Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

DSE SKY PerfecTV! LIVE SPECIAL PRIDE.22 Beasts From the East 2
9/29/02 Nagoya Sogo Taiikukan Rainbow Hall (9,361)

Kevin Randleman vs. Michiyoshi Ohara

A horrible fight. The only good thing about Ohara fighting in PRIDE was that NJ stopped using him because he lost so badly to Renzo Gracie. Sadly, he's that much worse here than he is in puroresu. Ohara never meant anything in puroresu, but PRIDE builds their league around natives that have a name from something other than MMA rather than guys that are actually good (such fighters still exist in Pancrase and Shooto, though they would fair as poorly against the Sapps of the world as Tamura did).

Randleman was out to prove his standup "skills." Now, Randleman has been effective in standup on occasion (more because Pedro Rizzo chokes in the title fights) and he's definitely capable of landing a big shot, but this match really exposed him. His technique still isn't very good, he's predictable, and he's not very fluid. Of course, none of this matters when you fight a guy like Ohara who couldn't even beat the guys UFC used to feed to Tank Abbott. A big difference between PRIDE & UFC has always been the matchmaking. PRIDE has the big names, but UFC often has good or better matches with guys that aren't well known and can find the right unknown to give to a name because they aren't on some nostalgia trip (though they aren't drawing much either). When UFC gives you this kind of mismatch, it's usually spectacular. They don't use guys like Ohara that don't want to fight. Ohara's strategy was basically to clinch and survive.

Maybe I can give Ohara a little credit. He was actually smart not to initiate too much because Randleman couldn't do it himself. The match basically went as follows. When Ohara was in defensive mode, Randleman missed with wild haymakers. When Ohara actually tried something offensively, Randleman saw it coming from a mile away and leveled him. So the problem wasn't so much what Ohara did, it's just that he has zero offense and hasn't had nearly enough training time to be taking a fight with a former champion like Randleman.

Ohara's defense is not good. Though both lost, you can see that Norihisa Yamamoto is at least a fighter. When he takes a couple of killer shots, his instincts are to cover up as well as possible. He then looks for an opening to get out of trouble as soon as he knows where he is again. Ohara, on the other hand, turns his back to Randleman when he takes a hard shot in standup, so obviously Randleman then hits him several more times because Ohara can't see them coming.

A couple other reasons this match wasn't good were that neither guy kicked, so it was essentially a boxing match with clinches allowed, and both men were tired after 7 minutes. I want to stress that Ohara backing away wasn't the reason Randleman couldn't take him out. Even when Randleman had him in the corner, he did nothing to him. If an excuse is to be made for Randleman it's that he'd been sick, which caused him to lose a good deal of weight and tire early.

The highlight was at the start of round 2 when Ohara came out swinging, so Randleman just ducked and scoop slammed him. Randleman took Ohara's back and threw powerful punches around or under Ohara's body to his head. Ohara didn't want to got to guard because Randleman's not the kind of guy you get off you, but he had to in order to see the punches coming. Randleman won a unanimous decision. 3R

Guy Mezger vs. Norihisa Yamamoto

Essentially a kickboxing match, as the entire match was standup. It was a good match if you like crisp technical fighting, but not a good one if you are looking for flurries and bombs. Mezger was impressive here, as he should be in a match where his striking background is far superior to his opponent's. Both men initiated about as often, but Mezger would land at least 1 shot while Yamamoto's would be blocked or avoided.

My problem with this match is Yamamoto fought stupidly. It's all well and good that he's not afraid to stand with Mezger, but it was soon ridiculously obvious that he had no chance of beating Mezger in this fashion. Why not at least try for a takedown, where Yamamoto has actually won some matches? Guy is an all around fighter, but even if he was worlds better than Yamamoto on the mat, which he definitely is not, at least see if you can find a way to win. The only chance Yamamoto had of winning in standup was if Mezger made a stupid mistake and he was able to hit him so hard because of it that he could then finish him with a flurry. This is why Mezger shouldn't be criticized for the way he fought. He probably could have knocked Yamamoto out if he opened up more, but why risk losing on a fluke when you are guaranteed to win a decision without taking punishment? I realize it's "more important there to have an exciting fight than to win", but that isn't what Mezger needs because his more recent PRIDE fights were exciting but losses.

Mezger almost won a couple of times anyway. Once Yamamoto ducked right into a spinning back kick thinking it was going to be a back fist, but with him ducking there wasn't enough space for Mezger to hit him on the top of the head with close to full power. Mezger also essentially punted a standing Yamamoto with his instep. Had it been a high kick rather than under the chin, that could have been it. In any case, the match was about Mezger being smart, technical, efficient, and far better conditioned. Guy was landing some hard and fancy kicks, cutting Yamamoto and putting him down once, but Yamamoto can really take a shot. If only he could have given one too, this might have been a hell of a fight. Guy won a unanimous decision. 3R

Anderson Silva vs. Alexander Otsuka

An excellent 1st round, followed by two average ones. Silva's 1st round showed that you can still win a fight from your back without getting the submission. He gave up a really quick waistlock takedown to try to sneak a triangle on. He couldn't get it then, but he soon pretty much had it. The thing is Otsuka's body was on the side, so he was able to put his knee and most of his weight on Silva's throat. Silva tried to roll Otsuka and keep the hold, but Otsuka slipped out. Much of this round was perpetual motion with really fast and slick transitions by Silva, and Otsuka slipping out of every submission Silva could try. Silva kept trying for arm bars and triangles, but with Otsuka's movement to avoid they were resulting in interesting and different positions. The big thing for Silva was he eventually took Otsuka's back and alternated between attempts for a hadakajime and hitting him hard in the face, which gave Otsuka a bloody nose and several marks.

Otsuka always took Silva down immediately, whether he was trying to strike or was happy to go to the mat. The big difference between the final two rounds and the first was Otsuka's base. He has a very strong one, but in the 1st round he was thinking more offensively and never had any control. Once Otsuka established his base, Silva had a much harder time maneuvering on the ground into position where he could try a submission. This, of course, made the fight much less interesting to watch. What it should have done was allow Otsuka to win because an immediate takedown and 5 minutes of riding unfortunately results in a win almost every time. The thing is, like basically all the guys that were strictly pro wrestlers, Otsuka has no offense whatsoever (or at least none that he can use on this level). The only thing he did was a little ground and pound, but it wasn't that frequent and was never effective.

When judging on damage and near finishes, it was lopsided for Silva. Even if there wasn't a huge amount or threat, there was something and plenty of attempts to basically nothing. Where Silva sealed it was trying a heel hold right at the end, which Otsuka seemed to give him I guess hoping he could do something with Silva's leg that was right there which would supersede what Silva was doing.

Otsuka certainly did better than expected. For defense and stamina, he's right there. He needs to develop some offense in the worst way though. He should have been able to do something to Silva considering his size and strength advantage. Silva won a unanimous decision. 3R

Paulo Filho vs. Akira Shoji

Shoji's claim to fame has been going the distance despite being overmatched. That would have been just what this show didn't need. Filho can say he's the first to make Shoji tap, not that people are likely to care. The problem with this show is almost every match was a mismatch, so the results were rather academic. I could see some people picking Igor based on what he did a few years ago, but basically picking the winners didn't require much thought and there was only one surprise in the main event, though neither of those guys are what you'd call proven despite their position on this show.

Shoji got Filho down and was in control. They should have moved them away from the ropes 30 seconds before the submission occurred. Still, Shoji should have never been submitted. As far as I could tell, he totally weakened his base to try to annoy Filho with a forearm choke. Shoji paid no attention to what Filho was doing with his legs. The ropes may have prevented him from escaping, but by that point he'd already screwed up big time. Round 1 2:48

Heath Herring vs. Iouri Kolchkine

Herring put on a clinic of his style here. Takedown, guard pass, ground and pound, and big knees. This was at least the good kind of mismatch since Kolchkine was rather clueless on the ground, making it easy for Herring to find openings for the knees. Kolchkine repeatedly lost position going for a submission he had no hope of getting given the starting point.

There was an immense knee lift when they were both standing up, but mainly it was flurries from the side mount. For the finish, Herring went from the side mount to behind Kolchkine's head. This meant he was between Kolchkine's arms, repeatedly kneeing the top of the head clean. Kolchkine actually complained about this stoppage even though he hadn't been defending himself and had no hope of doing so anytime soon. Exciting fight. Round 1 7:31

Mario Sperry vs. Andrei Kopylov

An impressive showing by Sperry. He controlled position and used ground and pound. Sperry doesn't need to fight this way, but that's the way to fight Kopylov since his submission defense is strong but coming from RINGS he's inexperienced in defending against strikes on the ground. Sperry kept on Kopylov, but he was very efficient, setting his strikes up well.

The finish was spectacular, but ultimately disappointing. Kopylov slowly rolled to his knees expecting Sperry to take his back, and hoping that he'd try a submission rather than take free shots. Sperry surprised Kopylov though by immediately standing up. Kopylov knew he was going to get punted, but he was caught. He couldn't speed up his roll away, so Sperry blasted him in the mouth, probably kicking a tooth out because Kopylov was bleeding heavily. Still, Kopylov might have won the fight here if he wasn't kicked so hard. He went right to a kneebar, but it was one of those split second openings and he couldn't quite take it quick enough. Much credit to Sperry here too because he wasn't gloating about his big kick; he immediately recognized what Kopylov was trying and literally dove away. What made it disappointing was that Kopylov was ready to continue, but then the doctor stopped it. I'm not sure if Kopylov is getting too old or he just needs to work harder on defending against strikes on the mat. He looked kind of slow here in his PRIDE debut, but Sperry was on top of his game and has a lot more experience under these type of rules. Round 1 6:02

Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

An example of good matchmaking. Jackson is one of the up and coming fighters everyone expects big things from. He's a real crowd pleaser using his freaky strength for amazing slams. Vovchanchyn is a guy everyone knows that is very well respected, but after 60 fights he's very much on the downside physically even though he's only 29-years-old. It's really a no lose situation for Jackson because if Igor comes back after the 6th month layoff and beats him then he's healed and reasserted himself as a major player. If he loses than Jackson gets his first big win before Igor starts losing more regularly and it doesn't mean so much.

It started off dull with exchanging of knees, mainly, from the clinch. Both men had a lot of respect for their opponent and weren't going to take a chance early. It got spectacular pretty quickly when Igor landed a good high kick and tried to finish with a guillotine choke. I personally think it's foolish to try to take a really powerful guy, especially a slam happy one, down into a guillotine. However, since I lack ideas of how Igor was going to beat a guy with similar skills that's far superior physically, I can't really fault him for trying to end it. In any case, when he jumped Jackson slammed him. One thing that impresses me about Jackson's slams is that, while he's focusing on dropping his opponent on their head to do the most damage, he doesn't forget that positioning on the landing is very important. Even though Jackson wasn't able to do anything with the side mount he got, credit there goes to Igor for being able to quickly get a half guard.

Jackson started doing damage when he mounted. Jackson's is totally offensive from the mount. He just kneels and punches, not bothering to hook Igor's legs with his own for control. Jackson's body punches from the mount were some of the most powerful I've ever seen, and he mixed them up well with head shots that dinged Igor up. Igor almost bucked him off once though, and with Jackson not taking any further precautions, he succeeded in doing it the second try. Unfortunately for Igor, this just meant Jackson got to slam him again.

The finish was odd because it was just a little punch to the ribs. I'm not sure if it was on the 2nd slam or when Jackson was doing the nasty body shots in the corner after that, but somewhere in there he broke one of Igor's ribs. Once they were back in the center, Jackson didn't land any good strikes, but this one to the rib irritated it so much that Igor called a halt to it. Just for the slams, it was one of the highlights of the show. Round 1 7:13

Shungo Oyama vs. Ryan Gracie

Second for second, this was by far the best fight on the show. The problem is there were only 97 of them. The real problem though is every native on the show lost. I'll never fault anyone for trying to fill their roster with the best talent. There's a reality to it in shooting that's much different than in pro wrestling though. In wrestling a great wrestler makes their opponent look better and raises the quality of the match. In shooting, the great fighter kicks your guys ass, and if it is entertaining it's not really in the way you want it because you are only impressed by things like your guys heart or ability to avoid or withstand trouble. Granted that goes a lot farther in Japan than it does elsewhere, but ultimately you have to beat some people sooner or later or you are moving down the card if not simply scrapped or forced to retire due to injury.

PRIDE is seriously lacking natives they can count on. One reason for this is they've filled their roster with large freaky types, so even if they have a good native they wound up burning out quickly trying to take on guys that are way too big for them. To watch PRIDE.21, you'd think Kiyoshi Tamura was finished. To watch DEEP 6th IMPACT, you'd know he still can be one of the better fighters. The difference, an opponent the size of two Tamura's compared to an opponent the size of one.

Oyama was the new native they had high hopes for. The Gracie's tend to be the best opponent's for the natives because they are similar in size and have a huge name and reputation that's predominantly based on myth. In and of itself, this isn't a crushing loss for Oyama. The first problem is this was supposed to be an easy win. Ryan Gracie isn't a pushover, but he's not Renzo either. With Oyama beating the much more proven and respected Gracie, arguably the best of the clan though it's hard to say because his record is worse but that's because he's actually fought some capable fighters, this figured to be just another step toward making him the new Gracie killer. The second problem is Oyama was foolish and wound up with a broken arm, which removes him from the picture for quite a while.

Oyama was heavily criticized for not being aggressive enough in his win over Renzo. I'm not sure how much he cared, but he was far more aggressive today. While it makes sense to be more aggressive than he was, Renzo is much more the type of fighter you want to be aggressive against because he is far more orthodox than Ryan and lacks his striking power.

Oyama came out punching, only to have Ryan duck and take him down impressively. Ryan didn't try to do anything offensively, he just worked for the mount. Ironically, almost as soon as he got it, Oyama rolled him and took the offensive. After a punch or two, Oyama stood up because Ryan was kicking his feet wildly. His goal was to reenter in between Ryan's legs so Ryan wouldn't be able to kick him, and in the process he was going to drop a punch. He succeeded in the first part, but the punch was so wide of Gracie's face that Oyama's elbow was next to his opponent's face. Gracie immediately seized this loose arm and barred it, causing Oyama to go down to this stomach. Oyama tried not to tap, but that just resulted in the nasty injury. The Gracie asshole then kicked Oyama in the face "releasing the hold" and taunted him while stepping over his body. Brief is fine when it's explosive and spectacular like this fight. Too bad there weren't any good solid back and forth fights in between the ones with the couple of spots for the highlight reel. Round 1 1:37

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