Flashback Friday: Pride FC: 2000 Grand Prix Finals

After Pride FC did the first round of their 2000 Grand Prix in January, the promotion returned on May 1st to find the winner of the tournament. From the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, here’s the Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals.

Original Event Date: 5/1/00

Quick Result:

Bout 1: Igor Vovchanchyn def. Gary Goodridge via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 10:14) (Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)

Bout 2: Kazushi Sakuraba def. Royce Gracie via TKO, Corner Stoppage (RD 6, 15:00) (Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)

Bout 3: Mark Coleman def. Akira Shoji via Decision, Unanimous (Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)

Bout 4: Kazuyuki Fujita def. Mark Kerr via Decision, Unanimous (Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)

Bout 5: Guy Mezger def. Masaaki Satake via Decision, Unanimous

Bout 6: Igor Vovchanchyn def. Kazushi Sakuraba via TKO, Corner Stoppage (RD 1, 15:00) (Grand Prix Semi-Finals)

Bout 7: Mark Coleman def. Kazuyuki Fujita via TKO, Corner Stoppage (RD 1, 0:02) (Grand Prix Semi-Finals)

Bout 8: Ken Shamrock def. Alexander Otsuka via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 9:43)

Bout 9: Mark Coleman def. Igor Vovchanchyn via Submission, Knees  (RD 2, 3:09) (Grand Prix Grand Finals)

Full Coverage

Bout 1: Igor Vovchanchyn (39-2) vs. Gary Goodridge (10-9) (GP Quarter-Final)

Opening the show, Igor Vovchanchyn fought against fellow big man Gary Goodridge. Vovchanchyn landed a two punch takedown after a minute or so of inactivity. He followed up with a takedown attempt that didn’t work. Goodridge landed good knees in the clinch. Goodridge was kneed in the groin, causing a break. After talking to his corner, Goodridge left the ring to switch protective cups as the previous one broke. After a few minutes, they resumed. Vovchanchyn hurt Goodridge with punches during the round. Goodridge was able to shell up and endure some strikes. Goodridge clinched up while he recovered. Goodridge got a trip takedown from the clinch. Goodridge trapped the right arm of Vovchanchyn under his back. Vovchanchyn landed lots of punches with his left hand while in bottom position. He eventually got the right arm free. Goodridge got up, letting Vovchanchyn get up as well. Vovchanchyn capitalized on the fatigue of Goodridge, continuing to score with strikes on the feet. Goodridge got hit by a right which wobbled him greatly. He went across the whole ring, eventually slipping and falling. Goodridge landed a few more punches before the fight ended.

Bout 2: Kazushi Sakuraba (8-0) vs. Royce Gracie (12-0) (GP Quarter-Final)

In the second fight of the evening, Kazushi Sakuraba fought Royce Gracie. For background context, this fight is one of the most praised in MMA history, known as a very influential fight not just for Pride but for the sport as a whole. The rules for this fight were different from others, as it was set to go for 15 minute rounds until it ends. Hypothetically, it could go on for forever, but as you’ll soon see that won’t happen. Gracie was sporting a gi. There was three masked fighters with gloves in the corner of Sakuraba, hiding which one will fight up until he was announced. Before the fight, professional wrestler Antonio Inoki handed flowers to Gracie and the three Sakurabas.

Gracie charged forward to start the fight, with Sakuraba getting a takedown. Sakuraba was quick to get up, landing a kick to the legs before Gracie stood up into a clinch against the ropes. As expected, the crowd was behind Sakuraba, chanting his name. Gracie landed some knees to the leg while in clinch. Gracie tried pulling guard, landing on his back although Sakuraba didn’t go down. He tried for a heel hook, which Sakuraba escaped quickly. They got up, where Gracie had a hold of an arm. From behind, Gracie threw some knees to the leg. Sakuraba started to try for a kimura, with the targeted arm stretching outside the ropes of the ring. While his arm was still trapped, Gracie punched Sakuraba. Sakuraba looked smug from the position. Gracie started to throw punches to the head while still in the position. This continued for a few minutes. While Sakuraba was still holding an arm of Gracie, he was no longer threatened by the kimura. The referee moved them to over all four of the ropes, where they immediately left the position. Gracie got dumped to the ground, then stood back up. Gracie started throwing leg kicks before shooting for a takedown. The referee stopped Gracie, as he had his arms around a rope while holding Sakuraba. On Sakuraba’s back, Gracie tripped his opponent, trying to get the fight to the ground. Sakuraba slipped, getting back to his feet with Gracie still on his back. Gracie eventually got Sakuraba to the ground, although they got back up. Sakuraba threw Gracie down, getting up. Gracie got a takedown with them getting up again. After all of those takedowns, Gracie was still on the back of Sakuraba. Against the corner of the ring, Gracie threw some more punches to the head from behind. Sakuraba ate a lot of these, eventually trying to dodge them by looking away. Gracie landed on his back on the ground trying for a takedown. Sakuraba held onto one of the legs of Gracie with a minute to go in the round. He started to try for a kneebar, which Gracie tried to fight off with punches. It was quite extended, with the round ending from this position.

The second round started with Gracie charging forward into a clinch after missing some punches. They walked over to a corner of the ring from a clinch. Gracie’s corner moved to the neutral corner, which the commentary team noted is not allowed in the regular Pride rules (albeit it is not known whether the special rules for this fight changed that). Gracie landed more knees to the legs in the corner. The referee wanted to break them up, although Gracie protested and refused to do so. There was some deliberation, with the fight eventually resuming from the same position. Gracie started doing some foot stomps. Sakuraba tried to escape the corner, with Gracie putting him back in. Sakuraba’s corner moved to the corner as well. Sakuraba started to grab the back of Gracie’s gi. Sakuraba finally got out of the corner. Gracie tried to pull guard, where Sakuraba stopped it, making Gracie go back to his feet in the clinch again. Sakuraba took the gi of Gracie, trying to pull it over his head. The crowd was amused by this attempt, although it didn’t do much for Sakuraba. Gracie eventually started throwing punches to the body and head. Holding Gracie, Sakuraba threw some knees. Sakuraba started to peel the gi down the shoulders of Gracie while still in the clinch. Gracie started to try for a guillotine choke, keeping a hold of a gi to keep a grip. Sakuraba started to try to pull down the pants of Gracie. With a minute to go in the round, Gracie pulled guard while still holding the choke. Sakuraba stayed in the choke until the round ended.

30 minutes passed, the third round started. Sakuraba crouched, presumably trying for a takedown, getting hit with an uppercut when getting back up. Gracie put Sakuraba against the ropes again. Exiting the clinch, Sakuraba landed a knee which hit Gracie in the groin. They paused, and Sakuraba was given a yellow card. They eventually resumed competition. Gracie threw a low kick, landing on his back after. He got back up, with Sakuraba not entertaining going to the ground. He did it again. Gracie shot for a takedown, with Sakuraba avoiding. Gracie was on his back on the ground, with Sakuraba holding his legs while standing up. Sakuraba tried going to the ground, getting hit with a few punches. He stood back up, with Gracie getting back up moments after. Gracie put Sakuraba in a clinch in the corner yet again. Sakuraba pushed Gracie away, landing a combination of punches that looked to drop Gracie. On his back, Gracie threw kicks to the legs of Sakuraba. Sakuraba threw a kick to the legs of his own before Gracie stood up. Gracie did another storm forward, with Sakuraba shoving him off. This was done again. Out of the three rounds to start, this was the best showing from Sakuraba. Gracie was getting hit with leg kicks that were clearly hurting him. Gracie got on his back again on the ground. Before Sakuraba did anything, Gracie got back up. Gracie put Sakuraba in a clinch again. Exiting the clinch, Sakuraba landed a good leg kick which made the crowd explode with cheers. He connected with two punches as Gracie came forward. They stared each other down after Sakuraba countered an attack with a leg kick. Yet again, Gracie did a kick that put him on his back. Gracie tried putting Sakuraba in the corner again, but the threat and attempt at strikes made it hard for him. Sakuraba waved both his arms in the air twice, almost threatening a double punch. Gracie did another kick that made him go on his back, which seemingly elicited a boo from the crowd. After Sakuraba scored with another leg kick, Gracie came forward and clinched up. Sakuraba was stuck against a corner until the third round ended. It’s worth noting that they were given more than one minute in-between rounds.

Gracie opened the fourth round by putting Sakuraba against the ropes again. Gracie eventually started to throw punches while in the clinch. Sakuraba was holding the gi of Gracie again, which was peeled down the left shoulder of him. Sakuraba threw Gracie down although let him get to his feet. Gracie tucked his gi back in, and Sakuraba didn’t attack while that happened. Sakuraba landed more good kicks, one to a leg and the other to the body. Sakuraba caught a leg for a takedown. Gracie landed slaps from the bottom. Sakuraba missed a head kick to the grounded Gracie, getting up and allowing his opponent to do so as well. A small cut below the right eye of Gracie became noticeable. Sakuraba caught another leg kick to throw down Gracie. Gracie got back up, failing for a takedown. Gracie got on his back on the ground, getting back up after not doing much. Sakuraba connected with a few punches to the head. While Sakuraba had a hold of Gracie’s gi, Gracie landed a few punches to the head. They separated before Gracie threw a side kick to the body. Sakuraba landed a few punches again which made Gracie drop. Just like the drop in the round before, it looked like Gracie was going down under his own power. Gracie came in with punches that missed, grabbing ahold of Sakuraba’s back while still on the feet. He tried to fully get on Sakuraba’s back but couldn’t. Gracie pulled backwards, landing on his back on the ground with Sakuraba on top. This was a similar situation to how the first round was wrapping up. The round ended with Sakuraba on top on the ground.

Heading into the fifth round, the fight passed it’s one hour mark. Just like what was seen countless times before in the past hour, Gracie put Sakuraba in the corner. Gracie pulled guard, with Sakuraba actually going down into top position this time. Gracie landed some punches from the bottom. Sakuraba eventually let strikes go, including a two-hand clap which was threatened earlier in the fight. Gracie landed more punches and an upkick from the bottom. He started to hold the right arm of Sakuraba, losing hold eventually. Sakuraba stood up, lifting Gracie by his gi to put him on his head. He landed punches in-between attempts at lifting Gracie up. Gracie tried for a triangle choke for a moment, however Sakuraba evaded. Gracie landed more kicks to the head while on his back. Sakuraba flipped Gracie onto his head again, not throwing a punch this time. Sakuraba kept top position until the round ended. He stood up and tried for a down-stomp in the final second.

Gracie ran forward to start the sixth round, with Sakuraba getting a takedown. They stood up after a few minutes of exchanging strikes on the ground. Sakuraba landed a few more leg kicks on the ground. Gracie went on his back on the ground, where Sakuraba followed. They stood up, where more leg kicks continued to hurt Gracie. Gracie went to the ground, but went back up after he was hit with another clean leg kick. Gracie put Sakuraba in a clinch against the ropes again. With around seven minutes left, they separated from the clinch. Gracie was thrown to his back, getting up after. The continued kicks to the legs of Gracie were hurting him. A leg kick knocked Gracie down with five minutes to go. Gracie stood up, and while his legs couldn’t be seen due to his gi, it was clear he was hurt. Sakuraba landed a three-punch combination that seemingly knocked Gracie down. Gracie got up. Sakuraba landed another combination of punches. Gracie failed to get a takedown. Gracie slipped while running forward. Gracie stood against the ropes near his corner, talking to the people in his team. The crowd was cheering now, knowing Sakuraba was closing out on a win. Gracie’s corner was now holding their towe. Gracie fell again, getting hit with many punches from Sakuraba, who was holding his gi in the process. Gracie stayed on his back on the ground while Sakuraba stayed on his feet. Sakuraba tried for a flying punch, not fully connecting with it. Sakuraba got back to his feet, with Gracie on his back as the round ended.

As the seventh round was about to begin, the corner of Gracie threw in the towel. The fighters hugged as the crowd was in a standing ovation. After six rounds and 90 minutes of competition, Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Royce Gracie, ending the undefeated streak of the Brazilian fighter.

Bout 3: Akira Shoji (6-2) vs. Mark Coleman (8-4) (GP Quarter-Final)

In the next Grand Prix fight, Akira Shoji fought Mark Coleman. Coleman was the first fighter of the evening to be wearing shoes. Shoji landed a few low kicks early. Coleman was coming forward with jabs. Coleman had a hold of Shoji, landing a knee to the groin and then getting a takedown. After they got down, the referee paused the fight as Shoji was hit in the groin. Coleman was very angry about this, shouting expletives at the referee. Coleman was given a yellow card because of this. Both fighters had a flurry of strikes when they resumed. Coleman got another takedown seconds later. Coleman was standing, but kept Shoji on the ground for many minutes. He landed lots of punches to the left side of Shoji which started to leave a mark. The fight paused for a second to get the fighters out of the ropes. They got back up after a long time on the ground. Coleman put Shoji against the corner in a clinch. Coleman got a takedown from the clinch. Coleman landed punches to the head mostly while having Shoji on his back. They got back up after the 10 minute warning was heard. Shoji had clear damage on his face when they got up. Coleman connected with a hard uppercut in stand-up. They clinched up again, where Coleman landed punches to the body again. In the final few minutes, Shoji reversed a takedown, not fully completing a takedown. He landed a couple of punches before Coleman got back up in the clinch. The round concluded from the clinch. All three judges favoured Mark Coleman, advancing him to the semi-finals.

Bout 4: Kazuyuki Fujita (3-0) vs. Mark Kerr (12-0) (GP Quarter-Final)

The final quarter-final fight was a clash of two undefeated fighters, those being Kazuyuki Fujita and Mark Kerr. Kerr got a double leg takedown in the first minute of the fight. Kerr landed some strikes while on top. He landed two knees to the head of Fujita as he was getting up. Fujita started to fight back with punches, however that was stopped once Kerr shot for another takedown. Fujita held the ropes to avoid a takedown, but got hit in the head with another knee. Fujita landed a knee to the head of Kerr while on the ground. They went back to the feet, where Fujita slipped while coming forward with a punch. Kerr got on the back of Fujita on the ground. Back on the feet, Fujita caught a leg kick, failing to do anything with it. Fujita shot for another takedown, with Kerr stopping it. He got it upon second attempt. He got on the back of Kerr, wailing away with punches to the side of the head. He also scored with knees to the body. This continued for many minutes. Kerr finally escaped, getting back to his feet. Fujita kept trying for a takedown, although Kerr stayed against the rope until the referee separated them. Fujita tried again for a takedown, putting a leg of Kerr over the top rope. Fujita shot again, with Kerr going to his knees. He landed a few knees to Fujita before the fight ran out of time. Going to the judges, the ground work from Kazuyuki Fujita made him move on.

Bout 5: Masaaki Satake (1-2) vs. Guy Mezger (23-10) (10+10 Rounds)

After losing in the opening round of the Grand Prix, Masaaki Satake and Guy Mezger fought. This fight was different than others on this show, as it had two rounds. The first was 10 minutes, with the other being five minutes. Mezger shot for a takedown to start the first round, putting Satake against a corner. They were in a clinch for numerous minutes, with the referee eventually separating them. After Satake landed a strike, Mezger put him in the corner again. They were separated a second time. Mezger put Satake in the same position again, with the referee giving them less time when they separated again. Satake landed a head kick as Mezger was about to shoot for a takedown. The round ended after a few minutes of stand-up.

In the second round, Mezger finally got a takedown from a clinch. Mezger was striking periodically from half guard, holding the position for many minute. They got up, with Satake landing a kick to the body. While Satake threw another kick, Mezger got his second takedown. They got up again, where Mezger got another takedown. The round ended with Mezger in full mount. When going to the scorecards Guy Mezger got the win.

Bout 6: Kazushi Sakuraba (9-0) vs. Igor Vovchanchyn (40-2) (GP Semi-Final)

The first of two semi-final fights of the grand prix saw Kazushi Sakuraba return to fight Igor Vovchanchyn. The fight started with slow paced striking, as Sakuraba threw a few jabs. Sakuraba got a takedown after a minute or two. On top position, Sakuraba went into side control and almost got an armbar. Vovchanchyn got on the back of Sakuraba, although they got up shortly after. Vovchanchyn stuffed a takedown from Sakuraba. They got up, with Sakuraba getting a single leg takedown seconds later. Sakuraba landed some strikes before standing up. He kept Vovchanchyn on his back while he stood. Vovchanchyn sood back up, throwing Sakuraba to the ground. He was on the back of Sakuraba, throwing some punches before they got up again. Vovchanchyn landed lots of punches from the top which cut Sakuraba open slightly. They got up, where Sakuraba shot for another takedown. Vovchanchyn jumped to avoid a takedown. Sakuraba was on his back as the round ended. The fight was ruled to go to overtime, however Sakuraba’s corner chose to give up. Igor Vovchanchyn moved to the finals after a 15 minute battle with Kazushi Sakuraba.

Bout 7: Kazuyuki Fujita (4-0) vs. Mark Coleman (9-4) (GP Semi-Final)

To find the other main event fighter, Kazuyuki Fujita fought Mark Coleman. As the fight started, Fujita charged at Coleman and shot for a single leg takedown. As he did this, Fujita’s corner threw in the towel to end the fight. Fujita had his left leg taped up and was wincing in pain on the ground. In an odd fashion no doubt, Mark Coleman advanced to the finals.

Bout 8: Alexander Otsuka (1-4) vs. Frank Shamrock (23-5) (10+10)

Before the grand prix final, Frank Shamrock returned to MMA, facing Alexander Otsuka. Before the fight, a video was shown of Shamrock and Otsuka trash talking each other at an MMA event in San Jacinto, California, USA. As the fight started, the lights went out and the place went dark. The lights went up seconds later, where Shamrock had his guard up. Coming back from pro wrestling, it made sense he was ready to evade a possible Undertaker attack. During the striking that started the fight, Otsuka ran the ropes for a second. Shamrock got a takedown after a few minutes of stand-up. After throwing strikes for many minutes, Shamrock almost got Otsuka in an arm move. After Otsuka escaped the hold, standing up. Shamrock stuffed a takedown attempt, going back to the feet after throwing some punches on the ground. Shamrock was connecting with good punches in the feet as the round was winding down. Otsuka was bleeding around his nose. He was dropped by a four-punch combination of hooks. The referee stepped in moments later, giving Frank Shamrock his first win in Pride FC.

Bout 9: Igor Vovchanchyn (41-2) vs. Mark Coleman (10-4) (GP Grand Final)


In the main event, Igor Vovchanchyn fought Mark Coleman to find the winner of the 2000 Grand Prix. Coleman started the fight with a takedown. Coleman held Vovchanchyn down for many minutes. He eventually went into side control. They were moved away from the ropes. Coleman got back into full guard. Coleman eventually got back into side control. Coleman started to try for a kimura, however Vovchanchyn escaped after 30 seconds or so. Coleman went back to top position for the rest of the round.

Coleman shot for another takedown early in the second round, getting it. They went into north south position, where Coleman started pour on lots of knees to the head. After being hit with numerous knees, Vovchanchyn tapped out. Becoming the Pride 2000 Grand Prix winner, Mark Coleman celebrated frantically throughout the stadium. He was awarded a belt, huge trophy and large cheque. Kazushi Sakuraba also came in the ring at the end to be awarded a trophy as well. 

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