Wanderlei Silva vs Alexander Otsuka
This is actually a very good fight. It’s Wanderlei acting like his typical ax murderer self; and it is Otsuka’s best performance ever. It took place at Pride 18.
I know that Otsuka is considered a can in a lot of his fights, and he was. But Japan really didn’t have many good fighters at the heavier weights. The Japanese audience was looking for a national hero in the heavier weight classes. Otsuka was among the best they could muster, unfortunately.
Otsuka kept getting thrown to the wolves, despite his consistent losing. Japan did this with a lot of their fighters, like they wanted him to be either destroyed in a mismatch or become a national hero. Otsuka was 2-6 in Pride going into this fight. Any non-Japanese fighter would never get this many chances to keep fighting in Pride with that much losing.
Otsuka’s ring name “Alexander” pays homage to the great Alexander Karelin. That is a pretty classy thing of him to do.
The fight took place when Wanderlei Silva was at the height of his prime, and he was one scary individual. The Ax Murderer is a very accurate description of him and you can see it just by watching him. This fight was during his five year unbeaten streak in Pride (actually six years, I don’t count that a “loss” against Mark Hunt in 2004). Wanderlei Silva really was “Mr. Pride.” He was the face of the organization. He’s just so violent.
I would go so far to say that in a lot of Otsuka’s Pride fights he was not worthy to even get in the ring. He was that bad. But in this fight he really brings it to Wanderlei, it seems personal in this one, and he also fights with intelligence. Even at the time of this fight many people considered this a significant mismatch, but Otsuka would prove everybody wrong. He fought great, and I respect him mostly because of this fight.
I just love when they introduce Wanderlei in the corner and he starts doing that thing with his fists and stares at his opponent. He’s got the look of a piranha, like Quatros said. It’s intimidating. There is no fear in his eyes.
During the staredown, Wanderlei is looking right at Otsuka from the beginning. Otsuka looks and nods towards the ref a couple times, then he meets Wanderlei stare. It’s pretty intense. Wanderlei looks violent, but Otsuka does not look afraid.
It’s amazing how silent the crowd is at the beginning of the fight. Otsuka gets tagged with a counterpunch right away, but then goes in for a shot. He’s got Wanderlei pressed against the corner... I think that it was too quick for the ref to restart them in the center of the ring.
They get in the clinch and trade body shots for a few minutes. This is good technical grappling in the standup from both fighters. Otsuka lands a good punch to the face and then a knee to the body. The ref breaks them up which is good.
Once they get space, Wanderlei goes straight for offense, throwing a big punch that misses. They’re back in the clinch. Wanderlei then gets the takedown. He lands some punches to the face.
Wanderlei then briefly gets the full mount, but Otsuka spins out of it, giving his back as he tries to get up. Wanderlei then throws two soccer kicks that land. Both fighters are back on their feet.
Wanderlei sprawls on Otsuka’s shot and then gets the takedown / Otsuka pulled guard. Good triangle arm bar attempt by Otsuka from the bottom. He then pays the price with punches and a big soccer kick to the face. That was a huge soccer kick! You could hear the smack.
The Ref lets Otsuka get up and centers the fighters. Otsuka still doesn’t look afraid. He lands a good right hand and Wanderlei smiles. Otsuka then tries to trade with Wanderlei; which is what Wanderlei loves, and then eats a flurry of punches and goes down.
Wanderlei gets North-South position and throws a knee, then a soccer kick and stands up while Otsuka is down. He fakes throwing soccer kicks, putting his hands on his hips in between, then lands another one. I’m surprised Otsuka can take this much damage. Otsuka gets back on his feet in the clinch. They go back down and Wanderlei gets the full mount and lands a bunch of quick punches.
Otsuka gives his back. In Vale Tudo, you could start attacking the back of a man’s head and neck, but that’s too unsafe for fighters (you could paralyze somebody) and I’m glad it is not allowed in Pride. Wanderlei then gets off of Otsuka and goes for the soccer kick that misses. Good awareness by Otsuka. Listen to the crowd of 20,000+…
Wanderlei then toys with Otsuka, throwing leg kicks before stepping back, putting his hands on his knees for moment before attempting a running stomp that lands. The bell rings and Wanderlei lands a soccer kick a moment later. It happened so fast that I don’t think it was dirty or intentionally after the bell.
Wanderlei definitely won that round.
Early in the second round, the two trade punches, Otsuka landing a good right hand that will leave a welt on Wanderlei’s face. Then are back in the clinch. They’re centered after some time and then Wanderlei lands some good punches. Back in the clinch. To newbies the clinch may look boring, but it is very technical. You can set up knees from here, look how Otsuka keeps his hands down and clenched to block any potential knee from Wanderlei. Wanderlei lands an acrobatic round house knee to the head. You have to be pretty flexible to knee that high.
They are centered and Otsuka tries a double drop kick, which is odd. It doesn’t come anywhere close to landing, and now he is on the ground. Wanderlei goes for a big stomp that partially lands. That looked violent. Wanderlei smiles then goes for a jumping stomp that gets blocked. He’s having fun. Otsuka is showing good defense to the stomp, kicking up right in Wanderlei's nuts.
Otuska is stood up and centered. Wanderlei lands a liver kick that looked painful. You could see it on Otuska’s face. Wanderlei goes for more big shots but misses and Otuska backs up and recovers after a few moments.
Wanderlei goes in for more punches and Otsuka blocks and goes for the takedown. Otsuka gets a nice double leg takedown and is in the guard with one minute left in the round. The crowd got loud for that.
Around 30 seconds pass and Wanderlei goes for the arm bar. Otsuka throws it aside and gets side mount. That’s surprising! He then winds back and lands a huge knee to the head and then gets North-South position. Whoa! The bell rings, ending the round. Everyone groans.
We have to wonder what would have happened right there, and it really is too bad the round ended then. Vale Tudo matches are usually 30 straight minutes with no breaks to prevent this type of thing from happening. The round times were established long before this fight, so it has to be accepted.
This wouldn’t be the only time Wanderlei gets saved by the bell. His second fight with Quentin Jackson had the same thing happen where Jackson had side mount and was throwing knees to the head when the bell rang.
In both cases Wanderlei may or may not have gotten out of that position had the round gone on. The round times happened to work in his favor. It’s not like he was planning on getting saved by the bell and let up at the end of the round. The look on Otuska’s face when the bell rings is just like “damn…”
This fight just got a lot more interesting.
Beginning of the third round, Wanderlei doesn’t have that killer look anymore. He respects his opponent now and knows he’s in a fight. But he still looks ready to go. Otsuka has marks all over his face but he looks ready to go as well.
Wanderlei comes out and throws some bombs. He is never afraid of trading with anybody. A big right hand lands, then Wanderlei gets a big takedown into the side mount.
Watch how Otsuka is holding Wanderlei’s arms from the bottom. This is one of the few effective ways to protect yourself from knees to the head when a guy has side mount. Otsuka then loses that grip. Wanderlei tries to get up to throw knees and punches and then starts a soccer kick, but Otsuka avoids most of it, some of the punches clipping him.
Wanderlei is standing now and Otsuka is down. He goes for a huge, slashing type soccer kick that Otuska mostly blocks by putting his arm up.
This is a good example of why soccer kicks will never be allowed in American MMA. That was pretty violent and might make you gasp the first time you see it, even though it didn’t completely land.
Otsuka has been showing good defense against soccer kicks and stomps in this fight, something that many people cannot do.
There has been a little blood coming from Otsuka’s nose from the big punch he took early in the round. Wanderlei has been landing big leg kicks while Otsuka is on the ground, you can really hear the loud smack on one. There is a huge visible mark on Otsuka’s left leg. Yikes.
The ref stands up Otsuka. Both fighters want to trade again and Otsuka throws the first that misses. Wanderlei counters with a right hand that lands and then another big right hand lands. Otsuka leans forward and tries a shot but Wanderlei catches him.
Then out of nowhere Wanderlei throws a sharp, quick knee that hits Otsuka right in the face. That knee is what really shatters Otuska’s nose. It happened so quick, it’s not one of those knees that will knock a guy out, but you could tell it was a big shot. You can hear the crowd react. I reacted when I saw that.
Major blood is pouring out of Otuska’s nose. Gushing out. Wanderlei’s shoulder is covered in blood.
The ref stops the fight to have a doctor look at Otuska. I love this rule. They really do care about the safety of the fighters.
The announcers are saying they shouldn’t stop the fight on a broken nose, but I disagree. I guess it depends on how broken it is, but I don’t want to see anybody have permanent damage, and Otuska’s nose is a total mess. It is dangerous to keep fighting.
The bell rings and they call the fight. It’s over.
Otsuka showed a ton of courage in this fight, it wasn’t his call to end the fight. Pride cared about the safety of its fighters by stopping the fight to examine the injury, before deciding it was too much damage. Thank you Pride, it shows me it is not barbaric where we want to see the fighters get severely/permanently injured. I would have been upset if they continued that fight.
Wanderlei and Otsuka hug each other in the ring after the fight, which is very honorable. No matter how scary Wanderlei looks, he is still a class act as a man and fighter.
It is such a great rule to stop the fight and examine the fighter whenever there is major blood. If they can clean him up and it’s not a big wound or injury, then I have no problem with continuing the fight. This was not the case here. Apparently not all MMA organizations do this.
It is always tough to see the losing fighter walk back to the locker room, Otsuka had no reason to shed tears. I have a ton of respect for him in what he showed. He impressed me by his will to fight. There are not many other men out there who could go into the third round in a Pride fight against a prime Wanderlei Silva. And the fight was competitive.
Unfortunately Otuska would continue to have a losing record in Pride. This was his best performance. He still has my respect.
Wanderlei Silva continued to be Wanderlei Silva, a true legend of MMA. One of the most intimidating fighters ever who could back up his intimidating appearance. That scary, bouncing around, axe murderer stare down he has will get anybody nervous. He had a ferocious fighting style and was never afraid to trade. He always went for the knockout, no submission attempts unless he was on bottom. Cardio was never a problem for him. The work ethic and mental toughness he had to be this good was incredible. I respect and admire him greatly.
All in all, this was a great fight. Wanderlei Silva and Alexander Otsuka, thank you for fighting in Pride.
Written September 2012