With no live fights for a couple of weeks, now is a great time to revisit some epic battles from Japan’s PRIDE promotion. Here are 5 classic contests that have passed the test of time.
One the most iconic slugfests in MMA history took place in the Saitama Super Arena in 2002. Don Frye was the more polished mixed martial artist, whereas Yoshihiro Takayama was a hulking beast with a professional wrestling background.
No one could’ve predicted the way the fight would play out.
After an ice cold staredown, both men got to work in barbaric fashion. The majority of the fight took place in the space of a phone booth, and at one point both men grabbed each other by the back of the head while simultaneously pulverizing each other with power shots.
The action was ludicrous and Takayama’s face showed extreme damage. The Japanese fighter attempted a body lock takedown, but this resulted in Frye taking mount where he inflicted more damage until the referee stepped in.
Within seconds of the first bell, Kevin Randelman showcased his NCAA All-American pedigree and easily took down Fedor Emelianenko with a double leg. Emelianenko worked his way back to his feet, but was then slammed directly on his head by an explosive suplex from Randleman.
The slam looked like it would have killed a regular human being, but Emelianenko remained in the fight and hit a sweep on Randleman. From side control, Emelianenko locked in a Kimura and you can hear Randleman scream in agony before the tap out.
The hometown hero, Takanori Gomi, came out hot and immediately landed a takedown on Nick Diaz. The Japanese fighter rained down punches while Diaz threatened with submissions off his back. Once the fight became vertical again, Gomi dropped Diaz with a thudding right hook and pursued him to the canvas.
Diaz survived the following onslaught before the referee stood him up. Momentum shifted as Diaz started to land sharp peppering strikes while Gomi threw his body weight into his shots and swung for the fences.
As Diaz poured on the pressure, Gomi tried to take the fight to the mat but was immediately caught in a Gogoplata – one of the most uncommon types of submissions in MMA.
Seeking revenge after a TKO loss the previous year, Quinton Jackson got to square off with Wanderlei Silva again in 2004. This would become one of the most renowned rivalries in the history of the sport.
The fight started at a frenetic pace, but it was Silva who got the better of the striking exchanges. Jackson then leaned on his wrestling and dominated the rest of round one from top position.
Jackson landed a takedown at the start of round two, but got reversed. Once the fighters were on their feet again, Jackson seemed to have lost a step and Silva took over. The fight was finished by a savage clinch attack from Silva, which left Jackson unconscious and slumped over the ropes.
Two of Brazil’s most prominent fighters locked horns in Japan in 2005. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was perceived to be the better grappler, while Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was assumed to have the advantage on the feet – but things did not play out this way.
Nogueira had sharpened his boxing in preparation for the bout and he got the better of Rua in open space. After getting rocked and dropped, Rua opted to wrestle and there wasn’t much resistance to his takedowns from Nogueira.
Although the fight was competitive, the takedowns, top control and ground strikes from Rua earned him the decision victory.
Be sure to also check out my article: The 100 Best UFC Fights to Watch on Fight Pass