The Official Scorecard - PRIDE Final Conflict 2005

Originally published on www.thegarv.com

With the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on the line this weekend as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua defends his crown against Jon “Bones” Jones at UFC 128, I thought it would be appropriate use for the column space here to go back to an event several years in the past to remember a time when it was Rua who was played the role that Jones has now been cast in: the young prospect on a phoenix-like ascension to the top of the sport.

The event in question is PRIDE Final Conflict 2005, the night which played host to the semi-finals and final round match ups of the 2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix. And there was one other major fight on the card, oh what was it now . . . oh yeah, the most anticipated heavyweight championship fight of the era.

The judge has made his decision, so let’s go to the scorecard!

Middleweight Tournament Final
Mauricio Rua (11-1) vs. Ricardo Arona (12-2)
The 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Final match would prove to be a passing of the torch of sorts in the PRIDE middleweight division as then champion and 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix winner, Wanderlei Silva, had been eliminated earlier in the night by Arona. This fight would also be one of the highlights of the feud between the Chute Boxe and Brazilian Top Team camps with Rua representing Chute Boxe and Arona carrying the BTT banner. Both fighters entered this fight relatively unharmed from their previous bouts in the evening. It didn’t time to matter much as Rua ran an absolute blitzkrieg performance, avenging his teammate’s loss to Arona earlier in the night, and staking claim as the best 205 pound fighter in the world.  This event capped off an amazing year for Rua, who went 5-0 in 2005 that included wins over Arona, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Mauricio Rua wins via KO – Round 1, 2:54
Fight Score: 8

PRIDE Heavyweight Title Fight
Fedor Emelianenko (22-1, 1NC) – Champion  vs. Mirko “Cro Cop”Filipovic (16-2-2)
At its time, this was the biggest heavyweight title fight in MMA, and it wasn’t just a marketing slogan. Emelianenko and Cro Cop were the consensus number one and two in the heavyweight division and their showdown had been brewing for years. The fight was initially planned for 2003, but a contract dispute between PRIDE and Emelianenko prevented the bout from occurring.  In 2004, a Kevin Randleman left hook prevented Cro Cop from securing a potential tournament match up with Emelianenko, but by the time Final Conflict 2005 had rolled around, the stars were aligned and the fight was on. As for the fight itself, you know, it’s really just one of those where you have to watch it for yourself, so if you haven’t, run don’t walk. 
Fedor Emelianenko wins via Unanimous Decision
Score 10

Heavyweight Fight
Tank Abbott (9-10) vs. Hidehiko Yoshida (4-3-1)
Tank Abbott’s PRIDE debut probably came about seven years too late, but hey, better late than never, right? Well, maybe. Tank was fighting in a ring with a ten minute first round and an opponent fighting in a gi. Maybe in the cage it would have been different; Abbott got on top of Yoshida several times but kept pushing him to the ropes over and over just to be restarted in the center of the ring. The end came as expected, Yoshida avoided Tank’s power and grabbed on to a gi choke.
Hidehiko Yoshida wins via Submission (Single Wing Choke) – Round 1, 7:40
Fight Score: 4.5

Heavyweight Fight
Fabricio Werdum (5-0-1) vs. Roman Zentzov (10-9)
Werdum did to Zentzov what he does best; he beats you on the ground. The fight hit the canvas early and it remained there as Werdum kept Zentzov on the defensive. The Red Devil fighter executed some beautiful escapes and sweeps early on, but a lightning fast triangle armbar proved to be too much.
Fabricio Werdum wins via Submission (Triangle Armbar) – Round 1, 6:01
Fight Score: 6

Middleweight Tournament Semi-Final
Mauricio Rua (10-1) vs. Alistair Overeem (21-6)
This turned out to be the sort of fight that fans were expecting from the previous semi-final fight between Silva and Arona. Rua and Overeem went right at each other and it was Overeem who was looking sharper and more effective than the Brazilian. But as was the case for many of Overeem’s bouts fighting at 205 pounds, his cardio couldn’t keep up with his pace. Once that happened, Rua overwhelmed “The Demolition Man.”   
Mauricio Rua wins via TKO – Round 1, 6:42
Fight Score: 8.5

Middleweight Tournament Semi-Final
Wanderlei Silva (29-5-1, 1NC) vs. Ricardo Arona (11-2)
The hope is that when there’s a large amount of bad blood boiling between fighters that the ensuing fight will be an action-packed brawl. That may be the case in after school YouTube brawls, but in MMA, a lot of the time the added passion can make for fighters who turn in cautious performances. Aside from some inside leg kicks, Silva couldn’t get any offense going against Arona, who seemed content to get the defending Middleweight Grand Prix Champion to the ground and win the top position battle. 
Ricardo Arona wins via Unanimous Decision
Fight Score: 5

Middleweight Fight
Igor Vovchanchyn (54-9-1, 1NC) vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura (6-4)
This bout was an alternate fight for the Middleweight GP and was poised to be an exciting fight to kick off the event. Instead, it was a slow-paced, albeit tactical, ground battle. Let’s face it: very few people ever bought a ticket with hopes to see Igor Vovchanchyn in a ground fight, but that’s what we had here as Ice Cold spent most of the fight on top of Nakamura landing a spattering of ground and pound. It wasn’t enough to keep Nakamura from hitting several sweeps and committing to multiple submission attempts. When there was action on the ground it was exciting and a testament to submission defense of Vovchanchyn.  Sadly, with no fanfare, this turned out to be final fight in the career of Vovchanchyn; an unfortunate end to one of the greatest careers in MMA history.
Kazuhiro Nakamura wins via Unanimous Decision
Fight Score: 5

Total: 47 out of 70
Average Fight Score: 6.71

Of all the PRIDE events required to possess in order to have a respectable MMA library, Final Conflict 2005 is a must have. And while you’re at it, make sure you have some of the earlier PRIDE events that feature Igor Vovchanchyn at his nastiest (try PRIDE 10 for starters).

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