Monday, June 25, 2018

Revisiting Pride FC 3 from 1998!

Featuring Emmanuel Yarborough being fat, Kazushi Sakuraba making Carlos Newton look like a jabroni and Nobuhiko Takada actually WINNING an MMA fight … kinda’!


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

Our all-encompassing, whirlwind tour of every single Pride FC show ever continues with a look back at Pride 3, held June 24, 1998 in … a surprise, I know … Tokyo. Goddamn, even ECW managed to leave Philadelphia every now and then, you homestuck rice-eatin’ muthafuckahs.

Up first it's Akira Shoji vs. Daijiro "Shunsuke" Matsui. Our hosts, as always, are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten. This time around, we're calling this shit LIVE (from 20 years ago) from the famous NIPPON BUDOKAN, which yes, IS the very same venue where Cheap Trick recorded their live album.

Yeah, I can't tell these two guys apart. Rutten has me laughing my ass off already with his comments about "samurai spirits" and shit. And LOL at Quadros describing Sakuraba as "an up and comer," which wasn't necessarily funny at the time, but in hindsight is goddamn hilarious. Rutten questions whether or not black is technically a color and Quadros says they are "two young bulls risking at all" and of course, they then proceed to do fucking nothing for the first minute of the fight. Shoji is the one with the 'stache, if that makes it any easier for you. Shoji scrambles and he gets Matsui's back. Now he's pounding his noggin like a pinata. Matsui's torso is hanging out of the ring so the ref has to pull him back in. Matsui throws some crappy looking leg kicks and Quadros comments on the "intensity" in Matsui's eyes. So, of course, he gets taken down instantly by Shoji. Shoji is in the full mount for a few seconds and Matsui hops right back up. "These two men are fighting for the purity of the sport," Quadros says. "I don't think there's anything evil in either of these guys." Wow, way to get all metaphysical and shit, guy. Shoji sprawls and keeps Matsui trapped in the shoulderlock. Matsui's up and Shoji knees him in the head a couple of times. Shoji secures another takedown and he's in the full guard. Rutten is REALLY stretching it when he says this one is "action-packed." Matsui eats canvas again, and Shoji starts punting him like he was trying to make a 45-yard field goal. Matsui goes for a bodylock and Shoji LITERALLY hits him with a shoot version of D'lo Brown's old Sky High finisher. Shoji's on top again and Matsui's peppering him with pillow-soft punches. Now Shoji's landing some FAT punches from the top. Both men are back up. Matsui lands a rinky-dink leg kick. Matsui shoots for a takedown again and Shoji just casually leaps out of the way and that's the bell to let us know the first ten minutes of this fight is over.

Round two. Holy fuck, why HASN'T there been a podcast titled "Who's the Bas?" by now? Quadros says Pride FC is better than the UFC because having a ring means your vision isn't obscured by a cage. Bas is so impressed by how these two guys are "constantly moving." There's this great moment where Shoji has Matsui in a bodylock and he rolls him over and somehow winds up in the full mount. Matsui is up and THROWING BOMBS now. Shoji's keeping his distance. Matsui misses on a sidekick. Now they aren't doing much of shit. Matsui shoots for the takedown, Shoji sprawls and he gets his opponent's back. Shoji starts punching the shit out of Matsui's head and the refs reposition them so Matsui's head isn't poking out of the ropes. Looks like Matsui's going for a desperation leg lock. Shoji hasn't let go of the bodylock though, and he's continuing to punch the fuck out of Matsui's skull. Now Shoji is punching the hell out of Matsui's face from the full mount, then Matsui starts punching upwards and he actually rattles Shoji with an upkick. Shoji is still in the full mount. Matsui has his legs wrapped around his foe's legs, so he ain't going to be doing too much moving. Matsui tries to explode but Shoji doesn't release the headlock. Now Shoji is controlling Matsui from the north-south position. One minute left in the round. Shoji goes for a knee to the head, but even though he gets a lot of hangtime, the impact is minimal. Matsui is up and he's looking for a single-leg takedown. Shoji holds his own, sprawls, and appears to be going for a guillotine. And there's the bell.

Round three. Before the action begins the ref wipes Matsui down with a towel. Quadros says neither man knows the definition of the word "reverse," which makes me very concerned about their abilities to parallel park. Matsui goes for a liver kick and misses by a couple of miles. Matsui tries to rattle off a combo, Shoji trips him and he's right back in the full guard. Shoji pops up and Matsui looks like he's about to shit his pants. Now Matsui is back up. Shoji ROCKS Matsui with a right hand. And then Matsui lands a takedown. Unfortunately, he runs right into a guillotine attempt by Shoji. Matsui's head pops out, so he's safe ... for the moment. The refs reposition them. Why, I honestly don't know. Matsui, somehow, manages to get in the full mount. He's landing some OK-sized shots, but nothing terribly damaging. Rutten keeps saying Matsui should go for a "crossface." Shoji pops up and gets a wild flurry going on, but he misses on pretty much every swing. Matsui shoots for a takedown. Shoji sprawls. God damn, do I love Bas' "bang, bang" sound effects. Shoji misses on another haymaker. Both men vertical. Matsui shoots for another takedown and Shoji pops him in the head a couple of times. Shoji looks like he's going for a guillotine with a minute left. Meanwhile, Matsui's trying to get a last-second ankle crank. Shoji's arms are locked up. He looks like he's about to get up, but yep, there's the bell.

That's called "the eye of the tiger." You know, the tiger that just shit all over itself.

Round four. Wait, I thought these things were only scheduled for three rounds? Holy shit, back in the day Pride LITERALLY made it up as they went along. Shoji lands a knee to the head from the north-south position. Now Shoji's landing some HARD knee shots from side control. He lets Matsui up. The ref checks Shoji's glove and Matsui gets nothing but air on a high kick. Matsui goes for a combo but nothing lands clean. Matsui goes for a baseball slide, of all things, and Shoji just looks at him like he's plum retarded. Shoji kicks the wind as Matsui pulls guard. They're both back up and Shoji connects on some HUGE shots. Alas, Matsui weathers the storm, only to find himself stuck in another headlock from the north-south position. Shoji scrambles Matsui's brains with a wild flurry of punches. Back to the sprawl. Quadros asks Matsui to do another dropkick. Shoji's landing knees from side control again. Now he's backfisting Matsui's head like a bongo. Matsui temporarily pulls guard, but Shoji lets him back up. Three minutes left in the round ... I think. Shoji with another wild flurry and Matsui tries to lock in a guillotine — and then a DDT — on Shoji's massive takedown. Matsui explodes his way out from the bottom, he almost falls out of the ring and the ref gets both men vertical in the middle of the ring. Matsui lands a punch and goes for a takedown. Yep, Shoji sprawls and he's working from side control once more. Shoji has his back. Matsui pulls guard again. He's back up, and Shoji LITERALLY spears him out of the ring. The ref puts 'em back in the middle of the ring, and wouldn't you know it, there's the bell. There are no judges, so this one is deemed a "draw," even though it's obvious Shoji was the aggressor (and dominator) all fight long. By today's standards that was just OK, but for its time it was some intense stuff; I feel a little iffy calling it a "great fight," per se, but it certainly wasn't boring, that's for sure.

Oh god damn, the next fight is Daiju Takase against EMANUEL YARBOROUGH. Yes, that 600 pound motherfucker Keith Hackney beat up back at UFC 3. By the way, the weight differential for this one is a good 400 pounds. Cue Bas Rutten commenting "Oh. My. GAWD." and it's pretty much the funniest thing you'll hear in your life, ever. "You don't want to have this guy mounted or side-mounted on you," Quadros says. I think he's talking about Emmanuel, but I could be wrong. Of course, Quadros brings up that EPIC Hackney fight I mentioned earlier. The one where Emmanuel ate about 80 unprotected shots to the head — and that is NOT hyperbole, kids — before the ref waved it off. "He can suffocate him just by laying on him," Rutten says. "This is like a horror movie," Quadros responds. Takase's offense consists of him LITERALLY running circles around Emmanuel. "This is a good place for a spinning jump kick," Quadros says. Now Emmanuel is on the offensive. Yarborough makes Takase eat the fattest spinning back fist of all-time. Takase continues to jog around Yarborough. Isn't that literally a "yo momma so fat" joke made flesh? Takase does a barrel roll for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Yarborough is blown up from just walking around Takase. Takase with a low kick. Five minutes have expired. LOL at Quadros saying Takase shouldn't go for a spinning back kick because his leg might get caught in Yarborough's flab. I just now noticed Takase has a haircut like Moe from The Three Stooges ... aka, the church shooter special. Emmanuel is sweating so much he looks like a melting Milk Dud. Quadros says Emmanuel is so fat that he literally can't turn around. Rutten jokingly (I think) recommends Takase goes for a takedown. Then Rutten says something about the Japanese having so many earthquakes that they don't really care about them anymore. And that's our cue for Quadros to drop the quote of the millennium — "you know, this is a really silly match." Takase lands a jab to Emmanuel's left titty. Then he lands a kick to Emmanuel's tummy. And that, mercifully, is the end of round numero uno.

Round two. "I don't know if it's a good idea to be this big and to fight," Rutten comments. Yarborough is trying to grab Takase now. Rutten requests a flying side kick, but Takase isn't listening. Takase gets yellow-carded for stalling. Meanwhile, Emmanuel is almost dead from oxygen deprivation, and he's literally done nothing but stand the whole fight. THEN HOLY SHIT TAKASE SHOOTS FOR A SINGLE LEG TAKEDOWN. Yarborough falls into the full mount and he's just vibrating on top of Takase. Quadros says this is like watching Jaws eat Robert Shaw, and that is a PERFECT analogy. Emmanuel looks like he's fallen asleep on Takase's foot. Takase escapes and now he's UNLOADING on Emmanuel's skull. Thankfully, the ref stops this one BEFORE Emmanuel eats six dozen elbows to the brain.

The official time is 5:19 of round two. From a technical perspective, it was a terrible excuse for an MMA fight, but for sheer entertainment value, it was a goddamn riot. DO go out of your way to see this one, kids.

Up next it's Kazushi Sakuraba taking on Carlos Newton. Bas Rutten is out to give Newton and Saku some flowers. He grabs the mic and says he's going to fight Randy Couture later that year and once his contract is up he wants to kick Rickson Gracie's ass. Spoiler: neither of those two things ever happened. Saku with leg kicks early. Carlos shoots for a takedown and secures a bodylock. Newton goes for a judo toss and Saku does a cartwheel to flip into Newton's guard. Saku runs circles around Newton and he locks in an armbar. Newton just BARELY escapes. Fuck, Saku could just plain GO back in the day. Saku almost working from the full mount. Newton goes for a toehold, and then he hops into the full guard. Newton working from the north-south position. He has Saku's back, but for whatever reason he lets Saku escape. Now Saku is threatening the full mount. Saku spins out and goes for another armbar. Newton folds him up like an accordion and Saku hops right back into the full guard. Now Saku is shaking his fist like a rock tumbler, trying to throw Newton off his game. He lets Carlos up. Saku with a very good looking high kick. He whiffs on a follow-up low kick. LOL at the way Quadros pronounces "innovators" — he makes it sound like "anal vapors." Saku flips from side control to the full guard with ridiculous ease. Saku is looking for another toehold. He's got it and Newton is fighting like mad to get out of it. He escapes and he has Saku's back. Newton looking for a choke. Newton with some pillow soft shots to Saku's noggin. Saku shucks Newton off of him and he's back in the full mount. He's working something from side control, but then he goes back to the full guard position. Saku pops Newton from the top with a hard right. Saku momentarily has Newton's back. Now they're both up and trading blows. Saku shoots for a takedown and the bell sounds almost instantly.

Round two. Newton shoots for a takedown. He drags Saku to the mat and has his back. Newton is rolling like crazy all over the ring, all without losing his waistlock on Saku. Newton with a hard knee to the liver. He rocks Saku with a solid right on the ground. Newton working over Saku from the rarely-seen (but certainly effective) doggy-style mount. Saku is holding onto Newton's leg for dear life. They roll and Newton still hasn't relinquished that waistlock. Newton with a barrage of shots from the back, right to Saku's ribs. That looked hurty. Saku flips over into the full mount. Saku with a hard elbow shot from the top. Saku looking for an armbar. He's almost got it. Newton fighting like hell to get out ... and he ESCAPES! Newton has Saku's back now. Five minutes remain in the round. Saku rolls over Newton and he locks in a knee bar ... and just like that, Newton TAPS!

The official time is 5:19 of round two. As impressive as Saku's win over Vernon White was at Pride 2, this was an even bigger statement from Saku, as he pretty much reamed a UFC champion caliber-wrestler out the ass for almost 15 minutes.  Going back and watching these EARLY, EARLY Pride FC shows, it's such a joy watching Saku morph into the MMA legend he would ultimately become. And what's truly amazing is sensing how good he was from even THIS point in his career. Yeah ... if you are an MMA fan, you need to see this one, simply for its historical value.

What the ... a black athlete showing poor sportsmanship? My goodness, what a novelty.

Now we've got Gary Goodridge going one on one with Amir Rahnavardi. Yeah, I've never heard of him, either. Amir, we're told, took this fight on one day's notice. Goodridge, meanwhile, looks like a slightly more caramelized version of Bobby Lashley. Amir with low kicks and a flurry of punches right out the gate, and Goodridge catches him with an uppercut and a ton of knees in the clinch. Amir goes for a hip throw, but uh-oh, Goodridge lands right in the full mount. Whoops. Now Gary is just teeing off on that poor fucker. Goodridge switches to side control, then he hops back into the full guard. Goodridge is RAINING some heavy right hands. Amir tries to tie up his adversary's arms. Gary lands another heavy ass right. To his credit, Amir's defense from the bottom isn't too shabby. Amir hugs up on Gary. Goodridge rattles of some more hard rights to the side of Amir's head. Amir is looking for a kneebar. Oh shit, he almost has it. Gary escapes, and he's in the full mount, with Amir's right leg trapped underneath Gary's girth. Goodridge in side control, folding up Amir like a tortilla. Gary's looking for a keylock, I think. Gary has Amir’s back. He clubs him with another hard right. Amir lobbing punches from the bottom and he just eats them and make Little Richard sound effects to taunt him. OK, that is great. Gary uncorks three or four hard rights from the top and Amir is goddamn OUT.

The official time is 7:22 of round one. In the post-fight antics, Goodridge grabs a trophy and screams like a wild black man and everybody in the audience acts horrified ... for obvious reasons.

Alright, now we turn our attention to Mark Kerr vs. Pedro Otavio, or as he is better known, "who the fuck?" Pedro with low kicks, but he whiffs on the attempted head kick. Kerr lands a facile takedown. He's in the half mount as Pedro struggles to escape. Kerr with a ton of shots to the pancreas. He flattens Pedro out, he locks in a kimura and the ref waves off the fight. But Pedro is SCREAMING that he never tapped, even though Pedro was crying like a bitch during the submission. Well, shit ... he never DID tap out actually. But I guess screaming like a banshee kind of counts as a verbal submission, don't it?

The official time of the stoppage was 2:13 of round one. He really seems to enjoy the trophy they give him for the victory, too.

And that brings us to our main event Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kyle Sturgeon. Yeah, of all the bouts on the card, they picked THIS ONE to close the show. Rutten makes fun of his tan, and Takada ... of course ... gets a huge reaction from the Japaheeno fans. Quadros obliquely says he thinks this is Sturgeon's first real MMA fight. Takada gets dropped by a high kick, and Takada starts rattling off his own low kicks. Sturgeon gets a takedown, but Takada quickly scrambles back to his feet. Takada gets a takedown and he just kind lays there from the full mount. Takada pulls away, he locks Sturgeon in a heel hook and Sturgeon TAPS.

The official time? Just 2:18 of round one. So, yeah, that one was almost assuredly a work.

Thank you, Kyle. Your payoff is waiting for you in an unmarked brown paper bag behind Amir Rahnavardi's locker.

At less than two hours in length, there wasn’t a whole lot to the show, but what was there was very solid. In fact, there wasn’t a bad fight on the entire card, which is something you definitely can’t say about the first two Pride cards.

The Shoji/Matsui curtain jerker was an entertaining, fairly competitive sprint, and it was a fucking pleasure watching Sakuraba and Newton put on a clinic. The Takase/Yarborough affair was fun as fuck even if it was a shameless freakshow fight, Goodridge/Rahnavardi was way better than it had any right to be and the Kerr/Otavio and Takada/Sturgeon squashes were perfectly fine for what they were (and weren’t.) So, all things considered, this was actually a damn good card from top-to-bottom, and on the whole a vast, VAST improvement over the stank-fest that was Pride 2.

There are certainly worse ways to kill a boring Sunday afternoon than rewatching this one — preferably, with a nice pineapple, black olive and pepperoni pizza and a nice, cold glass of Diet Dr. Shasta by your side. It may not be the apex of the fighting form by any stretch, but it’s a rare late 1990s MMA card that doesn’t hit any doldrums whatsoever.

And for that reason alone? Yeah, you should probably go out of your way to see this one.

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