Pride 6 – 1997.07.04
Fight #1 – Carl Malenko (0-1/0-0) vs. Egan Inoue (6-4/1-0)
Kicking off the show once again with Egan Inoue, will we see him dominate the opening match again? Or will Carl Malenko put up more of a fight? I have no idea, I’ve never heard of Malenko, a ginger cousin of Dean perhaps, I don’t know. But as always, I’m interested in seeing what he brings to the table, and up for seeing how well Inoue does after his last performance.
Thoughts: A decent fight that was made entertaining by the decider round. Apparently there is a now a third five minute round if the previous do not have a decisive winner for the judges, this one went that way even though it probably shouldn’t have. Malenko shows his wrestling ability in taking Inoue down but from that point there isn’t much else, he stays in Inoue’s guard and throws punches every now and then to keep busy, but spends a lot of time protecting himself. He ground out the result, but did not look too good doing it. The third round however was full of excitement, and since the previous rounds don’t count now, both fighter s went for it; Inoue got the takedown, reversals, back to the feet, Malenko gets the takedown, rinse, repeat. He deserved it in the end, but hopefully we see a busier version of him in his next fight.
– Carl Malenko – A good wrestler, managed to stifle the attempts of Inoue to reverse his position and also defended the triangle choke that Egan came close to fully applying. Although he was good at maintaining control, his transitional ability was poor and ever attempt at advancing his position saw him back in full guard.
– Egan Inoue – Another fighter to have a great debut and then fall short in their next fight, there wasn’t much he could do about Malenko once he was on top of him, well not without making himself vulnerable. He went for it in the decisive round and could’ve won based off of that, but Malenko took him down too easily and controlled him much the same.
Result: Carl Malenko via Decision.
Fight #2 – Daijiro Matsui (0-0-2/0-0-2) vs. Carlos Newton (5-3/0-1)
Now this could be an excellent fight, Carlos put a great fight against Sakuraba despite losing, and Matsui had a great fight with Shoji that went to a draw. Matsui looked extremely frustrated in the fight against Kikuta so this one should wet his appetite, could be fight of the night. I’m hoping for some excitement after the previous fights opening rounds.
Thoughts: Wow! Fantastic fight, has to go down as one of my favourite fights of all time, brilliant. Definitely the most exciting fight that Pride has had so far. Just so much back and forth action with a high level of technique, a joy to watch. Both fighters looked great and even though the decision went against Matsui after the third (decisive) round, that fight must’ve made him a star in Japan. There were too many great moments to really talk about individually, Newton was a threat throughout the opening rounds with his arm bar attempts, but Matsui’s submission defence is immense and he escaped everything. Matsui just had this unbelievably aggressive style, always pressing forward, always moving, always looking to hit and kick his opponent in as much as possible. I can’t do this fight justice, go watch it.
– Daijiro Matsui – Had a disappointing fight against Kikuta, but I think that was mostly down to the tactics of his opponent, but he more than made up for it with this. Looks to be growing as a fighter, his stand up is getting better, and he is becoming much more aggressive on the ground. Unfortunate that this fight had to have a loser.
– Carlos Newton – To echo what the commentator said, “Just became one of my favourite fighters”. He’s got everything you’d need to be a successful MMA fighter (in my eyes anyway), fantastic ground game, improved stand up and has the power in his fist to really hurt his opponents. If it weren’t for the toughness of Matsui he could’ve ended it with a massive uppercut in the last round. Becoming one of those must see fighters alongside Sakuraba and Shoji.
Result: Carlos Newton via Decision.
Fight #3 – Igor Vovchanchyn (36-2/2-0) vs. Carlos Barreto (9-1/0-0)
I know nothing of Barreto, feel like I’ve heard of him but if I have it’s only vaguely. Igor though is on some fine form at the moment in Pride, beating two quality opponents in Goodridge and Shoji. Not sure we’ll the same game plan (against Shoji) from Vovchanchyn in this one as his opponent has a huge height advantage. I’d imagine Igor will want to get in close and trade blows.
Thoughts: Third fight in a row to go to the decisive round and a decision, and also the third fight in a row that was very close. Unfortunately, this was more in the mould of the first fight, with both struggling to overcome their opponent. Vovchanchyn had much better stand up, but I’m starting to realise he is just a methodical striker in nature and isn’t one to leap in with a flurry of strikes. It doesn’t lead to a good fight if his opponent is content circling and generally avoiding him without offering any offence, something that Barreto did very well. He did get a takedown in the second round and it was a bit of a role reversal with Vovchanchyn just hanging on to the Brazilian and doing nothing. The third round saw Barreto get a takedown and lay on top of Igor, but somehow the judges scored it for the Ukrainian. Strange decision, but I was disappointed with the fight and wasn’t too fussed who won.
– Igor Vovchanchyn – Employed similar tactics to the Shoji fight, walking his opponent down and throwing the occasional combinations. I think we need to see him fight fellow strikers if we are going to get an interesting fight, just seems too tentative against guys who would best him on the ground.
– Carlos Barreto – It took a warning from the referee for inactivity and stalling for him to really attempt anything in this fight and it probably gained him the second round as he started lighting Vovchanchyn up with kicks and secured a takedown. But his ground game didn’t look great when he was on top and he spent far too long just circling Vovchanchyn. Dudes got some long ass legs, would be an awesome Muay Thai fighter.
Result: Igor Vovchanchyn via Split Decision.
Full Contact Karate Rules Match – Hiroki Kurosawa vs. Nobuaki Kakuda
Something else that I’ve never seen, and much like the Gracie Jiu Jitsu sparring match at the last event, I’m sure this will be plenty entertaining.
Thoughts: Very interesting, fast paced, non-stop action. Didn’t have a clue what was really going as it’s pretty hard to keep up with. A pretty one sided fight though as Kurosawa seemed to land a lot more strikes. I think it was a draw at the end though.
Fight #4 – Akira Shoji (3-2-4/2-1-2) vs. Guy Mezger (22-8-2/0-0)
Just the fight the show needed after the Vovchanchyn/Barreto fight, something that will definitely excite and Shoji never fails to do that. Mezger, like many of the fighters from this generation, is someone I have heard of but I’ve not seen fight and I’m not entirely sure of what they are capable.
Thoughts: An interesting fight, but again it went to the decision and wasn’t the most dynamic. Shoji has been one of my favourites so far but with his last fight against Vovchanchyn and this one he has seened quite subdued, and I think it’s because it’s mostly stand up against strikers that have better technique and more experience than him. Mezger caused a lot of problems with his kick boxing and having the longer reach made it difficult for Shoji to engage him. That being said Mezger never truly seemed to go for the knockout and seemed content out scoring his opponent, which was probably his downfall. He won the first round with ease, controlling the pace with his striking and the occasional clinch work, and the second a lot of the same apart from Shoji scoring a takedown, Mezger escaped but Shoji unloaded a barrage of punches that probably won him the round and took it to the tie round. At this point Mezger seemed like he had gassed and after Shoji scored another takedown, albeit doing nothing with it, it wasn’t surprising to see him get the split decision.
– Akira Shoji – Looks to be struggling against the high level strikers, but he did get his chances at grappling and he was pretty subdued in the department as well. Not a good performance, and you could tell in Shoji’s expression at the end of the fight that he felt the same.
– Guy Mezger – Looks a great striker, lit up Shoji throughout the fight with lots of kicks. It’s a shame he had shin guards on, ala Pancrase, as a few of his kicks landed clean and they might’ve packed a bit more punch if they weren’t padded. Unfortunate with the loss, but if it means he’ll be more aggressive in his next fight and go for the KO, I’m happy.
Result: Akira Shoji via Split Decision.
Fight #5 – Gary Goodridge (9-7/2-2) vs. Naoya Ogawa (1-0/0-0)
Big Daddy returns! After missing out on Pride 5, he’s back in Pride 6 and I’m sure he’s ready to knock somebody out, will the debutant Naoya Ogawa be the victim? He followed up his last loss in Pride, at Pride 2 against Marcos Ruas, by KO’ing his next opponent. I’ve only vaguely heard of Ogawa, so not sure what to expect of him. Every Goodridge fight so far has had its excitement so hopefully this is no exception and for first time tonight, it won’t go to the judges.
Thoughts: Great fight with a frantic opening minute or two before Ogawa took control. Goodridge came out looking strong, throwing a lot of wild punches and knees, and basically blew his wad trying to knock out Ogawa. But the pro wrestler weathered the storm, secured a takedown and dominated from that point on with submission attempts and ground and pound. There was a great moment where Goodridge audaciously attempted a knee bar after gaining top position, but Ogawa managed to avoid it. It went to a second round but didn’t last long, a gassed Goodridge put up no fight for the takedown and looked to be too weak to prevent the key lock from Ogawa.
– Gary Goodridge – I love him because he always goes for the win, but strategically, it wasn’t the cleverest way to start a fight. But even so his mentality just makes him such an entertaining fighter to watch, he’ll always go for the win. The losses are racking up though.
– Naoya Ogawa – The fans loved this guy, like ‘Takada’ love this guy. He must be very popular in the pro wrestling world and I’m assuming the belt they strapped on him afterwards was from that side of his career. The wrestling and decorated history in Judo have made him a formidable grappler, he looked great in top control, mixed up his attacks, kept busy. Could be very good. Almost KO’d Goodridge with a left counter as well.
Result: Naoya Ogawa via 2nd Round submission (Key Lock) @ 0:36
Fight #6 – Kazushi Sakuraba (4-1-2/3-0-1) vs. Ebenezer Fontes Braga (10-3-1/0-0)
And following up the last exciting fight is one of the most exciting fighters Pride as to offer, Sakuraba. If you’ve been following this, you’ll know how much I love this guy, and if you’ve seen him fight I’m sure you do to. It seems recent events have switched from Japan vs. Gracie, to Sakuraba vs. Brazil. He seems to be taking on a lot of Brazilian fighters, and although I know nothing of Braga, I’m sure this will be a good fight.
Thoughts: Another great fight, and my love for the man continues to grow. Braga looked very good in this fight too, even in defeat. It started out with Braga causing a lot of problems with his Muay Thai skills, his high kicks and clinch work presenting Sakuraba with problems that he’s yet to face. But he got a couple of single leg takedowns and looked to be the superior grappler, and towards the end of the round he secured on odd looking arm bar that Braga fought off as much as he could before tapping.
– Kazushi Sakuraba – I’ve run out of superlatives for this guy, continues to improve and with him facing a variety of styles it will only better his abilities. Always get excited when his name pops up as the next match.
– Ebenezer Fontes Braga – Looked dangerous with his stand up, a good fighter. Well rounded as well as he kept himself busy on the ground in terms of blocking transitions and submission attempts. Bravely attempted to fight off what looked to be an odd, but painful, arm bar. Would like to see him fight again.
Result: Kazushi Sakuraba via 1st Round submission (Arm Bar) @ 9:23
*Frank Shamrock did an in-ring promo afterwards basically saying he wanted to fight Shoji and Sakuraba and such, the latter could be an amazing fight.
Fight #7 – Mark Kerr (10-0/4-0) vs. Nobuhiko Takada (2-2/2-2)
Another Takada main event, and after his shocking victory of Coleman, I really don’t know what to expect here. I would normally predict Kerr to dominate, on the mat and on their feet, but Takada obviously has the ability to tap the top level guys, so anything could happen. Kerr finally gets to fight a proper fight too.
Thoughts: This one was over pretty quickly, and it was a lot like the Coleman fight in retrospect. Takada could do nothing about Kerr’s takedowns but he did show improved ability to get back to his feet, it was obviously something he has worked on. But Kerr was too much for him, and after gaining side control he locked in a perfect Kimura on the injured arm of Takada (the one Rickson arm-barred twice) and it was over.
– Mark Kerr – Looked dominant once again and this time against a decent opponent, though there was still an obvious difference in talent. Kerr looked far more dangerous than Coleman, and seems to have a dangerous Kimura. This should propel him to a whole new level of popularity in Japan.
– Nobuhiko Takada – The guy has got a tonne of heart, every time I see him fight I end up supporting him and wanting him to overcome the odds, but this time his opponent was too much and it was over as soon as Kerr got side control. Decent effort though.
Result: Mark Kerr via 1sr Round submission (Kimura) @ 3:04.
Overall, a pretty good show that started out very slow, two pretty boring fights in Inoue/Malenko and Vovchanchyn/Barreto were either side one of the most entertaining fights I have seen between Matsui and Newton. They were the only two fights that weren’t that interesting, but that being said they weren’t on a Kikuta level of boring, they had action, they just didn’t have fighters doing all they could to get the win. Ogawa looks to be a Pride star in the making so I’m expecting to see a lot of him in the future.
Fight to Watch: Daijiro Matsui vs. Carlos Newton.