Saturday, February 16, 2019

QUINTET (クインテット) 2019年2月3日: FIGHT NIGHT2 in TOKYO

Japan Open Team Championship 2019
アリーナ立川立飛/Arena Tachikawa Tachihi

THE MOST Æ S T H E T I C SERIES IN ALL OF NO-GI SUBMISSION GRÆPPLING RETURNS and while you could totally take that as damning with feint praise (or as an instance of a "weird flex" ["but okay" {I think this is how that expression is used, if not please forgive me}]) I really do think these posters are unusually high-level, especially the blue one, but especially the ones that have Tsuyoshi Kohsaka on them, as they reveal by their mere inclusion of him upon their 表 (omote, surface) a deeper æ s t h e t i c s than we could have ever hoped to encounter in the 2019 world of pro-græpplearts and yet here he is in the (rash-guarded) flesh even if the initial promise of TEAM TK was softened somewhat into a TK-captained TEAM U-JAPAN whose very name, I suppose, provides further confirmation (though none be needed) of what we have come to theorize as "The Long UWF" after the epistolary poesy of Tadashi Tanaka who (this is crucial, and we must never lose sight of this) never said it, or, in truth, anything all that much like it and yet it is his unless he refuse it (nobody ask him or he might). He's really here though! Tsuyoshi Kohsaka I mean! First, as I say, there was this . . .

. . . which I immediately texted to the judopal who knows best the centrality of TK to, like, this whole thing that I am doing (broadly conceived [not the judopal, I should note, whom I caught with TK Scissors on TK Scissors Day right after saying to him "it's TK Scissors time!" to which he added upon the waza's completion with genuine disappointment in himself "I can't believe that just happened" which is a fair response because he is better than me and this should not at all have worked and yet it did; not him, another guy), and he was like haha this is fantastic, which is precisely how I have felt about it since the moment it was first posted (December 28, late in the day). And then came the gym shots!  

In addition to the clever QUINTET hand gesture in the above, let us note too that Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, whilst bigger, is not nearly as much bigger than Kazushi Sakuraba as one might figure of a guy who i) handed (elbowed) Фёдор Влади́мирович Емелья́ненко/Fyodor Vladimirovich Yemelyanenko/Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko his first (and, for many years, only) loss in a match where, of course, both guys just threw a punch at the same time and Fedor was badly cut from a glancing elbow so it ended in only thirteen seconds and so quite rightly no one has ever taken it especially seriously as a match and yet a Fedor punch was thrown at TK and did not destroy him; and ii) also of a guy who lasted a full ten-minute round against completely-peak-Fedor in 2005 (like four months before the Cro Cop fight; that is really very close to peak Fedor) in a match that was legitimately horrific because of TK's courage. Here he is again with the crew which, as you have almost certainly noticed already in the above, includes 美濃輪 育久 Minowa Ikuhisa aka ミノワマン  MINOWAMAN, DREAM Super Hulk Grand Prix 2009 Champion (for the uninitiated he is on the right in a nice jacket):  

And look at this other nice poster toO! (I am keeping that typo as a record of my feelings):

This is all just very exciting to me! It is as though this team has been ripped directly from the ファイプロ・リターンズ Fire Pro Wrestling Returns save on the PS2 in my basement! Team Battle mode is probably the best part of that game! You can make your own (QUINTET-like) five-person teams! But also the ones that are already on there are really great! Like the Fighting Network RINGS one that clearly reflects an era (indeed an ethos) that had faded away nearly a decade prior to the release of the game but which is there all the same to take to DANTAISEN 団体戦 (team fight [as well you know]) against, say, the Pancrasemen of a no-less vanished time. We have learned enough together in the course of all that we have seen and felt in these pages, I think, to be unsurprised by moments of 無常 mujō (impermanence, the transience of things) or 物の哀れ mono no aware (strong aesthetic sense; appreciation of the fleeting nature of beauty; pathos of things) in any of these strange realms in which we travel together in fellowship, even (especially?) when doing so obliquely through old Fire Pros (the new Fire Pro I forget utterly; it is utterly forgotten), and yet I am struck by one now, and it is always a small surprise (of the heart) no matter how familiar (to the heart). But as no ascii-art-inflected PS2 FAQ I can find through cursory googling right now lists all of these teams such that I might post them here and talk about them with you I will leave this topic for another time as we turn our attention as fully as we are able towards . . .

 . . . 2.3 QUINTET FIGHT NIGHT2 in TOKYO Japan Open Team Championship 2019 in アリーナ立川立飛/Arena Tachikawa Tachihi and our host in this will be Stewart Fulton, who I have at times enjoyed and at others could absolutely not believe the extent to which he græpsplained (incorrectly) over 山口 芽生 Yamaguchi Mei (aka V-HAJIME) but that may have just been one time that I have blown out of proportion in my memory of it so let's try to go into this one with an open spirit; also I think the one we watched where it was him and Meisha Tate was pretty good. Fulton is joined by neither of these aforementioned ladies but instead by current RIZIN fighter and three-time freestyle wrestling world champion (1991 Tokyo, 1994 Sofia, 1995 Moscow) 山本 美憂 Yamamoto Miyū of the well-known Yamamoto wrestling family; you will recall, I am sure, KID (R.I.P. 山本 徳郁 Yamamoto Norifumi). Something I did not realize, but am learning just now, is that Ms. Yamamoto moved to Toronto in 2013, became a Canadian citizen in 2015, and hoped to make the Olympic team for Rio 2016 but, alas, did not (in fact, Canadian women's freestyle wrestling is strong [this has been true historically, I am not just "doing a meme of it" right now]). Also I am learning that she has been divorced three times so she is like a Randy Couture-level international wrestler/divorcer although actually a much more decorated international wrestler (I don't the specifics of her divorces and so cannot compare those). I don't think I have seen any of her RIZIN matches, as I have watched weirdly little RIZIN, though I understand from reading the Observer that it is totally doing ok. A graphic informs me that Japanese commentary has 中井祐樹 Nakai Yūki (Hokkaido University judo under Kanae Hirata, SHOOTO under Satoru Sayama, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Enson Inoue, first Japanese BJJ black belt holder [awarded by Carlos Gracie Jr.]) and Takeshi Yano, and notes that Nakai is "QUINTET Chairman of referee committee" which is interesting work if you can get it, I am sure. 

Total weight of the team must be under 430kg one day prior to the event! A round is eight minutes unless there is a disparity of 20kg or more in which case it will be four minutes! This is all familiar! A new rule, though, and a welcome one: there is to be no smothering over the mouth and nose with your gross hand, which stood out to me as foul as hekk last time around, and I wished it would go away, and it has, so we were right to object as strenuously as we did because look at the change we have effected together (in fact, Fulton later explains, Sakuraba insisted on this rule change because of the extent to which this technique conflicted with the image of grappling he would like to convey through QUINTET and I am of course with him in this). No spiking, no jumping guard pulls, but you can jump into a 飛三角絞 tobi-sankaku-jime flying triangle (ah but what if one were to spike someone jumping into a flying triangle [that would plainly be illegal; why even ask it]). 


I don't know if I have mentioned previously how lovely and wholesome 小見川道大 Michihiro Omigawa's twitter is (@micci1219judo) but he seems to be having quite a time with his little family and all of the judo (I have made several gifs of the teachings he has posted to it, which you can see here should you so choose) but this seems like a good time to do so if not. The video packages for QUINTET started out totally good and have proceeded to become excellent, I think, and one recapping all of the events so far airs as we speak. The music is quick and light and jazzy! Almost as though it were the menu music from Fire Pro Returns what is going onnnnnnnnn. Anyway we are told that 2019 will be the honkaku shidou, "the real start," in a way that is once again deeply æ s t h e t i c:

That's how you do it! And then oh man look at this:

This is the greatest show I have ever seen, I type even before Lenne Hart starts shrieking things and then oh my god:


I have to transcribe these pre-tape promos, too, at least little bits of them; these are unreal:

Michihiro Omigawa: "TEAM NEO JUDO is here and we're all judoka. We are five men who put all our faith in judo. We're going to show what judo can do and we'll win doing it."

Tsuyoshi Kohsaka: "There's no doubt that UWF is what set me on the path to fight in MMA. The U of UWF is in my blood. It's in my DNA. Everyone of my moves comes from UWF."


They keep going from there and if anything it escalates; I cannot do justice to just how absurdly for me all of this is and honestly it feels weird to be catered to so completely, like watching John Wick, or, moreover, John Wick: Chapter 2. It's almost too much . . . 

. . . and yet never quite. There's really no way the actual matches can deliver on the promise of these first, let's see, twelve minutes (that's it? I feel as though a whole new world has been created), and yet I cannot help but feel that . . .

I need to settle down at least a little, though, and just let it happen.

So then, Shutaro Debana (77.60 kg), who nearly juji-gatame'd Sakuraba at the very first QUINTET GRAPPLING TEAM SURVIVAL MATCH, against Minowaman (83.20 kg). Eight minutes. Let's just see. TOBI-JUJI-GATAME FLYING ARMBAR TWELVE SECONDS SHUTARO DEBANA GOT HIM PERHAPS THIS WILL INDEED CONTINUE TO BE THE GREATEST SHOW I HAVE EVER SEEN nnnnnope, Stewart Fulton describes this waza as "smooth as a ghost on roller-skates" and if anything his should-be-charming Scottish accent made it way, way worse. And now tiny Hideo Tokoro (65.60kg) for Team U-Japan. He's a slippery guy! (Not in the Akiyama sense.) Fulton speculates that the crowd has gone quiet because they don't know what to expect but it looks to me as though there just aren't very many people there. Debana looks for a koshi-waza hip throw of some kind a couple of times before whipping through with the best no-gi 隅返 sumi-gaeshi/corner-reversal that has been or could be done but Tokoro rides it out and grabs hold of 三角絞 sankaku-jime/triangle-choke on the way through. Debana hoists Tokoro aloft in the hugging lift of 抱上 daki-age but slamming from here is of course not sporting and thus forbidden. After what has to be at least a full minute of holding Tokoro up in this halfway-through-a-power-or-indeed-Liger-bomb position, the referee separates the græpplorz and issues Debana the caution and guidance of shido (this seems fair). Tokoro is given his choice of par-terre positions as they restart (it's part of the shido) but Debana is awfully quick to spin through and attack the arm. He's on top and around Tokoro's legs in no time and is probably going to finish this 袖車絞/sode-guruma-jime/sleeve-wheel-choke that is often called the "Ezequiel" after Brazilian judo Olympian Ezequiel Paraguassú; this is of course a no-gi Ezequiel; and yes, Tokoro is unconscious now. I taught this waza just last weekend! How . . . au-courant. Tokoro looks a little confused but will be fine in a minute, probably. 

And so Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, still large (99.15 kg), will have but four minutes with this young Debana. Fulton mentions that Kohsaka holds black belts in both judo (四段/yondan/4th degree) and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but does not add that his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt was not trained toward as such but rather awarded by Yuki Nakai under the reasoning that if one is employing the techniques of Kodokan Judo in the world of mixed-fight, one is effectively doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and so Tsuyoshi Kohsaka should have a black belt of that. It may not surprise you to learn that I remember this very clearly from when it happened and liked it very much then . . . as I do now! It's ok that Stewart Fulton doesn't mention any of this because of how well we already know it. The modern-day butterfly guard, Fulton suggests, has its roots in the TK Guard, "which revolutionized MMA," and though you will find no greater enthusiast for TK-waza of all sorts than me, I do not really think that this is a true thing to say, though sometimes we just get swept up in a feeling, Stewart Fulton, I get it. 

Debana tries that lovely sumi-gaeshi again but Kohsaka does not budge much at all: though there was kuzushi (breaking [of balance]), the tsukuri (making; structuring; shaping) could not proceed to kake (execution). Those are the three parts of every technique! Also, a note on tsukuri: it came up in a haiku I was working with (in the sense of translating) the other day, want to see? 

菊作り 汝は菊の 奴なり


Nanji wa kiku no
Yakko nari

cultivator of chrysanthemums,
you are a slave 
to chrysanthemums


For more, please visit @haikuanthology on Twitter if you are so inclined. 

For more Shutaro Debana vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, please continue to read the rest of this sentence that will praise Stewart Fulton for high-lighting the 橫捨身技 yoko-sutemi-waza/side-sacrifice-technique of 払巻込 harai-makikomi as Kohsaka's tokui-waza or specialty, or, if TK can lift Debana, he might well throw with 払腰 harai-goshi. That's great stuff to say, Stewart Fulton! Shidos are given to each fellow about half-way through, and then Debana tries a rolling entry but is squished. He shrimps ably back to guard and both stand before long. AAAAAH NO DEBANA HAS THE ARM but TK escapes both the juji-gatame and the ashi-sankaku-garami (omoplata) that follows and it is shocking that TK's shoulders are still that loose at his age. TK attacks the back with diligence in the closing moments but the short match ends in a draw. Good job, TK! Great job, Shutaro Debana! 

Daisuke Nakamura (78.95 kg), then, is Team U-Japan's fourth against only Team Neo Judo's second, Yoshiyuki Yoshida (84.75 kg). An interesting fact about me that you may actually already know is that I have yet to forgive Anthony "Rumble" Johnson for missing weight against Yoshiyuki Yoshida and then knocking him out in, let me see, October of 2009, so we are coming up on the tenth anniversary of me feeling this way. Nakamura tries a flying armbar, which is always super fun so you can't blame him, but Yoshida really goes to work on him after that, and he's just all over his back. Until he isn't! Nakamura digs and digs and digs until he gets top half-guard to a nice little bit of applause from the nice little crowd. The referee calls "action," which means the competitors have twenty seconds to show real progress lest they both be shido'd. And in this instance they are shido'd. Yoshida tries an elevator sweep and can't quite get it, but you know who did, recently? Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ) at Grand Slam Paris 2019:

She's not just about ura nage! Though she is largely about ura nage, certainly. Nakamura and Yoshida are doing just great with about two minutes left on the clock. Yoshida is probably better technically but Nakamura's pace and pressure are super impressive. Yoshida comes close to juji-gatame as time expires but both are eliminated in this excellent draw.

Koshi Matsumoto (77.45 kg) is the Neo Judoist who will face Hirotaka Yokoi (99.40 kg), the final member of Team U-Japan, with Yokoi needing to finish a submission in but four minutes (he is large and so their match is short). Yokoi we know from RINGS! He had eight matches there in the latter, largely-shoot era of it, and then lost a bunch in PRIDE but did well, if I recall correctly, against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, which is a kind of victory. Koshi Matsumoto is unknown to me but it seems his judo has taken him to SHOOTO extensively, to Pancrase a little, and RIZIN most recently. True to his Fighting Network RINGS roots, Hirotaka Yokoi, when knee-barred, immediately grabs a toe-hold rather than work for an escape; he has entered shoot leg-lock duel and I salute him for this tribute to the era of Akira Maeda and Volk Han and other friends from there, from then. Stewart Fulton, though sometimes lightly corny when he tries to shoehorn in un bon mot, has excellent technical knowledge and is clearly very well-prepared to discuss each athlete's background, and is doing a very good job. Yamamoto does not seem particularly inclined to join in, really, and she even apologizes for her inability to really keep up with the pace of the matches (this may well just be modesty, but either way, she's not talking), so he's working almost solo, and it can't be easy. The match ends in a drawn and so NEO JUDO DESU is the non-Lenne-Hardt ring announcer's call. 

That was all extremely pleasant. 

Team CARPE DIEM and Team SOLDIER is the other match and I bet it will be good too and I also bet (I guess this is a parlay) that I will not get as carried away by it as, through no real fault of its own, it does not feature judo vs. the long UWF. Several of the people interviewed for the pre-match pre-tapes end their statements with ossu so you know they mean martial arts business. It's interesting that United World Wrestling (formerly Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées aka FILA; also formerly so terrible a governing body that it got removed from the core-programme of Olympic sports and is only in on a games-to-games basis despite being actual wrestling; please consider how terrible a governing body it takes to pull that off [an awful one {they were particularly awful on gender equity, which, say what you will about the IOC, is one thing the IOC takes seriously, to their credit}]) are a sponsor with their name on the mat here because this sure isn't freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling even a little! (I know they also govern "no-gi grappling" in some sense but do they though; do they; though). First up we have Reda Mebtouche of France (and Team Carpe Diem) and Sergio Rios de Silva of Brazil (and Team Soldier) in and eight-minute match of senpos. These guys both seem just great. In time they are both shido'd (in time, we are all of us shido'd, are we not), but before that, they each did just a tonne of things, so it hardly seems fair. I thought Sergio Rios da Silva would finish his last-minute juji-gatame for sure but he didn't! A hard-fought draw.

Team Soldier captain Hideki "Shrek" Sekine is new to me, and has quite a look:

David Garmo is also new to me, and has a very nice moustache (I had a great big moustache for a couple years and enjoyed it, but it was a lot of work compared to just letting one's big dumb beard grow forever [the current waza]). The opening minute of this match is bonkers, with huge, ogre-like throwing from, yes, the guy who fights under the nom-de-guerre/sobriquet-rouge SHREK (I remember those movies fondly enough). Garmo seems way better, though less able to just huck people, so it's an interesting styles-clash. And another draw!

Haisam Rida, originally of Ghana, currently of 日本, and kind of star of an earlier QUINTET, outweighs Declan Moody (of Australia) by not quite enough for their match to be four minutes, rather than eight, like it's five-hundred grams that are keeping this match eight minutes. Both guys are supremely limby. HIZA-GATAME knee-bar for Haisam Rida in maybe thirty seconds? It came on pretty quickly but I think Moody is ok. And now IGOR "FATNINJA" TANABE from Brazil, who seems neither fat, nor, and I do not say this to be cruel, a ninja (although perhaps that is the ideal cover for one: not seeming one). I think the corner referees raise a flag of the team-colour of the person they think is stalling, or both, if they think both, and this helps the head referee with shido calls. I miss the corner referees in judo! I know the video table handles all that stuff now, but even just æ s t h e t i c a l l y I prefer corner judges (they live on Japanese collegiate judo, which has of course never been more available to western eyes than in the youtube era, so there is no cause to complain; also we operate that way pretty much for our in-club tournaments, so let the world outside the dojo be as it must). Though I of course do not doubt Igor "Fatninja" Tanabe technically, stylistically I do not enjoy his propensity to just sit and then grab hands. There has been really none of this style I mind so much elsewhere in this show so far so it stands out worse than it would have on previous QUINTETS certainly. The match ends in double shidos, or I guess double triple shidos, one would say. That's inglorious.

Sotaro Yamada now against Yuta Nakamura, who "Shrek" Sekine mentioned earlier has good judo experience and good throws so let's see. Both men are stout and strong looking to the point of suspicion; also Nakamura has a pointy beard (traditionally devilish). Yamada comes awfully close with a guillotine choke from the top and ah yes ok I see he finished it as soon as he rolled to the bottom. Look at how sharp the little image is that comes up between replays:

What a presentation! Anyway Team Carpe Diem is through to the finals to face Omigawa's NEO JUDOists. There will probably be a match or two so everyone can rest up a little bit in between? Or at least an intermission of some kind, as Kazushi Sakuraba shuffles to the mats awkwardly (in that he does not move well) and challenges referee (and longtime SHOOTO fighter) Wataru Miki to an impromptu match haha!

Miki takes off his shirt and tie to reveal that he is dressed for just such an encounter! Miki is shido'd right away because of all the shit in his hair! I am legit delighted by this exhibition match before it even begins! And almost immediately Sakuraba wins in precisely the manner illustrated in this oft-posted (by me [here]) by 木村 政彦 Kimura Masahiko:

But that is not the end of it apparently as they're going again! They go super fast and a little light, as one would expect in an exhibition, until Sakuraba catches Miki in 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame and, in keeping with his lighthearted instructional videos, comically disregards the tap as the bell sounds again and again which puts me in mind of another haiku that I was working on the other day:

涼しさや 鐘を離るる 鐘の聲


Suzushisa ya
Kane wo hanaruru
Kane no koe

summer coolness --
the sound of the bell
leaving the bell


We are afforded time to reflect on that as we seem to have entered an intermission at the conclusion of this charming four-minute (I think) exhibition that is declared a draw (as is the way with exhibitions) despite Sakuraba winning twice (he gestures broadly to signal his displeasure with this result haha!).  

There is also a SPECIAL SINGLE MATCH before the team finals and it is between Rikako Yuasa, an IBJJF World Champion (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) and Haruki Ishiguro who is like a twenty-year-old BJJ purple belt, so this has probably been booked as a "squash match" in a sense, and yet young (yung) Ishiguro just nearly threw with 内股 uchi-mata, good for her. Apparently there is an all-women QUINTET Fight Night coming up in April and one would for sure think we will have a look at that one too right here at TK Scissors A Blog of RINGS! Yuasa wins with a crafty (cræftig) 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame from 崩上四方固 kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame in not all that long but Ishiguro did really well!

As Michihiro Omigawa and Thomas Mietz begin the first match of the team final, I wonder if these shows are maybe and hour too long? I kind of fade towards the end of them, and not just this one, where clearly I came in pretty heavily over-stimulated. I think Stewart Fulton, who is just reading off of Omigawa's wikipedia page right now, is possibly fading, too. Fulton mentions at one point that Omigawa's team is the lightest of the four teams this evening, and by far, but does not say what the different team weights were, exactly, though I could probably look that up on the QUINTET twitter account or something (ooh, no thank you!). Mietz looks dangerous with a 肩固 kata-gatame/shoulder-hold/arm-triangle but it's been maybe two minutes from this position and he hasn't been able to finish the choke on the littler dude. The referee shidos both, which is a bold move. Standing, Mietz is a sitter, which should be shido'd too unless that rule isn't a rule anymore, which I suspect it is not, as it used to get mentioned but not enforced but now it isn't even mentioned. A draw, so both are out. 

The remarkably stout Yukiyasu Ozawa (105 kg!) is next for Team NEO JUDO:

I believe they said earlier that he is a junior high teacher? Reda Mebtouche works him over so thoroughly that Ozawa loses a contact lens and it is so gross to me when people pick a contact up off the mats and put it right back in but Ozawa is seemingly unperturbed. I have really fairly poor vision but it remains uncorrected whilst I am at judo because, I mean, your partner is always right there, and you can always ask someone what the clock says. Ozawa settles in after an early mauling and really does well enough. With a minute to go, Mebtouche "takes the back" and craaaaaaanks as he tries to get his arm under for the naked strangle of 裸絞 hadaka-jime and I would like Ozawa to tap but he does not! The match ends with ineffectual dueling toe-holds (possibly the best kind?); another draw. 

Stewart Fulton disgraces himself forever (not really) by misidentifying the "Japanese Necktie" (in the mode of Shinya Aoki) simply because of David Garmo's hooking leg as he attacked Koshi Matsumoto's neck, breathtakingly ignorant (it's actually totally understandable) of how Garmo did not have the near-side arm inside the choke that the Japanese Necktie would require and then, slightly embarrassed when he realizes his mistake, goes "he has the chin control!" (lol the what?) instead of explaining what he thought he'd seen and how it is different from what was in fact going on and how easy that is to have happen because of the configuration everybody was in. A missed opportunity in a teachable moment! But we all have those. Garmo is a wonderful grappler, flowing from attack to attack with, well, with fluidity. OH NO HE CROSSED HIS ANKLES AND MATSUMOTO GOT HIM:


The dreaded hiza-tori-garami as illustrated in Mikonosuke Kawaishi's Ma Méthode de Judo:

I'm sure we've talked about this before, but the weird thing about hiza-tori-garami in the context of judo, where ashi-kansetsu-waza (leg-bonelocking-techniques) haven't been part of randori or shiai for like a hundred years but are instead confined to kata and also just to drilling sometimes when you have a nice little group on a slow summer afternoon, is that everbody will put you in hiza-tori-garami if you cross your ankles, put it on just enough for you to feel it, and say darkly "don't cross your ankles." I do not know why we do this and yet I myself do this, much as it was done to me years ago. This is perhaps not unlike Matsumoto's experience of the technique, and I bet he cannot believe this worked. Garmo really blew it! That sounds harsh to say but I am certain he would tell you as much himself. 

"Incredibly muscular" is Stewart Fulton's judgement-free but implication-rich description of the intensely vascular Sotaro Yamada, who is next. Yamada has Matsumoto's back a little over a minute in but, as we have seen this, is where Matsumoto is at his most cunning! Ah but not this time, Ernie (as an Ontario provincial election sticker posted inside the Robarts humanities library at the University of Toronto in what must have been 2003 once said), as Sotaro Yamada finishes with just the grossest neck crank, a true kubi-hishigi (neck-crush):

Genuinely revolting! And so it is Yoshiyuki Yoshida, as the fourth members of each side are upon us . . . and also the mats. Yamada pulls guard and gets the ashi-sankaku-garami/omoplata to sweep in a lovely fashion soon thereafter. Yoshida is on the run but is running well enough until Yamada does that same vile neck crank that I demand be banned. Just choke people, you ghastly beast! And yet he refuses, so ghastly a beast be he. 

Shutaro Debana is the last of the NEO JUDOists and man oh man Yamada's vascularity is increasing with each encounter. This time he heeds my call for choking, as opposed to cranking, and he finishes Debana with hadaka-jime with about a minute and a half to go. And so his team is the winning team! Good! That was good!

QUINTET NEVER FAILS TO DISAPPOINT is Stewart Fulton's summation of the evening but probably not quite what he meant to say unless he has perhaps lost his passion for this work or indeed for this shoot. A mamemaki (豆撒き, "bean scattering") for Setsubun (節分, "seasonal division") closes the show! 鬼は外! 福は内! Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! Demons out! Good luck in! Kazushi Sakuraba and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka are having a nice time!

I WOULD LIKE TO THINK THAT WE DID ALSO! See you next time! Thank you as always! Take care!    

Monday, February 11, 2019


シリーズ PRIDE(ナンバーシリーズ)
主催 DSE
会場 横浜アリーナ
入場者数 12,580人

THE SWALLOW (燕 tsubame) FOLLOWS NOT THE SUMMER (夏 natsu) MORE WILLING THAN WE YOUR LORDSHIP is what I guess 12,580 people or so still wanted very much in their hearts to tell Nobuhiko Takada despite the rough waters encountered as he sailed out of the safe harbour of unusually vraisemblant (truth-seeming) fake-fighting into the roil and tumult of 挌闘技 kakutōgi (かくとうぎ : "1. a combat sport, such as boxing, judo, or wrestling" [挌: strike/hit/fight, 闘: fight, war, 技: waza] and indeed 総合挌闘技 / 総合格闘技 sōgō kakutōgi ( そうごうかくとうぎ, in which 総合 sōgō is synthesis, integration) or 異種格闘技戦  ishu kakutōgi sen (いしゅかくとうぎせん, in which 異種 ishu is heterogeneous, different kinds) until the swallows who followed his summer found Takada entomb'd upon the very hem o' the sea which is to say fighting The Smashing Machine Mark Kerr for some reason. One might well assume, given all that we have seen, that a match between Nobuhiko Takada and Mark Kerr would fall along the lines of Nobuhiko Takada's bout against the similarly superjacked American wrestler Mark Coleman, which is to say one round of closely contested, impressively worked shootfighting, followed by a brawny American hand (handbrawn is tough to train, too) tapping theatrically to a somewhat-applied 足関節技 ashi-kansetsu-waza (leg-bonelocking-technique). But I don't think so! And here's why! I have definitely watched this match before (I have seen, at one point or another, very nearly all of these shows), and yet have literally no memory of what happened in it, which means it for sure does not end with Mark Kerr obviously fake-losing, because I would totally remember that, either from the event itself or from the HBO The Smashing Machine documentary or just, like, from general lore. So I think this was probably on the up-and-up! But why! How could this be! Why would anyone do this to Nobuhiko Takada! I thought they loved him! Like swallows! Why would they follow him only to see him hurt badly! But as graves only be men's works and death their gain let's just see how it goes I guess; how bad could it be (possibly awful).

BUT NOT QUITE YET as first there are several other matches like for instance this one between Egan Inoue, two-time-racquetball-world-champion turned guy-who-had-a-match-on- the-last-Pride, and Carl Malenko, an Amercican-flag-shorts'd fake Malenko (well they were all fake Malenkos, but Carl even more so [no diss, I am just trying to tell you who is and who is not a fake-Malenko by blood; I wish him, and all fake-Malenkos, regardless of provenance, only the best) that follows hot on the heels off a parade of fighters, the first we have seen in any of the Pride tapes to which we have access through the torrent that gives us access to them though I assume that parades such as these were probably also happening on the earlier shows just not our tapes of them. The chief thing revealed to me in this one is that Nobuhiko Takada remains, like, insanely loved, though Kazushi Sakuraba is already not that far behind (just wait!). To return to Carl Malenko, though, the Personal Life section of his Wikipedia page reads thusly: "Pulled off the streets by Boris Malenko as a youth, Carl Contini was transformed into a top flight worker like his stepbrothers Joe and Dean. Using the name Carl Greco during his formative years, when Carl Malenko was born he became the top gaijin for BattlARTS in its later years, mainly pushed as a tag wrestler.[1]" where [1] is  "'oocities profile'.[permanent dead link]" and I have extremely never heard of oocities. He has Inoue down in the corner early on but remains quite content to stay low and safe inside Inoue's guard rather than work towards anything but very occasional hitting. I am struck by how sweaty both guys are only a little bit into the match, and I wonder if it was maybe a hot day? Egan Inoue has good hips; you can see this just by his merest twitchings and scootings towards the 腕挫十字固 ude-hishighi-juji-gatame armbar he seeks but is not his before the bell sounds ending what I feel like must have been a ten-minute first round that one would have to give to Carl Malenko were we scoring things in that mode but I assume the Pride judging criteria of evaluating the fight as a whole (which inevitably, and I would for sure say rightly, privileges how things are at the end over how things were earlier) is already in place but this may not be true.   

I'm not totally sure it's the same corner that Malenko has Inoue pinned down in (in the mode of dō-osae or "trunk hold" as Malenko has not passed Inoue's legs) to start round two as it was to end round one, but it might as well be. They are stop-don't-move-stop-don't-move'd to the centre in this same position, and from there things get pretty interesting between Malenko's little attempts to pass and Inoue's sprightly hips. Will he finish this 表三角絞 omote-sankaku-jime/front-triangle-choke with them? No, but it got tense for a second! Malenko is doing really well, staying low and safe but with steady pressure, and Inoue is playing off his back with his feet on Malenko's hips to facilitate various sikknesses and I am totally engaged despite Quadros and Rutten being lame about it. I am not sure how explicit I have been about this so far (probably totally sufficiently, and yet here we are), but I have been disappointed to find Bas Rutten (re: Quadros, with all due respect, who cares) such a complainer in these first shows (indeed these first years). I remembered him, I guess wrongly, as a pretty relentlessly positive enthusiast whose brow clouded only when people refused to explode right here. Maybe that Bas is yet to come? Maybe by like 2003 that's totally the way he will be? I hope that's the case; I would hate to think I have been carrying in my heart these many years an untrue Bas (ah but maybe I have carried with me the Bas I needed; who can say).

These first two rounds are (ad)judged a draw, which seems fair, and so a third round is called for, and everybody goes like hekk in it: dynamic græppling exchanges, lovely transitions, and just an overall energy to things that was a pleasure to behold. Of the specifics I can say no more, as I was having soup (also tea) during it rather than writing things down, but it was really good! Carl Malenko is given the win in a fair and fine decision, and Egan Inoue is genial in defeat in a way that seems real, and revealing of him. Great job, guys!

Hey look who's next:

It's Carlos Newton! Let's have a look at all the things it says on the screen here and see what we can do with them -- it might be fun! Ok so down at the bottom we have 〘ローニン〙rо̄-ni-n ah yes "The Ronin" Carlos Newton, that's something we've heard before! And just above that that's gotta just be his name right let's see so カーロス・ニュートン kaa-ro-su ni-uu-to-n yep that checks out, Carlos Newton! Learn the kana my friends, it takes a weekend and you're up and running! Up above that we've got some kanji (and a few busy ones towards the end, at that) so we're in pretty deep but let's see what we can do: okay 色 isn't too bad, that's shoku which means colour, so we can just kind of search around for the right one . . . seems like we're looking at 褐色, kasshoku, "dark brown; colour of tanned skin," so we're already getting a little uncomfortable with where this one could be headed, sure, okay, so next we just have the possessive particle の no to connect some nouns, that's easy enough, and then one of the last four is 本 hon or moto as in 日本 Nihon (日 sun 本 origin and so "sun origin" or "land of the rising sun," neat right?) so at least we've got that much! I'll scroll through the Kanji Study program on my phone until I find the one before it, it's probably just a little compound . . . well that was actually a tonne of scrolling and it didn't work out so let's search by radical (little constituent parts of the kanji) which I would have done to start were I not a fool and ok there we go it's 宮 kyuu or miya which can mean "Shinto shrine, constellations, palace, princess" so this is kind of puzzling unless it's just the sounds being used phonetically for a proper name (the kanji in names are so tricky!) wait 宮本 miya-moto oh dear lord no they're calling him Dark Brown Miyamoto Musashi aren't they . . .  yeah 宮本武蔵, that's Miyamoto Musashi alright; they're calling him 褐色宮本武蔵 Dark Brown Miyamoto Musashi; my god. I mean I guess I can see it though: 

A quick stop-off at his Japanese-language Wikipedia page to see if "Dark Brown Miyamoto Musashi" (it does not even feel good to type it) caught on at all reveals Carlos Newton's ニックネーム ni-kku-née-mu listed there as simply「褐色のサムライ」Dark Brown Samurai (with "samurai" just spelled out phonetically) which seems better in its lack of specificity somehow? Maybe? It's a super comfortable topic so we should all talk about it a bunch more. Look at that utterly magnificent Mizuno Eurocomp judogi, though, the old kind with the "M" logo one first encountered on one's baseball glove in 1989, as opposed to the "Run Bird" logo one enjoyed on one's baseball cleats in probably 1991. Ah, the Mizuno Eurocomp: not at all the heaviest of the heavyweight, armour-like judogis that got so out of hand (quite literally I guess in that the worst of them bordered on ungrippable) that strict regulations regarding fabric weight (no more than 750 grams per metre-square! seriously! you guys!) were in time brought in for specific makes and models to receive IJF approval (there's a special little tag), but the one that became synonymous with that broad trend due, I suppose, to its ubiquity; ah, the Eurocomp. Oh man is he really going to spend the rest of this paragraph talking about the different judogis he has had and enjoyed over the years just because there's an old picture of Carlos Newton in a Mizuno Eurocomp well listen up, pal, I basically *started* this blog to have a venue in which to spend the rest of a paragraph talking about the different judogis I have had and enjoyed over the years, prompted by an old picture of Carlos Newton in a Mizuno Eurocomp so buckle-up; also I apologize for the confrontational tone just now; there was really no call for it; please come back; I'm sorry. Eurocomps were the best! The fit was intentionally quite slim and well-suited to the limby westerner (hence the name; they stopped just short of calling it the Mizuno Limby Westerner but you could tell they wanted to) than the cut of Mizuno models aimed primarily at the Japanese domestic market (my thoughts turn to a Hiroshi Tanahashi interview where he referred admiringly to Shinsuke Nakamura's "western" proportions, and spoke self-deprecatingly about his own "traditional Japanese" build, and how I was then, as I am now, like "lol woah I don't necessarily want to get too deep into whatever that's about") and I loved those judogis. My first judogi, like so many (people in Canada) was a single-weave Toraki that was just fine, and then when I started to compete I got a couple of absurdly thick Toraki Golds (including my only blue judogi ever! I thought all competitors needed a blue judogi! this is not true unless you are at nationals or like the Québec Open or something! so I didn't really ever need it but at the time it was very important symbolically to me!) that weighed, and I swear this is true, twelve pounds when wet. Twelve pounds. And I was (and remain [all praise is due to God alone, Allah the most merciful]) but a -73kg guy, and it was twelve pounds. They were super thick and durable but there was just a tonne of fabric involved so the slimmer Eurocomp was a welcome change, and a change so welcome, in fact, that when they were discontinued as we entered an era of much more sensible judogis overall (if you [by which I mean the jiu-jitsu guys who made a shime-waza {strangulation} instructional I saw more than a decade ago who were like "if your partner is wearing a Eurocomp, forget it, this will not work"] thought Eurocomps were bad, what of the utterly absurd Dax Moskito, or the Gill Sports with the extra thick collar and seam, just that that weird seam, that meant your Georgian/Russian grips needed to get all the way to the belt for sure because mister [and missus] you weren't getting anything on the back if you came up short), I used probably the whole of an ECW Press check (it really would have had to have been the whole of it) to buy three more Eurocomps to go with the two that I already had in use. And this was not nothing, because, like the Old Man (that's really all they call him) in Timon of Athens, "I am a man/That from my first have been inclined to thrift" in that buying things is disgusting. Anyway my plan was to ration Eurocomps as though they were Today Sponges (and I, of course, Elaine); I thought I could possibly make it through my thirties with those five that I ordered in late 2009. But they [time; entropy] fooled me, Jerry; they fooled me, Jerry: I train so much that even the most famously durable judogis break down for me pretty quickly; like, I train way more often than many people who are much, much better than me, which does not speak well of how good I am at judo (really not very), but it does speak to my true desire (to train [judo]). And just recently, an old friend who returned from his travels abroad only briefly (for his travels take him abroad again anon) found amongst his old things a Mizuno Eurocomp that no longer fits him, and in his kindness he gave it me, and in a deeper kindness still told me that he associates Eurocomps so closely with me that when he found it at once he was like I must bring this to him. What a thing to be associated with, in a dear friend's mind: the finest discontinued judogi of a generation. Somehow, my life has been full of such blessings, each more than I deserve. 

Knowing, though, as he surely does, how much the Mizuno Eurocomp has weirdly come to mean for me, I cannot help but feel slightly wounded that Carlos Newton has chosen to take to fight without one here against, let's see . . . oh it's DAIJIRO MATSUI! I am going to start checking the Japanese Wikipedia sometimes to see about ニックネーム/ni-kku-née-mu/nicknames and this decision pays off immediately with 炎のグラップラー/honno no gu-ra-ppu-ra/FLAME GRAPPLER and also I see that in this instance I could have just checked his English-language Wikipedia page that totally also says just "The Flame Grappler" but I will continue doing it this way too I think. And so we have Carlos Newton, man of 柔道 jūdō (amongst many other things certainly [also Moni Aizik, his one-time sensei, is of controversy]), against Daijiro Matsui, also of 柔道 jūdō (amongst other things certainly [the 国際武道大学 Kokusai Budō Daigaku/International Budō University/IBU is however not of controversy) and I am always very pleased to see either of these guys so my eagerness to at once see both of these guys is really quite high. Matsui is listed at 5'9" 199 lbs, Newton at 5'9" 169 lbs, and I can't see how Matsui could be thirty pounds heavier than Newton but what am I, a Roberval balance? Plainly I am not. Matsui comes out swinging! As does Newton! Realizing at once though that hitting is terrible, Matsui and Newton choose instead to græpple beautifully, as Matsui's low 双手刈 morote-gari is sprawled atop of and soon thereafter Newton works towards 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame from an impromptu 地獄 jigoku or H E L L position (also often called the crucifix position [please reflect on this]) but not only does it not take, but it does not take to such an extent that Matsui stands up and stomps on him a bit. Things settle in after that a little. For a while, Matsui hangs out in the 亀/kame/turtle position, and Newton throws only a few hesitant knees from there. Bas, with whom Newton had been training of late, and so working quite a bit of striking, says that its almost like Newton doesn't want to do it, because it isn't nice. "Well, there are some people who think that striking may be barbaric compared to submissions," Stephen Quadros suggests, and that is for sure what some people think, that's true; I wonder where they would have gotten that idea (the devil knew not what he did when he made men strikers). 裏投 URRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGEEEEEEEEE:

As you can see in the first of these several sikk images, Daijiro Matsui had secured the 逆腕緘 gyaku-ude-garami grip that has come to be most closely associated with Masahiko Kimura from a position that has come to be most closely associated with Kazushi Sakuraba (Pride 10 is not that many more Prides from now! [then!]), but Newton employed the kind of hips I call ura nage hips to my students regardless of whether or not we are doing ura nage at that moment because there are a BUNCH of throws where you need hips like that, please believe this. Since we are talking ura nage and only a moment ago mentioned Masahiko Kimura, I would like to tell you one of the little things Doug Rogers mentioned about Masahiko Kimura when he taught a class at my old sensei's club years ago (like seven years ago? eight?): despite his reputation for rough training, Kimura did not allow ura nage in randori; like not even slightly. His grounds for this were apparently two-fold: i) somebody's gonna get needlessly hurt (and not even necessarily the person being thrown (great big throws in which tori is throwing blind on crowded mats are a bad idea), and ii) ura nage is not a math problem: you get low and dig with those ura nage hips, and then that's all there is to it; the kake or finish of the technique isn't even really a thing; you just do it. So in the club, even if your club is the 拓殖 大学Takushoku Daigaku/拓大 Takudai university judo team, there's no reason to finish ura nage in randori; just lift. Your partner will absolutely know what just happened, and will be grateful for your mercy. "But nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy!" you reply, eyes ablaze, just before you are asked to settle down; which you do at once; and we are all again glad.

"Beautiful suplex by Carlos Newton from the back!" is Stephen Quadros call which is entirely correct. And now juji-gatame! One's thoughts turn to wee Demetrious Johnson's similar sequence so very many years later as illustrated in this animated gif I found (and did not make):

Newton's throw was much more spectacular, but his juji-gatame less successful, in that it ended up like this:

"And nature, as it grows again toward earth, Is fashion'd for the journey, dull and heavy," as once was written of the hugging high lift of 抱上 daki-age, a waza forbidden in judo randori and shiai for like a century, last deleted from the Kodokan syllabus in April 2017 and yet we do our students a disservice if we do not allow them to hoist one another aloft and send them crashing to the (crash) mat in the mightiest of powerbombs at least once a year or so in the dual names of history and waza; and so it yet lives. Newton actually holds the juji for a while after that, but punches and knees to the head ("If the fighter's on his back, you can knee him to the face." -- SQ) force him to relent. Only for a moment though! Carlos Newton would really like to get this juji-gatame! But does not. 

He does put Matsui on his back with a tidy 双手刈 morote-gari (double-leg) and passes briefly through the floating hold of 浮固 uki-gatame before achieving the really-very-good position of 縦四方固 tate-shiho-gatame; he throws like a punch from there and takes Matusui's back, rolling for the choke or arm-bar, whichever may present itself. This is a really, really good fight, and both Bas and Quadros acknowledge this frequently, especially when someone goes for something but slips off (as Newton just did); they applaud this disregard for staid position in favour of sometimes fairly wild stabs a submission. HIP BUMP SWEEP DAIJIRO MATSUI and it is always a great pleasure to see the fundamentals executed well (when Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira hip-bumped Randy Couture it was probably the greatest moment in UFC history aside from all the moments in Bas/TK before the stand-up). Carlos Newton throws knees and AX-KICKS to the turtled-up body of Daijiro Matsui, who really does seem like a poorly little turtle for a heart-rending moment or two. What a round! One of the best Pride ones yet! *ding*

Matsui has a fierce look in his eye and a tremendous eagerness to continue this excellent match. He's super aggressive with punches and throws a tonne of them, several of which land true enough, but as soon as Newton connects with one of his own, Matsui wants to get to the ground, which is where Carlos Newton attacks once more with juji-gatame, as is his habit. I see only now that Newton's white trunks say R O N I N down the side in a font as tight as the shorts themselves (they are very tight [as they should be]). As Matsui drops lows for another 踵返 kibisu-gaeshi/ankle-pick a few minutes later, Bas says that this fight is for sure one of his ten favourite ever. CARTWHEEL GUARD-PASS except he didn't pass, did he; nevertheless everybody likes Daijiro Matsui! Perhaps inspired by Matsui's earlier hip-bump sweep, Newton tries one too, but Matsui knows the counter (squishing down on a guy). Matsui really isn't much of a passer, I guess: Newton's guard is open for literally several minutes, and Matsui doesn't even really try to get outside it, like it's not even an aim of his, and not because he's laying in heavy shots from the guard or anything. It's curious! The round ends with Newton on Matsui's back, seeking holds. 

THE JUDGES DECREE that a third round must be fought and so they (Matsui, Newton) fight it as fightingly as they are able. Bas speaks well of Newton's hip movement right before a 
逆腕緘 gyaku-ude-garami attempt that might have been aimed more at the hip-bump sweep than the kansetsu (bone-lock) itself. Matsui gets lit up, in time, from hitting, but the 踵返 kibisu-gaeshi/ankle-pick is there for him seemingly whenever he needs it, which is lots (that is also the amount he needs it). Oh ok that's it, and Matsui comes to the centre of the ring for the decision looking pretty broken emotionally, like he is arriving sad, and sure enough it's a unanimous decision for Newton after that third round. The comforts of fellowship await him, though: 

As he Dragonballs (this is I believe the verb) and back-flips into a Bruce Lee pose and does both of these things as earnestly as anyone has ever done anything ever, one's thoughts turn to just how much Carlos Newton loves the martial arts. I believe at this point in his life he was still taking shifts as a lifeguard at the City Centre pool in North York. God bless him. 

Kind of lost in thought for a bit after all of that and so I have comparatively little to tell you (comparatively nothing, I suppose) about Igor Vovchanchyn's split-decision win over Carlos Barreto other than that Igor is still winging those big hooks in and also his thighs are thick as men. There is also a Hiroki Kurosawa and Nobuaki Kakuda kyokushin karate-rules match, which is to say no punching to the face but otherwise they are just pounding the hekk out of each other, bare-fisted, and really all that happens when you accidentally punch the face as part of a sikk karate punch rush is that the referee is like "hey hey hey" and then the dudes bow to each other and get right back at it. It is an insane sport. This match would seem to be a draw, and I am, as ever, totally impressed by karate, and if you are like "isn't that weird given your overall fairly hard-line stance re: hitting?" I would be like "oh it for sure is, yeah." Kurosawa and Kakuda exchange their black belts after the match, which is awesome of them to do.

AKIRA SHOJI, LOVED BY ALL, is in next against against Guy Mezger, who we probably don't have any problem with that I can think of. Mezger was a Ken Shamrock/Lion's Den guy who had already had about a million matches in Pancrase at this point, and had won, defended, and vacated (the big three!) the King of Pancrase Openweight championship before heading off to the UFC to lose to Tito Ortiz, a man it is hard not to think of as just an enormous doofus, but one who fought very well (Mezger had previously beaten Ortiz at UFC 13 to win a little tournament they had there [little tournaments can be big fun!]). INTERESTINGLY Guy Mezger is wearing his Pancrase(sque) kickpads, and both Quadros and Rutten argue that this will make his kicks less effective, precisely the point wise old-timey wrestling grump Rip Rogers made on Twitter recently and upon which he was resoundingly corrected (Lance Storm and Paul Lazenby did a whole podcast about it for the Observer [Paul Lazenby's appearance on Fumi Saito's podcast was really good by the way]) by all sorts of people who were like no when I wear the pads I can really fire the kicks in there without worrying about it so the kicks will be kickier not less kicky but Rip just dug in and waited for it to all blow over, I think. I don't have a position on any of that because I don't know about kicking, I just listened to it all. 宇野薫 Uno Kaoru aka CAOL UNO is in Shoji's corner and looks especially elfin this midsummer's eve, even for him: 

Wild, right? As is the amount of clinching in this Shoji/Mezger match so far, but I do not utter those words of artful transition in complaint nor yet in praise but rather as barest fact neither leavened by approbation nor unleavened by disapprobation ("approbation" sounds bad, but is good; I find this sneaky). Not a tonne going on in this first round, though, and whilst both Rutten and Quadros think it was probably Mezger's round (no argument here: Mezger kicked Shoji in the face this one time), it was on the whole pretty even.They praise Mezger's use of what they call a karate-style kick that can be quicker to its mark than the obviously-also-good Muay Thai style . . . of kicking (this is their analysis and not my own). "Right now, I think Mezger has this fight won," Quadros says well into round two as Akira Shoji lies atop him hitting him a little (not much). He sure does pass and start wailing on him in a scramble just as I say that though! And that's how the round ends; and so there shallst be another. "Ironically, Mezger has his face more scratched up than Shoji," Quadros weirdly notes as the final round begins. Shoji has a really nice 大内刈 ouchi-gari! It's not just an inside reap, but a major inside reap, like this:

That's Doug Rogers! Anyway Mezger looks just about done as the final round ends and while you might say that's pretty much perfect timing, Shoji is ready to go another round, this little firecracker. Shoji takes the split decision win in an okay fight. Mezger is clearly upset by the decision but, if I may play coach for a moment here, he probably shouldn't have gotten taken down and passed and hit and then run out of energy like that if he was gonna get all mad about people thinking that meant he didn't win at fighting.  

小川 直也 OGAWA NAOYA vs. ゲーリー・グッドリッジ GARY GOODRIDGE is our next bout and it is truly the greatest of the PRIDE worked-shoots, nothing is anywhere near it to such an extant that  

I will say of it,
It tutors nature: artificial strife
Lives in these touches, livelier than life

and I will mean it so hard. It seems so real! So real, and yet so unreal, and yet so real, that I actually wrote Dave Meltzer an email maybe fourteen years ago about it to ask him if he knew definitely whether or not it was a work, and it's probably still in my emails since I never really delete anything . . . yes, at 7:40 PM on Saturday, July 22, 2006 I wrote Dave an email asking him this question and saying nice things to him about how much I liked the Observer (which I did then, and do now), and at 8:02 PM that same night he wrote back (I don't feel like I'm telling any tales out of school here), "Yes, it was a work." Please do not think for a moment that I left it at that: at 9:31 PM I wrote, "Thanks, Dave." And yet Gary Goodridge, who admits to all kinds of shenanigans, I believe, in his autobiography, apparently maintains that this match was not in fact a work! The previous sentence is based entirely on hearsay; I have never myself read this sad tale of how he gave up good work welding at that Honda plant (I assume that is the overarching narrative). And yet and yet when Ogawa retired from pro-wrestling for good, a little while ago, returning to a quiet life of judo instruction/helping Paralympian-hopefuls displaced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster/coaching his huge son (more on that below), Dave got a little weird on this subject, prompting me to write through the nascent medium of "Twitter" (this was actually just last year; I am being lighthearted): 

"Hi Dave -- in the Observer this week (and last night with Bryan) you seemed to speak of Naoya Ogawa's match with Goodridge as though it were a real fight. You don't think it was a work?"

to which he did not reply, but my friend Cory did (hi Cory!):

"it was a work"

to which my rejoinder:

"I think so too"

to which TOM:

"work and the best wres match possibly ever. 

idk much of this new star controversy now but this is 1/2* better than whatever is currently highest"

Unsurprisingly, TOM is correct in this assessment. I am not worried even slightly that I am overselling this. I love it. It is the best and the greatest. Before we get properly into it, I would like to add only to the notes towards a preliminary understanding of Naoya Ogawa (that made up a goodly portion of our previous post) that on the deeply wonderful show where Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, our lovely RINGSfriend who will soon enough become our lovely PRIDEFCfriend, goes to Japan to spend time with the 東海大学 Tōkai Daigaku/Tokai University judo team (they are very good), he runs into Naoya Ogawa, who looks tremendous, and they have the following exchange:

Here in fact is video of their lovely encounter that I loved, please enjoy it. If you are wondering about Ogawa's huge son, as I am pretty sure you probably are, let us address that excellent topic the next time we, like Nogueira, are lucky enough to happen upon our old friend Naoya; let us speak then, too, of how he once felled Shinya Aoki with s p a c e t o r n a d o o g a w a so mightily that Aoki was stretchered out but it was all fake so don't worry.


THEY KEEP SAYING TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE AS FAR AS IT GOES BUT LET US NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF HOW THIS IS A DUDE FROM BARRIE as the crowd is utterly wild for this situation. The match opens with enormous, wild, looping punches and knees from Goodridge and it is only after repeated viewings (if you were me) that you notice that although these huge blows are coming in constantly and at all angles, the only ones that land are to the body, never the head, or tender face. "Unbelievable! What a brawl! What an exciting match!" Bas Rutten exclaims with true glee as Ogawa takes Goodridge to the mat with a low 大内刈 ouchi-gari (major inner reap) and attacks with first 腕緘 ude-garami (arm-entanglement) then, once reversed, 三角絞 sankaku-jime (the triangle choke) and 逆腕緘 gyaku-ude-garami (the reverse arm-entanglement colloquially known as Kimura Masahiko's arm-lock that was good); from that grip, Ogawa looks for a hip-bump sweep. "I love this sweep." Me too, Bas; me too; Bas. Gary Goodridge goes for a 膝十字固 hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar! How unlikely! And thrilling! Ogawa slips out and atop and an interesting exchange betwixt commentators happens where Bas suggests that Ogawa should turn one-hundred-and-eight degrees and apply 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame to the far side (I now teach this to people eeeeearly in their time with us because it is entirely within the scope of a beginner and yet very, very satisfying for them [because of how sikk it is]) and Quadros thinks Ogawa is just too big to make a quick motion like that, and Bas is like no he's a judo guy he knows how to do this, and Quadros is like well we don't know how he won his judo fights, judo does have submissions, for sure, but you can be a great judo champion using only throws and sweeps, and Bas Rutten is like that's true but Neil Adams is a master of the armbar, and he shows him this animated gif from a 1989 instructional:

And Quadros is like oh yeah for sure but at the same time Neil Adasms is not 6'5 and 253 lbs and Bas is like "well that's true." Both guys made great points in their friendly conversation, and were open to hearing what the other had to say! As this fine and fair exchange unfolds, Ogawa hits Goodridge with just the hardest hammer-first to the face you have ever, ever seen. He is apparently not of the view that "small hammer-fists are fine" but in fairness to him that view was not properly articulated until several years later and in a tongue in which Ogawa is capable but not fluent. "For sure that key-lock was available," Quadros concedes to Bas with regard to Ogawa's apparent knowledge of arm-locks, "and he was ready for that," but he maintains a far-side juji is just maybe not a thing he does and Bas is like "yeah maybe!" and Quadros concludes by saying "We don't really know his submission ability; we can assume he knows all these submissions, like other judo players know, but maybe his judo . . ." and then he loses his train of thought because of action but man: I found all of that so pleasant and thoughtful of these guys, and I wanted to tell you about it. 

Goodridge is mostly turtling up and getting flattened and punched at and græppled and TOM is right, this is the best wres match possibly ever. Ogawa, I should note, is in such amazingly lean excellent shape for this, a totally different physique that chubby yung open-weight Ogawa (and yet each Ogawa holds its place in the divine economy). There's a lot of Gary Goodridge's, like, face-blood smeared all over Ogawa's thigh as Ogawa begins to work towards the juji-gatame and then oh dear Goodridge just ate a pretty rough knee and then an illegal head-butt as Ogawa looked again for ude-garami. This is a hard night's work for Gary Goodridge but art is difficult. Thirty-six seconds into the second round, Ogawa finishes the long-sought ude-garami, and mere moments after that 村上 一成 Murakami Kazunari straps the NWA World Championship belt around his unchubby waist as the demonstrably evil Gerard Gordeau smiles from the corner; what a match crew. And what a match! 

After all that, why even go through with the main event! What need these feasts, pomps and
vain-glories? Right? I don't even remember what it is! Oh dear it's Takada against Mark Kerr in what was probably a real fight, isn't it. Ah but even before that it's 桜庭 和志 Sakuraba Kazushi against Ebenezer Fontes Braga, this could be a good one. What had Braga done so far, let's see: he's coming off a draw in Pancrase against the venerable Jeremy Horn, no shame in that (obviously), and he had lost to Dan Severn and Kevin Randleman (R.I.P. please everybody take care, colds can turn to pneumonia so quickly), and otherwise has a bunch of wins against people with whom I am unfamiliar. Braga is a man of Luta Livre Brasileira not unlike Marco Ruas, who we saw a Pride or so ago. Sakuraba's increasingly-mauled ear arrives to this match pre-taped as though and interview but it is not an interview but instead a gross ear. There but for the grace of God go my own not-that-gross ears, which have endured only the lightest cauliflowering/gyōzaing despite my many years. Some people græpple a lifetime and get none, others have revolting ears within six months; I have come to think it's about predisposition more than style, even, as one of the worst cauliflower ears I have been around was worn by a judo player who abhorred newaza (he would tell you as much) but received this humdinger of a gyōza from a single run-in with a 飛三角絞 tobi-sankaku-jime/flying triangle choke and that was that, it never got better, and were you a mark for cauliflower ears (which some people absolutely are, and in fact many are when they're beginners, but most outgrow this markish phase), you would be like "woah, look at that guy." When mine was at its absolute worst, just swollen and painful and legitimately gross, it all of a sudden subsided with no real intervention (I didn't get it drained [which may or may not be an effective thing to do, or have done, I have read]) and has settled into just some low-key disfigurement that you can only really see if you're looking for it (please don't). This match is excellent: Braga is a dangerous kicksman with a quick sprawl and a neat entry into 横三角絞 yoko-sankaku-jime off of Sakuraba's failed ankle-pick and he's about fifteen pounds heavier than Sakuraba aaaaaaaaaaaand that's it, Sakuraba caught him with a weirdly-angled 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame like it wasn't even a big deal to do but I really think it was! This Kazushi Sakuraba is really on a roll! And here's Frank Shamrock, who we enjoyed in RINGS, certainly, to say that Pride has the best fighters in the world (the crowd agrees) and he would really like to fight Mr. Inoue-san, Mr. Shoji-san, and also Sakuraba (no Mr.? no san?), and he promises that when he fights he will fight with one-hundred percent of his heart and will never give up! I don't think any of this ever happens, but it was all nice to say.

Here we go, then, Nobuhiko Takada against Mark Kerr in a match I can make no sense of unless it is going to be a work but which cannot be a work or else I would remember it and I don't so instead it absolutely must be a shoot that makes no sense, there is your recap of what I think this must be, and why. Takada comes out firing! Good for him! And now a clinch! Good work so far, Takada! Knees! And he stood right back up out of a takedown! To throw some really hard kicks! But Mark Kerr caught one (like with his hands) and that's another takedown. Kerr doesn't look too good here to be honest but I don't think he's necessarily working the match to make Takada look good so much as succumbing to the events detailed in The Smashing Machine.  逆腕緘 gyaku-ude-garami/reverse arm entanglement/double wrist-lock/Kimura is your finish at, well, I guess 3:04 is really very quick, isn't it, and this is pretty much a series-wrap on Nobuhiko Takada not in terms of hanging around (he will be here for all time) but as a guy anyone could believe would win at fights, if indeed that had been the view of him previously (it seems to have been), and so it seems fair of us to say now that

Takada has made his everlasting mansion
Upon the beached verge of the salt flood;
Who once a day with his embossed froth
The turbulent surge shall cover: thither come,
And let his grave-stone be your oracle.
Lips, let sour words go by and language end:
What is amiss plague and infection mend!

May 24, 1999:

"No matches have been announced for the Pride 6 show on 7/4 at Yokohama Arena but announced as fighting are Nobuhiko Takada, Kazushi Sakuraba, Ensen Inoue, Akira Shoji, Mark Kerr, Gary Goodridge, Igor Vovchanchin, Vitor Belfort, Marco Ruas and Naoya Ogawa."

May 31, 1999:

"There are a lot of negotiations ongoing between RINGS, Pride and UFO. At this point UFO is negotiating with both groups but nothing is going on with RINGS and Pride. Antonio Inoki and Akira Maeda were scheduled to have a meeting this week to finalize the deal for Naoya Ogawa vs. Yoshihisa Yamamoto on a RINGS show. RINGS will also send Dick Vrij and Hanse Nyman to be foreign talent for the 6/29 UFO show in Osaka. It isn't known who Ogawa would face in the main event but Dan Severn vs. Kazunari Murakami looks like a likely match. Inoki is trying to put together a major show for later this year with both RINGS and Pride's cooperation. Gerard Gordeau will apparently promote a UFO show in The Netherlands."


"It appears there will be a Alan Goes vs. Kazushi Sakuraba rematch on the 7/4 Pride show in Yokohama."

June 14, 1999:

"In addition, Dream Stage Entertainment announced four matches for its 7/4 show at the Yokohama Arena which includes two likely worked matches on top. The originally proposed Nobuhiko Takada vs. Naoya Ogawa match isn't going to happen. An angle was shot for it after Takada's worked victory over Mark Coleman at the last show. However, there apparently was a problem of Takada's backers not wanting him to go down so instead it'll be Takada vs. Mark Kerr and Ogawa vs. Gary Goodridge. With both Takada and Ogawa being politically well connected and largely protected, one would expect going in both matches would be worked. It will be interesting because Kerr, who is ranked in most listings as the No. 1 heavyweight in the MMA world, has never done a worked match before and if he were to agree to put Takada over, as Coleman did, it probably indicates he recognizes his future is more in pro wrestling than MMA. Goodridge may have done one, in Brazil against Cal Worsham a few years ago. Originally Kerr was to face Ensen Inoue, however Kerr missed the first scheduled meeting due to elbow surgery. Inoue broke his hand training for a second scheduled meeting between the two, so instead Kerr was to face Takada. In addition, two more matches were announced with Guy Mezger vs. Akira Shoji and Ebenezer Fontes Braga, coming off a draw with no judges under Vale Tudo rules which he dominated on the last Pancrase PPV facing Masakatsu Funaki, facing Kazushi Sakuraba on this show. There are also reports on the IVC internet site that Carlos Baretto, considered in many circles as the top heavyweight in Brazil, will face Tom Erikson, undefeated in MMA including a quick knockout of Kevin Randleman a few years back."

June 21, 1999:

"Antonio Inoki is now talking about promoting a big show late this year at the Tokyo Dome. This is in the very preliminary talking stages and nowhere close to reality. His idea is for it to be a joint show with UFO, Pride and RINGS and among his ideas would be to have a Wallid Ismail vs. Royce Gracie match on the show since Gracie is looking for revenge against Ismail for losing via choke last year and Ismail is holding out for a big payday for the rematch. It's not certain how relations between UFO and RINGS are this week. Naoya Ogawa is still scheduled to face Yoshihisa Yamamoto of RINGS in August on a RINGS show. However, Ogawa was to face RINGS veteran Dick Vrij for the NWA title on 6/29 UFO show in Osaka, but things fell through and neither Vrij or Hanse Nyman will work the UFO show, leaving UFO will basically nothing. UFO announced its line-up as Ogawa vs. Gary Steele from England for the NWA title as the main event, plus Kazunari Murakami vs. Billy Scott (former UWFI and Kingdom wrestler out of Nashville), Dan Severn vs. Justin McCully (don't be surprised to see a heel turn for Severn to build up for an Ogawa rematch), Gerard Gordeau vs. Fredrik Hjelm (who faced Ogawa recently in New Jersey), Dai Kyojin (which is not a name but basically means The Giant in Japanese) vs. Erik Ulrich, Yuki Ishikawa of Battlarts vs. Lee Younggun, Jason Bress vs. Taro Obata and Sean McCully vs. Ikuto Hidaka. With Satoru Sayama gone, taking the fourth Tiger Mask with him, and no Alexander Otsuka, there is basically little shot at much of a quality of match on this entire card and it's a terrible line-up from a name standpoint as well."


"Two matches have been added to the Pride show on 7/4 at the Yokohama Arena. Nobuaki Kakuta, the K-1 referee and sometimes competitor who is 38-years-old, faces Hiroki Kurosawa, who had a really weird match on one of the early Pride shows; and Carlos Newton, who has a good reputation for fights in EFC, Pride and UFC among others, faces Shunsuke Matsui, a Takada team member who had done pro wrestling with Kingdom. The Tom Erikson vs. Carlos Baretto match on that show has already fallen apart since it is expected Baretto will instead face Igor Vovchanchin on that show which would be an interesting match since it's Vovchanchin's highest profile opponent in years if not ever."

June 28, 1999:

"Battlarts pro wrestler Carl Greco, going by the name Carl Malenko, will face Egan Inoue on the 7/4 Pride show at Yokohama Arena in the opening match. They also announced officially the Igor Vovchanchin vs. Carlos Barreto match we wrote about last week."

July 5, 1999:

"Some notes on the pro wrestler from Battlarts who is now billed as Carl Malenko, 29, formerly known as Carl Greco, who faces Egan Inoue in the Pride 6 show on 7/4 from Yokohama Arena. He's not the son of Boris Malenko or brother of Joe and Dean, although he's being billed as such in Japan. His real name is Carl Ognibene from Winter Haven, FL and trained largely with Dieusel Berto, a former pro wrestler and later MMA fighter and trained very little under Karl Gotch. He's got a 2-1 record in legit shoot matches in the U.S. for the IFC. The Pride show may be the most looked forward to MMA show of the year largely because of the curiosity involving both Nobuhiko Takada and Naoya Ogawa facing legit MMA stars in Mark Kerr and Gary Goodridge respectively. One would presume both matches to be worked. We've been told Goodridge's price for a job was too high and his match with Ogawa will be a shoot, but this makes absolutely no sense to risk Ogawa in such a situation with so many big money matches on his horizon."

July 12, 1999:

"The reality of reality (both the reality of reality in the ring and reality of business) reared its sometimes ugly head on several fronts at Dream Stage Entertainment's Pride Six show, a Japan-only live PPV event under rules very similar to UFC, on 7/4 at the Yokohama Arena.

DSE's biggest drawing card, pro wrestling legend Nobuhiko Takada, was put into the ring with Mark Kerr, who many feel is the best heavyweight at this in the world. It didn't last long, with Kerr overpowering Takada winning with a chicken wing armlock in 3:04 before a crowd of 12,580 (said to be a legitimate figure which is really impressive for a shoot show, a lot attributed to Ogawa's debut with the company). The fact DSE put Takada, 37, into that position with a fighter that nobody on the inside would have given him any chance with but not a so-called legendary Gracie, says something about their plans for the future, if they even have any, and in particular their feelings about Takada's drawing power long-term. There were some reports with the feeling that Kerr "took it easy" on Takada before beating him. Still, this result and the ease that Kerr won apparently severely damaged Takada's reputation even among the wrestling fans. There seems to be the sense that Takada was put in this position partially as punishment for his refusing to job for Ogawa in what was originally the idea to main event this show. There are also reports that on 6/24, Antonio Inoki had a meeting with New Japan officials and got Takada pulled from the 8/28 Jingu Stadium show for the same reason where it had been talked that he would face Shinya Hashimoto (the next day at the New Japan show, officials talked about the printed rumors of such a match on the show and blamed the press for leaking them out before the deal was finalized and that because of that, negotiations fell through). Takada headlined the two biggest shows of this promotion, both on October 11 of 1997 and 1998 respectively losing to Rickson Gracie. He was also given bought-and-paid for wins on Pride shows, including most recently against UFC star Mark Coleman, a sometimes training partner of Kerr's. After his loss to Kerr, in his post-match press conference he said he'd like to face Royce Gracie, but the marketability of such a match was said to be damaged greatly.

The next show is scheduled for 9/12 at the same Yokohama Arena with largely the same cast of characters. Perhaps the idea is that Takada was going back to pro wrestling anyway and had to be so protected that to insiders he had become an embarrassing joke to the company, so they just let natural law take its course.

Now the company seems to be protecting another pro wrestler, Naoya Ogawa, either grooming him as the big heavyweight drawing card if they survive, or protecting him for pro wrestling if they don't. Ogawa is much bigger, younger at 31, a better legitimate competitive athlete, witness his impressive judo credentials, and has the backing of the Antonio Inoki manipulation machine. Bottom line is there was too much money at stake to risk Ogawa losing, because a loss would greatly damage the proposed New Japan October Tokyo Dome main event (which may be on 10/11) in the grudge match with Hashimoto. Ogawa on this show defeated Gary Goodridge at 36 seconds of the second 10:00 round when the referee stopped the match that was said to be the most exciting on the show. Very strong indications are this was a worked match, which would explain why it was so exciting. It is generally regarded as such already in the inside martial arts world. We should have a full report probably next week after seeing the tape.

It was a mixed bag for the pro wrestlers on this show, with the biggest name lighter weight pro wrestler, Kazushi Sakuraba, remaining unbeaten within his weight class (he lost a match to Kimo, who was probably 60 pounds heavier, many years back) beating Ebenezer Fontes Braga of Brazil in 9:25 with an armbar. This appears to set up Sakuraba, who weighing just 185 pounds won a UFC heavyweight tournament at UFC Japan in late 1997, to face Frank Shamrock, which would be legitimately the toughest test probably both men have ever faced at least under these rules in their careers. Shamrock was at the show and mentioned wanting to face Sakuraba, Enson Inoue (who Shamrock defeated in an almost legendary match in November of 1997) and Akira Shoji, who defeated Shamrock's one-time Lions Den stablemate Guy Mezger in a very close decision that a lot of people felt Mezger won earlier in the show. Shamrock had been in negotiations again of late with UFC and had verbally agreed to defend his middleweight title against Tito Ortiz on the 9/25 show in Montreal. UFC remains pretty insistent on him signing an exclusive deal and there was talk that Shamrock appearing at the Pride show could result in the 9/25 match with Ortiz being canceled and Shamrock being stripped of his title. It appears if Shamrock does a match with Pride, it likely means he'll be stripped of his title and it will constitute the official break of the relationship but at press time Shamrock talked with SEG officials upon returning from Japan and said he was still looking to face Ortiz. At this point in time, losing another star due to insistence on exclusivity on a show lacking stars may not be the best for business.

But the reality of the show is fights under this style with evenly matched up opponents are often slow moving and end without decisive finishes, making for long shows. This eight match show lasted four-and-a-half hours, with the first five matches all going the time limit, which, according to our reports, were for the most part but not all boring matches. Overall it was considered the best Pride show to date. Pride has, for the most part, the best "high-profile" match booking in the mixed martial arts world, but its shows have all been major disappointments because of problems inherent with even matches, matches held in rings as opposed to cages, and lack of stand-ups when stalemates take place on the ground. The fact Pride has worked matches has tainted the shows to purists, but it's that manipulation that has kept people with drawing power like Takada and Ogawa strong, and the worked matches have, since they are worked, generally gotten a far more enthusiastic crowd reaction than the true shoots since its still the pro wrestling audience that supports the shows, even if it renders the end results meaningless and the legitimacy of the operation as a whole questionable when judged from a sports perspective.

1. Carl Malenko (Carl Ognibene, who formerly did pro wrestling for Battlarts under the name Carl Greco) scored a major upset winning a unanimous decision over Egan Inoue after 25:00. Greco managed to take Inoue, a big name in the world of Jiu Jitsu, down and hold him there for most of the match enroute to winning a unanimous decision. This was a big win for the Japanese pro wrestling world and Battlarts group coming on the heels of Alexander Otsuka's upset of Marco Ruas.

2. Carlos Newton won a unanimous decision after 25:00 over Daijiro Matsui, a Takada protege who had done pro wrestling for the Kingdom promotion and fought many times in this competition under the name Shunsuke Matsui. Daijiro is his real first name. This was said to have been fairly exciting for a long match.

3. Igor Vovchanchin of Russia won a split decision over Carlos Baretto after 25:00. The crowd was heavily booing the lack of action in this match. I'd presume Vovchanchin, a kickboxer by background, wanted to slug and Baretto, with his Jiu Jitsu background, was reluctant and defensive and apparently it made for a poor fight.

4. Hiroki Kurosawa drew Nobuaki Kakuta over two 3:00 rounds under full contact kickboxing rules in a match where both fought with gi's. Kakuta is best known in Japan as a sometimes fighter and oftentimes ref for the K-1 promotion. Full contact rules eliminate leg kicks, which meant the match was geared toward Kurosawa's sport then Kakuta's.

5. In something of an upset, Akira Shoji won a split decision over Guy Mezger after 25:00. Mezger, well known in Japan as a former King of Pancrase, apparently fought hard with Shoji for the distance. Our initial reports were that this was a very close fight that could have gone either way. Pride was actually hoping for Mezger to win this match to build him up for a match with Sakuraba.

6. Ogawa, in his first MMA fight, beat Goodridge. When the bell rang, Goodridge exploded with hard punches but Ogawa stayed up. Ogawa responded with punches. Goodridge scored a take down and a mount, going for a leglock. Ogawa reversed him and mounted him, punching from the top many times and going for an armbar and keeping the mount during the remainder of the first round. In the second round, Goodridge again started throwing punches, but Ogawa timed him, took him down, threw some more punches from the mount and grabbed the armbar and the ref stopped the match. Ogawa ran around the ring doing his bird motion that he did in the Hashimoto match and held up his NWA title belt. After the match Ogawa said that he wasn't interested in a match against Takada.

7. Sakuraba beat Braga with the armbar. Braga gained a reputation in Japan since he went to a draw, with no judges but that had there been judges he'd have won, against Masakatsu Funaki, who has a big name in Japan, on the April Pancrase PPV show. The crowd got really into this show seeing pro wrestlers Ogawa and Sakuraba score clean wins in succession. The fact Shamrock was there to issue the challenge lends some suspicion, but Sakuraba, coming off handing Vitor Belfort an embarrassing defeat, is also as highly regarded a fighter as there is of his size. The loss may result in Braga being pulled from the 7/16 UFC show as the company wasn't happy about him doing this match to begin with. At press time, no replacement had been found and Braga indicated that he still wanted to be in the show for his scheduled match with Paul Jones.

8. Kerr beat Takada with the chicken wing armlock. Takada had his elbow and shoulder heavily taped going in. This probably sets up Kerr, who is unbeaten in MMA, against Enson Inoue, coming off a 90 second submission win in October against former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture. Kerr-Inoue is a match Pride has put together twice but has fallen through when each respectively had gotten injured in training."

July 19, 1999:





"Got a chance to see the last three-and-a-half matches from the Pride show, and it probably belonged more in the Japanese pro wrestling section. Saw probably the last 8-9 minutes of Guy Mezger vs. Akira Shoji, which went via split decision to Shoji after they went 25:00. It was a very close fight with nobody, at least based on what I saw, gaining a clear advantage. It appeared Mezger was the better fighter of the two, but it also appeared he got the more tired of the two as the match wore on. There is no question that was a shoot. Naoya Ogawa vs. Gary Goodridge, if it was a work and it probably was, was a damn great one. They gave each other shiners and Goodridge never seemed to be holding back on his punches to the head, which is the usual giveaway. This fight really put Ogawa over the top as a wrestler/martial artist in Japan because it was really exciting. It did look like a very good RINGS match except with closed fist punching and some great exchanges. Worked matches usually are more exciting than shoot matches anyway. Match had super heat and Goodridge was bleeding all over the place by the end of the first round, and Ogawa won with an entangled armlock in :38 of round two. Braga vs. Kazushi Sakuraba was a shoot match and also very good with Sakuraba looking very impressive winning in 9:22. Surprisingly, I'm pretty much certain Mark Kerr vs. Nobuhiko Takada was a work, which is funny only because Kerr would have killed him in a shoot. For one, Takada was surprisingly calm going in, which he wasn't going into past shoot matches. Two, the fact he taped up one shoulder, and Kerr went to that shoulder for the hammerlock submission isn't necessarily a giveaway to give him the out for tapping, but wound up being it. A few years back in another so-called shoot organization, they had booked Dan Severn vs. Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, a pro wrestler who Severn would have easily handled in a shoot. The night before, Severn was contacted and told he'd go over in one minute but it was a work because they simply didn't want Matsunaga injured and that's what I think this was as well. Takada over the past week talked about wanting a third match with Rickson Gracie in September. Takada doing the job may have been Kerr not wanting to lose, punishment for Takada not doing the job for Ogawa or the company when he refused to put Ogawa over, basically putting him in with a guy he can't beat as punishment figuring Takada is fading and Ogawa can be built into the new top star anyway since he's undamaged goods. Kerr's hamstring was pretty red as he took some wicked leg kicks before putting Takada away. An irony pointed out to be about shooting is that when Takada faced the guy who is pretty much a myth as the best fighter in the world, the match was reality, and when he faced the reality of the best fighter in the world, the match appeared to be more of a myth

Most people considered this the best Pride show to date. The press coverage focused far more on Ogawa's win than Takada's loss. Now that Ogawa's rep as a shooter was made, he won't be appearing on the 9/12 Pride show in Yokohama, claiming a shoulder injury in the Goodridge match, which may be legit, and also may be a way of having to pay another opponent big money for put the guy over and it would be difficult for a more memorable match than the Goodridge one. They've served their purpose and now it's time to keep people with that fresh memory of him leading up to the Hashimoto match."

July 26, 1999:





"Dream Sports Entertainment held a press conference this past week which was thought to be an announcement of some matches for the next Pride show on 9/12 in Yokohama, but instead it was simply a 30th birthday party for Kazushi Sakuraba. At the party, Nobuhiko Takada talked about wanting to face Royce or Rickson Gracie (again?) on that show but said he wasn't interested in facing Ogawa. The promotion gave Sakuraba the MVP award at the press conference. Still haven't seen the complete 7/4 show, but did see the first three matches. Carl Malenko vs. Egan Inoue saw Malenko use his wrestling to take Inoue down and most of the match saw them trade a few strikes and grapple a ton while on the ground with Malenko on top and he won the decision in 25:00. It was pretty good technically for what it was but not really much of a spectator match. Carlos Newton vs. Daijiro Matsui was a really good match. Newton is about 180 (he's apparently going to trim down to 170 to do the lightweight class) and Matsui seemed to have him by 20 pounds but Newton was a better competitor. Size matters and they went back-and-forth throughout the 20:00 regulation. Newton had the advantage with some good punches standing in the overtime to get the decision. The Carlos Baretto vs. Igor Vovchanchin match was pretty boring. Baretto is about 6-5 and Vovchanchin is 5-10. Most of the match was standing and Vovchanchin is the more experienced kickboxer, but Baretto had decent skills standing and all that reach so they largely nullified each other. Vovchanchin bled from under the eyes in the first round. Second round was a stalemate. It was ruled a draw after that round and sent to overtime. Overtime saw Baretto on top in the guard and not much happened there. How Vovchanchin got the decision (a split decision) if they were even after regulation is beyond me."

Alright great! More PRIDE soon! But first some QUINTET (クインテット) I think probably! Thank you as always for your time; I am having a lot of fun and hope you are too.