Pride To U.s.: We’re Here To Stay
Pride to U.S.: We’re Here to Stay
By Steven Marrocco
Although the outcome of the main event was not a tremendous shock, Hammer House fighter Mark Coleman showed eager Pride fans something not usually seen under the bright lights of the ring: the love for family that fuels a fighter.
At near capacity, Pride’s first US show was a dizzying array of lights and sound crammed into the Thomas & Mack center, as promoters tried at all costs to take the energy of their Japan shows into the smaller area.
In his pre-fight video, Mark Coleman knew he was the underdog. "Once again, everybody’s counting me out," he remarked sourly. Coming into the ring against a man that was not only considered to be the best MMA fighter alive, but a man who had already beaten him in 2004, Coleman had stepped forward to take the challenge where other fighters had supposedly backed away. But the Mark Coleman in the video was a decidedly different one than MMA fans had seen in his storied career. An avid family man, Coleman talked in depth about his love for his daughters and his dedication to them above all else. This was not the Mark Coleman famous for mangling his opponents with headbutts and knees, instead it was Coleman as a proud father of two.
At the announcement of the fight in Irvine, CA just months ago, he declared "I’ve got to find a way to beat this guy."
Meeting Fedor at the center of the ring, he pawed forward with a jab before shooting quickly for a takedown. Sprawling to prevent a crash to the canvas, Fedor used his weight effectively to stall Coleman’s forward motion as they met the edge of the ring. Clutching Fedor’s right leg, Coleman furiously tried to drive forward as Fedor turned his body into dead weight. After nearly a minute of this dance, Fedor cleverly slipped away to Coleman’s right as his leg escaped, unloading a series of his signature punches that looped at odd angles to find their mark in a devastating fashion. After a left hook staggered Coleman, he dove forward to pluck Fedor’s ankle, trying once again to drive forward for a takedown.
It was here that the amended rules to Pride under the Nevada State Athletic Commission became evident. Sprawled out in front of Coleman, controlling his head with his arms, Fedor was in the picture perfect position to launch a series of knees that undoubtedly would have crippled the wrestler. Instead, Fedor continued to punish Coleman’s flanks by firing punch after punch into his kidneys.
After another escape unleashed a series of devastating punches to Coleman’s head, a ref stoppage revealed a nasty mouse to the left eye of Coleman, threatening a stoppage. Amazingly, the ref let the fight go on, where the two exchanged punches until the bell, Coleman already looking like he had gone three rounds.
Coming out for the second round, Coleman redoubled his efforts and finally landed a takedown, which elicited cheers from the audience. Landing a few punches to the body and one to the head of the champ, it looked as if Coleman might have his day in the sun as he found his strategic home base as a fighter.
Unfortunately, sometimes your greatest fans also know your greatest weaknesses. Sliding his slippery hips to the right of Coleman’s body, Fedor once again threw his legs over Mark’s shoulder in an instant and locked in an armbar. Initially catching his hand to prevent the inevitable extension of the arm, Coleman held off for a few seconds, but quickly succumbed to the pressure as Fedor cranked his hips, prompting the tap out at 1:15 of the second round.
"I watched his fights even before I was a fighter," Fedor said after the fight. "I have a great amount of respect for him."
In a moving display of fatherly love, Coleman brought his two daughters into the ring, holding them snugly as tears streamed down the young girls’ cheeks.
"Daddy’s OK," Coleman repeated over and over. One asked if he was sure.
Later at the press conference, Fedor was asked the inevitable question of who he would like to fight next. He promptly declared, "I have already decided I would like to fight Josh Barnett, but first we are going to have a contest to see who can drink the most vodka."
Laughing at the statement, Barnett shot back, "I’m a little bit ahead of him, but not much."
Fellow Hammer House fighter Kevin Randleman saw his welcome back to the Pride stage cut short by a vicious submission by Chute Box standout Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. As is his trademark, Randleman bounded out to meet the Brazilian, scoring an early takedown. Standing up over Shogun, the wrestler fired down a few shots only to find Rua trapping his ankle as Randleman tried to pull out of the danger zone. As Rua cranked on his ankle, Randleman fought dutifully against the lock, attempting to put his weight on Rua, but eventually fell to the canvas he attempted to roll out of the lock. Grimacing in pain, Kevin suffered through a protracted crank of his ankle, until Shogun transitioned to an inside heel hook, still controlling Randleman’s leg. Looking like he might give up the submission, the situation took a gruesome turn as Shogun shifted his body, took Randleman’s leg, and pulled it back into a kneebar. This time screaming out in pain, Randleman could no longer hold out and tapped at 2:35 of the 1st round. "I applied a great amount of strength to his leg," Rua remarked later at Randleman’s initial holdout, "but I had his leg and I am glad I got the leglock."
Randleman was later seen hobbling down the ramp to support his teammate as he faced Fedor. At the press conference, he was apparently in so much discomfort that he had to depart mid-way through the meeting.
Catch wrestler Josh Barnett overcame a sluggish first round against Polish standout Pawel Nastula to see opportunity knock midway through the second round. Reversing Nastula’s takedown, he narrowly avoided rolling directly into an armbar, choosing instead to spin toward Nastula’s legs as he pitched forward to apply a toe hold. "Anyone who trains with me knows I love to go to town with the leg locks. I dine on them. It’s like if you applied barbeque sauce to that thing, I would just go to town." Smothering the leg, Nastula tapped within a matter of seconds, ending the bout at 3:04 of the second.
Team Quest standout and Pride Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson fought a lackluster bout with Vitor Belfort, yet his aggressiveness won a Unanimous Decision from the judges. Ultimately, both fighters never hit their stride, as Henderson was unable to do a tremendous amount of damage on his feet as well as from top position on the ground, where Vitor often clung to him, occasionally attempting a sweep. "I had a couple of injuries coming in to the fight, so I wasn’t able to train like I wanted," Henderson stated in the post-fight press conference. "But I thought I did good. He clung on me a little too much, so I couldn’t get a lot of space to do a lot of damage on the ground." Coming off a tough loss in the Bushido’s Welterweight Grand Prix, Henderson felt he had learned his lesson from his hesitancy to engage in that bout. "I just put myself in that place where I didn’t feel any pressure," Henderson said after the fight. "I just went out their to have fun and enjoy the moment of fighting in the states for the first time in eight years."
The New York BadAss Phil Baroni was back to his old self as he strutted down the aisle of the Pride ramp, grabbing his crotch to a rap/dance cadence of "This is my rifle, this is my gun" from Full Metal Jacket, laughing at himself as he approached the ring. Surprisingly, Baroni put on a dominating performance on the ground, taking down the tough Japanese fighter Yosuke Nishijima and pounding him from side guard. Jumping across Nishijima’s body, he transitioned to an arm triangle choke, then used his legs and right arm to trap Nishijima in a crucifix position, reminiscent of Matt Hughes’ recent conquer of BJ Penn. Working back to side guard, he settled patiently for a Kimura that ended the fight at 3:30 of the 1st round. It was a dominating performance, and Baroni was not shy about expressing his love for US audiences. "I love every fuckin’ one of you!", he screamed after picking up the ring girl who presented him with his trophy. Asked where the submission moves came from, he joked, "I don’t know any moves. What was the name of that move? I watched it on TV the other day."
Eric "Butterbean" Esch shocked no one in knocking out late replacement Sean O’Haire senseless at 29 seconds of the first round. O’Haire started smart, throwing a high kick that nearly missed its target, but made the fatal mistake of hanging out in Butterbean’s punching range. Connecting with a thunderous right hook, Butterbean dropped O’Haire to his knees as he fired off several more short punches before referee Steve Mazzagatti stepped in to stop the bout.
Pride newcomer Travis Galbraith traded several flurries with vet Kazuhiro Nakamura but came out on the losing side of most, as the Japanese fighter showcased an aggressive game on the feet and in the clinch. Charging forward to open the second round, Galbraith tiredly worked for a guillotine, but left his head exposed as he gave up the attempt and shot for a takedown. Firing off a right knee, Nakamura flattened the Canadian, finishing him off with short punches at 1:16 of the second round.
Robbie Lawler shocked the crowd in the opening bout of the night, throwing a highlight reel kick that bounced off the King of the Cage vet, following it with a flying knee that knocked Villasenor to the mat and prompted a stoppage at 0:22 of the first round after Lawler pounced and landed a barrage of punches standing over the felled fighter.
Pride Fighting Championships "The Real Deal" Full Results:
Fedor Emelianenko def. Mark Coleman at 1:15 of Rd. 2 by Submission (Armbar).
Mauricio Rua def. Kevin Randleman at 2:35 of the Rd. 1 by Submission (Kneebar).
Josh Barnett def. Pawel Nastula at 3:04 of Rd. 2 by Submission (Toe Hold).
Eric Esch def. Sean O’Haire at 0:29 of Rd. 1 by TKO.
Dan Henderson def. Vitor Belfort at 5:00 of Rd. 3 by Unanimous Decision.
Phil Baroni def. Yosuke Nishijima at 3:20 of Rd. 1 by Submission (Kimura).
Kazuhiro Nakamura def. Travis Galbraith at 1:16 of Rd. 2 by TKO.
Robbie Lawler def. Joey Villasenor at 0:22 of Rd. 1 by KO.
AFC Ends Year with UFC Vets Brown, Noble Victorious over Late Replacements
Report and photos by Keith Mills
Boca Raton, FL — The joke at AFC used to be "you couldn’t turn around without tripping over a BJJ blackbelt" but that joke looks like it will need to be updated to be "you can’t turn around without tripping over a UFC or Pride vet". AFC 19, the final AFC for ’06, was symbolic of all that is going on in Florida at this time, from major title contenders Denis Kang and Jeff Monson roaming the crowd to UFC vets Mike Brown and Derrick Noble fighting in the cage as well as a packed card of up-and-comers. The card itself was solid despite the loss of a couple fighters, a situation defending Featherweight Champion Mike Brown knows of all too well considering it happened to him twice in a row now. At least this time he got his chance to defend his title instead of fighting a late replacement at a "catch weight" but the excitement over his fight wasn’t that same as over his original opponent. Mike actually took a shot to the face before taking Jason Bryant to the ground, getting the TKO in 1:26 of round 1 in an otherwise one-sided battle.
The final fight of the night was actually FFA co-founder David Avellan in his MMA debut, surprising as the main fight until one realizes David is a Abu Dhabi Submission Fighting World Championship ’05 vet and a recognizable name on the submission wrestling circuit since ’03. Andre Daniels and Avellan were pretty even early in this fight with Avellan showing his boxing training while Daniels stopped the early takedowns but once Avellan took it to the ground it was no surprise he used strikes from the mount to open up a rear choke for the win.
UFC vet Derrick Noble was supposed to fight Nuri Shakir but Nuri was TKO’d October 10th in APEX and therefore prohibited from fighting by the Florida Commission. Rhomez Brower stepped in to fight, doing well in the first round before succumbing to a rear choke in the second in what amounted to a "no lose" situation. Brower deserves credit but Noble looks to be back on track.
AFC is known for booking international talent but not usually from the UK. That changed this night as former Cage Rage British Featherweight Champion Brad Pickett made his AFC debut. Brad survived an early knockdown via a hard right and flying knee by John Trent, seemingly coming back around just in time to fight off a triangle choke. Once back in control Brad unloaded strong strikes before finding the armbar for his first US victory.
Luis Palomino who is usually a highlight was actually a disappointment this night as he and Jeremy May spent much of their fight feeling each other out. Palomino scored more and deserved the unanimous decision but his lack of engagement on the ground, frequently waiting to counterpunch off the jab, and somewhat lazy leg kicks didn’t do much to impress those who weren’t already impressed with him. Watch out for this young man but skip watching this particular fight.
As far as the American Top Team themselves Ben Stark picked up another dominating performance while James Sutcliff, Cole Miller, and the aforementioned Mike Brown brought the team total to 3-0. If you throw in Danilo Villefort from ATT’s cousin Brazilian Top Team and Pickett who has trained with Brown lately it could be looked at as 4-1 this night for the hometown heroes. This is important considering six months ago they were celebrating having fighters in the top three shows Pride, UFC, and K-1 Hero’s. Now JZ has won the Hero’s belt, Jeff Monson fights for the UFC belt next month, and Denis Kang leaves for Japan Friday to partake in the semifinals and finals of the Pride Welterweight (Middleweight in the US) Grand Prix. The ATT fighters on this card are likely going to at some point replace the ones that have found greater success.
Most of the show was webcast live on Prize Fighting Network but replay dates as of this writing are unavailable. The next AFC takes place January 6th.
Rumble in Rahway II: Judges Working Overtime
Report by Jim Genia
(October 21st, Rahway, New Jersey) ‘Rumble in Rahway II’: an event full of crowd-pleasing action, but with eight out of 14 bouts going the distance, it was an event comprised of judges’ decisions. The Center Circle in Rahway hosted the latest edition of promoter Ed Hsu’s amateur series, which saw two top young bloods battle it out for a title as well as the usual roster of MMA newcomers getting their feet wet. And though most of the warriors in the cage tonight lacked finishing skills, they certainly made up for it with heart. Highlights of the night included: