Butterbean to Box Hunt

Eric “Butterbean” Esch and Mark Hunt will no longer be engaging in a mixed martial arts bout on the upcoming October 21st PRIDE ‘The Real Deal’ card. The bout has been changed from what was originally expected to be an MMA fight to a boxing bout.

Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer decided that he would not allow the two to battle in an MMA bout due to the mismatch in the quality of opponents each fighter has faced.

“The difference in quality between the opponents they’ve faced and opponents they’ve beaten, as well as the fact that many of Butterbean’s MMA fights were under special rules,” Kizer remarked.

Gomi to Defend Lightweight Title Against Aurelio

PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi will defend his title against Marcus Aurelio at the upcoming Bushido 13.

Gomi has fought Aurelio before with surprising results. At Bushido 10, Aurelio choked out Gomi with a triangle choke in what is considered as one of the biggest upsets so far this year.

Diaz and Rizzo to Return in November is reporting that Nick Diaz and Pedor Rizzo will be returning to action in November.

Nick Diaz will be fighting in November for the UFC. He’ll either be on ‘The Ultimate Fighter IV’ Finale which takes place November 11th in Las Vegas or he’ll fighting at UFC 65 which takes place on November 18th. No opponent has been named yet.

Pedro Rizzo will be making his return to the cage after suffering a tough knock-out loss to Roman Zentsov at Pride 31: “Dreamers” which took place Febuary 26th, 2006. Rizzo’s fight is rumored to be Bakersfield, California some time in November.

Some Dana White Notes

So Dana had some interesting things to say once again at the UFC 63 Post-Fight Press Conference on Saturday night/Sunday morning…

What did he have to talk about? I guess I’ll give it you interview style…

What are your thought’s on Pride coming to the US market?

“I think it’s great for the sport… There are going to be a lot of guys up-and-coming. There are a lot of opportunities for these guys to make money, so I can’t have everybody. I can’t pay everybody… I think it’s necessary.”

Any thoughts on Wanderlei Silva’s loss to Mirko Cro Cop?

“I think he just got executed. Isn’t that what happened to him?”

Will we see Silva in the UFC in the near future?

“Did he wake up yet? Let’s put it this way, everybody’s terrorized me about the fight with Wanderlei Silva. I’ve been trying to make that fight for five years. If that fight happened in the United States right now, he’d be on a ninety day suspension for getting his head kicked to another planet. He’s out. There’s no way he can come fight in the United States right now. When he gets back up and wins another fight or something… trust me when I tell you, I’d love to have Wanderlei Silva under contract with the UFC. I joke around, but I’d love to have him under contract.”

Could you elaborate more on your plans for expansion as you have mentioned before?

“We’re going to get real aggressive over the next two, three years. We’re going to expand our market. We’re going down to Mexico. We’re going up to Canada. We’re going over to the U.K. in October. We’re going to do 4 or 5 fights a year over there. We’re going to see how that goes and then possibly reaching out into Europe.”

“We’re going to aggressively go after the Hispanic market over the next couple of years. Right now down in Mexico, they get the Ultimate Fighter on DirecTV. Every time I go down to Mexico, people know about the sport and the show and we’re looking for a television deal.”

Henderson to Face Belfort

Pride Fighting Championships has announced that Dan Henderson will face off against Vitor Belfort at Pride FC: The Real Deal on October 21st at the Thomas and Mack Center.

Bushido Match-ups Announced

Pride Fighting Championships has announced the semi-final match-ups for the Bushido Welterweight Grand Prix.

American Top Team fighter Denis Kang will look to make it fourteen in a row when he faces off against Team Grabaka fighter Akihiro Gono.

In the other semi-final match fans will see Paulo Filho of Brazilian Top Team take on Gono’s Team Grabaka teammate Kazuo Misaki.

Pride Talks The Real Deal, Liddell-Silva

Pride held yet another press conference yesterday discussing details about their upcoming US debut in October…

We already learned about the announcements of Josh Barnett-Pawel Nastula and Mark Hunt-Eric Esch yesterday. Dream Stage CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara stated that some more fights will be named later this week and the rest of the card will be revealed at the end of the month.

It’s interesting to note that because the event is taking place in Nevada, the rules will be similar to those that the UFC uses with a couple of changes. The fight will obviously take place in a ring rather than the UFC’s famed octagon. As it pertains to striking, there will be no elbows to the head permitted while on the ground. Kicking or kneeing of a downed opponent will be illegal as well despite that it is usually allowed in Pride events.

No shoes or Gi’s are allowed to be worn. The fights will be three five-minutes rounds instead of Pride’s usual one ten minute round followed by two five-minute rounds. The event will be four hours long and will be broadcast on PPV and the web.

Even more interesting then those announcements is the fact that Sakakibara was willing to talk about Silva-Liddell and the current status of the possible matchup. ..

“Speaking on behalf of Pride, we are ready anytime. Also, Wanderlei is ready. We just need the doctor’s confirmation regarding his injury from last week. We are still waiting for the UFC’s response. Mirko even said that if Wanderlei is not ready to fight in November, he would fight in his place. In some interviews, Mr. Dana White stated that this fight won’t happen. However, speaking from Pride’s side, we are ready.”

Hey, that’s not what Dana said!

I really don’t know which side to believe. I want to side with Dana and the UFC seeing how Pride has screwed over other promotions before by pulling crap like this whole saga. I wonder what he will have to say about this.

Even though Dana already said that Silva shouldn’t get a shot at Chuck Liddell because he was destroyed by Mirko Cro Cop, there is still room for things to happen. Dana’s right - Silva shouldn’t get Chuck after that massacre.

But if what Dana said at UFC 61 is true - They were supposed to have Wanderlei for three fights - Why don’t they have Wanderlei face someone else, like Babalu or Forrest for example. This way Tito can get his title shot and providing Chuck and Wanderlei both win, they can meet after that.

I’m such a genius…

Two Fights Added to October PRIDE

Pride Fighting Championships has announced that Josh Barnett will face Pawel Nastula and Mark Hunt will face “Butterbean” Eric Esch.

Barnett was last seen in the ring earlier this month in the Open Weight Grand Prix where he lost to Mirko Cro Cop in the finals after he defeated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira earlier in the evening. Pawel Nastula is coming off of a loss to “Cyborg” at PRIDE - Final Conflict Absolute.

Heavy handed strikers Eric Esch and Mark Hunt will face off in what should prove to be a slugfest. I doubt this fight will hit the canvas.

A New Champion is Crowned

On May 5th, 2006, fight fans fastened their seatbelts and prepared themselves for what was expected to be a wild ride, The Pride Open Weight Grand Prix.

16 fighters entered the event knowing that only one man would walk about being crowned the 2006 Final Conflict Absolute champion. After two rounds and over five months, fans were left with 4 of the world’s best fighters who would face off to see who would be named the Pride Absolute champion.

The night started with Mirko Cro Cop, Wanderlei Silva, Josh Barnett and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

The very tough Croatian striker Mirko Cro Cop’s semi-final opponent was Wanderlei Silva who is currently the Pride middleweight champion. Both fighters had previously expressed their hate for one another in pre-fight interviews and they were both very excited to get it on for a second time. Back in April of 02, Silva and Cro Cop faced off in the ring at Pride 20: Armed and Ready. Due to special rules enforced in the bout it was called a draw as the fight went the distance.

Their match was the first of the semi-finals to judge who’d be fighting for the belt. Cro Cop showed total dominance from the moment the belt rang to start the fight until the ref pushed him away because his opponent lay motionless on the canvas after eating a vicious left high kick.

Early in the fight Silva tried to mount some offense by charging in on Cro Cop and swinging wildly but that eventually hurt him. Cro Cop showed great composure as he picked his shots and landed them hard. Silva tasted the power in Cro Cop’s left leg numerous times while trying to charge in. After taking a kick he decided to try his luck on the ground but after failed takedown found Silva on the bottom with the big Croatian on top raining down bombs.

Cro Cop worked some very brutal ground and pound which consisted mainly of hammerfists and punches. After taking plenty of punishment Silva attempted to roll for an armbar but he failed. The ref then stepped in between them and took Silva to his corner as his left eye had almost swollen shut.

After about five minutes (felt like hours) Silva and the refs decided he was able to continue fighting. The ref restarted the fighters on the ground. Silva attempted to work some strikes from the bottom but they were ineffective so the ref stood the fighters up.

Silva quickly started to pursue Cro Cop throwing wild shots from all angles. Cro Cop did a nice job avoiding anything big and then he sized Silva up and landed a hard body kick. Silva tried charging in again but he ended up eating that same body kick. A little later Cro Cop sized Silva up and fired off his lightning quick left leg which caught the top of Silva’s head and sent him to the canvas.

Mirko Cro Cop quickly left the ring and headed for the back room while his opponent lay motionless on the canvas in a bloody heap.

Cro Cop’s opponent in the finals was decided in what ended up being a two round war. Both Barnett and Nogueira did enough to earn the win but in the end Josh Barnett was warranted the split decision victory.

In a fight that could have gone either way fans saw two fighters who both left it all in the ring. Barnett was able to score a knockdown on Nogueira at one point. Both guys also showcased their grappling skills as both Nogueira and Barnett had one another in trouble at various times in the fight.

In the end the judges felt that “The Babyface Assassin” did enough to warrant himself the decision and a third shot at his rival Mirko Cro Cop.

Next on the agenda were the finals which would slate former Pancrase and UFC champion Josh Barnett vs. Mirko Cro Cop.

The fight played out perfectly for Cro Cop and at times it looked a lot like his earlier fight against Wanderlei Silva.

Cro Cop was able to stuff most of Barnett’s takedowns and work his powerful strikes which had plenty of effect.

Barnett who entered the ring with lots of visible damage to his face was looking for one thing only and that was the clinch in the takedown. Cro Cop showed how good his takedown defence was by stuffing numerous takedowns and working his kicks and punches.

Early in the fight Barnett was able to open up a cut over the left eye of Cro Cop which forced the referee to call a halt to the bout to have it checked but they quickly restarted the action.

Late in the fight Cro Cop worked a hard three shot combo which ended with a liver shot that sent Barnett to the canvas. Cro Cop saw that his opponent was in trouble so he quickly pounced and started working some vicious ground and pound. Barnett’s face had eventually taken enough and he decided to tap out.

For the first time all evening we saw some emotion from Mirko Cro Cop as he made his way to his corner where he eventually collapsed as he was comforted by his teammates. For the first time in his fighting career Cro Cop had finally won a title.

It was nice to see the emotion coming from Cro Cop as the Pride president wrapped the huge Pride Absolute belt around his waist.

Next up on the slate for Mr. Cro Cop is a rematch with Fedor.

Pride: Final Conflict Absolute 2006 Results

Here are the results from Final Conflict Absolute 2006…

Evangelista Santos def. Yosuke Nishijima - Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Mirko Filipovic def. Wanderlei Silva - KO (Head Kick)
Josh Barnett def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - Split Decision
Aleksander Emelianenko def. Sergei Kharitonov - TKO (Strikes)
Ricardo Morais def. Lee Tae-Hyun - TKO (Corner Stoppage)
Kazuhiro Nakamura def. Yoshihiro Nakao - Unanimous Decision
Mauricio Rua def. Cyrille Diabate - TKO (Stomps)
Ricardo Arona def. Alistair Overeem - Submission (Strikes)
Mirko Filipovic def. Josh Barnett - Submission (Strikes)

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