Flashback Friday: Pride Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round Full Coverage

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world, MMA continues to be cancelled. Tonight was meant to be Bellator 241 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA. However, this afternoon it was reported that the show was cancelled. As cancelled events will continue to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, this website will present a flashback in MMA. Going back 20 years ago, the site will cover UFC and Pride FC events from the year 2000, chronologically. This will be the first time me, the writer, has seen these shows start to finish. So, as this may be nostalgia for some, it is breaking ground for others.

Kicking off the 2000 calendar for MMA was Pride FC in Japan. It was a big year for the promotion, which was still booming. They held six events this year, including their first-ever grand prix, which kicked off on this show. Live from the Tokyo Dome in Japan, let’s take a trip to 20 years ago and look at the Pride Grand Prix.

Reminder that the fights on this show had a different ruleset. The fights were all openweight (any weight allowed), and were one fifteen minute round. The winners on this show would go on to fight on to fight in the finals in May.

To watch along, click play at 8:00PM EST, watching the footage off of UFC Fight Pass.

The show started with an opening ceremony. With drums being hit on the stage, all of the fighters were brought down to the ring.

ORIGINAL DATE: 1/30/00

Quick Results – Click a fight to skip to it’s part:

Bout 1: Wanderlei Silva def. Bob Schrijber via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 2:42) (GP Reserve Fight)

Bout 2: Gary Goodridge def. Osamu Taichikari via Submission, Forearm Choke (RD 1, 0:51) (GP First Round)

Bout 3: Akira Shoji def. Ebenezer Fontes Braga via Decision (GP First Round)

Bout 4: Kazuyuki Fujita def. Hans Nijman via Submission, Scarf Hold (RD 1, 2:48) (GP First Round)

Bout 5: Kazushi Sakuraba def. Guy Mezger via Decision (GP First Round)

Bout 6: Mark Coleman def. Masaaki Sakate via Submission, Neck Crank (RD 1, 1:14) (GP First Round)

Bout 7: Igor Vovchanchyn def. Alexander Otsuka via Decision (GP First Round)

Bout 8: Mark Kerr def. Enson Inoue via Decision (GP First Round)

Bout 9: Royce Gracie def. Nobuhiko Takada via Decision (GP First Round)

Full Coverage:

Bout 1: Bob Schrijber (14-7) vs. Wanderlei Silva (10-2) (GP Reserve Fight)

The first fight was a reserve match that saw Wanderlei Silva face Bob Schrijber. The idea was the winner of this could step in for an injured fighter in the grand prix, if needed. The broadcast described Schrijber as a “bad boy.” Wanderlei came in with strikes at the start, holding the back fo Schrijber’s head and throwing punches. It was all Silva at the start, with it taking a minute or so before Schrijber scored with anything. Silva got a takedown, which Schrijber tried to avoid for a moment by holding the ropes. Silva got into full mount, throwing punches from the top. Schrijber flipped onto his stomach, allowing Silva to take the back and continue with strikes. Commentary didn’t understand why Silva didn’t try for the choke immediately. When he eventually went for the rear naked choke, Schrijber was quick to tap out. Wanderlei Silva got a quick win, making himself the backup plan in this tournament. This fight went on to be Bob Schrijber’s last fight in PRIDE, going 0-2 in his run.

Ken Shamrock Announces Pride FC Deal

Before the next fight, there was an announcement. Ken Shamrock was in the ring, announcing he signed a two-fight deal with Pride FC. This ended his late 90s run he had in pro wrestling with the World Wrestling Federation. He’ll be seen on the next Pride show.

Bout 2: Osamu Taichikari (0-0) vs. Gary Goodridge (9-9) (GP First Round)

The first fight from the actual bracket saw former sumo wrestler and professional wrestler Osamu Taichikari make his MMA debut against Gary Goodridge. Goodridge was a real journeyman of the promotion since the start, going into this fight with a 2-4 record in PRIDE. Goodridge started the fight by landing leg kicks. After scoring with punches, Goodridge landed a knee to the head before scoring a takedown. In side control, Goodridge put in a forearm choke which made Taichikari tap out fast. Taichikari tapped out once, but it didn’t go noticed. Goodridge enthusiastically flexed to the crowd on his way out.

Bout 3: Ebenezer Fontes Braga (10-4) vs. Akira Shoji (5-2) (GP First Round)

In the next grand prix fight, Ebenezer Fontes Braga fought Akira Shoji. Both fighters had fought in Pride before, with Shoji having an impressive 4-1-2 record in the promotion before. Braga came in with a punch to start the fight before getting a clinch in the corner. They left the clinch after a minute or so. Braga didn’t do much in it besides a few knees. In another clinch made by Braga, Shoji got a takedown. After a minute in top position, Shoji got into side mount for a moment. Braga switched to his stomach, slipping out of the position and onto his feet. They went in another clinch in the corner, initiated by Braga. Identical to before, Shoji gets another trip takedown. The fighters were slid away from the ropes after a few minutes. Not much happened with Shoji in top position for a while. With a three minute warning, Shoji popped out of top position for a moment before getting back in. They got up as the round was closing out. Shoji threw a kick to the body that was caught, letting Braga dump him to the ground. They stood back up shortly after. Shoji connected with a two-punch combination. Braga clinched up again as the round ended. Going to decision, the judges chose Akira Shoji to move on.

Bout 4: Kazuyuki Fujita (0-0) vs. Hans Nijman (10-6) (GP First Round)

In the next fight, Kazuyuki Fujita made his MMA debut, facing Hans Nijman. Both of them were having their first appearance in Pride FC. Fujita got a huge reaction when he was introduced. Nijman tried for a front choke, landing a hard punch right after. Fujita looked in trouble for a second, landing a strong takedown into side control. The takedown was fast and made the crowd cheer. Fujita got up, going back down and passing guard into a side control. He tried for a scarf hold choke. He kept with it until Nijman tapped out. The crowd gave Fujita one of the largest reactions of the night when he won. 

This was the last major MMA appearance Hans Nijman made in MMA. And for Kazuyuki Fujita, we’ll be seeing him more, to say the least.

Bout 5: Kazushi Sakuraba (7-0) vs. Guy Mezger (22-9) (GP First Round)

In the next fight, undefeated Kazushi Sakuraba continued his successful Pride FC campaign against Guy Mezger. Mezger was the more experienced fighter, but didn’t have success in his debuting Pride fight, losing to Akira Shoji. Mezger was the more active striker in the slow paced fight to start the round. Sakuraba shot for a takedown, with Mezger stopping it and landing a strike. He tried again a minute later, being stopped again by Mezger. Sakuraba was throwing high kicks frequently. Sakuraba slipped after throwing a high kick, giving mezger top position for only a few moments. Sakuraba got a single leg takedown after a few minutes of slow paced stand-up. Mezger got back to his knees, with Sakuraba still holding the leg. Mezger threw a few strikes before he escaped the hold of Sakuraba, going back to the feet. Sakuraba shot for another single leg takedown, only getting Mezger to his knees. They stood back up while Sakuraba still had a hold of the leg. They went down for a moment before getting back up, separating this time. On the feet, Mezger was landing singular shots that weren’t doing a large amount of damage. They went to their knees, where Sakuraba got on the back of Mezger. They stood back up, with Mezger getting out of the body lock. Sakuraba got a takedown, getting him on his back this time. Mezger tried for a kimura for a second. Sakuraba tried for an armbar, although Mezger slipped out and stood up. After being on their knees for a moment, they got back up as the round ended.

Going to decision, the fight was ruled as a draw, going to an overtime round. Ken Shamrock was in the ring arguing about the decision with the referee. Shamrock made Mezger leave the ring and head backstage. Not choosing to fight in the overtime round, Sakuraba won and moved on.

Bout 6: Masaaki Sakate (1-1) vs. Mark Coleman (7-4) (GP First Round)

A drum performance played before the next fight. Gary Goodridge, who won earlier, joined the commentary. K-1 kickboxing veteran Masaaki Sakate fought Mark Coleman in the next fight. Coleman had a 6-3 record in the UFC, having a 1-1 Pride record before this fight. Coleman got a double leg takedown early. He tried for a neck crank, going back to punches before putting it back in. Sakate tapped when the neck crank was put back in. Moving on in the grand prix, Mark Coleman had a quick performance.

Bout 7: Igor Vovchanchyn (38-2) vs. Alexander Otsuka (1-3) (GP First Round)

The next fight saw the much more experienced Igor Vovchanchyn fight Alexander Otsuka. Otsuka shot for a takedown early, with Vovchanchyn sprawling. They got back to their feet after Vovchanchyn landed a few strikes on the ground. Vovchanchyn knocked down Otsuka with a one-two combination, allowing him to get back up. Another takedown was blocked by Vovchanchyn. Back on the feet, Otsuka was getting outclassed by strikes. He was knocked by an overhand right, getting hit with another clean one seconds later. Vovchanchyn got hurt by a strike too, going to the ground. Otsuka went to the ground, trying for a triangle from the bottom. Vovchanchymn got ahold of Otsuka’s head, throwing strikes periodically. They stayed in this position for a few minutes. They got back up eventually. Vovchanchyn landed a takedown after they both scored a punch. Both fighters were clearly tired by this point. When the one minute warning sounded, Vovchanchyn picked up the pace of his striking. The fight ended in this position. Going to the judges, all of them said Igor Vovchanchyn should move on.

Bout 8: Mark Kerr (11-0) vs. Enson Inoue (10-3) (GP First Round)

The next fight saw undefeated Mark Kerr fight Enson Inoue. Immediately as the bell went, Kerr got a takedown. They stayed in this position for the first five minutes of the fight. Kerr would hold Inoue for a while throwing punches every once in a while. He eventually tried for a choke from half guard, letting it go eventually as Inoue was enduring. Kerr stood up, with Inoue being forced up as the final minute of the 15 minute fight happened. Kerr got another takedown, staying on Kerr until the fight ended. Smothering Enson Inoue on the ground for 15 minutes, Mark Kerr moved on.

Bout 9: Royce Gracie (11-0) vs. Nobuhiko Takada (2-3) (GP First Round)

 

The main event saw undefeated Royce Gracie fight Nobuhiko Takada. Gracie wore a gi in this fight. Takada had a fair amount of the crowd behind him. They clinched up to start, failing to trip eachother to the ground. Gracie pulled guard, landing on his back on the ground. From top position, Takada kept ahold of the gi. Gracie threw some kicks to the side while on the bottom. Gracie wrapped his gi around the back of Takada’s neck to hold him down. Gracie eventually started to throw hammerfist strikes to the head from the bottom. They stayed in this position until the round ended. When they stood up after, Takada had an issue with one of his legs. When going to decision, all three judges saw the fight in the way of Royce Gracie. “This is my house now,” Gracie said after the fight.

The event that will be covered next Friday is Pride FC’s Grand Prix Finale. The eight winners on this card get put against each other on the show, fighting until the finale.

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