It’s 1999, a new Millenium is almost here.
The MMA world is changing: new stars are shining, old legends are back in the game,
and the undefeated family of fighters is finally facing a real threat.
A fight between Royler Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba continued half a century-long feud between Brazilian and Japanese fighters.
Everything’s at stake.
Wanderlei Silva is opening the card.
At that time he was a superstar in Brazilian Vale Tudo but nobody knew him in Japan.
He made his debut on Pride 7 against grappler Carl “Malenko” and won by decision.
Thus he got an easy fight against Daijiro Matsui, Sakuraba’s friend, and a tough Pride vet.
It seems that Matsui had never seen Silva in action before,
and the fact that he didn’t run away from this psycho staring shows what a brave man he is.
Even though Matsui is being punched from the first seconds, he still manages to land an overhand.
Even on the ground, Silva shows to Matsui what the real brutality is,
it’s a tough school of Vale Tudo.
A wide Chute Boxe stance and left high kick straight to the head.
Silva’s signature powerful knees from the clinch and it is the first time in his career when elbows are restricted.
Matsui goes for trading punches but misses again and again.
It seems that he’s confused a little bit, Silva’s punches reach him on the feet and the ground,
it looks like these punches would reach him even in the lockers room.
Yellow card for grabbing ropes, the ref tries to tame the beast a little.
Tough high kick again, one of SIlva’s signature moves.
He’s demonstrating his harshness landing punches, working in the clinch and on the ground,
so there is no doubt who wins this fight.
His first two fights in Pride ended with a decision victory because it took time for him to adjust to new rules.
Also, look, Matsui even managed to smash the opponent’s face a little.
American wrestler Frank Trigg is ready to make a debut in Pride FC against Brazilian grappler Fabiano Iha.
Trigg is making his way to clinch where he’s really good at.
Before this tournament he had already fought at Chute and Vale Tudo Japan,
so the Japanese audience is familiar with him.
Looping punches from Trigg, he’s simply hammering poor Fabiano.
A combination in the corner, and future MMA star continuous his win streak.
Carl Malenko against tough Brazilian fighter, Allan Goes.
Goes was higher in rankings because of draws with Frank Shamrock and Kazushi Sakuraba
and he demonstrates that taking the American on the ground.
A seasoned grappler takes a mount position and completes a submission by arm-triangle choke.
Ref stops the fight before Carl taps and it’s a pretty early stoppage for old school fights.
A giant Kaiju came out of the ocean to destroy Japan.
Mark Coleman signed a great contract with Pride FC after a little strange fight with Nobuhiko Takada at Pride 5.
But there were no favors, so they threw him in the ring with Ricardo Morais
who had won a legendary IAFC tournament and was a star of Rings promotion.
By that time Ricardo had only one defeat, unlike Coleman who had four of them in a row.
Morais was a mediocre grappler and his striking technique wasn’t very good too,
but he also was a really powerful man with great stamina.
It is the first time when Coleman looks like a hobbit next to the opponent.
An attempt to take Morais down but it’s hard to hold a position, Ricardo has a good defense.
They are back on the feet. Ricardo throws punches and some of them even reach the UFC champ.
Mark is also good at defending himself, and again, he throws the big guy on the ground.
One of his favorite moves, a neck crank.
It is noticeable that Coleman isn’t used to local rules: no headbutts that were allowed in UFC, no fence which he could use.
Look at these punches, they might be clumsy, but they are smashing when they are thrown by someone like this guy.
By the second round, Coleman became more confident.
He catches the low kick and takes Ricardo down.
However, he’s also tired so his GnP is not so active.
Some good punches from Hammer at the end, he’s exhausted.
But also he looked relieved, he finally did it, he was back.
Kevin Randleman greets an old friend.
This is how Coleman’s stunning raid began in Pride which ended with his win in Pride FC GP.
Tom Erikson enters the ring, one of the best and one of the most underestimated heavyweight fighters of those times.
Gary Goodridge knew that well but there was no flicker of fear.
Big Daddy is home.
Erikson is a seasoned wrestler with a good striking technique who smashed people at Vale Tudo in Japan and Brazil.
Off we go!
After boring Colman’s fight, guys are ready to show how the heavyweighters are supposed to fight.
Erikson punches hard in a hockey clinch, Don Frye’s technique!
And we all remember how strong his punches are which knocked out Kevin Randleman in Brazil.
The fight is going on the ground where Erikson is especially good.
Tom is smashing Big Daddy with hard punches and trying to complete submission but with no luck.
Goodridge survives 10 minutes of hell and he is still good looking.
This time Erikson decided to take Gary down, it seems he acquired new respect for his chin.
Tom The Big Cat is tired so Goodridge takes some advantage of that and throws a few punches.
Tom Erikson finished the fight spectacularly and beat Gary by unanimous decision.
You may not believe this, but he had a chance to take part at UFC 10 with all chances to win
but they chose Mark Coleman instead who ended up winning the tournament.
An interesting fact: according to Gary Goodridge, Mark Kerr and Ricco Rodriguez had a clause in their Pride contracts stated that they won’t fight Tom Erikson.
Tom also said that they drop him out of the Grand Prix tournament because of Kerr’s demand.
Mark Kerr denied this statement.
Tom and Gary showed us how heavyweighters are supposed to fight,
and Igor Vovchanchyn is always ready to demonstrate how heavyweighters are supposed to punch.
Francisco Bueno, Brazilian grappler is ready to meet him.
By that time, Igor had become a superstar in Japan, so the crowd cheer for him accordingly.
Vovchanchyn had always been a counter puncher, so he patiently waits for the moment and following Francisco.
There are no comments, every true fan has seen this knock out a million times.
However, the Japanese audience was shocked.
Vovchanchyn throws a quick right cross, and instinctively, he throws another three punches
straight to the head while Francisco is heading towards the canvas.
The founder of the K-1, Kazuyoshi Ishii, was there, and he was so impressed with this fight he visited Igor in the locker room,
gave him $1000 bonus and invited him in K-1 to fight Ernesto Hoost himself.
And again we can see a standoff between Gracie family and Japanese pro wrestlers.
It is hard to deny that Renzo Gracie is a legend of MMA,
however, his unprofessional and unethical behavior was spotted more than once or twice.
Alexander Otsuka was quite a handful, his previous opponent was Marco Ruas.
From the first seconds, he tries to take Renzo down.
The second round, the old cut is open on Otsuka’s face and he even tried to hide it before the fight.
An attempt of armbar, but Otsuka got through.
Finally, Renzo starts showing some activity and that looks more like Vale Tudo legend.
Otsuka definitely won the first round, but the second one goes to Renzo,
he took it with his striking technique, submission attempts, and a takedown.
It is time for the main event.
Rickson Gracie talked of Royler as of the one with the best fighting technique in the family.
One of the Royler’s goals was to make Sakuraba behave,
since he used to beat Brazilians like they were nothing, and sometimes even mocking them.
Gracie family was undefeated in MMA.
Royler tries to take the opponent down but fails, Sakuraba has great wrestling skills.
Sakuraba is back on his feet.
Vitor Belfort would confirm the fact that Sakuraba is good in the standing position too
as a man who had been taken down constantly by Kazushi.
From this moment he starts to pick on Gracie who decided to not leave the canvas.
Sakuraba was ready.
He starts to land punishing kicks to Royler’s legs and thighs,
it’s Kazushi who made them so popular in the MMA.
Kick to the head!
Sakuraba invites the opponent to get up but he prefers to stay on the ground.
Sakuraba’s mocking him, but Royler reacts with dignity.
I don’t judge him for the decision to stay down
since I think he knew that it’s certain death to stand up. Тo one taught him the striking technique.
Gracie family carved out for themselves different rules: if a fight goes to the decision then it’s a draw.
I don’t know how many of that Gracie would be able to handle.
Rickson is trying to hide emotions but he doesn’t see any chance for Royler to win.
The end of the devastating round.
Rickson is giving some advice, Royler doesn’t have any plan.
However, Royler starts the round more aggressively.
The good hook from Sakuraba.
Look, Royler is up again. He accepted the challenge, he fights Sakuraba in standing position.
Gracie’s spirit is unbreakable, he continues his desperate attempts to take Kazushi down, but with no luck.
Sakuraba caught him in a Kimura lock.
Listen to the crowd – they know what’s going on here.
Royler did forget that Sakuraba is good on the ground.
Kazushi twists the arm mercilessly, still, Royler Gracie didn’t even think of giving up.
Ref stops the fight.
Royler never knocked.
This is how pro wrestler Kazushi Sakuraba became Gracie Hunter.
Still, Royler Gracie showed us the difference between sport and Martial arts.
For him, there was no defeat on points.
Until he wasn’t broken, choked, killed, he didn’t think of himself as a loser.
Royler Gracie also showed that family honor means something to him,
unlike Rickson, who was considered the strongest in the family and saw what Sakuraba did to his family,
still, he didn’t even once challenge him to fight.
This was the eighth Pride tournament, and as you can see, the promotion is gaining momentum, there are more good fighters but also more drama.