Pride finished off their explosive year of 2000 with “Cold Fury,” a show featuring the top names in the promotion at the time. In the main event of the card, Kazushi Sakuraba fought Ryan Gracie, who made his Pride FC debut earlier in the year. Ending off the year 2000 in MMA, let’s look at Pride 12.
This was the first event Pride FC held at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The venue launched in September of 2000. What makes the venue such a “Super Arena” is how it has two formations, with one providing thousands of more seats for the venue.
Over the years this venue would become synonymous with Japanese MMA, especially with Pride FC, as they return to the venue many more times in the future. Currently, the venue plays host to the flagship events that RIZIN Fighting Federation holds, including their New Year’s Eve event.
Original Date: 9/12/00
The opening ceremony started with a Christmas theme, as the ring girls were in holiday outfits. Then, some structure of metal and televisions were displayed above the ring. Unfortunately, the English feed did not show the rest of the opening ceremonies.
Bout 1: Alexander Otsuka (2-5) vs. Guy Mezger (25-11-2) (10+10)
Kicking off the show, promotional regulars Guy Mezger and Alexander Otsuka fought. Otsuka got out of a losing streak in his last fight, stopping Mike Bourke in the first round with a double armbar. Mezger was returning from a loss against Wanderlei Silva, being stopped by punches after an explosive few minutes of action.
To start off the fight Otsuka scored with some leg kicks. The crowd was cheering every time Otsuka connected. Otsuka shot for a slow takedown in the first minute which Mezger stopped. They stayed in a clinch after the failed takedown. They eventually left the clinch, where Mezger landed a right hand and a head kick. He scored with another right hand which dropped Otsuka. After some ground and pound, the referee stepped in and ended the fight. The crowd went silent. In their next fight, Otsuka and Mezger fought in a rematch in American promotion King of the Cage. Mezger won that matchup as well.
Bout 2: Johil de Oliveira (11-3-1) vs. Carlos Newton (8-3)
In his first major MMA fight, Johil de Oliveira fought against Carlos Newton. Earlier in the year, Newton earned his first win in Pride, stopping Yuhi Sano with a slick armbar. Oliveira was throwing leg kicks to start off. Newton caught one of the kicks for a takedown. There was a great exchange on the ground where Newton tried for a leg lock and Oliveira defended. Newton settled with half guard after lots of work from both fighters. They stood up after a few minutes of ground work. After Newton scored with a punch, Oliveira got a takedown. Newton was able to reverse the position, getting side control. In half guard, Newton landed some punches. Oliveira was bleeding, but just a little. Oliveira moved around on the bottom, however Newton held the position until the round ended.
Oliveira bowed to start the second round. He got a takedown in the first minute of the round. They got up a minute later, where Oliveira tried for another takedown. Newton was able to stop the attempt. He blocked another moments later. Oliveira landed on the ground on his back after Newton tried for a takedown. Newton went down too eventually, taking full guard. They both threw short strikes on the ground. This carried on for many minutes. With under two minutes to go, they were stood up and Newton was given a yellow card. Oliveira failed to land a takedown on the feet. Both being tired, there wasn’t much action in stand-up. Newton got a takedown and went into side control. Newton got back up and went down in full guard. The round ran out of time while Newton was in control on the ground. Carlos Newton won the fight via decision. Newton went over to the UFC after this fight.
Bout 3: Ricco Rodriguez (7-1) vs. John Marsh (6-3) (10+10)
Making his Pride debut, John Marsh fought Ricco Rodriguez. Rodriguez was on a streak coming into this fight, having won his last two fights in the promotion. Rodriguez missed with a high kick early on, slipping and falling. They clinched up against the ropes, with Rodriguez eventually getting a takedown from the position. He was able to get into side control after fighting off upkicks from Marsh. Marsh got up eventually. Holding the head of Marsh, Rodriguez landed a few knees to the head. They went into a clinch in a corner, where Rodriguez landed punches to the body. The referee separated them eventually. Marsh tried for a takedown, with Rodriguez limiting it to a clinch. The referee pulled them apart again. They went into the corner for the third time in the round. This time Rodriguez was able to get a takedown from the clinch. He landed some knees to the body before the round ended.
Marsh was able to stop a takedown at the start of the second round. From the clinch, Rodriguez got Marsh down. He had top position in side control. Going into a north-south position, Rodriguez scored with some knees to the head. Marsh was able to escape the position and get on his feet after a few minutes. Rodriguez got another takedown around halfway through the round. Rodriguez tried for a neck crank, but never kept it in for a long time. Rodriguez stayed in full guard until the 20th minute expired. With a decision, Ricco Rodriguez got the victory. Marsh never fought in Pride again, however he got a shot in the UFC in 2005.
Bout 4: Akira Shoji (8-3-5) vs. Ricardo Almeida (0-0) (10+10)
In the fourth fight, Akira Shoji was put up against Ricardo Almeida, who was making his pro debut. Shoji came into this fight on a two-fight winning streak. Shoji had a quick start, jumping at Almeida. Almeida grabbed him and put in in a corner of the ring. They got out of the clinch after a minute or so. Almeida landed some leg kicks before scoring a single leg takedown. His movement was fast and explosive. Almeida got into side control eventually. Shoji was able to get him back into full guard. He escaped the ground control around halfway into the round. Shoji landed two punches on the feet, putting in a guillotine choke when Almeida tried for a takedown. They stayed on their knees for a minute or so until Almeida exploded out of the position, getting back on the feet. Another takedown was avoided by Shoji. Almeida scored with a few punches before Shoji got his first takedown of the fight. Shoji stood up before the round ended, trying to cartwheel his way back into full guard. Almeida was on his back as the round concluded.
The fighters traded leg kicks to open the second round. Shoji clinched up in the second minute, however they were separated after he was kneed in the groin. After a few minutes, Shoji was able to continue. When they continued they were in striking again, despite Shoji earning the clinch earlier. Almeida landed a few punches, but moments later Shoji got a takedown from a clinch. Shoji started to bleed from his nose, causing another pause in the fight. This time they resumed on the ground in the same position as before. Shoji stood up, getting hit with an upkick before Almeida got up too. Almeida out-punched Shoji on the feet, making Shoji get another takedown. They got up again, where Almeida put Shoji in the corner of the ring. They were separated due to inactivity eventually. In striking, Almeida continued to be the only fighter landing. Despite this, he clinched up again. When they separated, a two-punch combination dropped Shoji. Almeida took top position on the ground after the knockdown. Shoji was able to escape the position and get to the feet, but Almeida kept charging forward with punches and knees. Every once in a while Almeida would slip a little, almost as if one of his legs was hurt. Almeida got another takedown to end the round. Going to the judges the victory went to Ricardo Almeida, keeping him undefeated.
Almeida will fight in Pride again, however his next few fights happened in the UFC.
Bout 5: Enson Inoue (10-5) vs. Heath Herring (15-5) (10+10)
After a real come from behind win in his last fight, Heath Herring returned to fight Enson Inoue. Inoue was attempting to break a two-fight losing streak which kicked off in January. Inoue was throwing lots of punches to start. Herring backed up and almost egged Inoue on to continue. Inoue landed a left hand which dropped Herring. He recovered, scoring a takedown on Inoue. From side control, Herring tried for a kimura. He let go of the hold eventually, standing up and making Inoue get up as well. Inoue clinched up, with Herring getting another takedown. They traded punches on the ground. Herring went into side control, landing knees to the head until the referee stopped the fight. Inoue immediately protested the stoppage. Inoue fought again in Pride, however he dipped out for the year of 2001.
Bout 6: Wanderlei Silva (13-3) vs. Dan Henderson (9-0) (10+10)
Making his debut in Pride, Dan Henderson was matched up with the explosive and dangerous Wanderlei Silva. Henderson came into this fight with an undefeated record of nine fights. Silva was acting intense during their staredown, however Henderson was relaxed.
Silva dropped Henderson with punches in the first minute. Silva then took full guard on top. He eventually got up, throwing leg kicks to the grounded Henderson. This caused a stalemate for a couple of minutes which ended when the referee stood Henderson up. They clinched up, with Silva landing a couple of punches when exiting. A right hand from Henderson rocked Silva. In a clinch Henderson got a takedown, opening up with strikes on the ground. Silva started to bleed, with a hematoma opening above his left eye. A pause came to check on the cut on Silva. When the fight resumed, they went back to the position they had on the ground. When they stood up, Silva landed a combination of punches that rocked Henderson. Silva landed a knee to the head, however it caused a pause since Henderson was on all four limbs. They continued on the feet. Henderson got rocked by punches, which made him shoot for a takedown. Silva was able to get top position on the ground, scoring with a few punches before standing up again. He threw a kick to the head before going back down into full guard. Silva stood up in the final minute. He broke through the guard of Henderson, landing a stomp to the head. Down in full mount, Silva picked up the pace of punches he was throwing. He got up and threw two more head stomps, however he was warned for grabbing the rope in the process. The round ended in this position.
Silva started the second round with a flurry of punches. Henderson stopped it by clinching. They left clinch where both of them landed hard punches. Henderson shot for a takedown, pulling guard and letting Silva take top position eventually. Silva got up and chopped away with leg kicks again. Silva tried for another stomp, however he slipped an fell. The referee stood up Henderson eventually. A right hook from Silva shook Henderson, making him shoot for a takedown. Henderson went on his back again. He was stood up again, this time with less hesitation from the referee. Henderson seemed quite tired, wobbling around the ring. Silva got a takedown in a corner of the ring. They were shifted away from the ropes by the referees. They were stood up and both given a yellow card due to inactivity. Silva landed two more punches before getting a takedown. Silva got into full mount, but did not let much go as Henderson held his head down. After 20 minutes of competition, Wanderlei Silva walked away with a decision win.
Bout 7: Kazuyuki Fujita (5-1) vs. Gilbert Yvel (23-5) (10+10)
After an early groin kick stopped Gilbert Yvel in his last fight from battling Wanderlei Silva, he returned on this card to fight Kazuyuki Fujita. Fujita had stopped Ken Shamrock in his last fight. Fujita wore shoes for this fight. Fujita got a takedown right out of the gates. While Yvel was trying to get up, he almost went in-between the ropes and out of the ring. Fujita kept it on the ground, going into side control for a minute or so. From half guard, Fujita tried for a kimura, never locking it in though. The kimura attempt continued for a large part of the round. The round ended with Fujita in half guard.
Yvel landed a few punches while Fujita charged at him to start the second round. Fujita shot for a takedown which Yvel resisted. Fujita slammed Yvel to the ground in attempt to secure a takedown. Fujita eventually got half guard on the ground again. Since Fujita wasn’t doing anything on top this time, they were stood up. Yellow cards were given out. Yvel exploded with two flying knees when they resumed. Fujita got another takedown, stopping the momentum that Yvel quickly obtained. Fujita kept the top position until the fight ended. Being dominant on the ground for both rounds, Kazuyuki Fujita walked away with the scorecard victory.
Bout 8: Igor Vovchanchyn (45-3-1) vs. Mark Kerr (13-1) (10+10)
The co-main event of the evening saw Igor Vovchanchyn wrap up his year facing Mark Kerr. Vovchanchyn walked into this fight with a 6-1 record in the year 2000, making him the most successful fighter in the promotion this year. Kerr got a takedown in the first minute of the fight. While in top position Kerr seemingly got poked in the eye, causing a pause in action. They resumed shortly after from the same position. They were stood up eventually due to inactivity and given yellow cards. Kerr got another takedown moments later. The round ended with Kerr holding top position.
Kerr came forward trying for a takedown early in the second round. Vovchanchyn seemingly landed a knee to the head, although moments later Kerr secured a takedown. They were stood up with around half of the round left. Vovchanchyn was given another yellow card. Vovchanchyn threw a good combination of punches and a kick that hurt Kerr. Vovchanchyn got on the back of Kerr, who was on the ground and shelling up. Kerr tried for a kimura from the bottom position. Vovchanchyn escaped, and they eventually got back to the feet. Kerr got another takedown, putting the fight in the stalemate it found itself in for the majority of the time before. Kerr went into a half guard, failing to move into a full mount. The crowd sounded somewhat displeased when the fight ended. The fight went to a draw, causing a five minute overtime round.
Vovchanchyn landed numerous punches which dropped Kerr in the first minute of overtime. He got on the back of Kerr, landing even more punches. Kerr tried standing up, but Vovchanchyn threw him back down. Kerr eventually escaped the position and was able to get the top position of a full guard. Kerr held the position until the round ended. Going back to the judges, they all favoured Igor Vovchanchyn after the extra round.
Bout 9: Kazushi Sakuraba (11-1-1) vs. Ryan Gracie (1-0) (10)
In the main event, Kazushi Sakuraba continued his rivalry against the Gracie family, fighting Ryan Gracie. It was mentioned that Gracie injured himself badly a few days ago, rupturing a bicep. However, they decided he would continue on with the fight. Likely due to this, the fight was one 10 minute round as opposed to two. Gracie had tape over his right shoulder and knees. Sakuraba was sporting orange and yellow dyed hair for this fight.
Sakuraba threw a leg kick early that Gracie caught. Still standing, Gracie was on the back of Sakuraba in the corner of the ring. After a minute or so, the referee separated the fighters. Gracie shot for a takedown, putting Sakuraba in a body lock against the ropes before getting Sakuraba down. Sakuraba stayed on the ground for only a few seconds before springing back up. Gracie tried for a single leg, only getting to the knees. Sakuraba tried for a choke from behind, letting it go shortly after. Gracie flipped onto his back, where Sakuraba was in side control. Gracie went on his stomach again, where Sakuraba landed some strikes. They got up in a clinch, where Gracie had Sakuraba in the corner. Gracie had his arm around the rope, which the referees corrected. Sakruaba tried for an armbar, never extending the arm of Gracie. Near the end of the round, Sakuraba had Gracie in the corner. Gracie tried for a heel hook on the bottom, not completing it before the round ended. After the 10 minutes of competition, it was ruled that Kazushi Sakuraba had won. This was the final chapter, at least for a while, in the Sakuraba and Gracie rivalry. The English DVD ended with the broadcast trio of Stephen Quadros, Bas Rutten and Eddie Bravo saying goodbye to the audience.