Welcome to another week of “Throwback Thursday,” the series where we watch and reflect on retro MMA. To continue our viewing of 2002, this week we’re looking at Pride FC’s first “Shockwave” event.
Pride FC was certainly known for its spectacles at this time. However, this event was a spectacle like no other. Let me break down the few things that made this show so big.
For one, the absolute size of this event was quite something. “Shockwave” took place at the Tokyo National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. This was a building first built for the 1958 Asian Games. It provides room for a track venue along with a soccer field, meaning it is huge in width. The venue, which was demolished just a few years ago, had a large capacity which was seen quite during this broadcast.
This show was also big because it was a major collaboration between Pride FC and the top kickboxing organization K-1. Apart from a couple of exceptions, this card was both promotions putting their talent against each other in every fight.
This is the first of many “Shockwave” events to happen in the coming years. Let’s give it a watch.
The show started with an intro that was very similar to the opening ceremony that you would see at the Olympics. To start the event, Antonio Inoki and Helio Gracie lit up a large torch at the top of the venue.
The views of this event are seriously breathtaking. This was a massive crowd.
Silva Earns Quickest Win of the Night
The evening started with a real one-sided pummeling. The always dangerous Wanderlei Silva made quick work of Tatsuya Iwasaki in the first fight.
The outcome of this fight seemed quite predictable. At this point, we knew Silva was a killer and Iwasaki had no MMA experience before. The English commentary team for this broadcast was discussing “how” Silva would win this fight, not “if.”
Silva surprisingly didn’t get to do much damage in this fight. Iwasaki seemingly slipped during a striking exchange in the second minute, allowing Silva to go into a ground and pound position. The referee stopped it here. And while it may have been a weird stoppage, honestly it was likely for the better to save Iwasaki here.
Matsui Loses Again
The tough and always willing to fight Daijiro Matsui battled K-1’s Jerrel Venetiaan in the next matchup.
Frustratingly, the tape we have of this bout on UFC Fight Pass started in the third round. It was listed that this happened due to “time constraints.” Alright.
This round seems like enough to come to some conclusions. Venetiaan, a veteran of K-1, was dominating Matsui with striking. The wrestling of Matsui would slow his momentum, but in the end that didn’t do enough for him in this frame. It was clear who was having the better fight. Venetiaan won on scorecards.
Goodridge Continues Run With Win Over Dams
Gary Goodridge dominated Lloyd Van Dams in the next fight. Goodridge was on a roll during these days, entering this fight having gone undefeated in his previous four. Van Dams was making his MMA debut. However, he had a large amount of kickboxing experience in K-1.
This was a cautionary tale that everyone has heard before – it’s mixed martial arts. Goodridge certainly mixed the martial arts, getting Van Dams to the ground and stopping him with ground and pound.
According to databases, this was Goodridge’s second fight in two weeks. He appeared earlier in the month on a K-1 card in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Hoost And Schilt Go To Draw
Now for the first of two kickboxing fights on the card. This was the first bout where a K-1 fighter had the home-court advantage. In this matchup, the towering and tall Semmy Schilt battled Ernest Hoost.
This five-round bout was quite competitive. Schilt was constantly advancing, but Hoost remained active off his back foot and landed punches as well. The commentary thought Schilt won, and there was probably a fair argument there. I honestly thought this was a hard one to call so I can’t really say.
To the shock and even disappointment of some crowds, this was ruled a draw. While this wasn’t a defeat, this bout ended an extensive winning streak that Hoost had in K-1 before this.
LeBanner Puts Frye Away Quickly
In the second kickboxing bout, Don Frye fought K-1’s Jerome LeBanner. Frye was still riding the momentum of his all-out brawl against Yoshihiro Takayama from two months before. As expected, he got a big reaction when doing his walkout.
This fight certainly didn’t go his way. Frye’s brawling style doesn’t translate over to kickboxing at all, it seems. LeBanner lit him up with shots, putting him away in the second minute with a right hook.
This continued an incredibly strong run for LeBanner in K-1 at this time.
Between LeBanner and Hoost, K-1 really brought some of their best for these two kickboxing bouts. The promotion was well represented in their own sport here.
Nogueira Outlasts Larger, More Dangerous Sapp
The next fight was described by some as a “freakshow.” The larger-than-life Bob Sapp returned against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The size difference between these guys was quite visible – as is the case in most Sapp fights.
Sapp’s most memorable moment was in the opening minute, as he stuffed a takedown from Nogueira and then brutally slammed him to the canvas twice. Nogueira seemingly ate these blows, as it didn’t cause any visible damage to him.
Credit where it’s due, Sapp did real damage in this first round. A large portion of the frame was in ground and pound positions, where he landed hard strikes. Nogueira was wearing the shots as they went into their corners later.
Nogueira pulled guard early in the second round. As Sapp seemingly started to get tired, Nogueira’s skill on the ground took over. Nogueira was able to go from being on his back to taking side control. From this position, he attempted an armbar, eventually fully applying the submission for a tap.
Do you believe in miracles? Nogueira, the significantly smaller man, proved to show that grappling, patience, and certainly cardio can lead you to a win. But it wasn’t easy. He took a beating along the way and had the bumps and bruises to show for it in the end. But a win is a win, if you believe in that saying.
Grappling, And Controversy
Before the main event, we had an interesting co-main event. Grappling experts Hidehiko Yoshida and the prolific Royce Gracie fought some sort of a grappling exhibition next. Like, it was mostly grappling but there was some sort of striking that was allowed too, per the commentary. Let’s just say it was a grappling exhibition. They both wore gis for this matchup, which was a neat touch.
The fight finished in the seventh minute, as the match was stopped due to Yoshida applying a choke on Gracie. The referee seemingly stopped the fight under the suspicion that Gracie had gone unconscious. Gracie and his team immediately disputed this, causing an eruption in the ring. But another eruption was much larger and happening at the same time. In the massive venue, the entire crowd was losing their minds at this result.
This was Yoshida’s first appearance in Pride FC. However, we’re going to see him numerous times to come in the future. One must wonder, would he get an MMA fight if he didn’t get this win?
Eye Injury Takes Sakuraba Out of Battle Against Cro Cop
It’s main event time. To close out the night, arguably the biggest star in Pride FC, Kazushi Sakuraba, fought Mirko Cro Cop.
Now it’s worth remembering: Cro Cop was representing K-1 here, but he wasn’t some newcomer to MMA. He had appeared twice in Pride FC before this, including a fight earlier this year against Wanderlei Silva. However, he was certainly the K-1 side of this deal.
This is actually the first time we’re seeing Sakuraba in our 2002 watch. His previous fight was a brutal loss to Wanderlei Silva in November 2001.
This matchup showed one thing we already knew, and another thing we sort of learned. To start, Cro Cop is a killer with his striking. The speed and power are something to behold. However, we also saw here how he has a solid takedown defense.
Sakuraba got him down at one point in the opening round, causing the crowd to roar. However, this came after many attempts were blocked. It’s also worth noting that Cro Cop was physically much larger than Sakuraba, giving him an advantage.
Sakuraba got a large amount of ground control in the second round. Cro Cop remained active in these positions, landing with punches that did damage. Sakuraba exited the round with massive swelling to his right eye. In quite anticlimactic fashion, this is what put an end to the fight, and the evening. Sakuraba’s night came to an end due to doctor stoppage while he was in his corner.
We were likely to get an interesting battle in the third round of this fight if it were able to continue. But since these two never rematched, we’ll truly never know.
What did we learn from this card? Well, it showed that the MMA fighters are pretty good at MMA, and that the kickboxers are pretty good at kickboxing. Sorry, on a serious note: The spectacle of this show is a large part of what made it so interesting to watch. Everything about it felt like a big deal, even if sometimes it was a very large and tired man losing to a smaller person due to grappling. Or if it was a killer in Wanderlei Silva disposing of someone who had no business being there.
We’ll see the “Shockwave” series again in the future. This partnership between K-1 and Pride FC is far from over. But for now, we’re done. Back out the time machine we go, and back into the present time of 2022.
NEXT WEEK: WEC 4: Rumble Under The Sun