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Length: 299 mins
For MMA enthusiasts, SilverVision’s recent FightDVD releases have been a godsend. UK fight fans are finally able to get their hands on some of the best Mixed Martial Arts action from around the world, including a lot of older material that was never previously released here. I’m looking at one of these releases here, in the shape of the PRIDE 3 and 4 double DVD set. How does this set fare compared to some of the newer PRIDE action? Is it worth a look? It’s time to find out.
Taped from the famous Nippon Boudokan in Tokyo in 1998, PRIDE 3 comes to us from a time where PRIDE and Dreamstage Entertainment were still trying to establish themselves in the MMA game. We’re looking at a maximum of 4 ten minute rounds here, with the usual PRIDE rules in effect. As usual, our commentators are Stephen Quadros and the ever loveable Bas “El Guapo” Rutten. No pre-fight introduction this time, we start off straight with some action.
1. Daijiro Matsui Vs Akira Shoji
This is an appealing clash, due to the backgrounds of both fighters. Matsui trains with the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba, whereas Shoji is skilled in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Matsui also has in his corner Caol Uno, a man who’s made a name for himself in many parts of the world, for those keeping track.
The first round was dominated by Shoji, who managed to get into some promising positions during the course of the round. Matsui seemed keen to take Shoji to the ground early on, but Daijiro showed some nice takedown defence and ground defence when he finally was taken to the mat. Towards the end of the round, Matsui tried to dominate with some Ground and Pound, but there was never any real danger of the fight being stopped.
In the second round, Matsui continued to show some great ground defence, including a particularly impressive sweep bringing Shoji from behind into his closed guard. Matsui looked more dangerous compared to the first round though, as he manoeuvred Shoji into an awkward position towards the end of the round and attempted some Ground and Pound, but just like his previous attempt, the blows were never hard enough to cause major damage and end the fight.
In the third round, the generally uninspiring action continued. We saw a bit more stand up at the start of the round as both men looked reluctant to make the first move, but it was clear to see from their stances on their feet that neither man was entirely comfortable with their stand up game. Shoji is able to take Matsui down at will, but can’t finish from the ground as he seems content to lie on top. At the end of the round, Matsui took Shoji’s back and attempted a Rear Naked Choke, but time expired before he had a chance to get the hooks in.
In the fourth and final round, it seems clear that both guys were really quite gassed and it affected the quality of the stand up action. Neither man was throwing any dangerous-looking shots, nor were they able to get their hands up consistently and defend. Shoji continued to be able to take down Matsui, but due to his lack of Ground and Pound skill and Matsui’s excellent defence on the bottom, the fight was never going to be stopped. We had a Rocky moment at the end of the fight as Matsui nearly fell through the ropes after taking a punch, but still the match up continued.
In the end, time expired and there was no clear winner. Due to PRIDE’s policy at the time of not having judges to score the bout, it was declared a 40-minute draw. The fight went on too long with not enough action to keep me interested, and neither man really impressed with their offence. Matsui always looked calm and skilled fighting off of his back and Shoji looked impressive with his takedowns, but this was still far from a classic.
Daijiro Matsui Vs Akira Shoji finished in a draw (40 minutes)
2. Daiju Takase Vs Emanuel Yarborough
Well, this is certainly an intriguing match. Takase weighs less than 170lbs, and some of you might remember his defeat to Jeremy Horn at UFC 21. Yarborough is…well, he’s just a huge big ball of flab. Weighing in at over 600lbs and standing more than 6ft8 tall, he looks like he’d be more suited to a Jerry Springer special rather than competing in Mixed Martial Arts.
The first round was like something out of a cartoon, as Yarborough kept walking slowly towards Takase who kept sprinting around the ring using his speed to wisely stay out of reach of his opponent’s punches. It did genuinely look like Yarborough could pick up poor Takase with one hand and probably put him in a sandwich. Even at walking pace and only moving a few centimetres at a time, Yarborough was getting tired already and was drenched in sweat. Takase continued to run around like a hyperactive child, even throwing in a forward roll to avoid one of his opponent’s big paws. Listening to the commentary on this fight is hilarious as Bas and Quadros seem to be having the time of their lives watching this freakshow.
In the second round, Yarborough has more success and managed to paw at Takase for a second or two before the smaller opponent can run away. The referee decided that enough was enough and gave a yellow card to Takase for inactivity, which was a bit harsh when you consider the Japanese fighter couldn’t even reach up and hit Yarborough in the face, such was the size difference. Amazingly, this spurred Takase to try a single-leg takedown on the huge American. It’s hard to tell whether he succeeded or Yarborough tried to fall on top of his tiny opponent and squash him, but there was activity on the Richter scale in Tokyo when the big guy finally fell to the mat. As Quadros compared it to a scene from Jaws, Yarborough tried to grab Takase on the ground and pull him closer. Takase fought valiantly, punching at the massive flabby arm of the American and even trying for a Kimura. Somehow, one of his punches caught Yarborough on the side of the face, which caused him to start bleeding. Noticing his one chance of escape, Takase pounded away furiously with right hands until Yarborough covered up and the referee stopped the fight.
In terms of a skilled MMA competition, this was nowhere near acceptable. If you’re looking at it from the point of a really enjoyable freak show, it’s utterly hilarious and great entertainment.
Daiju Takase d. Emanuel Yarborough by referee stoppage via Ground and Pound (13 minutes 56 seconds)
3. Kazushi Sakuraba Vs Carlos Newton
Sakuraba is a legendary fighter in Japan, famous for taking on members of the Gracie family and beating them at their own game. Carlos Newton is a familiar face to all MMA fans, and a former UFC Welterweight champion.
The first round, as with the rest of the fight, is a very unique affair. Obviously I can’t say for sure because I wasn’t in Tokyo 7 years ago, but it seems like an agreement was made between both camps to avoid striking on the ground. There’s a whole ethical minefield regarding this decision that begs questions about whether this was truly in the spirit of Mixed Martial Arts, but I’ll leave that up to you. As for the round itself, there was some amazing groundwork from both men that was really enjoyable. Both guys looked comfortable on the ground, showed excellent defence and both tried numerous submission attempts. It was a pretty even round; perhaps Sakuraba looked a bit more impressive though due to his experience.
The second round is very much the same, as we continued to see nothing but top-notch ground work as both guys tried to improve their position and shot for numerous submissions. Eventually, Newton got caught in a Kneebar and had no choice but to tap out, ending an enjoyable match.
As I said earlier, this was a very unique fight but still very much an enjoyable one. It would be impossible to recap this in detail, as both men knew they could attempt a number of risky transitions and moves when normally they’d be punched in the face, meaning that there were a lot of changes in who was in the dominant position. A lot of BJJ fans would enjoy the work here, and I have to say that I enjoyed the fight too, despite the obvious lack of striking.
Kazushi Sakuraba d. Carlos Newton by tap out via Kneebar (15 minutes 20 seconds)
4. Gary Goodridge vs. Amir Rahnavardi
“Big Daddy” was coming off a loss to Marco Ruas at the last PRIDE show at the time of this taping, whereas Rahnavardi is an American fighter with a skillful stand up game.
The first round started with both men reluctant to make the first move, as each guy has great knock out power in their hands. Goodridge eventually gets the better of Rahnavardi from the clinch and takes him down with double underhooks. This leads to some impressive Ground and Pound from Goodridge, who always looks a danger due to his power in either his opponent’s guard or obviously in the mount. Rahnavardi tried for a couple of submissions, including a Kneebar and a Triangle Choke, but these failed attempts left him open for Goodridge to try and take his back. That lead to Goodridge being on top in an awkward position where he rained down with punches until the fight was stopped and awarded to “Big Daddy”.
This was a pretty short, one sided fight that made Goodridge look very impressive. Both guys showed good stand up work and Goodridge is a monster when his opponent is on his back, so fans of the man from Trinidad and Tobago will certainly enjoy this match.
Gary Goodridge d. Amir Rahnavardi by referee stoppage via Ground and Pound (7 minutes 22 seconds)
5. Mark Kerr Vs Pedro Otavio
Mark Kerr is an American Ground and Pound expert, while Otavio is a veteran Brazilian fighter who featured heavily in a lot of mid to late nineties Vale Tudo.
Unsurprisingly, the fight started with Kerr getting the takedown right away. He managed to use his power to hold down Otavio, occasionally getting in some shots to the body, before moving into side control and locking in a Kimura very quickly. The referee stopped the fight before Pedro tapped out, which angered the Brazilian. Could he have escaped? Perhaps, but Kerr never looked in any danger during the very short duration of the fight, so it might have just been a case of ending it sooner rather than later.
This was a really short fight that had a controversial ending, but Kerr still looked very dominant. It was easy to tell he was one of the best heavyweights in the world around this time.
Mark Kerr d. Pedro Otavio by referee stoppage via Kimura (2 minutes 15 seconds)
6. Kyle Sturgeon Vs Nobuhiko Takada
Takada was an important name at the beginning of PRIDE, with some high profile matches against big names at the start of the company’s life. Sturgeon is an American kick boxer, making his first and last MMA appearance.
In the first round, Sturgeon started off with some very impressive kickboxing, even knocking Takada off his feet with a high roundhouse. You could see from his cautious stance and the fact that he was attacking Takada from angles that he was experienced in striking. However, after some leg kicks from Takada, Sturgeon decided to take the fight to the ground in a puzzling decision. Whatever ground skills he thought he had were pretty much non-existent here as Takada gets him into his own guard. Pardon the fish pun, but Sturgeon floundered on the ground showing very poor defence before Takada put him out of his misery with a heel hook for the submission win.
Sturgeon was totally out of his depth here against a reasonably talented Mixed Martial Artist, and he just couldn’t cut it outside of his confident stand up work. A total squash.
Nobuhiko Takada d. Kyle Sturgeon by tap out via Heel Hook (2 minutes 20 seconds)
So that does us for PRIDE 3. Not an excellent show to be perfectly honest, but still a few bright spots. How does the second disk compare?
Again, we’re looking at an early PRIDE show from 1998 with Stephen Quadros and Bas “El Guapo” Rutten on commentary. This was also taped in Tokyo, but at the Tokyo Dome this time. The fights are 3 rounds of 10 minutes each, with the regular PRIDE rules in operation here.
1. Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Gary Goodridge
Vovchanchyn is a Ukrainian kick boxer, and Goodridge fought on the previous PRIDE card which comes with this disk.
The first round started with Goodridge using his strength to take Vovchanchyn down early, as he obviously didn’t want to stand with such a talented striker. Without much action on the ground, Vovchanchyn somehow managed to get cut from the eye which made his face look a mess despite him taking next to no damage. Igor managed to stand up only be to taken down again, but for the second time Goodridge couldn’t take advantage with Ground and Pound. That time when Igor stood up, he managed to avoid the takedown and hit “Big Daddy” with some punches which rocked his opponent. The referee stepped in and ended the fight, to which Goodridge didn’t seem too pleased about.
This was a totally forgettable fight which didn’t allow much time to get going. It was probably stopped too early and very little blows were traded. It was still a big win for Vovchanchyn though.
Igor Vovchanchyn d. Gary Goodridge by referee stoppage via punches (5 minutes 59 seconds)
2. Akira Shoji vs. Wallid Ismail
Shoji was on the earlier disk, Ismail is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist.
Early on in the first round, Shoki took Ismail down with a takedown and stayed on top for much of the duration of the round. Both men looked too busy trying to adjust their position rather than focusing on striking, so neither fighter took a whole lot of damage. Before the bell sounded, Ismail managed to turn the tables and get on top of Shoji for a brief period of time. Shoji managed to push off though and fought off his back until the end of the first.
In the second round, Shoji immediately knocked Ismail off his feet with a flurry of punches, and while he survived that barrage, seconds later he was back in the same position taking shots, which caused the referee to stop the fight. Again, perhaps it might have been called too early but Shoji did connect with some big lefts and rights which put Ismail in big trouble.
Neither fighter looked entirely convincing on the ground, as there were several windows of opportunities where at least one of the two could have started raining down punches. Not really an impressive showing for either man.
Akira Shoji d. Wallid Ismail by referee stoppage via punches (11 minutes 28 seconds)
3. Sanae Kikuta Vs Daijiro Matsui
At the time of the show’s record, Kikuta was coming off a submission loss to Renzo Gracie. Matsui also featured on the other disk in this set, PRIDE 3.
In the first round, Kikuta took down Matsui on three separate occasions, yet failed to do any damage with some Ground and Pound from either in his opponent’s guard or in the side mount. Towards the end of the fight, both men were on their feet and had an opportunity to cause some problems to their opponent. However, neither man’s stand up looked up to much, and the dull round drew to a close without any substantial damage done via striking.
At the beginning of the second round, Kikuta again took down Matsui and got into his half guard early on. Matsui almost fell to a Guillotine Choke attempt from Kikuta, but he couldn’t get it cinched in. Both men then traded positions on the ground with no real skill shown by either man until the round finished.
The third round was no better, and started with Kikuta getting double underhooks and taking his opponent down. Matsui again escaped an attempted Guillotine Choke and this time managed to get on top of his opponent in his half guard. With a chance to finish the fight, Matsui showed some disappointing Ground and Pound that never put the fight in jeopardy, and a draw was called at the end of the 30 minute time limit.
I don’t know if people will think I’m lazy because I described a 30 minute fight in only a handful of sentences, but I can assure you that there honestly wasn’t much to write about. Very little action here, both men failed to impress with their stand up or ground work and again we got another lacklustre fight.
Sanae Kikuta Vs Daijiro Matsui finished in a draw (30 minutes)
4. Kazushi Sakuraba Vs Allan Goes
This is an interesting backstory. Sakuraba defeated Carlos Newton on the last show, and is famous for his ability to beat members of the Gracie family, famous for pioneering Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. And wouldn’t you know it; Allan Goes is trained in BJJ.
The first round was evenly contested, with both men looking competent in their ground work. As expected in a match between these two, there was very little in the way of stand up action here, with by far the majority of the fight taking place on the ground. Sakuraba got a single leg takedown early on and tried some Ground and Pound, but Goes did well to get out of that dangerous position. Later on, Goes managed to take Sakuraba’s back and try for a Rear Naked Choke, but “The Gracie Killer” escaped and the round ended not long after.
At the start of the second round, Sakuraba got the takedown again, but struggled to get out of Goes’ Butterfly guard which he used to full effect throughout the fight. Sakuraba started bleeding from the nose, most likely from a punch he took while Goes was on top of him, which was countered with a failed Armbar attempt.
In the final round, it was clear that both men were gassed as they had been working hard to stay on top for half an hour at that stage. Goes fought off his back very well in this fight, and made it hard for Sakuraba to get any leverage on him and start throwing bombs. The fight drew to a close as Goes kept throwing kicks from the ground at a visibly exhausted Sakuraba, meaning yet another draw.
This was a mildly entertaining fight for those who enjoy solid groundwork. Both men are obviously very talented at what they do, and those looking for a stand up war would be suited to look to other fights. As expected, this was a very close match and both men gave good showings of themselves, leading to a reasonably entertaining bout.
Kazushi Sakuraba Vs Allan Goes finished in a draw (30 minutes)
5. Yuhi Sano Vs Satoshi Honma
Sano is a Japanese submission fighter who lost to Royler Gracie at PRIDE 2, Honma has a history in karate and has fought in K1, so he’s obviously got some dangerous stand up.
Honma started the first round looking very impressive in his stand up, scoring score big right jabs and even working knees out of a Muay Thai clinch. Somewhere along the line Sano got busted open by some strikes from Honma, who also started to throw in some inside leg kicks to his opponent as time went on. The fight was stopped briefly to clean up the cut of Sano, whose face looked a complete mess towards the end of the round. After knocking Sano off his feet with some right hands and knees, Honma got on top of his opponent and started the Ground and Pound. It wasn’t long before the referee stepped in to end the fight and award the win to Honma.
This was a bit one sided, but Honma looked very impressive here. Both men had decent stand up skills, but Sano was just blown away by his superior opponent on the night. This was a thoroughly enjoyable fight and worth checking out to see Honma look like a million bucks.
Satoshi Honma d. Yuhi Sano by referee stoppage via Ground and Pound (9 minutes 26 seconds)
6. Marco Ruas Vs Alexander Otsuka
Ruas is a legendary Mixed Martial Artist who pioneered his own fighting style, Otsuka was a relative unknown at this point, but this match would be the highpoint and defining moment of his career.
At the start of the fight, Otsuka looked very wary of Ruas and kept his distance from his opponent’s unquestionable striking power. At one point towards the end of the round, Otsuka was in Ruas’ Butterfly guard and attempted a Kimura, but was swept beautifully onto the bottom with Ruas in the mount. Otsuka did well not to create distance between himself and his opponent so that Ruas could start raining down with big punches, but eventually gave up his back. Before Ruas could lock in the Rear Naked Choke, Otsuka was saved by the bell and the round ended.
Into the second round, Ruas was looking a bit gassed after giving a lot trying to put Otsuka away beforehand. Otsuka worked some knees from the clinch until he was able to get the takedown and get into Ruas’ half guard. From there he caused some major damage with a fury of some big shots to the face, which actually opened Ruas up. The referee was looking like he might stop the round due to the punishment Ruas was taking, but the round ended before a decision could be made. As both men were set to come out of their corners for the final round, Ruas refused to continue and Otsuka was awarded the huge upset win, which Quadros and Bas called the biggest upset in PRIDE history.
This wasn’t a classic match, but it still plays a very important part in the history of both men. For Otsuka, he’d fail to capitalise on the huge win and fade back to obscurity within a short time, while for Ruas it signalled that time may be coming to an end on his impressive career. The match itself isn’t anything special, but it does play a reasonably big part in PRIDE’s history.
Alexander Otsuka d. Marco Ruas by tapout after he could not continue (20 minutes)
7. Mark Kerr Vs Hugo Duarte
Kerr defeated Pedro Otavio on the previous disk, while Duarte had recently lost to Tank Abbott in UFC 17 at the time of PRIDE 3.
In the first round, there wasn’t a whole lot of action. Kerr was obviously a danger with him Ground and Pound, so Duarte did his best to keep well away from his opponent, often fighting off of his back. At one stage in the round, he found himself underneath Kerr, so Duarte tried his best to get out of the ring to avoid being hit, causing the referee to give a warning.
It was the same again in the second round, as Duarte did his best to avoid Kerr at all costs. After a takedown, Duarte was cut above the eye and the match was halted briefly so he could get it taken care of. After another takedown by Kerr, Duarte’s cut still continued to bleed heavily and once again the fight was temporarily halted so work could be done to it. Kerr managed to dominate the round though, as he stayed on top for the most part and got in some big body shots.
The third round was a very strange affair. Duarte decided for some reason to drop straight to the ground, and refused to fight. This led Kerr to walk away from his opponent, yet Duarte stayed lying on the ground. Eventually Kerr goes back and gets on top of Duarte, who sticks his body outside of the ring to avoid being hit for the second time in the fight. The referee warns him, and attempts to restart the fight in comical fashion, as Duarte keeps falling to the ground every time the referee tells him to stand up and fight. Finally, Kerr gets back on top of Duarte, who again leaves the ring to avoid being hit, causing the referee to disqualify him and award Mark Kerr the victory.
This was just a crazy match. Duarte is obviously a talented guy who is capable of fighting amongst the best, yet here he acted like he didn’t want any part of Mark Kerr and did his best to avoid fighting. Was it mind games that went wrong causing him to be disqualified? Was he genuinely hurt and too proud to throw in the towel? We’ll never know, but this is a very strange match with not a long of action.
Mark Kerr d. Hugo Duarte by disqualification (24 minutes 13 seconds)
8. Rickson Gracie Vs Nobuhiko Takada
Gracie is a BJJ master from MMA’s most famous family, while Takada beat Kyle Sturgeon on the last show by heel hook.
The first round started off with Gracie working the clinch and trying to use knees to Takada’s body. Takada eventually got a takedown but Gracie showed excellent groundwork as expected and expertly manoeuvred into the side mount, then from there into the full mount. As Takada tried to push him off back to the side mount, Gracie caught his arm in an Armbar and gets the tapout.
As you’d expect from a Gracie, Rickson showed brilliant control on the floor and fully deserved the victory. The fight isn’t worth watching apart from witnessing Gracie’s masterful ground tactics for those learning BJJ.
Rickson Gracie d. Nobuhiko Takada by tapout via Armbar (9 minutes 30 seconds)
As with all PRIDE DVDs, there are a few extras to be found on both disks.
- What is Pride?
A puff piece here to promote the company, as everyone from Royce Gracie to Bill Goldberg gives their thoughts on PRIDE and why they love it. Again, nothing more than filler is to be found here.
- PRIDE Rules
A nice introduction to those more used to the UFC rules, as we’re given a fifteen-page overview of rules that are in place in the promotion. Helpful for MMA beginners too.
- Fight Glossary
This is a very basic look at some of the terms used in MMA. Not much here that you wouldn’t know already, but could be of some use to a PRIDE or Mixed Martial Arts newcomer.
- Photo Gallery
Each disk has a different set of photos from the show it represents. Unlike some of the modern PRIDE DVD releases, there are no behind-the-scenes photos which is a bit of a disappointment, as it’s always fun to find out what the fighters got up to backstage. Still, if you’re looking for high-quality snaps of the show’s action, this is the place to find it.
I don’t think anyone would claim that this double disk set is an essential purchase. I wouldn’t come anywhere near this if I was looking to get into PRIDE or find out more about the current product. This is more suited to the established PRIDE/MMA fan who would like to have a look back at how the company looked when it first got started. There’s a lot of rubbish on these disks, and the lack of judges really puts a damper on things with so many draws, but you’ll still find one or two entertaining matches in the set. These two shows are certainly not two of PRIDE’s best efforts though.
PRIDE 3: 4 / 10
PRIDE 4: 4 / 10
Overall Rating: 4/10