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PRIDEFC Review and Preview: BUSHIDO Vol. III // Critical Countdown 2004
By John MacKinnon
Jun 20, 2004, 11:23

PRIDE FC Review and Preview
Bushido Vol. III
Heavyweight GP Stage 2:
Critical Countdown



I love MMA. I will not spend 60 bucks on MMA. I had to pick one event this weekend and it wasn’t the UFC‘s latest offering in their 48th edition entitled “Payback”. Luckily, (or so I thought) there was a Sports Bar in the area that was going to show it (or so they said). You can see where this is going... They ended up _not_ showing it and I was left out in the cold. However, this DID give me the chance to sit down and watch BUSHIDO VOL. III, and the weather got a lot warmer, as this certainly filled my MMA craving for the night. I enjoyed the show so much that I’m going to attach it to the Preview for PRIDE’s big Quarterfinals Show to their Heavyweight Grand Prix called “Critical Countdown”. Yes indeedy. If you don’t want to read the review (to make a long story short, it was really, really good and recommended) and just want the preview (short version of that is: buy it, there‘s lots of big important fighters in it), then just scroll down the page some.

What: PRIDE: Bushido Vol. III
When: May 24th, 2004
Where: Saitama Super Arena

For those of you who don’t know, the Bushido series is PRIDEs showcase of lighter fighters (... and Mirko Cro Cop). Japan has a ton of lightweight talent from organizations such as Shooto, and DEEP, but in the past PRIDE never really made use of its full potential and rather focused on the middleweights, heavyweights, and freakweights. The lightweights (typically 180 and under) a quicker -both on the ground and standing-, have more endurance, and generally put on more exciting fights. To ensure this, these fights only go 2 rounds - one 10 minute and one 5 minute - and the ref is more prone to standing fighters up and issuing yellow cards for inaction. So you may be asking right now “Hey John, if they are so good, why don’t you preview these shows like you do the major shows?” Well, Bushido events typically have a long delay from when the event occurred and when it airs in North America, so it doesn’t get a lot of interest from MMA fans this side of the Pacific. Which is a shame, but its a reality. This event -much like the premiere Bushido last October- focuses on The Gracies vs. Japan. However, unlike the first Bushido, this is a best of 3 rather than a best of 5 (Gracies won that one 3-2). It also features Cro Cops return after getting his lights knocked out by Kevin Randleman - only 3 weeks previous.

I should note that Bas Rutten -for the first time in a long time- was not on commentary, but rather, “the only American PRIDE judge” (and trainer of guys like Josh Barnett, Akira Shoji and Bob Sapp), Matt Hume had that honour. In the PBP position, as always (or, at least, “as of this year“) Mauro Ranallo.

Match #1: Shamoji Fujji vs. Kim Jin O

A really active fight by both men, and while not technically sound, was really fun to watch. I enjoyed Kim Jin O’s performance more, even if he was incredibly sloppy with his punches. When he was up against the ropes and got a yellow card for holding on, he celebrated like he won the Superbowl and got a good response out of the crowd. He went balls-out, despite sucking, and I respect that. Fujji was also game and his experience showed as he was able to see through the fog that was O’s strikes and put in some well-placed ones of his own. A really good opening that ended with a rear naked choke at the 3 minute mark. Winner: Shamoji Fujji. ***

Match #2: Aleksander Emelianenko vs. Matt Foki

Fedor Emelianenko doesn’t scare me any more. A year ago I thought he was the scariest man on the planet because he showed absolutely no emotion and was unstoppable. Then I saw him in a cowboy hat and in a sauna with naked Russians and it all changed - he’s still unstoppable, but he‘s also human. The new scariest man on the planet is actually very close to Fedor; infact, he’s his brother. Aleksander Emelianenko is 6’5, 275lbs, and is one bad motherfucker. His body is covered in tattoos, which many say are prison tattoos. He is almost completely different from his clean-cut brother, and you can tell that he is the “bad one” in the family. I say “almost different” because Aleksander still fights like Fedor - which, along with his size - is a bad combination for whomever he steps in the ring with. You can see it in his punches, you can see it in his boxing stance, you can see it in his clinch - his last name is Emelianenko, and he proves it in the ring.

This fight is dominated by the Russian, as the 50+ pound weight advantage is too much for Foki to handle. PRIDE is very smart in realizing the long-term potential in A.E., and are throwing him some tomato cans before letting him loose in the Heavyweight Division. Aleksander showed some strong GnP, and knew how to use his weight effectively. The finish was not in question, rear naked choke in a little over 3 minutes. Winner: Aleksander Emelianenko***I’d hate to be his next opponent - though Tom Erikson would be an outstanding match for him.

At this point in time, Renzo Gracie joins the commentary team and is a freaking gem.

Match #3: Jorge “Macaco” Patino vs. Kazuo Misaki

If there is any match that best represents what Bushido is all about, it’s this one. From top-to-bottom, this was non-stop “action” (as Renzo would state repeatedly). It was mainly a standing battle, with both men showing good timing and well placed strikes - basically this was the fight that the first match aspired to be - and it was also really active on the ground. Misaki proved his chins worth as he took some shots that should have had him on the canvas, and also demonstrated excellent reflexes and counter-attacks both on the ground and standing. It’s really hard to do this match justice without doing PBP, but there were some really great moments in this and it’s a shame they didn’t get a 3rd round. The first round was evenish, though I think Misaki did more. However, the 2nd round was clear and Kazuo landed a sweet kick to Macacos head on the ground. You will be seeing a lot of both these guys in the future. Winner: Kazuo Misaki ****

Match #4: Carlos Newton vs. Daiju Takase

This is a hard one to call. Not who won the fight, but rather, whether this fight is worth recommending to watch. It was active throughout and had some really fun moments where Newton and Takase showed signs of Newton/Sakuraba in how they manoeuvred-about on the mat. However, Newton seemed content with just pounding at Takases ribs for the majority of the fight. I can see how some people could find that boring. I did not, but I can see how some people could. The best parts of the bout were when the two were standing and when Takase attempted submissions from his guard. When they were standing, Newton was dominating and Takase tried for a takedown only to have Newton brilliantly shift his hips and land on top. Each of these takedowns - and there were a few - were exciting to watch and Carlos has some incredible balance. In Takases guard - which is very nice, btw - he was able to try for some triangles and armbars, and in one instance went from a triangle, to an armbar, to an oma plata where Newton had to cartwheel out of it to escape. Unfortunately, that’s as close as they come to matching the PRIDE 3 match. In that match, both Newton and Sakuraba showed recklessness in their grappling and it made for an exciting fight. Here, Newton was much more reserved and didn’t want to make the wrong move in Takases guard. Takase tried harder to finish the fight, even if Newton “did better” overall. Winner: Daiju Takase (split decision) ***

Match #5: Akira Shoji vs. Tsuyoshi Tamakairiki

I love Shoji. The guy has been around since the very beginning and has taken on the likes of Mark Coleman, Renzo Gracie, Igor Vovchanchyn, Guy Mezger, Ricardo Almeida, and Jeremy Horn, AND WENT THE DISTANCE! Take into account that he’s not even a heavyweight, and this is even more impressive. Sure, guy will never be a top 10 fighter, but that’s not the appeal of Shoji. He continues to fight AS IF he is one, in hopes of someday getting his chance at a title. He is the everyman. In is *20th* PRIDE match, he shows that he is still a force in the PRIDE ring as he demolishes former Sumo wrestler Tamakairiki in 18 seconds with some very nice boxing skills. The smile on his face says it all. Winner: Akira Shoji **1/2

Match #6: Chalid “Die Faust” Arrab vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura

Kazuhiro Nakamura made his impression on me in PRIDE 25: Body Blow in a losing effort against “The other Noguiera” Antonio Rogerio Noguiera. With a calm and cool demeanor as well as slick judo skills, this guy could definitely be a threat in future years. However, in his 2 bouts since then, he has only managed to win decisions. Certainly not an exciting way to go about an MMA career. Luckily for me, I didn’t get to see those matches so my image of Nakamura is still as the calm and cool dude with the slick judo skills and a ton of potential. And he proves me right in this match against “Die Faust”. Clearly, his stand-up skills need some work as he was losing the striking battle, but his strategy of “punch and grab” paid off as he was able to get Arrab on the ground and was easily able to mount him on 2 occasions. The first occasion had him getting an armbar, but Arrab brilliantly slipped out. It was a lesson learned by Nakamura as the next occasion he was able to trap the leg, making Die Faust unable to bridge and break free from the armbar submission. Winner: Kazuhiro Nakamura ***1/4

Match #7: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara

Moe: Okay, punching isn't your thing. But that's okay. You're not that kind of fighter. What you're gonna do is stand there while your opponent gets exhausted from over-punching.

Homer: Then I can just push him over.

Moe: That's right, and if the ref's not looking, you can kick him a couple of times.


You ever see that Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a boxer? Well, that’s this fight. Kanehara is Homer Simpson - someone who can take an ungodly amount of punishment. And Cro Cop is Drederick Tatum - the guy who will make orphans of his children. So let’s call this match: Homeritsu Simpsonhara vs. Dredericko Filitatum.

This is a truly disturbing match to watch. It is probably one of the most brutal fights I have ever seen. I have seen bloodier fights, and I have seen some sick knock-outs and squashes, but there is something to be said about someone getting killed in the ring, and just not dying. It is a prolonged beating. For 15 minutes, Kanehara slowly dies unable to do a single thing about it. The ref won’t stop it, his corner won’t stop it, he clearly wants out but he won’t quit. He gets hit with punches that make his face look like hamburger; he takes kicks that show impressions on his ribs; and he eats knees which cause his head to bleed... not his face, HIS HEAD. When put down on the mat by Cro Cop, the back of his head left a blood splotch on the canvas. There’s not really that much to say except that Cro Cop looked like a monster, even if he didn’t look all that impressive. Winner by decision: Mirko Filipovic. ***1/4

Match #8: Ricardo Almeida vs. Ryo Chonan

Fight of the night and a beautiful mat war proving that Ricardo Almeida deserves all the praise he gets from fight-fans around the world. As good as Chonan was escaping all of Almeidas moves, Ricardo was that much better in going with the flow and continuing to put pressure on his very tough Japanese opponent. A lot of good stuff in here -and much like the 3rd match- it was very active from start to finish. Hard to do it justice as there was so much movement that I can’t accurately describe it all. Winner by decision: Ricardo Almeida ****1/4 I’d love to see Takase vs. Almeida as their guardwork is very similar and it would be a fantastic mat display as Ricardo puts much more pressure on his opponents and was more active than Newton was.

Match #9: Takanori Gomi vs. Ralph Gracie

Things that lasted longer than this fight:

- The introduction of the fighters
- The referee instructing the fighters on the rules
- The post-fight celebration of Gomi surfing on the turnbuckle
- The microphone malfunction
- The “VS” screen.

All of these things went longer than SIX SECONDS.

Ralph Gracie looks like a bobble head doll while Gomi looks like an anime character, perhaps out of Final Fantasy. Another thing that lasted longer than this fight? THAT SENTENCE!

I will review this fight in seconds.

Second #1 & 2: Gracie hops closer to Gomi while Gomi takes 3 steps over to Ralph.
Second #3 & 4: Gracie rushes in for a shoot while Gomi brings his leg up and connects with Ralphs jaw.
Seconds 5 & 6: Gomi knees Gracies head until the ref quickly stops the fight .

Winner: Takanori Gomi **1/2

Match #10: Ryan Gracie vs. Ikuhisa Minowa

The final bout of the night was not without controversy. The announcers thought that Minowa had won but the judges thought otherwise. Personally? I couldn’t care less as neither man tried to win the fight. Gracie took charge of 90% of the first round getting and holding position throughout. However, he did NOTHING with that position. He just held on. He had Minowas back half a dozen times and nothing came of it. Minowa, on the other hand, landed more blows when he had position but they just caused superficial damage - they were annoyances. It should have been a draw, given the fact that Gracie was given a red card for inactivity. Minowa looked pissed and Gracie looked chubby. Winner: Ryan Gracie **

Overall Thoughts: A really good show with 2 **** matches and an assortment of ***+. I rate MMA matches differently from Wrestling matches; the criteria is (1)Activity, (2)Moves, (3)Finishes, (4)Story/Drama, (5)Competitiveness. There were no “bad” or “boring” matches in my view, as all the fighters were very active. The announcing -I thought- was top rate. It is still not at the levels it once was with Stephen and Bas, but Hume complemented each fight well with his unique perspective as both a fighter, trainer, and judge, and Ranallo pushed the jibber jabber and kept a nice pace. Renzo should be welcomed back with open arms as he is one of the most entertaining guys on the stick and he filled Bas’ shoes very well. This was probably the best show I’ve seen this year.

Recommended.

Critical Countdown



2 months ago, in Total Elimination, 16 of the best fighters on the planet participated in the 1st stage of the Heavyweight Grand Prix. Ok, maybe they _all_ weren’t qualified to be there. Ok, maybe only half of them. But most of the fat has been trimmed-off this time and the remaining fighters represent the sport with the highest honour and esteem. Ok, maybe not Giant Silva and possibly Ogawa. But 6 out of 8 ain’t bad! As long as Fedor and Noguiera are there, the top 2 fighters in the world are participating and guys like Herring, Kharitonov, Shilt, and even Randleman make the standards pretty darn high. I mean, sure, one of the two worst guys in the tournament is guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals, but they just make the actual good guys look even better!

Along with the tournament matches, there are 3 separate bouts each adding it’s own flavour to the fight card. Sakuraba looks for revenge on Nino Schembri; Jackson and Arona fight for the shot at Wanderlei Silva; Mark Hunt debuts against Judo Gold Medalist and Middleweight GP Semi-finalist Hidehiko Yoshida. Truly, the “names” are out tonight, making this one of the most star-studded shows of the year.

Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Nino “Elvis” Schembri



History:

A rematch from PRIDE 25 where Schembri shocked the world when he knocked out Sakuraba after being dominated for the vast majority of the match. In that fight, two ground specialists stayed standing throughout (and at one point, Schembri wasn’t standing at all, but rather, latched onto Sak in a “koala bear” position) and it seemed to be going Sakurabas way until he got cocky, did his double Mongolian chops, bumped heads with Elvis, and ate some knees before falling to the ground out-cold. It was his most humiliating loss to-date and he’s coming back to avenge it.

Since then, Schembri has fought once - against Sakuraba protege Kazuhiro Hamanaka - and lost that one in a decision. Schembri - a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu dynamo - has been training with the Chute Boxe academy along-side Sak’s arch nemesis Wanderlei Silva, so he will less likely be dominated this time. Speaking of Silva, it was with “The Axe Murderer” that Sakuraba had his next fight after the Schembri bout which was in the Middleweight GP Quarterfinals. It was a knock-out loss, but Sak rebounded impressively at Final Conflict where he tapped out now-heavyweight tournament quarterfinalist Kevin Randleman in a bout that had Sak return to form. However, his success did not last as he took on Rogerio Noguiera at Shockwave II a little over a month later. Now, having taken 6 months off - the longest recovery time since 1998 for “The Gracie Hunter” - will Sakuraba show the signs of brilliance that made him a legend in the sport? Or will he once again fall to the hands of the man called “Elvis”?

Analysis:

Before PRIDE 25, I said that Sakuraba would choose to stand with Schembri - I was right. And I would have been totally right had it not been for his overconfidence. This time I think that Sakuraba will take it to the ground after having tested the waters out standing. Sakuraba, while a very competent striker, does not really have the power for knockouts. He needs to use his striking to gain (ground) positioning on Nino so he can set up submissions. Nino will be very hard to submit as he is incredibly flexible so for Sakuraba to win, he’ll have to take the fight to a decision. Elvis, meanwhile, has proven he can KO Sakuraba, but I don’t think he’ll get the same opportunity he got last year. He will have to squirm out of Sakuraba’s submission attempts and force the opportunity for the knockout, because as good as Schembri is on the ground, Sakuraba has never been submitted and he’s been up against some great grapplers. I see their submission skills cancelling each other out and I think Sakuraba will be more cautious than last time so he won’t get caught so easily with a knee. This fight will go to a decision and since Sakuraba will have advanced the fight forward throughout, he will get the win.

Winner: Sakuraba, JD

Quinton Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona



History:

There could not be two more diametrically opposed fighters.

Quinton Jackson is exciting; he’s a finisher. He loves to slam people. He loves to “knock a mothafucka out”. Infact, he’s only had 5 decisions in 24 fights; 4 of which came early-on in his career and the last one came at the hands of Murilo Bustamante - who was subbing-in for an injured Ricardo Arona. Whenever Jackson fights, you should watch. Whenever Jackson speaks, you should listen. Quinton Jackson is entertaining.

Ricardo Arona? Not so much.

Arona is happy with a decision. He is very good at what he does -he has beaten guys like Dan Henderson, Murilo Ninja, and Jeremy Horn- but he doesn’t make me care. At all. He is the Dean Malenko of MMA.

What will be interesting here is, how will Arona deal with Jacksons strength? Against Henderson he was able to out-muscle the glorified middleweight (as much as I knock Arona for being boring, that was an amazing fight), Ricardo used his size and power to his advantage - if he can’t use that against Jackson, what will he do then? Well, he’ll have to figure out something because this is no ordinary fight - this is a #1 contenders bout that will determine the next challenger to Wanderlei Silvas Middleweight Championship. Quinton wants his rematch and Ricardo wants his first crack at the gold. But after a year-and-a-half off, can Arona shake off the ring rust, or will Quinton have to slam it off?

Analysis:

As I just mentioned, Arona hasn’t been in the ring for 1 1/2 years. His last fight was in December of 2002 against Murilo Ninja (decision win). That’s a HUGE factor in this fight. Against someone with the stand-up skills and takedown defence of Rampage, being rusty could mean the difference between going to decision and being knocked out in the first round. To put it in perspective, in the time Arona has been out, Jackson has fought 6 times against the likes of Randleman, Silva, Bustamante, and Liddell. Rampage grows with each and every fight and gains experience; which is simply something Ricardo Arona does not have in terms of MMA competition. These two men started out roughly around the same time and yet Rampage has 24 fights and Arona only has 9. Sure, Arona trains with one of the best teams in the world in the Brazilian Top Team, but he’s not developing like Jackson is. Jackson has a huge advantage in this regard.

Now, assuming that Arona can shake the ring rust, this will be a very difficult fight for Rampage. He had a hard time with Busta -granted, he took the fight on less than a weeks notice and knew nothing about his opponent - but then again, Busta is 190 soaking wet and Jackson has to cut down to make weight. Arona has similar skills as Busta as-well-as greater size and strength - if Jackson doesn’t have an effective game plan, he could be in trouble. He might not be able to power out of a triangle as easily; he might not be able to slam Arona or powerbomb him. His advantage, clearly, is standing and that’s how he should keep it if he wants to win. He needs to draw out the fight and try to get Arona tired without expending much energy of his own. Then he can do his Rampage stuff as Arona’s size and strength will be of no concern if he is too gassed to be effective.

Arona needs to get the fight to the ground and catch Rampage with submissions. Rampage has proven time and time again that he can get caught and Arona has the strength to keep him there for a while. From there he can hope for a tap out or he can rack up the points for the decision. Arona does have to watch out for the knees and the slams, though. Rampages conditioning is a big issue as he has stated he doesn’t want to go 20 minutes, and his fights rarely ever do. If Arona can get Jackson to expend some energy - either by defending a submission or through needless “entertaining” moves (ala Sakuraba)-, then he will be more prone to a submission (ala Sakuraba). I don’t think he has the skills to take Jackson standing, so a quick shot in would probably be the best bet and then pulling guard. If he can get the fight to go to the 3rd round, he’ll probably win it. This is a close one, but I think the time Arona has missed from the ring is too much of an “if” and I think Rampage will take it.

Winner: Rampage, TKO, Rd 2

Shilt vs. Kharitonov



... I accidentally saw the spoilers when looking at the fighters‘ profile on Sherdog, so I can’t call this one.

Giant Silva vs. Naoya Ogawa



PRIDE wants Ogawa in the Semi Finals. Ogawa will be in the Semi-Finals. That’s really all that needs to be said.

Winner: Ogawa, Sub Rd 1

Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Mark Hunt



History:

Striker vs. Grappler has been a staple of MMA since Royce Gracie fought Art Jimmerson at UFC 1. Gracie, in his Gi, against Jimmerson, with his glove, squaring off in the octagon. Now, after 10 years, after all the advancements in the sport, not much has really changed.

Mark Hunt is a K-1 GP champion (2001) known for his ability to absorb punishment. More specifically, the man’s skull could get hit with a baseball bat and he still would be ready for a go. He is a kickboxer with heavy hands and nice low kicks. What does this all mean when he’s on the ground and mounted? Nothing.

Hidehiko Yoshida is a Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo (1992) who made an impression on fight fans last year in taking Wanderlei Silva to the limit in the Tokyo Dome. Despite the loss, he convinced most that he was indeed a real fighter who could take a shot and continue-on fighting. He has a tight clinch and if he gets a hold of you, he’ll throw you. What does this mean when he’s got a fist flying at his face? Nothing.

So that’s basically it. Each of their respective skills mean nothing if their opponent strikes first. If Yoshida gets a hold of Hunt before Hunt can punch, it’s over. Hunt will get taken down to the ground and submitted easily. If Hunt hits Yoshida with a right square on the jaw, Yoshida will crumble to the mat out-cold. So what will happen? The same thing that happened with Ogawa and Leko. The same thing which happened to Sefo and Tamura. The same thing that happened with Gracie and Jimmerson. When there’s a stand-up fighter with no takedown or submission defence against a master grappler, the grappler will win. The reason why Cro Cop had as much success in MMA as he did was because he worked on preventing the takedowns night-and-day. He was eased into the sport through modified rules. Mark Hunt does not have that luxury and he doesn’t appear to be taking the task seriously enough to train hard for it.

Analysis:

Yoshida will do what he did against Silva; go in with his chin tucked in and his hands up looking to grab a hold of something and once he gets that something he’ll bring Hunt down the mat. Hunt will hold on and Yoshida will advance his position until he gets a Gi choke. The end. If Hunt was smart he’d stick to the outside and throw tons of leg kicks. As much as I like Hunt, I don’t think that will happen.

Winner: Yoshida, Sub, Rd 1

Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera vs. Heath Herring



History:

I have this up on the Forums, check it out and participate.


Analysis:

Noguiera’s best bet is to ride out for the decision. It’s the safe-way and -quite frankly- the guaranteed way. Noguiera has too much skills for Herring to handle, but Herring is a slippery lil bastard and Nog had a hard time getting anything substantial on him the last time they met. Nog doesn’t have enough power in his strikes to do Fedor or Cro Cop-like damage and that’s the only way Herring can be beaten, it seems. So if Noguiera puts pressure on him and attempts some submissions and stuff, the fight should be his.

Herring has to study Fedor/Nog. He has to study everything Fedor did in that fight because Nog can’t get knocked out or submitted. Herring showed impressive GnP in his last fight and he has to use that same approach against Noguiera. Get in his guard, stay low for most of the time, work hard shots to the body, and come up once in a while for a knock-out shot. Avoid submissions by rolling with the locks and then quickly attacking once escaped. Continue-on till a decision and don’t get tired. The thing is, Herring doesn’t have the training partners Fedor had. Herring doesn’t have guys who can put him in that position so he can master it. Herring isn’t as smart as Fedor, and he isn’t as smart as Noguiera. And at this level of competition, it’s as much as a mental game as it is a physical one - if not more.

Winner: Noguiera, JD

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Kevin Randleman



History:

There is not a fight in here that has the same story as Fedor vs. Randleman. Fedor beat Randlemans mentor, Mark Coleman. Randleman beat the guy Fedor supposedly ducked, Mirko Cro Cop. Not only did they beat their respective opponents; they did so in very impressive fashion. So here we have the man who has been the talk of the tournament against the champ. Each has nothing to prove - each has something to prove.

When I say each has “nothing to prove”, I mean that both Fedor and Randleman silenced the critics. “What if he gets put on his back?” they said of Fedor. Well, he was put on his back and within seconds he applied a picture-perfect armbar. “How can he deal with the striking power of Cro Cop?” they said of Randleman. Well, he didn’t give Filipovic the chance to land a blow as he caught him with a stunning left hook right on the button and put him out. They answered the questions; they have nothing to prove.

What they _do_ have to prove is that it wasn’t a fluke. And in each other is the answer. Against Fedor, Randleman has someone with incredibly hard shots and combinations along with outstanding balance which makes it hard for a takedown. Can Randleman get that magical left hook again and put down the champ? Against Randleman, Fedor has a strong, young, all-American wrestler who has the ability to take him down. Randleman knows that Fedor has some tricks on the ground and won’t be as liberal as Coleman was and won’t take his guard lightly. Can Fedor apply those lighting-quick submissions on Randleman?

Though the answers to these questions were already made before, it becomes even more important to see if they can be consistent with their skills. That when put against different strikers and grapplers, can they continue to display the same ability?

Analysis:

I see them keeping their distance early on in the fight. Randleman will be very cautious and will work on counter-punching rather than initiating contact. Fedor typically leads with a wide right hook and if Randleman was doing his homework, he’d lean in with a close left-hook and catch Fedor on the chin for the KO. That’s a best-case scenario for Randleman, and it’s possible as he has the physical tools to get it done. What makes it improbable though, is the mental skills. Randleman claimed that his victory over Cro Cop was in part because Coleman laid out the strategy for him. Well, Fedor out-smarted Coleman, so what does that mean for Randleman?

I will say this every time I talk about Fedor - he is the smartest fighter in the game and the only way to beat him is to out-smart him. He studied Coleman and knew exactly when to make the right move and the same will be for Randleman. To beat Fedor is to figure out what his plan of attack is and to make a counter-attack. Fedor probably will want to get in close to work the knees when Randleman tries for a takedown which is what happened against Rampage. This means Randleman should be working to block the knees and work uppercuts. I don’t think any fighter thinks that far ahead yet, so it probably won’t happen. The physical game can only go so far, and when it reaches its limit, then it does become a game of chess where moves and counter moves are not only critical, but counters to the counter moves are as well.

Fedor, as I mentioned before, needs to work his kicks and knees and keep his guard up. Then he should try to get Randleman on the ground and work his signature poundage. Randleman will most likely be wearing shoes, so some of that Sambo could come in handy with a leg lock. That’s rough territory, though, because Randleman could turn it around and could get in some serious damage from a side mount or half-guard. Or Fedor could play the same game he did with Coleman and get taken down and then slip on a submission. Either way...

Winner: Fedor, TKO, Rd 2

So there you have it, in just a few hours the PRIDE HW GP 04 will continue and we’ll be left with the Final 4. It looks to be an outstanding show that will surely contain a surprise or two - much like the last stage did.

Enjoy,

John MacKinnon


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