Saturday, 15 September 2007

Pride 7 & 8 - DVD Review

It’s time to take a look at the mixed martial arts world again with the latest Fight DVD release, a two disc set of Pride 7 and 8. Our hosts for both shows are the legendary Bas Rutten and Steven Qudros.

We start off, obviously, with Pride 7, with Japan’s Daijiro Matsui against Holland’s Bob Schrijver. A distinct clash of styles here, as the first round saw the Dutchman only able to counter Matsui’s grappling technique. Schrijver earned two warnings from the referee before he was disqualified just as the round came to an end for using an illegal axe kick as Matsui was on all fours. To say that Matsui was livid would be an understatement.

The next fight sees America’s Carl Malenko take on Brazil’s Vanderlai Silva. The first round saw Silva, known normally for his striking power, dominate Malenko with his wrestling ability. Although both fighters showed signs of fatigue in the second round, Silva continued to dominate, and won a unanimous decision from the judges.

Next up, America’s Enson Inoue against Tonga’s Tully Kulihaapal. A quick win for Inoue here as he synched in the armbar for the submission victory.

Croatia’s Branco Citivic then takes on America’s Maurice Smith. Citivic had had some problems in his Pride debut, having been disqualified for breaking the rules, and he had problems again in this fight, getting a yellow card for holding the ropes. In the end the Croatian’s inexperience told as he tapped out when Smith simply put his forearm across his throat.

We move to Japan’s Akira Shoji against America’s Larry Parker. The first round was pretty even as both men expended a lot of energy in both their striking and grappling games. It was pretty much the same in the second until Shoji unleashed with a flurry of punches as the round entered the last minute. The judges couldn’t separate the two, so another five minute deciding round was called for. Parker clearly looked exhausted in this final round, and it wasn’t surprising when Shoji finally won the unanimous decision.

Another Japan v America battle followed with Kazushi Sakuraba against Anthony Macias. Sakuraba was again impressive in this outing, and although Macias put in a good showing, he didn’t have what it took as Sakuraba got the win with an armbar.

Next, America’s Mark Kerr takes on Ukraine’s Igor Vovchanchyn. The first round began quickly with Igor connecting with a hard right before Kerr slowed things with a takedown. Kerr began the second round taking Igor down again, but the Ukrainian soon came back, and won the bout in controversial fashion, knocking Kerr out with a couple of knees, normally illegal in Pride when a fighter is on all fours. Despite Kerr’s protests, the referee stood by his decision.

Then it’s on to Pride 8, beginning with Dajiro Matsui against Vanderlai Silva. The first round saw Silva once again impressing with both the strikes and the takedowns, with Matsui getting busted open, and with what looked like a broken nose becoming a bloody mess as the round ended. Silva again controlled the second, using Matsui for punching practice, and winning the unanimous decision, and rightfully so.

Then it’s on to America’s Frank Trigg against Brazil’s Fabiano Iha. A dominating performance from Trigg here. After escaping Iha’s armbar attempt, Trigg unloaded with numerous punches until Iha dropped to the canvas and the referee called a halt to the proceedings.

Next up, Carl Malenko taking on Brazil’s Allan Goes. Some great grappling from both fighters here, with Goes getting on top for most of the bout, until he synched in a side-choke in the closing minutes of the round for the win.

America v Brazil continued, with Mark Coleman against Richard Morais. Morais dwarfed Coleman by seven inches. A slowish first round saw Coleman on top for the most part, controlling things with his grappling skills and trying for the neck crank, which was basically what Coleman did in the second, with Morais really not doing anything, so it was no surprise when the judges awarded the decision to Coleman.

Staying with the heavyweights, as Trinidad’s Gary Goodridge taking on America’s Tom Erikson. The first round started off with a quick slugfest between the two, before Erikson got the takedown, and each man tried to apply several holds. There were even times when Goodridge taunted Erikson about the power of his punches. The second round was fought at a much slower pace, with Erikson in full guard position, and it was enough to get Erikson the win via judge’s decision.

Igor Vovchanchyn then took on Brazil’s Francisco Bueno. A quick fight here. After both fighters circled each other, Igor caught Bueno with a quick combination that felled him like a giant redwood.

Then it’s the first appearance from a Gracie family member, as Renzo goes up against Japan’s Alexander Otsuka. Otsuka came into this fight with a massive bandage on his head, which soon came off during the grappling exchanges. The first round saw some great grappling action from both men, with Otsuka bleeding from the nose after a knee strike from Gracie. The second round proved to be just as good as the first, with Gracie almost getting the win with an armbar. With the decision going to the judges, Gracie got the nod in what was a great bout.

On to our main event as the second Gracie on the show, Royler, takes on Kazushi Sakuraba, as he continued he feud with the country of Brazil. Plenty of action in the first round. Gracie spent a great deal of time on the mat, and was frustrated when Sakuraba wouldn’t go down into the guard position, preferring to unload with stiff kicks to Gracie’s thighs and calves. The second round began slowly until Sakuraba knocked Gracie off his feet with a high right kick. As the fight went on, Gracie looked both afraid of and outclassed by Sakuraba. As the seconds ticked by, Sakuraba applied the kimura hold, and just seconds before the end of the fight the referee stepped in and stopped it, much to the annoyance of Gracie. But looking at the bigger picture, there really wouldn’t have been a more deserving winner in Sakuraba here.

There’s the usual Pride DVD extras here, including photo galleries from the two shows, and a run-down of the rules and regulations.

In conclusion - another good couple of shows from Pride here, with no disappointing bouts on this collection. It’s getting to the point where I’m preferring Pride over UFC these days. Having recently reviewed the 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix, you can certainly see the differences in production values when you compare the shows though.

With thanks to Gary Graham at www.wrestle-zone.co.uk for supplying copies of this DVD set. For more information on Pride, log onto www.pridefc.com. For ordering information, log onto www.fightdvd.co.uk.