Tuesday, December 27, 2005

PRIDE Predictions, Part 1

PRIDE SHOCKWAVE is coming this New Years Day. It will be offered on Direct TV PPV at 8pm (Nashville Time) on January 1, 2006. Since there are 12 fights lined up for that night I am brining my predictions in 3 parts.

Click fight card for a complete list of fights from Shockwave. This will also give you links to Sherdog's fighter profile. In this article the fighter profile will be from the PRIDE website. Generally speaking Sherdog has more complete information.

This is a great card, tonight I will be focusing on 4 of the fights. I will note that the order on the website is not neccesarily the order they will show on New Years. Since this is held in Japan we are not watching the live event like you would with a UFC.

For the 1st fight we will focus on finale of the lightweight tournament.

Takanori Gomi VS. Hayato Sakurai

I am really looking forward to this fight. Gomi is one of my favorite fighters today. He's exciting to watch, loves to throw big punches and he can take a great shot. I was hoping that he and Yves Edwards would make it to the finals. Unfortunately Yves was eliminated in a very close decision. Gomi comes in with wins over Luiz Azeredo (unanimous decision) and Tatsuya Kawajiri (rear naked choke). Gomi is 22-2-0 overall and has been beating all in his path lately. The decision against Azeredo was one of 2 decisions in his last 9 fights, the others mostly ending in some king of KO. Gomi's notable losses are to BJ Penn and Joachim Hansen both in 2003. His notable wins are Azeredo (twice), Charles 'crazyhorse' Bennet and Jens 'little evil' Pulver.

Sakurai is no stranger to fighting. He had to get through Jens 'little evil' Pulver (victory by TKO) and Joachuim Hansen (unanimous decision) in the tournament to earn this spot in the final. With an overall record of 27-6-2 he's a pretty accomplished fighter. Notable losses to 2 of the Gracie Family members, Matt Hughes and Ryo Chonan wont put too much of a tarnish on any record. No shame in those losses. Notable wins include Frank Trigg, Caol Uno and Luiz Azeredo.

Ultimately I believe Gomi will prevail in this fight. I like his style and he's been on a roll lately. Nothing against Sakurai though, this may be the fight of the night with to guys who can flat fight!

Second on my list of fights for New Years is the other tournament final.

Dan Henderson VS. Murilo Bustamante

Henderson comes from Team Quest out of Oregon so those of you who read regularly should already know this pick. His notable wins come over Kondo, Babalu, Rua and Ryo Chonan (who he defeated to earn his spot in the final). His 4 losses come at the hands of Wanderlei Silva (the champ), Nogueira (twice) and Ricardo Arona (who is fighting for the championship). Henderson beat Chonan and Gono both by 1st round KO's, he beat Chonan in 22 seconds. He also holds a victory of Bustamante back in 2003.

Bustamante come in with wins over Masanori Suda and Ikuhisa 'the punk' Minowa. He also won both inthe 1st round, 1 by KO and 1 with an armbar. Bustamante's notable wins include Dave Menne, Matt Lindland (a fellow team quest member) and Ryuta Sakurai while his losses were to UFC Champ Chuck Liddel, Quinton Jackson, Nakamura and Henderson.

This should also be an excellent fight. Bustamante has good defense and doesn't mind working from his back. Henderson would prefer to use his wrestling background and control from the top. Although these guys are both ground fighter it will stay up on it's feet until someone gets uncomfortable, they are both warriors who don't mind trading blows. I'm going to be pulling for my fellow Oregon boy Henderson in this one.

Next on my list is the Championship bout.

Wanderlei Silva VS. Ricardo Arona

What can be said about Silva that hasn't been said. The guy is awesome. 29-5-1 overall record and he goes out and throws some punches. There was a point where he had 10 of 12 victories in a row by some sort of KO. As of late his immortal status has been tarnished. Last New Years Eve he lost his 1st PRIDE fight to Mark Hunt. he lost to Arona, yes the one he's fighting for his championship, back in August.

Arona is coming off his win over Wandy and a loss over Mauricio Rua. He's 12-3-0 overall and has been performing very well. He's been in with a lot of great fighters, he's 4-1 in his last 5 fights with wins over Wandy, Lister and Sakuraba.

I don't think that Arona can defeat Wandy twice. I look for Wandy to get back on track and be very focused coming in. I'm predicting a 1st round KO.

Last but not least on my 1st round of Predictions is the fight between Hidehiko Yoshida (not listed on PRIDE) VS. Naoya Ogawa

I don't know a whole lot about either one of these fighters. Hidehiko has a lackluster record but has fought Silva 2 times for 2 losses and lost to Rulon Garnder who was a pretty darn good wrestler. Ogawa's 1 loss was in 54 seconds to Fedor Emelianenko who is also pretty darn good. I'm sorry I don't have more to offer on these 2 but I just haven't seen them.

I am picking Hidehiko just off the information available to me.

Check back tomorrow evening for the next installment.


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