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Japan’s Fall in Mixed Martial Arts

Posted November. 24, 2007 03:03,   


Would the former Pride fighters of mixed martial arts be successful?

The biggest change in the stage of mixed martial arts this year was the fall of Pride. Many fighters transferred from Pride, which was the face of Japan, to UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) of the U.S. as the latter underwrote the former. The initial expectation was that former Pride stars would easily tower above UFC fighters.

The boom of mixed martial arts occurred in Japan before the U.S., and people had generally believed that the fighting capacity of Pride was relatively higher.

But Mirko Crocop (33, Croatia) of the “killer high kick” was knocked out by relatively unknown fighter Gabriel Gonzaga (27, Brazil), and was also defeated by Cheick Kongo (32, France). Also, Mauricio Shogun (26, Brazil), who was a main attraction of Pride, also was defeated by Forrest Griffin (28, U.S.) in his first fight in UFC.

The remaining superstar from Pride is Wanderlei Da Silva (31, Brazil). He was the strongest fighter in the Middle Pride, and is awaiting his debut fight in UFC with Chuck Liddell (38, U.S.) in December. Liddell, who has been a champion in UFC, is one of the most popular stars in the U.S.

Kim Myeong, director of Entlian, a mixed martial arts company, explains the sub-par records of former Pride stars in UFC as follows, “In a word, it’s the difference between fighting on one’s homeground versus at an away game. There are differences in facilities and rules.”

The longest side of octagonal UFC ring is as long as 9.14m. The square ring of Pride is 6.4m on each side. The UFC ring is wider and requires more energy. In Pride, when the fight went to the edge of the ring, the fighters had to move to the center of the ring and resume fighting. This was to let the audience have a better view of the fight. There is no such rule in UFC. Once caught up by danger at the corner, it is hard to survive.

Following Silva, who will hold a debut match in UFC in this December, Crocop will also have a come-back match in January next year. Dan Henderson (37, U.S.), who had won championships in both middle and welter in Pride but was defeated in UFC, is also expected to hold a match in next March.

The results of these games will tell us whether or not the poor fights of former Pride stars are the result of temporary phenomena caused by new circumstances unfamiliar to them.

The champion in the heavyweight division who well deserves the name of “Lord of UFC” is “old” man Randy Couture (44, U.S.). After his resignation following the championship, he briefly appeared on TV as a commentator, but returned to games in March this year and achieved another championship. He successfully defended himself against Gonzaga, who had previously knocked out Crocop.