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

DSE PRIDE Fighting Championships Grand Prix 2000 Finals PPV
5/20/00 taped 5/1/00 Tokyo Dome (38,429)

This 1st US PPV seemed to be geared toward the hardcores rather than new fans. If you have seen PRIDE before and are up on what has gone on there, but just wanted to see a version of the show where you could understand the announcing then this was a great show. If you had never seen PRIDE before then it had to be really confusing. They did a good job of introducing the fighters with a video feature, but otherwise you were pretty much left out in the cold. They didn't really give you any overview on what was going on, any history about the promotion, or really do anything to get you do understand the magnitude and importance of the show and tournament. They did talk about a lot of previous fights within the commentary, but it was mainly in reference to a specific point or strategy, rather than what UFC does where before their current fight they go over what each fighter has done there with highlights to back it up. Time constraints played a big part in this too because in UFC they always have time to kill, so they spend it trying to give you an idea who the fighters are with their background, strengths, weaknesses, and the tale of the tape to show some similarities and differences. On this show they basically just showed a guys name with his picture or some highlights of him, which is fine, but you need to be talking about the guy as well. One thing that was annoying was they had the time to show highlights of every tournament fight they showed on this PPV before the final, but they didn't do a similar feature for the first round of the tournament so we'd know how they got to where they were. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people didn't realize this wasn't a one-night tournament. They did show clips from some of the first round matches, so it wasn't like they couldn't get the footage, it was like we only have so much time so if this doesn't mean something to you then oh well. The show lacked continuity because all the announcing was apparently done live. They might join a fight in the second round, but instead of doing something to get you up to speed, they just showed round 2 on the bottom and the announcers were calling the match as if you'd been watching it the whole time because they had no way of knowing what was and wasn't going to make the final cut. Aside from the conversation between the three announcers to open the show, the production was worlds better than current UFC. It definitely looked first class, especially the highlight packages in between the fights, and that helped make up for the announcers to some extent. I sound like I'm blaming the announcers, but it's the promotion that has to have them do the features to get the fighters over. Really, even though they went the full 3 hours, there wasn't enough time, but getting the fighters over is the most important thing for getting people who don't just buy based on genre or brand name to buy the shows, so you have to find time somewhere.

PRIDE GRAND PRIX 2000 Tournament Quarterfinals:
Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Gary Goodridge

Goodridge is probably as easy an opponent as Igor can get in PRIDE because he's a predictable, one-dimensional aggressive puncher, and that just plays right into Igor's hand. This was basically a boxing match. The whole fight was standup with no kicks thrown. Goodridge got a few shots in, but really never did any damage. As usual, Igor won it with his counter punching. Igor scored a KO at 10:14. 1R 10:14

PRIDE GRAND PRIX 2000 Tournament Quarterfinals:
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie

In this form, it was really entertaining. Gracie was far more aggressive than I expected. His problem was that he had nothing that could get past Sakuraba's defense and hurt him or make him think about submitting. The first round was all action, and Gracie was in control most of the time, but really, since there was no judges to worry about, Sakuraba was letting Gracie wear himself out trying to find something that would work. Gracie punched a lot more than in his UFC days, but it was totally quantity over quality. Sakuraba played a lot of mind games with Gracie, trying to pull his gi for instance, and did some entertainment like doing Mongolian chops when he was on top. He invented a few new moves. At one point, he pulled Gracie's GI so he was in the finishing position of a Tenryu style powerbomb then threw punches down. Late in the fight, he did a jumping punch when Gracie was in butt scoot position, but Gracie kicked him before he could get back up. As time wore on Gracie was taking punishment every time they engaged. Sakuraba's low kicks to Gracie's left leg were hobbling him, but he was doing damage all over with punches and kicks. He never came close to a knockout, but it got to the point where Gracie was dreading engagement because he knew it just meant more punishment. By the 6th round Gracie was getting tagged every time he tried to do anything, and he could only back up so far before he was to the ropes and had to face Sakuraba. I give Gracie credit for his heart, but toward the end of the 6th round it was getting counterproductive for him to hang around and just keep taking punishment. His corner considered throwing the towel in during the round, but didn't wind up doing so until the round had ended. The fans went nuts when Sakuraba finally put an end to the Royce Gracie myth, and this is a match that will still be talked about 50 years from now. 6R 90:00

PRIDE GRAND PRIX 2000 Tournament Quarterfinals:
Mark Coleman vs. Akira Shoji

Shoji just got punched the whole fight, both in standup and when Coleman was using his famous ground and pound. Shoji's left side/rib was all bruised up and there was discoloration and a lot of swelling around his eyes. Shoji did nothing offensively or to disrupt Coleman. Due to this, Coleman was able to pace himself so he never gassed and got an easy decision after 15:00. 1R

PRIDE GRAND PRIX 2000 Tournament Quarterfinals:
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Mark Kerr

Kerr was dominating early with ground and pound, and also did a couple of deadly knee lifts, but at some point I guess he totally blew up and Fujita started having his way with him. Fujita outwrestled Kerr in the second half and hit him with a lot of punches. The thing is Fujita is basically still nothing but a wrestler, so he squanders tons of opportunities and his strikes don't do much damage. From what I saw, I'd give the round to Fujita, but nothing he did made me think that they shouldn't have sent them out for another round. 1R

Super Fight:
Masaake Satake vs. Guy Mezger

It appeared that Guy controlled one of his typically boring fights, but they barely showed any of it. In any case, he was awarded the decision. 2R 20:00

PRIDE GRAND PRIX 2000 Tournament Semifinals:
Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Kazushi Sakuraba

Sakuraba deserves a ton of credit because despite giving up all the size and power and having fought about 9 as many minutes in the first round due to the goofy Gracie rules, he won the first 11 minutes of the fight. He couldn't take Igor in stand up, but he was able to get him down a couple times and once they were on the ground Sakuraba it was Sakuraba's fight. Sakuraba was standing over him and doing some damage with punches. You could see even when Sakuraba was on offense that he was physically spent. His conditioning was great, but after an hour and forty minutes it's hard for anyone not to hit the wall. Anyway, if Sakuraba had the energy he would have been more active here and Igor was pretty much a turtle on his back today, so in my opinion he would have been able to stay in a controlling position for 4 more minutes and win a decision. What actually happened was Igor got up and belly-to-back suplexed Sakuraba, never releasing so he'd control him on the mat and throw punches. Sakuraba was just counting the seconds until the round ended while he tried his best to cover up. Igor was wisely aggressive here, and landed enough punches to cut Sakuraba and get the judges to call for another round. Nobuhiko Takada was smart to throw the towel in because Sakuraba was verging on collapse and he'd already accomplished the main thing, so it was better for him to think about his bright future than to take a bunch of punches because he was too exhausted to be able to even compete with Igor a much fresher Igor. 1R

PRIDE GRAND PRIX 2000 Tournament Semifinals:
Mark Coleman vs. Kazuyuki Fujita

Fujita's knee was all taped up and his corner threw the towel in before they even touched. This was essentially a forfeit, but the only way for an injured fighter to get paid for losing in the next round is to go out there and make a farce out of the tournament. 1R 0:02

Super Fight:
Ken Shamrock vs. Alexander Otsuka

Shamrock didn't fear Otsuka, so he was more aggressive than in the past. His striking was better than it used to be, and he clearly won standup before taking Otsuka down into the mount and throwing punches. Otsuka got back to his feet after escaping an arm lock, but Shamrock totally outboxed him, cutting Alex under the eye and bloodying his nose, before finally KO'ing him with a flurry of punches. Otsuka really wasn't a test for Shamrock, but this was much more exciting than typical Ken. 1R 9:43

PRIDE GRAND PRIX 2000 Tournament Final:
Mark Coleman vs. Igor Vovchanchyn

Aside from Mezger vs. Satake, Coleman's fights were the only ones that weren't enjoyable. I don't fault Coleman for having a boring style as much as I fault his opponents for not being able to do anything to stop him from exerting his will. The supposed top heavyweight in the world did absolutely nothing to stop Coleman from just going about business like he did against the not particularly talented Shoji. Coleman is limited when it comes to technique because he really has no submissions, and his only punches are right hand power shots, but he fought as smart of a fight as he's going to fight. He took Igor down so Igor had no chance to counterpunch and then kept him down, bruising his left rib up with punches at a steady pace. He did try for an armbar, but he could never get it applied right, so it just put Igor in some pain. Igor didn't move around on the mat at all, so Coleman basically hit him whenever it was convenient. I thought Igor's only chance was to get off to a good start in the second round, but when Coleman slammed him to the mat right away you knew it was only a matter of time for Igor.

The finish came when Igor was pretty much trapped in the corner and Coleman was standing over him. The thing is they were facing opposite directions so when Coleman started dropping knees they were right to the top of Igor's head. Igor covered up so they didn't really do much damage, but he couldn't improve his position at all, so it was either tap or lie there and get kneed in the arms or head all night. Igor wisely chose the former. Igor was definitely at a disadvantage when it came to stamina because Sakuraba gave him a tough fight, while Coleman fought a punching bag and then got a free pass, but from what I saw here there would have been a lot better chance of Sakuraba beating Igor if all things were equal than of Igor beating Coleman. Coleman has definitely improved because he understands how to stay within himself, which is mainly pacing himself because he's still as physically dominating as just about anyone in the sport. I still think Coleman is very beatable, but it's not going to happen unless you can stop him from taking you down or make him burn most of his gas while he's controlling you, the latter of which is seemingly getting harder to do although you can't really say that when his opponents didn't seem to try to beat him the way others have. 2R 3:09

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* MMA Review Copyright 2000 Quebrada *