Pride was back to life last night!

columnsHIGHLIGHTED 04.03.2013 10:26h Author:

Hunt i Wand

Marko Petrak comments on the absolutely brilliant UFC that took place last night in the legendary Saitama Arena!

Watching the UFC event in Japan last night, we were reminded of why we loved Pride so much – but also why we sorely miss that legendary Japanese MMA promotion! Not only did Wanderlei Silva and Mark Hunt bring back all the memories of the time when MMA was a somewhat different sport than today in a heartbeat (some would say it used to have more soul), but these two master artisans gave us unforgettable matches reminiscent of those in Pride, which made them the icons of this sport in the first place. And, last but not least – they both brutally knocked their opponents out, sending a message to everybody else: the spirit of Pride lives on!

To be honest, my bets were Stann and Struve, despite my being a great fan of the "Axe Murderer" and "Super Samoan". It's no wonder, considering the circumstances. Ever since he joined the UFC, Wand looked worn-out and predictable, and his uncompromising style usually crumbled down before more tactically and technically sophisticated opponents. Silva was always better at no-holds-barred open fight where his wild hooks could find their way to opponent's chin. Stann offered nothing less: an uncompromising brawl without too much thinking and tactical finesse. Although he had the Brazilian in a knockdown two or three times, the latter would always rise again like Phoenix to ultimately finish his job with a devastating combination of punches.

Wanderlei Silva will never be UFC champion. He'll probably never even be a contender. But this doesn't matter anyway. It will be enough to see him entering the arena (probably the most badass entry in this sport) and sending his opponents into dreamland a few more times. That would be enough for Pride fans. It remains to be seen whether the UFC will treat its favorite son Stann like the other fighters under its wing. The U.S. marine has recently suffered several heavy defeats, and judging by Dana White's statements, no one's job is safe at the moment. And that goes even for the greatest American idols. Time will tell…

For those who are not familiar with the incredible story of how the former K-1 WGP winner ended up in the UFC, here's a brief reminder. After Pride collapsed, i.e. was purchased by the UFC, the American promotion had to take over still-valid contracts that some fighters had with Pride. One of those fighters was the Samoan striker.

However, since he had five consecutive losses, Dana White offered Hunt a full payment for the three remaining fights he had signed for, provided he didn't show his face in the UFC. While his financial situation wasn't exactly rosy, Hunt refused this option – he insisted on performing his contract to the full. The rest is history… After some tuning against McCorkle, the Samoan had a run of successes against Tuchescher, Rotwell, Kong and Struve. Not bad for a fighter who was to be written off and put under the rug. Last night's knockout against the "Dutch Skyscraper" has propelled Hunt to the very top of the heavyweight division – among prospective contenders. It is yet to be seen what Joe Silva and the UFC have in store for his next fight, but when he's inspired and in-form like this, Hunt is an absolute threat to any heavyweight in the UFC.