Wednesday, May 15, 2019


シリーズ PRIDE(ナンバーシリーズ)
主催 DSE
会場 有明コロシアム

THERE IS TO BE NO WARM-UP NO LIGHT RUNNINGS AND FOOTWORK DRILLINGS PUNCTUATED BY FOUR SETS OF 25/25/25 JUDO PUSH-UPS (LOOK THEM UP YOU WILL LOVE THEM)/SIT-UPS/HINDU SQUATS AND THEN CORE NEWAZA MOVEMENTS AND UKEMI NO INSTEAD WE ARE INTO THE CUT AND THRUST OF 試合 SHIAI (MATCH; GAME; BOUT; CONTEST) AT ONCE here at Pride 8 in 有明コロシアム Ariake Koroshiamu (Ariake Coliseum), future site of the tennis to be contested at Tokyo 2020 in scarcely more than a year's time from this the time of our writing. Hey are you excited for the Olympics yet! Or is it still too soon for you! It would be reasonably for it to be too soon for you, even if you really really like the Olympics. For my part, I exist in a near-constant state of Olympics-readiness, by which I mean Olympics-watching-readiness, specifically, although actually for real I could answer the call to get wildly blown out of the opening round of the -73kg portion of the Olympic judo tournament at a moment's notice, like I am totally on-weight for this and ready to go, just give me a minute to limber-up BUT AS NOTED PREVIOUSLY THERE IS TO BE NO WARM-UP ON THIS DAY AND INSTEAD 松井 大二郎 DAIJIRO MATSUI AND ヴァンダレイ・シウバ (BU-A-N-DA-RE-I ・SHI-U-BA) WANDERLEI SILVA ARE UPON US AT ONCE and the kanji I like best in Matsui's name is 松 / matsu, "pine tree" (as in 一本松 / ipponmatsu, "solitary pine tree," an especially lovely pine tree kind). Hey since we're all here together and love art, let's read a number of haiku in which 松 / matsu figure prominently:


名月や 晝見ぬ形の 松が出る


Meigetsu ya
Hiru minu nari no
Matsu ga deru

the bright moon
the shape of pines
unseen by day



たくましき 松も眠るや 春の雨


Matsu mo nemuru ya
Haru no ame

the strong pines, too,
are sleeping --
spring rain



月を松に 懸けたり外し ても見たり


Tsuki wo matsu ni
Kake-tari hazushi
Temo mitari

hang the moon on the pine
and remove it
just to see



そこもとは 涼しさうなり 峰の松


Sokomoto wa
Suzushi sō nari
Mine no matsu

you are
so cool,
mountain-peak pine



青空に 松をかいたり 今日の月


Aozora ni
Matsu wo kaitari
Kyō no tsuki

a pine painted
against blue sky 
tonight's moon



名月や 畳の上に 松の影


Meigetsu ya
Tatami no ue ni
Matsu no kage

the bright moon
on the mats, and


(All poems from the @haikuanthology twitter, dedicated to the memory of the poet Troy Allen Richter; all translations in their endless deficiency are my own.) 

Still with pine trees, 松 can be read not only as matsu but also as shō as in 松濤館 Shōtōkan, and, as we have probably discussed before: "Shotokan was the name of the first official dojo built by Gichin Funakoshi, in 1936[3] at Mejiro, and destroyed in 1945 as a result of an allied bombing.[4] Shoto (松濤 Shōtō), meaning 'pine-waves' (the movement of pine needles when the wind blows through them), was Funakoshi's pen-name,[5] which he used in his poetic and philosophical writings and messages to his students. The Japanese kan (館 kan) means 'house' or 'hall'. In honour of their sensei, Funakoshi's students created a sign reading shōtō-kan, which they placed above the entrance of the hall where Funakoshi taught.[5] Gichin Funakoshi never gave his system a name, just calling it karate." 

These reveries lie in ruins as Stephen Quadros suggests to Bas Rutten that, in time, the soccer kick to the face of a downed opponent in a sporting match will come to be accepted, and the defenses against it mastered just as one "learn[s] to defend against the arm-bar, or the punch." It is possibly weird to talk about learning to defend against a technique that is employed pretty much exclusively when one's opponent is completely defenseless (have you ever seen a match-ending soccer kick and thought "that guy could have defended those much better"? because that has never been a thing that I have seen) but let us say for now only that Wanderlei Silva is very frightening and Daijiro Matsui is very brave. Matsui has been cut up by knees and his nose looks broken, too, and he responds to this by fighting with extra urgency, even for Daijiro Matsui (who, say what you will, has never lacked for spirit). As the first round draws to a close, Wanderlei is offered the caution and guidance of shido for holding onto the ropes whilst enstomping (Wanderlei, please: compose yourself). Quadros calls Daijiro Matsui "Akira Shoji" like four times. Round two is less eventful, excluding the long event of Matsui holding Silva down (without doing much of anything to pass the legs) and eating hard punches despite Silva throwing them from, you know, being on the underneath. I think Silva's got decent hips from the bottom but Matsui is doing so little (nothing) to pass that it's honestly hard to say. Wanderlei Silva is the winner by unanimous decision at the end of an æsthetically and at times morally unsatisfying contest.

Fabiano Iha, a Crolin Gracie black belt (I did not make that name up), is in next with Frank Trigg, who at this time of fighting had recently defeated Jean Jacques Machado (not bad!), and who for sure wrote part of his own wikipedia page: "When he is not busy acting and training for stunts, he spends his time with his family and giving back to the community through youth mentoring, involvement with Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and motivational speaking." Citation needed, my dude. Iha is taken down immediately, but in time threatens with 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame! But Trigg is up and out and ok! And now Iha has been floored by astoundingly untechnical looping punches that he has just, like, taken a knee from, and that's it. Not a great fight!

Allan Goes vs. Carl Malenko is a match between people who have done a pretty good job grappling in their Pride FC appearances so far, I think we would all agree. Goes approaches Malenko for a low, tackling 双手刈 morote-gari/two-hand reap, and I say approaches because he just kind of makes visible the passing thought of the technique, and Malenko is down all of a sudden without even the merest trace of resistance. Does he maybe think he has a shot from the bottom? Is that why he accepts the technique? Goes goes (haha!) to short-side pass right away, and Malenko does exactly what I would, and indeed have done very recently (like just last week!): secure the double-entanglement or half-guard of niju-garami, and grab a 逆腕絡 gyaku ude garami/double-wrist-lock/Kimura with one eye towards finishing the armlock, another towards sweeping, and yet another towards merely shrimping (ebi) back to the hikikomi or guard position (that's three eyes but think about it). I wonder if it will work out for him! The last time I did it, I was able to finish the ude-garami, and you know what, I felt pretty good about it. Goes, unsurprisingly, does the right thing, keeping his hand buried beneath Malenko's hip, and yeah ok he's passed to the side already. Don't worry, Carl Malenko, that happens to me too sometimes! Malenko recovers guard but only briefly, as Goes is back to the side, then to the kesa-gatame (scarf-hold) position, then right up on top in tate-shiho-gatame, with a little uki-gatame (the floating hold or knee-on-belly) thrown in just to make those transitions a little more miserable. This is excellent stuff, and Carlson Gracie, looking on from Goes corner, seems pretty into it. Goes has a crafty (or cræftig) little way of booping people in the face with his shoulder like *boop* in a way that is not going to knock anybody out but is *boop* gonna get on your nerves *boop* before to long I  bet (*boop*). JUJI-GATAME ah ok nope, Malenko escapes, and now Goes is on the bottom but is threatening with both 逆腕絡 gyaku ude garami and 表三角絞 omote sankaku jime in a way that makes me think of a little clip I saw of a gentleman by the name of Jarvis Cherron Kolen with whom I am not familiar beyond the clip in question, but I giffed it (oh, I giffed it):

Huuuuuuge elevator sweep from Allan Goes! In the mode of Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ)! Let's see hers since I already have a gif of it!

And then a lovely finish by way of 肩固 kata gatame (shoulder-hold/arm-triangle/head-and-arm choke). Let's watch 田代未来 Miku Tashiro (JPN) enter into this 技 waza by way of つくばロール Tsukuba roll at the  2018 World Championships Baku (because I already have a gif of it!):


I liked this match a lot! Carl Malenko is really very furious after it, though, and although his ire is plainly directed towards himself (it is self-ire) and not towards Allan Goes in any way, it is still carrying on to an extent that is not sportsmanlike and I hope he will reconsider his actions here or at least feel low-key embarrassed about them in the shower later, maybe pretty late at night (that's not true, I don't wish those awful things on anyone, and certainly not Carl Malenko, with whom I have no quarrel). 

OH NO MARK COLEMAN LOOK OUT IT IS RICARDO MORAIS HE IS TOO BIG HE IS TOO BIIIIIIIIIIG but Mark Coleman is himself pretty big, isn't he, especially juiced all to HEKK as he appears to be in this instance but who can say (what am I, a blood test [or even a urine one]). "Jesus," is Bas Rutten's analysis:


Morais, though, rarely ever did things commensurate with how terrifying he was, which is almost certainly for the best. As he was for a time very much a man of RINGS (and as we ourselves remain people of it), you will no doubt recall his horrific forty-six second finish of poor old Yoshihisa Yamamoto, but Yamamoto, despite lasting like a million minutes against Rickson Gracie somehow (we know how; we have seen . . . everything), is a guy who lost like eighteen of the final twenty-three fights (seriously, I opened a new tab and counted) of his career. So as ghastly as it was (Morais vs. Yamamoto, I mean [but also all of this]), it didn't tell us a whole lot, right? Whilst still of RINGS, Morais drew with Yuriy Kochkine, who I had completely forgotten, lost a thrilling boring decision to GROM ZAZA, and defeated little Hiromitsu Kanehara but Kanehara pretty much wins on account of being brave, right? And that was Morais' most recent match at the time of this encounter with Coleman, who Stephen Quadros tells us won a silver medal in the Olympics, which is not true (he was seventh, which is for sure still great, and he came second at the world championships the year before that, also tremendous, obviously). Stephen Quadros tells us that the first round was unusually uneventful (I think he may have said "boring," but I don't like that word so I am not going back to check!), and the replays confirm this: pretty dang ragged boxing, and then a lot of Mark Coleman uninspiringly on top. Round two sees Mark Coleman attempt the "can-opener" he spent a good amount of time on in round one, and it sure does open the guard, but then Coleman makes no real effort to pass or strike (I do not encourage striking but I recognize this is when one would maybe do some of it), so there's not. A lot. To Say. 

Until Morais makes a pretty tepid attempt to push Coleman away, feet-on-hips, and Coleman passes to the side! Good for him that's a way better place to be! I find Morais kind of a sympathetic figure in the way that, despite their natural advantages in terms of being, you know, great big, I find all great big guys kind of sympathetic figures (it is hard for them to get good work in at the club against all us little and medium-sized people, and when things go well for them people tend to dismiss their progress as being because they are just great big even if they are going super nice and light and technical; and if they hurt someone even totally innocently their villainy is endless, etc; we have almost certainly talked about this before, forgive me), but even more so in this case because of how much Ricardo Morais looks like the sad giant from Prince Valiant (the great Hal Foster was born in Halifax; please note this crucial fact):

In short, Mark Coleman rightly takes the decision. Rounding into fighting trim as PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 決勝戦(プライドグランプリにせん けっしょうせん)fast approaches!

Francisco Bueno, we learn, has spent two years training under the boxing coach of the great Rocky Marciano, which sounds amazing. He has to fight Igor Vovchanchyn though so I don't know. Yeah okay this is the one that is the worst knockout you'll ever see; I wondered if this was the one. The end comes at 1:23, but these are the first punches Igor throws (I didn't make this gif):

Bas Rutten says they should turn him on his side so he does not swallow his tongue, and then also is like "oh he is okay" once Bueno blinks one time. I think maybe Bas' first aid certification has lapsed? Mine for sure has too though so I can't really say if his ideas are good. Well that was horrific!

Gary Goodridge will now face the deeply enormous Tom Erikson, who I am very pleased to learn (from wikipedia, quite obviously) in 2015 accepted the head wrestling coach position at Lyon College, "a private residential liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and located in Batesville, Arkansas. Founded in 1872, it is the oldest independent college in Arkansas." That's great! And a better thing to do with the little time that we have here than lie atop Gary Goodrige whilst Gary, his life and health a self-professed shambles ever since walking away from steady work at the Honda plant in Alliston, attempts to taunt Erikson while completely losing, saying things like "hit me again, please!" and "how about a kiss?" and I am sure he thinks these things are quite sikk of him to say but he's very clearly losing the entire time, covering up while getting hit from positions of increasing control (for his foe). I am here to like Gary Goodridge or at the very least find him sympathetic and while I am still very much able to do the latter, the former is pretty much out the window for this match, and I don't feel good about it He attempts a kata-gatame/kata-sankaku/arm-triangle/head-and-arm-choke from the bottom and it doesn't go anywhere but I distinctly remember the moment at a training camp I hit and was certain I had invented the transition from that waza to juji-gatame and while it turns out "I probably didn't" it was still a lovely moment for me (I was working with a young man who, a few years later, went on to win gold at Canada Games and then, the legends [people who knew him better than I did] say, never stepped on the tatami again [and he never said why {maybe he did, I only ever knew him slightly}). HE CAN'T HURT YOU GARY HE CAN'T HURT YOU is not great coaching for when your guy is getting hit, I don't think, and I say that as a certified level-two coach in a sport that has absolutely no hitting in it. A super obvious decision win for Erikson.

A quite rad video plays depicting the struggle at the heart of PRIDE FC to this point: Japanese professional wrestlers (Takada, Sakuraba, Otsuka, Ogawa are all shown) against the Gracies (we are shown much Rickson, some Renzo). "There seems to be a bit of a rivalry brewing between the Japanese professional wrestlers who turn to mixed martial arts and the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighters," Quadros notes afterwards, and I am assuming he did not see the video because I am not here to think the worst of people (other than myself for even watching) but it is funny the way he says it, as though this were a thing that just occurred to him, and not the central premise of these eight shows so far and the tens and tens of thousands of tickets sold to them and the absolutely wild crowd that cannot believe how much it loves Alexander Otsuka as he takes to fight against Renzo Gracie (it is also worth noting, I think, that the makers of Fire Pro Wrestling A and Final Fire Pro Wrestling understood this dynamic perfectly and made it central to the STOIC STYLE stories of each). Otsuka and Renzo are super sportsmanlike and mannerly before the bout which is what the people (me) love to see! Holy moly the crowd is unreal for this guy! This DIET BUTCHER guy! (It's what his trunks say.) A fine double-leg takedown sees Otsuka first in Renzo's niju-garami half-guard and the crowd is both bonkers and bananas in a manner that we shall henceforth know as bonknanas but they settle down as Otsuka settles into Renzo's guard and the contest itself overall just, like, settles. Bas Rutten speculates that one of the reasons Japanese professional wrestlers have found success so far in Pride is that they are used to performing in front of big crowds and so they re relaxed about it and don't freak out. Triangle choke! Sankaku-jime! But Otsuka slams out of it (ah the hugging high lift of 抱上 daki-age). But Renzo is up-kicking as though Otsuka were the merest Oleg Taktarov (no diss to Oleg but you get what I am saying [Oleg got hellaciously upkicked {I was upkicked similarly by a student this year and it occurred to me she had not been born when Renzo upkicked Oleg unto ruin, forgive me if I have told you this tale alreadly}])! Otsuka is quite badly cut, and he came into the match pretty bandaged to begin with. Renzo and Otsuka seem to chat amiably for a moment, Renzo checking in with Otsuka about something or other, and it's all very cordial. I love things to be cordial! Renzo threatens with another sankaku-jime but Otsuka is out and up and now they are kickboxing one another. Otsuka's bandaged leg does not respond well to being kicked hard; this guy really came into this fight a mess, didn't he? Maybe too much wrestling too recently? Or maybe just over-training? Ah, the scourge of over-training: you call it over-training and driven young athletes thing it is a happening thing (this is how they talk, believe me) and all you can really do is to try to re-frame it as under-recovery and see what they make of it. Round one has ended but it was really exciting!

These rounds are ten minutes, by the way. I think ten minutes straight-time is a really good round-length and I-enjoy-to-hyphenate-things. AH HA HA WOAH OKAY I was about to tell you that round two is awfully slow, with Otsuka just hanging out in Renzo's guard whilst Renzo makes the occasional hip-gesture towards juji-gatame but after a few minutes of this he GOES for the juji-gatame and it's so deep that I am stunned Otsuka got out (though I suppose they are both very slippery by now) and in the ensuing scramble Renzo comes up and top and seems inclined towards the superb 腕挫腕固 ude-hishigi-ude-gatame he employed upon both Wataru Sakata and Maurice Smith at RINGS 12/22/99: RISE 7th: WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING OF KINGS. Both Bas and Quadros agree that Renzo must be looking for some kind of armlock, though they know not which, and yet had they merely watched RINGS they would know it; they would see it. AHHHHH BIG SCRAMBLE AND RENZO HAS THROWN WITH 裏投 URA-NAGE and interestingly, as this merry contest ends (I will show you how merry in but a moment, please stay for it), Otsuka secures the 逆腕絡 gyaku-ude-garami/Kimura grip that will famously prove Renzo's undoing against Kazushi Sakuraba at Pride 10; but that doom abides, and for now, all is merry and well (thank you for staying to see how merry, how well):

Renzo Gracie is in town this week and weekend to speak, if I understand this correctly, at a meeting of the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce in Nova Scotia, as Renzo is, if I am not mistaken, in part of Lebanese heritage (every bit of what I have related to you just now is hearsay). Many Lebanese found a new home here amid the ills that beset that ancient land in recent decades, and they have enriched our province; let us thank them for coming. Also Renzo will be teaching a seminar (not at the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce in Nova Scotia)  and I hope it goes well (I have at least one student attending, I think). 

MAY GOD BLESS THE LEBANESE PEOPLE AND POSSIBLY ALSO HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS FOR DEFILING THEM BY WATCHING MEN FIGHT AS BEASTS OF THE FIELD EXCEPT WAY WORSE for it is time for the main event of the evening (in truth an afternoon, in the real time of the primary world of our experience and not the secondary worlds of memory or sub-creation) which sees Royler Gracie (a Renzo-cousin, brother to both Rickson and Royce) against Kazushi Sakuraba in "a bout" that perhaps you have heard "about" (haha). Royler, you will recall, is not a big guy at all, listed here at 5'8" and 150lbs (we would be good training partners!), whilst Sakuraba's height is given at 6', which I absolutely do not believe, and his weight 183lbs, which seems far more credible, so Sakuraba for the first time faces someone lighter (much respect to Royler in this). Royler had not yet become what he would be known as -- a wonderful technical grappler who, despite that wonderfulness, posted an indifferent 5-5-1 record in mixed fight (best win: Noburu Asahi? Kazuyuki Miyata in his first match ever? one of those two I guess) -- but was instead the as-yet-undefeated (in mixed fight) Royler Gracie of the as-yet-undefeated (this is not true) Gracie family and here we go. Rickson stands in Royler's corner, Nobuhiko Takada in Sakuraba's. Yeah okay these guys are almost exactly the same height, I knew that 6' business was not to be trusted. Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten, as the match is only beginning, speculate as to which Gracie Sakuraba should fight next, whether it should be Renzo or Rickson. Nobody mentions Royce! As these speculations continue, Sakuraba has been hanging out in Royler's butterfly (insteps) guard, looking pretty low-key. "This is not fighting," Bas suggests, and argues they should be restarted standing, but this has only been going on for like a minute, I don't get it. When they do stand, of their own accord, it's clear very quickly that Sakuraba's kicks are a real problem. Royler's takedown attempt is very feeble (I mean no disrespect but it is feeble), and Sakuraba just sprawls atop him and punches. The crowd is b a n a n a s. Royler scoots around on his bottom and, after getting kicked a bunch more, beckons Sakuraba to the mat, daring him to enter his guard, but that's just super dumb. We can't be more than five minutes into the contest when Bas and Quadros decide that there is literally nothing Royler can do to win this fight: he can't strike with Sakuraba, he can't take him down, and when Sakuraba was in his guard in the opening minutes, Royler had no attacks. As Royler scoots around and half-heartedly stomps at Sakuraba's knees (this achieves nothing), this is not great fun to watch, because we know how it ends (don't we), and it never feels like Royler even had a chance. Royler winces in pain from one of the many kicks to his leg, and Sakuraba checks in to make sure he's ok (he is). This is awful. The crowd is wild for each kick that lands. Royler continues to beckon Sakuraba down which is just the lamest thing to do and I say this as someone who, I am sure, needs not further prove his love of newaza to you after these hundreds of thousands of words we have shared together. Ax-kicks now (kakato-otoshi [heel-drop]). Round one ends, and it was hideous. I don't remember feeling this way about it at all when I first watched it years ago, and this makes me feel ungood about at least that part of who I was then (there's plenty of other stuff too, don't worry). Because this is gross. This has been a pretty consistent theme as we have revisited these early Prides, but I am feeling it more fully here than I have previously. Round two is: a lot of kicks. Quadros notes that there are no judges for this match, as that is a precondition of (non-Renzo) Gracie participation. Bas objects to this strongly, arguing that "we're all equal, we're all the same" (that's true). "Let's go, let's go," you can hear Royler say to Sakuraba as he extends a hand as though to lure him to the ground again. "I think the object is to make the fighter fight your fight, rather than to ask him to fight your fight," Quadros observes (Bas agrees). When Royler gets his wish, and Sakuraba follows him into newaza, Sakuraba secures his 逆腕絡 gyaku-ude-garami grip in less than ten seconds. "I don't know that Sakuraba wants to break the arm," Quadros notes as Royler squirms and winces in pain but refuses to tap. I have talked about this before, but here I am talking about it again: refusing to tap doesn't make you some like super raw guy, it makes you a jerk; it's sheer arrogance to refuse to acknowledge that you have been bested, and forcing your opponent to actually break your arm or strangle you into unconsciousness (both of these things are unpleasant) is, I'm gonna come right out and say it, just plain rude. If Sakuraba steps over Royler's head with his right leg from here, the arm (already at an angle severe enough that Royler has not just winced but like wiiiiiiiiinced) will break, there's no question about it. Do we think Kazushi Sakuraba doesn't know this? Does Royler Gracie think Kazushi Sakuraba doesn't know this? Does Rickson Gracie, protesting vehemently now that (at least somewhat evil) referee Yuji Shimada has waved off the bout late in the second round, think Kazushi Sakuraba doesn't know this? Everybody knows this, and Kazushi Sakuraba was clearly holding the position (rather than finishing the technique) out of mercy. And so what is (obviously evil) Yuji Shimada supposed to do, with Sakuraba completely settled into gyaku-ude-garami just shy of the point of breaking but obviously reluctant to cause needless injury (ude-garami breaks are almost always worse than juji-gatame breaks), and Royler Gracie neither defending the technique nor willing to acknowledge that he has been finished? Should Shimada stand them up? Should he tell Sakuraba to finish the hold? Or should he stop the match and award it to the clear winner? Yuji Shimada (still evil, please do not mistake me) made the right decision here, and I think I have figured out why I do not remember feeling awful about how one-sided and uncomfortable this match is, and that is that by the time it ends, you are left feeling just completely sick of Helio Gracie's whiny kids.  


October 11, 1999:

"Tokyo Sports wrote on 10/6 that [Masaaki] Satake would wind up with either RINGS or Pride, and they'd built up to a match against Naoya Ogawa which would pit Japan's most famous kickboxer against its most famous judo star."


"There are rumors regarding both Renzo and Royler Gracie fighting on the 11/21 Pride show. As the stories go, Renzo would face Alexander Otsuka and Royler would face Kazushi Sakuraba. In a sense from a Japanese booking perspective they make sense because Sakuraba likely wouldn't lose to Royler (who pound-for-pound is an awesome fighter but is 150 pounds tops while Sakuraba is about 190 although Royler did beat 215 pound Naoki Sano in a shoot but Sano is a pro wrestler who got hammered in all his Vale Tudo fights) and if Otsuka lost to Renzo, it would be okay since Otsuka has already lost to Nobuhiko Takada and Renzo has the Gracie name. Actually that match is pretty much all upside for Otsuka, even though Renzo is a little bit smaller, because Renzo has the name. In the Sakuraba match, the idea would be that the promotion is playing it safe, because in reality, what does it prove if Sakuraba beats Royler. Visually, unless he finishes him clean, Royler will look like a winner just surviving against someone that much bigger. And even if he does finish him clean, sure, he's the first Japanese fighter to cleanly beat a Gracie, but he's so much larger."

October 18, 1999:

"Pride, which 'owes' Mark Coleman another fight since he did the job for Nobuhiko Takada, has offered him a match on the 11/21 show against Ricardo Morais, a 6-8, 275 pound Brazilian, who, if Coleman is able to overcome his stamina problems that have plagued him in losses to Maurice Smith, Pete Williams and Pedro Rizzo, Coleman should be able to ground. Morais’ only Vale Tudo loss was against Grom Zaza of RINGS, a Dan Severn-level amateur wrestler who took him down and kept him there." [He sure did! And it was the best! --ed.]


"Dream Stage Entertainment, the group that does the shoot Pride shows in Japan, is scheduled to meet with WWF officials toward the end of the month about a proposed show next year at the Tokyo Dome. If a deal goes through, Pride will become a pro wrestling promotion as opposed to a Vale Tudo promotion with some main event worked shoots to protect the top Japanese stars for business reasons as it is today. Nobuhiko Takada will be coming in for the meeting. DSE is offering the WWF $1 million base plus various percentages when it comes to merchandise and give the WWF the rights to sell a certain percentage of the tickets to the show themselves which could amount to at least a $1.5 million deal. DSE sees an opening in the pro wrestling market by using the WWF wrestlers, who are gaining a cult following in Japan from added television exposure on satellite, with All Japan and New Japan both struggling at the box office. WWF is also negotiating with Seikendo, which is Satoru Sayama’s group, which uses name wrestlers from the Battlarts promotion and will be sending Kurt Angle to the 11/5 show at Yokohama Bunka Gym. Angle probably has more potential wrestling for RINGS (if they continue doing a lot of worked matches) than for American style."

October 25, 1999:

"With its scheduled meeting with the World Wrestling Federation at the end of the month, the future of the Dream Stage Entertainment Pride promotion, which has become generally speaking the No. 1 shoot promotion in the world, is in question.

At the same time the group is negotiating with the WWF for talent for its upcoming Tokyo Dome shows, which would have to be worked matches, they are also talking to many of the top real fighters in the world for participation in the tournament on the same shows. WWF officials turned DSE down flat when requesting talent to appear on its last show in what WWF officials were told would be shoot matches. WWF wasn't even interested in hearing a price mentioned because after the Brawl-for-all experiment, they've learned their lesson in regard to putting wrestlers not trained in shooting in that environment and the injury risks from doing so.

DSE has, in its past, promoted shows with a varying percentage of worked and shoot matches, generally all shoot undercards with occasional worked matches with predetermined outcomes to protect the two big Japanese drawing cards, pro wrestlers Nobuhiko Takada and Naoya Ogawa. Takada has been given several wins, but also had to face reality in two matches with Rickson Gracie headlining Tokyo Dome shows, and a recent match with Mark Kerr appeared to be a controlled situation where Takada lost but wasn't put in danger of being hurt. Previous Pride shows before DSE was running them also protected several fighters including Koji Kitao, a now retired pro wrestler who had a great deal of mainstream name value. But the majority of its matches have been of the shoot variety, and because they are the highest paying shoot promotion in the world, their shows feature the biggest names and the most looked forward to matches.

The next show, on 11/21 at the Yokohama Arena, has several intriguing match-ups but neither Takada or Ogawa are announced for the show which means it'll be tough to draw the masses. Pride has drawn more than 10,000 fans on its previous two shows in the building at high ticket prices. Whether, because the costs of putting on shoot shows are far more expensive than worked shows, the shows can break even or not with that kind of attendance figure (throwing in PPV rights and eventual videotape sales as well into the equation) is unknown, but appears to be doubtful or else the company wouldn't be looking to the WWF.

But more importantly than its next show are plans for both a 1/30 and a yet unannounced date in March both at the Tokyo Dome for a 16-man tournament built along the lines of the very successful K-1 Grand Prix tournament (rival promotion RINGS is doing a similar based tournament but it appears with lesser name value fighters). Royce Gracie has already publicly talked about doing the tournament, which would have eight first round matches on 1/30, and the eight-winners would go into a grueling one-night tournament in March. Even K-1, which is far bigger than MMA style as far as mainstream popularity in Japan, saw its first round of the Grand Prix held on 10/3 in Osaka wind up disappointing at the gate and drew a far smaller television rating then the previous year.

Pride Officials along with Takada are supposed to meet with the WWF about involvement in the tournament. But how can WWF wrestlers, Takada, Ogawa, Igor Vovchanchin (now generally considered as the No. 1 heavyweight fighter in the world after his no contest against Mark Kerr last month) and Royce Gracie all exist in the same tournament without it being a total fiasco [or my save on ファイナルファイヤープロレスリング~夢の団体運営 (Final Fire Pro Wrestling: Yume no Dantai Unei! [Final Fire Pro Wrestling: Organization of Dreams {Final Fire Pro Wrestling: Dream Organization Management}]) --ed]? And where, possibly, would Ken Shamrock, whose name hasn't been mentioned publicly but it would make sense would be in the hunt for something like this, still under a WWF contract but wants to do this style fighting next year, fit into all this. We know feelers have been sent but that nothing is close to confirmed. A Gracie vs. Shamrock first round match, long been thought to be impossible to put together, would make for an incredibly marketable match if it's bracketed that way and with the Dome to fill, they'll need more than just 16 fighters in a tournament. WWF officials were told that DSE wants to move away from the shoot style and get into promoting pro wrestling, which probably tells you what you need to know about the profit margin or lack thereof on recent shows, with the feeling that market is ripe for WWF style with its expanded television line-up in the country and the traditional Japanese styles promoted by All Japan and New Japan now faltering at the gate.

Six matches have been announced for the 11/21 show headlined by Kerr vs. Enson Inoue (who are facing off as the main eventers on all the print ads for the show), Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royler Gracie, Alexander Otsuka vs. Renzo Gracie, Mark Coleman vs. Ricardo Morais, Carl Malenko vs. Allan Goes and Daijiro Matsui vs. Vanderlei Silva. They are also looking for an opponent for Ogawa as a match to sell tickets.

Kerr vs. Inoue matches up top ranked experienced heavyweights, with Inoue's 90 second win over former UFC champ Randy Couture showing he's dangerous against a world class wrestler. Sakuraba vs. Royler, as mentioned last week, is a strange match since Royler is probably pound-for-pound the best fighter in the family, but at 147 pounds, facing 190-pound Sakuraba who is considered by many to be the Japanese version of Frank Shamrock, it's a situation that's almost a no-win for the Japanese fighter. There may be some special rules involved, including the idea of longer rounds (15 minutes as opposed to the usual 10 minutes). Otsuka, who weighs about 205, the Battlarts pro wrestler who made a name for himself in this world when he outlasted an exhausted Marco Ruas, is facing a 185-pounder who is unbeaten under MMA rules. Coleman vs. Morais would be a classic match for the United States because they are two huge physiques, but would have less marketability in Japan. Coleman, a 245-pound powerhouse wrestler who looked unbeatable in his early UFC matches before opponents learned to take advantage of his stamina problems which caused him three straight losses, faces an imposing looking 6-8, 270-pound Brazilian monster whose only MMA loss was to wrestler Grom Zaza of RINGS where he was taken down and basically unable to escape from the bottom against a world class wrestler. Morais will be taken down, but is very tough mentally in regards to not quitting (he had his ankle broken in a match with Tra Telligman earlier this year, failed to tap out and came back to win) and has come from behind several times, while Coleman has never won a match that went more than 11:00 but never lost a match for any reason other than getting tired first. Goes is a highly regarded Jiu Jitsu star with a Brazilian background who gave Sakuraba his toughest test to date in the Pride rings in a slow-moving 30:00 match which saw Goes use a lot of stalling tactics to frustrate his Japanese foe, and faces a Battlarts pro wrestler who is one of the most underrated exciting workers in the business, but as a shooter, has won and lost rather boring time limit decisions on the two most recent Pride shows. Matsui, who started as a pro wrestler under Takada, is a decent prelim fighter but would be a heavy underdog against Silva."

November 1, 1999:

"It now looks more questionable as to whether or not Royce Gracie will do the Pride tournament in January. Apparently he's claiming there are too many rules and in particular he doesn't want to fight with time limits." [Helio's. Whiny. Kids. -- ed.]


"Mark Coleman is training at the Obake Gym (the same Atlanta area gym owned by Bill Goldberg) for his 11/21 Pride match against Ricardo Morais. Among his trainers is Robby Rage of the former WCW High Voltage tag team who has a reputation as being a very tough guy."

November 8, 1999:

"Dream Stage Entertainment released a statement claiming that they are not interested in switching their promotion to a pro wrestling worked format and are looking instead to go in the other direction to an all-shoot format (which sounds like an admission they've done worked matches in the past which everyone knows they have). The amazing thing is this statement was released one day before its President, Naoto Morishita left for the United States to meet with Victor Quinones and Jim Ross of the WWF and about promoting WWF pro wrestling shows.

They've added a Frank Trigg vs. Fabiano Iha match for the 11/21 Pride show at Yokohama Arena."

November 15, 1999:

"Once again, the proposed Mark Kerr vs. Enson Inoue match on a Pride show won't be taking place.

The main event on the Pride 8 show on 11/21 at the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum (mistakenly listed here as the Yokohama Arena) was canceled when Kerr pulled out of the match citing health problems [drug overdoes are a kind of health problem certainly --ed]. This confirmed rumors circulating all week that Kerr was pulling out of the match for various reasons. According to a report in Full Contact Fighter the unbeaten heavyweight who up until the controversial Igor Vovchanchin match (which was a no contest when Vovchanchin knocked him out through usage of a two hard knees to the head, which were in violation of the Pride rules and thus hours after the match ended the result was changed from a win for Vovchanchin to a no contest), was ranked No. 1 in the world in virtually every poll, was recently near death. This was blamed in the story on a bad reaction to medication taken for injuries suffered in his match with Vovchanchin two months ago, and hadn't recovered sufficiently. At press time, there was no word on a replacement opponent for Inoue.

Kerr vs. Inoue had already been booked twice this year. The first time Inoue pulled out over an injury. The second time, Kerr pulled out due to elbow surgery a few weeks before the match.

The 11/21 show figured to be a difficult ticket seller to start with, as Pride was promoting a big show without a pro wrestling superstar (Nobuhiko Takada or Naoya Ogawa) as a draw. While Pride consists of a vast majority of shoot matches, its biggest crowds have been composed of primarily pro wrestling fans drawn by Takada, whose main events have been both works (which he's mainly won) and shoots (all of which he's lost).

While Dream Stage Entertainment has not announced this in Japan, The RAW (Real American Wrestling) team announced on 11/8 that Tom Erikson would face Gary Goodridge on the Pride show. Erikson, a former U.S. superheavyweight freestyle wrestling champion, is unbeaten in Vale Tudo rules matches including a scary knockout of current UFC headliner Kevin Randleman in Brazil a few years back. Erikson is one of those guys that everyone fears and hasn't fought in years, largely because whenever he's booked, promoters have great difficulty finding opponents willing to face him and the matches usually fall through. From a UFC standpoint, they've always shied away from him, not so much on that issue, but because of the belief he's not very marketable and it would be difficult to find someone who could beat him. Erikson is older now and didn't win the U.S. nationals the past two years, with Stephen Neal now considered the best superheavyweight in freestyle in the country. In addition, Frank Trigg, a national calibre wrestler who is unbeaten in NHB including a win over highly touted BJJ expert Jean Jacques Machado, faces Fabiano Iha on the 11/21 show. All of this was expected to be announced officially at a Pride press conference scheduled for mid-week."


"It was officially announced that Naoya Ogawa won't be in the Pride Eight show on 11/21 at Yokohama Arena. The cover story they are giving is that Ogawa said since he couldn't get a match with either Nobuhiko Takada or Rickson Gracie, he wasn't interested in fighting there."

November 22, 1999:

In which Dave addresses further complexities of the work/shoot spectrum:

"Like last year, we need to clarify categories as to the term shooting. We have categories specifically for actual competitive matches, Shoot Fighter of the year and Shoot match of the year. All UFC, Pride, MMA, Pancrase and legitimate RINGS (as opposed to worked RINGS) matches are eligible for the shoot awards. Consideration for Shoot fighter of the year should be based entirely on participation and results of legitimate matches during the time frame and nothing else. Performance in shoot matches can be taken into consideration if relevant for the Wrestler of the Year award, since that award encompasses the entire pro wrestling world. That top award is for overall excellence in whatever craft your company is presenting and value to the promotion over the past year. However, Most Outstanding Wrestler is an award for the best worker, which inherently means anything that takes place during a shoot match is ineligible. There are people who do worked and shoot matches and could qualify for this award, but in that case, only their worked matches should be considered. Best Box Office draw is self explanatory adn work vs. shoot doesn't matter and anyone is eligible. Feud, Tag Team and Most Improved (since it's a working award) are all having to do with working and thus anything in a shoot shouldn't be taken into consideration. Best on Interviews has nothing to do with working or shooting although I can't imagine any non-workers being considered. Most Charismatic is open to everyone. Best technical wrestler and Bruiser Brody Award are meant within a worked environment, as are Most Overrated and Most Underrated. Best Promotion is open to everyone. Best Weekly TV is irrelevant to this discussion because at this point no shoot promotions have weekly TV. Match of the Year is open only to worked matches because shoot matches have their own category and it's unfair to compare one with the other. Rookie of the Year is open to anyone in the pro wrestling world as are TV announcers, and Best and Worst major cards, so shoot shows are eligible. The shoot awards should only be for performers who did shooting matches this year, and not for people like Ken Shamrock who have in the past but haven't this year."


"At this point it appears that with Mark Kerr pulling out of the Pride Eight show that Enson Inoue won't be fighting on the show. The Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royler Gracie match has been moved to the main event slot. There is a lot of controversy going into the match with reports that Gracie is trying to make massive changes in the rules due to the size differential (Sakuraba is about 190 pounds while Gracie is about 150). There are a lot of reports about what the changes he wants are but it appears he wants the elimination of rounds and it just be a 30 minute match with no judges but that he be awarded the win, because he's so much smaller, in the event the match goes to the time limit. There may be also modifications, some of which may be fairly serious, of the current Pride rules for this match. Alexander Otsuka, who faces Renzo Gracie on the show, has said during the match he's going to honor Rikidozan by doing Rikidozan chops. Sakuraba did something similar on the last show saying he was going to honor Billy Robinson, who coached him at one point, by doing a double-arm suplex, but that move is easier said than done in a shoot situation. Francisco Bueno, a top rated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu heavyweight, faces Igor Vovchanchin in a match just announced for this week's Pride show."


"A second meeting with Naoto Morishita of Dream Stage Entertainment and the WWF is scheduled for 11/30 in Anaheim, CA. At this point what they are discussing would be producing a WWF show for the Tokyo Dome in either June or October, probably on a Friday night. DSE would build a "Raw is War" like stage for the show and probably bill it as "Raw is War" so it would look to Japanese fans like the show they see on television. There is still no deal close to finalization. DSE wants WWF to send them someone like Kurt Angle to make a personal appearance at the 11/21 Pride show or send some people to the 1/30 Pride show to basically show the Japanese public they are involved in some form with the WWF to start building interest, although at this point no plans are for anyone to attend the shows yet."

November 29, 1999:

"A pro wrestler who grew up idolizing the original Tiger Mask became arguably the biggest name in martial arts by becoming the first person to score a decisive victory over a Gracie in Vale Tudo competition.

Kazushi Sakuraba, 30, who started as a pro wrestler in Nobuhiko Takada's UWFI, defeated Royler Gracie with what is known in Japan as a Kimura armlock [noooooooooooooooooope, but we have discussed this --ed.] (it's called the V-1 armlock in New Japan, chicken wing in the United States and double wristlock in old-time catch wrestling [also in Fire Pro -- ed.] from the days of it being a hookers' move in the Strangler Lewis era) in about 29:00 of a 30:00 match in the main event of the Dream Stage Entertainment Pride Eight Japanese PPV show on 11/21 at the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum before a reported sellout crowd of 10,036. The move is basically an entangled armlock, named after Masahiko Kimura, a former World Judo champion and later a pioneer Japanese pro wrestler who had legendary matches against the likes of Royler's father Helio (beating him clean in a stadium show in Rio de Janiero, Brazil with the same move in 12:00 on October 23, 1951 in a similar situation as Kimura had about a 50 pound weight advantage in the match [bulllllllllllllllllllshit, no one remotely credible has ever suggested a fifty pound weight-difference, Dave, you are "falling for it" here buddy --ed.]) and later a pro wrestling match with Rikidozan (where Rikidozan double-crossed him and beat the hell out of him, making his legend by doing so).

The sellout--a first for DSE--indicates the group is finally recognized at least in Japan as the premier Vale Tudo promotion in the world, as the UFC Japan show one week earlier didn't draw well. It was reported as having a strong walk up, which most are attributing to the interest garnered in the main event in the week before the match with the Gracie camp's attempt to make changes in the rules, which Japanese fans saw as concern and an acknowledgement Sakuraba had a good shot at winning. In reality, Sakuraba had little shot at losing, and the game was whether or not Gracie would be able to survive the time limit for the draw. But Sakuraba became the first Japanese wrestler who proved he could both headline a successful major show and do a true shoot match. We should have a more detailed report on the show either in next week's issue or the following after viewing a videotape of the PPV.

Some tickets early were sold based on the Mark Kerr vs. Enson Inoue match, which fell through, moving the Sakuraba match to the main event. Even though Sakuraba had a huge size advantage and came one minute shy of it being a draw, the place went crazy for the first time a Japanese fighter ever beat a member of the Gracie family.

There was little doubt that Sakuraba, ranked alongside Frank Shamrock as the best under-200 pound fighter in the world, would hammer the much smaller Gracie. The question is if he'd be able to finish him. There were a lot of rule changes attempted in the weeks leading to the match, but the end result was a compromise of going to two 15 minute rounds, but if there was no decisive winner, the match wouldn't go to a decision but would instead be declared a draw. That compromise was reached in the days leading to the fight and was in the newspapers the day before the show, but fans booed the announcement of no judges in the event of the time limit when it was said before the match. The Gracies had tried to get it to where if the match went the time limit that Gracie, because he was giving up so much weight, would be given the decision, but that wasn't agreed to.

Sakuraba, who fights at about 190 pounds, probably had about a 40-pound weight edge on Royler, who had previously been tapped out once with an ankle lock in pure Jiu Jitsu competition against an even bigger 215-pound Mario Sperry. Royler is actually the best in the family as far as competition record against world class competition in his sport holding numerous legitimate world championships in his weight division. Sakuraba had superior stand-up and there was little chance of Gracie taking him down. The fight figured to be boring, with Gracie laying on his back to stall for the time limit. Gracie, at the weight of 147 pounds, had beaten Sakuraba's stablemate, Yuhi Sano, at about 220 pounds, in a 26:00 match by tapping him out. Sano, at one time a major star in pro wrestling, was a poor real fighter.

Sakuraba pounded on Gracie standing until Gracie dropped to his back. Sakuraba, who has plenty of experience in this situation where Jiu Jitsu stars Allan Goes and Vitor Belfort both laid on their back against him to stall out time. With Goes, Sakuraba couldn't figure out how to counter the stalling, but the second time it was tried, with Belfort, Sakuraba came in with the answers. Sakuraba leg kicked Gracie to death, turning his legs an ugly shade of purple until the round ended.

In the second round, Sakuraba dominated with punches and kicks, including catching Gracie with a high kick to the face that knocked him down and even copied his idol Sayama doing a spinning back kick, or in pro wrestling terms, the old Tiger Mask rolling savate. Gracie took tremendous punishment before Sakuraba got the submission lock. It was apparently a very dramatic finish, as Sakuraba had Gracie caught, but it was clear he wasn't going to tap even though he was in tremendous pain. The doctor told Rickson Gracie, his second, to throw in the towel, but they had the mentality they'd rather the arm was broken than suffer a defeat in this style of competition. Finally, with the fear the arm was about to be, if not already was broken, an outside referee stopped the match. From virtually all accounts, the stoppage wasn't considered controversial, and the crowd celebrated the win like crazy as the show ended. Sakuraba challenged Rickson after the match, which may at this point almost force Rickson, who turned 40 on the day his younger brother was defeated, to either test his mythical laurels against a real fighter in modern Vale Tudo or make an even stronger statement by not agreeing to the match. If he doesn't, and it's clear that a Rickson vs. Sakuraba match would be a big draw in any Tokyo building except the big Dome, it would be an ironic turnaround. Several years back, after Rickson had destroyed Yoji Anjoh, when the big UWFI star, Nobuhiko Takada, failed to gain revenge for his undercard wrestler and fight Rickson, it was one of the reasons Takada's reputation and myth took a lot of questioning. By the time they finally did the match, years later, Takada's reputation had taken a beating and it was trying to revive something from the dead which in reality never was. Years later, it's Takada's protege beating a Gracie, and now Rickson is either in the exact position Takada was, or Rickson, unlike Takada, is something closely resembling his carefully manufactured reputation.

In a seminar after the match, Rickson and Royler Gracie claimed Sakuraba had no warrior spirit because he refused to engage on the ground (read that, when Sakuraba was pounding him standing and he laid down, Sakuraba kicked at his legs when he wouldn't get up) and that Sakuraba's punches didn't hurt. [He refused to engage on the ground! Until he did! And then mangled up Royler's arm! Oh, brother! --ed.]

The Gracie family ended up splitting two matches against Japanese pro wrestlers. Renzo Gracie, a first cousin of Royler and Rickson, defeated Alexander Otsuka of Battlarts via decision after they went the 20:00 time limit. Otsuka, who had continued to do pro wrestling matches as late as five days before the show, scored a huge upset and made himself a huge name beating a blown up Brazilian legend Marco Ruas last year. The reality of that match was that Otsuka was getting pounded on until Ruas, who claimed he was ill, simply blew up and at that point could no longer fight and took a beating before deciding against coming out for the third round. There were some mind games coming into this fight as Gracie demanded that Otsuka get down to 85 kilograms (187 pounds) for the fight and when Otsuka first weighed in, he was 92.8 kilos (204.2 pounds). He had to cut 18 pounds a few days before the fight to make weight.

The other currently active pro wrestler on the show, Carl Malenko of Battlarts, lost via submission to a head and arm triangle against Goes. The opener pitted Daijiro Matsui, who started his sports career as pro wrestler Shunsuke Matsui in the Kingdom promotion, although he hasn't done pro wrestling of late, losing to Brazilian Vanderlei Silva via decision in a one-sided bloody match.

Earlier in the show, DSE officials came to the ring with a championship belt and talked about its planned tournament to create a World champion which starts on 1/30 at the Tokyo Dome, announcing Sakuraba, Royce Gracie (who has independently confirmed signing a contract to compete in this tournament), Naoya Ogawa (who said last week that he's not interested in fighting in a tournament), Takada (his participation already puts that in question), Igor Vovchanchin (generally considered the top rated heavyweight in the world), Mark Kerr and Ricardo Morais as participants. The idea is to have eight singles matches on this show, with the final eight going into a one-night Tokyo Dome tournament similar to the famous Ultimate Ultimate shows of the past, scheduled for late March or early April at the Dome.

DSE officials were unable to get a guest appearance by a WWF performer for this show.

1. Silva beat Matsui via decision after they went the 20:00 time limit. Silva gave Matsui a beating but couldn't finish him. Matsui bled a lot from above the eye, and was hit throughout with a barrage of kicks, punches and elbows.

2. Frank Trigg, a former U.S. Olympic team hopeful in amateur wrestling who has looked very impressive in Vale Tudo, beat Fabiano Iha in a very quick match. Trigg pounded Iha standing and the ref stopped the fight after he stunned him with a hard punch.

3. Goes beat Malenko (Carl Ognibene) in 9:16 with a head and arm triangle submission. Goes took Malenko down at the bell and dominated the match.

4. Mark Coleman beat Ricardo Morais in what was described as a boring 20:00 decision. Coleman was totally dominant against the 6-8 3/4, 273 pound Brazilian monster looking guy. Coleman was able to take Morais down three times in the fight and mainly keep him on the ground. Coleman while on top, conserved energy and even though he went 20:00, didn't appear to tire as he's done in the past, winning his first match after three consecutive legitimate (Maurice Smith, Pete Williams and Pedro Rizzo) defeats all of which could be blamed on his tiring at the end (he also had a worked loss to Takada in Pride).

5. Tom Erikson won a unanimous decision over Gary Goodridge after the 20:00 time limit expired. Erikson, a World class freestyle wrestler who has never lost in Vale Tudo competition including obliterating current UFC heavyweight champ Kevin Randleman in two minutes via knockout. Goodridge scored with some punches and knees but most of the match saw him kept grounded by Erikson's superior wrestling. This was said to be a brutal match as far as hard blows landing, but overall not that exciting.

6. Igor Vovchanchin knocked out Francisco Bueno of Brazil with a left and two rights within about one minute of the first round. The right that knocked Bueno cold was said to be one of the most savage punches in MMA history.

7. Renzo Gracie beat Otsuka (Takashi Otsuka) via unanimous decision after 20:00. Otsuka started strong, taking Gracie down and getting the mount. At one point, with him standing and Gracie down, Gracie connected on a kick to the nose (similar to the kick he used to knock out Oleg Taktarov) which appeared to break Otsuka's nose. In the second round Otsuka was able to get a mount again and was punching the stomach. Gracie nearly got an armlock two minutes in, and at this point it appeared Otsuka blew up first. Gracie was able to dominate the rest of the round, including suplex Otsuka and nearly got an armlock again.

8. Sakuraba beat Royler Gracie with an entangled armlock in approximately 29:00 of a 30:00 time limit match."

December 5, 1999:

"There was a big pro wrestling angle this past week at the Dream Stage Entertainment press conference to announce its 1/30 Tokyo Dome show. They announced the tournament with the names already listed here. About 50 minutes into the press conference, Naoya Ogawa, "arrived late" throwing a tantrum (this is all pro wrestling from this point on). Ogawa challenged Nobuhiko Takada to a singles match (they need a match like that for a Dome show with a big angle). Ogawa said how the newspapers were already reporting the match taking place but that DSE hasn't told him. President Naohito Morishita announced that they would book Ogawa vs. Takada as a first round tournament match but then Ogawa would have to enter the tournament, which he said he didn't want to. Ogawa again said he wasn't interested in doing the tournament and attacked Takada with flowers until Igor Vovchanchin, Gary Goodridge and Kazunari Murakami all broke it up. Morishita after this again said they wanted Ogawa in the tournament. Helio Gracie, the father of Rickson, Royler and Royce and Brazilian fighting legend, was at the press conference and talked about Royler's loss to Kazushi Sakuraba, actually running down Sakuraba saying that the match shouldn't have been stopped as Royler could have held on for the last minute, and said he didn't consider it a great accomplishment to take 29 minutes to beat a man 20 kilos (44 pounds) lighter, saying he, at his age (he's 87) could still beat a man 20 kilos lighter."

December 12, 1999:

Christmas comes early as DAVE GETS TAPE:


11/21 DREAM STAGE ENTERTAINMENT: This was the Pride Eight PPV show from the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum, the first sellout in the history of the promotion. It wasn't that spectacular, but the main event, because of its historical nature, made it probably the best show in company history. For action and being a competitive match, the main event wasn't the match of the year, but for impact and probable long-term history, it may have been the most significant match this year. It is being reported in the martial arts press that this was the third straight profitable show for DSE, but that may not be the case. When Naohito Morishita had the meeting with WWF, they were talking to WWF as if they want to get out of the real fight business because of so many expenses in flying in and housing not only fighters, but also their entourage. 1. Vanderlei Silva beat Daijiro Matsui via unanimous decision after 20:00. In the first round, Silva blocked a take down and got on top and threw a few weak punches. Matsui got to his feet, which wasn't good because Silva was the superior stand-up fighter. Silva bloodied his nose, hitting him with solid shots. Silva got more shots in, cutting him over the left eye, bloodying him worse. Matsui, who was all bloody, let it all hang out and they had a good slugfest standing at the end of the round, but Matsui couldn't hang with him. Matsui took him down into his guard. Silva got a mount and was pounding him, and kicked him hard when he was down. As he got up, Silva rocked him badly with a high kick at the end of the round. In the second round, Silva got on top but went for a choke 2:30 in and Matsui reversed him, with Silva holding guard and actually scoring more from the bottom. Matsui got a solid shot in on Silva's right eye which was cut and almost swollen shut by the end of the match. Matsui deserves a lot of credit for hanging in against an opponent with far more firepower. Good opener; 2. Frank Trigg beat Fabiano Iha in 4:59. This was American wrestler vs. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Iha caught Trigg in a triangle choke but Trigg actually gave him a short power bomb like move to power out. Trigg got some solid punches in from the top, then more punches and knees. Trigg hit him with a flurry in the corner and the ref stopped the match; 3. Allan Goes beat Carl Malenko in 9:16. This was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs. American pro wrestling. After dominating the stand-up, Goes got the top position on the ground at 4:00. He went for an armbar, but got reversed. Malenko got a mount but couldn't do anything as Goes was able to push off with his legs and keep distance and stand-up. Goes then took him down again, and clamped on an over-and-under choke for the tap. This wasn't a good spectator match as Goes mostly dominated him on the ground; 4. Mark Coleman beat Ricardo Morais via unanimous decision after 20:00. Coleman physically looked different from his UFC days. He no longer looked like a bodybuilder nor freakish. And he also didn't get tired in this match. In the first round, Coleman kept his distance and got a take-down at 3:00 and Morais got guard. Morais got away once but Coleman took him down right away. Coleman mostly held him down until the end of the round, connecting with a few body and head shots. In the second round, Coleman took him down immediately. Coleman tried a neck lock several times and threw a few punches. He kept going for a neck lock. He got a full mount and threw a few punches from that position but mainly kept Morais on his back the rest of the fight. A boring spectator fight; 5. Tom Erikson beat Gary Goodridge via unanimous decision after 20:00. This fight was almost identical to the previous one. Erikson isn't at all pretty to watch, nor does he have a pretty body [how dare you -- ed.], but he's this huge guy who is just too strong for probably anyone except a world class wrestler. They had an exciting start both going all out throwing punches and kicks. Erikson actually more than held his own with Goodridge just on superior size and power as his punching technique looked awful, but it's a 290-pound guy who can move throwing. He got a mount and punched away till Goodridge got the guard. Erikson still pounded on him a lot. Goodridge tried a choke from the bottom but Erikson broke it quickly. Erikson's punches gave Goodridge a bloody nose, and he threw some more punches from the top at the end of the round. In the second round, Erikson took him down again. Goodridge got some decent shots in from the bottom and held guard. Erikson got a few punches in from the top as well. Erikson really didn't win this round by much, but easily won the first round. Except for a few spurts, this was another boring spectator match; 6. Igor Vovchanchin killed Francisco Bueno dead in 1:24. He crushed him with a right, and connected on a second punch to Bueno as he was on the way down. This was devastating; 7. Renzo Gracie won a unanimous decision over Alexander Otsuka after 20:00. Otsuka took Gracie down first which got a big pop, and threw some body blows. Gracie threw a really good kick from the bottom while laying on his back which opened up a forehead cut that Otsuka had taped up from a recent pro wrestling match. Otsuka was back on top but in the guard. Gracie had him all tied up in the guard. After they got up, Gracie dominated standing with leg kicks and Otsuka took him down again. Even though Otsuka got two or three clean take downs, Gracie still won the round. Otsuka took him down again in the second round and was bleeding all over the place, both his pro wrestling forehead cut being opened and also from a bloody nose. Gracie nearly got an armbar but Otsuka escaped and they ended up in a scramble with Gracie getting on top. Otsuka got an escape with two minutes left and Gracie threw him with a really cool looking back suplex and held him down until the finish. 8. Kazushi Sakuraba beat Royler Gracie in 28:17 of a 30:00 time limit match. Sakuraba was announced at 193 pounds [183 lbs -- ed.] and Gracie at 151. Gracie did absolutely nothing on offense the entire match, with his entire strategy apparently being to stall out the time limit since there would be no judges decision at his camp's late insistence. Fans booed the announcement of no judges for this match and booed Gracie heavily. The match was super drama, not that it was a great fight because it was one-sided and really a battle against the clock more than anything, but the heat was intense. Gracie shot in immediately but Sakuraba blocked it and Gracie held him in a guard and neutralized him for several minutes. Sakuraba escaped from the guard at 3:40 and both were on their feet. Gracie tried another take down, Sakuraba caught him coming in with a knee which stunned him and gave him good position on the ground. The place went nuts. Sakuraba threw some good punches before Gracie got a guard, but Sakuraba got away. Gracie laid on his back at 5:30. Sakuraba was standing and Gracie laid on his back. Sakuraba started kicking at Gracie's right leg, then left leg, then he connected with a hell of a head kick. Gracie deserves credit for not quitting at that point. The head kick made him decide to stand up at 6:50. Sakuraba kicked him in the stomach and Gracie stumbled. Sakuraba threw a good punch and Gracie decided it was best to lay on his back as he dropped at 7:45. Gracie looked really concerned, seeing there was nothing he could do and he had 22 minutes of torture left. Sakuraba kept throwing leg kicks. His right leg was all bruised up. This continued with Sakuraba gaining confidence. By the end of the first 15:00 round, Gracie's right thigh and shin were discolored. In the second round, Sakuraba snuck in a knee, delivered a good right to the head and a leg lick. Sakuraba knocked Gracie down with a high kick at 2:10. Sakuraba continued throwing leg kicks until Gracie got up. Sakuraba kicked him, then made him stagger with a punch at 4:05. Gracie tried to shoot, but with no legs, Sakuraba easily avoided it. He tried a high kick but Gracie blocked it. Sakuraba continued with kicks to the body and legs before doing a spin kick, as a tribute to his childhood idol Tiger Mask doing as close to a rolling savate as you can do in a real fight. Sakuraba knocked him down again after a kick to his bad right leg. Gracie went to his back again 9:10 into the round. At this point Sakuraba went down with him and tried to finish him. He went first for a straight armbar but couldn't get it perfect. He then maneuvered the arm into a chicken wing at 12:00. Gracie was trapped at this point. Sakuraba really bent his arm up to the point it looked sick and Gracie was crying in pain. It appeared Sakuraba had him but didn't want to hurt him, and Gracie wasn't going to tap. Sakuraba it certainly appeared could have torn out his shoulder with the hold but wanted someone to stop the fight before he injured the guy, which is how the Japanese were taught [that's a weird end to that sentence -- ed.]. Finally at 13:17 of the round, a referee at ringside ordered the match stopped. Royler and Rickson were furious it was stopped. The crowd exploded. Realistically they should have been thankful Sakuraba was trained as a sportsman and all the cries from the Jiu Jitsu camp about a home town decision and early stoppage are a joke. He wasn't getting out of the hold and he wasn't going to last another 1:43 without serious damage because he wasn't going to tap and his brother wasn't going to throw in the towel. They were clearly going to trade a torn up shoulder for the "glory" in the future of saying he lasted 30:00 with one of the two best fighters in the world and giving up 42 pounds, even though he was risking his career. This psychology may sound noble to a pro wrestling fan brought up on tapping is for prelim and mid-card guys, but in the real world what glory is there in stupidity? The Gracies should have been sportsmen enough to admit Sakuraba beat him, especially since Royler got no offense in the entire match, rather than run him down saying his punches didn't hurt and cry about the weight advantage. The reason they took the fight in the first place was because the weight advantage would give them an out if they lost, and they manipulated the rules so their guy just had to stall and not lose and their system is very effective at that game, which is an entirely different tactic as would be used in any kind of combat sports competition, because judges would negate the stalling tactic. And their strategy almost worked. When it didn't, they really look bad complaining."

YES DAVE THANK YOU IT WAS AN ABYSMAL SHOWING IN THAT REGARD and frankly has undone at least a portion of the goodwill in my heart after Rickson Gracie was so nice at the seminar I was kindly invited to attend (thanks again everybody! [Rickson really was very nice]). "This kind of carrying on; can you believe it; the nerve of some people," is really how I feel as Pride's 1999 draws to a close and we look towards PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 決勝戦(プライドグランプリにせん けっしょうせん) which will surely be quite a time! I am considering doing a PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 決勝戦(プライドグランプリにせん けっしょうせん)MEGA-POST covering (in one great big go) both the January and May shows, which I believe, if added together, had a total running time of like a thousand hours. We shall see! Until that time I thank you once more fore your attention to these matters and wish you all the best. 


  1. Imagine an alternate reality in which Yuji Anjoh never entered Rickson Gracie's dojo with a fight challenge. Instead, the person entering Rickson's dojo was Sakuraba Kazushi.

    Life would be very different indeed.

    Love these Pride write-ups!

    1. Oh man the mind REELS at the very notion . . .

      Thanks for reading! More soon!