I've been biding my time before, like the rest of the world, I post my thoughts on the new Superman movie so as not to spoil it. Suffice to say, I liked it quite a bit. It's not a perfect film and I don't agree with every choice Bryan Singer made but it's a worthy restart to the franchise and I'm looking forward to the sequel.
In the meantime, PRIDE FC, the world's largest mixed martial arts organization, held the second round of their open weight grand prix over the weekend in Japan and it was a fantastic card. Anyone that has gotten into MMA with the recent success and rise of the UFC should do themselves a favor and check out a PRIDE card. It's where the big boys play.
I was particularly impressed with Wanderlei Silva's destruction of Japanese heavyweight Kazuyuki Fujita. It was an intriquing match up due to the weight difference (Silva fights at 205 while Fujita is about 40 pounds heavier) and also because Fujita's incredibly thick skull (medically proven in Japan to be thicker than an average human skull) has shown it's almost impossible to knock him out.
Silva didn't manage to knock him out but he did stagger him pretty well late in the first round, unleashing a hurricane of punches, hammerfists, and soccer kicks. Fujita took enough unanswered damage that the referee wisely stopped the fight. Silva moves on to the semi's.
Joining him there will be Josh Barnett, who used the same strategy he tried in his first fight against CroCop to take Mark Hunt down as quickly as possible. He quickly and easily submitted Hunt with a kimura in about two minutes. Barnett looked great physically, in much better shape than he's been in years. He actually almost had abs and considering that his waistline always looks like three spare tires competing for dominance, that's saying something. It looks like he's pretty serious about fighting.
Noguiera and Fabricio Werdum had what I felt was the best fight of the night, a back and forth battle between two world class jiu jitsu fighters. Nog took the decision because, while the fight was standing, his boxing technique was more polished. Their brief exchanges of BJJ technique on the ground were beautiful while they lasted.
Finally, Cro Cop kicked the hell out of Yoshida's leg until he couldn't stand up any longer. Shades of Marco Ruas against Paul Varelens in early UFC. Those leg kicks hurt. I've been hit with a few delivered at half speed in training and couldn't help but wince. I can't imagine what a kick delivered with full CroCrop power must have felt like. Probably a sledgehammer hitting in the exact same spot over and over and over until the leg finally gives out.
It's a fantastic final four. I'm hoping for Silva/Crocop and Barnett/Nogueira in the semi's, mainly because I don't want to see Crocop/Barnett for the third time unless they have to meet in the finals.
The undercard also impressed. I was glad to see Pawel Nastula (Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo) pick up his first win in the Pride ring. He's a tough fighter who's been thrown to the wolves so far. Also good to see Vitor Belfort pick up a win although with Vitor, who knows what will happen next. He's the world's most confusing fighter.
Pride rocks. Check it out sometime.