:: Pride 33: The Second Coming - Preview by Stephen Quadros
Pride 33 “The Second Coming”
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Thomas & Mack Center
Las Vegas, Nevada
By Stephen Quadros, “The
I’m sure religious zealots just LOVE this event title. Ah yes,
the fine art of “marketing”…
|Wanderlei Silva - Champion
Dan Henderson - Challenger
Title fights by nature are supposed to represent the
best that combat sports have to offer, top contenders vying for the top
position…in their division. And both champion Wanderlei Silva and
challenger “Dangerous” Dan Henderson are surely two of the best
fighters…in their two separate weight categories. Yeah, Dan finally
moved down to 183 pounds a few years back and (as expected) won the
Pride belt there on New Years Ever (2005) after a grueling tournament
that saw him best Murilo Bustamante (a second time) by decision in the
Since he entered Pride in 1999, Silva has been on a scorched Earth binge
against mainly Japanese opposition and has for the most part had his
But in the last 3 years “The Ax Murderer” (Silva) has seen growing
challenges…and three defeats: Mark Hunt (split decision-December 31,
2004), Ricardo Arona (unanimous decision-August 28, 2005) and
Wanderlei’s last fight where he was KO’d by Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic
(September 10, 2006). His invincible aura was now in question.
Which brings us to this Pride middleweight title match (205 pounds) and
how one qualifies to get a shot at it.
Arona “lost” his last fight (a rematch) with Wanderlei by a razor close
split decision. But many in attendance that night thought Ricardo had
done enough to win. Either way Arona truly deserves a third shot at
Silva because he beat him the first time they fought, in one of Pride’s
infamous “non-title” fights.
The ‘other’ Nogueira, Rogerio, has also earned his chance at the Pride
belt by a unanimous decision over Kazushi Sakuraba, two wins over
Kazuhiro Nakamura (one by submission, one by split decision), two
victories against Alistair Overeem (one unanimous decision and one TKO)
and of course his armbar submission against…Dan Henderson.
So WHY is Rogerio Nogueira not fighting Wanderlei in this title fight?
It’s anyone’s guess. We’ll just have to chalk up another championship
match seemingly staged for marketing purposes first and sportive
semblance second. “Oh, no one knows Rogerio Nogueira in the states and
Dan Henderson is an American, so everybody here will automatically know
him” might be the range of “thinking” behind this. Oh, OK…I guess.
Henderson and Silva met previously on December 9, 2000 in a fight that
saw Dan rock and lump up Wanderlei early only to be beaten, stomped and
barely escape on the wrong side of a decision.
It’s actually ‘possible’ for Dan to pull off a victory in this rematch®,
mainly because Silva has been at the top for so long (27 appearances in
Pride, 38 fights total) that he theoretically may be teetering on that
mountain and about to fall off. I say possible, because I feel it is
also unlikely. Silva is probably more motivated than ever, mainly
because he was knocked out in his last fight! He must protect his legacy
now. He MUST beat Dan Henderson!
Dan is one of those fighters who, like Sakuraba, should have never had
to compete in the upper division (205) in my opinion. Yet he did quite
well considering, even though he had to bulk up to fight the naturally
larger men. But no matter how many protein shakes he drank and how much
food he consumed, he never exceeded the maximum weight of 205 pounds,
when most of his opponents were cutting down to make that weight.
Now that Hendo is closing in on 37 years old, the guts and mental fire
that propelled him to rise to those David versus Goliath moments will be
harder and harder to summon. But Dan never backs down from a challenge,
thus he sees this fight with Silva as the golden opportunity it is, a
chance to cement the bookend on his library of achievements, by being a
sort of MMA Billy Conn.
Because the first match was competitive this one will be too. Silva
should again expect Hendo’s power packed right hand. And because the
fight is taking place in the US, soccer kicks and knees to the head of a
downed opponent, two of The Ax Murderer’s favorite tools, are illegal.
But Silva’s swarming Muay Thai style will be in full effect.
I doubt this will be anywhere near as exciting as their first grind out.
It would be too easy for me to say that Silva would take this because in
the back of my mind I honestly believe it could go either way.
||Huh? I thought Pride had announced recently that they would
NOT have their “champions” compete in any more non-title fights? Maybe I
didn’t read the fine print…
*(Gomi was choked out in a “non-title” fight by Marcus Aurelio in April 2006
only to come back in November of that same year to win the rematch with
Aurelio in a “title fight” by…split decision).
But at any rate, this is Gomi’s second foray in the US (he got pounded and
choked out by BJ Penn in October 2003 in Hawaii). Since then Gomi has
stormed to the top of the sport by destroying the likes of Ralph Gracie,
Jens Pulver, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Hayato Sakurai (then of course came the
Gomi’s opponent is the durable and defiant Nick Diaz.
This should be a great collaboration simply because Nick Diaz brings the
‘attitude,’ along with the competitive technical threats. Most people who
only know the UFC universe recognize Nick from his recent losses in that
organization and his derailing KO win over “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (who at
the time seemed as he was being groomed by the UFC as a standup star). But
if you look closer at those statistics you will see that those Ultimate®
losses were in fact against some of the world’s best fighters (Sean Sherk,
Diego Sanchez, Karo Parisyan) and they were all by decision.
An interesting thing is that 2 of the 3 losses on Gomi’s record are by
submission. And Nick Diaz has a really accomplished yet largely unknown (at
least in the punch first, grapple later slant of the recent UFC) jiu-jitsu
Gomi will have problems with Nick. I’m not saying he will outright lose to
the rebel from Stockton, California, but he’d better watch his back…and make
sure Nick does not end up on it. Otherwise this may turn into another BJ
Gomi by decision.
||Kazuhiro Nakamura is too good to get beaten by Travis
Wiuff at this time. Nakamura by submission.
||Mac Danzig has a solid record and is undoubtedly a
tough dude. Problem is that his adversary here, Hayato “Mach” Sakurai,
has all that, but has faced a much higher caliber of opposition. If
Sakurai is not fighting one of his many past injuries, it should be a
case where Mach beats Mac.
||Frank “Twinkle Toes” Trigg is probably still riding
high off his unexpected victory over Jason “Mayhem” Miller last year at
185 pounds. And remember, Frank’s career losses were all against the
best 170-pound fighters in the sport (Matt Hughes, Georges St, Pierre,
Hayato Sakurai). No doubt Frank is as game a competitor as the sport can
produce. But the reality of fighting up in weight again, against the
Pride CHAMPION, will prove to be extremely difficult.
And speaking of unexpected, Kazuo Misaki was the surprise winner of last
year’s “welterweight” (183 pound) grand Prix with a huge victory (split
decision) over Denis Kang. Previous to that he decisioned Dan Henderson
and Phil Baroni.
Misaki’s comfort level at 185 (183 whatever) will be too much for the
spirited American and will cause Misaki to take this by…you guessed it,
||Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had an almost invincible aura
about him after he decisioned Rogerio Nogueira and KO’d Ricardo Arona on
his way to becoming the Pride tournament champion in 2005. But the freak
arm break loss he suffered against Mark Coleman, along with a laborious
judge’s verdict over everybody’s latest problem child, Kazuhiro
Nakamura, could have put a crack in his rising star image.
Alistair Overeem has had a rough go as of late against the boys from
Brazil, having been TKO’d by Ricardo Arona and Rogerio Nogueira and
submitted by Fabricio Werdum. And because he was trashed in the first
round the last time they fought Rua, Overeem will be facing long odds
against Shogun in this rematch.
Mauricio Rua by Chute Boxe violence.
|Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
||There’s one on every card…
Minotoro (Rogerio Nogueira) will steamroll right through (Rameau
Thierry) Sokoudjou, a.k.a. “The African Assassin” (2-1)…and then wait by
the phone (for his now overdue title shot).
||Another match made to showcase the beatdown ability of
Pride’s international roster. Joachim Hansen will take Jason Ireland to
school on his feet, but must be careful of the Michigan man’s ground
Hansen by TKO.
Quadros, "The Fight Professor", has worked as a host and play-by-play
commentator for some of the world's greatest fight organizations including:
PRIDE, K-1 and Inoki Bom Ba Ye. He currently balances his activities between
acting, working as a host/commentator for major fight shows (International Fight
League, Cage Rage, etc.), choreographing fight scenes for feature films and
playing drums for the band, Sacred Cowboys. Visit Mr. Quadros on the world wide
web at: www.StephenQuadros.com
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