The MMA world had a large absence for a period of time in 2001, with no events from any major promotion from late June to late September. The existence of MMA came back on September 24th, with top Japanese MMA promotion Pride FC returning with Pride 16: “Beasts From The East.”
The show, while being typical for Pride’s presentation in the 2000s had more sad moments than usual as the world was still processing shock from the September 11th attacks which happened in the United States earlier in the month.
The DVD started with the live crowd at the Osaka-Jo Hall in Osaka, Japan observing one minute of silence due to the September 11th attacks in the United States. It was also mentioned that a portion of the profits from ticket sales would go towards funds related to the attacks.
The English commentary team was quick to address the attacks which had only happened 13 days before this event took place.
“I spoke to every single fighter competing tonight … they are all united in opposing these unlawful and cowardly acts that have been perpetrated against the citizens of the world,” said broadcaster Stephen Quadros.
Goodridge Gets Second Over Yatsu
In his second meeting over Yoshiaki Yatsu, Gary Goodridge picked up another win over the fighter. Goodridge walked down Yatsu, blocking takedowns and landing strikes over the course of the three minutes that they competed.
Near the end, Yatsu tried for a takedown but was caught with a guillotine choke while coming down. As Goodridge held the choke the corner for Yatsu threw in the towel.
Yatsu wore shoes for the fight.
This was the last MMA fight for Yatsu. Goodridge’s next appearance was Pride 21, which happened in mid-2002.
Seconds Is What Silva Needs
A quick and damaging victory went to Assuerio Silva in the second fight, stopping Yoshihisa Yamamoto in the first minute of the fight. The stoppage came after a punch dropped Yamamoto, with follow-up strikes landing before the referee ended the fight.
The fight was Yamamoto’s first in Pride following an extensive career in Japanese MMA.
While Silva fought in Pride again, he did not return until 2003.
Matsui Puts On Dominating Performance
A successful debut saw Murilo “Ninja” Rua finish Daijiro Matsui in the third round with soccer kicks. The fight started close, eventually swaying into a dominating performance for Rua as cardio slowed Matsui down.
Matsui’s best round was the first, where throughout he was able to escape and reverse positions on the ground. Rua’s ability to get control on the ground and damage his opponent made him the clear winner as time went on.
Both fighters had prominent names in their corners, as Matsui had Kazushi Sakuraba and Rua had Wanderlei Silva.
Newcomer Arona Defeats Mezger
In his first Pride FC appearance, Ricardo Arona got a split decision victory over longtime promotional fighter Guy Mezger.
The fight saw Mezger have a strong two rounds (15 minutes), being able to land takedowns and out-strike Arona, nearly to a point where the referee could intervene. The third round had Arona dominant in top position as both fighters were extremely fatigued.
Mezger wore American flag shorts in the fight and left the ring with the American flag on his back. He also wore wrestling shoes in the fight.
Schilt Makes Splash In Pride
In his first Pride FC appearance, Semmy Schilt defeated Pride gatekeeper Akira Shoji. Schilt was able to out-strike Shoji, dropping him with punches and knees in the second-half of the first round.
Like most of his fights, Schilt had a huge height advantage over Shoji.
Per the commentary team, the fighters were matched after both of their original opponents were injured. Schilt was meant to fight one of the promotion’s top fighters, Igor Vovchanchyn.
Schilt had two previous UFC fights before heading to Japan, where a large portion of his career had happened prior.
Silva Versus Sakuraba Announced
Before the next fight, Kazushi Sakuraba and Wanderlei Silva were in the ring to announce their rematch for Pride 17, which would happen on November 3rd. In their first meeting, Silva brutalized Sakuraba with strikes.
Fouls Give Frye Win
The MMA return for Don Frye had an unceremonious ending, with three fouls from Gilbert Yvel giving him his win. The third of three fouls was eye gouging.
Yvel was quite angry by the disqualification afterwards, with people trying to keep him in his corner and make him calm down.
“Gilbert [Yvel] settle down man. We can do it again,” said Frye after the fight. Frye became more relaxed after, but was booed by the crowd after complaining about being given fouls.
The fight was the return to MMA for Frye, who was one of the more prominent names in the late 90’s in the UFC. In an interview on the English broadcast before the fight, Frye said he returned because “my ego” and “also for my children. Give them a good life, secure a future for them, let them go to college so they don’t have to beat people up for a living.”
Frye started his walkout by standing for the US National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” with his hand over his heart while holding the American flag. The walkout was emotional for him, as he had tears in his eyes as the anthem concluded. He also wore a t-shirt to the ring that said “Terrorists Suck” in red.
Nogueira Stops GP Champion
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira stopped Mark Coleman in the main event of the show, catching him with a triangle armbar on the ground. The win saw Nogueira knock off one of the top heavyweights in the promotion in only his second promotional fight.
The win for Nogueira broke the six-fight streak of wins that Coleman had before including the entire Pride 2000 Grand Prix.
Nogueira’s Pride FC debut was in his previous fight, where he defeated Gary Goodridge.
UFC Next on The Calendar
Pride FC’s next event would be Pride 17 “Championship Chaos.” The show saw two championship fights, crowning the promotion’s inaugural middleweight and heavyweight champion.
Next on the MMA calendar was UFC 33: “Victory In Vegas.” The show had two championship fights, with the main event having Tito Ortiz putting his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on the line against Vladimir Matyushenko.