mma / Columns

The History of Pride FC: Pride Total Elimination Absolute

August 30, 2010 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

-Greetings MMA fans. I’ve finally cracked these babies open and its time to cover the last great tournament in Pride history. I’ve wanted to cover this tournament for quite a while. Pride is well into 2006 and now has four champions: Fedor Emelianenko (Heavyweight), Wanderlei Silva (Light Heavyweight/Middleweight), Dan Henderson (Middleweight/Welterweight), and Takanori Gomi (Lightweight). For their 2006 Grand Prix, Pride decided to put together an Openweight tournament.

-May 5, 2006. The Osaka Dome in Osaka, Japan. The show begins with an anime intro.

-The broadcasters for the evening are Mauro Ranallo and Frank Trigg (with hair). Trigg and Ranallo talk about the tournament. Trigg says this is how the sport started, it wasn’t about weight classes, it was about who had the best style. Fedor Emelianenko will compete in the tournament but he is getting a first round bye because of his status and who he has beaten. Footage is shown of Emelianenko smashing Zuluzinho, *ahem*. Trigg says that we will “definitely” see Emelianenko in the second round, *ahem*. Ranallo and Trigg run down the first round tournament matches, the competitors, and the rules. This is followed by a highlight reel video featuring the opening round fighters.

-The opening ceremony kicks off with a video on the big screen and showcase the elaborate entrance stage. Lenny Hart introduces the combatants for the evening. Ladies and gentlemen, this is more than just mixed martial arts. This is the PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS!

PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX ALTERNATE BOUT: Roman Zentsov (Pride Record: 2-0; MMA Record: 11-10) VS. Gilbert Yvel (Pride Record: 1-6, 1NC; MMA Record: 23-11-1, 1NC)
No offense, but it’s not exactly the cream of the crop when you have Yvel and Zentsov in this tournament. Even in the opening round. However since this is the alternate match, I guess its OK.

Round 1. Yvel rushes in on Zentsov. Zentsov lands a hip throw straight into side control. Zentsov switches over to full mount and tries to lock in a kimura. Yvel is able to get out and sweeps into Zentsov’s guard. Zentsov sweeps into the full guard but they have to be moved after getting over to the ropes. Zentsov is warned about an elbow, no elbows to the head in Pride. Zentsov starts working in some punches and gets mount and goes for the kimura again. Yvel escapes yet again and lands a knee strike. Zentsov swings back with a left hook and Yvel goes down. Yvel is down and out and the ref calls it over.

The Winner: Roman Zentsov gets the KO knockout at 4:55 in Round 1.

PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX FIRST ROUND BOUT: Fabricio Werdum (Pride Record: 2-1; MMA Record: 7-1-1) VS. Alistair Overeem (Pride Record: 7-3; MMA Record: 23-6)
Alistair Overeem beat Sergei Kharitonov at Pride 31 earlier in the year. Werdum beat Jon Olav Einemo. Here we go, the current reigning Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion versus the man who just beat Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce.

Round 1. Werdum starts aggressively with a wicked jumping flying kick. Overeem shifts the momentum with a scoop bodyslam on Werdum. Werdum is more than willing to exchange with Overeem. Werdum tries a heel trip off of a clinch, but Overeem reverses it into a takedown. Overeem gets another takedown out of the clinch, but waits out for the standup. Overeem continues to work the takedowns and laying in Werdum’s guard. Werdum tries to get up but gets a left hook just as the round closes.

Round 2. Ranallo points out that Overeem has never been submitted in his career. Werdum gets hit with a knee strike but gets in a good striking combination. Werdum reverses a sweep and works on a guillotine. They get too close to the ropes. The ref initiates a standup. Overeem is able to sweep Werdum to the mat. Werdum gets the arm and gets a Kimura lock. Overeem taps and that is all.

The Winner: Werdum hands Overeem his first ever submission defeat at 3:43 in Round 2.

PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX FIRST ROUND BOUT: Mark Hunt (Pride Record: 4-1; MMA Record: 4-1) VS. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (Pride Record: 1-1; MMA Record: 26-7)
At Pride 31, Kohsaka defeated Mario Sperry and Mark Hunt defeated Yosuke Nishijima. Hunt of course is the first man to ever get a win over middleweight champion, Wanderlei Silva, in Pride. Due to the weight difference between both fighters, knees and kicks are not allowed on the ground.

Round 1. Hunt gets Kohsaka on the ground and works in some punches. Kohsaka is able to get back to his feet. Later Hunt nails a straight right jab and Kohsaka goes down. Kohsaka stays in it and is able to get Hunt to the ground and tries for a rear naked choke. Hunt keeps moving up on his knees. Kohsaka attempts a transition into a combination armbar/triangle. Hunt is able to slip out and reverse position. They take it standing and start going back and forth with the punches. Kohsaka’s face gets bloodied up. Hunt stuffs a shot by Kohsaka and has TK stand back up. They go back to standing and trade back and forth. Kohsaka starts using some fighting spirit and is starting to tire out. Hunt is able to easily shove Kohsaka to the ground but not mount enough offense to warrant a TKO finish as the round ends.

Round 2. Hunt continues to punch out Kohsaka’s head. Time out by the ref to wipe all the blood off of Kohsaka’s face. Kohsaka is able to retaliate with a takedown into side control, but Hunt quickly gets back to his feet. Kohsaka keeps shooting in but Hunt stops the takedowns. Trigg says it’s a great strategy by Kohsaka since Hunt can’t use knees or kicks while Kohsaka on the ground. You sure about that Trigg? Hunt starts mixing in some kicks, and Kohsaka’s head gets more messed up. Kohsaka gets rocked with a knee to the head. Hunt then rocks Kohsaka to the ground with an overhand right. The referee decides that’s enough and says it’s over. Kohsaka says no and doesn’t want the fight to be called over.

The Winner: Hunt gets the TKO victory at 4:15 of Round 2. Hunt was not an experienced MMA fighter as Kohsaka, but was the better striker and kickboxer in this match. It was a fun brawl, but both guys looked pretty tired quickly. Kohsaka’s only chance was grappling, but he was unable to finish any subs on Hunt. This actually turned out to be Hunt’s last MMA career win to date. Hunt is set to make his UFC debut in September at UFC 119 against internet message board legend, Sean McCorkle.

PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX FIRST ROUND BOUT: Josh Barnett (Pride Record: 1-2; MMA Record: 16-3) VS. Aleksander Emelianenko (Pride Record: 5-1; MMA Record: 8-1)
Barnett got his first win in Pride by submitting Kazuhiro Nakamura at Pride 31. Emelianenko submitted Pawel Nastula at Pride Shockwave 2005.

Round 1. They keep the fight standing in the opening round. Emelianenko dictates the pace and is the aggressor against Barnett. Barnett is able to get some shots in, but Emelianenko picks his shot and is able to stay out of range of Barnett’s strikes. Barnett’s nose gets bloody. Barnett starts to open up a little more toward the end of the round. The round ends and Emelianenko is looking pretty tired despite a dominant first round.

Round 2. Barnett comes out more aggressive at the start of the round. Barnett hooks under both arms and gets a takedown straight into side control. Barnett lands some knees to the head and puts on a Kimura. Emelianenko gets out. Barnett grabs onto it again, and Emelianenko quickly taps out. And that is all folks.

The Winner: Barnett gets the victory by submission at 1:57 in Round 2. This was a good come from behind victory for Barnett who took quite a beating in the first round. Fun fight. Barnett gets the microphone and sends a message to the American fans. He says he is back and he is out to show that pro wrestling is the best. Barnett says he is taking the tournament and says he is aiming for Fedor and that Fedor is dead! Barnett than repeats that in Japanese for the crowd. Josh Barnett advances to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

-Backstage interview with Barnett. Barnett said he knew Emelianenko was tough, but he saw openings and mistakes Emelianenko was making. Barnett talked about getting in the submission and talks about getting hit by a big, crazy Russian dude.

PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX FIRST ROUND BOUT: James Thompson (Pride Record: 3-1; MMA Record: 12-2) VS. Kazuyuki Fujita (Pride Record: 5-2; MMA Record: 14-12-4)
James Thompson mugged Giant Silva nearly to death at Pride Shockwave 2005. Fujitia of course is a former NJPW pro wrestler who also held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, yeah, yeah I know, fake fighting. Fujita is also on a three fight win streak after losing to Fedor Emelianenko at Pride 26.

Round 1. Fujita tries to shoot in on Thompson. Thompson stuffs the takedown and works over Fujita standing up. Thompson unloads numerous punches and knees on Fujita. Fujita gets a little bloodied up but is able to stay in it. Fujita tries for another takedown, but Thompson stuffs it and takes top position over Fujita. Fujita gets back to his feet and they start teeing off on each other more. Fujita gets in and starts dirty-boxing and landing some rapid uppercuts. Fujita opens up more and a big right hook drops Thompson. The referee runs in and that is all. I mean, I think it was a good stoppage, but the referee looked pretty quick to stop the fight for Fujita.

The Winner: The crowd goes wild as Fujita gets the victory by KO at 8:25 in Round 1. Fujita survives a nasty beating from Thompson thanks to his head that according to was “created by filling a cement truck with coconut sperm, and no one was more surprised than that cement truck.”

-Backstage interview with James Thompson. Thompson talks about feeling so close to a win but losing and also talks about growing as a fighter.

PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX FIRST ROUND BOUT: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (Pride Record: 14-4-2; MMA Record: 17-4-2) VS. Ikuhisa Minowa (Pride Record: 3-2; MMA Record: 7-6)
Cro Cop had a terrible performance in losing to Mark Hunt at Pride Shockwave 2005. Minowa beat Giant Silva at Pride Bushido Vol. 10.

Round 1. Cro Cop gets a nice punching combination and sprawls over a takedown attempt. Minowa tries a rolling somersault kick with little affect. Cro Cop corners Minowa and starts unloading on the strikes. Cro Cop sprawls and starts unloading on Minowa on the ground with some hard shots. Minowa isn’t defending himself, and the ref calls it over.

The Winner: Cro Cop gets the TKO win at 1:10 in Round 1 to advance to the quarterfinals. Cro Cop gets on the microphone and says he hopes everyone enjoyed the fight and that Cro Cop is back.

-Backstage interview with Cro Cop. Cro Cop says he feels great and his foot injury is healed. Cro Cop said he had to be careful because Minowa has great heart and great guts. He says he’s ready to take the entire tournament mentally and physically.

PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX FIRST ROUND BOUT Zuluzinho (Pride Record: 1-1; MMA Record: 15-1) VS. Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (Pride Record: 14-2, 1NC; MMA Record: 27-3-1, 1NC)
Zuluzinho says he doesn’t like the rumors and things he was reading about himself and that he is going to prove he’s a real fighter. Zulu weights in at 380 lbs. and Nogueira weights in at 233. No four point attacks are allowed by either fighter in this bout.
Round 1. Nogueira grapples and gets an arm and switches to side mount. Nogueira puts some punches to Zulu’s big belly. Nogueira works in some punches and knees from the side mount. Nogueira switches to full mount, armbar, Zulu taps, and the fight is over.

The Winner: Nogueira gets the submission at 2:17 in Round 1. Pretty much a gimme fight to guarantee that Nogueira would advance to the quarterfinals.

-Backstage interview with Nogueira. Nogueira says he uses his speed when he’s on top of big guys like Zuluzinho. Nogueira talks about the fighters that made it into the second round and all the great competitors and says that he will do his best to advance.

PRIDE OPENWEIGHT GRAND PRIX FIRST ROUND BOUT: Yosuke Nishijima (Pride Record: 0-1; MMA Record: 0-1) VS. Hidehiko Yoshida (Pride Record: 5-3-1; MMA Record: 6-3-1)
Nishijima is a former Japanese pro-boxer turned MMA fighter. He lost his debut fight to Mark Hunt at Pride 31. Yoshida’s coming off a submission win against Naoyo Ogawa at Pride Shockwave 2005. Yoshida is an Olympic gold medalist at Judo.

Round 1. Some feeling out standing up. Yoshida locks in the clinch and easily gets the takedown. Yoshida locks up the arm and starts raining down punches on Nishijima. Nishijima tries to move out, but Yoshida is able to lock up the arm and transitions to a triangle choke. Yoshida gets it in tight and Nishijima goes out.

The Winner: Yoshida wins by submission at 2:33 in Round 1. Not much of a challenge for Yoshida. I don’t think Nishijima really should’ve even been allowed in the tournament due to his record and inexperience in MMA. Once again, another gimme fight and easy win for the more popular Yoshida to assure that he would advance into the later rounds.

-The winners of the opening round tournament fights go to the ring as the elite 8 are set: Nogueira, Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, Josh Barnett, Fedor Emelianenko, Hidehiko Yoshida, Fabricio Werdum, and Kazuyuki Fujita. The fighters pose for the cameras, and Ranallo and Trigg talk about potential match-ups. Closing credits with highlights from the show close the event.


As with most Pride FC DVD releases there are a group of similar bonus features including extra pre and post fight interviews as well as some video montages of the event:

  • Fighter Walk-in Highlights – This is a 5 minute video montage of all the fighter entrances since they were all cut from the main event portion of the DVD.
  • Fighter Photo Montage – This is a 3 minute still photo montage of shots from the event as well as fighters arriving in Osaka.
  • Post-Fight Interviews – This is 7 minutes of other backstage post-fight interviews from the fighters. Barnett talks a little bit more about his fight with Emelianenko and said he did get hurt a little but hurt is a relative term. Barnett critiques his performance more as well which is pretty cool. Barnett says he’s ready and he wants to fight Fedor next. There are other backstage interviews with Nogueira and Cro Cop as well talking about the tournament.
  • Fighter Interviews – This is about 23 minutes of the unedited black and white pre-fight interviews with the fighters. Barnett says the biggest key in any sport is to not let your opponent control the pace. Nogueira talks about taking some time to heal and get better in 2005 after having a hard 2004.
  • The 411: There were a couple fun brawls but overall the card was rather underwhelming. Some of the fights were pretty freak show with fights like Zuluzinho/Nogueira and some extremely mismatched fights such as Yoshida/Nishijima. The good thing is though that the opening round weeded out most of the ham and eggers and some much better fights and shows from the Openweight Grand Prix were to come later. Mild recommendation to avoid unless you are a Pride fanatic.
    Final Score:  5.0   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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    Jeffrey Harris
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