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Quick Pride "Real Deal" thoughts

After all the talk, speculation and the hype Pride finally ran its first show in the U.S. I have to say, it was not a bad show. There was a large enthusiastic crowd, some entertaining fights and heart tugging moments. But there were a few . . . uhhhh . . . differences from your “normal” MMA show, too.

  • First off, who chose the entrance music? I wanted to light candles and pour some wine when they started playing Robbie Lawler’s entrance song – and it went downhill from there.
  • But that was not the strangest thing about the night. Easily the strangest thing was the 20 minute intermission during a live PPV event. Whichever Pride official thought that was a good way to spend the promotion’s money needs to have his head examined. Luckily I had been recording the show on my DVR, and between the pauses and times I rewound the action, I was able to fast forward through most of the intermission. If I could not do that, I think I might have pulled my hair out.
  • The Wanderlei Silva appearance in the ring was nothing more than pure pro-wrestling hype. Pride wants to create interest in the U.S. by calling out Chuck Liddel, but (unfortunately) I do not see anything that has changed since Dana White said the fight is off.

Now . . . on to the fights.

  • Fedor Emelianenko did what everyone expected by beating Mark Coleman – with the same arm bar he used to beat Coleman the first time they fought. Fedor showed no rust from his 10 months out of the ring nor any ill effects from his hand surgery.
  • Inevitably, whenever you see Fedor take apart another opponent you begin to wonder who could beat him. I used to believe a K1-level striker could beat Fedor, but Fedor dominated Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic and I do not think Mark Hunt could stop Fedor’s take downs. Tonight, I kept thinking that the Mark Coleman of 10 years ago would have had a lot more success taking Fedor down. So my new theory is that a good wrestler, who understands arm bar defense, might be the ticket.
  • It was heart wrenching to watch Coleman suffer both physically and emotionally after the fight. It was hear tugging to hear Coleman tell his daughters that daddy was O.K. But, did anyone else think it was a bad idea to bring his daughters in the ring after the fight? I, for one, was very uncomfortable watching them cry in their father’s arms with his face swollen and bloody. I kept thinking that the poor girls were suffering emotional trauma in front of an international PPV audience.
  • Speaking of fighters coming back, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua just served notice that he is ready to re-stake his claim as the number one light heavyweight on the planet. The fact that he showed such slick submission skills on the ground only proves how well-rounded his game is. I am a major fan of leg locks, so the knee bar looked real nice to me.
  • Kevin Randleman, on the other hand, served notice that he is exactly the same fighter we have long known. He is probably the most physically gifted fighter in MMA, but he seems to go into such a zone whenever he fights that his brain shuts off and he runs on pure instinct. The problem is that he has stubbornly refused to expand his horizons and learn about jiu jitsu and submissions, so he has no instincts if he is put in a tricky situation on the ground.
  • Josh Barnett proved that my personal slogan is correct. “No matter where you are, there is always a figure 4 toe hold.” But he did not look his sharpest, and he would be well served by taking some time to rest and recharge his batteris before he fights again.
  • Dan Henderson did a good job of beating a listless Vitor Belfort. I officially stopped hoping to see the “old” Vitor show up a few years ago. I wonder how long until promoters feel the same way.
  • Henderson does a great job closing the distance by throwing a big looping right hand while moving in for a take down. It is like he decides whether to concentrate on the punch or the take down as he is throwing the technique. Fighters would do well to take a good look at how Henderson does this – and at how Henderson avoids getting kneed in the face (since he looks wide open to a knee).
  • It looked like Phil Baroni was able to convince the referee that Yosuke Nishijima was either tapping or getting his shoulder ripped apart because Nishijima sure didn’t tap. By the way, 194 pounds is not a good weight for Phil. I hope he drops down to a better weight for his next fight.
  • I am not sure why the announcers were so impressed with Travis Galbraith. He has heart but he is nowhere near the level of most Pride fighters, yet.
  • One other thing about Galbraith. He looked like his head was spinning so much from adrenaline that he might pass out before they rang the bell to start the fight. It also looked like the adrenaline rush made him gas early, so I am open to giving him another chance (as long as he learns how to keep his hands up when he punches).
  • Robbie Lawler’s knockout of Joey Villasenor was true highlight reel material. But, Lawler looked softer than he did in some of his old fights. He should dedicate himself in the gym before his next fight because they won’t all end that quickly.
  • Finally, I feel bad for Villasenor. I have been watching him fight since 2000, and with 27 fights under his belt, he truly earned his shot in Pride. But, he has come up short in both Pride appearances. I hope he gets another chance at redemption.

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