by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
In the second round of Pride Bushido’s 183-pound Grand Prix this weekend in Nagoya, Japan, Dan Henderson was upset by Kazuo Misaki in a rematch of their Bushido 10 encounter.

Henderson won the 183-pound Grand Prix last year in Pride Bushido and is the promotion’s 183-pound champion, but he lost this weekend to Misaki by unanimous decision in an action-packed fight.

Compared to the first Henderson-Misaki fight, which took place in April of this year, Misaki improved his striking and did a better job of avoiding Henderson’s powerful right hand. The fight was very competitive, and both fighters traded shots on their feet for the majority of the match. Misaki utilized good counter-punching and landed the cleaner strikes and low kicks. In the end, Misaki pulled off the upset, earning a unanimous decision over the defending champion. Henderson had a look of disbelief when the judges’ picks were revealed.

In another Grand Prix bout, Paulo Filho hastily dispatched of Ryo Chonan. Filho took Chonan down at the start of the round, and the Japanese fighter would stay on his back for the duration of the match. Filho, who is a member of the Brazilian Top Team, used his superior ground game to gain full mount positioning. As Chonan tried to roll out, Paulo secured an armbar and moved on to the next round of the tournament.

Denis Kang further legitimized his place as a top-level middleweight by submitting tough Armenian striker Amar Suloev. Both fighters circled each other, with Kang throwing low and high kicks, as well as some straight rights. About three minutes into the first round, Denis caught Suloev off-balance with a straight right hand as Amar was attempting a low kick. Once in Suloev’s guard, Kang transitioned into side mount, then took Suloev’s back as he attempted to roll away. Kang secured a rear naked choke shortly thereafter and won the fight by submission.

Sporting a red afro wig, Akihiro Gono made another classic entrance down the walkway. Waiting for him in the ring was Armenian striker Gegard Mousasi. Mousasi’s striking proved to be troublesome early on for Gono, as the Japanese fighter endured a flurry of punches. Gono reversed a takedown attempt by Mousasi and would control the majority of the first round. The second round saw Gono withstand a barrage of strikes again. After taking the Armenian fighter down, Akihiro mounted Mousasi’s back and transitioned into an armbar for the submission win. Gono advanced to the semifinals and received a ‘thumbs up’ from Pride general manager Nobuhiko Takada.

The four semi-finalists in the 2006 Pride Bushido Grand Prix are now set, and they are Kazuo Misaki, Paulo Filho, Denis Kang, and Akihiro Gono.

There were also a whopping ten non-tournament fights on this card. Pride newcomer David Baron was no match for Takanori Gomi’s superior striking in the main event of the night. The Shooto Europe middleweight champion from France failed to take Gomi down and was unable to counter his strikes. With about three minutes left in the first round, Gomi secured a rear naked choke and successfully rebounded from his shocking loss to Marcus Aurelio back in April.

Hayato “Mach” Sakurai spoiled Luciano Azevedo’s Pride debut with a TKO victory due to a cut. Sakurai started the fight aggressively, throwing many knees from the clinch. Azevedo eventually took Sakurai down, but was unable to be effective from his guard. After the fight was stood back up, “Mach” used his takedown defense and good balance to stop the Brazilian fighter’s shots and single leg attempts. About halfway through the first round, a knee from Sakurai opened a cut over Azevedo’s left eye, causing doctors to stop the fight.

Mitsuhiro Ishida continued his success in Bushido with a decision victory over Chute Boxe’s Cristiano Marcello. Ishida took the fight to the ground on many occasions and avoided Marcello’s submission attempts. It was a solid ground-and-pound victory for the rising Japanese star. A title shot with Pride Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi may happen in the near future.

Tatsuya Kawajiri won in impressive fashion, stopping veteran Chris Brennan in the first round with a devastating knee from the clinch. Brennan was the aggressor early, throwing jabs and a high kick. After a few small exchanges, Kawajiri secured a Thai clinch and landed the knee that ended the fight.

Undefeated Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez was successful in his Pride debut. Melendez controlled the previously undefeated DEEP Lightweight Champion Nobuhiro Obiya and displayed his strong wrestling skills. Melendez earned a unanimous decision victory in this one-sided fight.

Jason Black was no match for the superior submissions skills of Shooto champion Shinya Aoki. The Japanese star was successful in his highly anticipated Pride debut and was in great physical shape. Aoki started the fight by slowly closing in on the Pat Miletich-trained fighter. After getting the clinch, Shinya pulled guard and proved why he is arguably the best Japanese BJJ practitioner today. Securing a triangle choke, Black had no choice but to tap.

Two of the top featherweights in the world moved up in weight to make their Pride debuts, as Jeff Curran faced off against Hatsu Hioki at the lightweight limit of 160 pounds. Hioki used his reach advantage to put on a low kick clinic on his way to earning a unanimous decision victory. Hioki took Curran down from the clinch on a few occasions and dictated the pace of the match. Curran was more aggressive in the second round, but most of his offense was nullified by Hioki’s low kicks.

Fan favorite Ikuhisa “The Punk” Minowa made short work of Eric “Butterbean” Esch. Minowa started the round with a failed drop kick, which allowed Esch to gain top position. After reversing himself out from the bottom, Minowa was able to transition into side mount and secure an armbar shortly thereafter.

In the two prelim (or “Bushido Challenge”) fights, Daisuke Nakamura submitted Seichi Ikemoto via armbar, while Hiroyuki Abe and Naoki Matsushita fought to a draw.

Overall, Bushido 12 was a very good event. With the exception of Abe vs. Matsushita on the prelim line-up, all of the fights were very enjoyable, with many ending in the first round. Pride will decide in the near future whether Takanori Gomi will defend his Lightweight Title against Mitsuhiro Ishida, or whether his next title defense will be against Marcus Aurelio.

Even though Dan Henderson’s loss was a shock to fans, the final four of the 183-pound Grand Prix will still prove to be exciting without the defending champion’s presence. The semi-finals and finals of the Bushido Grand Prix are scheduled to take place in Japan on November 5th.


-Daisuke Nakamura def. Seichi Ikemoto by submission (armbar) at 3:12 of Round 1

-Hiroyuki Abe and Naoki Matsushita fought to a draw

-Hatsu Hioki def. Jeff Curran by unanimous decision

-Shinya Aoki def. Jason Black by submission (triangle choke) at 1:58 of Round 1

-Gilbert Melendez def. Nobuhiro Obiya by unanimous decision

-Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Chris Brennan by KO at 0:29 of Round 1

-Mitsuhiro Ishida def. Cristiano Marcello by unanimous decision

-Hayato “Mach” Sakurai def. Luciano Azevedo by TKO (doctor stoppage due to cut) at 6:35 of Round 1

-Ikuhisa Minowa def. Eric “Butterbean” Esch by submission (armbar) at 4:25 of Round 1

-Bushido Grand Prix Quarter-Final #1: Denis Kang def. Amar Suloev by submission (rear naked choke) at 4:09 of Round 1

-Bushido Grand Prix Quarter-Final #2: Paulo Filho def. Ryo Chonan by submission (armbar) at 2:30 of Round 1

-Bushido Grand Prix Quarter-Final #3: Akihiro Gono def. Gegard Mousasi by submission (armbar) at 4:17 of Round 2

-Bushido Grand Prix Quarter-Final #4: Kazuo Misaki def. Dan Henderson by unanimous decision

-Takanori Gomi def. David Baron by rear naked choke at 7:10 of Round 1