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Pride: Bushido Vol. 13 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on June 21, 2009, 1:48 PM

Pride: Bushido Vol. 13

Yokohama, Japan

-Your hosts are Mauro Renallo and Frank Trigg, and they open the night by talking about the final round of the Welterweight tournament and Takanori Gomi’s title defense against Marcus Aurelio. They mention that semi-finalist Denis Kang’s fiancé, MMA fighter Shelby Walker, passed away during Kang’s training for this show and that suddenly adds another dimension to the whole thing, as well, how can you not pull for Kang now?

-Parade of fighters follows and finally the DVD hasn’t muted the announcers. I missed the screaming woman announcer! Hilariously the announcer makes “Clay French” sound exactly like “Craig Phillips” and for a moment I thought the first Big Brother winner might be fighting Shinya Aoki!

Welterweight Tournament: Semi-Finals: Paulo Filho vs Kazuo Misaki

Thank God for Team Grabaka, sez I. For those who don’t know usually Pride (and all the other Japanese promotions for that matter) always attempt to get a Japanese fighter into the finals of their tournaments, and so I fully expected them to match Misaki with Akihiro Gono and Filho with Denis Kang in the semis, forgetting that Gono and Misaki were teammates at Team Grabaka. Teammates not wanting to fight one another, Pride ended up putting Misaki against Filho and Gono against Kang, putting us one step closer to my dream final match of Filho vs. Kang. Misaki had beaten two impressive opponents in Phil Baroni and Dan Henderson to get this far, but they’d both played into his hands and I expected the suffocating ground game of Filho to end his run with a bang. Or a whimper if Filho just decided to dominate him positionally as he’d done with Murilo Ninja and Gregory Bouchelaghem.

First round begins and Misaki looks to stick and move, but Filho lands with a low kick. Misaki hits him with a body shot and then clips him with a combo, but Filho closes the distance and gets a bodylock, looking for the takedown. Sure enough he uses a hip throw to put Misaki on his back in guard. Filho passes right away into half-guard and smothers Misaki, working to pass to mount at the same time. Referee calls for action but Filho forces his leg free and takes full mount and now Misaki is in trouble. The Japanese fighter bucks like crazy but Filho’s too strong from top position and he remains firmly mounted, keeping a tight grip on Misaki’s head too. Few short punches land for the Brazilian and then he sits right up to deliver some punishment, avoiding the bucking from Misaki. Filho’s control from the mount is just insanely good and he continues to punish Misaki with punches from the position. Misaki gives his back for a second and then rolls and manages to secure half-guard, but that doesn’t help either as Filho slips back into full mount with ease. More punches land for Filho and with just under a minute to go he secures a straight armbar and gets the tapout.

Total domination for Filho; it was like an old Gracie fight in fact as Paulo just took Misaki down, got the full mount, pounded him for a bit and then took the submission. Literally a flawless victory for Filho against a guy who had been incredibly tough to beat in his previous fights. Filho was an absolute monster during this period.

Welterweight Tournament: Semi-Finals: Denis Kang vs Akihiro Gono

Gono had beaten two major prospects in Hector Lombard and Gegard Mousasi on his way to the semis, once again reaffirming himself as one of the most underrated fighters in MMA. Kang though had been perhaps the most impressive man in the tournament, not so much in who he’d beaten but in the way he’d done it, as he’d dominated his two fights – stopping Murilo Ninja in under a minute, and then outstriking and submitting Amar Suloev in under five minutes. My pick was naturally Kang, but I was expecting the wily veteran Gono to put up a tougher fight than Kang’s previous opponents. Gono’s choice of ring wear? Leopard print shorts.

We begin REALLY tentatively, as they circle around without really throwing anything outside of a wild overhand right from Kang. If this were in the US the arena would be ringing with boos now. Kang tries a front kick to the body and Gono responds by...pulling up his shorts. That was weird. Kang finally starts pressing the action, landing a right hand before cornering Gono and landing a flying knee into the clinch. They exchange some knees before Kang breaks off with a short elbow to the head. Kang lands a kick to the groin and Gono immediately doubles over, and the ref calls time. They restart and it’s more tentative circling before Gono lands a leg kick and narrowly avoids a spinning backfist on the counter. Kang is pushing forward now but neither man has landed anything big just yet. Five minutes gone and they’re still just landing the odd one strike each, and this is a dull fight if I’m honest. They exchange more jabs and leg kicks but both are looking hesitant. Finally Kang lands something of note, countering a low kick with a right hand that drops Gono to the canvas. He stands over Gono for a moment before dropping some punches down into the guard, and then he stands to attempt a guard pass, but Gono blocks and keeps full guard. Kang does a good job of working into side mount, but then Gono slips out and works to his feet. Gono comes in with a combo but Kang blocks it for the most part. BIG RIGHT HAND lands flush for Kang but Gono backs up and recovers. Flying knee misses for Kang. Exchange continues until the round ends with both men landing shots with little damage.

Second round and Gono opens with a low kick, but Kang again presses the action and lands a right hand counter to a second low kick. Kang’s counters off the low kicks are beginning to add up now. They begin to exchange a little more openly with about three minutes to go and it seems to be to Kang’s benefit as he’s landing the cleaner shots. Kang counters a low kick and gets a takedown from it into Gono’s guard, where he tries to do some work with punches from the top as Gono tries to tie him up. Kang stands up over him and avoids the upkicks before dropping back into the guard, and for the last minute Kang remains on top, working with punches, which, while not really damaging Gono are adding up on the points scale. Fight ends there and has to go to Denis Kang.

Judges all score it for Kang. Not the most exciting fight as Gono was very defensive and stifled Kang’s game, but Kang did just about enough to take the decision and advance to the finals. Kang-Filho, baby!!

Luiz Buscape vs Nobuhiro Obiya

Buscape hadn’t seen Pride action for over a year at this point, last featuring at Bushido 8 in a tough fight with Tatsuya Kawajiri. Not sure why he’d been shelved – injuries perhaps? – as he was always an exciting guy and was one of the more heavily pushed Lightweights in the early days of Bushido (read, pre-Kawajiri, Hansen, Edwards, etc). Obiya meanwhile had put up a tremendous fight in his debut against Gilbert Melendez at Bushido 12, and there was no doubt after that fight that he’d be given another crack of the whip.

They get underway and Buscape closes the distance and gets a trip takedown to half-guard. He works to pass the guard, pushing down on the leg with the instep, but Obiya does a good job of blocking it. Buscape continues to try to pass, but Obiya is working very hard to prevent it. The Brazilian finally passes into side control and then slips over to full mount, but Obiya hits an excellent reversal. Buscape grabs a front facelock and drops some knees to the head, and then puts Obiya on his back. Surprised he didn’t go for the anaconda choke there. Obiya works into full guard as Mauro tells us that Buscape’s been rehabbing a knee injury which is why he hasn’t been fighting. Well, there you go. Obiya looks for an armbar, but Buscape avoids it and drops some hammer fists, and then tackles Obiya with a double leg as the Japanese fighter stands. Beautiful reversal from the bottom from Obiya though and he works into top position in Buscape’s guard. Quick reversal by Buscape follows though and he stands with a rear waistlock and looks like he’s going to hit a suplex. He tries to drag Obiya down, and then ends up turning into him to look for a single leg, getting it and putting Obiya on his back in half-guard. He works free into side mount and hooks the leg like he’s trying for a pin in pro-wrestling, before Obiya rolls and gives his back. Buscape can’t get the hooks in and ends up in north/south, and then he drops some knees from the front facelock again. The Brazilian now goes for the anaconda choke, but Obiya works free and stands. Nice combo by Buscape, but he whiffs on a takedown attempt and ends up going to his back instead. Obiya goes into his guard where Buscape ties him up, and then hits a nice sweep and gets on top. Obiya tries to roll, but Buscape takes his back momentarily and then gets side mount as Obiya rolls again. Obiya squirms from the bottom and they scramble, ending up with Buscape taking an over/under from the back. Obiya turns into him and goes for his own takedown, but Buscape blocks with a front facelock and drops some knees to the head. Obiya escapes to his feet, landing a hard knee, and they trade punches as the bell sounds.

Into the 2nd round and Buscape opens with a flying knee and then hurts Obiya with a combo. Obiya goes for a takedown but Buscape blocks it and works to put Obiya on his back again. Obiya defends and comes back to his feet, but his face is covered in blood now, not sure exactly what cut him. Buscape keeps working for a single leg but Obiya avoids, only to get caught with a double leg right away. Buscape ends up in half-guard and looks to be working for an arm triangle, but Obiya hits a reversal and then stands over Buscape, holding the legs. Obiya drops into the guard and lands some hammer fists, and then really begins to land punches although Buscape keeps an active guard. One minute to go and Obiya really picks up the pace with his ground and pound, but Buscape reverses to his feet and lands a quick flurry, then hits a beautiful single leg right on the bell.

Close fight in the end but I’d give it to Buscape for the control he displayed. Judges give it unanimously to the Brazilian. Decent fight from a technical standpoint but it wasn’t nearly as exciting or explosive as I was hoping it would be.

Joe Pearson vs Yoshiro Maeda

Maeda’s last fight in the Pride ring had seen him KOd brutally at the hands of Charles Bennett, but then he is a natural 135lbs so I’ll let that slide. Miletich prospect Pearson meanwhile was bringing in a six-fight winning streak, although I’m sure he was a late replacement for someone, can’t remember who though. Physically he looks like a clone of Josh Neer to me.

Bell sounds and Pearson rushes Maeda with punches. Maeda drops his head and goes for a takedown, but Pearson locks up a guillotine on the way down. Maeda looks okay and tries to work free, passing into side mount, but Pearson does a good job of spinning back into full guard and really squeezes on the guillotine, raising his hips and Maeda taps out there!

Well, you’ve heard of flash KOs but this was a flash submission as Maeda left his head hanging out and just got caught in a tight guillotine. Pearson did well to bring the fight back to full guard and put Maeda away, but for Maeda to get caught like that, after being in side control for a second, was very disappointing.

Mitsuhiro Ishida vs David Bielkheden

Yet another silly fight for Ishida, as logic would dictate that you leave him on the shelf to face the winner of the Gomi-Aurelio title fight, and yet he was on this card facing Sweden’s Bielkheden instead. Don’t ask me why. I’m not Japanese. Stranger still, honorary Brazilian Top Team member Bielkheden was coming off a loss in his previous fight. Why risk Ishida against him? I just noticed this also, but Bielkheden reminds me of a miniature version of Babalu with the tattoos and the hairstyle he has.

Bell sounds and they circle with Bielkheden missing a high kick. Bielkheden continues to throw out some hard strikes, catching Ishida with a right hand, but the Japanese star shrugs it off. Finally Ishida ducks under and gets a single leg to guard. Ishida’s shot is very, very quick. They exchange from the guard with Ishida dropping some hammer fists to the midsection, while Bielkheden answers with some shots from his back. Bielkheden looks to turn for a kimura but Ishida uses the opportunity to hop free into half-guard. He looks to advance into side mount but the Swede does a good job of keeping half-guard and then works back to full guard. Ishida continues to land hammer fists to the body though, really thudding shots. Again he uses Bielkheden’s kimura attempt against him, passing into side control this time, and he does a good job of avoiding a sweep attempt and retains side mount. Bielkheden tries to get back to guard and almost gives his back, but as Ishida tries to step over the Swede gets half-guard. Far side kimura attempt by Ishida, but Bielkheden pops free and gets a butterfly guard in. Ishida pops right into half-guard again and this is a very good technical ground fight. Ishida gets the Hughes crucifix and begins to drop some right hands, but Bielkheden scrambles into guard and tries an elevator sweep. Ishida avoids that and ends up in side mount again where he continues to control the Swede. He goes for the far-side kimura again but Bielkheden continues to avoid it. Bielkheden rolls for a second, but then ends up on his back in side mount again. Bielkheden manages to roll back to half-guard for a moment but Ishida passes to side mount once more. He’s owning Bielkheden on the ground but like a Paulo Filho fight almost, he’s not doing much damage from the position. Bielkheden scrambles again, but soon finds himself on his back under Ishida’s side mount. Round ends there.

2nd round and they circle like the beginning of the first, with Bielkheden looking to strike. He lands a big knee as Ishida ducks for a takedown, but the Japanese fighter eats it up and gets the takedown anyway. Ishida tries to pass the guard and gets to half-guard, going back to the far-side kimura ala Matt Hughes, but Bielkheden avoids and gets back to full guard. Ishida begins to open up with punches and hammer fists again, landing to both the head and the body, and Bielkheden actually tells Ishida to hit him now. Nice guard pass from Ishida puts him in side control again, and Ishida lands a couple of knees to the body. Bielkheden tries to explode out, but Ishida’s top control is too good and he remains in the dominant position. With less than a minute to go Bielkheden escapes to his feet, but Ishida hits a single leg right away and puts the Swede on his back again. Bielkheden ends up trapped under the ropes, and Ishida works away with a flurry of punches to end the fight.

Got to be Ishida’s decision again. Judges score it unanimously for him, naturally. He completely dominated Bielkheden but wasn’t as active here with his ground-and-pound as he was in say, the Cristiano Marcello fight, and this meant for a slightly less entertaining fight. Still showed insane top control over a BJJ black belt, however.

Shinya Aoki vs Clay French

Originally scheduled here was a red-hot fight on paper between Aoki and Gilbert Melendez, but Gil got injured in training and so KOTC veteran French stepped in on late notice to take the fight. Aoki’s choice of tights here? Banana yellow with some red stripes, baby. This dude is as camp as Christmas.

Round One begins and French comes out looking to strike, but Aoki clinches up and forces the American into the corner. French breaks free and lands a nice left straight, but Aoki clinches again and jumps to guard. He works rubber guard and sets up for the triangle choke instantly, locking it up, but French manages to keep both hands inside it to alleviate the pressure a little. He manages to work his way free, but his arm is still stuck and so he works out of that and stands up. Aoki joins him and then charges in with a knee from a plum clinch, but eats a left hand and has to back out. Aoki gets a bodylock again and looks for the takedown, but French does a good job of defending, although he uses the ropes liberally to help him. Aoki ends up jumping to guard again but this time he lands directly into a fully locked triangle, and he rolls French over into it! They end up tangled on the ground like a pretzel before Aoki sits up into a mounted triangle and French taps out there.

Very flashy submission win for Aoki again although the opposition wasn’t really elite-level if I’m honest. Aoki looked vulnerable standing here I thought but you cannot fault the guy on the ground – he’s slicker than Leo DiCaprio’s hair in Titanic.

Pride World Lightweight Title: Takanori Gomi vs Marcus Aurelio

Look up the term “striking while the iron is cold” and you might find this fight. I mean, Aurelio had choked out Gomi in a non-title affair back in April, but since then he’d been thoroughly beaten by Mitsuhiro Ishida, and so while Gomi still held the title (and had beaten David Baron in his comeback fight) everyone was talking about Gomi vs. Ishida as opposed to Gomi vs. Aurelio. Still, I guess it was only fair that Aurelio should get a crack at the title proper, and hey, the winner could defend against Ishida later on, right? Assuming Ishida got past his opponent on this show, of course. My pick? Gomi by not underestimating Aurelio this time around.

First round begins and both men look tentative. They circle around, throwing out the odd jab, with neither man seemingly wanting to make the first move. Good leg kick from Aurelio. Gomi is pushing forward but isn’t really throwing anything. No idea what Gomi is playing at here as he’s just taking the odd leg kick without throwing a thing back. We’re three minutes in and he’s landed nothing. Couple of jabs land for the challenger and then he throws a head kick and shoots for a takedown, but Gomi stuffs it and Aurelio winds up on his back. Gomi kicks at the legs for a while, the crowd cheering with each one, before the ref stands the Brazilian back up. Good leg kick by Aurelio but somehow he has a bloody nose; no idea how as Gomi hasn’t seemed to land a thing! They continue to press and Aurelio looks to work the jab, as Gomi is in full counter mode again but still isn’t really throwing. Gomi avoids another takedown and Aurelio goes to his back again, where Gomi kicks the legs until the ref brings him up. Gomi begins to back Aurelio up now, landing a right hand to counter a leg kick. Body shot by Gomi, answered by a low kick from Aurelio. They exchange some jabs that don’t really land and the ref is calling for action now. Decent counter right lands for Gomi as he slips the jab. Referee actually steps in and gives both men the green card as the action is so slow now. One minute to go in the round. They exchange more jabs with neither man really getting the best of it, and with seconds to go Gomi lands a couple of leg kicks. Takedown by Aurelio into side mount follows, but the bell sounds as they hit the floor. Atrocious opening period.

Final round and the title is still in the balance. Leg kick lands from Aurelio as they continue to throw out some jabs. Gomi answers with a leg kick of his own. Aurelio jabs away with little effect, before shooting in, but Gomi does a good job of stuffing it. Leg kick lands for Aurelio and this time he gets a takedown, but Gomi surprisingly looks for a kimura from half-guard. Aurelio slugs at the body while trying to pull his arm free, and then he works back to his feet and breaks off with a right hand. Gomi pushes forward now and finally opens up, landing a combo before blocking a takedown. Aurelio drops to his back and Gomi taunts him and kicks the legs again, and the ref brings him up quickly. Less than a minute to go now and Gomi avoids another takedown and kicks the legs as Aurelio drops to his back. This tactic of dropping to the butt-scoot is costing Aurelio the fight. Ref brings him up once more and Aurelio throws some jabs, answered by a body kick from Gomi before the bell sounds.

Well, that was an awful little fight in the end. Both men were unbelievably tentative and I have no idea how I’d score it. Judges have it a split decision, one for Aurelio but two for Gomi to retain the title. Well, I guess he was slightly more aggressive, so fair enough, but both men fought not to lose as opposed to fighting to win and put on an absolute stinker of a fight. Easily Gomi’s worst fight in Bushido when you consider his fights with Azeredo, Silva, Kawajiri etc.

Welterweight Tournament: Finals: Denis Kang vs Paulo Filho Gegard Mousasi Kazuo Misaki

Fun fact – I watched this show on a live internet stream, complete with Japanese commentary. So imagine my surprise – and horror – when after salivating over the thought of Denis Kang vs. Paulo Filho, the graphic pops up with Kang’s face and the face of Kazuo Misaki. Must’ve been a mistake I figured – there had been no word about Filho being injured (although I wouldn’t have understood it, being in Japanese...) and even if he was injured, well, Gegard Mousasi had won an Alternate Bout with Hector Lombard on the untelevised portion of the show so he would step in and fight Kang. Right? Wrong. For reasons I still don’t know or understand to this day, Filho’s knee got injured against Misaki and so Pride decided to reinstate Misaki to the tournament and have him fight Kang in the finals. Still makes me angry like three years on, this does. I mean it’s bad enough if you have to throw an alternate in there (see Steve Jennum!) but to use a guy who has already been eliminated earlier in the night, I just don’t get it. How can you lose and win a tournament in the same night? And why the hell not use Mousasi if he’s won the Alternate Bout? Naturally I was pulling for Kang like crazy in this one.

Both men look a bit beaten up in the pre-fight introductions, with Kang’s right shoulder looking heavily taped; I’m guessing he injured himself in the Gono fight.

Bell sounds to get us started and they circle before clinching, muscling for position. Misaki gets a bodylock and almost gets a throw, but they break and the ref calls time for an accidental low blow on Kang. They restart and Kang lands with a lunging right hand and follows with a leg kick. Body shot by Kang but Misaki lands another kick low and this time the ref lets it go as Kang seems annoyed more than anything. Nice jab by Kang sends Misaki backwards. Misaki steps in and lands a right hand, but Kang shoots and gets a double leg to guard. Misaki does a good job of tying Kang up to avoid damage, only allowing Kang to land small, peppering shots. Kang looks to posture up and then drops into the guard, but pretty much puts himself right into a triangle choke! Rampage-style powerbomb follows, but Misaki keeps the hold on and looks to transition for an armbar, but that allows Kang to slip free and pass to side mount. He lands some knee strikes to the head, but Misaki manages to scramble back to full guard. Nice left hand from Kang in the guard, and he postures up to drop some punches but Misaki does well defensively. Ref stands them up as Misaki basically stalls out, and sure enough the Japanese fighter gets a green card. Restart and Kang lands with a good leg kick and then hits another double leg into the closed guard of Misaki. Misaki tries to isolate the taped arm from the guard, but Kang avoids that easily and continues to pepper him with short, chopping strikes. Kang stands over him and then drops some punches back into the guard, but Misaki lands a nice upkick as he postures up. Kang manages to pass to side mount again though and smothers him, landing some knees as Misaki tries to knee the head himself from his back. Misaki rolls and gives his back momentarily, but then stands and Kang narrowly misses a big knee. Kang backs up and now Misaki wades in and tags him with a right and a left, and Kang drops for a takedown but Misaki sprawls out and lands some knees from the front facelock! Crowd pop big as Misaki tries to secure a guillotine while continuing to drop knees, but Kang blocks most of them and escapes to his feet. With seconds remaining Kang lands a knee to the body, but Misaki counters a low kick with a right that drops Kang to the mat! Misaki quickly pounces, but as he flails in the guard the round ends. Well, that turned into a war by the end, hopefully the second round is as good.

Second and final round and this could go either way. We begin and Kang lands a couple of good leg kicks and then gets a strong double leg to the guard. He lands some hammer fists to the face and gives him some elbows to the body too, and then works to pass the guard. Misaki blocks so Kang stands, but then the ref steps in and brings Misaki up. Bit shady there as it didn’t look like Denis wanted it standing, but whatever. Big right hook lands for Misaki off the restart, and he sprawls to avoid a takedown and then lays in with the knees from north/south, but Kang blocks a lot of them with his hand. They come back to standing and Misaki counters a low kick and puts Kang down again, but eats an upkick on his way down into the guard. Big “MISAKI” chant from the crowd now as Kang stays active from his back, with Misaki trying to land strikes from the top. Kang tries to go for an armbar but Misaki does a good job of avoiding and elbows to the body. Misaki keeps flailing from the guard, but suddenly Kang rolls into an armbar and it looks like he has it! Misaki somehow manages to stand though, lifting Kang up and DROPPING HIM ON HIS HEAD! Kang still has the armbar extended and Misaki gets more desperate, stomping the face, and then wriggles a little more and finally Kang just can’t hold on and loses it. Misaki grabs a front facelock as Kang rolls and drops some more knees, with Kang covering up again, but with less than a minute to go he hits a reversal and takes Misaki’s back! Holy God. Kang lands some punches and then stands and hits a soccer kick to the body before Misaki pops up, and they exchange and now Kang tags him with a combo! Misaki answers back and they trade punches to end the fight!

Amazing fight and this is horrendously close to call. Personally I’d lean towards Kang I think but it could honestly go either way. Kang came closest to finishing it with the armbar though and had more control in the opening round. Judges have it one for Misaki....one for Kang....and the final judge gives it to Misaki, landing him the split decision and the tournament victory. Unbelievable. Fight was awesome but you have to feel for Kang as he ended up losing a questionable decision to a guy who shouldn’t have even been in there. Misaki celebrates as confetti rains from the roof of the arena, and this ending still leaves a bad taste in my mouth three years on.

-Highlight reel ends our night and also the Bushido series!

Final Thoughts....

Take out that awesome main event and you have a total damp squib, as nothing really seemed to get going and even Ishida’s fight was pretty slow for his standards. Filho-Misaki wasn’t bad as such but it was very one-sided and Kang-Gono was easily both men’s slowest fight in this tournament. Gomi-Aurelio outright stunk and if the show had ended on that note it’s an easy thumbs down. Kang-Misaki is so awesome though that the show is worth a recommendation for that alone, as both men showed tremendous heart and just threw down for the fifteen minutes, ending up with one of the closest wars seen in Bushido. Sure, I’d argue that the wrong guy won the tournament in the end, and who wouldn’t have preferred to see Kang-Filho in the finals? But really you can’t complain about a fight the quality of Kang-Misaki and its that that saves Bushido 13. Thumbs slightly up.

Best Fight: Kang-Misaki
Worst Fight: Gomi-Aurelio

Overall Rating: ***

Coming Soon....

UFC: 94-99, Fight Nights 17-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
Pride: Shockwave 2006, 31, and the Openweight Grand Prix.
WEC: 38-41.
Elite XC: Uprising, Renegade, Street Certified and Unfinished Business.
K1 Hero’s: Final Battle 2007
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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