Every year, Pride's New Years Eve affair is something to behold. The special effects, fighters, and match ups always seem second to none.
Plus the crowd is always electric, and the feeling is infectious.
But would things feel any different this year in light of Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic's recent UFC defection?
Read on to find out.
Shinya Aoki vs. Joachim Hansen
Hansen starts things off by landing a hard low kick; unfortunately for him, he loses his balance and falls to the ground. Aoki follows him to the ground and ends up in his opponent's half guard. Hansen does a nice job of sweeping him and getting to a standing position, but Aoki keeps contact and takes him down again.
Aoki gains side mount. Moments later, Hansen achieves the butterfly guard; then he transitions to full guard.
All the while, Aoki is landing some good shots. Aoki stands and then attacks Hansen again, falling into half guard. Then Hansen turns around, giving Aoki his back.
Aoki transitions to an armbar. Boy is this guy fluid on the ground.
Somehow, though, Hansen gets out of the predicament and finds himself in Aoki's full guard (really a rubber guard).
Aoki transitions into an interesting submission from his back that works much like a triangle choke (the underneath foot went under his neck, not over it, though).
The referee steps in. Why? Simply because Hansen is out cold.
This guy is definitely someone to watch.
Aoki wins via a unique version of the triangle choke at 2:04 of the first round.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura
Shogun starts strong with a knee and then a bunch of kicks. Nakamura tries to return fire, but is wholly unsuccessful. Rua tries to foot sweep Nakaumura while in the clinch.
Soon after, Rua puts him up against the ropes and nails him with several knees to the body in a row.
The referee separates them.
Rua tries a high kick that doesn't land. Then they clinch again. Rua runs him into the corner and is unsuccessful with two takedown attempts. Then they separate for a moment to the center of the ring. Nakamura throws a couple of punches that miss, and Rua lands a right.
Then back into the ropes with Rua pressing.
Rua lands a right; Nakamura answers with his own. Then they separate to the middle of the ring where Nakamura lands a hard straight right and a jab.
Rua answers with a kick to the midsection. They clinch and Nakamura tries a throw, but Rua sweeps him to the ground.
Rua has him in side mount.
Rua is going for an arm triangle from half guard; then he gains full mount, but doesn't really have the old sunk in. In fact, Rua looks rather weak tonight. Commentator Frank Trigg indicates that the Chute Box fighter might be feeling the effects of travel or sickness.
Then Nakamura scrambles to his feet but ends up in the corner again taking knees.
They separate, and Rua lands a double leg kick. But when they clinch again, Nakamura lands a knee.
Rua achieves a body lock and brings Nakamura to the ground. From there he transitions from full mount to side mount.
Then Nakmura scrambles to his feet again. The two trade punches with Nakamura getting the better of the exchange.
Then they clinch again, and Rua takes him down (ends up in Nakamura's half guard, then transitions to side mount).
Once again Nakamura gets up. While he gets to his feet Rua snakes around his back while standing in the corner.
Nakamura turns into his opponent and fights off a takedown attempt (who has a full body lock). The referee separates them.
Nakamura lands a hard left- right combination and then the two clinch. Rua hits him with a couple of knees and then takes him down. Nakamura ends up fully mounted.
Rua goes for another head choke (arm triangle) but doesn't get it. Then Nakamura turns around and gives Rua his back (both hooks are in). Rua lands a couple of punches to his head. Then comes the choke, but Nakamura gets out of it (he pushes the elbow up).
Then Rua loses his back, but mounts Nakamura again.
Nakamura turns him over. Then Rua turns him over (this all happens quite quickly, a nice set of moves by both). Eventually Rua gets to Nakamura's back again, but seems unable to do anything with the position.
Eventually Nakamura turns him over, stands up, and starts trying to penetrate Rua's defenses while on his back.
Then the bell. Interesting that this new commentator seems to be giving Nakamura too much credit. He's game, but is clearly losing the fight (and Trigg keeps gently trying to tell him that). He clearly needs a little more experience calling MMA fights.
Rua jabs; but Nakamura gets the best of the exchange with a hard right.
Then Rua once again runs him into the corner.
There he lands some knees.
This time Nakamura trips Rua to the ground (great takedown). Though Rua succeeds in getting to his feet, he takes some knees in the process. Then the two trade punches in the center of the ring with Nakamura getting the better of the exchange.
Rua again presses his opponent into the corner; moments later the referee breaks them up.
Rua lands a knee. Nakamura lands two strikes and tries to take Rua down.
Doesn't work, but Rua's counter takedown trips Nakamura to the mat.
Rua has him in side mount and lands a couple of mild shots. Nakamura spins out of the position. Rua comes to his feet and lands a hard stomp to his opponent's face. Moments later they're both on the ground again.
Rua ends up in Nakamura's half guard. Soon after he gains full mount. Rua hits him with several relatively useless shots to the face.
Once again Nakamura turns and gives up his back to Rua. Rua gets his hooks in, but it's clear at this point that he cannot pull off the choke he wants to.
Nakamura turns things around and ends up on top.
That's how the round ends.
Nakamura starts things off swinging. He moves Rua with these shots even if most of them are blocked. Then Rua presses him into the corner, and the referee separates them.
Any of this sounding familiar?
Nakamura attempts a kick, but Rua catches it and takes him down. Rua gains the full mount position; Nakamura turns around and gives up his back (again, any of this sounding familiar?). Soon after, Nakamura is mounted. Somehow the Japanese fighter scrambles to his feet.
And then gets taken down again. Nakamura has him in his guard.
The referee moves them to the center of the ring.
Rua stands and lands a head stomp; after some scrambling they both end up on their feet.
Nakamura takes him down but then stands up.
Moments later, Rua takes Nakamura to the ground. He achieves side mount and lands a knee to the head, followed by two to the body. Then Rua puts his right knee on his opponent's ribs and lands a couple of lefts.
Rua gains full mount again.
Rua stands up and goes for a big stomp that misses.
Then they're both standing.
The two trade a bunch of blows with Nakamura getting the better of it.
Then the bell.
Rua clearly won the fight but did not look as good as he normally does. In fact, a man that never looks tired looked tired.
Rua wins via unanimous decision.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
“Melendez believes that he will defeat me; but in all reality, I will beat him.”- Kawajiri
This one starts fast.
Melendez lands a jab: both fighters immediately are throwing hard punches. Melendez clinches and presses Kawajiri into the ropes. They break from the ropes and go to the center of the ring.
Kawajiri gets hit with a jab but lands a hard right that staggers Melendez.
Melendez recovers and lands a hard right, then a jab. Kawajiri once again nails him with a hard right that floors his opponent.
The Japanese fighter follows him to the ground.
From the north- south position, Kawajiri lands some knees to the head. Mlendez stands up while being pressed into the corner.
Kawajiri somehow got cut on the left cheek. They stop the fight to take care of it. Meanwhile Melendez gets a yellow card for grabbing the rope (in all likelihood, anyway).
When they start back up, Melendez lands a right that floors Kawajiri for a brief moment (he gets up immediately). Then they trade punches with Melendez getting the best of things. The two clinch, and Kawjiri gets a takedown.
Melendez really makes him fight for it, though. He's got some superb balance.
Then Melendez gets up, presses Kawajiri into the corner, and lands some knees. Melendez seems to have his leg in the corner, but lets it go and begins to land some knees. Then the referee separates them.
The two are just trading every chance they get. Then they clinch, and Melendez successfully lands some knees to the body.
Then they trade again. This is a great fight. Every punch is being thrown with bad intentions.
Melendez takes Kawajiri down to a sitting position in the corner, but Kawajiri gets up easily.
The two are locked in the corner. Kawajiri goes for a takedown, but Melendez reverses things and ends up on top.
No matter; they both scramble to their feet once again. Then they trade punches again. Kawajiri lands a solid left in the exchange.
Melendez goes for a single leg and they both go to their knees. Then Melendez snakes around to his back. Melendez has the hooks in.
Then Kawjiri turns things around on him and gets a takedown in the corner of his own. Moments later Kawajiri gets a headlock and starts raining knees into Melendez's head.
Then they end up in a strange position. Kawajiri has him in a headlock, but Melendez (still in the headlock) achieves side mount and then ends up in Kawajiri's guard (almost like he wanted to be there).
Kawajiri, sitting in the corner, stands up but takes a knee in the face on the way to his feet.
The two trade shots, but Melendez gets the better of things. Moments later, Melendez lands a hard right, but Kawajiri returns with the same.
Then Melendez presses his opponent into the corner; Kawajiri once again finds himself sitting there.
The referee stands them up.
They trade, then clinch, and then trade again. Melendez connects with a right, and then a left- right combination that wobbles Kawajiri.
Melendez ends up on top on the ground. Then they start to scramble and Kawajiri ends up on top. Moments later, Kawajiri snakes around and takes Melendez's back.
Melendez drops down and slams Kawajiri's head into the mat. Unfortunately for him, that doesn't get him to release his position.
But something else does, and they once again end up on their feet.
They trade some haymakers in the center of the ring, but most of these strikes miss.
Then Kawajiri lands a hard left. Both fighters look tired.
Melendez lands a few shots at the end of the round that aren't of the same quality that his earlier strikes were.
Then the bell. A great round.
They start trading immediately with Kawajiri getting the better of things. Then they clinch and separate. They trade some hard shots but Kawajiri's are straighter and harder.
Kawajiri lands a nice left.
They clinch, and Kawajiri lands a few uppercuts.
Then they separate and Kawajiri once again lands a right. He shoots, gets both legs, and takes Melendez down.
But Melendez gets right back up.
They start throwing, and this time Melendez gets the better of things.
They end up in the corner once again with Kawajiri in a sitting position. Then they get up.
Melendez lands a nice right.
Then he lands two more.
Kawajiri lands a left. Then they trade some very hard punches for what seems like forever.
Melendez is beginning to get the better of things with a minute to go.
Can't even go strike by strike, there are too many of them.
Melendez is thowing a lot of punches; then lands a hard left that puts Kawajiri into the ropes.
They clinch and Kawajiri reverses things by turning Melendez into the ropes.
Then the bell. What a great fight. Further, I haven't the foggiest idea who should win when the bell rings. Halfway through this round I would've definitely said Kawajiri, but then Melendez really rallied in the end.
In the end, though, they give Gilbert Melendez a unanimous decision.
Can't fault it; this Gilbert Melendez is for real. Still, it is somewhat surprising that the Japanese fighter didn't get more love on the scorecards in such a close fight.
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Eldary Kurtanidze
EK doesn't look like he can strike. He's holding his arms out there like a 1910 boxer.
Fujita lands a jab; EK lands a front kick to the legs.
EK gets a body lock, but Fujita pushes him away.
Fujita lands a low kick.
This is a boring fight thus far. No action.
They clinch, then separate.
EK lands a hard right. They clinch again, and this time Fujita lands a couple uppercuts.
EK seems to almost run away and then hits the mat face first. Fujita follows him to the ground, lands a couple of punches, and then stands and kicks his opponent.
EK taps the ground.
Fujita wins via submission from strikes at 2:08 of the first round. This was a terrible choice to fight Fujita; EK just wasn't ready to compete in MMA.
Takanori Gomi vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida
On, ain't that the truth.- “There is no way Ishida is going to beat me.”- Gomi
Ishida throws a high kick that misses. Then another; then still another with the same result.
Ishida lands two mild high kicks, the second of which leaves him open for a strike.
Gomi obliges with a very hard left that floors Ishida.
Ishida is in bad trouble.
Eventually Ishida get to a full guard. Gomi, however, starts landing some very hard hammer fists. Then he stands and kicks Ishida in the head before returning to the hammer strikes.
The referee steps in. Guess that tentative fighter we saw against Marcus Aurelio is gone. Thought that Ishida might be able to give him a run here. Guess not.
Gomi wins via TKO at 1:14 of the first round.
Hidehiko Yoshida vs. James Thompson
No gi for Yoshida. Strange.
Thompson goes at him with a weak flying knee. Yoshida clinches with him and then throws him to the ground.
Yoshida is in side mount.
Yoshida lands a couple of rights from that position, then steps over and gains an arm bar. Thompson stands up, slams him down, and gets out of the armbar but then Yoshida transitions to a knee bar. Yoshida doesn't have it sunk in, and though he holds onto the leg, he takes some strikes to the head from Thompson.
Yoshida transitions to an ankle lock. You can see the pain on Thompson's face.
But the big man slips of danger. They both stand, and Yoshida immediately crowds him and lands a right, then a left.
Then all of a sudden Yoshida starts to flurry. He nails Thompson with multiple punches. Thompson misses him with everything he throws.
Then they clinch.
Thompson lands a knee to the midsection. Then the big man goes for a takedown, misses, and the two exchange punches. Yoshida is kicking Thompson's butt on his feet.
Who would've thought?
They clinch in the center of the ring. Thompson tries to throw Yoshida but the Japanese Judo practitioner reverses him and ends up in side mount.
Then Yoshida grabs a Kimura. Thompson rolls out of it but Yoshida doesn't let go.
Moments later, Yoshida does let go of the hold. Thompson tries a double leg but misses. Then Thompson lands a knee and then a right. Yoshida returns fire, but then Thompson lands a big right that floors the Japanese fighter.
Thompson goes to stomp, but Yoshida grabs his right leg. Then Thompson goes for a kneebar; Yoshida gets out of it and ends up on top.
Then Thompson stands and pushes Yoshida out of the ring.
He looks hurt (he stomped Yoshida on the way out- kind of a cheap move).
Thompson lands a bunch of lefts, then knees. What is keeping Yoshida up?
Knee after knee, left after left connect. They go to the ground, and the referee tries to bring them away from the ropes but Thompson keeps hitting.
Surprised there wasn't a yellow card for that one.
These guys, particularly Yoshida, are exhausted.
They start up again with Thompson in side control. Yoshida is just holding on.
Thompson gains full mount. A couple of strikes later, the referee stops the fight. Yoshida was clearly out of shape; he looks near the brink of exhaustion. He can't even get up; they have to carry him out of the ring.
Thompson wins via TKO in round one.
Josh Barnett vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Barnett lands a jab. He's throwing a lot of them but not landing many. Then he lands a right and follows it up with some body shots.
They clinch. Some mild knees by both fighters.
An overhand right by Barnett misses, but then he lands a hard straight right. Then he connects with a jab, but Nogueira lands two knees.
Barnett lands a hard right to the midsection.
Nogueira lands a jab; Barnett answers with a hard right to the body.
Then Nogueira lands a jab; Barnett answers with the same. Then Barnett goes to the body again followed by two straight rights to the head.
They clinch. Nogueira is landing some mild knees, while Barnett is landing some rights to the body. Then Nogueira lands another knee and they break.
Nogueira lands a nice left- right combo. Then he serves up a knee to the face.
They clinch, and Barnett connects with a knee. Nogueira follows that with a left- right combination. Moments later, Nogueira lands a grazing left.
Then he connects with a hard low kick and left hand.
Barnett grabs a leg and lifts Nogueira over his head and slams him. Barnett has him in a headlock and nails him with a few knees to the head.
Then he transitions to side mount.
Nogueira ends up with his opponent in the butterfly guard.
Barnett stands and tries to stomp but misses. Then he goes for a choke, but Nogueira reverses him.
Now Barnett has Nogueira in half guard.
Nogueira lands some mild shots. He goes for a key lock, but Barnett gets out quickly. Then Nogueira starts connecting with some harder punches. He's holding Barnett's head with his left hand and hitting with the right.
Now Nogueira is just pounding away. Barnett is doing a good job of defending, though.
One minute to go. Nogueira is hitting to the body too.
Then Barnett gets to full guard and eventually stands up. They clinch, Barnett throws some hard shots that miss.
Then the bell.
Nogueira lands a solid knee and grabs a leg, but Barnett shucks the takedown attempt.
The clinch, and Nogueira starts pressing his opponent into the corner. Nogueira lands a knee to the groin.
They give Barnett a break and wipe the blood from his nose (no big deal).
They clinch again, and Nogueira lands a knee to Barnett's head.
Then Barnett lands a body punch and a nice kick to Nogueira's midsection. Later, he lands a front kick and a nice body shot.
Nogueira returns the fire.
Nice right and then a left by Barnett. He follows things up with a nice body kick.
Then they clinch.
Nogueira has Barnett's back and takes him down, but Barnett spins over and gets the top position.
Barnett lands a few hard strikes to the face of Nogueira.
Then Barnett stands and lands a right. Then Nogueira gets up.
They stop the fight to wipe blood from Barnett's nose. Then back to the action.
Nogueira lands a jab. Then a combination. Then he follows things up with two jabs in a row. Then he lands a right, then another. Then another jab.
Nogueira is doing well.
Then he follows things up with three knees over time to the face.
Barnett shoots but doesn't get the takedown.
They clinch. Barnett looks tired.
At the bell, Nogueira lands a solid right.
Barnett lands a solid right. Then he follows that up with a nice left to Nogueira's body. Then the Babyface Assassin lands a jab.
Nogueira answers with a very nice left-right combination.
Two nice jabs by Barnett, and then one by Nogueira.
Barnett lands a nice jab to the body and then a right.
Nogueira knees him to the head.
Barnett.lands a nice right to the body, and then follows it up with a jab.
Nogueira throws two punches that are blocked.
They trade with Nogueira getting the better of things.
A one- two hurts Barnett. Nogueira follows it up with a solid knee to the face.
But the Nogueira falls to the ground in a tight guillotine.
Barnett has it in tight, but somehow Nogueira manages to get out moments later.
Nogueira is one tough bastard.
Nogueira is hitting him with some shots, but they're not hard. These guys are both tired.
Still with Nogueira in his guard, the Brazilian continues to pound away lightly. Barnett turns over and gets back to his feet.
Nogueira is pressing Barnett into the corner.
Barnett goes for a standing Kimura but loses it on the way down. Nogueira ends up on top, but Barnett transitions to the guard.
Barnett is looking for a submission but can't find one.
Then the bell. Another very good fight. Not as their last encounter, but still a nice job.
Don't know who is going to win this one.
But the judges do: Nogueira wins via unanimous decision.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mark Hunt
“What I'd like to say to Mark Hunt is, I wish you success and I am definitely looking forward to an exciting fight with you tonight. And finally Mark Hunt: Happy New Year to you.”- Fedor
Hunt tries a low kick that hardly hits. Both miss with a few punches. Hunt hits Fedor with a grazing left. Then he follows up with a low kick.
Then they clinch (on the way in, Hunt lands an uppercut).
Fedor twists Hunt to the ground and ends up in full mount.
Fedor positions up, goes for an armbar but misses with his leg (around the head). However, Fedor doesn't give the hold up (Hunt is holding his arm in).
But eventually Fedor gets the arm free. He's got the move sunk in.
Yet somehow Hunt rolls out of it.
A great move.
Now Fedor is on his back with Hunt in his guard.
And Hunt transitions to side control. Is this actually happening?
The referee moves them to the center of the ring (still with Hunt in side control).
Hunt isn't doing anything other than trying to keep this position.
Minutes later, Fedor gets off the ground, but Hunt lands a shot to the back of his head on the way up.
The referee gives them a few moments (shots to the back of the head are illegal). Fedor is bleeding from his nose (maybe from pressure on his face while Hunt had him in side control, maybe from an earlier uppercut, not sure).
Hunt lands a right, but so does Fedor. Then Fedor lands a knee.
Then Fedor lands a jab, goes for a takedown.
But Hunt reverses him. He has him in side control again.
Again- is this really happening?
Hunt is going for an Americana. Fedor gets out of it.
Then he goes for it again. Fedor is just relaxing through it.
Hunt transitions to the full mount. Fedor turns around, giving up his back, and then stands. Hunt keeps himself steady by holding the ropes. Then they're both standing.
Fedor hits with a kick, but misses on a big left. Hunt tries to trip him down, but Fedor thwarts the maneuver.
Then they're in the clinch.
Fedor goes for a takedown but misses. Then Fedor locks him and twists him to the ground.
He's in Hunt's half guard.
Fedor is holding his arm, looking like he may go for a Kimura.
Then he goes for it. It's not really in initially.
But moments later it is.
And Hunt loses by submission. No doubt that Mark Hunt gave a far better effort than most of us thought he could. A very good fight.
In sum, PRIDE Shockwave 2006 was a very good show. The Melendez- Kawajiri fight was awesome. Further, the Yoshida- Thompson and Barnett- Nogueira bouts were also both highly entertaining.
Not to mention, Fedor got a run for his money that many of us did not believe would happen.
Another successful PRIDE show. The crowd was electric as usual.