The History of Pride FC: Pride Critical Coundown Absolute
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 05.07.2011
The Pride 2006 Openweight Grand Prix enters its second round and Pride Middleweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva, enters the fray. Also Josh Barnett, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Cro Cop are all in action for this jam-packed event! Jeffrey Harris checks in with his review of Pride Critical Countdown Absolute.
-Greetings MMA fans. My extreme apologies on the long wait since my last Pride DVD review. A lot has been going on as of late between taking over the MMA's 3R's column in 411mania MMA as well as my other writing duties for the site. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2011 was to finish my reviews up for the 2006 Pride Openweight Grand Prix. So here we are with the second round of the tournament with Pride: Critical Countdown Absolute.
-July 1, 2006. The Saitama Super Arena. Saitama, Japan. The event opens with an anime intro followed by a more traditional video introduction highlighting the second round tournament fighters. The elite eight: Josh Barnett, Mark Hunt, Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Nogueira, Cro Cop, Hidehiko Yoshida, Kazuyuki Fujita, and Wanderlei Silva.
-The broadcasters for the evening are Mauro Ranallo and Frank Trigg (with hair). Trigg and Ranallo talk about the tournament and run down the key fights. Trigg analyzes the ways to win for Cro Cop and Hidehiko Yoshida in the main event. Unfortunately Pride Heavyweight Champion, Fedor Emelianenko, originally scheduled to compete in the tournament had to drop out of the competition due to hand surgery. Filling in Fedor’s stead will be Pride Middleweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva. OK, not a bad replacement.
-The opening ceremony kicks off with a video on the big screen and showcases the elaborate entrance stage. Lenny Hart introduces the combatants for the evening. Ladies and gentlemen, this is more than just mixed martial arts. This is the PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS!
Pawel Nastula (Pride Record: 0-2; MMA Record: 0-2) VS. Edson Drago (Pride Record: Debut; MMA Record: 9-0)
Nastula is an Olympic gold medalist in judo. He previously lost his last two MMA fights in Pride in 2005.
Round 1. Nastula eventually works Drago to the ground. Nastula gets a full mount and starts raining down the punches. Drago gets saved and checked for a cut by the ref. Back to the dominant position for Nastula in the middle of the ring. Drago gets a sweep and starts trying to land punches in the guard. Nastula manages to lock on in an armbar and Drago eventually taps.
The Winner: Nastula scores his first MMA and Pride victory at 4:33 in Round 1.
Yoshihiro Nakao (Pride Record: Debut; MMA Record: 4-0, 2NC) VS. Eun Su Lee (Pride Record: Debut; MMA Record: 12-0, 1NC)
Both men are undefeated in MMA and making their Pride debuts here. For those of you who do not know who Nakao is, here is a little reminder:
Round 1. Lee taunts Nakao about the kiss before the action starts. Nakao goes hard for the single-leg takedown and gets it. Nakao works in the half-guard and starts unloading a high volume of punches to Lee by the corner. The ref calls for a break and has the position moved to the middle. Lee tries to struggle out and gets some knees to the head for his trouble. The ref later breaks the action up and Lee gets a yellow card for passivity. The doctors check on Lee and it looks like his left eye is now swollen shut. Doctor calls for a stoppage and that is it.
The Winner: Nakao remains undefeated and wins his Pride debut due to the TKO by doctor stoppage at 4:16 in Round 1.
Vitor Belfort (Pride Record: 4-2; MMA Record: 13-7) VS. Yoshiki Takahashi (Pride Record: 0-2; MMA Record: 28-19-3)
Belfort did not return to the UFC after representing the promotion in the 2005 Pride MWGP where he lost to Alistair Overeem in the opening round of the tournament. Belfort says he’s back and Takahashi says they are both desperate and that he will do anything to beat Belfort.
Round 1. A little feeling out at first and Belfort starts letting the hands go. Belfort solidly connects with a left hand and drops Takahashi and that is it.
The Winner: Belfort gets back into the win column by knockout at 36 seconds in the first round. An impressive win by Belfort as he got to show off his strengths, granted against basically a gimme opponent for him. This is just sort of par for the course of Vitor’s career because if he’s knocking a guy out silly early in the fight, he’s struggling in it or loses.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Pride Record: 7-1; MMA Record: 11-2) VS. Alistair Overeem (Pride Record: 7-4; MMA Record: 24-7)
Rogerio fights for the first time since an amazing fight of the year candidate with Shogun in 2005 which he lost by decision. Overeem lost to Fabricio Werdum in the opening round of the tournament but rebounded with a win over Vitor Belfort in Strikeforce about a month earlier. Lil’ Nog owns a previous decision win over Overeem at Pride 29 in 2005.
Round 1. Overeem methodically works his legkicks in the first round. Nogueira is able to get some punches in some openings, but he is clearly starting to favor his leg being messed up by Overeem. Nogueira clinches after Overeem starts doing knee strikes and gets the takedowns. Nogueira attempts a kimura but Overeem gets out. Nogueira stays in control from the guard position and continues to grind on Overeem. Nogueira dominates until the end of the round. Well that’s the way to get the fight back in your control at least.
Round 2. Nogueira starts letting his fists go more but Overeem stays busy with his kickboxing. They exchange strikes standing and Overeem continues to damage Nogueira’s lead leg with legkicks. Nogueira stuns Overeem with a left hand and unloads on the standing Overeem in the corner. And the Overeem corner throws in the towel . . . and that’s the fight . . . ?
The Winner: Nogueira is awarded the win by technical knockout due to Overeem’s corner throwing in the towel at 2:13 in Round 2. Odd finish and I’m not really sure what happened. Overeem did look hurt but he wasn’t really out from what I could tell. Perhaps his corner was just being cautious or saw something we did not.
Kazuhiro Nakamuro (Pride Record: 8-5; MMA Record: 8-5) VS. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos (Pride Record: Debut; MMA Record: 14-8)
Nakamura most recently lost to Barnett at Pride 31. Cold staredown by Cyborg before the fight.
Round 1. Nakamura works for the takedown and gets it. Nakamura gets in control from the top position and is able to pass guard into side control. Nakamura gets the crucifix position and starts landing some elbows and knees. Nakamura works on the Americana submission. Cyborg tries to defend, but Trigg says Nakamura isn’t going to get it and Cyborg will get out of it. Nakamura wrenches back on the arm and locks up the wrist using the canvas and that is it.
The Winner: Nakamura gets the win by submission at 4:49 in Round 1. An extremely dominant and much needed win for Nakamura. Good thing he didn’t wear a gi to the fight this time.
-And now we move on to the second round tournament bouts.
PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX QUARTERFINAL BOUT: Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (Pride Record: 15-2; MMA Record: 27-3-1, 1NC) VS. Fabricio Werdum (Pride Record: 4-1; MMA Record: 8-1-1)
Fabricio Werdum submitted Alistair Overeem in the opening round of the tournament to advance against Nogueira here. Ironically and interestingly enough, five years later, Werdum/Overeem is yet again being fought in a tournament setting. The story here is that both men are master Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners.
Round 1. Nogueira sends Werdum to the ground early with his punches. Nogueira picks his shots and dominates Werdum standing. Nogueira gets it to the ground and works in Werdum’s guard and neutralizes Werdum’s ground game. Back to their feet and Nogeuira drops Werdum with another punch. Nogueira continues to work over Werdum with some good punches and body shots. Round ends and it’s looking good for Nogueira so far.
Round 2. Nogueira continues to dominate Werdum on the feet. At one point he jumps into guard attempting a guillotine, but Werdum has it scouted and is able to stay away. Werdum attempts a single-leg, but Nogueira reverses and ends up on top of Werdum. Nogueira works in the full guard but Werdum isn’t able to pull anything off. Time out is called as Nogueira has a cut and some swelling by his left eye. Nogueira gets cleaned up and we get back to the action. Werdum works for a takedown and gets it this time and attempts a guillotine. Nogueira reverses and sweeps and finishes the round on top and pushing the position.
Round 3. Werdum is able to complete some takedowns but gets little with them. Nogueira tries for a guillotine choke but Werdum gets out. Werdum on top in half-guard, but Nogueira sweeps again as it seems his gas tank is coming through more than Werdum. Werdum gets the takedown and tries for an arm triangle choke. Nogueira is able to slip out and get on top again. Some fun back and forth BJJ transitions to finish out the fight.
The Winner: Big Nog gets the win by unanimous decision. Nogueira neutralized Werdum’s biggest assets and made it his fight. He dominated the standing exchanges with his superior boxing and dirty boxing, and grinded Werdum on the ground where Werdum had seemingly nothing for Nogueira there. In the third round, Werdum tried to turn up the heat but wasn’t able to ever quite one-up the more seasoned veteran in Nogueira. A fun fight overall. Nogueira advances to the final four and semifinals of the tournament.
-Backstage interview with Cro Cop. Cro Cop says he feels great and his foot injury is healed. Cro Cop said he had to be careful because Minowa has great heart and great guts. He says he’s ready to take the entire tournament mentally and physically.
PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX QUARTERFINAL BOUT: Wanderlei Silva (Pride Record: 21-2-1; MMA Record: 30-5-1, 1NC) VS. Kazuyuki Fujita (Pride Record: 6-2, 1NC; MMA Record: 13-4)
Silva says he’s wanted to fight Fujita for a long time and is confident he can knock Fujita out even though he’s coming in lighter. Fujita jokes that he’s wanted to “watch” Silva fight for a long time rather than actually fight him. Oh Fujita, you comedian. Fujita says he can’t think of a way to beat Silva so he will rely on his body strength and his ”THICK SKULL.” Uh oh.
Round 1. Silva comes out wild and crazy and stuns Fujita with knee strikes to the head that “was created by filling a cement truck with coconut sperm,” according to Cracked.com. Fujita is able to recover and gets the takedown and actually gets side mount, but Silva attempts a triangle choke and transitions into an armbar. Silva wrenches back, but Fujita manages to survive and moves into the full guard. Referee calls for a break after a while and gives both men the yellow card for passivity. They keep it standing. Both men are hesitant to strike. Silva gets the better of the striking exchanges and lands some big punches. They trade legkicks. They start unloading and brawling and doing that with Pride-era Silva is not a good idea. Silva hits home with some punching combinations and Fujita goes down. Silva unloads on numerous unanswered shots and soccer kicks and the ref calls the fight.
The Winner: Silva hands Fujita the man with the thick skull his first ever knockout loss in Pride. Silva gets the win by TKO at 9:21 in Round 1. This was a fun type of fight you could usually count on Pride for.
PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX QUARTERFINAL BOUT: Josh Barnett (Pride Record: 2-2; MMA Record: 20-3) VS. Hidehiko Yoshida (Pride Record: 5-1; MMA Record: 5-1)
Barnett says Hunt is limited in MMA but brings many of his strengths from kickboxing into the MMA world. Hunt says Barnett is good but he’s in his way. Barnett says he plans on getting this done as soon as possible and even put Hunt in a Michinoku Driver if he has to and sit back and sip a pina colada while all the other guys destroy each other.
Round 1. Barnett easily gets Hunt to the ground. Barnett passes guard and gets side control and works for the kimura lock. Barnett easily improves his position and locks in the kimura and finishes it with ease.
The Winner: Barnett wins by submission at 2:02 in Round 1. Barnett easily took advantage of Hunt’s inexperience and complete utter and lack of ground skill as well as submission and takedown defense. Barnett cuts a wrestling promo after the fight and says “THE BELT IS MINE!”
-Backstage interview with Barnett. Barnett says the fight didn’t go exactly the way he wanted because he wanted to do a suplex or a half-crab. Barnett breaks down the hold he finished Hunt with.
PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX QUARTERFINAL BOUT: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (Pride Record: 15-4-2; MMA Record: 18-4-2) VS. Hidehiko Yoshida (Pride Record: 6-3-1; MMA Record: 7-3-1)
Cro Cop beat Minowa to advance to the second round. Yoshida beat Yosuke Nishijima.
Round 1. Yoshida starts things off with an overhand right. Yoshida works for the takedown but can’t get Cro Cop to the ground. Cro Cop blocks a judo head throw. Cro Cop throws off a head kick and it looks to connect a little, but Yoshida points to his head and smiles. Cro Cop throws off a leg kick and Yoshida tries a spinning head kick of his own. Yoshida whiffs and Cro Cop goes into the guard. Cro Cop stands up to the guard after a stale mate and Yoshida follows him up. Cro Cop starts throwing more leg kicks and they are starting to cause some visible damage and pain to Yoshida. Yoshida gets dropped with an uppercut, but Cro Cop lets him get back up. Cro Cop chops down Yoshida with another leg kick and Yoshida is down again. Yoshida is unable to continue. Paging Judge Cecil Peoples!
The Winner: Who says leg kicks don’t finish fights? Cro Cop wins by TKO at 7:38 in Round 1 and advances to the semifinals. Nothing outstanding but the fight had some good vintage Cro Cop right about at his MMA peak.
-Cro Cop helps Yoshida help to his feet after the fight. Yoshida is carried out by his corner as the Pride music plays. Credits and an event montage roll and that is all.
DVD BONUS FEATURES
As with most Pride FC DVD releases there are a group of similar bonus features including extra pre and post fight interviews as well as some video montages of the event:
Fighter Interviews - This is a 5 minute group of extended pre-fight interviews. These feature additional comments by Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva, and Vitor Belfort.
Fighter Photo Montage - This is a 3 minute still photo montage of shots from the event.
Post-Fight Interviews - This is a 12 minute extra featuring fighters’ post-fight comments after the event at the post-fight press conference. Overeem says he injured his neck in a late training session right before the fight and credits that to his loss.
The 411: The card is a little dull until it gets to the tournament fights. Nogueira/Werdum is a really good fight from a technical MMA standpoint and Silva/Fujita is a lot of fun. Besides that you get to see a lot of classic fighters and legends in their prime before they really peaked as fighters specifically Cro Cop as this was leading up to his big win.