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Length: 206 mins
- Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic vs. Josh Barnett
- Ken Shamrock vs. Kazushi Sakuraba
- Makoto Takimoto vs. Dong Sik Yoon
- Sergei Kharitonov vs. Fabricio Werdum
- Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Hirotaka Yokoi
- James Thompson vs. Alexandru Lungu
- Murilo “Ninja” Rua vs. Murad Chunkaiev
- Zuluzinho vs. Henry “Sentoryu” Miller
Pilfering its subtitle from an obsolete WWF “B” Pay Per View, “Fully Loaded” is a bit of a misnomer for the event which was also in the thirtieth event staged by PRIDE Fighting Championship. You can always rely on some things remaining constant, however, like Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” video airing on Kerrang at least twice while you’ve got that channel on (regardless of how long for), adverts for a secured loan or IVA masquerading as “lower monthly payments” or serving to “write off debt you can’t afford to pay”, and Ken Shamrock whining & crying to anyone who’ll listen whenever he comes a cropper. Readeth ye on….
Emanating from PRIDE’s spiritual home, the Saitama Super Arena, on 23.10.2005, this event would mark Bas Rutten’s final bow on commentary, save for the briefest of periods in 2006 where bridges were mended, and subsequently reburned.
Going back to my initial statement, PRIDE 30 was something of a weak & uninspiring card on paper, and so it proved in practice. This is none moreso embodied than in the opening heavyweight clash, which is a complete & utter abortion: Henry Miller appears to have dropped his given name completely, going simply by his sumo name of “Setoryu” here. This was Brazilian beast Zuluzinho’s PRIDE debut, and second official MMA fight- his first being at Coventry Skydome, no less- although Ranallo mentioned that he claimed to be 37-0, or something. A lengthy delay early-on set the tone, as Sentoryu absorbed a low-blow, and the fight was subject to a confusing stoppage less than a minute after the restart, with Zulu landing a single knee-strike from the clinch, while Miller pulled his shorts down. Um…. okay.
The less notorious of the Rua brothers, Murilo “Ninja”, made short work of a fellow named Murad Chunkaiev in the second fight, despite falling victim to the first takedown & having to work to avoid an Oma Plata on the back. Indeed, the Chute Boxe man rolled neatly from a prone position on the mat to apply a heel hook, for the first round tapout victory, in the opening of a run of what can only be described as MMA-jobber matches.
I’m sure it all sounded inspired, humble, insightful (and all that jazz) to the Yanks & the Japs, but we who get Focus & Sky Sports Centre every week weren’t to be fooled: Brit James Thompson’s pre-fight interview came right out of the footballers cliche handbook. As in the opening fight, a whole lot of lumbering heavyweight not-a-lot occurred as “The Colossus” tussled with first-timer Alexandru Lungu: The Romanian landed one big right, in the first minute, that floored Thomson, and right away he appeared to be sucking air, turning his back and heading for his corner, for some reason. Thompson landed a few punches for the merciful stoppage. Certainly one to skip.
Next UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (cross every one of those fingers, people) made light work of Hirotaka Yokou, passing through the open guard mere minutes in, landed a slew of unanswered punches, before reverting to a standing position to land a couple of almost academic-feeling kicks to end affairs, leaving this reviewer crying into his cream soda for a competitive fight….
…. which I was hopeful would arrive as Top Ten Heavyweights Sergei Kharitonov & Fabricio Werdum stood in opposite corners. The latter is a prime example of one of the pitfalls for the prolific MMA watcher: his strength-thus-strategy works for him & breeds success (hence, he gets high-ish profile fights in the big leagues), but aesthetically pleasing, it is not. This three-round avocation proved a very cautious display from both. The story of the fight, in a nutshell, was Kharitonov’s prevailing reluctance to go to ground with Werdum, and Werdum’s hesitance to stand up and trade. The split decision victory that Sergei garnered likely stemmed from the resilient takedown defence he displayed throughout, as between both men attempting, and largely failing, to impose their respective will, there really was a lot of stalling to be seen. A complete style clash: fair an interesting study for connoisseurs of the sport, but entertainment value was thin on the ground.
The Russian & Brazilian big boys left some prevailing symptoms in the ring, caught as they were by the following cagey encounter between Judo practitioners Don Sik Yoon & Makoto Takimoto, again lasting the full 3 rounds, the sole highlight of which came immediately after Sik was yellow-carded for excessive stalling, which seemingly lit a fire under the Korean, who unleashed a barrage of strikes and took the fight back to the ground with authority. Alas, when the fight was re-started mid-ring, it was a case of as-you-were. Once again, for a student of the technical game, there were redeeming aspects to the fight, but in truth, neither man ever looked capable of finishing the other, and the native fighter predictably took the unanimous decision (hey, it is PRIDE, after all).
Here, the frolics beggineth; The big names of yesteryear hooked it up in the semi-main event and, in keeping with the early fights, it was a short and not-so-sweet affair. In the first meaningful exchange, Kazushi Sakuraba landed a solitary punch, visibly stunning old Kenny Shamrock, and the referee stepped in for a ridiculously premature stoppage, which Shammy, true to form, venomously refuted in the post-fight interviews. STOP PRESS! I’m usually the first to roll the eyes and say “Here we go again” whenever Ken decides to get on his high horse, but I reckon he was totally justified here; not so much in dismissing the justification for the call (he turned away from Saku and collapsed into the ropes), but the inference that the stoppage might not have been as quickly forthcoming had the roles been reversed. CONTROVERSY! Hey… at least it’s something noteworthy!
The main event, and long awaited rematch between Josh Barnett & Mirko Cro Cop, was an epitaph in keeping with the rest of “Fully Loaded,” in that it was prosaic & unexplosive, for the most part. Barnett’s gameplan centred around wearing Cro Cop out in the clinch, to the point that he himself was out of gas by the mid-point of round two, subsequently spending the remainder of the bout scrambling to keep a lethargic “Croatian Sensation” at bay whilst in the guard. Consequently, this was a tricky fight to score, utilising the DSE “start-to-finish” criteria, as Barnett scored significantly with knees to the inside-leg in the early stand-up, while Cro Cop passed guard and landed a couple of solid punch combos from the mount in the latter stages. Filopovic took the unanimous decision.
A blasé-looking card delivered on those very expectations, then. PRIDE 30 is dictionary-definition underwhelming. Save your pennies for when PRIDE 31 hits the shelves- as I recall, the line-up for that one was somewhat vapid, but once the guys hit the ring, they delivered a proper unexpected gem.
Points: 4 / 10