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Sunday slam: Mirko’s loss and the PRIDE name

By Zach Arnold | April 22, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

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A new poll has been added to the right side of the page.

On all of the major international news wire services, Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga is now a star name. A plethora of news articles profiling his big upset win over Mirko Cro Cop. Here are some snapshots of the fight by famed Japanese photographer Susumu Nagao. It even made the top story on the front page of the AOL Sports Blog.

However, the story slant in Japan is different. The story of the UFC 70 main event fight was about Mirko. More importantly, in the eyes of the remaining hardcore PRIDE fans left in Japan who watched the UFC telecast on WOWOW, the bigger issue was how Mirko’s loss would damage the legacy of PRIDE. The killer from the star-studded 2006 Open-Weight GP tournament (Mirko beat Hidehiko Yoshida, Wanderlei Silva, and Josh Barnett) lost.

Mirko’s loss was devastating in more ways than one in the eyes of the Japanese fans. To those remaining PRIDE fans, Mirko was the one who carried the PRIDE ‘signboard’ on his back in UFC. The comparisons of Mirko/Gonzaga to Mirko/Randleman are already being made. (I don’t think the comparison to the Randleman fight is accurate because Randleman caught Mirko with a punch, whereas Gonzaga dominated this entire fight on the ground and standing up.)

Black Eye 2 took note that this unofficially makes it 3-0 in the PRIDE vs. UFC war (which is something the PRIDE hardcores do take stock in). Those three fights: Jeff Monson over Kazuyuki Fujita, Andrei Arlovski over Fabricio Werdum, and Gabriel Gonzaga over Mirko Cro Cop. Plus, throw in Frank Trigg over Kazuo Misaki, Kenny Florian over Dokonjonosuke Mishima, and Nick Diaz over Takanori Gomi for good measure. Gryphon points this out as well.

Except Gryphon makes a larger analogy that will be lost on non-professional wrestling fans. He compared the number of PRIDE fighters losing against UFC fighters in a similar vein to what happened in 1995-1996 during the UWF International (the precursor to PRIDE) vs. New Japan feud. Except for UWF-International’s ace Nobuhiko Takada, everyone else on the UWF-Inter squad lost when they competed in the New Japan ring. The same is happening with PRIDE fighters in the UFC octagon now.

Image damage to the PRIDE name has been done. Just ask Mirko’s Japanese agent, Ken Imai.

Onto today’s headlines.

  1. AOL Sports Blog: UFC 70 – Gabriel Gonzaga knocks out Mirko Cro Cop
  2. The Sun Journal (Maine): Ultimate fighting (article about Amanda Buckner)
  3. Fox Sports: Gabriel Gonzaga stuns Mirko
  4. Fight Report: Belfort wins, Tank loses at Cage Rage 21
  5. The Los Angeles Times: Gonzaga knocks out Mirko Cro Cop – heavy favorite is KO’d, ruining potential heavyweight title match with Randy Couture
  6. The Washington Post: Gonazaga upsets Filipovic – fight for title looms next
  7. The Las Vegas Sun: Q & A w/ Lorenzo Fertitta & Dana White
  8. The Republican (MA): Gonzaga pulls upset
  9. The Minot Daily News (South Dakota): The Beast (Dan Severn) runs wild
  10. The Canadian Press: Dana White speaks out as MMA-boxing feud heats up
  11. UFC HP: ‘Napao’ stuns Cro Cop, earns shot at Couture
  12. Gambling 911: MMA underdogs keep paying out big in UFC betting with Gonzaga UFC 70 win
  13. The Boston Herald: UFC Gonzaga’s kicks into gear
  14. The Fightworks Podcast: Pablo Popovitch and Evan Shoman interviews
  15. Virtual Manchester: UFC draws capacity crowd in Manchester
  16. The Nashua Telegraph (New Hampshire): Health-conscious cook by day straps on the gloves at night
  17. The Honolulu Advertiser: Kane’ohe fighter has tall task in K-1 World GP
  18. The Clitheroe Today (UK): Bisping hits big in Manchester

Topics: BoDog, Boxing, Japan, K-1, Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, UK, Zach Arnold | 54 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

54 Responses to “Sunday slam: Mirko’s loss and the PRIDE name”

  1. Andy says:

    Alright mate, i think i was sat next to you on saturday. Nice site.

    For me, that fight might well have finished crocop. He was dominated from start to finish. Dont think it looks bad on pride though, I still think fedor would destroy anyone in the ufc.

  2. I dunno … Hunt made Fedor seem human

  3. Ultimo Santa says:

    I don’t KNOW if Zach hates PRIDE…

    but I always foud it odd that in the Fight Opinion Radio shows, they would recap the UFC events – blow for blow, move for move – with tons of insight and information into almost every single fight. The recaps are so in-depth it’s rediculous.

    A PRIDE event happens, and what do they talk about? “DEATH WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATCHHHH!! Can you believe they’re almost DEAD?!?”

    What about CroCop beating Wanderlei and Barnett in the same night to capture the Opeweight GP Tournament? What about Nogueira being upset by Barnett?

    Nope…barely a word. Just commentary about how the promotion is running out of money and has no TV deal.

    When I was watching CroCop high-kicking Wanderlei, I was jumping out of my seat with excitement…not running to my computer so I could look up financial information on the company.

    There is something to be said about just BEING A FAN, and enjoying the product – and not over-analyzing it to the point where you can’t even have fun with it anymore.

  4. Jonathan says:

    I think that everyone is waiting for Pride to die. I still want to believe in Pride because I am not sure if I want to continue to see white wrestlers elbowing their way to belts. Nothing wrong with it, but I like the Japanese shooto style more.


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