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PRIDE 33 – Dan Henderson makes history!!!

By Luke | February 24, 2007

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In a night of upsets, Dan Henderson caps off a historic night by knocking out PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva to capture the MW title. Dan Henderson is also the PRIDE Welterweight Champion.

By: Luke Nicholson

With all the speculation focused on this show possibly being PRIDE’s last, the fighters let it all hang out on Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Centre. The main event was Dan Henderson (PRIDE’s Welterweight Champ) moving up in weight to fight Wanderlei Silva for the Middleweight Championship. Wanderlei Silva has been PRIDE’s Middleweight Champion through the company’s entire existence. An amazing feat by any standard.

Dan Henderson comes from an amateur wrestling background, where he competed in high school at Victor Valley High School in Victorville, California, where he was a two time California state placer. He went on to compete in the NCAA championships in 1993 for Arizona State University. He followed that up by competing on the US Greco-Roman Wrestling teams in 1992, and 1996.

Dan Henderson began his MMA career with UFC at UFC 17, where he won the UFC tournament by defeating Allan Goes and Carlos Newton. Henderson had only been training in MMA for one year at that point. After that initial success in UFC, he moved on to Japan where he competed first with RINGS, and then later in PRIDE where he has spent his entire career since. Prior to the establishment of PRIDE’s 183lbs division, he fought at 205lbs against some of the most talented fighters in the world. Namely, Wanderlei Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, and Murilo Bustamante just to name a few. When PRIDE established their 183lbs division in late 2005, he went on to win the inaugural tournament for that championship, which culminated with a decision win over Murilo Bustamante at Shockwave ’05 on New Years Eve.

Dan Henderson has been nicknamed “Decision Dan” by many hardcore enthusiasts because of his penchant to pull out razor-close decisions in many of his victories. Even though he’s also known for a devastating right hand that can knock anyone out.

Nobody in any major MMA organization has ever held two titles simultaneously in two different weight classes. That is the feat that Dan Henderson just accomplished tonight. A monumental accomplishment for a very decorated, yet constantly criticized fighter.

Dan Henderson went into his re-match with Wanderlei as the heavy underdog. Most pundits felt that this fight would go very much the same way the first one did. Henderson might be able to keep Silva at bay for a while, but eventually would be overwhelmed by Silva’s flurries of strikes from the clinch. Unfortunately for Silva that’s not how the fight worked out. Henderson managed to counter Silva’s flurries effectively, while taking advantage of his opportunities to take Silva down and use his wrestling ability to wear Silva down. Silva caught Henderson with a wicked strike that wobbled Henderson right before the bell to end the first round. Henderson originally started walking toward the wrong corner after the bell, but he recovered in time for round two where he continued to take Silva down, and use effective ground and pound from the top to keep Silva on the defensive. In the third round, prior to the finish, Henderson hit a spinning back-fist that backed off Silva, which set up the flurry where Henderson caught Silva with a heavy left hand that put Silva down, and eventually out.

So, with the history lesson out of the way, on with the rest of the show that featured a plethora of upsets and quick finishes, which made for an extremely entertaining show.

Nick Diaz upset Takanori Gomi in a fight that should be considered for fight of the year already. Diaz’ reach and length gave Gomi some problems standing up, and on the ground. Gomi looked to have completely gassed by the end of the first round, and it seemed to only be a matter of time before Diaz caught him and finished the fight. Eventually that’s what happened when Gomi went for a takedown and landed right in a gogoplata that finished him off.

Ramean Thierry Sokoudjou of Cameroon pulled off maybe the biggest upset of the night by knocking out Antonio Rogerio Noguiera in less than 20 seconds with an upper cut from Northern Africa. THIS was a star making performance. I don’t recall ever seeing a Noguiera get beat that way.

In the last of the REALLY, SUPER-DUPER MAJOR UPSETS~! Frank Trigg soundly defeated rising star Kazuo Misaki by UD. Trigg used his wrestling and top control to neutralize Misaki’s speed, and striking. Its amazing after watching Trigg control Misaki so easily that Henderson lost to him a few months back.

So that’s your basic rundown of the major fights on the card. Mach Sakurai took apart Mac Danzig with leg kicks before knocking him the fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck out. Sakurai is a monster, and I would love to see him back in UFC against GSP, Hughes (again), and BJ Penn.

In all it was a very entertaining, and surprisingly good show. I can remember a show with so many upsets, and WTF moments. It was a night that won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Topics: All Topics, MMA, PRIDE | 16 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

16 Responses to “PRIDE 33 – Dan Henderson makes history!!!”

  1. 123 Kid says:

    If I am Zuffa, here is my short list of Pride fighters I am interested in:

    1. Fedor Emelianenko
    2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
    3. Josh Barnett
    4. Mauricio Rua
    5. Ricardo Arona
    6. Dan Henderson
    7. Denis Kang
    8. Paulo Filho
    9. Gilbert Melendez
    10. Hayato Sakurai – Purely for entertainment as he can’t make LW, and would get beat by most UFC WW.

    Honestly, that is all that is left of this organization. How quickly have the mighty fallen. Very sad actually. They haven’t built up new talent for over a year. They continue to keep the same talent (minus a few stars).

  2. Zach Arnold says:

    Seeing all the hardcore online reaction tonight on the various sites in which the majority of feedback is proclaiming the PRIDE 33 event to being ‘the greatest show of all time’, it reminded me of another event that was also supposed to revolutionize and take over the fight industry but never quite did.

    The show I’m referring to is When Worlds Collide in 1994. At the time, the hardcore fans pushed it as an event that forever change the business. It ended up having more impact inside the industry itself rather than with the casual fans.

  3. Bryan says:

    Yeah, poor Pride having three of the best heavyweights in the world an awesome lw division and a former Olympian and now double champion (It’s not like that’s an image you can sell in freaking America) and putting on awesome shows while the UFC raided Pride’s talent pool (or former talent) and still couldn’t manage put on exciting show–and hides legitimately great fighters (a la Marquardt) in favor of reality tv show guys before giving said hidden away guys title shots.

    Put it this way: Would you rather watch a show like this, or a show featuring a guy run away from Cro Cop, or Sylvia use his reach advantage to win a boring decision fight on cards in which the prelim bouts are the most exciting fights?

    And what is with your site, Zach? Is this is a MMA news site, or what? You’ve got a post that links to a message board with open discussion and your latest doom and gloom for Pride post but no one bothered to actually make a simple post featuring all of the results one could easily copy and paste to message boards. For all the talk of Pride’s business, I don’t think that’s good website business since if people have to go elsewhere to quickly and easily get the results they might not come back. I’m not an internet business expert but it’s something to think about.

  4. Zach Arnold says:

    For all the talk of Pride’s business, I don’t think that’s good website business since if people have to go elsewhere to quickly and easily get the results they might not come back. I’m not an internet business expert but it’s something to think about.

    Well, obviously you’re not a business expert because you would know that I’m not bleeding money and in the red with this web site like PRIDE allegedly and supposedly has been as each day passes without free-to-air television. But, good try.

  5. MMA Fever says:

    Excellent article!

    Dan deserved this win and all that goes along with it… well, maybe not Dana White who’s probably peeking in Dan’s window to sign him over to UFC right now.

    UFC 68 also has the same potential to shock some fans with the match-ups they have, most notably – Sylvia/Couture, Franklin/MacDonald & Hughes/Lytle.

    Just those three matches alone are not gonna be cake walks for any of the fighters.

  6. Hijo Del Oso says:

    Zack, nice job of finding a way to bring up When Worlds Collide. Thats an essential ppv to see, tremendous show. Art and Ed stole the show.

    Dan Henderson schooled Silva. With two knockouts in a row, perhaps Vanderlei should be now known as “The Man Formerly Known as the Axe Murderer.” Many are saying this kills any interest in the UFC doing Chuck vs Silva. I disagree and think it could still be money since most casual UFC fans won’t have seen this Pride show and Silva will still look like a muscular monster with a great staredown. Dana should go ahead and bring Silva in so Chuck can ko him in a big money match.

  7. Tomer Chen says:

    Coming out of this card, I think the following matchups should/need to be made:

    Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua – PRIDE Middleweight Championship – Henderson, the dual PRIDE Welterweight & Middleweight champion, who had ups and downs in recent times, was able to avenge his PRIDE 12 decision loss against Wanderlei Silva by cold cocking him in last night’s Middleweight championship bout. Even though he had traded wins against Kazuo Misaki recently, Misaki’s loss last night against Frank Trigg probably justifies pushing back the rubber match. Rua, on the other hand, has been smashing his way through the PRIDE Middleweight division (pretty much cleaned it out), beating everyone of note, having his only PRIDE loss at Heavyweight against Mark Coleman when he got injured during a takedown. Rua, who should have gotten his title shot after winning the 2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix (but didn’t because his stable mate, Wanderlei Silva, was the champion), now can get his more than deserving title shot against Henderson while avenging a loss against his stable mate.

    Wanderlei Silva vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira – This is a crossroads fight for both men. Silva, who has gone 4-4 (.500) in his last 8 fights has seemed to age in the ring pretty fast and is likely in the twilight of his career. He shouldn’t get a rematch with Henderson right away given (a) the finish of the rematch and (b) the fact that his stable mate, ‘Shogun’, has more than earned his title shot and this is the right time to set up his earned shot. As for Nogueira, with his HUGE upset loss to MMA ‘newbie’ Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (as he does have wins over Nakamura x2, Sakuraba, Overeem x2, Henderson & Mezger as well as having a pretty close war with ‘Shogun’) as well as the manner he lost (since up until last night, neither Nogueira brother was ever stopped in MMA and both were purported as having granite chins), his stock has fallen. This fight would help (somewhat) in determining the next contender (although if Silva won again, it would probably be more fair for him to face Ricardo Arona in a rubber match given that Arona lost a very close decision to him and beat him decisively the first time around and Sokoudjou should get a rematch with Nogueira should Nogueira win given the initial gap in experience and how much of an underdog he was).

    Takanori Gomi vs. Nick Diaz II – PRIDE Lightweight Championship – All I can say is: Gomi losing twice (Aurelio & Diaz) in non-title bouts to set up title bouts shows how laughable it is to have non-title bouts for champions in the first place. If you can’t get motivated to beat anyone that gets placed in front of you, you simply don’t deserve to hold the title belt, in my mind.

  8. ukiro says:

    Diaz – Gomi fight of the night? Oh please. While entertaining in a shocking “wtf are they doing” way, they fought like idiots. If I want to see extremely non-technical slugging I’ll go see an amateur event. I don’t care how tired a fighter is – get the damn hands up and at least pretend you have a guard… I have to applaud Diaz on the finish though, he was reaching for the gogoplata before they were even formly on the ground, and it’s a favourite move of mine so it’s been nice to see such a finish two Pride events in a row.

  9. Luke says:

    It deserves to be considered for fight of the year. It won’t necessarily win because its only February, but its one of the more exciting fights so far this year.

  10. Allen says:

    “Well, obviously you’re not a business expert because you would know that I’m not bleeding money and in the red with this web site like PRIDE allegedly and supposedly has been as each day passes without free-to-air television. But, good try.”

    You say that as if you’re not just running a blog and “radio” show that you and your buddies record on mom’s computer.

  11. Dennis says:

    What’s up with the anti-Zach stuff? The guy’s running a really helpful MMA website. If you don’t like his opinions, read the news links he provides, or go elsewhere for commentary.

  12. ukiro says:

    The criticism against Zach is, as everyone knows, spawned from his arguably not-quite-objective stance on Pride. Seeing as this site is called Fight Opinion, I would consider it a good place for debate and discussion – Zach is not the only one with opinions, and hence we get these arguments.

    I think it’s unfortunate that comments were turned off on his long piece on how this weekends resuntelligence alts will hurt Pride, because his inherent disdain for Pride is actually helping him make some valid points and it’s a very interesting and important topic for the MMA scene as a whole. I would think it’d benefit this site and Zach himself to allow others to give their view on the matter; Knowledge, insight and ire all forwarded by the exchange of opinions and ideas, which this site is very good for (save the unnecessary “mom’s computer” thing above).

  13. ukiro says:

    wtf happened there? It got totally jumbled… New attempt at paragraph 2:

    I think it’s unfortunate that comments were turned off on his long piece on how this weekends results will hurt Pride, because his inherent disdain for Pride is actually helping him make some valid points and it’s a very interesting and important topic for the MMA scene as a whole. I would think it’d benefit this site and Zach himself to allow others to give their view on the matter; Knowledge, insight and intelligence are all forwarded by the exchange of opinions and ideas, which this site is very good for (save the unnecessary “mom’s computer” thing above).

  14. Gomi/Diaz was clearly the fight of the night, barring some emotional attachment to any of the other fighters

    1) It’s difficult to be technical when you’re getting slugged repeatedly in the face. Even then technicality doesn’t make for good fights, eg Bonnar/Griffin 2 and a whole host of others
    2) The drama of that fight was damn near objective. Just think, for a moment, of what that fight alone did to Pride. Not to mention the ups and downs of the fight itself: when Diaz ate that right in the beginning; Gomi out on his feet for the rest of the match.

    Concerning Zach’s anti-Pride agenda: what? He’s covered the Japanese fight scene forever, for one. Second, that piece illustrated, more than anything else, how the Japanese business climate for fightsports is rapdily cooling. He seems to understand the basic cultural and economic reasons for this and his arguments are clearly not based on some irrational attachment.

  15. Luke says:

    If there was even a slight chance that people could discuss the article rationally without the “mom’s computer” remarks, then the comments would be left on, but a segment of people on this website have proven for months now, that they’re incapable of doing that. So the comments remain turned off.

    Same goes for the Radio show threads. If people could discuss the radio shows as adults and not 13 year olds, the threads would be left open for people to comment on, unfortunately many have proven they can’t do that either.

    Nobody here cares (I certainly don’t), if you agree or disagree with Zach. Just discuss it like an adult.

  16. Andy says:

    You forgot to mention that Gomi almost knocked out Diaz in the first round, and took punches like a champ, and stepped up like a man in the second round to keep on fighting. Also at the end of the fight Diaz’s face looked way F*&#ed up compaired to Gomi’s. And Frank Trigg sucks. I saw that fight as more of a draw. excellent night of fights. UFC is nothing! I didn’t even bother watching the last UFC

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