Saturday, December 15, 2018


シリーズ PRIDE(ナンバーシリーズ)
主催 KRS
会場 東京ドーム
入場者数 36,354人

A YEAR TO THE DAY AND ALSO PRECISELY THREE PRIDES TO THE DAY (isn't that weird?) AFTER NOBUHIKO TAKADA'S ENDLESS DISGRACE AT THE HANDS OF RICKSON GRACIE THE LONG-AWAITED (year-awaited, I guess; three-PRIDEs-awaited) REMATCH IS UPON US AT THEIR VERY 東京ドーム TО̄KYО̄ DО̄MU OF FIRST ENCOUNTER THIS IS GOING TO BE WILD GET READY FOR IT however let us first pause for a moment and consider whether or not it really was all that super endless of a disgrace really: Nobuhiko Takada -- who, please note, I am not suggesting ever had any actual idea how to actually fight in any normal sense, as he is/was very clearly, if you will forgive the coarseness (plain-speaking?) of this utterance, just a great big faker -- was ensnared by the universally well-regarded (in terms of technique; there's all kinds of other stuff that is worth consideration [we have considered at least some of it in these very pages, have we not, my friends; also he was nice to me when I met him though]) Rickson Gracie in the noble waza of 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame in about five minutes but who among us has not been caught in the noble waza of 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame not merely once but indeed several times within a five-minute span in 寝技 乱取り ne waza randori with our betters or our peers or even sometimes maybe even our eager students (I don't specifically remember getting juji'd twice in one round by a student but I bet it has happened)? To say nothing of what might (and for sure has) befallen us in the cut and thrust of 試合 shiai (where you only ever get juji'd to completion once-per-match, but you see what I am saying all the same, I hope, I trust). People get juji'd; it's really not that big a deal, and it is weird to get so hung up on it. Has uke learned of their weaknesses, and resolved to pursue their studies further? Has tori "advance[d] further to mastery of judo's mysteries"? Are either, or both, acquiring swift and agile minds and bodies through diligent training? Have they improved their use of energy, increased their insight into reason, and deepened their understanding of mankind? These are the real questions and you all know it; please do not front on this; this is too important for you to be fronting on; I am begging you to not.  A guy was juji'd; that's all that happened.

Not really a huge crowd, is it! That seems odd to say about a gathering of 36 354 人, but that's over 10 000 fewer 人 than showed up the first time, and in a super huge ドーム dо̄mu such as this, even a crowd of 36 354 人 makes you think as much (or maybe even more!) about the 人 who aren't there as the 人 who are. But if 人 don't want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them? Haha a little Yogi Berra for you right there. Glancing at the rest of this card I am again struck by just how little I remember of these earliest PRIDE offerings but in fairness why would anyone (not a diss [to the time we are spending together to revisit them]), as this all happened really quite a long time ago, and even if you only saw them when you rented them from Suspect Video (there is a video store on the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show called Weirdo Video that captures its ethos perfectly) or even when you picked up the early-Pride dvd sets when they came out, that's something like a dozen (or more!) years ago right there even. STEPHEN QUADROS AND BAS RUTTEN are of course our hosts as Gary Goodridge faces Igor Vovchanchyn in the little fella's Pride début. I say little fella because although he is about 235lbs (and so by no means little -- I am being lighthearted!) he is also like 5'7", which you can especially see when Goodridge gets underhooks and appears to be scooping up his little child whilst saying up you go, pal to him, look: 

Goodridge hugs and twists him to the ground and somehow in all of this Igor has opened upon him an awful cut around his right eye. Maybe a headbutt? They pass several moments on the ground, a few more afoot, then back down from the same hugging, twisting overhook situation. "Can I kick face?" Goodridge asks the referee, which isn't super comfortable to hear, but I guess it's good that he decided to ask, rather than just, like, kick face. Not long thereafter, Goodridge is falling backwards into the corner, reeling from a left hook, and the match is waved off as Igor comes in swinging after. Goodridge isn't wild about the stoppage but I'm not wild about him ever leaving the Honda plant in Alliston so we all have things we can take umbrage with if we want to play that game.

Akira Shoji! Against Wallid Ismail! What a character, this Wallid Ismail: a devoted Carlson Gracie guy who held jiu-jitsu wins over Ralph, Renzo, and Royce Gracie (koshi-jime in not that much time in that last one), and took a brutal, hospital-ensending beating from Edson Carvalho first in, and then later outside of, the great Georges Mehdi's judo club (Georges Mehdi would not put up with this kind of foolishness and cast them both out). Only now am I learning that Mehdi passed just last month: Ícone do Judô nacional, Georges Mehdi morre no Rio aos 84 anos. R.I.P. Sensei Mehdi (9th dan). Here is in the warm embrace of Flávio Canto (a man of beautiful judo and wonderful works; I had occasion to correspond with Flávio Canto very briefly a few years ago and it warmed my heart):

Longtime readers will perhaps already be familiar with the extent of my admiration for Flávio Canto but for anybody new let me just assure you now, briefly, that it is so extensive.  

That is a very different topic than our subject at the moment, though, or maybe it is a fairly closely related topic with just a radically different energy to it, but here we are with Akira Shoji and Wallid Ismail, who am I always hoping will start chanting zjhooo zjhit zuuu zjhooo zjhit zuuu but realistically that may have just been the one time. Shoji cracks Wallid pretty good on the way in and sprawls out of a (not-so-hot) double-leg attempt before, well, ok, that was weird, they just kind of slumped down: I think Shoji maybe half-went for a mae-hadaka-jime/front-choke/guillotine, or maybe he only like quarter-went for it, and the net effect was that it appeared that the worst takedown ever, in the end, kind of worked (although not really). Quadros explains that Wallid is an utter fanatic with regard to (you guessed it) jiu jitsu, and can oft be heard leading his teammates in chants of zjhoo zjhit zuuu after their matches. So it wasn't just the one time! It's colourful I guess but this is, if you think about it, really very odd behaviour. After some spirited up-and-down, Wallid passes around Shoji's legs to the side and soon to 縦四方固 tate-shiho-gatame (right up on top!) but Shoji, in truest Bas Rutten fashion, explodes right here and he's back up to his feet in an instant. Round one ends with Wallid again in Shoji's guard, throwing seemingly ineffectual punches. Oh dear: Wallid is both tired to start the second round and also extremely getting punched to start the second round; when he turns his back, the referee steps in for the TKO at 1:26 of the second round. Wallid objects, but should ask himself some hard questions about who, exactly, was getting punched.

Hey up next against Daijiro ("Syunsuke") Matsui, it's ファイヤープロレスリング/Fire Pro Wrestling's "Mad Grappler" Kikuma Kaname (they call GRABAKA "GRANADA," it's so wild) aka SANAE KIKUTA, seen in this highlight to be clinching:

Bas Rutten's sincere hope is that Kikuta does more in this match than he did in his previous one against Renzo Gracie (it went like an hour!) but I have to say that I don't hope that, necessarily. A lovely overhead 3/4 (7/8?) shot displays handsomely the soft purity of the early-PRIDE mat-æsthetic, look: 

Although there can be no equal to the WOWOW-aproned sky-blue of Fighting Network RINGS, this isn't exactly hurting either, is it. Confirming Bas Rutten's worst fears only seconds in, Kikuta clinches, and, after several unsuccessful 小外掛 kosoto-gake (minor outside hook), takes Matsui to the mat with a crisp 大内刈 ouchi-gari (major inner reap), and then just lays atop him (artfully). Quadros notes, half-despairingly, that both Carlos Newton and Kazushi Sakuraba fight with a different pace than Sanae Kikuta (that's true); he then denounces Kikuta's græppling style as "basic," and it is totally spoken as denunciation; he does not mean this kindly at all; it's not the thing where you note that someone's fundamentals are so solid that they don't have to do anything but year-one techniques because their execution of them is so deft that they make the basics work at the highest level; that's totally not what Quadros is talking about. Instead, he contrasts this basic style to the advanced styles (these are the words he uses) of Newton and Sakuraba. Kikuta is of course inching ever closer to his 2001 ADCC 88kg championship finals win over Saulo Ribeiro, author of the nearly-peerless Jiu-Jitsu University mastertome. I wonder how Newton or Sakuraba (both of whom we love! please see the Pride 2 report! it is filled with effusive praise! probably too much!) would have fared under ADCC rules against Saulo Ribeiro! Actually I don't really! I mean to suggest to you that Stephen Quadros has mistaken what he thinks is neat for what is best! But who among us is truly free of such snares and delusions. The match ends in a thirty-minute draw, and nobody is pleased with it, but let's not say demonstrably false things about Sanae Kikuta's ne-waza we can't take back, Stephen Quadros

Kazushi Sakuraba (loved by good, feared by evil) is next, and will face Allan Goes (cornered by Carlson Gracie), whose teammate Marcus Silveira was bested by Sakuraba at that very weird UFC Japan tournament we have spoken of previously in these pages. Quadros suggests that it must be humiliating for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter to have been armbarred by a Japanese professional wrestler but when he speaks these words they are clearly those of one who has not yet read the opening paragraph of this very writing in which we established quite compellingly that it is not that big a deal to be juji'd: it's just a thing that happens; and then you carry on with your evening (or day). Sakuraba is listed here at 6'0" 183lbs, Goes at 6'0" 200lbs and I guess I have just never accepted that Kazushi Sakuraba is a full six-feet tall; I don't know why. 

Sakuraba takes Goes down with 踵返 kibisu-gaeshi/heel-reversal/ankle pick pretty much straight away, and tucks both arms in super tight when Goes tries to pull him into an 表三角絞 omote-sankaku-jime/triangle choke. Elbows in, everybody! Sakuraba seems much more inclined to strike so far in this match than he had been with Carlos Newton. Goes kicks well off his back, which is where he is mostly hanging out. Sakuraba connects with some kicks to the leg that sound awful. Also he tries a cartwheel guard pass! It doesn't really get him where he needs to go but the crowd liked it. Hey on the subject of cartwheel guard passes, have I ever show you this one from 小田常胤 Oda Tsunetane?

There is some very fine Oda film on youtube that græppling enthusiasts of a particular bent have had a lot of fun going over and finding specific entries and approaches that we might think of as uniquely modern but which turn out to have been around essentially forever, which is always, as I said only recently, a lot of fun. Oda is an interesting guy! If you're reading up on him, you would do well to look into the story of 金光弥一兵衛 Yaichihyoue Kanemitsu, as well! Kanemitsu, "Higashi no Oda" (東の小田 "Oda of the East") and Oda, "Nishi no Kanemitsu" (西の金光 "Kanemitsu of the West") . . . what a pair! Kanemitsu is probably responsible for the innovation of both 膝十字固め hiza-juji-gatame (the kneebar) and 三角絞 sankaku-jime (the triangle choke). Oda is sometimes credited with the sankaku, and I myself did so in a publication that has itself turned up as a footnote in such discussions since, and I regret what I now firmly believe to be an error. Please refer to Raisuke Kudo, Gakusei Judo no Dento, May 25, 1973, Hiroku Nippon Judo, and Takashi Kuroda, Mei Senshu Monogatari 72: Hayakawa Noboru - Kachi kyodai sorotte 8 dan de zaikaijin no ishoku no kyodai, November 1985, Kindai Judo for more!

Although I find his relentless seat-scooting disagreeable and, if I may, quite shitty, Allan Goes is really something! He comes passingly close to the naked strangle of 裸絞 hadaka-jime several more times than you ever expect anyone to get against Sakuraba (weirdly hookless, though, and so it remains unfinished), and when he's on top he applies great pressure to keep Sakuraba on his heels (not his literal heels, but the figurative heels of his seat) and even has him turtling-up in the 亀 kame position (kame just means turtle). This is nowhere near as interesting or as lovely as either the Vernon White or, especially, Carlos Newton matches, but it is possibly to be nowhere near that interesting or lovely and still be totally interesting (I do not find this lovely, though). When they're græppling, there is much to admire, but when Goes is on his back, kicking at Sakuraba's knees, and Sakuraba, standing, kicks at Goes legs, this all just seems (forgive me) really stupid. There are no judges, and so the thirty-minute match ends in a draw. The people are pretty into Sakuraba now though! 

Yuhi Sano (aka Naoki Sano) who we previously saw juji-gatame'd by Royler Gracie after about half an hour at Pride 2, is to face Satoshi Honma, a SHOOTOist described by Quadros as a karate fighter and professional wrestler, which is absolutely for sure what he looks like he is:

Honma seems to be pretty good at hitting, and it gives Sano all kinds of problems early on (such as, for instance, being hit). There is a buzz in the crowd and also on my couch as KIYOSHI TAMURA appears on the screen:

"That's Tamura, from the RINGS fighting organization," says Stephen Quadros, and I am like you bet your ass it is, Stephen Quadros, for no discernible reason. Sano doesn't especially know about either hitting or avoiding hitting (no diss, this is very much a space I too occupy) but he makes little effort to take Honma down, and instead settles for getting hit until his face looks like this: 

It's not a lot of fun to see! In time, Sano is chopped down by leg kicks, and Honma walks away as though the fight is over, which it totally should have been, but the referee didn't stop the bout until Honma only semi-reluctantly took the ground for further hitting and everybody started booing because of how this whole thing turned out gross.

You know what is else is kind of gross: stomping on somebody's foot on purpose in a martial arts match. I was just thinking about that the other night, and I don't even remember why. But here is Marco Ruas! (He is famous for doing so.) Last seen in these pages besting Gary Goodridge by ashi-kansetsu (leg-lockery) at Pride 2, Marco Ruas was, in 1998, still a really big deal: his only loss to this point was against Oleg Taktarov by decision at the Ultimate Ultimate 1995, which I absolutely watched on pay-per-view with my dumb little buddies (I cast no aspersions: I assure you I was the dumbest little buddy of all). I believe it cost twenty dollars! I bet we got ketchup chips from the Needs convenience store that isn't even there anymore which is dark because I still feel like the Green Gables convenience store should still be just down the road a little bit from it but it's probably been gone close to twenty years and it's pretty crazy out here on these streets of which Marco Ruas is king. His foe this day is no less admirable a weirdo than RINGS-appearer (remember when he there-appeared?) 大塚 崇 Ōtsuka Takashi (fighting, as was so often the case, under the nom-de-guerre/sobriquet-rouge ALEXANDER OTSUKA) whose gimmick was to be beaten terribly by top fighters until the doctor would call the whole thing off. Also his tights sometimes said DIET BUTCHER on them. Also he seems to be cornered by a Tiger Mask who I am thinking would probably be Tiger Mask IV but obviously I am open to correction on this point (and indeed all points). Furthermore, and perhaps finally, as Alexander Otsuka background, this (from wikipedia):

"In 2006, Otsuka started competing in Michinoku Pro Wrestling under the gimmick of Otoko Sakari, a bisexual, sex addict wrestler who wore a fundoshi and utilized sexual antics against his opponents. Sakari never took off as a serious contender, as he often lost matches by nudity or morodashi when his opponent damaged his attire, making the ring crew throw the towel to cover it. Sakari feuded mainly with Kanjyuro Matsuyama, scheduling a 7-matches series to solve their enmity, which Sakari lost by 3-4, being forced to shave his pubic hair. Sakari would later appear also in Dradition Pro Wrestling, getting in a feud with Kikutaro." 

What a character! Oh hey Bas Rutten is in Marco Ruas' corner for this one. I wonder if he will still be on commentary? Yes; yes he is. Otsuka looks quick as a cat diving in for 踵返 kibisu-gaeshi/heel-reversal/ankle picks but Ruas kicks Otsuka really very hard to the body as he comes in on one, and then attempts a 前裸絞 mae-hadaka-jime/front-choke/guillotine to no avail (good try though!). Bas is shown on screen in Ruas' corner and the crowd is all aflutter but Quadros and Bas himself just let the moment pass without note so as not to make things even weirder I guess but I think maybe not acknowledging it makes it weirdest of all. Otsuka has spent several minutes in Ruas' superhuggy guard, punching him a little bit here and there, and looking very together about everything. As Otsuka stands up and away from Ruas (who just lies there seat-scooting), we see clearly for the first time that Otsuka's black trunks say in bold white block all-caps DIET BUTCHTER which has, I bet you will agree, a charm to it. Ruas tries to scoop in for an ashi-kansetsu, probably a ヒール・ホールド (hi ru hou do), but Otsuka just smooshes in to avoid any such trouble. From his back, Ruas sweeps Otsuka over with an utterly basic double-overhook instep 横返 yoko-gaeshi of such purity; what a lovely movement. Ruas has about a minute before the end of the round in which he may wish to create some space for hitting; he does so very well, and Otsuka gives up his back rather than sustain further hitting. Ruas works a 裸絞 hadaka-jime as the round ends and Otsuka seems to have very much been saved by the bell. 

Ruas looks as though he may have burnt himself out trying to finish: he's flat-footed to begin the second. Also it occurs to me that Marco Ruas sure has a hekk of a build for a guy who is thirty-seven, doesn't he! He's quite a specimen in this untested pseudo-sport! Good for him I guess! An awful lot of clinching in the corner so far this round. In time, Otsuka takes Ruas to the mat with a fine 小外掛 ko-soto-gake. Ruas looks like he's totally done, and Bas says that it has to be because of medicine he is taking for some reason (I missed the reason, but I believe it involved Mark Kerr -- training injury? anti-inflammatories?); he also suggests that, were Ruas not so afflicted, he would explode right here. Ruas' corner wisely calls things off on his behalf, and Tape-Delay Bas is like WOW! which is weird because we can see Bas Actual in the corner talking to Marco right now and maybe this is an art project of some kind I don't know. This is Alexander Otsuka's first win and the biggest he would ever enjoy and he does indeed seem to be enjoying it a tonne.  

To speak again of dudes with buildz, here is Mark Kerr, also cornered by Bas Rutten. Bas has always been very outspoken about performance enhancing drugs but he has sure had some guys at his gym who think they are pretty awesome to take (in fairness, they are probably pretty awesome to take). Hugo Duarte, also a great big guy but less imposingly so, is a luta livre fellow who is coming off a loss to Tank Abbott, who is, at the time of this writing in the primary world of 2018, coming off a liver transplant (one hopes he is well). This is all getting even weirder now as Bas is still very much on commentary but you can also hear him talking to Mark Kerr from the corner. Not a whole lot happening in this one (Kerr has taken Duarte down and is just hanging out, and not in an artful Sanae Kikuta kind of way), so let's enjoy a tale of how everyone is gross (from Wikipedia):

"Hugo Duarte is also famous for his beach fight in Rio against Rickson Gracie.[4] Hugo Duarte at the age of 20, was famously confronted by Rickson Gracie and his friends at Pepe beach[5] in Brazil in 1988.[6] Rickson arrived with 50 followers to the beach.[7] This crowd included Rodrigo Vaghi[8] and Renzo Gracie. Rickson was 30 at the time was offered a hand shake by Duarte.[7] Rickson proceeded to slap Hugo in the face and a fight started.[9] There were allegations that Rickson threw sand into Hugo's face. [10] Other allegations were that jiujitsu practitioners were kicking Duarte during the fight.[7] After the fight, Hugo Duarte went to the Gracie Academy with a number of people to confront Rickson.[5] The result was the same with Rickson winning this time in a parking lot.[5] They would have disdain for each other for years.[10] The fight was taped by a few individuals including a tourist.[11] The Gracie family would go on to market the taping of this event in their self-defense videos.[7] The video of the fight was edited and made to show that Rickson Gracie dominated the fight, which included Duarte's knees to Rickson's body.[4] The tape was especially used in America.[4] Hugo would go on to coach the likes of Eugenio Tadeu." 

Ah, a new approach: between rounds, you absolutely cannot help but see Bas Rutten coaching Mark Kerr in the corner, so on commentary now the move is for Bas to stop talking during that interval, and then feign returning to the commentary position all out of breath and being like ah ok sorry what were you saying? This breaks down immediately as Coach Bas is shown again in the corner as Commentary Bas explains what Coach Bas said to Mark Kerr between rounds before returning to commentary (bas). THEN WHO IS ON THE SCREEN RIGHT NOW BAS RUTTEN IS IT A PHANTOM OR SHADOW this is ridiculous (I enjoy it). Round two! Is much the same! The only thing of note is when Mark Kerr lightly but for sure illegally headbutts Duarte, and Duarte screams and plays it up as though he has been shot with several guns. I would give both men two-minute minors on this one were it within the scope of my authority and also were this hockey. Bas Rutten insists literally nothing happened and they don't even show a replay but I know what I saw! But also that Duarte's reaction was nonsense. Round two was not great!

Round three is not too hot, either: Duarte wants to just seat-scoot and the crowd has seen more than enough of such behaviours this long night and and is full of boos. Duarte refuses to stand up. This is dumb. I will let you know when it's over. Okay it only went like five seconds longer than that: Duarte turned away and pretended to be out, but he plainly wasn't, but that's a TKO either way. What a strange guy! And an awful fight! I do not feel as merry watching this show as I have felt watching the previous three, but I am still pretty good, don't worry.


AND THAT'S AS REAL AS IT GETS IF MOVIES ARE CORRECT DESPITE BEING HORRIBLE so let's see how it goes this time around against Mr. Takada (Rickson is always polite about Nobuhiko Takada, and why not have good manners, it doesn't cost you a thing! that story up above about the beach fight was pretty shitty though wasn't it!). Last time it took Rickson four minutes and forty-seven seconds to secure the 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame so had they been engaged not in a mixed fight contest but instead in a four-minute round of 寝技 乱取り ne waza randori Takada would have gone the distance! Please consider this! Despite how that first one went, this somewhat smaller crowd (we have discussed already the number of 人 present) is still way, way into Nobuhiko Takada, a man so handsome that several (really very many) Japanese people convinced themselves he must be able to fight. I'm not sure this will come across well in screen-cap form, but Takada is really wearing quite a robe:

It's tigers! You will note Sakuraba on the left, his ear all taped up at the lobe. The energy in the crowd is so great! They clinch and exchange little knees (the fighters do, not the crowd, and I apologize for the ambiguity) until Takada actually half-takes Rickson down! His knee touched the mat! And the crowd was into it. But they are clinched again against the ropes, Takada with the underhooks, but with Rickson turning his hips in to "T-up" as though he held a dan rank in judo (oh wait he does; all those guys do; it's actually weird for an old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt to not have a dan rank in judo; because it's so sikk to do; you probably should hold one too; ps the way is in training, one must always train). They break their clinch briefly to strike poorly, I think you'd have to say, but they clinch again in short order, it's ok. The way Takada's face is smooshed against Rickson's shoulder in the corner makes him look like not a pouty baby exactly but kind of like a neutral baby, look: 

It's really quite breathtaking. Takada is trying pretty hard with knees to the body and also to the legs, and every little thing that hits is greeted by the crowd like the most thunderous of blows. We're five minutes in already, still very, very much clinched. Did Rickson just go down from a knee to the body? Holy moly he did! Why don't I remember this! They pop right back up, still clinched, but you can see the pain and concern in Rickson's face; that one really bothered him. Takada whirls him down the mat and ends up inside Rickson's legs, which seems like a poor place for him to head intentionally, but maybe he's like well let's get this over with, I don't know. OH NO TAKADA TRIED AN ASHI-HISHIGI ACHILLES/STRAIGHT ANKLELOCK AS THOUGH THIS WERE UWFi EXCEPT FOR REAL WHICH I GUESS IS WHAT THIS ACTUALLY IS but it has cost him and now he is very much on bottom getting hit and OH MAN TAKADA TRIED A HEEL HOOK but "tried" is maybe overstating it and yeah there's the 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame, Rickson by armbar at 9:30. Takada did vaaaaaaastly better than I'd remembered here, and Rickson didn't look especially good, did he! I think that knee to the body must have really bothered him. Bas did speculate that it could have been to the liver. Why didn't I remember anything about how this actually happened. Maybe because it doesn't really matter? "There is no regret in winning or losing," Mifune explains. "Competitions are an opportunity to express expertise and knowledge on both sides. One can look at oneself critically, without burdening one's mind with thoughts on life or fear of death. This is similar to the attitude of Basho as he faced death--there is no regret. When answers to your philosophical questions arise spontaneously in the outcome of a competition, you will understand that judo is not simply a means to engage in warfare. It is truly sublime to understand even the smallest truth while you are grappling, as there is an infinite variety of human thoughts and movements." So maybe that's why?     

"I'm a fighter; I'm also a teacher. My new goal is towards teaching," Rickson says after the match. He adds, too, that he likes Japanese food very much. Noble words! Ah but what of the words of DAVE MELTZER -- how noble will they prove?

July 27, 1998:

"Koji Kitao had his retirement match beating Koki Kitahara on 7/19 in a 130-seat building in Tokyo in 2:44. There will be a retirement ceremony for Kitao at the KRS (Gracie-Takada) Tokyo Dome show on 10/11." 

August 3, 1998:

"Marco Ruas, who is training Nobuhiko Takada [whaaaaaaaaaat? -- ed.] in Los Angeles for his match with Rickson Gracie at the Tokyo Dome, had this to say in an interview on Brazil's SporTV this past week about Takada. 'Pride's owner asked me so I'm training him, but he won't stand a chance against Rickson. He is not a true fighter. I could train him for ten years and it wouldn't help. As Master Carlson Gracie said, the guy is a wimp.' [that is such a dark thing to say about someone! -- ed.] If that quote ever makes it to Japan, boy is that going to break a lot of people's hearts. Ruas also said in the interview that he had signed to face Dave Beneteau at the October Tokyo Dome underneath the Gracie-Takada match, and had also a tentative deal to face Tom Erikson in December in Japan which if it takes place would be expected to have a 40:00 time limit and thus would be one of the most interesting matches of the year and easily the biggest match in Erikson's MMA career."

August 10, 1998:

"While not officially announced, it appears the top matches underneath the Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada match on Pride Four at the Tokyo Dome on 10/11 will have Mark Kerr (9-0) vs. Carlao Barreto (7-1), Roberto Traven (4-0) vs. Gary Goodridge (9-6) and Tom Erikson (6-0-1) vs. Igor Vovchanchin (22-1) and there is some talk of a Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Carlos Newton rematch." Noooooo how did that not haaaaaapppennnnnnnn

August 31, 1998:

"The latest planned line-up for the 10/11 KRS Tokyo Dome show is Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada, Mark Kerr vs. Hugo Duarte, Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Alan Goes, Gary Goodridge vs. Igor Vovchanchin, Wallid Ismail vs. Akira Shoji and they are still trying to find an opponent for Marco Ruas. There is no rush to buy tickets for this event which is not a good sign."

September 7, 1998:

"KRS officially announced two more matches for the 10/11 Tokyo Dome show, both of which were talked about here last week--Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Alan Goes and Hugo Duarte vs. Mark Kerr. Tickets for the show went on sale this past weekend but we haven't heard anything about how they're moving but that is an awfully big building for the sport of Vale Tudo."


"With no title shot, since [Randy] Couture is out, a cutback in his own purse which was a big deal since he's got a family [is this one of the ones he totally leaves? I mean just statistically it's pretty much gotta be haha I am just playing around with you Randy Couture haha -- ed.] and had sat out most of this year to heal up for UFC, combined with the realization that due to the cable situation that UFC is receiving less exposure than ever before, Rutten turned down Meyrowitz latest offer and considers himself a free agent and is now expected to start fighting for KRS in Japan."

September 14, 1998:

"Alexander Otsuka, a small pro wrestler, like about 180 pounds, with the Battlarts promotion, will be Marco Ruas' opponent on the 10/11 KRS Tokyo Dome show."

September 21, 1998:

"OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Pancrase held its fifth anniversary show on 9/14 at Budokan Hall before 11,500 fans. It was another marathon PPV show as five of the eight matches went the time limit including the main event, where Guy Mezger retained the King of Pancrase title beating Ryushi Yanagisawa by a 2-0 score after 30:00 scoring two knockdowns with knees during the fight. Rickson Gracie, who is in Japan doing publicity for the Tokyo Dome match with Nobuhiko Takada, came to the Pancrase show apparently to scout Masakatsu Funaki, although he didn't last that long. After watching Bas Rutten beat Kengo Watanabe, the former All-Japan college rugby star in his first pro fight, winning when the match was stopped after three knockdowns from palm thrusts in just 2:58, he got on the house mic and challenged Gracie (he issued a challenge to Gracie at the last KRS show as well). Gracie then got up and left the building, either as part of the angle, or being mad that he was unwittingly involved in an angle. The basic deal is that Gracie signed a four fight deal originally with KRS in which basically he was given three easy opponents but that the fourth opponent would be real. Now Gracie is making noises that he is going to retire from fighting after this current match with Takada, so in other words, he'll never fight anyone real. [an outrageous and yet not unwarranted burn on all involved -- ed.] Pancrase announced after the show that they are changing the point system. Before, in a regular match three points (combination of either knockdowns or rope breaks) would end a match and that is going to be cut to two, and in title matches with longer time limits, the five points to end a match will be cut to three, largely patterned after USWF in Amarillo. In other key matches on the show, Semmy Schiltt became the No. 1 contender for the title (and he already holds a non-title win over Mezger) beating Funaki via knockout with a body punch in 7:13, in their first ever shoot match as pros (they fought twice as amateurs in college wrestling), Yoshiki Takahashi beat Minoru Suzuki in 8:06 via TKO, and in two more ranking matches, Yuki Kondo beat Osami Shibuya by a split decision after going the 20:00 time limit and unbeaten Evan Tanner scored two points in 20:00 beating Kiuma Kunioku, getting one point with a knockdown from a knee and a second point on a rope break for a triangle armlock. Pancrase will only be running small shows in Tokyo and Osaka until the next major event in a medium-sized building in December."


"Virtually every top Kingdom star has either gone to KRS, All Japan or RINGS and Yoji Anjoh, who went to K-1, is out for the rest of the year after breaking his leg. It is believed the top stars will be Koki Kitahara and Shooto heavyweight champ and former UFC competitor Ensen Inoue."

September 28, 1998:

"There is a lot of speculation of having Masakatsu Funaki vs. Nobuhiko Takada as a real PPV main event. Sky Perfect TV, which does both the Pancrase and KRS PPV shows, wants the interpromotional deal for obvious reasons. Actually Pancrase was wanting to sign Funaki vs. Rickson Gracie, but when Funaki was knocked out on PPV by Semmy Schiltt on a show that Gracie attended, they figured Gracie wasn't about to fight a guy who was just knocked out as there is no upside to it in his eyes. The Gracie-Rutten deal we talked about last week wasn't an angle. Gracie and Takada were both at the show to promote their next on the 10/11 PPV."

October 5, 1998:

"Bischoff had meetings with New Japan during his brief stay largely on the subject of PPV. Right now there are 600,000 PPV homes in Japan as opposed to about 35 million in the United States and Canada. Neither All Japan nor New Japan have even attempted to do a PPV, however several of the smaller groups have with not much in the way of real success although last year's Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada KRS Pride One show did do an 8.0 buy rate in the limited universe."

October 12, 1998:




"The two most important shows of the year in the free fighting genre will be taking place 10/11 in Tokyo and 10/16 in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the KRS Pride Four Show and UFC Brazil respectively.

The former may spell the end of the road as a serious headliner for one of the biggest pro wrestling stars of this era. The latter, many suspect, may spell the end of the road for a company that revolutionized the world of martial arts, certainly helped change the world of pro wrestling, particularly overseas, and was responsible in bringing the two worlds closer together. In both cases, the shows only underscore the problems this industry is having and just how difficult it is to maintain this type of a sport financially.

It was only three years ago when the four UFC events of the year averaged a 1.01 buy rate, numbers even more impressive when you consider that WWF averaged an 0.75 and WCW an 0.63 during the same year. Since that time, the fall of UFC, which at the time was unquestionably "the show" in that sport and many believed at the time was going to, without any television, surpass worked pro wrestling and challenge boxing for PPV supremacy, the latter many believe was its downfall, has been well documented.

In some ways, at least financially speaking as certainly not for fight quality, UFC has been replaced as the big show by KRS, an oft-criticized promotion that after three tries over the last year has yet to put on a good show, and since the first show has had problems drawing. But because its pay scale is considerably higher as its promoters for whatever reason, many believe unsavory, aren't nearly as concerned over the bottom line, has been able to pull many of the most marketable heavyweights away from UFC.

However, while KRS has proven it has the resources to pay big money to fighters, it has yet to prove it can make money promoting the sport, nor has it been able to put on one show that hasn't been a disappointment, between holding matches in a wrestling ring as opposed to an enclosed cage environment not being as conducive to good matches and having longer time limits which have resulted in some marathon boring matches, two of which lasted more than 40 minutes (they have since amended the rules to where matches have three ten minute rounds and if no decision is rendered, an additional ten minute overtime which means a total of a 40 minute time limit). In trying to largely attract pro wrestling fans, it has also promoted several worked matches on its shows, mainly involving pro wrestlers Takada (who was given a win on the last show to build up this main event) and Koji Kitao. Many of the rival shoot groups, whether they be Pancrase and Shooto in Japan or UFC in the United States, have privately, and often not so privately, decried KRS' entrance into the market because of the belief they are paying the top fighters more than they are worth from a marketing standpoint and thus make it difficult for any of the aforementioned groups to keep its most marketable fights, and maintain good business relations with the ones they've been able to keep when word gets around how much some of the top fighters who have limited if any drawing power such as Mark Kerr and Marco Ruas are earning once they've left UFC for Japan. The situation with Bas Rutten is typical. Rutten was the top foreign fighter in Pancrase once Ken Shamrock left the promotion in 1996. He took a hiatus from the promotion to heal up and move to the more lucrative shows with less rules. Rutten picked exposure over short-term money in being convinced by UFC booker John Perretti to sign, figuring that in the long run, winning that group's heavyweight title would be worth more than the short-term higher money offer from KRS. However, when SEG lost Randy Couture when economic dictated they had to cut back everyone's money, Rutten, who was asked to fight for less than he'd been contracted to as well, also pulled out. Rutten originally took the 9/14 Pancrase PPV fight largely as a tune-up for his UFC title match, but at this point it appears he has his eye on KRS, and in fact, challenged Rickson Gracie twice in recent months, on the most recent KRS (where he was in Kerr's corner) and Pancrase PPV shows.

KRS put itself on the map promotionally last year when it signed the Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada match for the Tokyo Dome. The match had its own back story that was a shoot, that led to the match being a natural as far as drawing big money but not a natural for other reasons, the main one being Takada had a great reputation that needed protecting as the believed to be world's greatest fighter at least to his loyal pro wrestling fans.

On December 7, 1994, Yoji Anjoh, at the time a pro wrestler for Takada's since deceased UWFI promotion, showed up unannounced at Gracie's Jiu Jitsu school in Santa Monica, CA with Japanese photographers and former Japanese wrestler Shinji Sasazaki in hand, and issued a challenge on the spot. Gracie was at home while Anjoh was creating this scene, got a phone call, literally drove to his gym while taping up his hands, and gave Anjoh a horrible beating. There was clamor from Japanese wrestling fans for Takada as the top star in the stable of a supposed shoot group which was at the time selling out almost every show, to challenge Gracie for revenge. The reality was known at the time that Takada would have no chance in such a situation, so Takada never addressed it. By not addressing it, it led to the many Takada pro wrestling fans (Takada may have been at the time the biggest drawing card in pro wrestling and certainly by any standard from 1990-96 was not only one of the biggest draws but also one of the best workers in the entire business) wondering why. Not only did Takada lose a great deal of popularity by his ignoring the issue, but fans lost confidence in the UWFI fighters as being the real deal when none stepped forward to publicly attempt to avenge Anjoh. Ironically at about the same time, another UWFI fighter, Dan Severn, who UWFI basically told not to enter UFC, ignored their wishes, made himself a name in that game, and while it could have brought back prestige to UWFI, the end result turned out to be Severn never working for the group again. UWFI, for both the aforementioned incident and also due to outside business problems, by late 1995 had one foot in the promotional grave, basically was saved by New Japan, which turned the interpromotional feud into the biggest money feuds (at least up until that point in time) in pro wrestling history with Takada selling out three consecutive Tokyo Domes in seven months. But that feud was booked by New Japan more for short-term ego gratification than long-term business (they were the ones in charge, and they were the ones going over in no uncertain terms, and you thought that mentality was strictly American?) and when UWFI was used up, the company had little life left and folded. At this point, Takada was taking indie pro wrestling gigs at $27,000 per shot, but was quickly outliving his marketability with that kind of a price tag including taking a ridiculous match against Abdullah the Butcher and when he and Giant Baba failed to come to terms, the only avenue left for big money was the match left on the table.

The problem was that, in a pro wrestling, vernacular, Gracie wouldn't do business. He wouldn't lose. He wouldn't even "carry" Takada for one round before trying to beat him in their match which was postponed several times before finally taking place on October 11, 1997 at the Dome. Of course the build-up for the Gracie-Takada I was far more interesting than the match itself, which Gracie won in 4:33 with an armbar submission in a match that Takada didn't get one offensive move in on before a crowd estimated at between 35,000 and 37,000, believed to be 98 percent pro wrestling fans. The entire match, from the moment Takada, who was paid $180,000 for the slaughter, began walking to the ring to the ending of the show, was like the last of the Takada marks witnessing the athletic funeral of their one-time hero, who was as aware of what was happening as anyone, being exposed as not only not being the greatest shooter, but not even being competitive against a smaller man. If this was pro wrestling, the thing to do would be to have Takada try to save face, challenge for a rematch, train all year, and count the money for the rematch, just as Antonio Inoki would have done in the same situation except Inoki wouldn't have ever been foolish enough to be in the same situation.

From a promotional standpoint, this show is not without some flair. KRS has been promoting the show for months, one year to the day of their first meeting, same time, same building, same participants. At first, it appeared the legend of the first match, which some would say from a historical standpoint was one of the most important pro wrestling matches of this generation (Takada was without question the biggest pro wrestling name ever to do a legit shoot and from at least a legend standpoint, nobody is bigger than the Gracies when it comes to fighting), grew to make it something more than it really was and would make a rematch even bigger than their first meeting. Perhaps people would buy a rematch and believe, that like in his pro wrestling days, that the few matches Takada lost after being a headliner to the likes of perceived tough monsters Vader and Gary Albright, he always came back and avenged. But in recent months it appears nobody is really believing it. While Takada deserves praise in that two of his students, Hiromitsu Kanehara (now of RINGS) and Kazushi Sakuraba are world-class in their weight, the truth is that Takada, 36, was in training regularly tapping out to near beginners at the famed Beverly Hills Jiu Jitsu Club where he was training under Ruas. Ruas himself said that Takada had no chance at all against Gracie and ripped on Takada as far as being a true fighter, going so far as to call him a wimp. No doubt Gracie, whose age is listed at 38 (turns 39 next month) but other sources claim he's actually 40, who had built up a reputation as the world's greatest fighter long before almost anyone in the U.S. had ever even heard of his younger brother, although the reality is he's been totally untested since this sport even existed on a world-wide basis, will be asked once again before the fight to do the right thing for business. Most likely, once again, he'll refuse, although there were rumors floating around Japan in the days before the match that were shocking in that regard.

There was even discussion about another plan, which may have had some credence if only because last year Takada's people themselves agreed to do UFC provided Ken Shamrock would be his opponent, no doubt looking for a big-name pro wrestler with a legit reputation in Japan to rehabilitate him, and then just days after the deal was put together, pulled out of the match claiming an injury in some circles, and professing to know nothing about the match in the first place in other circles. Perhaps Takada in the last days before the show could come up with another injury, and the Japanese promoters, figuring just about the only person in Japan with the marketability to take his place on such a major show would be Masakatsu Funaki, would slide him is as a replacement. However, if there was going to be anything to that, it fell apart when Funaki was knocked out by Semmy Schiltt on 9/14.

The end result, unless Gracie gives in to the outside pressure, at that point will be a formality. Realistically, just like any pro wrestling match, this one will be decided beforehand, because no decision beforehand is basically a win for Gracie. To the pro wrestling fans who once idolized Takada, they had their hearts broken when he tapped out to Keiji Muto, when he even got involved in that farce with Abby, and when he couldn't do a thing against Gracie. If this event draws, it'll be wrestling fans that support it. But will wrestling fans support the Emperor of Shoot Style pro wrestling after it's been revealed he isn't wearing any clothes one more time?

In another part of the world, UFC will struggle clinging barely to existence on 10/16 in the 8,500-seat Ginasio da Portuguesa in Sao Paolo, Brazil in a show available on PPV in the U.S. primarily to dish owners. As with most of the recent shows, the line-up has some intriguing and competitive matches on paper. But more important than good matches at this point is if SEG will be able to swing a deal where Brazilian TV station Globosport will make a long term commitment to the end and Brazil will become its home away from home.

For American PPV purposes, the main event is Frank Shamrock (4-1) vs. John Lober (3-1-1) for the middleweight title. However in marketing the show in Brazil for the live television special, they were building the show around Vitor Belfort, who they'll attempt to market as a national hero, against Jerry Bohlander, a match that won't be taking place due to Bohlander blowing out his knee last week training for the match. The result of all this is that Belfort (5-1) will instead face Vanderlei da Silva of Brazil (8-1), a dangerous 22-year-old who in his last match on 8/23 knocked out world class wrestler Mike Van Arsdale in 4:00 whose only loss came in a match stopped due to cuts. da Silva, who Belfort isn't crazy about having to face to the point some feel he may change his mind and try and back out, is a national Muay Thai champion who has looked impressive in Vale Tudo outings in Brazil with his lone drawback being he's been cut often, leading one to believe this match will wind up being a stand-up war. Originally after Bohlander was injured, Belfort's opponent was set to be Roni Roberts, a 22-year-old from Modesto, CA who has a 3-0 MMA record, however that fell apart within a matter of days when Roberts broke his hand in training.

The idea of this show is to pit the two winners, hopefully for UFC being Shamrock and Belfort, into a match that if it were to take place would almost surely be the biggest match of 1999. Lober can't be discounted out since he beat Shamrock in their previous meeting, although despite that win most have him as a pretty heavy underdog once again. Shamrock's only MMA loss was on a split decision in January 1997 in Honolulu after a brutal 30:00 match which so both men exhausted at the finish, which included Shamrock knocking some of Lober's teeth out and Lober dislocating Shamrock's jaw, the repercussions of which has turned it into a very legitimate grudge match as neither is happy about how the first match ended. Since that time, Shamrock has won seven matches in a row in a variety of styles including wins over Olympic wrestlers in his weight class, 1992 gold medalist Kevin Jackson and many time national Greco-roman champion Dan Henderson, and over previously unbeaten Extreme Fighting Champion Igor Zinoviev--all three in less than 50 seconds, along with two top Japanese heavyweights, Shooto heavyweight champion Enson Inoue and RINGS star Tsuyoshi Kohsaka [YESSSSSSSSSSSSS -- ed.], in matches he was giving up considerable weight. Lober, since beating Shamrock, has struggled, having his shinbone broken in a Pancrase match in December against Ryushi Yanagisawa, and since coming back has lost Pancrase rules matches to Minoru Suzuki and Joe Pardo.

The remainder of the UFC show has Tank Abbott (8-6) facing undefeated Pedro Rizzo (4-0), primarily a kickboxer who is the top protege of Ruas; Kohsaka (1-0) facing Lions Den fighter Pete Williams (4-0), who is coming off a big win over Mark Coleman in an intriguing match-up. Williams has the edge standing up, particularly with a greater reach and more experience. Kohsaka is better on the ground, however Williams' Lions' Den training should make getting him in a submission very difficult. Kohsaka has a major edge in experience as well; Pat Miletich (20-1-2) faces Mikey Burnette (1-0) for the new UFC lightweight (under-170) title. Burnette, a member of Lions Den, has fearsome punching power, very good wrestling ability and incredible, nearly freakish strength for his size. However, he's only had one MMA fight, although in it he knocked silly famed Brazilian Eugenio Tadeu. Miletich is a good all-around fighter with far more experience with 23 fights and his only loss was due to a broken nose, but has been training on a very bad elbow suffered in surviving against much-larger Severn for a time limit draw in a match with no judges on 8/23; The other top match has Jeremy Horn (9-3-3), who went in unheralded and was ahead on points before submitting to Shamrock in a title match on the last show, facing Brazilian Ebenezer Fontes Braca (6-3), whose record includes losses to former NCAA champion Kevin Randelman and a decision loss to Dan Severn.

To MMA fans, the Takada-Gracie match is considered a bad joke, most of whom don't understand the realities of business and that if Takada wasn't there, the promotion wouldn't be there either. There are a few intriguing matches on the show for the serious fans. Igor Vovchanchin (22-1), the Soviet knockout artist who has won tournaments in Russia, Brazil and Israel and has destroyed some much larger world class wrestlers in a matter of seconds, faces former UFC star Gary Goodridge (9-6) of Canada in a match that promises to be a slugfest; Kerr (9-0), who has the best record of any heavyweight in the world, faces Brazilian Luta Livre myth Hugo Duarte (5-1), the latter looking to avenge his very controversial quick loss to Abbott on the last UFC; Sakuraba (3-0) faces Allan Goes (3-1) in the match with the most interest among insiders; and Ruas (7-1-1) faces much smaller pro wrestler Alexander Otsuka of Battlarts."

October 19, 1998:

"In what was the lead story in several sports newspapers the next morning in Japan, a pro wrestler scored one of the biggest upsets in the history of mixed martial arts beating one of the myths of the sport on the Pride Four show on 10/11 at the Tokyo Dome.

But it wasn't Nobuhiko Takada beating Rickson Gracie. Little known indie wrestler Alexander Otsuka, a 195-pounder from the small Battlarts organization, seemingly put in the ring to be a quick jobber for legendary Brazilian former UFC tournament champion Marco Ruas, some 20:00 later, made himself a major name when a very bloody and completely exhausted Ruas told his corner and the referee that he couldn't continue after the end of the second ten minute round. He had been exhausted, was reportedly turning a shade of purple, and just hanging on and taking a real pounding for several minutes. After the match, Ruas, considered by Brazilians for years as the top Luta Livre style fighter around, was literally crying in his corner when the realization set in that he had quit in a match for the first time in a nearly two decade long fighting career. This was, while nowhere near as newsworthy, every bit as big an upset as when Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson in the same building nine years earlier.

Gracie beat Takada again before an estimated crowd of 30,000 (announced attendance was 36,354 but that was an inflated figure) pro-Takada fans and a live gate estimated in the $3 million range, which with the exception of New Japan and All Japans shows in the same building would be the largest live gate of the year anywhere in the world for a house drawn by a pro wrestler since he was the draw on the show. Gracie had more trouble than the first time but still put away Takada with an armbar in 9:30. The match was one year to the day in the same building of their first meeting, which Gracie won in just 4:47 and which drew a crowd of about 36,000, although both crowds were somewhat papered. Kakutogi Revolution Spirits (KRS), the promoters, didn't announce a return date at the show which started a lot of rumors that this would either be their last show, or their last undertaking at an event of this magnitude. After the show there were a lot of hints of a return show for February using Royce Gracie's long-awaited Japanese debut and his first pro fight in nearly four years as the main event. It was said to have been overall the best KRS show to date. [Weird, I thought it was the least-best one! But who can say! -- ed.]

Gracie vs. Takada was covered as the lead sports story on news reports with video clips of the match appearing on four of the five networks. More than 200 reporters from around the world covered the match which must be some sort of a record for MMA.

There was expected to be a lot of pressure on Gracie to put Takada over since it would make the most sense for business, both Vale Tudo and pro wrestling business, to create interest in a third meeting between the two. A win over Gracie in one night would not just salvage Takada's damaged reputation, but in one fell swoop make him the biggest pro wrestling star in Japan and a national hero. Obviously in Gracie's world, pride means more than financial pressure and you have to credit him for that pride, as selling out to the same pro wrestling that his father hated back in the 50s would not just be selling out his own reputation and art form, but the family reputation as well [And yet it is perhaps worth noting that Rickson, in his post-fight speech, referred several times to Kodokan 7th dan Mitsuya Maeda, but not as Kodokan 7th dan Mitsuya Maeda, nor even as Kodokan 7th dan Otávio Maeda, the name he in time adopted, but by his pro-wrestling name, "Conde Koma" {Count Combat}: the person they point to as their link to TRUE JIU-JITSU {a dopey fvkkn claim} was, of course, a judoka who pro-wrestled {plus spread a tonne of judo}. These Gracies, man, I just don't know sometimes about these Gracies sometimes. -- ed.]. Gracie claimed that despite rumors to the contrary, he has a match-by-match deal with KRS and is not under contract for any return appearances, nor did he publicly even hint at retirement after the show. Takada issued a challenge after the match for a third meeting, but Gracie turned it down saying there was nothing left to prove. He's played this game well up to this point from a business standpoint as he's the highest paid fighter in the game commanding upwards of $250,000 per appearance while maintaining his integrity up to this point in that he hasn't done any works or jobs yet. At the same time, he's also been able to maintain a mythical status while at the same time never getting into the ring with a top-class opponent at least in the last five years since the NHB movement took off in the U.S. and Japan. And yet, because of his name and reputation and despite not having beaten anyone of significance in years, he is the person that all the top fighters challenge. Takada was thought to have no chance to win in a straight shoot, but was "given" a win in a worked match on the previous KRS show to help build up this showdown. If a finish could have been manipulated for him to win, Takada likely could have parlayed the win into perhaps another huge gate for a third meeting and also for another run of stadium shows for New Japan and/or other companies against the top pro stars as he did in New Japan's record setting 1995-96 season. New Japan was hoping for a Takada win, which again explains the business incentives that could have been there for Gracie to lose, including a probable 1/4 Tokyo Dome main event slot against Shinya Hashimoto and perhaps another IWGP title reign since New Japan still "owes" Takada a win over Hashimoto from a 1996 interpromotional deal. Takada did get some offense in, so his reputation as a shooter wasn't totally destroyed by the loss as it was in the aftermath of the first match. Takada threw punches and knees at Gracie into the corner, took him down and got the mount on him and threw blows from the top. When Takada tried for a leg submission, Gracie was able to reverse and mount him and throw a series of punches to the stomach to soften him up for a quick position change into the armbar and the ref immediately stopped the match. Because Takada got some offense in, the crowd at least had something to cheer about and it was generally considered from a standpoint of the crowd of almost exclusively pro wrestling fans to be a good match and not another Takada funeral.

Exactly what this means for Takada's pro wrestling future is unclear. The best fit for him at this point would seem to be working for the UFO promotion, Antonio Inoki's new group built around former MMA competitors to become the New Japan interpromotional rivals down the road. UFO has already signed up several fighters who had worked for the Kingdom group and its rules and product are expected to be similar as well, which Takada actually never worked for but had a loose affiliation with as the successor to Takada's own defunct UWFI office. Inoki is building that company largely around the colorless former judo champion Naoya Ogawa [HOW DARE YOU -- ed.] and desperately needs some people with box office marquee value. Even though Takada is past his prime as a pro wrestler as well, he was at one time one of the best workers in the business and had a believable style and a tremendous track record of drawing when given the right opponent that would fit into what UFO and Inoki are trying to get over. Perhaps UFO can give him some wins over its stable of former MMA stars and give him a feud with Don Frye (where to revitalize his career he'd need to get the first win) that would somewhat rehabilitate his name at least to the pro wrestling crowd. There is always All Japan, but the two sides never came close on money a few years back when a move to All Japan seemed to be the best for both sides, and All Japan has always been reluctant to put "outsiders" over its top stars and therefore would squander the long-term potential of the new match-ups a new headliner from the outside would create.

Hashimoto, who was in Tokyo for the New Japan Korakuen Hall show that was taking place at the same time at the building next door, left Korakuen Hall after his match for the Tokyo Dome and watched the final two matches on the show. The plan was for Hashimoto to challenge Takada should he win the match. As things turned out, Hashimoto offered a challenge to both Gracie and Takada to reporters after the show.

And for the 27-year-old Otsuka, it's too early to tell. He may wind up just being a trivia item for the future as a pro wrestling Buster Douglas whose entire life can be summed up by his 15 minutes of fame. A three-year pro, Otsuka has worked for numerous indies and done shoot matches in RINGS where he lost to their preliminary guys so this upset is probably a lot more of an indication that Ruas, who is said to be 38 but it probably close to 40, was either highly overrated to begin with or age has caught up with him, than Otsuka being a world beater. In that sense, over the long haul, this may mean no more than when Yoshiki Takahashi became the first Japanese to beat a name Brazilian under UFC rules when he beat Wallid Ismail in 1997. It was a big deal at the time, but that was more of a measure at how MMA had evolved past the days of Brazilian being years ahead of the game and dominating and of how far the top Japanese fighters, like the Americans, have improved in a very short period of time. It was not, as time has shown, that Takahashi didn't become a world-beater or new superstar, as he lost his very next fight in Pancrase and since that time he's remained as a mid-level fighter and whatever popularity he gained from the win was short-lived. To show just how little of a chance it was thought Otsuka was going to have against Ruas, whose only prior loss in MMA was via a decision to Oleg Taktarov at the first Ultimate Ultimate (a loss he somewhat avenged in pounding Taktarov for 30:00 in a return match in Brazil that was technically a draw due to having no judges but where generally everyone conceded Ruas clearly won) unlike virtually all fighters who curtail outside activities and train specifically for their fight for the last several weeks, Otsuka was still not only working regularly as a pro wrestler but as recently as six days before the fight worked the Battlarts Korakuen Hall show in the third match of a seven match show, where he hardly took it easy despite having a real fight a few days away doing moves like topes and a lot of dangerous brawling spots. In addition, that morning before the show, Otsuka was part of the ring crew so he was doing physical work the very morning of his big fight. Otsuka wasn't even considered as one of the top stars in the Battlarts promotion as the main pushed guys have been Yuki Ishikawa, Minoru Tanaka and Daisuke Ikeda. In 1997, he was put over as the winner of the Battlarts Young Generation Battle tournament.

Otsuka, whose real name is Takashi Otsuka, will be put in a tag match teaming with Mohammad Yone against the Road Warriors when the latter team returns to Japan after a several year absence on the 11/23 Battlarts show at Sumo Hall. The original plan for Battlarts was to put Daisuke Ikeda & Jinsei Shinzaki in as the tag team to face the WWF's LOD 2000, who were super drawing cards a decade ago in Japan and will mean something as an attraction for their return as a nostalgia act, just as Bob Backlund did at Korakuen Hall on 10/5. Even though Otsuka was basically a mid-card guy with an independent-level promotion, for whatever reason, he did have some cult popularity for the past year or so with the Japanese gay community [I can see it -- ed.] and had finished higher than you'd think in a magazine popularity poll of the Japanese wrestlers.

In the days following the event, the Battlarts promotion received tons of phone calls from fans all over the country to congratulate Otsuka for the win. In a press interview on 10/13, Otsuka, apparently recognizing his own limitations, said that he would never fight UFC style again. He said that he was a pro wrestler and felt he was representing the pro wrestling community and he just wanted to show that pro wrestlers could do it. He said he was interested in beating big name pro wrestlers like the Road Warriors as opposed to martial arts fighters and that if Ruas was interested in a rematch, it would have to be on a Battlarts show.

There appears to be a major promotional rivalry right now between KRS and RINGS [no spoilers no spoilers nobody tell me how this all ends up -- ed.]. Apparently RINGS and WOWOW had booked the Tokyo Dome on 9/14 with the idea of headlining with a Rickson Gracie vs. Akira Maeda match, however Gracie instead signed with KRS for a return match with Takada leaving RINGS without a big show for this year. RINGS, in retaliation, was able to make the deal with Alexander Karelin and made the announcement of it only a few days before this show to attempt to steal some of its thunder. It now appears KRS is going to plan a major show in February, which not so coincidentally is the same time the Maeda-Karelin match is scheduled.

The show also featured a retirement ceremony for pro wrestler Koji Kitao, who did one worked match in this promotion's initial show, and who ended his career as a pro wrestler a few months back. Best known as Futuhaguro, the youngest sumo Grand Champion ever, Kitao was then booted out of the sport for disciplinary reasons, and went on to become a major flop as a pro wrestler. They had been doing an angle where Shinobu Kandori, the current WWWA and LLPW womens champion who was a world ranked judo star in the 80s, was training with Kitao, who is 6-7 and 385 pounds, for her octagon cage match the previous night at Sumo Hall against 6-3, 330-pound 1988 Olympic judo medalist Svetlana Gundarenko of Russia. Gundarenko captured the 1995 L-1 tournament, a shoot tournament similar to the original UFCs, with women, beating Kandori in the finals and this was their first rematch. On the womens octagon cage show which drew an estimated crowd of 5,000 (announced figure was 7,824), Kandori "avenged" the loss as Gundarenko, although it was not only a worked match, but a badly worked one at that. It was the only worked match on the L-1 show. Gundarenko was said to have been larger and had less mobility than three years ago. The finish of the match was to a front guillotine choke in 4:08. In regards to what appeared to be shoot or work, the feeling from those there were that Kandori-Gundarenko was the only worked match on either show.

A complete Tokyo Dome show rundown:

1. Igor Vovchanchin (23-1) defeated much larger Gary Goodridge (9-7) in 5:58 when the ref stopped the match. The match was all on its feet and somewhat slow until Vovchanchin caught Goodridge in the corner and began pounding on him.

2. Akira Shoji (3-1-3) defeated Wallid Ismail (7-2) in 11:26. Ismail was able to dominate early using wrestling techniques, but eventually tired and took a lot of hard shots before the ref stopped it. There were some who considered this a quick stoppage although Ismail was out of gas. With this win, they are trying to set Shoji up for a rematch with Renzo Gracie, as the two had a 30:00 draw last year and had their been judges, Shoji should have gotten the decision.

3. Shunsuke Matsui (0-0-2) drew with Sanae Kikuta (0-1-1) over 30:00. Matsui is a pro wrestler under Takada's banner. This match according to most reports was said to have put the crowd to sleep. [LET THE FOOLS SLEEP, SANAE KIKUTA FOREVER -- ed.]

4. Kazushi Sakuraba (3-0-1) drew with Allan Goes (3-1-1) over 30:00. Sakuraba is another pro wrestler under Takada who is so highly respected as a shooter in MMA that he's ranked second in the world behind Frank Shamrock in the under-200 pound weight class by Fighting Sports News. We've heard a variety of live reports on this match. Apparently it was considered a good match among the hardcore fans because both are skilled guys, but the largely pro wrestling audience live considered it boring and there were a lot of boos for the match, particularly when Goes would simply drop to his back to avoid stand-up confrontations. We've also heard a mixed bag when it comes to who would have won the fight had their been judges. There are reports of each man dominating the fight, and of it also being too close to call. Goes apparently scored some good take downs but Sakuraba defended him well. Others considered Goes laying on his back for several minutes and refusing to get up as a sign that Sakuraba would have had to have won a decision claiming he was in control 75% of the match. Sakuraba was bleeding badly from the ear and also from the face, which Goes supporters would use as a reason to say that he won the fight. Goes was limping badly after the fight from repeated leg kicks.

5. Satoshi Honma (1-0) beat Yuhi Sano (0-2) in 9:25 when the ref stopped the fight. Sano is another pro wrestler under Takada, who is best known in pro wrestling for his series of 1990 classics when he feuded with Jushin Liger over the IWGP jr. heavyweight title. Honma, about 200-pounds, with a karate background, was a strong fighter standing up, and gave Sano a real pounding before the ref stopped the match after strikes from the mount.

6. Otsuka (Takashi Otsuka) (1-0) beat Ruas (7-2-1) when Ruas told his corner to throw in the towel after the end of the second round. This was generally considered as the best match on the show and the crowd went nuts, as you could imagine, when the match was stopped. Ruas had Otsuka in a rear naked choke just as the first round was ending and it appeared Otsuka was saved by the bell. Ruas, who had done more power training than ever before with the likes of Kerr, ran out of gas and took a lot of punishment in the second round.

7. Mark Kerr (10-0) defeated Hugo Duarte (5-2) in 22:32 when the ref stopped the match after Duarte had taken a real beating and left the ring. Kerr was just too powerful and dominated the fight, bloodying Duarte up badly. Duarte spent most of the match trying to protect his eye which had a sliver cut, and didn't do much of anything on offense. After the match Kerr challenged Gracie. Among the people in Kerr's corner for the fight were Bas Rutten and noted pro wrestling agent Barry Bloom.

8. Gracie (9-0) defeated Takada (0-2) in 9:30 with an armbar submission."

October 26, 1998:

"MMA: We'll have a detailed report on the KRS Pride Four Tokyo Dome show in next week's issue. There are a lot of reasons being given for Marco Ruas loss to Alexander Otsuka, apparently the one getting the most play is that Ruas suffered a knee injury in training and the drugs he was taking destroyed him in the fight. By the way, the reason Otsuka is so popular among the gay community in Japan is because as a pro wrestler, he does a gay act, although he isn't in real life. Ruas is said to badly want a rematch."

November 2, 1998:


"In probably the most significant heavyweight match-up of the year from a "real" as opposed to money drawing standpoint in MMA (obviously the highest profile match was Gracie vs. Takada although Gracie technically isn't a heavyweight), former UFC champion Randy Couture tapped out to an armbar from Shooto heavyweight champion Enson Inoue in just 1:39 in the main event at the Shooto Vale Tudo Open Japan on 10/25 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall.

Couture, now 4-1, was ranked No. 1 in the world in the heavyweight division in most insider newsletters due to wins in late 1997 over Vitor Belfort and Maurice Smith, the latter bringing him the UFC heavyweight title, the most highly recognized MMA title on a world-wide basis. Couture never defended the title due to a rib injury and later because of financial problems within SEG resulting in a dispute with Couture's RAW team management, and he instead took the Japanese date. He was stripped of the UFC heavyweight title just nine days earlier, before the UFC PPV show, in order for UFC to set up an elimination process that is expected to crown a new champion in March.

The result of this match on Shooto's traditional biggest show of the year, before 4,830 fans in the 7,000-seat gym, along with several other shoot matches over the past two weeks shows that in a real situation, there can be no certainty in predicting outcomes when two top level fighters are going at it. Inoue, 9-3, had been knocked out by both Igor Zinoviev and Frank Shamrock in his two highest profile career fights. The Couture fight was said to be similar to one of his biggest wins, a UFC victory over former world class wrestler Royce Alger in another short match ending with an armbar.

The win, coming on the heels of the biggest heavyweight upset in modern shoot history (Marco Ruas' loss to pro wrestler Alexander Otsuka) certainly throws any ratings of heavyweights into a total quandary, as five of the top ten rated heavyweights in the world (Couture, Ruas, Pete Williams, Vanderlei Silva and Gary Goodridge) in the Fighting Sports News ratings were all defeated in the past two weeks and three of the others (Tom Erikson, Maurice Smith and Mark Coleman) haven't actually won a fight during 1998, the former two because they haven't competed. This pretty well through process of elimination should leave Mark Kerr (10-0) as "the man" in the heavyweight division.

Kerr is tentatively scheduled for his highest profile career match in February at Tokyo Budokan Hall for KRS against unbeaten legend Royce Gracie (11-0-1), a match that has actually not officially been announced but which both are currently in training for. Gracie, who hasn't competed since his now legendary 36:00 draw in 1995 with Ken Shamrock, is expected to compete in either MMA or Jiu Jitsu rules in a tune-up match in Brazil on 12/17, possibly against Mario Sperry, before the big match with Kerr. In recent years, the Gracies have developed a reputation for not getting into competition with the top names now that bigger athletes have started the learn the skills of fighting this style, a game the Gracies with their experience from Brazil, were far ahead of the Americans in the learning curve during the early years in. Among insiders, their reputation took a major hit when Rickson had some trouble before putting away pro wrestler Nobuhiko Takada on 10/11. That makes the fact Royce is apparently going to face Kerr (the two were scheduled for a match in early 1998, but Royce pulled out due to an injury and despite a lot of conjecture to the contrary, he legitimately did undergo major back surgery this year) even more intriguing even though the way the styles match up may make it a long and somewhat boring match and with no judges in Pride, Gracie may simply be able to hang on for a time limit draw against a man who will probably outweigh him by about 70 pounds and Gracie is excellent at capitalizing on mistakes so it's not impossible for him to win, although if he should do so it would qualify as a pretty major upset. Due to legal problems that resulted in Kerr's breaking his SEG contract to work for more money for KRS, he has found himself somewhat ostracized from UFC, which is still considered the top competitive heavyweight venue even though many of the big name heavyweights have switched to KRS and for those reasons it seems next to impossible that he'd be involved in the UFC eliminations. Erikson, both due to his affiliation with the RAW team, and because UFC has always been leery of him with the belief that he's not marketable (then again, Couture had no charisma either) and would be extremely difficult to beat, has steered clear of him to this point in time which has remained a very controversial subject within MMA. Erikson, the 1997 U.S. superheavyweight freestyle champion is the largest and most powerful wrestler in the world that competes in this arena and has a lot of knockout punching power, although no boxing finesse. Smith's name has also been brought up, but in his case, the same financial problems that led to him leaving MMA to return to kickboxing with K-1 haven't changed.

Couture's loss actually makes the UFC tournament more viable in a sense in that when Couture was stripped of the title, he was never beaten. The tournament would gain some credibility if Inoue would be invited in, but that would numerically mess up the deal as the tentative idea is for Bas Rutten vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and Pedro Rizzo vs. Coleman in January, and the two winners facing for the title in Brazil in March. As mentioned last week, that has its problems because if Rutten and Rizzo win, they have already made it clear they won't fight each other because they are good friends. There is also another wildcard name that was brought up on the last UFC PPV show, Ken Shamrock. Shamrock has shown a lot of interest in returning to UFC, although due to his WWF contract, that would require the okay from Vince McMahon, and challenging for the heavyweight title once again. A Shamrock return to the octagon to challenge for the title he once held, particularly with his WWF fame and the current popularity of pro wrestling, should be a bigger draw than anything UFC could possibly put on the table over the next year, except that so few homes are cleared so nothing right now can become a big money fight, although a lot of people expect that climate to change over the next year. A return by Shamrock would raise a lot of issues for both WWF and SEG, because there is no guarantee of endings in something like this, and McMahon has a major need for control of nearly everything involving one of his highest profile stars. In addition, Shamrock, who it is said would be interested in a high profile fight in Japan as well, would command a high price (and Titan would be getting a large chunk since the deal has to go through them) in a business where at this point UFC due to its financial limitations isn't paying anyone big money.

In addition, on 10/26 at the Pancrase show at Korakuen Hall, two of Pancrase's top stars, Masakatsu Funaki and Jason DeLucia, were upset by Kiuma Kunioku and Keiichiro Yamamiya respectively and Rumina Sato, Japan's biggest name lighter weight fighter who came into the Vale Tudo show with a 12-1-1 record, lost when the ref stopped the fight at 4:20 after being kicked in the face and stunned by a hard punch on the Shooto show's semifinal by highly-regarded Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teacher Andres Pedernairis. It once again shows that in this and similar shootfighting style, anything can happen. Due to style, training, injuries and motivation level, it's a rock, paper, scissors deal. This simply isn't a sport where somebody can undisputedly be labeled the best or unbeatable like a dominating boxer or wrestler because with so many offensive avenues open, everyone has weaknesses that can be exploited. Situations like the current Frank Shamrock eight match winning streak against mainly top-name opponents is an accomplishment that isn't likely to be duplicated very often."

and, of course, Dave Gets Tape:


10/11 KRS PRIDE FOUR: This was largely reported as the best KRS show to date, but it would still be a thumbs down PPV, which makes four in a row from this company. The major difference between KRS, which seems to have good match-ups on paper but bad matches in the ring, and UFC, which has generally been having great shows over the past year, is a few major problems. The oversized boxing ring seems to allow for more stalling than an octagon, although this is the smallest of the problems. Having no judges decisions leads to fighters stalling for a draw knowing as long as they survive it's not the dreaded loss, and gives no incentive for being aggressive. Having no stand-ups when the action is at a snails pace on the ground, while less artificial, also allows for sitting in the guard and waiting, making for boring spectator fights. And no rule banning a fighter from laying on his back for extended periods, as there is in UFC because a stand-up would be ordered, compounds the earlier stalling problems. One thing they do different than I see as a minor positive, in that it treats the event more like a sports contest as opposed to a television show, is that in KRS, when there is a stoppage, the time clock automatically stops. In UFC, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. It doesn't seem to be a uniform rule. As a PPV event, this show lasted five hours and 18 minutes. I've seen some house shows that long that were really good, but as a general rule, that is way too long. By the time it's over, you feel like you deserve a medal for watching it rather than it being a show that is entertaining. 1. Igor Vovchanchin beat Gary Goodridge in 5:51. Goodridge came out like he was in a cell and separated the bars to get out. Thought I was having 1990 WCW Return of Robocop flashbacks. Goodridge threw him down but was caught in the guard. Vovchanchin got hit and got a bad cut over his right eye. Most of the match saw Goodridge on top in the guard. Vovchanchin made it to his feet and they traded punches. Goodridge was momentarily stunned by a punch and staggered into the corner but had already regained his bearings when the ref stopped the fight. The stoppage was ridiculously early and just about nobody could believe it was over. Since pretty well nothing happened and the finish was bad, it was a real bad fight; 2. Akira Shoji beat Wallid Ismail in 1:27 of the second round. Shoji blocked Ismail's attempted takedowns early but eventually was taken down but got the guard. Shoji took a flurry of punches at 6:30 and Ismail then got a mount and threw punches, cutting Shoji under his left eye. After some more punches, Shoji reversed him and got up, but Ismail took him down again with an ankle pick and remained on top until the end of the round. Ismail had lost his stamina just about completely when the second round started as he was getting rocked with punches and didn't even attempt take downs. Shoji caught him with a series of unanswered punches and the ref stopped the fight. The stoppage may have been premature, but at best it was only one or two punches early and those punches were coming and Ismail was done. Better one punch early than one punch late. Match was fair; 3. Shunsuke Matsui and Sanae Kikuta went to a three round draw. A very even, 30:00 dull fight. All three rounds were very even with one or the other holding guard and no telling blows or near submissions. I'd say Matsui slightly won the first round. Matsui suffered a slight bloody nose in the second round which I'd give to Kikuta. Third round saw Kikuta on top but Matsui, who appeared to be in better condition, throwing more blows from the bottom. He turned him in 5:35 and from the top was punching Kikuta's ear. Fans booed the closing moments because nobody ever got anyone in trouble. I'd give the third round to Matsui and if you couldn't vote for a draw, then he was the slight winner. Both worked hard for 30:00 but it was a boring spectator fight. It was the kind of match that would put normal fans to sleep; 4. Kazushi Sakuraba drew Allan Goes over three rounds. This was a really weird fight to judge, and remember, with no judges, that does change the strategy as neither were fighting to impress to win, knowing they had a draw if they could just last. Goes had Sakuraba in trouble more often than Sakuraba had Goes in trouble, so by that standard you could say he should have gotten a decision. However, Goes was stalling laying on his back for much of the fight, so he was totally unaggressive and not trying to win, but just to survive so in that sense Sakuraba probably should have won. However, it was an effective defensive technique and as long as it's legal, even though it isn't crowd pleasing or an attempt to win, Sakuraba couldn't figure out what to do and his skills were largely neutralized. They had a hot first 2:00 before Goes just laid on his back until the 5:00 mark. Sakuraba was already bleeding from the ear by this point. When Sakuraba got another advantage and backed off to let Goes back to his feet, Goes again laid on his back. From that position, Goes tripped him up, got his back and nearly got a choke but Sakuraba reversed him again. Sakuraba by this point got a kick to the face which bloodied his nose. Goes then went to his back again. Goes took him down with an ankle pick but Sakuraba nearly got a triangle. Goes went for a choke but got reversed. First round to Goes. In the second round, Goes threw some punches to the face and Sakuraba's nose was bleeding from a second cut. Sakuraba was holding guard but Goes passed it and got his back, and went for a choke but was reversed at 4:00. Sakuraba nearly got an armbar. Sakuraba went to his feet at 6:30 and Goes just laid on his back again, stalling until the end of the round. This round goes to Sakuraba. Sakuraba was tiring and Goes got on top to start the third round. He got another near choke but Sakuraba escaped and got the top. Sakuraba got up and Goes again laid on his back for almost three minutes. Goes got up, Sakuraba took him down and Goes again laid there and wouldn't get up as the crowd booed. Third round could have gone either way, but it was clear at the end Goes was stalling for the draw and Sakuraba was wanting to fight for the win, but Goes accomplished what he set out to do. Sakuraba left giving the body and facial impression that he felt disgraced by his performance. Because Goes spent so much of the match stalling on his back, this was another boring spectator fight overall but when they were fighting both were technically real good; 5. Satoshi Honma beat Yuhi Sano in 9:24. In the film clips before this match, they showed Sano performing as a pro wrestler which looked so weird on a shoot show. Honma came out to Giant Baba's entrance music so you can see who he grew up watching. One-sided brutality as Sano was a real good pro wrestler, but he's not much of a shooter. Honma decked him with a punch in 30 seconds. Sano took him down but Honma got away and connected with some punches. Sano was first bleeding from the mouth. After Honma connected with punches and knees, Sano wound up with two different cuts above the left eye and one below it. Honma kept tagging him and Sano was soon bleeding from the nose as well. Soon Sano was cut from the right eye. Honma kept tagging him and Sano was covered in blood and with all the different cuts it was like a sick comedy. The doctor checked Sano and allowed him to continue. Lucky him. Honma was taking him apart with his kicks and knees to the head. Honma finally chopped him down with a leg kick and pounced on him throwing blow after blow from the mount. In this case the ref was a little late on the stoppage. It was a total massacre; 6. Alexander Otsuka beat Marco Ruas when Ruas decided he couldn't continue after the second round in one of the biggest upsets in combat sports history. It was so funny to see them show clips of Otsuka also doing pro wrestling, and having Tiger Mask (Michinoku version), in gimmick, as his second. Ruas had Bas Rutten as his second. In commentary they mentioned that Otsuka took the pro wrestling first name Alexander naming himself after Alexander Karelin. Otsuka got a big pop coming out. Forget rumors that Ruas was on steroids and blew up because of it. No way he was on steroids [Dave you know I love you but you sound ridiculous right now -- ed.]. Ruas went for a choke right away but Otsuka got on top. Otsuka wanted a stand-up but Ruas also laid on his back. Otsuka was kicking his leg while he laid on his back and Ruas was trying to trap him by the ankle for a submission but Otsuka escaped and got on top. Ruas went for an armlock but Otsuka escaped. Ruas reversed, got the mount and started punching him in the face. Otsuka turned to avoid the blows and Ruas went for a choke, but Otsuka protected his neck so it was more like a facelock, and the bell rang to end the round. Otsuka had a bloody nose and a bloody lip by this point. Ruas was noticeably tired when the second round got going, and hung by the ropes to stall for a second wind and avoid a takedown. Otsuka finally took him down at 4:40 and threw a lot of punches to the face and nose, and small chopping punches. Ruas was cut under the left eye. Otsuka threw two more punches and Ruas was bleeding bad from the right eye. Crowd was going nuts and Otsuka got aggressive and was tagging him. Ruas was totally out of gas in the waning moments of the round and he staggered to his corner and decided to end the fight. Naturally the place went nuts when Ruas quit. In a show of great sportsmanship, Otsuka got on his knees and bowed before Ruas. Best match of the show; 7. Mark Kerr beat Hugo Duarte in 2:32 of the third round. More of the same. Fight consisted of two positions. Kerr taking Duarte down and being caught in the guard. Or Kerr standing wanting Duarte to fight on his feet and Duarte, like Goes and Ruas, laying on his back. He laid on his back most of the first round. Duarte had a cut on the cheek. In the second round, Duarte suffered a big cut under the right eye. The doctor checked but allowed him to continue. Kerr was on top and accidentally head-butted him and was given a warning. Kerr stood up. Duarte laid there. Kerr jumped on him and got a few shots in before Duarte could get the guard on. Kerr got up and Duarte again laid on his back until the end of the round. When the third round started, Duarte simply fell to his back. Crowd was booing like crazy. It was just enough of that tactic for one night. Kerr walked to the other side of the ring waiting for him to stand and he wouldn't move. Ref ordered him to stand. At first he wouldn't, then he got up and immediately fell back down. At this point Kerr jumped on him and got a few shots in again before he could get guard. Duarte then pulled himself out of the ring. It looked like he was just going to quit but he came back. Kerr threw several more punches and Duarte again got out of the ring and the ref had enough and stopped the fight. It was as bad as it sounds. Poor Kerr. Every fight he's had in Japan has been a total cluster and none have been his fault; 8. Rickson Gracie beat Nobuhiko Takada in 9:30. This was a competitive good match. Takada looked so much more confident going to the ring this year as compared with last when he walked in like he was attending his own funeral. The first 6:00 were largely both on their feet struggling in a collar-and-elbow type lock-up. Takada broke free and hit a knee and a punch and Gracie countered with a punch of his own. Takada backed him to the corner where both stood and traded short knees. Takada delivered two good knees and momentarily got him down but before he could control him, Gracie was back to his feet. Gracie had a real worried look on his face as this was clearly not as easily as he expected. Takada took him down at 6:25 but Gracie got guard. Gracie from the bottom was ear punching. Takada went for a leglock and got revered [although I am certain he means "reversed," this is also true -- ed.]. Gracie mounted him and threw punches. Takada went for a heel hook but Gracie escaped, mounted, and quickly got the armbar. Even though he lost, Takada left looking really pleased with his performance. He knew that this year, even thought the result was the same, the result really was entirely different. The Emperor of shooting style pro wrestling really was wearing nice clothes when he left the ring this year." 

and finally:

"Ugly American, well actually not ugly, but this was a story going around Japan in the wake of the Pride show. After pro wrestler Alexander Otsuka pulled off his upset, American MMA reporters asked him who he was looking forward to fighting next and he immediately responded, "The Road Warriors," (who he's facing at Sumo Hall on 11/23 in his first-ever high profile pro wrestling match). The reporters started laughing, thinking Otsuka was telling a joke, but he wasn't laughing and the Japanese there were cringing at the Americans reaction being one of those cultural moments of being in a different country and not getting it. Even though pro wrestling is predetermined, Otsuka grew up in a world where Marco Ruas didn't exist and the Road Warriors were superstars and in the world he works in, the Road Warriors because they haven't been in Japan in recent years and people haven't seen just how bad they've gotten, are still legends and only a few people even know Ruas. And in Japan, predetermined or not, pro wrestling is a tough, serious business, and not like it was for years in the U.S. as simply the butt of jokes."

AND THAT'S IT! I feel as though we may be speaking of PRIDEs more frequently than I had expected at first, as QUINTET seems very much on hold these days: no December show (oh no!) and, according to my friend David, pretty much nothing about it on Sakuraba's Instragram of late either (even worse!). But that's fine! Fine and fun! There are like sixty of these shows! This will take years! Let's spend them together! Should we be spared! Thank you once again for your time, my friends; my best to you all.