9th November, 2003

The semi finals and final of the Pride middleweight (205lbs) Grand Prix took place at the Tokyo Dome tonight. Wanderlei Silva underlined his status as the division’s king, winning both his bouts to take home the trophy.

Silva, who is the reigning middleweight champion, met Hidehiko Yoshida in the semi final at Pride: ‘Final Conflict’ 2003. It was a back and forth affair and the Japanese fighter exhibited an iron chin but the Brazilian ultimately prevailed by way of decision.

The other semi final ended more decisively. The ten minute opening round took its toll on Chuck Liddell, who was representing the UFC, and he was overcome by fellow American Quinton Jackson in the second stanza.

Bad blood

That set up a mouthwatering final between Jackson and Silva. The American was riding a six fight winning streak while the Brazilian hadn’t been beaten in any of his last 14 bouts.

There was bad blood between the two men who had crossed paths at previous Pride events. After an intense staredown it was Jackson who started stronger, locking in a double leg takedown and holding Silva up against the ropes.

The Brazilian had a guillotine choke and, with his head in a vulnerable position, Jackson elected to gently lower his opponent to the ground rather than attempting a trademark slam.

‘Rampage’ went to work from Silva’s guard landing a steady stream of punches to the head and body. His opponent countered with an armbar only for Jackson to slip out and land a solid knee to the head from side control.

Hard punches

Silva quickly reestablished guard but Jackson was able to posture up and land some hard punches with blood starting to flow from a cut by the Brazilian’s eye. The American was only attacking intermittently and the referee elected to stand them up.

A yellow card was issued to Silva but with the fight finally standing he showed no hesitation, narrowly missing with a head kick and then following up with a relentless barrage of knees from the clinch.

There was a brief lull in the action before Silva connected with kicks to the legs and body. ‘Rampage’ was reeling and the Brazilian displayed the killer instinct he is renowned for.

Undefeated streak

Silva grabbed a hold of Jackson’s head and began to pulverize Jackson’s midsection with knees. When the American tried to change levels looking for a takedown he merely succeeded in making his head the target.

Jackson eventually managed to neutralize Silva’s knees by dropping to the ground and was rewarded with a soccer kick to the head. He stood up again but offered no offence which allowed the Brazilian to clinch up again.

More knees to the midsection ensued and this time the referee had seen enough. He stepped in to stop the contest at 6:28 with Silva declared the Pride middleweight Grand Prix winner.

Silva improves to 24-3-1, he has never lost a fight for Pride and his undefeated streak now dates all the way back to 2000. Jackson drops to 21-5.

Best of the rest

The interim heavyweight title was on the line in the co-main event. With reigning champion Fedor Emelianenko injured Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Crocop were given the opportunity to fight for the belt.

It was the grappling of the BJJ black belt which would ultimately prevail against the striking of the K-1 veteran. Nogueira (21-2) submitted Crocop (7-1) with a second round armbar, handing the Croatian the first defeat of his MMA career.

There was also an armabr win for local legend Kazushi Sakuraba (15-6). He submitted Kevin Randleman (14-7) in the third round to snap his two fight losing skid.

Pride: ‘Final Conflict’ 2003, Tokyo, November 9th
Wanderlei Silva def. Quinton Jackson by TKO (Knees) at 6:28 of Round 1 (Wins Middleweight Grand Prix)
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (c) def. Mirko Crocop by Submission (Armbar) at 1:45 of Round 2 (Wins Interim Heavyweight Title)
Kazushi Sakuraba def. Kevin Randleman by Submission (Armbar) at 2:36 of Round 3
Heath Herring def. Yoshihisa Yamamoto by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 2:29 of Round 3
Dan Henderson def. Murilo Bustamante by TKO (Punches) at 0:53 of Round 1 (Middleweight Grand Prix Reserve Match)
Wanderlei Silva def. Hidehiko Yoshida by Decision (Unanimous) at 5:00 of Round 2 (Middleweight Grand Prix Semi Final)
Quinton Jackson def. Chuck Liddell by TKO (Corner Stoppage) at 3:10 of Round 2 (Middleweight Grand Prix Semi Final)
Gary Goodridge def. Dan Bobish TKO (Punches) at 0:18 of Round 1

This is part of our retrospective series looking at some classic shows and fights.