Art courtesy of Nalro
This is an open letter/article to those who love Pride. The people who got a contact high from the
dramatic pre-show pageantry, the sweet scream of Lenne Hardt and the fist pump
worthy Pride theme song, that blared as the fighters made their way for
introductions before the event even started.
If you stayed up into the wee hours of the night in a chat room, listening
to people call the action, but not being able to see it until the next day,
this is for you.
The Axe Murderer.
No nickname was ever more appropriate than this moniker
given to Wanderlei Silva. He was an axe
murderer, with icy steely eyes and a stare that could scare the dead. He’d look into the eyes of his next victim as
they stood center ring, ready for combat.
It was intense; it was awe inspiring, it was ******* breathtaking.
At one point, Silva was the best of the best, going four
years and twenty fights between losses.
He fought a murderer’s row, never ducking anyone. He beat Dan Henderson, Sakurraba (three
times), Quinton Jackson (twice), Yuki Kondo, Arona, Fujita, Minowaman,
Metzger. He was violent in a way that frightened
people. He is, was and will forever be
my favorite fighter. He makes a trip across
the ocean to return to Japan this weekend for a fight against an established
star, an American hero in Brian Stann.
It will be a very difficult test for Silva. Stann does everything well, including stand up
and trade. It will be a fight. Silva is ok with that, in fact, he loves it. He’s the Axe Murderer after all, and Saturday
night, he’s back where he belongs, fighting in Japan, in front of people who love
him, who rise and fall with his success and failures. It will be an amazing night for him.
The Fireball Kid.
Takanori Gomi was considered one of the best lightweight in
the world for a stretch of time in the mid-2000’s. He sat with a record of 24-2 and had beaten
everyone of merit in Japan. He was the cream of the crop, a combination
of punching power beyond his size, and heart beyond all comprehension. People, who only know the UFC version of
Gomi, don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.
Check out his fights with Jens Pulver or Kawajiri.
He will be fighting in Japan again this weekend as well,
against Diego Sanchez. He won’t have to
worry about not having a willing partner in violence, as Diego is always ready
to go guns hot and slug it out. It’s
going to be a great fight, I mean, it’s a can’t miss type of fight. Two guys who will lay it on the line until
one guy can no longer fight. The
hometown fans are going to be going crazy for Gomi, and it will be reminiscent
of greater times in MMA.
No Nickname Required.
When you’re 5’10” and 260 pounds with hands like hams and a
head like a block of concrete, you don’t need a nickname. Mark Hunt was known in Pride almost equally
for his ability to dish out punishment as well as receive it. He hits hard, and can be hit hard, repeatedly
and just come forward. He’s like
Godzilla, and he’s coming back to Japan to wreak some havoc in the
ring. He’ll be facing Stephan Struve, who, a monster in his own rights. He’s damn near seven feet tall, and he’ll be
looking to take Hunt down.
After having lost six consecutive fights, he has gone on a
three fight UFC win streak, and faces Struve who is on a streak of his own,
winning four consecutive. I find it hard
to believe that Struve can stand up to the punishment Hunt can dish out
standing, and if I were to wager, I’d say the fans will see Mark Hunt land a
big shot and crumble the “Skyscraper.”
While that will please the fans in Japan,
I have a feeling they will also take to Struve as the fans in Japan seem to
love anything oversized.
The bottom line here is if it is the curtain call for Silva,
Gomi or Hunt, there’s no better place for it to take place than in Japan. They were all stars here, they were heroes
and legends. If this is but one last
trip across the rising sun, may it be a safe and fortunate trip for these
legends of Pride.
Pride forever, Pride never dies.