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Monday review: The Gabriel Gonzaga Show

By Zach Arnold | April 22, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

I saw a Japanese article at innolife talking about a recent 5 vs. 5 series with South Korean vs. ATT fighters. Is there any more information available about that event?

Gambling 911 on the Dana/Fedor contract dispute, if you want to call it that. Plus, they acknowledge some of the questions we’ve asked about those PRIDE fighter contracts. I’ll have more commentary about this on the next edition of our radio show.

Gryphon at NHB News notes the official broadcasting stoppage of UFC programming on WOWOW. The network had been broadcasting UFC shows since April of 2002. Gryphon has a message in English for Dana White.

There was a significant amount of coverage for Mirko Cro Cop’s loss to Gabriel Gonzaga in the various Japanese newspapers. Sankei Sports played the story straight but covered the significance of the loss, while Sports Nippon buried Mirko and called his KO loss disgraceful. They made sure to point out that Mirko was KO’d by a black belt in BJJ as well. Nikkan Sports did an excellent job in their article, talking about the differences between UFC and PRIDE rules (the cage, the use of elbows, etc.) and how Mirko was facing a new challenge because of it. The paper also pointed out what I did, which is that UFC made ‘a big miscalculation’ in booking Mirko vs. Gonzaga and that Mirko’s name value carrying the PRIDE ’signboard’ got damaged. Like Nikkan Sports, Daily Sports called Mirko’s loss disgraceful and pointed out that he lost his UFC Heavyweight title shot against Randy Couture.

Mr. Gonzaga is becoming quite the overnight star, as his brutal KO of Mirko was played during the ‘Ultimate Highlight’ video package on ESPN TV’s Sportscenter program. Plus, check out Kuma’s Japanese web page of information on Napao. Great work.

Watching the rise of Gabriel Gonzaga in UFC should be a happy occasion for all of us. He is a legitimately good person. When he made his UFC debut, he had a horrible fight in late 2005 against Kevin Jordan. Gonzaga was touted as someone with heavy hands who could knock out guys out. His fight performance against Jordan was unmercilessly ripped online. However, there was a good reason for why his UFC debut fight performance was sluggish. Here is Gabriel Gonzaga in his own words from November 26, 2005 in a statement he released to me and Brazilian writer Denis Martins.

A statement from Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga

From Napao:

I choose the Editor-in-Chief of PuroresuPower.com (Zach Arnold) and the Brazilian Correspondent of ADCC News (Denis Martins) to publish my letter, because they are the people who looked deeply into the problems I had prior to my UFC 56 fight. They knew that I wasn’t 100% going into the fight, so they gave me the support to translate this letter from Portuguese to English and explain the situation.

I would like to say that debuting in an event such as the great UFC 56 show isn’t an easy task for a fighter, even fighters who have lots of experience in other organizations. The pressure of debuting in an event that is considered by many to be one of the best in the world is huge. It is always good to debut with a victory, and better with a KO like the one I delivered to Kevin “The Shaman” Jordan.

My lack of stamina in the fight against Jordan is something that I want to discuss further and give you an explanation about. People who know me and have seen my previous 5 MMA fights recognize me as a fighter who doesn’t like to stall. I like to trade blows or go for submissions for an entire fight. My only defeat in a fight was against PRIDE fighter Fabricio Werdum at Jungle FC 1. It was a three-round war that the crowd applauded us for. I always do a lot of strong pre-fight training for upcoming matches and I never expect to face a tomato can in fights. I always intend on showing my best game, no matter who the opponent is. I always will dash against who is in front of me with all of my strength.

When my fight partner Marcio showed me the UFC contract, I didn’t hesitate in signing it because UFC was always a dream for me, a dream to participate in this premiere American MMA organization. I signed it and I had two months to prepare, which is enough time to provide an excellent showing for the UFC fans. I moved from my residence of Sao Paulo, Brazil to Massachusetts to participate at the training center where all of my preparation was done for the UFC 56 fight against Jordan. However, destiny conspired against me and gave me some unpleasant surprises which totally put me down. My wife was five months pregnant with twins and these would be our first two kids. We discovered that one of the children nearly died and that the other child was at risk of dying, putting my wife’s life at risk as well. We moved immediately to Rio de Janeiro, where we would have more hospital support and the support of my wife’s parents. The situation was growing more desparate and I couldn’t let my wife be alone in this tough moment. With seven months of pregnancy gone by, we had to make an emergency child birth. God reserved a place on his side to one of my daughters (Leticia) and he gave us the gift of a beautiful girl named Isabela (who stayed in the incubator for a month and five days to gain some weight). Now she is at home with my wife and I thank God for it.

With all of this taking place, I arrived in Massachusetts 12 days prior to the UFC 56 fight and I didn’t have the time to prepare properly. I couldn’t tell the organizers and promoters of UFC (who trusted my potential) that I would have to cancel 10 days before the show. I couldn’t let this opportunity of showing my talent to the UFC fans slip away.

I went into the fight against Jordan that night thinking that I had a good first round because I took him down, got the mount, and nearly submitted him by choke. Plus, I had some hits that landed and connected. However, I really gassed out in the second and third rounds, but I ended the fight with a beautiful KO.

I would like to thank all of you who supported me and gave me enough strength after the fight. To those who criticized me during and after the fight, I can tell you all that I am not displeased with that. All the fans have their reasons for criticism because they expected more from me and I didn’t show it. I will talk from the bottom of my heart and the next opportunity I get, I will show 100% of my technique and will-power to erase the bad image that I showed from the UFC 56 fight. I am sure that the UFC fans will applaud me after I provide them a show that they deserve to see. I will show technique on the ground and on the feet. And a lot of heart!

I will be prepared for a war the next time and fight with my strength, whether it is 3 rounds or 5 rounds if necessary. I do not have any fear of talking about my desire to win a UFC belt and I will show it for the fans in my next fight. Be sure of my words above — you can see it in me the next time I fight.

Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga

He’s living up to his words and his expectations. And if UFC is smart, they’ll realize that Napao has an interesting life story to tell as well.

Onto today’s headlines.

  1. Radio: WO Live 4/22 (Dave Meltzer compared Gonzaga’s win to Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson, said it was sad and that it was damaging to UFC — claims it could cost UFC $8-10 million USD and Gonzaga doesn’t have ’star power’)
  2. Deadspin: I’ll post anything that gets Joe Rogan this excited (the Gonzaga KO – plus revelations of UFC parties, which gives me flashbacks to WCW Nitro parties – stop me now…)
  3. UFC Mania: UFC 70 – Karma is a twist for Cro Cop
  4. Fox Sports: Revisiting PRIDE vs. UFC
  5. MMA HQ: UFC 70 – Nations Collide recap
  6. The Independent (UK): Ultimate fighting – New kind of fight club acclaims Bisping, the local hero
  7. The Manchester Evening News (UK): UFC at M.E.N. Arena (the newspaper who sponsors the arena that the UFC event was in publishes a negative article)
  8. The Green Valley News: Is cage fighting going mainstream?
  9. The Daily Breeze: Gabriel Gonzaga shocks Cro Cop with a KO
  10. The Daily Star (UK): Man Utd. Bloody Fight Shock
  11. The Lancashire Telegraph (UK): Bisping targets title gold
  12. British Boxing: A review of Cage Rage 21 by a MMA virgin
  13. Komikazee: UFC 70 show review
  14. The Vernon Morning Star (Canada): Jason St. Louis relishes cage fights
  15. UFC Junkie: UFC considering U.K. edition of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’

Topics: BoDog, Canada, Japan, MMA, Media, PRIDE, UFC, UK, Zach Arnold | 18 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

18 Responses to “Monday review: The Gabriel Gonzaga Show”

  1. ukiro says:

    How is the M.E.N. article at all surprising to you? Sure they sponsor the arena, but journalistic integrity would dictate that they don’t hold back aricles merely based on that! Someone like you Zach, with journalistic aspirations, should surely know better than to be surprised by this. I am personally appreciating this stance whenever it occurs, as it shows intellectual honesty and integrity.

    As for the content of the actual article, while I as an MMA fan don’t quite share the opinions of the author, we must all understand that this is still how MMA is perceived by what I guess is a majority of people worldwide. Hell, this is how *I* felt when I saw a Pride fight for the first time (yeah I’m pretty new to the sport). It’s all very fair criticism, albeit from an emotional standpoint. MMA as a whole must learn to deal with these reactions, and writing a comment reply to that article that could seriously convince someone of the author’s persuation would be a very good exercise.

  2. The Gaijin says:

    I remember reading that letter/presser from Napao back when it first came out. He seemed like a legit great guy and really was one of the few guy’s whose situation really put it all into perspective. He had so much adversity and yet so much determination and drive. Most respectably he had the humility to explain the situation and not only that to then accept that the fans were disappointed and own up to it and promise that he would show his true self in the future. I just love that he wasn’t like many of your typical athletes that would have thumbed his nose at the fans and told them the F*%$& themselves etc etc and then went out and delivered on his promise.

    Seems like this guy has a bright future and it couldnt happen to a seemingly more deserving man.

  3. John Griffin says:

    I think Meltzer was overly negative on Gonzaga on that show. The better man that night won and that’s what is best for business. Judging from the reaction there was to Randy Couture live ANY fight he has next will be big money. Now he is fighting a a guy who got a stunning knock out and looks like a killer. This will still be a huge draw.

  4. white ninja says:

    Go Gonzaga

    Any fighter can be built and promoted (look at Fedor)

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    I think we are quickly finding out who the Mirko fanboys are. They range from angry to pissed that he got KO’d. That includes Meltzer.

  6. There’s no doubt Gonzaga-Couture will make significantly less money than CroCop-Couture. The UFC spent *a lot* of money bringing CroCop in. To have him underperform and basically blow the general plans for the HW division is a pretty big deal.

  7. Grape Knee High says:

    The Mirko fanboys should be angry at no one but Cro Cop himself. It is obvious he still hasn’t learned a damned thing since he lost to Fedor and he still doesn’t gameplan properly for his fights.

    I was rooting for CC, but it should be absolutely clear that Gonzaga definitively won that fight before he ever got into the cage; he clearly worked harder and smarter and had a good gameplan. He deserved to win that fight. CC did not.

  8. Euthyphro says:

    Like most, I was disappointed to see real-life-Jack-Bauer go down like that, but you can’t help but feel happy for Gonzaga. While it hurts that he doesn’t speak English, the clip certainly made him a star. I imagine that for this fight with Couture, he gets built up as the monster, Cro-Cop-destroying assassin, looking to crush America’s hero. If he wins, though, we’ll hear quite a bit more about his background.

    In essence, he’s a monster heel going in against the biggest face in the game, with a major turn to come if he wins the belt. I know people will be quick to make him the favorite against Randy, but I think the fight is a pick-em at best. I don’t see either man holding a major skill advantage in any area, but you obviously have to give youth to Gonzaga and experience to Couture. At the very least, Couture will come in with a sound game plan, and judging from Saturday, so will Gonzaga. Should be an interesting fight, if not the one everyone wanted to see.

    P.S. Someone should make Gryphon watch Michael Douglas in Wall Street.

  9. TG says:

    CRO COP DID NOT UNDER PERFORM.
    He fought a larger man who had a better night, end of story.
    Gonzaga showed that Cro Cop was just man with a lot of hype
    Pride fighters took a huge blow in the UK this weekend.
    I think the purchase of Pride looks really stupid now. The UFC could have crushed Pride with this fight, now they crushed themselves.

  10. DarthMolen says:

    That is what makes MMA great. Everybody has a puncher’s chance and even the ringers are given a chance to excel or fall.

    I can respect the UFC for that. They don’t want paper tigers like you get in boxing. They know that they have to put their ringers in against quality products to give them credibility. If the favorites can’t perform against decent talent, then they are at fault, Not the UFC.

    Everybody seems to be advocating that the UFC go the paper tiger route because it makes business sense. I disagree. It hamstrings your business model in the long run and will destroy the sport as a whole. See boxing as the greatest example.

    Again, Much respect to the UFC to have the cajones to put their vested interests in real danger.

  11. Psygone says:

    I wonder if well see CroCop drop to 205?

  12. Jordan Breen says:

    “Plus, check out Kuma’s Japanese web page of information on Napao. Great work.”

    Represent. Kuma’s blog is the bomb. Sometimes I find myself thinking “I wish I knew the life story of this new ssireum guy that FEG has signed.” Then I thank God for that site.

  13. GassedOut says:

    Liddell/Filipovic would be a great matchup to watch!

    WAR Napao!

  14. ukiro says:

    OK, enough with Pride fighters vs UFC fighters already. The fighters did not go to Pride Fighting School and UFC Fighting School, and hence their talents have nothing to do with the organisations they’ve fought in. Anyone claiming to fight representing an MMA event promoter is part of the PR machinery, nothing else. Mirko coming in to the Pride theme against Sanches doesn’t mean he’s representing Pride, it means he pays respect to the people he left behind in Pride (Sakakibara, perhaps?) and his old fans. And also, let’s not forget, he used that song because it’s a really good entrance song. Don’t try to make it more complicated than that, because it isn’t.

    The perpetual UFC vs Pride war fuelled by the Sherdog troglodytes doesn’t deserve to be brought up here. What Zach brings up is the overall reaction of the japanese fight crowd, which is important because it’s that very demographic that will in the end give thumbs up or down to Zuffa Pride. The Sherdog keyboard warriors with too many chromosomes have no such influence on the fight scene, and their opinions should therefore not be getting this attention. Bringing such topics up here will only lure those kinds of posters to this site (see TG above).

  15. Dedwyre says:

    I agree with ukiro about the whole PRIDE vs. UFC thing. Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga was more like Team Cro Cop vs. whatever Gonzaga’s team is, if nothing else. Besides, you can’t really have a definitive PRIDE/UFC war, because fighters perform differently in a cage vs. in a ring, especially when they’re used to one or the other. Same thing with the rules system.

    I would also like to say that I am a Cro Cop fan, but now I am a Gonzaga fan as well. I’m rooting for Randy, but it’ll (probably) be a tough fight.

  16. Enrico says:

    It seems that Pride fighters are very tentative when they enter the octagon – Cro Cop, Rampage, Herring, etc. I don’t get it.

  17. ukiro says:

    I think it’s not the cage as much as their first fight in a new league – they know how much is riding on their performance that night both in terms of money/contract and in terms of building fans. Regardless of the floor enclosure, that’s enough to make someone a bit tentative. This doesn’t quite explain Mirko’s performance though.

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