Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Mixed Martial Arts--- Say what you will about the unbalanced match-making in the recent "Pride: Shockwave" mixed martial arts event, but one thing remains clear: People are going to be talking about and remembering Shockwave for many years to come. The atmosphere of the event with 91,000 screaming fans in an outdoor stadium in Japan has never been matched by any other MMA event, but it was the in-ring action that was most impressive. The classic Minotauro vs. Bob Sapp match wasn't the only thing that was memorable.
The most controversial fight on the card was Judo gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida making his MMA debut by appearing to choke out MMA legend Royce Gracie, who was appearing in his first fight since losing to Kazushi Sakuraba over two years ago. As Yoshida got his hand raised and the crowd went nuts, there was just one little problem with this scenario. The instant replay clearly showed that Gracie hadn't been choked out at all.
He sprung up to protest the ref's stoppage of the fight immediately after Yoshida released the hold, which is pretty hard to do when you're unconscious. Furthermore, not only did the reverse-angle instant replay show that Gracie was moving and was most definitely conscious right before the ref stopped the fight, but Yoshida didn't even have his forearm on Gracie's throat. Choking a man out by applying pressure to his mouth and chin rather than his throat is a neat trick; I ought to try that sometime. The only fair solution to this mess is to sign an immediate rematch and this time make sure that no one stops the fight until one of the fighters is choked out or tapped out.
Shockwave's hardest fight to watch as a long-time fan of Don Frye was his fight under K-1 kickboxing rules against champion kickboxer Jerome LeBanner. First of all, just accepting a match with kickboxing rules against a champion kickboxer shows that Don Frye has balls the sizes of church bells (as Frye himself once said about an opponent). Unfortunately, the inevitable happened and Frye got brutally knocked out. The image of Frye slumped over, unconscious in the corner of the ring as the ref frantically stopped the fight, is something that's going to stay with American MMA fans for a very long time.
So what's next for Frye? Well, for starters, how about no more K-1 matches against K-1 champions? Frye has gone on record in the past few months saying that the only two MMA fights he really wants at this point are a shot at the champion Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira and a rematch against Mark Coleman, the only man to ever beat Frye in mixed martial arts competition. I would love to see the Coleman fight and the winner would really be a toss-up, but I think Minotauro would probably beat Frye by submission (as he would against most anyone else in the world).
As for Jerome LeBanner, he has now joined the Brazilian Chute Boxe Team full-time, which means that he is training for full-fledged MMA competition with some of the very best in the world, such as Vanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Murilo "Ninja" Rua, and Jose "Pele" Landi. If the Chute Boxe guys can teach LeBanner how to fight on the ground and LeBanner can help the Chute Boxe guys increase their already incredible stand-up fighting skills, the rest of the MMA community better hang on to their wigs and keys, because the Chute Boxe guys are going to be even more of a force to be reckoned with than they already are.
I was very surprised that accomplished kickboxer Mirko Cro-Cop agreed to fight MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba under normal mixed martial arts rules, and I was even more surprised to see Cro-Cop dominate the entire fight until it had to be stopped in the second round due to Saku's broken orbital (eye socket) bone. It was Saku's first match back since losing to Vanderlei Silva and suffering an injured shoulder last year, and I figured he would be back with a vengeance. However, I didn't count on just how far Mirko Cro-Cop has progressed as an MMA fighter, and apparently Sakuraba didn't either. Unfortunately, due to his ongoing knee and shoulder problems as well as his newly-broken orbital bone, Sakuraba is going to be out of action for at least 8-10 months.
As for the rest of the Shockwave line-up, it was ridiculous for the judges to call the Ernesto Hoost vs. Semmy Shilt kickboxing match a draw given that Semmy controlled the entire fight. Vanderlei Silva made quick and brutal work of Tatsuya Iwasaki, but one has to wonder just what in the hell Iwasaki was doing in the ring with a machine like Silva in the first place given that Iwasaki has never done anything in MMA. As for Gary Goodridge's thorough domination of Lloyd Van Dam, that's normally what happens when you put a mixed martial artist in the ring against a boxer or kickboxer with no-holds-barred rules. The boxer gets taken to the ground and gets the crap beaten out of him. Anyone who thinks that, say, Lennox Lewis could touch Tito Ortiz in a no-holds-barred fight should watch the Goodridge vs. Van Dam fight, or countless other fights, for evidence to the contrary.