31st October, 2004
The ongoing rivalry between Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson took a devastating twist in the Brazilian’s favour at Pride 28: ‘High Octane’ at Saitama Super Arena tonight.
The fighter aptly named ‘The Axe Murderer’ lived up to his reputation with a second-round knockout of Jackson to defend his middleweight (205lbs) championship title and make it two straight knockout finishes over his American adversary.
With his opponent trapped in his vice-like Thai clinch, Silva unleashed a devastating series of knees that sent an unconscious Jackson floundering into the ropes where he lay motionless and awash in blood, bringing an emphatic end to the contest and extending his remarkable unbeaten streak to 18.
It was another chapter in the bitter saga between the two fighters which dates back to before their first bout at Pride: ‘Final Conflict’ 2003 which ended when heavy knees from Silva brought about Jackson’s downfall.
In the buildup to that fight Silva had taken exception to a slew of insults from the middleweight newcomer. The prolonged verbal offensive came to a head when the American took to the mic following his win over Kevin Randleman at Pride 25 to fire a salvo at Silva who was seated cage side but quickly stormed into the ring where the two engaged in a shoving match.
The Memphis native’s words appeared to find their mark, earning him his opportunities to take on the Brazilian. But with another knockout over Jackson now tucked underneath his middleweight belt, this rivalry may well have been put to bed for good.
However, this contest was far from a one-sided affair. In the opening round, it was Jackson who took the upper hand. After successfully defending a string of submission attempts from Silva when the fight hit the mat, Jackson responded with a patented overhand right that sent Silva sprawling to the canvas.
He followed Silva to the ground in a bid to bring a hasty end to the fight, advancing quickly to side control where he landed a clean knee strike to Silva’s head followed by several punches to end a round that undoubtedly went in his favour.
Aware he was behind on the judge’s scorecards, Silva answered the second bell by lifting his aggression to another level, letting loose in an exchange of strikes with Jackson.
It was in that exchange that Silva’s right hook connected flush with Jackson’s jaw that marked the beginning of the end for the American, sending him back pedalling into the ropes.
Smelling blood, Silva swooped to lock in the Muay Thai clinch then unleashed the fight-ending series of knees to Jackson’s head and sent the Saitama Super Arena faithful into hysterics.
The middleweight champion improves to 28-3 and has not lost a fight since 2000. Jackson drops to 21-5 with Silva responsible for two of those losses.
In the co-main event of the evening, Mirko Crocop (13-2) continued his rampage through the heavyweight division by claiming a TKO win over Josh Barnett (18-2), after the American was forced to retire hurt with a shoulder injury just 46 seconds into the bout.
Crocop’s second fight in just three months was ultimately a much less taxing affair, as Barnett suffered a simultaneous fracture and dislocated shoulder to bring his promotional debut to an ignominious end.
Nevertheless, the victory is the Croatian’s fourth-straight win since his loss to Kevin Randleman in the first bracket of Pride’s 2004 heavyweight Grand Prix.
Best of the rest
Funnily enough, it was also the second first-round stoppage due to a shoulder injury of the evening, after local favourite Kazuhiro Nakamura (4-3) was forced to retire from his bout against Dan Henderson (15-3) in the fight prior.
Meanwhile New Zealand’s Mark Hunt (1-1) bounced back from defeat in his pro debut at Pride Critical Countdown 2004 to score a stunning comeback TKO win over Dan Bobish (9-7).
Hunt fought through a barrage of knees to the head to somehow fight his way back to his feet, where he stunned the American with a huge uppercut that wilted him to the mat.
The K-1 champion rushed Bobish with some heavy shots from above, including a soccer kick, to force the referee to step in.
In other results, Dutch kickboxer extraordinaire Alistair Overeem (19-4) prevailed against Hiromitsu Kanehara (16-12) with a second round TKO triumph.
True to form, Kanehara endured an enormous amount of damage without going down, including a barrage of punches, multiple flying knees and even a German suplex, before the ringside doctor called an end to the bout.
This is part of our retrospective series looking at some classic shows and fights.