Watching Pride FC: Pride 1

I recently subscribed to UFC Fight Pass, and decided that instead of randomly watching stuff, I'd try to work my way through an entire promotion's tape library. And I'm starting with Pride Fighting Championship from Japan. I loved Pride back in the day, but never really got to see much of it in "real time" instead having to rely on the DVDs that eventually came out after the promotion went out of business and was purchased by UFC. But even at that, I've probably seen maybe 10 total Pride events, so this is a chance to work through the history of the entire promotion. Similar to how I did my reviews of the UFC 100 Greatest Fights ( these reviews are going to be entirely from memory as I'm not taking notes while watching.

Pride 1:

 Kazunari Murakami vs John Dixson: These 2 guys are about 15 weight classes apart and Dixson looks like he's eaten several smaller fighters. Dixson is completely outclassed and Murakami quickly slaps on the Ronda Rousey armbar and Dixson can't tap fast enough.

Gary Goodridge vs. Oleg Taktarov: This was the most fun fight on the show, as they got a-clubbering. Goodridge put Taktarov down several times and in UFC today, this fight would have been stopped much earlier than it was. Around the five minute mark, Goodridge smacked Oleg in the side of the head with a punch and Oleg dropped like he'd been shot. Good fight.  

Renzo Gracie vs. Akira Shoji: This wasn't much of a fight, but it told a better story than most pro-wrestling matches these days. Gracie was the far more skilled fighter, but Shoji was this wily, cagey dude who kept finding ways to avoid submissions against his more skilled opponent. The crowd ate it up. The fight ended in a draw, but Shoji got the moral victory in the eyes of the fans.  

Koji Kitao vs Nathan Jones: Kitao was a former sumo grand champion and Jones was a former WWE/WWF wrestler. Kitao muscled (??) Jones to the ground and keylocked him pretty fast. \

Branko Cikatic vs. Ralph White: For some reason not explained in commentary, this was a kickboxing match, not an MMA fight. Early in the fight, Cikatic put White on the ground and used his shin to kick White in the head, resulting in White GROWING ANOTHER HEAD ON HIS HEAD. The match was ruled a no contest in less than 2 minutes.
Kimo Leopoldo vs. Dan Severn: In the annals of MMA history, this match doesn't get nearly enough credit for being BORING BEYOND ALL BELIEF. Basically 30 minutes of the two guys dancing around each other and landing few punches. The last 10 seconds were pretty energetic. The other 29:50 were so bad the commentators were actively burying the match.  

Rickson Gracie vs.  Nobuhiko Takada: Gracie was, of course, a Gracie and Takada was a top Japanese pro-wrestler at the time. The commentators didn't give Takada much chance at all, and they were entirely correct as Gracie got him down and submitted him within five minutes.

As a show it was ... fine. The glory days of Pride were still ahead, but this show was in a lot of ways like the early days of UFC - wacky rules, no weight classes, and a fair bit of strangeness. Not worth going out of your way to see except for historical reasons.


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