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PREVIEW for PRIDE 25: "Body Blow"

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“The Tap-Out-Wrap-Up”

Preview for PRIDE 25: “Body Blow”






Hi there, it’s your old pal Dave Dymond, and welcome once again to The Tap-Out-Wrap-Up.


In this edition, we are going to be taking a look at my predictions for this Sunday’s PRIDE show, “Body Blow.”


Those of you who read this column on a regular basis know that my predictions for UFC 41 a couple of weeks ago ended up as an under-whelming 2-5-1. This brings my prediction Won-Loss record for 2003 so far to 14-7-1. So, let’s hope I’m a little smarter this week.


Before I put on my giant turban and start making predictions, I would like to take the time to say thank you to three readers in particular: Lei Tong, Iain Liddle, and James Lawson. I got quite a bit of feedback from my UFC 41 preview and review columns, but these three guys gave me some very kind, well thought out advice. James Lawson gave me a good idea for a future column, and I just might take him up on his idea. Thanks guys.


Okay, enough BUTT kissing, let’s look at what we have in store this Sunday night…



Kenichi Yamamoto (Puroresu: 2-3)


Alexander Otsuka (Puroresu: 2 - 11)


Before I scream, and pull my hair out, I’d like to share something I wrote in my PRIDE 24 Preview, regarding the Alexander Otsuka vs. NORIHISA Yamamoto fight:


“…For time reasons, PRIDE usually picks one fight to cut out of the broadcast…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…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. 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…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…”


Then, I wrote THIS during my PRIDE 24 Review:


“…As I had hoped, PRIDE had MERCY on us and chose not to show this fight, since it was obviously of NO interest to North American MMA fans, just to the Japanese fans…Norihisa Yamamoto defeated Alexander Otsuka by a TKO (Leg Injury) after the first round…Damn Otsuka. Not only does he suck, he screws up my prediction record…”


So, my feelings on THIS fight? Second verse, same as the first. This is ANOTHER Otsuka fight…except THIS time, he’s fighting a DIFFERENT guy named Yamamoto, who ALSO has a losing record!


Once again, I don’t care about this fight, and once again, I pray to the MMA gods that PRIDE chooses not to broadcast this fight. I can only assume that this fight is for the benefit of the Japanese fans in attendance, and not for the Pay Per View fans at home.


You know, it’s not that I hate Otsuka. I don’t. But it’s not fair to HIM as a fighter to keep throwing him out there against this level of competition, only to have him lose fight after fight. Lets face facts. The guy hasn’t won a fight in THREE YEARS, and he has only won TWO fights throughout his entire career, which spans the last EIGHT years.


Do you think maybe they should tell him to go to Hook n Shoot, Shooto, or PANCRASE, or King of the Cage, or somewhere else, to get a couple of wins, and some confidence under his belt? Look at how UFC does things. They usually sign their fighters to 2 - 3 fight contracts. If a fighter loses all of the fights, they usually get dropped until they get a win streak going somewhere else, then they get invited back.


There are SO many fighters out there who would be thrilled to get the chance to get a shot at the MONEY and EXPOSURE that fighting for PRIDE would bring. Don’t these guys deserve a chance over a guy like Otsuka? I don’t know, maybe he has nude picture of Inoki or something.


I respect ANYBODY who has the heart to get into the ring. But enough is enough. I’m also a little annoyed, because I can GUARANTEE you that if I pick Otsuka to actually WIN, he’ll LOSE, and if I pick him to LOSE, he’ll knock Yamamoto out. Both of these guys are former pro wrestlers, so you can’t really pick a style and say one will prevail over another.


I’m going with the law of averages. He has to win SOMETIME, right?




I’m picking Alexander Otsuka to defeat Kenichi Yamamoto.



Shungo Oyama (Freestyle: 2-4)


Dan Henderson (Wrestling: 12 - 3)


I have seen Shungo Oyama fight in every one of his pro fights. He fought for King of the Cage early in his career, and then moved up to PRIDE. I feel badly for this guy, because he has NEVER had what I would consider an “easy” fight, and every one of his fights has been against a top-notch opponent. His losses are against Phillip Miller, Wallid Ismail, Ryan Gracie, and the MAN himself, Vanderlei Silva. Not many guys could beat that kind of competition, to be honest.


Last night, I re-watched his fight against Phillip Miller at KOTC 7: “Bombs Away”, to refresh my memory, as that was the only one of his fights that I had no clear memory of. It was a solid fight. Eddie Bravo also spoke of the intense amount of pressure that Oyama is under, in that he gets a LOT of press coverage in Japan, and gets heat from fans that are looking for the next big name Japanese fighter.


Unfortunately, he’s not going to get over on the amazing Dan Henderson. Henderson is one of the premier Mixed Martial Artists in the WORLD, and he is coming off a tough loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Dan Henderson may very well be the best of the new generation of classic wrestlers who now compete in MMA. “Hendo” also fought Vanderlei Silva, and took him all the way to a decision, believe it or not. In fact, that is the closest I have seen Silva come to losing since his run in PRIDE.


Henderson needs a big win right now, and I think Oyama is just what the doctor ordered. Oyama is no pushover, but I think Henderson has something to prove, and although Oyama is a gamer, and he has heart, I think Henderson is a notch above him, and will re-establish himself here. Anything else, would have to be considered an upset.


Having said that, this could be a good fight. You’ve got one guy desperate to PROVE himself, against a guy who should be desperate to WIN.


I’m picking Dan Henderson to defeat Shungo Oyama.



Alex Steibling (Integrated Fighting: 10-4)


Akira Shoji (Jiu-Jitsu: 9-8-5)


I have a LOT of respect for Akira Shoji. He’s the man the fans call “The Warrior Spirit” and he is ALL HEART. In fact, his LOSSES are almost more impressive than his WINS. Shoji is a PRIDE veteran, who has been around since the very first show, when he took Renzo Gracie to a draw. The man gives it his all every time he goes in there. You need look no further than his fight with Igor Vovchanchyn at PRIDE 5, his fight with Mark Coleman at the Grand Prix, or his fight with Jeremy Horn at PRIDE 18. They were all loses, but the man fought…well, with a “Warrior Spirit.” As far as WINS, he has beaten some big names, like Wallid Ismail at PRIDE 4, Guy Mezger at PRIDE 6, and Ebenezer Fontes Braga in the opening round of the Grand Prix.


His opponent, is an interesting character. Alex Steibling is a Hook n Shoot veteran, who took the MMA world by storm when he blew through the International Vale Tudo Tournament in Brazil in 2001. He won the whole damn thing, and was immediately brought into PRIDE, where he beat big names like Wallid Ismial and Allan Goes.


Then the wheels fell off.


You see, Mr. Steibling decided to dub himself “The Brazilian Killa” since he beat 6 Brazilian fighters in a row. Then at PRIDE 21 he ran into Anderson Silva of the Chute Boxe Academy, who hit him so damn hard, he split him open like a melon. It was one of the WORST cuts I have ever seen, and Steibling hasn’t won a fight SINCE. Some fighters, (boxers) will tell you stories about men who get knocked out, or hit hard, and it hurts them so bad, they are never really the same again. I’m not saying this is the case with Alex Steibling…but it COULD be.


This is a hard fight for me to pick. For most people, it wouldn’t be, because Steibling is a logical choice. But the intangible here is HEART. I KNOW Shoji has it, and I question Steibling’s heart since his beating at the hands of Silva. When I picked the Mir-Ortiz fight for the UFC, I knew in my BRAIN that Mir would win, but my HEART wanted Tank to defy the odds. That’s how I feel here. My intellect (such as it is) is telling me to pick Steibling, but my gut wants me to pick “The Warrior Spirit.” I screwed up my Won-Loss for UFC 41 by picking with my heart…but I don’t care. I respect both fighter, but I really WANT Shoji to win, so what the hell…


I’m picking Akira Shoji to defeat Alex Steibling.



Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: 5-1)


Kazuhiro Nakamura (Judo: 0-0)


Yes folks, it’s BROTHER NIGHT again in PRIDE, as the best in the world, PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira and his identical twin brother, Antonio Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira both fight on the same show.


So far, I have been very impressed with what I’ve seen of the lesser known of the two Nogueira brothers, Rogerio is one inch shorter and about 25 pounds lighter than his brother, and is making waves in the Middleweight Division, with wins over Yusuke Imamura at PRIDE 20, and Guy Mezger at PRIDE 24.


I know NOTHING about his opponent, Kazuhiro Nakamura. All I know, is that he is Judo Stylist, and a student of Japanese Olympic Gold Medallist Hidehiko Yoshida. So far as I know, this is his MMA debut. If this is true, holy crap, he’s in there tough! Then again, Hidehiko Yoshida has been no slouch in his MMA career so far. So, if the student is anything like his teacher, this could still be one hell of a fight, and the battle of Judo vs. Jiu-Jitsu should make for a great challenge of styles, I hope. That’s what MMA is all about, different Martial Arts battling for supremacy.


As you know, I’m the first one to bitch and moan about PRIDE booking Japanese rookies or unproven talent on PRIDE shows, but this is one case where I’m inclined to make an exception. Firstly, Rogerio is still a fairly new talent, so it’s not like booking him against an unknown rookie is totally inappropriate. Secondly, I enjoy watching the Nogueira Brothers fight so much, Rogerio could be taking on the guy who sells Ice Cream in the lobby, and I’d probably find it entertaining. I admit it. I am a total Nogueira mark. I love to watch these guys work their magic.


Having said that, it’s a little hard to predict a fight when you don’t know and have never seen one of the fighters, but since you have to give the edge to Nogueira in experience, and since he’s a Nogueira…


I’m picking Antonio Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira to defeat Kazuhiro Nakamura.



Carlos Newton (Dragonball Jiu-Jitsu: 11-6)


Anderson Silva (Muay Thai/ Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: 8-1)


Man, what a GREAT job these match makers did for this show. All the concerns that PRIDE had one foot in the grave with the suicide of PRIDE President Naoto Morishita in January have been put to rest. All of these fights are with guys who are SO well matched.


I have to tell you, I’m also a bit of a Carlos Newton fan, since he is from my hometown. Then again, Anderson Silva is from the super tough Chute Boxe Academy. Two different styles of Jiu-Jitsu. A guy who is on a roll in Silva, against a guy who is in the midst of a comeback in Newton. Silva looked bad in his last fight, when he had trouble with Alexander Otsuka, and couldn’t put him away, needing to go to a decision. Then, Newton looked dominating in his last fight against Pete Spratt, when he submitted him in under two minutes.


Hmmm. I gotta tell you guys, this one could easily go either way. I would have EASILY picked Silva, if he hadn’t had so much trouble with Otsuka. Also, Newton has tested himself against a much higher level of competition, since he fights for both PRIDE and UFC.


I have to give the edge to experience here…


I’m picking Carlos Newton to defeat Anderson Silva.



Kazushi Sakuraba (Hybrid Submission Wrestling: 14-4-1)


Nino “Elvis” Schembri (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: 2-0)


Got to give credit to Sakuraba. The man is the most popular Japanese fighter in MMA. He single handedly dismantled the Gracie Myth. Then he ran into the Vanderlei Silva express, twice. After getting injured badly, he comes back, and fights a HEAVYWEIGHT, Cro-Cop no less! He gets injured again. You can’t deny his guts.


Sakuraba must have finally figured out that he was going to get burned out if he didn’t regroup. After a fight with French (snicker) Jiu-Jitsu fighter at PRIDE 23, and a win, Sakuraba is once again fighting somebody his own size.


Nino “Elvis” Schembri is a hot rookie. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, who is undefeated, coming off two impressive wins.


This should be a good, solid fight. Sakuraba uses the natural toughness and submission wrestling he learned in the Union of professional Wrestling Force International, along with the showmanship and unpredictability that comes with it. A lot of people like to suggest that PRIDE has protected him, but I for one don’t buy it. I respect what the UWFI style has done for PRIDE, and I also KNOW that when he’s ON, Saku can beat a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter. The way I look at it is this: as good as Elvis is, he’s no Gracie, and since Saku proved that he could beat Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, I feel he SHOULD be able to beat Schembri.


This should be a great fight, and gotta love them sideburns on Schembri!


I’m picking Sakuraba to defeat “Elvis.”



Quinton Jackson (Wrestling: 13 - 3)


Kevin Randleman (Wrestling: 14 - 5)


This should be a WAR. Both these men are TOUGH.


Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is coming off the biggest win of his career, when he beat the outstanding striker Igor Vovchanchyn at PRIDE 22.


Kevin “The Monster” Randleman is in the middle of a GREAT comeback. After losing his last two fights in the UFC, the former champion switched over to PRIDE, and just like his friend, mentor and training partner Mark “The Hammer” Coleman, he had a career resurgence. Randleman is on a winning streak, and just beat the hot young fighter Murilo “Ninja” Rua at PRIDE 24.


I almost hate to see this fight, because I like both fighters so much. Still somebody has to win. I think that Jackson is younger, smarter, hungrier, and on more of a roll. So even though I like Randleman…


I’m picking “Rampage” to defeat “The Monster.”


But…I’d be happy with either one.



Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: 19-1-1)


Fedor Emelianenko (Sambo: 10-1-1)


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…in my opinion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is the best fighter in Mixed Martial Arts today, and I do not believe he can be beat.


Then again, if anybody COULD, it would be Fedor Emelianenko! Fedor Emelianenko earned this title shot, when he absolutely destroyed “The Texas Crazy Horse” Heat Herring at PRIDE 23. Emelianenko fights for the outstanding Russian Top Team, came up through the RINGS system, and fights with the tough to defend Russian “Sambo” Jiu-Jitsu style. He has wins over such big names as Ricardo Arona, Renato Sobral, and Semmy Schilt. I think he’s going to give the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion the fight of his life.




Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is the best in the world, and he’s on the top of his game right now. Since his arrival in PRIDE in July 2001, he has rolled through Gary Goodridge, Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, Semmy Schilt, Dan Henderson, and Bob Sapp. He can do it all. He can stand up, as he showed with Sapp, and he can’t be beat on the ground, as he showed with Henderson.


Make no mistake, Fedor Emelianenko deserves to be the number one contender. He deserves this shot. He is an outstanding fighter. But I still feel, that nobody can beat the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, and so…


I’m picking to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to defeat Fedor Emelianenko.


If both men fight to their potential, this could be and should be an early match of the year candidate.



That’s my preview of PRIDE 25: Body Blow.


If you are looking to get into Mixed Martial Arts, I recommend that you give this show a try. PRIDE is the number one MMA organization in the world, the Japanese fans are world class, and appreciate a great fight, the production values and announcing are first rate…and to be honest, there are SO many great fights on this card, you are practically guaranteed a great show with some very good fights.


You are going to have a chance at seeing the best fighter in the world, defend the most prestigious title in the sport. What more could you ask for?


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


- Dave Dymond

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