Pride FC - Best of 2000
1. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie (Pride Grand Prix Finals) - What can I say about this fight? Six rounds, 15 minuutes each, two of the greatest fighters ever and only one can win...this is an epic battle. I've watched this in its entirity and in that form it is excellent. I've watched each round by itself and that doesn't work well. Because of those facts I refuse to rate this fight. There is great action in here, but an even greater story that perhaps only an hour and half long could tell.
Rating: n/a (Combo/Combo)
2. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Renzo Gracie (Pride 10) - Renzo is often called the most well-rounded Gracie as he is a capable striker and obviously a world class grappler as well. Renzo is aggressive and we see an excellent strategic striking battle with great leg kicks. After a dull clinch, we get more standing human chess. Close first round, but Renzo looked slightly better. Saku busts out the strangeness with a jump fake, a back kick (with Renzo in the buttscoot) and then a cartwheeling leg grab! The pro wrestler gets the first 1/3 of the round, Renzo turns it around though and amazingly gets Saku's back. With a minute left, Gracie tries to go for the kill, but it is Saku applying a Spinning Kimura for the win. Renzo's arm is dislocated and it's just nasty looking. Great finish and arguably the best Saku-Gracie match.
Rating: ****1/4 (Combo/Striking)
3. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Ryan Gracie (Pride 12) - The final Saku-Gracie battle. The badboy of the family, who mowed over Kendo Ka Shin (how impressing!) takes on the best fighter in the world at the time. Saku with dual-colored hair gets only ten minutes here (Renzo said Ryan was injured), but he wins decisively. Ryan is met with a spanking...literally. The end of the story for now, unless Rickson steps in. And just like that Sakuraba is 4-0 against the greatest fighting family.
Rating: ***1/4 (Ground/Combo)
4. Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Alexander Otsuka (Pride GP Opening Round) - In my opinion, the best fight in Pride's GP Opening round as they tried to manipulate stuff to set up future matches too much. Otsuka (seconded by the Great Sasuke) gives up weight, experience, skill and practically every other attribute that one needs to win a fight. Otsuka gets the crowd going as only he can and then fails in a sprawl. Igor starts pounding away. A bloody Otsuka does all that he can, but he's too tired (he wrestled in the afternoon...) and gets caught. Igor gets a mount and does his thing, but Otsuka goes the distance and maintains his reputation.
Rating: *** (Combo/Striking)
5. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Igor Vovchanchyn (Pride GP Finals) - After an hour and half fighting Royce Gracie for Saku and a far less draining brawl win for Igor...we've got a very interesting semifinal. However the bigger Russian looks slightly less lively than the still undefeated Sakuraba. This has all the excitement you'd want with Saku putting up a great fight, while Igor gets some good punches in and is hardly dominated. The round closes with Igor picking up his aggression and using his weight and power to control the middleweight. The 15 minutes runs out and they rule to give it another 10 (essentially calling it a draw). Saku throws in the towel as he's competed with two of the best for nearly 2 hours and taking more punishment and potentially fighting a bigger, stronger Mark Coleman is not what he needs. However this was easily the best of the regular (so excluding Saku-Royce) tournament fights.
Rating: ***3/4 (Combo/Striking)
6. Mark Coleman vs. Igor Vovchanchyn (Pride GP Finals) - While this is the least exciting fight on this tape, this is the big finals of the Grand Prix tournament that spanned two shows. Coming off three straight losses (Smith, Williams, Takada), Coleman was able to beat Maasaki Satake, Akira Shoji and Igor Vovchanchyn to win it. His ground n' pound worked to perfection as he took down and battered Igor (to his credit though, the Russian had fought an extra fight and both were harder and longer than Coleman's one). A decent fight, but more historic than anything.
Rating: **1/2 (Ground/Striking)
7. Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Daijiro Matsui (Pride 9) - I've gotten slack for overrating fights when they're just brutal beatings, but...whatever. Vovchanchyn is usually the culprit since his rights tend to mess people up big time! Regardless this is the only fight at this event worth seeing (IMO) because most of it was pretty dull.
Rating: **3/4 (Ground/Striking)
9. Gilbert Yvel vs. Gary Goodridge (Pride 10) - I kept the promo from Yvel's debut from the previous show, too bad his fight was a bust. This time we got two of the most powerful strikers in MMA's history to sqaure off. "Big Daddy" obviously wants to ground n' pound "The Hurricane," but he never even gets a shoot attempt in. If Yvel could throw high kicks that devastating and get KOs everytime, he'd be a superstar...too bad for him MMA doesn't work like that.
Rating: **1/2 (Standing/Striking)
8. Vanderlei Silva vs. Guy Mezger (Pride 10) - While not an unknown, Silva's wins in Japan were limited, while Mezger was a former King of Pancrase. Mezger promised an exciting fight here and he delivers. After controlling Vanderlei with striking and even drawing blood, Silva comes back and decks him hard for a knockdown. Silva peppers him with punches and puts the Mezger in trouble before finishing him off with a great KO punch. Short, but a really great stand-up fight.
Rating: **** (Standing/Striking)
10. Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Enson Inoue (Pride 10) - A great striker and a great grappler this time. Inoue throws wildly and bloodies Igor, who throws as well and gets on top when they go to the ground. The excitement remains as Inoue attempts submissions, while Igor pops away in an stalemate of sorts. Vovchanchyn's powerful punches don't stop though and he wears Enson down into a strictly defensive position until the round is over. Inoue is dragged to his corner after the beating and they call the fight. A violent beating though not bloody and full of soccer kicks and stomps, this is one of the most brutal fights I've ever seen.
Rating: ***1/2 (Combo/Striking)
11. Heath Herring vs. Tom Erickson (Pride 11) - This is a funny fight as the we get a lot of talk about how Erickson is being ducked by top heavies and how he's so great...than the youngster pops him and chokes him out. The win that put Heath Herring on the Pride map and the loss that took Erickson off of it. Here's what happens when a ground n' pound wrestler meets his antithesis and isn't expecting it.
Rating: ***1/2 (Ground/Striking)
12. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Shannon Ritch (Pride 11) - Shannon "the Cannon" has had more fights than just about anyone (except Travis Fulton maybe). He finally gets a shot at the big time and a main event nonetheless. Saku is winding down off his biggest year and this instant submission shows that he's leagues ahead of Ritch i.e. experience doesn't necessarilly beat talent.
Rating: **3/4 (Combo/Combo)
13. Akira Shoji vs. Ricardo Almeida (Pride 12) - The bizarre match on this compilation as Pride's charismatic jobboy takes on a Renzo Gracie disciple. Almeida brings it in tight early on, but once they get out things heat up. Both work hard on the ground and bring a lot of excitement to the stand-up. The bigger Brazilian in his second MMA fight shows great skill from chopping legkicks to smooth takedowns. The second round is a killer for Shoji, who is low blowed, has his nose broken (I think) and eats more kicks to his bruised leg. They end that vital round with a brawling flurry and a takedown, which cements a win for Almeida.
Rating: ***3/4 (Combo/Striking)
14. Vanderlei Silva vs. Dan Henderson (Pride 12) - Two of the top middleweights in the world. Silva had been very good, but was not the "Axe Murderer" we all know and love. Henderson was the bigger star here with a shining reputation in MMA. Silva wins the intital stand-up with a knockdown then expounds upon that by working over the legs while Henderson works the butt-scoot. When they both stand up, Henderson lands a bomb and batters a bloody Vanderlei from the guard. Then Silva comes back, but hits illegal knees when Henderson drops to all fours. The Brazilian is savage with his strikes, even landing a couple stomps. The second round seems more excitement with Henderson trying his best to damage Silva, but he just cannot solve him. Finally he's just hanging on as Silva chops away and hands him a loss.
Rating: **** (Combo/Striking)