Perhaps you remember PRIDE FC, or perhaps you only heard about it after the fact. Either way, you probably know that, for a long while, it was the main competitor of the UFC. A Japanese version of MMA, PRIDE went down in a ring, had far more brutal rules (like soccer kicks being allowed), paid insane amounts of money to its fighters, and had crazy fights featuring so many who went on to become legends. Many hailed the organization as superior to the UFC.
Of course, PRIDE eventually died. But tonight, with much fanfare, something was resurrected from its long-dead husk.
It was called RIZIN.
On New Years Eve Fedor Emelianenko will return and climb into the RIZIN ring for that night’s installment, but what we just got (seriously, it finished moments ago) was an appetizer. King Mo (of Strikeforce and Bellator fame) fought and won via KO in the opening round of a heavyweight tournament that featured no other recognizable names coming out on top (nearly all won by glorious KO, though). Meanwhile, in the main event, Kazushi Sakuraba – the man who took out Gracie after Gracie and seemed to have solved the riddle of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu before anyone else – took on Shinya Aoki.
This one was ugly, and par for the course for whenever an aged legend steps back into combat long past their expiration date.
Despite having fought heavyweights in his career, Sakuraba came down to meet Aoki around welterweight, and the drained fighter had zero pep (or ability) when it came to preventing Aoki’s takedown. What followed was simply Aoki securing top position and pounding on him relentlessly, and all Sakuraba could do was squirm a little and get bloody for minute after painful minute until the ref stepped in.
Spike TV will supposedly be airing Fedor’s fight at least on some sort of tape-delay on Thursday. But if you want to see it all (and see it live), I recommend hunting down a stream. It’s been fun stuff thus far.