submit Abbott, and Sakuraba was just thrown in with the idea Silveira would beat him.

Although he legitimately weighed about 183, UFC was such a spectacle that they didn’t do weigh-ins, and just made up numbers. Sakuraba was billed at 201 pounds, making him a heavyweight. Anjo was pummeled, but wouldn’t quit, losing a decision to Abbott. Silveira, with a 60-pound weight advantage, was giving Sakuraba a beating. Sakuraba shot in for a takedown, took a punch, and was momentarily stunned, but continued to move forward. Ref John McCarthy stopped the fight and awarded it to Silveira in a scant 1:55, just wanting to protect the much smaller guy with the fake weight. It turned into a fiasco from there, because the stoppage was premature. Sakuraba wouldn’t leave the ring, as he felt, with Anjo having lost, that both of them losing would disgrace the Kingdom company, a pro wrestling group that did a realistic working style, and some shoots as well. It was ruled that the stoppage was premature, and Sakuraba and Conan had a rematch, and it ended being the finals when Abbott wouldn’t come out a second time, claiming a broken hand. As a heavy underdog, both rep wise and even more from a size and power standpoint, Sakuraba won in 3:45 with an armbar.

What was interesting about that show was Frank Shamrock, who outweighed Sakuraba, became the first middleweight champ in what was also an upset, beating Olympic gold medal winning wrestler Kevin Jackson in 14 seconds. There has been talk consistently over the past seven years of Shamrock vs. Sakuraba, and it has been verbally agreed on many times, but it is unlikely it will ever happen.

Sakuraba went on a win streak in prelims, and came to Los Angeles and made a reputation. When in training, Sakuraba’s submission skills were unbelievable. While most pro wrestlers were dismissed as fakes in the fight world, the word was, Sakuraba was the real deal. Eventually, he got the nickname “water,†because it was said that wrestling with Sakuraba was like wrestling against water. He debuted with Pride on March 15, 1998, beating Pancrase veteran Vernon White with an armbar. He followed on June 24, 1998, beating UFC star Carlos Newton with a kneebar. The latter result shocked everyone in the U.S., since Newton had just come off an impressive performance where he lost a split decision to Dan Henderson in UFC.

What was probably the most important match of his early career came against Allan Goes, a BJJ star who was 20 pounds heavier than him. They went to a 30:00 draw, but Goes spent much of the match on his back in the butt scoot position, and Sakuraba had no answers as to how to fight him. It was a key point in his career, because it was Sakuraba’s learning, doing things like his cartwheels and flying foot stomps to counteract someone laying on his back, along with hard kicking of the legs, that caused him to run up a major win streak over Brazilian fighters after this match.

He was still not a major star when he faced Vitor Belfort, who had him by 25 pounds, and was one of the most feared fighters in the world, on April 29, 1999. Sakuraba totally dominated the UFC star in a 20:00 decision. Belfort broke his hand early, and then tried to lay on his back, like Goes, largely to stall for time. Sakuraba was ready, destroying his legs with hard kicks as he laid there. Belfort refused to stand, and Sakuraba got a great win on paper, which looked great to those who hadn’t seen the match, but nobody who had was happy because Belfort made it such a bad fight, and Sakuraba understood that a bad fight you win is worse than a good fight you lose. After beating Ebenezer Fontes Braga with an armbar on July 4, 1999, it upped his standing in Japan, as it was his third Brazilian victim, and to whom he gave up 20 pounds. More notably, Braga had really given a beating to Masakatsu Funaki on a Pancrase show, so Sakuraba, for pro wrestling fans, got revenge for the industry against BJJ. He followed with an easier win against an overmatched Anthony Macias, also by armbar.

The match that changed Pride forever was November 21, 1999, at the Ariake Coliseum. Sakuraba, to honor pro wrestling, started coming to the ring wearing trademark masks or replicate ring gear of the colorful stars of his childhood, like Tiger Mask, Great Kabuki, Mil Mascaras, the Road Warriors, Vader and many others. While many pro wrestling superstars with tough guy reaps, like Takada, Kendo Nagasaki, Bam Bam Bigelow and others had been destroyed in real fights, Sakuraba became the rallying point for the young Japanese pro wrestling fans who argued that pro wrestlers were really the toughest.

His wins over Braga and Belfort, in particular, were big enough, since few Japanese had beaten Brazilians, particularly bigger Brazilians, to where his match with Royler Gracie drew a legitimate sellout of 10,036 fans, the first sellout in Pride history. The only way to get a Gracie in the ring was to make it a no lose situation for them. First, instead of Rickson, Royce or Renzo, who Pride wanted to face Sakuraba, they offered Royler. Royler was 151 pounds, so he was giving up 42 pounds. In addition, they demanded two 15:00 rounds, but no judges, so even if Sakuraba dominated, all Royler had to do was hang on for a draw, and they’d claim a win because he was a smaller guy. In fact, the Gracies tried to get put in the rules that if Royler survived the 30:00, he would be declared the winner. The show did a big walk-up, attributed to the Gracie camp trying to change the rules at the last minute, because it was an acknowledgment to fans that they saw Sakuraba as a real threat. It also appealed to pro wrestling fans, because the Gracies were now major foreign heels, and thus Sakuraba became the national star. Fans heavily booed the announcement of no judges and booed the Gracie family. After years of claiming that size didn’t matter, the Gracies, who claimed to be unbeaten in MMA competition (they had losses in the 50s, but had covered them up by this point), were now trying to say that it did. Most on the inside knew Sakuraba had little chance to lose, and the real question was simply, could Royler hang on for the draw? Royler knew it, and tried no offensive moves the entire fight, just trying to stall the time limit. Still, Japanese fans saw Royler give up 75 pounds to Sano, a major pro wrestling star who was trained in shooting but not very good, and tapped him out. Gracie had only tapped out once in his life, in BJJ competition to Mario Sperry, who was considerably bigger than Sakuraba.

Sakuraba’s idea was to keep the fight standing, and beat him up that way. However, Gracie kept flopping to his back, to stall out time. Sakuraba used leg kicks, followed by a strong head kick, while Gracie was on his back. After a minute standing, where Gracie took a hard body kick and was hit with a strong punch, Gracie went down, and looked concerned. At the end of the 15:00, Royler’s right thigh and shin were discolored. Sakuraba rocked him with a punch early in the second round, and Royler’s legs were gone by this point from the pounding. Sakuraba kicked Gracie’s legs so wickedly, that Gracie actually stood up on his injured legs to avoid the pounding. Sakuraba toyed with Gracie in the second round, even honoring his idol Tiger Mask, by doing his famed rolling savate kick (now known as a spinning back kick). Gracie took a pounding, but Sakuraba couldn’t knock him out, and time was running low. With 5:50 left, Sakuraba finally went to the ground with him to try and finish it. Sakuraba tried a straight armbar, but couldn’t get it. He then tried a chicken wing with 3:00 left. Gracie was trapped, and at one point, he was screaming in pain with his arm bent at a sick angle. The doctor told Rickson, in the corner, to throw in the towel. Rickson refused. It appeared Sakuraba had the ability at that point to tear out his shoulder, but the Japanese were trained that when you have a guy, he taps, and you avoid hurting your opponent because in pro wrestling, he’s also your stablemate. Sakuraba was calling for someone to stop it. Finally, an outside ref jumped in and stopped the match, awarding it to Sakuraba in 13:17 of the second round. While there was a moment when Gracie was in bad trouble, and was screaming in pain, he managed to alleviate the pressure. Royler moved his arm around to prove it hadn’t been injured, and they were furious at the Japanese for violating the agreement that a referee couldn’t stop the match. In Japan, most fans saw the hold locked in for a long time, and the ref protected the fighter, and saw no controversy in the win. The place went nuts and a national hero was born. Rickson and Royler claimed Sakuraba had no warrior spirit for trying to keep the fight standing, and claimed his punches never hurt Royler. This built perfectly to a match with Rickson, but Rickson turned down the offer.

Next up was Sakuraba entering the heavyweight Grand Prix, and more controversy. At the Tokyo Dome on January 30, 2000, he faced Guy Mezger. Mezger was going to be a tough foe, as he was considered a better striker, since he had a lot of pro kickboxing experience, and was a good enough wrestler to avoid the takedown, particularly since Sakuraba was again giving up 20 pounds. When Mezger agreed to take the match with little notice, the Lions Den insisted on a stipulation. They knew Mezger wasn’t going to have Sakuraba’s stamina, so they said, after 15:00, if it goes that long, the judges have to render a decision, instead of the protocol in the tournament, where a non-dominant fight would be sent into overtime. It was a close fight. Sakuraba couldn’t take Mezger down, and Mezger may have had a slight edge standing, but it could have gone either way. The judges ruled it a draw. Ken Shamrock, claiming he’d been double-crossed, pulled Mezger out of the ring, forfeiting the match. Sakuraba made the final eight, and for drawing purposes, he was matched up with Royce Gracie, in what would be the first match he’d have had against someone of his same approximate weight. Gracie had just beaten Takada, so it was Sakuraba’s turn for revenge, and most expected he’d get it. Gracie insisted on special rules, an unlimited number of 15:00 rounds, and neither the referee nor the doctor could stop the fight, set for the one-night finals on May 1, 2000, at the Tokyo Dome, before 38,000 fans. The show also set a record for the fledgling Japanese PPV industry with 48,000 buys. As big as the match and tournament were at the time, it shows just how far Pride has progressed, because they didn’t come close to filling the building, although this match took Sakuraba and Pride to the next level.
Many would say Sakuraba earned his Hall of Fame card that night. In a battle of attrition, it was Sakuraba who used the Gracie style against them, laying back in the early rounds and playing head games with Royce, clowning around at times and doing his pro wrestling moves. After the one hour mark, Sakuraba got serious, mainly using leg kicks. Gracie was wilting, and took terrible punishment after 85 minutes as Helio and Rorion Gracie got up on the apron and considered throwing in the towel. After 90 minutes expired, at the end of round six, Helio threw in the towel. But it actually was the next match that did it. Sakuraba had to go back out and face Igor Vovchanchyn. At the time, Vovchanchyn was the most feared man on the planet, and had 40 pounds on Sakuraba, and had won his first match against Gary Goodridge in a few minutes. Sakuraba came out and dominated Vovchanchyn for 10:00, before he gassed out. Sakuraba took a bad beating the next five minutes, and his corner refused to let him go out for the second round.

That performance made Sakuraba a sellout draw. At the end of the year, he placed 4th in the Observer poll for Wrestler of the Year, the highest anyone had ever done for real matches, won Shootfighter of the year with 14 times as many first place votes as second place Mark Coleman, and his match with Gracie was Shoot Match of the year, and probably the biggest match of all-time up to that point.

On August 27, 2000, at the Seibu Dome, he drew a sellout 32,919 fans for a win over Renzo Gracie, dislocating Gracie’s shoulder with a submission and forcing Gracie to admit defeat. On December 23, 2000, Sakuraba drew a sellout 26,882 to the Saitama Super Arena and $3 million, beating Ryan Gracie via decision after 10:00, literally spanking the family hothead in the closing moments as he controlled him. Gracie went into the match injured. Eight days later, he was second from the top, beating Kendo Ka Shin on a pro wrestling show, the first Inoki Bom Ba Ye, before a sellout 42,756 at the Osaka Dome.

His next match was the beginning of his biggest career rivalry. On March 25, 2001, at the Saitama Super Arena, he was matched up with Brazilian Wanderlei Silva. Among those in fighting, this was a bad match-up. Silva was 17 pounds heavier, probably closer to 25 come fight time, dieting down to make 203.6 pounds, while Sakuraba was 187 pounds, and carrying extra pounds at that weight. Silva was a feared striker, but had never submitted and was great at avoiding takedowns. Worst of all, while everyone in the fight world knew how tough he was, Japanese fans had no idea. Silva was not a name, and the show drew 20,600 fans because most fans didn’t think Silva had a chance. The promotion didn’t think so either, as before Sakuraba came out, they played a video feature on Rickson Gracie, trying to build that into a Tokyo Dome match. Worse, Sakuraba had the flu and had been drinking heavily since New Year’s, so much so that he had been hospitalized with liver problems. Silva overwhelmed Sakuraba with punches and knees, busting his nose, and the fight was stopped in 1:38.

The silver lining was that now there was a real grudge match for the Japanese fans. The Tokyo Dome was booked for November 3, 2001, for the biggest MMA match up to that point in history. Sakuraba took several months off to heal up and clean up. On July 29, 2001, they had the Saitama Super Arena booked for Ishizawa going for revenge against Ryan Gracie (who demolished him earlier), and with such a big arena, wanted Sakuraba on the card. While the Silva match was a booking error that made the sport bigger, this one was almost a disaster. They were looking for a fearsome looking opponent, but one unskilled, to give Sakuraba an easy win to show he could tame a monster. The monster they found was a former college wrestler named Quinton Jackson, who had a 9-1 record against low level opponents in King of the Cage. He had a great gimmick, in that as a huge pro wrestling fan of Junkyard Dog, he brought a chain to the ring and barked as he came out. In Japan, he was billed as a homeless maniac street fighter. He also showed up in Japan at 221 pounds, and had to cut to meet the contracted weight of 205, but due to being detained by police at the airport for an arrest while in college and missing his probation meetings so a warrant was out, he missed his flight to Japan. He only got to 209 pounds. Sakuraba was only 183. To understand Sakuraba’s size more fully. In the UFC, most of the 170 pounders, like Matt Hughes, normal bodyweight is abuot 190. B.J. Penn, who fought at 155, is naturally the same weight as Sakuraba. Sakuraba showed up in good shape, and immediately took Jackson down. But Jackson had incredible strength, powering out of a triangle with a power bomb, and even nailed Sakuraba hard with a piledriver like move. Sakuraba went for an armbar, but Jackson powered out and nearly threw Sakuraba over the top rope. Jackson powered out of move after move in an incredible match, but got tired due to the stress and dieting, and the exertion from all the hard slams, and Sakuraba choked him out in 5:41. But he suffered a banged up body and a black eye in his “easy tune-up match,†that could have ruined the biggest money match in history they were building.

In a match to determine Pride’s first ever world middleweight champion, shoot records with a sellout 53,246 fans paying $5.5 million were set. Sakuraba was 32, physically banged up from his previous matches, and the years of drinking and heavy smoking were doing him no good. Still, they were having an even fight. Sakuraba may have even been ahead, but it was close, when Sakuraba clamped on a guillotine. Silva, from that position, scooped the smaller Sakuraba up and dropped him on his shoulder in a Northern lights bomb, breaking the hold. While he continued the fight, at the end of the first 10:00 round, it was evident his shoulder was dislocated, and the doctor stopped the match.

Sakuraba vs. Silva was Feud of the Year, and Sakuraba was the biggest box office draw in wrestling. Hhis two matches with Silva placed 2nd and 5th for shoot match of the year, and the Jackson match finished 9th. Due to the injuries, Sakuraba didn’t fight against until August 28, 2002. The angle here was that Mirko Cro Cop had beaten one pro wrestler after another, most notably Yuji Nagata and Kazuyuki Fujita in less than one minute. The storyline of Sakuraba again going for pro wrestling revenge led to 71,000 fans to pay in excess of $7 million in the biggest MMA show of all-time. It also broke the Royce-Sakuraba PPV record, topping 125,000 buys, more than doubling the old record, hitting a 4.50 percent buy rate for an incredibly loaded show. To go against the bigger man, Sakuraba bulked up to 195, since his only chance was to get the match on the ground, to Cro Cop’s 220. Cro Cop was the strong heel in this one, being heavily booed. Cro Cop damaged Sakuraba standing, but Sakuraba was able to get him on the ground, but couldn’t hurt him. Sakuraba was winning most of the second round, when Cro Cop threw a punch from his back, breaking Sakuraba’s right eye socket. When the bell rang to end the second round, Sakuraba’s eye was swelling shut and it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to continue, and the doctor stopped the match.

Sakuraba’s career is winding down at this point, due to injuries. He was limping badly to the ring and had no power in his right leg when he beat Gilles Arsene on November 24, 2002. Because of his status, his match was put in the main event slot on another sold out show, drawing 52,228 fans, although the real draw was Takada’s retirement match with Tamura. He had no business fighting, but Arsene was brought in as an easy touch. Sakuraba toyed with him for 17:08 in a match so bad that many fans left as it was going on, before finally winning with an armbar. Worse, on March 16, 2003, he was moved out of the main event for a Yokohama Arena show before a sellout 16,000, where he toyed with Antonio Schembri, who he actually had by a few pounds, started playing around doing pro wrestling spots, in particular the Mongolian chops to honor 80s star Killer Khan, and caught a head-butt and a knee to the chin (which quickly became a big pro wrestling finishing move of choice after this match) and a field goal kick of his head, and it was lights out in 6:07. Unlike the Arsene fight, it was a great match.

His third fight with Silva on August 10, 2003, was the first round of the middleweight tournament before another Saitama Super Arena sellout, of 35,400. Sakuraba had added weight, which figured to hurt his stamina, but the word out of his camp was that his wrestling was the best it had been, and he was healthier than he’d been in years. He looked the best he had in a long time, as even with his nose busted early. But he was staying with Silva standing, until Silva caught him with a right that knocked him out in 5:01. He followed with an impressive sounding win on November 9, 2003, in a prelim match on a sold out Tokyo Dome show, beating Kevin Randleman in 17:36 with an armbar. But the match was boring, with Randleman mainly outwrestling Sakuraba until going for a position change, leaving his arm behind, and getting armbarred. This led to his New Year’s Eve match with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. In a war that was close and of match of the year caliber, Sakuraba slipped late in the fight and took a hard kick to the face, bloodying him up, which spelled the difference in the decision. His most recent fight was gaining revenge, beating Schembri via decision in a good match, put on as the opener on the show. It was clear he was again nowhere close to being in fighting shape, and also, that he likely never would be again.

Even after all his fame, Sakuraba has remained a little kid when it comes to pro wrestling. He and his friends still get together to watch the big shows, and they make their own masks, costumes and title belts that he wears to the ring at the Pride shows.
The end of the Sakuraba story won’t be pretty. He will continue to fight, because he can draw, but will take even more punishment. In later life, his body will be crippled badly from the punishment. He will be a legend and a pioneer. He’s the real deal. The pro wrestler who beat some of the greatest fighters in the world, while giving up size, and even after his body was banged up, he hung with the more fearsome men on the planet until injuries took him out. He went against the best submission men in the world, and was never in danger. By far, he was the biggest drawing junior heavyweight in history. He was a comedian, and an example of what skill and speed can do in a fight, as well as an example of what being a great drawing card forces you into when a promotion wants to strike with as many big shows as it can while the money man is hot.
 

redeyes

TRIBE Member
bj penn is fighting rodrigo gracie on Nov 20/04 at ROTR. that should be an amazing ground battle. i say penn will take it by judges decision.

Former WWE nobody is Sean O'Haire is also on the card. i want to see him win it btw of Swanton Bomb.

peace
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Former UFC Tomato can Wes Sims is also on the card.

Too bad no one carries ROTR shows and the only way to get them is to buy the DVD afterwards.
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Subsonic Chronic
In a shoot fight or a worked match?
shoot.

He became an MMA fighter not to long ago and got his first win (against a real nobody) last month.

From what I've read, this fight at ROTR will be his first "real" fight (i.e. fighting a guy with some actual experience)
 

redeyes

TRIBE Member
^^i think it's a real fight. apparently, he has a background in kickboxing and he's been in some toughman contest.
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Also on a side note, O'Haire recently got charged with beating up some chicks pretty badly in a strip club.

He said it was self devense and his defense was, "If I was going to beat them up on purpose, they'd be in the hospital".

Hey Sean. One of the chicks WAS in the hospital and pretty fucked up you dumbass.
 
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