TSM Tap Out Preview: Total Elimination 2004
By John MacKinnon
Apr 24, 2004, 12:42
TSM Tap Out Preview
PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix: Total Elimination 2004
It is said that you may live with a person for a lifetime and not truly know
them. Yet, if you put that person in the face of danger, you will get to
know the real person inside. On Sunday, April 25th 2004, we will see the
real people inside these fighters.
There will be no big introductions, there won’t be anyone here telling you
that “YOU MUST BUY THIS CARD~!~!!!!~!!!”, and there won’t be any “hook”
other than what simply is - you have some of the best heavyweights in the
world and you have some of the worst. This is not where the real tournament
begins - that is for the next round. This is where you get to see how men -
from all walks of life - deal in the face of danger.
Here is the card in order of appearance:
Short and Sweet
*Heath Herring vs. Yoshiki Takahashi
*Murilo Ninja Rua vs. Sergei Kharitonov
*Paulo Cesar “Giant Silva” vs. Henry “Sentoryu” Miller
*Semmy Schilt vs. Gan McGee
*Naoya Ogawa vs. Stefan Leko
*Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Kevin Randleman
*Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Hirotaka Yokoi
*Mark Coleman vs. Fedor Emelianenko
Long and.... Luscious.
Heath Herring vs. Yoshiki Takahashi
Once upon a time there was a fighter, an American fighter with whom the
world looked upon and said “there is the next big thing in the heavyweight
division”. This fighters name was Heath Herring, aka “The Texas Crazy
Horse”. He had defeated two strong American wrestlers in Tom Erikson and
Mark Kerr early-on in his career and was training with high class kickboxers
over in Holland. Even when he lost a title fight against Noguiera, people
still saw him as a high calibre fighter. 2002 was going to be his time to
However, when 2002 ended, his spot was taken by another. Then, in 2003, he
was made a fool by a Croatian Kickboxer. That time in Holland, it seemed,
did not do him well. Herring, who was once regarded as a top 5 fighter, was
teetering on top 10 status. His next 3 fights were more so charity cases
than anything. A boring match with Yamamoto, another lacklustre performance
against Giant Silva, and a disputed victory over former UFC HW contender Gan
McGee. Still, Herring has been clawing his way back up the ladder and in
the PRIDE GP he will get the chance to avenge at least one of his losses and
perhaps be able to restore the faith of those whom proclaimed him to be a
rising star in 2001 and become a top fighter again. .
Heath Herring is the Jim Carrey of MMA. By that I mean, Jim Carrey is a
funny guy. His top-selling movies are comedies. So when Jim does drama,
those movies aren’t nearly as successful. Heath Herring is a wrestler. He
is not a kickboxer. He wants to be a kickboxer, but he doesn’t have the
tools for it. His kicks look amateurish, and his hand-speed is almost
laughable. Heath Herring should stick with what he is not only good at, but
most successful with. His best tools are knees on the ground and keylocks -
in other words, he works best from the side-mount. His strategy should be
that and not “I wanna KO him with a high kick!”.
The problem is who he trains with. Heath needs to get far away from Team
Golden Glory and maybe get with Miletich or Team Oyama. Golden Glory is a
predominantly striking team, while Miletich and Oyama focuses on everything
and train in ways beneficial to Heaths style. With the Miletich team, they
have people there whom are more at Herrings level; they have the attitude
Herring needs; and most of all, they train in Ohio - there are no clubs in
Ohio like there are in Holland. With Team Oyama, the best example of
someone who was able to develop both in striking and in grappling is Quinton
Jackson. IMO, Jackson is the kind of fighter Herring should strive to be.
Jackson has really good stand-up, and he’ll stand with the best of ‘em, but
he doesn’t rely on it.
I have only seen Takahashi fight once - UFC 12 - so rather than reading my
“educated” opinion, let’s read my “unpublished” review of that match~!
(Edited for profanity)
Next Match! Wallid Ismail vs Yoshiki Takahashi
Pre fight interviews are translated...so lets not bother. All I have to say
is HOLY CAULIFLOWER! Ismail is an elf! To him, it’s a war.
Wallid ‘Hollywood’ Ismail (0-0): Age: 28, Weight 182lbs, Height: 5’7, From:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Style: jiu-jitsu.
-He is 5-0 in ‘reality combat‘, 8 time Brazilian jiu-jitsu (or ‘jiu-jitmoo’
as Blatnick said) champ, current Vale Tudo lightweight champ in Japan. Out
of the Carlson Gracie camp and he is good at strikes, strangulation,
submission, he does a little bit of everything, geared to groundwork. A
‘Master of Submission’.
Yoshiki ‘Loose Canon’ Takahashi (0-0): Age: 27, Weight: 196lbs, Height: 5’9,
From: Chiba, Japan, Style: Pancrase
- He is only the second Pancrase fighter to enter the UFC (the other being
Ken Shamrock) and he is a WIIIILD MAAAAAN! ‘This Guy is Tuff’ - Ken
Shamrock. He likes takedowns/submissions, he has ‘evasive manipulations
submission’, power striking and likes to fight standing up. He is also a
LOOSE CANON! And Ken says he has heart.
‘Ok, I want you back in your corner, back in your corner! Ok, Are you
ready?....Are you ready?......LET’SGETITON!”
And a feeling out process to start, and here come the fists! A little burst
of fury by Takahashi and Wallid shoots him against the fence. Ken says that
Takahashi doesn’t know that he can use his elbows... Oh great, they don’t
know the EDITing rules...I just hope they don’t hold the fence...Ok this
part is long, so I will make this short. Takahashi is standing against the
fence with Ismail trying for the takedown. Takahashi keeps grabbing Ismails
shorts, so we get to see a half moon and it just gets nasty from there.
Takahashi keeps grabbing the fence. BIG John McCarthy keeps telling him to
let go of the fence; he even starts slapping Takahashis hand. This happens
over a DOZEN TIMES. It gets to the point of absurdity. Ismail also holds
on to the fence, but BIG John doesn’t see it. About a million ‘let go of the
fences’ later and they get off the fence and Takahashi throws a few sweet
punches and they separate! The crowd is going wild and Ismail IS SMILING!
The guy got nailed with some punches and he is....SMILING! They get closer
and closer until Takahashi throws some punches, one of which sends Ishmail
down on his knee. Takahashi points at him and looks at BIG John. Ken
explains that in Pancrase when a fighter goes down like that they get a 10
count to answer it, and that Takahashi doesn’t know that he can continue to
beat on Ismail. Ismail goes after Takahashi with some crappy punches; none
of which hit and Ken says Ismail is tired. And he is. WOW, Shammy gets
something right. Seriously, as much as Ken is a pompous and delusional
jackEDIT out of the ring, he is a pretty good announcer. The Brazilian goes
for some more punches, and the EDIT responds with some will placed strikes
to the face! AND WALLID IS SMILING! This guy scares me now. Ismail is
fighting Takahashis game right now. A game in which he is losing. Jeff and
Bruce are both sucking Shamrocks EDIT by complementing Takahashi, since Ken
knows Takahashi personally and is favouring him. Ismail drops his fists and
gives a ‘bring it on’ motion. The crowd is starting to boo as they are
still feeling each other out. BIG John tries to instigate by saying ‘come
on, lets do it’ in his oh so masculine voice. Ismail shoots the legs again
but is unsuccessful, and they are up against the fence again. “Let go of the
fence!’. More shorts grabbing...Is that.... Is that...? Is that Ismails
CUP? My god...it is! This is not G rated anymore. A billion ‘let go of the
fences’ later and they are away from the fence and are on the ground with
Takahashi on top and Ismail in the oh so famous Gracie Guard. “This is not
where Takahashi wants to be’ - Shamrock. Takahashi HEAD BUTS Ismail about
half a dozen times! ED-IT! Ismail starts to juice. Not that much blood,
but the head buts and small punches has taken an effect. Takahashi is
basically dominating the Brazilian IN THE GUARD! One Minute Left in
Regulation time. Takahashi has Ismail against the fence still in the Guard.
And the 12 minutes is up and Takahashi gets up and starts’ flexing his
muscles and walks around the ring. BIG John takes Takahashi aside and goes
on his ‘Don’t grab the fence’ tirade. This is hilarious... Overtime STARTS
Ismail is tired, Takahashi isn’t. Ismail basically wants Takahashi in the
guard, and Takahashi wants none of that. Takahashi shows his inexperience
in the octagon as he complains to BIG John about getting punched in the Eye
by Wallid. Ken writes it off as part of Takahashi’s somewhat goofy
Character, and says that he did it in Japan as well, but there the refs gave
him the time out. Crowd boos the lack of activity. Takahashi DECKS Ismail
a bunch of times using a left right combination, sending the Brazilian down,
and....TAKAHASHI KICKS ISMIAL WHEN HE IS DOWN! AND ISMAIL JUST SMILES AT IT!
That gets a warning (the kick, not the smile). Takahashi does a little
boxers dance, a nice shuffle, a little jute jiving! AHAHA this guy is a
CARD! More punches by Takahashi, and this is basically a one sided boxing
match. ISMAIL IS STILL SMILING! STOP THAT! HE IS KICKING YOUR EDIT! 10
seconds left and Takahashi gets some more punches in.....ISMAIL WIPES HIS
HAND ON HIS FOREHEAD, LOOKS AT THE BLOOD AND THEN SMILES WHILE SHOWING IT TO
TAKAHASHI! OH MY EDITING GOD! A stream of blood is coming down Ismails
right eye as the ‘bell’ rings. Unanimous decision for Takahashi
Rating: * for the sweet strikes by Takahashi at the end. The match sucked.
But the characters of Takahashi and Ismail made it watchable.
Post Match: Takahashi plays to the crowd and gets a mixed reaction. Jeff
points out the hug at the end. Ah. Sportsmanship is great. Shamrock being
the EDIT that he is says that going for the draw is commendable. That EDIT.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
- Good Wrestling
- Good Striking
- Good Submissions
- Good Stamina
- Lack of Focus
- Training with the wrong guys
- Good-Very good striking
- Experienced (10 years)
- Submission defence - prone to armbars and chokes
I see this fight standing for the first round and Herring getting frustrated
on his feet. In the second round Herring will be forced to take it to the
ground and will over-power the smaller Takahashi and get the side-mount.
From there, I suspect a rear-naked choke will finish it off as Takahashi
will turn to avoid the knee strikes.
Prediction: Herring. Submission (Choke) Rnd 2
Murilo Ninja Rua vs. Sergei Kharitonov
Summary: In what many feel will be the sleeper hit of the night,
Chute Boxes Murilo “Ninja“ Rua will move up in weight to compete against
Russian Top Team member Sergei Kharitonov. A surprising amount of
knowledgeable fans are giving this one to the Russian. I, however, am
not... giving it to the Russian, that is.
Sergei has not faced the kind of competition that Ninja has faced. Sperry,
Henderson, Arona, Randleman, all are fighters who can compete (and have
competed in) heavyweight competition and have more-than held their own and
Ninja fared well against them all, so I don‘t think Sergei has the advantage
because of the shift in weight. I also don‘t think that Sergei can submit
Ninja, which have been how 5 of his 7 fights have ended. If Sperry couldn‘t
submit him, and Arona couldn‘t - then Kharitonov won‘t. Ninja is a slippery
lil bastard with near-unlimited stamina and he trains with some of the best
fighters in the world at the Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil. He has
a balls-to-the-walls attitude that tends not to fare well with RTT members
and I don‘t think Sergei will be able to handle Ninjas onslaught.
Prediction: Ninja, TKO, Rnd 2
Paulo Cesar “Giant Silva” vs. Henry “Sentoryu”
“The alarm clock rings and he slowly opens his eyes. His body is sore from
the undersized mattress. He sits on the edge of the bed composing himself
for the new day. But this is no ordinary day - well, no day is ordinary for
him, but this one in particular stands above the norm - because today is the
day he steps over the ropes and into the ring of PRIDE.
He enters the bathroom, bending over to see himself in the mirror. He looks
into his reflected eyes and he doesn’t know who is looking back at him. A
splash of cold water fixes that. He doesn’t bother brushing his hair or
taking a shower - in this hotel room, it is an exercise in futility.
Instead, as always, he’ll bathe in the arena. It is hard being a giant, it
is even harder being a giant in Japan.
Growing up at his size, Paulo Cesar had many options. A bouncer, a fighter,
a basketball player, a professional wrestler. However, he soon found out
that being a giant closed more doors than it opened. A husband? A father?
A lover? His size made him intimidating to men, but not intimate with
women. This alienation from the world; this life of loneliness; this
distance, comforted him, in a way. The world wasn’t on his shoulders; he
had no pressures to excel; he didn’t have a hunger, a drive, to succeed or
to please. Instead, he just floated around life from one occupation -one
cliche- to another. Now, he finds himself in world where drive matters
As he hunches over and exits his hotel room, he looks down the hall to see a
familiar face about to enter the elevator. Their eyes meet and the man
smiles before he enters. A cold feeling enters Paulo’s heart, he clinches
his teeth together and his nose puffs. Giant Silva begins to live. He
closes his eyes and the bell rings.
Being an American Sumo wrestler isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be. After
the lights fade and retirement sets-in, how can one go back to a normal
life? Henry Miller grew up in a world of football and wrestling; he always
wanted to be a competitive athlete, so when those dreams fell to pieces, he
picked up his life and moved to Japan. There, he became beloved. The
cheers of the fans; the admiration of his peers; the love of his family, all
motivate him to continue-on fighting in one-way or another. The PRIDE FC
Heavyweight Tournament offers him a chance to compete; a chance to fight; a
chance to earn the cheers, admiration, and love all over again.
He awakes in his hotel room by a kiss on the cheek The warmth around him
brings a smile to his face. To be here, in Japan, thousands of miles away
from home in Missouri would have killed him long ago if it weren’t for that
warmth; that kiss. His wife, cup of coffee in-hand, tells him that today is
the big day - his big day. He smiles again and rolls over. Of all the
matches in his life, there was never a fight quite like the one trying to
get that woman to say “yes”. Not just to married-life, but to the world he
lived in. Thankfully (gratefully), when she said yes, she meant it. Now,
she must feel the pain for him, because in this world of mixed martial arts,
one can’t afford to feel anything inside that ring.
Finally, he gets up and walks over to the bathroom, the confident smile
still in-place. He washes his face with a hand cloth and brushes his teeth.
He stops and feels the lump atop his head. For a brief moment, doubt
enters his mind. The months of training -the pain and suffering in
preparation- culminating to this one fight. Will it all be for nothing?
Will a loss mean an end to the cheers? Will it mean an end to his love? He
washes that doubt away as he cleans off his razor blade. Today is a big day;
he must look his best. He puts on his custom brown suit with dark gold tie
and picks up the newspaper. The front page of the sports section has his
face on it. Confidence rushes back and he knows - he knows - that the fight
A knock on the door brings his attention back to reality - the fight almost
a distant memory now - as a representative of DreamStage Entertainment tells
him it is time to go. They walk down the hall with very little pleasantries
between them. Just when he is about to enter the elevator he sees the man
with whom fate will be exchanged... he smiles again.”
Summary (in Haiku form):
Giant Silva Sucks
Sentoryu trains with Sak
Silva trains alone
Prediction: Sentoryu, TKO, Rnd 1
Semmy Schilt vs. Gan McGee
There have been stories about the little man taking on and defeating the
giant - David vs. Goliath being the most famous - but where are the stories
of two giants colliding? Where are the Goliath vs. Goliath stories? So
perhaps it is fitting that in the land of Godzilla vs. King Kong, these two
fighters shall meet.
At 6’10 Gan McGee is aptly named “The Giant”. Also at 6’10, Semmy Schilt is
fittingly named “Hightower”. Yes, that’s right, they are both 6’10, and
they both hover around the 260 mark. With the exception of Giant Silva,
these two men are the tallest in the tournament. While their size is
impressive, their recent records are not. McGee has lost his last 2 matches
and Schilt has lost his last 3. However, it should be noted that Semmy’s
last 3 losses were against the top 3 heavyweights in Josh Barnett, Noguiera,
and Fedor, while McGees were against Heath Herring and “former” UFC champion
Standing, Schilt has the advantage. He simply has more tools and has more
experience standing. McGee is the better wrestler and Schilt has been taken
down by solid wrestlers before. It will be interesting to see how each man
deals with the reach advantage - or lack thereof - and it should be a
competitive match-up. Ultimately, I see McGee getting the takedown and
winning with GnP. Hopefully, they’ll both choose to stay standing and knock
the giant crap out of each other.
Prediction: McGee, Decision
Naoya Ogawa vs. Stefan Leko.
Summary: Ogawa is a Judo Silver Medalist-turned-pro-wrestler who is
known for works in PRIDE competition. Leko is a K-1 fighter making his MMA
debut. First of all, I don’t think this will be a work. Secondly, this is
going to be GREAT. Either Ogawa will dominate Leko or Leko will domiante
Ogawa; either way, it’s going to end in the first round. Ogawa, being a
Judo-guy, has very good-great takedowns and submissions. Leko, being a
kickboxer, has excellent punches and legkicks. If he can keep his distance
and kick away at Ogawas legs to set up a bomb, this could make for a very
pretty knockout. Historically, the exceptional grappler has gotten the best
of the exceptional striker, however for some reason I don’t see that
happening here. Maybe it’s because I don’t think very much of Ogawa as a
fighter, or because I find Leko to be a very scary man, but I see this fight
ending with Ogawa -dead- on the ground and Leko with his arm raised in
Prediction: Leko, KO, Rnd 1
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Kevin Randleman
Introduction: Last year was supposed to be the year of Mirko Cro Cop.
He was supposed to conquer the PRIDE ring and become its champion.
However, despite his best efforts, despite all the ground training, despite
the knockouts and broken fighters left in his wake, Mirko Cro Cop entered
this year a beaten man. Make no mistake about it, though, Mirko is not
approaching this tournament a beaten man, he is coming into the Grand Prix
looking to mount some heads on his wall.
Kevin Randleman was built to be a fighter - the man is a genetic freak. He
has the physical tools, but lacks the one thing that separates the “good”
fighters from the “great” ones - balls. Randleman talks a good game, and
can seem crazy at times, but the man doesn’t live up to any of it. The
physical condition, the strength, the attitude, the talk... none of it is
backed up in the ring. And just when you think he’s right on track, ready
to capitalize on all that potential, he gets KO’d by Quinton Jackson and
Submitted by Kazushi Sakuraba. Randleman is too hesitant; he thinks too
much; he doesn’t get ahead of himself.... and that’s a problem. He doesn’t
take risks and he plays it safe, which means his fights are boring and all
those tools go to waste. Is he moving up in weight because he feels like he
can win this tournament or does he just want the money? Maybe he feels he
can win the tournament, but just wants it given to him. Well, against Cro
Cop, he’s going to have to work for it.
They are two men with something to prove, but I think only Cro Cop knows it.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Mirko “Cro Cop”
Filipovic? The guy can kick a persons head-off. He has been training for a
long time in defending the takedown and made Noguiera his own personal
punching bag before getting taken down and submitted. He had great success
against Ron Waterman and even though he was taken down, he was still able to
get in some offence on the ground. Randleman is a much better wrestler than
Waterman, but is not as big.
Kevin Randleman’s last 2 fights do not make me feel confident that he will
win this fight - despite having the skills to do so. He was unable to take
Rampage down at PRIDE 25, and had a hard-time getting the best of Sakuraba
at Final Conflict. Standing, he looked pathetic. After an automobile
accident tore a piece of flesh off of the side of his face, “The Monster”
was visibly protective of that part of his body and did not want to risk
getting hit. Against Cro Cop, that sort of fear will get you a one-way trip
to Concussionville: where the lights are out and when you leave, you can’t
remember a thing. As I said, Randleman can beat Cro Cop - he has the
ability to take him down and keep him down if he wants to; the question is,
does he really want to?
Strengths and Weaknesses:
- Excellent Striking
- Very Good Takedown defence
- Superb Conditioning
- Questionable ground game
-World Class Wrestling
-Knock-out power in hands
- Willing to go to a decision
- Suspect Chin
Randleman is the best wrestler Cro Cop has ever and probably will ever face.
However, Randleman has 2 things going against him here: his chin, and his
size. First his size: Randleman is too small to keep Cro Cop down for an
extended period of time. For someone to really get the best of Mirko on the
ground they have to smother him and avoid getting pushed off. I can see
Randleman taking him down, but not keeping him there for any longer than 20
seconds. Kevins chin has been his downfall against guys like Chuck Liddell
and Quinton Jackson, both superb fighters but not even close to being the
striker that Cro Cop is. This means that Randlemans chances of taking Cro
Cop down, and Cro Cops chances of tagging Randleman are about equal -
unfortunately for Kevin, Cro Cop will have more opportunity to make use of
Prediction: Cro Cop, KO, Rnd 1
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Hirotaka Yokoi
Summary: Even though he was decisively beaten by Fedor Emelianenko
over a year ago, most people still consider Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to be
the #1 fighter in the world. I don’t, but I can see where these people are
coming from. You can put Noguiera in the ring with anyone at anytime and he
will have a chance at winning. Against a top striker like Cro Cop, against
a beast like Bob Sapp, against a top wrestler like Mark Coleman, against a
giant like Semmy Schilt, against a wildman like Enson Inoue, against a
simply great fighter like Dan Henderson, or against a powerhouse like Gary
Goodridge... Noguiera has fought fighters of different styles and came out
on top. How does he do it? Good stand up, excellent ground skills, heart
of a lion, and a chin made out of solid steel, that’s how. Noguiera is a
brilliant fighter, absolutely brilliant. Words cannot accurately describe
the type of fighter he is. All I can say is that if I were to pick one
fighter who best represents what I love about MMA, it is “Minotauro”. I
have never seen him have a bad fight, he brings it every time, and given the
right opponent, he can put on a ground-clinic. To watch Noguiera fight is a
learning experience, so watch closely and see how he sets up all of his
moves, because it will be over as soon as he locks that foot in. Yokoi may
be undefeated, but he has never faced someone like Nog and has never faced
the guys Nog has faced - the best he can do is make for an entertaining
Prediction: Noguiera, Submission (Armbar), Rnd 1
Fedor Emelianenko vs Mark Coleman
Where do I start with this one? “Current PRIDE Heavyweight Champion vs.
Current PRIDE Open-weight GP Champion”? Or how about “Master of the
Ground’n’Pound vs. Inventor of Ground’n’Pound”? Either way, no other match
this year has “fit” like this one has. Ever since Fedor demolished Noguiera
in their match last year at PRIDE 25 with the most vicious GnP this side of
the heavyweight division, there have been people clamouring for a match vs.
Mark “The Hammer” Coleman. In some ways, they are very similar. In other
ways, they are completely different. Fedor is a better striker, Coleman has
better takedowns, Fedor has better stamina, Coleman has more experience.
This fight will decide who is the master of the Ground and Pound in the
The Hammer debuted at UFC X running roughshod over the likes of Gary
Goodridge and most notably Don Frye. He then went on to the smaller UFC 11
tournament and then beat Dan Severn for the UFC Heavyweight title at UFC 12.
Coleman was one of the most dominant fighters in MMA history as his style
of Olympic-calibre wrestling and never-stop strikes on the ground made him
an unstoppable monster. However, as soon as his legend was being engraved
along-side the names of Royce Gracie in UFC-lore, he was figured out. His
problem was stamina; Maurice Smith got through the initial grounding and
pounding and was able to get back to his feet. Half-way through the fight
Coleman was visibly gassed and Smith made him look like a chump. Then, in
his “Redemption” at UFC 17, Coleman fought an unknown Lions Den fighter by
the name of Pete Williams, and gave us an everlasting memory. Unfortunately
for Coleman, that memory was of Williams knocking his lights out with a
well-placed right high kick. It was safe to say that Coleman was no longer
that unstoppable monster.
After another loss, this time against Pedro Rizzo at UFC 18, Coleman moved
over to PRIDE where he lost to a suspicious-looking heel hook at the hands
of Nobuhiko Takada. These losses made Colemans win at the 2000 Grand Prix
all the more remarkable. Forget the fact that he only had to go through
someone half his size in Akira Shoji. Forget the easy win over Kazuyuki
Fujita in the semis. Forget Coleman, in celebration, botching a turnbuckle
spot; because what mattered most was the fact that Mark Coleman was on top
of the fight world once again.
Since then, Coleman has fought only 3 times, with his most notable fight (a
loss) against Noguiera, and his last fight 11 months ago at PRIDE 26 against
Don Frye. With time against him -at the age of 39- Coleman is going into
this tournament, once again, the underdog.
The legend of Fedor Emelianenko is still being written. The Russian fighter
with jackhammer-like punches on the ground as-well-as a keen sense of
balance, Fedor is a judo and sambo champion who likes to strike. The truth
is, he hasn’t faced strong competition since winning the PRIDE HW title from
Noguiera over a year ago. Fujita, Goodridge, and Nagata are not top 10
fighters, however, Fedors skills and ranking are not in question. With only
1 loss on his record (a cut) and the title still around his waist, Fedor is
among the favourites to go all the way in this tournament. He has said to
have patterned his style after Colemans - studying tapes of The Hammer to
help formulate his GnP attacks - will the student prove to be greater than
Strengths and Weaknesses::
- Good-Very Good Boxing
- Very Good Grappling
- Good Submissions
- Excellent Ground Strikes
- Very, Very Smart.
- Superb Balance
- Cuts easily
- Not really tested on back
- Sloppy, at times
- Little preparation time
- Excellent takedowns
- Very good ground control
- Very good knees
- Questionable Stamina
- Almost 40
- Weak training partners
This is an easy one to predict.
This is a very, very, very hard one to predict.
On paper, Fedor takes this easily. Coleman is too old, too slow, and is
simply less of a fighter. Fedor is a calculating, hard-hitting, and
neigh-unstoppable competitor and is miles ahead of The Hammer. The thing
is... Coleman can take Fedor down. That changes everything. If Coleman can
keep Fedor down and get a few choice shots in, it could be over due to a
cut. If Coleman can keep Fedor down and wait out the bell, he could win by
decision. I know that Fedor is a better fighter - I *KNOW* it. Which is
why this prospect frightens me so much, because Coleman CAN keep Fedor down.
Fedor has never faced anyone like Coleman. Coleman, on the other hand, has
faced -and beaten- Igor Vovchanchyn, who is very similar to Fedor. Fedor
has not had a lot of fights on his back and I don’t imagine his training to
be very guard-oriented. Of the times I have seen Fedor get on the ground,
he gets to his feet even at the expense of giving up his back - so clearly,
he does not want to stay there. I can easily see this fight being boring,
where Coleman lays & prays to victory.
I don’t think that will happen, though. And for one reason...
Fedor. Is. Smart.
He is the smartest fighter I have seen, without a doubt. He trains
opponent-specific; look at the way he fought Noguiera, Shilt, Herring, and
even Fujita. Against Nog he went right into the fire and dominated. He
learned how to avoid the triangle and slipped through Nogs attempts like
butter, he balanced himself on the ground, and he threw the big bombs - all
in Noguieras guard. Against Shilt he precisely timed his attacks so he
could take the big man down and nullify the size advantage. Against
Herring.. well.. he just pounded the life out of Herring. Fujita he took
lightly, but after goofing around failed he went straight for the kill.
Fedor doesn’t take fights unless he knows a way to win. I have faith in
Fedor; he will win.
How does he do that? Well, keep the fight standing is the easiest answer.
He is a better striker than Coleman, so if the fight goes long enough,
Coleman will gas and drop his hands and Fedor can take over. I see Fedor
keeping his distance from Coleman for the first minute, just to avoid the
takedowns. Then, after one-or-two failed attempts by The Hammer, Fedor will
pounce with a variety of punches, kicks, and knees. Fedor has been training
with Team Golden Glory for the past few months and the skills he learned
there are sure to be in use here. Just when Coleman is about to go for the
takedown, Fedor will jump back and keep his distance once again. Easier
said than done, this is true, but Fedor has avoided takedowns from Noguiera
and Fujita in a similar manner, so I can see him -at least trying- to do it
here. Each takedown attempt will tire and frustrate Coleman, this leads to
mistakes. If Coleman were to get Fedor down, Fedor will either turn his
body and push out to get back up (Coleman will try and go for a reverse
body-lock (German suplex position)), or will just hold on to Coleman until
the ref stands them. He will continue his standing strategy from there.
His biggest advantage is time and he knows it.
Now, for Coleman, as I mentioned above, the strategy is simple. Takedown,
and get blood or get a decision - but I don’t think he will be able to fully
execute that plan. I’ve read an interview Coleman did recently, and it
sounded like he already lost the fight. He is giving Fedor too much respect
and isn’t giving himself any. When Fedor faced Noguiera, he didn’t respect
Noguiera. NO ONE goes into Noguieras guard willingly if they respect him;
because Noguieras guard is the most dangerous place to be in the heavyweight
division. Coleman isn’t looking at this fight as an actual FIGHT - there is
no hunger there, no fire. He is well aware of his age and his condition and
when the fight is lost in the mind, it is lost in the ring. I don’t see him
being aggressive, I don’t see him taking chances, and I don’t see him being
able to last the full duration of the fight in the dominant position.
Prediction: Fedor TKO Rd 2
Without a doubt, this is the oddest tournament of modern-day MMA. This
tournament, however, will still decide who is the top fighter in the sport.
The top heavyweights in the game are Fedor and Noguiera, with Cro Cop
nearing top 5 status. However, to find the top heavyweight, there will be
several bottom-of-the-barrel fighters to get through. Some may see that as
a bad thing; I am not one of them. I will make no secret about it, I love
the freak-show. I want to see Giant Silva vs. Sentoryu. I want to see
Stefan Leko vs. Ogawa. I want to see Semmy Schilt vs. Gan McGee. This is
more of a pro-wrestling card than an actual pro-wrestling card! And when
you have fighters like Fedor, Cro Cop, Noguiera, and Ninja all fighting in
separate matches, you’ve got the best of both worlds.
Simply put, this is the best episode of WWF Superstars... cept it’s real...
well.. cept for maybe one match...
As I mentioned in the opening, we will see the real side of the fighters -
we will see how Fedor deals in the face of danger as he gets put on his
back; we will see how rookies Sentoryu and Leko act when entering a NHB
setting; we will see the hearts of champions in Giant Silva and Ogawa as
they leave the protective rings of Pro Wrestling; and we will see how fallen
stars like Mirko Cro Cop and Heath Herring recover and make their way back
up the mountain. Sunday, April 25, 2004 - PRIDE Fighting Championships
presents TOTAL ELIMINATIN 2004, the Heavyweight Grand Prix! Save that
Judgement Day money and spend it here!
Credit: Sherdog.com for the fight stats.
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