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The Tap Out Wrap-Up

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“The Tap Out Wrap Up”

Preview for Pride 24: “Cold Fury III”


Hi there, it’s your old pal Dave Dymond, and welcome to the Tap Out Wrap Up.


In this column, we’re going to be taking a look at the card for Pride 24: “Cold Fury III.” Before we do that, there’s an important fact I wanted to point out. You see, this show actually took place on December 24th 2002.


So, you might be asking yourself, WHY am I doing a preview for a show that already took place?


Well, although the show already happened, all PRIDE shows are broadcast on TAPE DELAY. The reason for this, is that PRIDE, and it’s parent company Dreamstage Entertainment are based in Japan. If they were to show their Pay Per Views live, they’d end up in the middle of the night in North America. Sometimes, Dreamstage shows the PPV the next day, sometimes they wait a couple of weeks. I can only assume that they waited so long to show this show because they figured people had better things to do on Christmas Day than watch an MMA show.


(In my case, I would have much rather watched a PRIDE show than spend the day with my family. Mind you, I’d rather watch MMA than do just about ANYTHING, and I’d rather do just about ANYTHING than spend time with my family…so I’m probably a bad example.)


Anyhow, the wait is over, and this Saturday, January 11th 2003 is the PPV broadcast premier of “COLD FURY III”.


I have to tell you, I prefer doing my predictions for UFC cards, because they go live. That way, I don’t have to avoid spoilers, and more importantly, people can’t accuse me of “cheating.”


I will tell you right now, and it’s up to YOU if you want to believe me or not…I DON’T READ SPOILERS! That would totally wreck the fight for me, so I don’t do it. The problem is, doing a prediction column for a prerecorded event is pretty much a “lose-lose” proposition for me.


If I come out with a GREAT Won-Loss record for my predictions, people will just assume that I cheated. If I get creamed, people will think I’m an idiot.


Either way, I’m going to go ahead and do a prediction column. I’ve never been afraid of looking like an idiot. I’m used to it by now.


Just so you know, the last two MMA Cards that I predicted, I went 5 Wins and 2 Losses for both. The last PRIDE show (Championship Chaos II) was a pretty solid effort too, so I’m hoping they can follow up on that with this show.


Let’s find out…



1st Match: Daijiro Matsui vs. Kazuki Okubo


I’m going to be kind, and say that this fight belongs as the opener. Daijiro Matsui is a former Pro Wrestler from UWF-I and Kingdom, and is experienced in the “worked shoot” style, which is all the rage right now in Japan. (At least to Antonio Inoki.)


Matsui’s record in MMA (6 – 10) is not pretty, but I’ll give credit where it’s due, when he fights he usually gives it his all, and has some big balls. He rarely submits (he’s only done it once) and he usually puts in a solid effort. He CAN win a big fight too, he holds a win over Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons, which is no small feat.


His opponent is a PRIDE newcomer, Kazuki Okubo is no stranger to MMA. He is a veteran of both RINGS and PANCRASE, so he knows his way around. He has a losing record in sanctioned MMA, (3-4) so I’m going to give this one to Matsui. Neither fighter is what I’d consider top level competition, but Matsui has been in there with much better fighters than Okubo.


I’m picking Daijiro Matsui to defeat Kazuki Okubo.


For time reasons, PRIDE usually picks one fight to cut out of the broadcast, and to be honest, I kind of hope it’s this one. Aside from giving a PANCRASE fighter a shot in PRIDE, I don’t really see a point to this fight.


2nd Match: Guy Mezger vs. Rogerio "Minotora" Nogueira


No…this is not a typo. The Pride Heavyweight Champion Nogueira is NOT fighting twice. Confused? You should be. The current PRIDE Heavyweight Champion is Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira.


He has an identical twin brother. His name is Rogerio "Minotora" Nogueira.


No, I’m not kidding.


Now, you can blame their parents for naming one son Rodrigo, and the other one Rogerio, but I don’t think their parents told them to take the same nickname, expect one goes by MinotaurO and the other MinotaurA. I don’t get it either, maybe it’s just a family tradition to screw with people’s heads.


Anyhow, there are two things you need to know. THIS fight features Rogerio, the brother who is NOT the champion, and who is also a bit slimmer, and is a Middleweight. The other thing you need to know is that his brother, the Heavyweight Champion is arguably the greatest Mixed Martial Artist on the planet today. So if skill is genetic, Guy Mezger is in some SERIOUS TROUBLE.


I am REALLY looking forward to this fight. Rogerio Nogueira has only fought in PRIDE once before, and he scored a very convincing looking win.


Then again, his opponent is no push over. Guy Mezger is a hell of a fighter. He has a so-so Won Loss record (25 – 14) but he has fought some of the BEST out there. He has given such great fighters as Sakuraba, Vanderlei Silva and Bas Rutten a SERIOUS run for their money. He is a former King of PANCRASE, and Ken Shamrock’s #1 prodigy from The Lion’s Den.


This is a PERFECT fight for both guys. Mezger is exactly the level of fighter Nogueira should be fighting in his second PRIDE fight. Not a main eventer, but a TOUGH fighter and no push over. If Nogueira can beat Mezger, he will show that he can hang with a veteran, and win a lot of respect. Meanwhile, if Guy wins, it will be a very high profile victory due to the Nogueira family name, and all the positive buzz around Rogerio. This is a tough match to call, and it could go the distance. As much as I respect and like Guy Mezger, I think the Nogueira genes run too deep.


I’m picking Rogerio Nogueira to beat Guy Mezger…but I’d be happy to be wrong.


3rd Match: Ron Waterman vs. Valentijn Ovreem


YES! Ron Waterman is BACK!


If the name Ron “H2O” Waterman sounds familiar to you, it should. Ron is a veteran of the early UFC, (7 – 1) who was scooped up by the WWE and signed to a developmental deal. The story on him is that he turned into one hell of a Pro Wrestler…but his mic skills were the shits. The WWE made the tough decision to cut him in a cost cutting move earlier last year…and rather than stay as a Pro Worker, Waterman returned to his first love, MMA.


Waterman got his feet wet again by competing in PANCRASE a few months ago, and now he’s ready to make his return to the big time with a fight in PRIDE.


His opponent is no joke. Valentijn Ovreem is a Dutch fighter, who combines two of the BEST styles out there…Kickboxing for his standup and Submission Wrestling for his groundwork. His record is a so-so 18-12, but much like Guy Mezger, he is only above 500 because he has tested himself against the BEST out there.


Despite my respect for Ovreem, I think Ron Waterman is a superior athlete, and has something to prove.


I’m picking Ron Waterman to defeat Valentijn Ovreem.


4th Match: Yuki Sasaki vs. Rodrigo Gracie


Well, THIS should be interesting. Yuki Sasaki is another VERY experienced fighter (13 – 6) from such great organizations as Shooto and PANCRASE, who is making his debut in the “big time.” This guy is tough. He beat Alex Steibling, and that’s no easy task.


His opponent Rodrigo Gracie is one of the young generation of the famous Gracie family, who are out to prove that the family legacy of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no fading art. The Gracie family originally took the MMA world by storm, but a lot of fighters have studied cross training, and come up with ways to beat the Gracie style.


I have to give big props to Rodrigo for taking such competition so early in his career, but Japanese fighters seem to do well against the Gracie family, and I think Sasaki has more experience. I haven’t seen anything from the young Gracie, and I HAVE seen Sasaki in Shooto, so I might be biased. We’ll find out…


I’m picking Yuki Sasaki to defeat Rodrigo Gracie.


5th Match: Norihisa Yamamoto vs. Alexander Otsuka


Somebody shoot me now. Ugh. Norihisa Yamamoto is a RINGS fighter (5 – 10) who was served up as one of Bob Sapp’s first victims, when he got knocked out in near record time, (less than three minutes.)


Speaking of VICTIMS, his opponent is Alexander Otsuka, a former Pro Wrestler. He has fought in PRIDE countless times, and RARELY wins. His record is (2-10). So what we have here is a battle of two Japanese fighters with BAD losing records. You know what I said about Ovreem and Mezger having tough records but against tough competition? Well that is NOT the case here. I can honestly say that I have rarely if ever been entertained by either of these fighters. I can only assume that the reason PRIDE booked them to fight each other is because SOMEBODY has to win. Unless they go to a draw, and bore everybody to death in the process. I don’t know WHY PRIDE booked this…there are so many better fighters who deserve a fight on such a high profile show.


This fight is a prime example of how Dreamstage Ent. lets Antonio Inoki’s Pro Wrestler fetish affect their bookings, and we as the North American MMA fans pay the price. (Mind you, if it wasn’t for a Pro Wrestler (in Takada), there wouldn’t BE a PRIDE, so maybe I should just shut up already.)


The one thing is, Otsuka has retired from Pro Wrestling to train exclusively for MMA, and in his last fight, (against Anderson Silva) his groundwork showed some serious improvement. I had picked Silva to DESTROY him, and he actually made the fight halfway interesting. So…


I’m picking Alexander Otsuka to beat Norihisa Yamamoto.


I don’t really care about this fight, so I can guarantee you that unless THIS is the fight PRIDE chooses not to show, I’ll be going to the bathroom, getting a snack, or doing my taxes during this fight.


6th Match: Alistair Overeem vs. Volk Ataev


Yes, it must be “brother” night, because Alistair Overeem is the brother of Valentijn Ovreem, who is fighting earlier in the night.


I don’t know anything about either fighter in this fight, so my prediction is going to be pretty much a guess. I DO know that Volk Ataev is RINGS veteran, and a Sambo expert, and is on the Russian Top Team. Those guys are TOUGH sumbitches.


Then again, Alistair Overeem is ALSO a RINGS vet, and a kickboxer…and I have to tell you that I think the combination of Kickboxing and hybrid-submission wrestling is the BEST standup/groundwork combo you could have. I bet this fight stays standing up based on the styles here, and it could be a real war. Due to my fondness for his fighting style…


I’m picking Alistair Overeem to beat Volk Ataev.


That could be a good fight.


7th Match: Murilo Ninja vs. Kevin Randleman


Damn. This is a classic case of me WANTING somebody to win…but thinking they probably WON’T.


Kevin “The Monster” Randleman (13 – 6) is on the comeback trail. He is a former UFC World Champion, who was on a bit of a losing streak in the UFC. He jumped to PRIDE, kicked his training up a notch, and has looked DAMN good so far. In his last fight he worked some CLASSIC “Ground and Pound” en route to beating Kenichi Yamamoto. I like his style…but he’s going to be running into a hot young Superstar in Murilo Rua (8-2).


Murilo Rua is a highly touted youngster from the Chute Box Academy in Brazil. He has already beaten one established veteran in Mario Sperry. He’s looking to rebound from a lackluster loss to Ricardo Arona, so my guess is he’ll be bringing his “A Game” and come at Randleman hard. He’s younger, and hungrier, but I’m going with my heart on this one…


I’m picking Kevin Randleman to beat Murilo Rua.


I know I’m in the minority on that one, but either way, American Wrestling vs. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu always makes for an interesting clash of styles and by definition shows what the Mixed Martial Arts are all about…so it should be a good one.


8th Match: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dan Henderson


The main event. This was SUPPOSED to be the champ, Nogueira against the number one contender Fedor Emelianenko. Unfortunately, Emelianenko had to pull out due to a training injury…leaving a big hole in the main event. Thanks to some clever booking, the hole has been filled.


As I said earlier, in MY humble opinion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion is hands down, THE best fighter in MMA today, PERIOD. He has it all, stand up skills, grappling, and he can submit just about anybody at any time. He has an almost perfect record.


Almost perfect.


He has lost only once in his career.


To Dan Henderson.


It wasn’t in PRIDE, (it was in RINGS) but it still can’t sit well with the champion. Dan Henderson is a World Class Wrestler, but he’s a Middleweight.


On Saturday, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira gets a chance to avenge his only loss, against the only man to ever defeat him in Mixed Martial Arts competition.


This should be an OUTSTANDING fight, for two reasons. It has the aforementioned MMA clash of styles with wrestling vs. Jiu Jitsu, and better yet, it has a GREAT backstory.


Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira wants to avenge his only MMA loss.


As for Dan Henderson, well…you can imagine what a win for him would do against the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion. The belt is not on the line, but Henderson knows this is the opportunity of a lifetime. If he wins this fight, he will go down in history as “having the number” of the greatest heavyweight in MMA today…and will be able to demand a fight with just about anybody.


As I said, I think Dan Henderson is one of the BEST fighters in MMA, and he is one of my favorites…but his win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was years ago, and I honestly don’t think the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion can be beat right now. His fight against Bob Sapp helped prove that. Dan Henderson is the polar opposite of Bob Sapp style wise, but that fight proved how TOUGH Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is, and the fact that he can find a way to win against anybody, and adapt his strategy mid-fight.


I’m picking Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to beat Dan Henderson and avenge his only loss. This should be a great fight, and with the conditioning of these guys, it could easily go the distance.



That wraps up my preview of “PRIDE: Cold Fury III”. Let’s recap my picks…


I’m picking Daijiro Matsui to defeat Kazuki Okubo.

I’m picking Rogerio Nogueira to beat Guy Mezger.

I’m picking Ron Waterman to defeat Valentijn Ovreem.

I’m picking Yuki Sasaki to defeat Rodrigo Gracie.

I’m picking Alistair Overeem to beat Volk Ataev.

I’m picking Kevin Randleman to beat Murilo Rua.

I’m picking Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to beat Dan Henderson.


PRIDE 24 is hardly the MMA card of the century, but the Waterman, Sasaki and Overeem fights should be interesting, and the Randleman and Nogueira fights have the potential to be very good.


So all that’s left is to watch the show on Saturday night, and then join me back here next week, to see how I did.


I hope you enjoy the show, and we’ll see you next week!


- Dave Dymond

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