December 31st, 2005
Pride Shockwave 2005 took place at the Saitama Super Arena tonight. The event featured the final of two Grand Prix tournaments as well as a middleweight title fight.
Two Japanese fighters faced off in the final of the lightweight (160lbs) Grand Prix. Takanori Gomi faced Hayato Sakurai in a battle between two former Shooto champions.
There was no bad blood between the two men who had trained together extensively at the Kiguchi Gym. Gomi is Sakurai’s protegee, and the older man has been a mentor to the 27 year old who has won nine fights out of nine for Pride.
With the opportunity to become the first ever Japanese fighter to hold a Pride title on the line there was no quarter asked or given. Gomi landed a solid right uppercut early on and the southpaw followed it up with a huge left hook that grazed Sakurai.
The 30 year old soon fired back as they traded punches with Sakurai landing a couple of solid inside leg kicks. Gomi fired back with a left hook upstairs and a hard right hand to the body.
Gomi continued to attack with punches but Sakurai was not afraid to stay in the pocket and trade, sporadically firing back with low kicks. The veteran had trained for this fight at AMC Pankration in Seattle and Matt Hume was constantly barking instructions in his corner.
As Gomi charged forward they ended up clinching in the corner. Sakurai executed an arm and neck throw straight out of the judo playbook but the ropes got in the way.
Sakurai merely succeeded in throwing Gomi into the ropes and landing face down on the canvass in the process. It proved to be a disastrous decision by the veteran.
He briefly gave up his back and Gomi did not hesitate to lock his legs around and fire down punches from his opponent’s back. Sakurai looked to be in a bad spot but was able to scramble to safety and get back on his feet.
But Gomi merely continued the assault from a standing position with a right hook separating Sakurai from his senses. The 30 year old was still on his feet but was basically defenseless as the southpaw blasted a left hand straight down the pipe.
Sakurai dropped instantly and there was no question of him recovering. The finish came at 3:36 of the opening round and sees Gomi improve his perfect promotional record to 10-0.
With the win Gomi moves up to 24-2 overall and becomes the promotion’s first ever lightweight champion. Sakurai drops to 27-7-2 and has come short in his last two title shots. He also challenged unsuccessfully for the UFC 155lbs strap in 2002.
Best of the rest
The event also featured the final of the welterweight (183lbs) Grand Prix. Dan Henderson (19-4) fought Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua (12-5) for the second time and the American once again emerged victorious, this time by virtue of a split decision.
A former opponent of Henderson’s was defending his Pride middleweight (205lbs) title. Wanderlei Silva (30-5) avenged his recent defeat to Ricardo Arona (12-4) with a split decision win to retain the belt he has held since 2001.
This is part of our retrospective series looking at some classic shows and fights.