Wanderlei Silva vs. Guy Mezger
This is just a great fight. It took place at Pride 10, and was near the beginning of Wanderlei Silva’s unbeaten rampage through Pride, and he had not fully developed his fearsome reputation yet. Both fighters were already good seasoned MMA veterans coming into this fight, and both fighters truly believed they were going to win this fight.
Guy Mezger had already had 35 MMA fights before this fight and had been fighting in MMA since 1994. Although most of his early fights were in Pancrase, which did not allow fist strikes to the face. But he has fought under all types of MMA rules, including Vale Tudo. He had beaten Tito Ortiz once for the UFC Lightweight Championship and many other good fighters. He was already well known in Japan from his success being King of Pancrase. Mezger was by no means a can going into this fight. His team is Lion’s den under Ken Shamrock.
Silva had 15 MMA fights before this fight and had been fighting since 1996. Half of his fights were in Brazil under Vale Tudo rules, the most hardcore “rules” out there. (Note Vale Tudo is Portuguese for “anything goes”) He got invited to Pride because of his success in Vale Tudo, and was 3-0 in Pride before this fight. It was apparent that he had a lot of potential and a ferocious fighting style.
Note: Beware if you ever watch those Vale Tudo fights/tournaments Silva was in. Vale Tudo does not care about the safety of fighters as much and some people consider it barbaric to watch because of the rules. It does have educational value to see what it is like, and it is pretty much as realistic as you can get without killing a guy. But it is incredibly brutal. If you can consistently win in Vale Tudo like Silva did, then you are a bad man. Silva deserved to be invited to the biggest MMA stage of Pride.
Both fighters look confident. Silva is staring right at Mezgar during the staredown, but it is more of a calm determined look, ready for war. Not the bouncing axe murderer Silva we would see later.
Mezger meets Silva’s stare a little bit, but also looks and nods at the ref a lot. He does not look afraid at all. He shows a lot of respect to Silva when they shake hands, and Silva seems to show in his eyes a touch of respect to Mezger when they shake hands.
The fight begins and Mezger comes out aggressive. He throws a quick left high kick that’s blocked and then a left punch that lands. He does it again. Silva is okay with trading. He throws big looping counter punches that miss and then lands a big low kick.
Mezger is being aggressive lounging in several times but missing. He throws another left kick punch combo that does some damage. They get into the clinch and it is Mezger who lands a good knee. The announcers are really talking up Wanderlei, but it is Mezger who is pushing this fight. Silva is bleeding from his right eye.
Mezger lands an accidental kick to the groin and is classy enough to touch gloves with Wanderlei after that.
Mezger is showing excellent technique when throwing his high kicks. They are quick, but a lot of them miss. Silva rushes in and gets the clinch and throws a knee that lands against Mezger’s chest.
Neither fighter is trying to get a takedown. This is going to be a stand up fight.
Silva throws a big left kick that gets blocked but then throws a huge right hand that tags Mezger. Mezger throws a pretty 4 kick-punch combo that looks like out of a video game. Only one lands though. Silva kind of smiles while blood is trickling from his eye.
Silva lands a loud low kick then follows it up with a straight left and gets Mezger in the Muay Thai clinch, but Mezger gets out.
They both trade some more and miss. Those are some nice low kicks by Silva. You can hear the snap.
They trade again and Mezger lands a knee and a left hand. Mezger is clearly winning this fight and is controlling the pace. It is extremely difficult to have the endurance to fight at this pace for minutes at a time, let alone a 10 minute round.
The fighters get in an arm clinch and Mezger breaks out and finally lands a clean left high kick that makes a loud smack and hits Silva on his bleeding eye. It’s pretty highlight reel, but Silva is smiling and keeps coming.
Silva throws a low kick to set up a two punch combo. It is so fast it is hard to see how clean and quick it lands. Mezger seemed to duck down to counter punch and eats a huge punch. He staggers but does not fall down, but then Silva throws more punches and pushes him down. Mezger doesn’t have guard, and Silva throws lots of punches from the top but only a couple land.
It looks like Mezger is in trouble. But he shows excellent technique, escaping out the back door (wrestling term by going through the fighters legs) and then gets a single leg on Silva.
He then gets standing sprawl on Silva, who is on his knees, and Mezger throws a big knee to the head of Silva that lands with a smack. This move would not be legal in UFC rules, because Silva had one of his hands on the mat. I’m not sure if the move was legal under Pride rules, because knees to the head of a grounded opponent were not allowed until Pride 13. I guess Pride was more practical at defining a grounded opponent than UFC, which defines grounded as a fighter having both knees and as much a finger as “grounded opponent”. This rule is clearly to protect wrestlers.
Silva doesn’t seem too injured by that knee and is able to work his way to his feet again. The fighters circle briefly.
Silva seems able to absorb a lot of damage and still look fresh. Mezger is bleeding from his right eye and he looks more tired than Silva and is wobbling. Silva is pressing the action now. He has that killer instinct.
We’re only 3 minutes into the fight and we have seen more action than many longer fights.
Mezger gets a bear hug clinch to try to recover himself. But Silva shows good technique breaking and getting his own body lock. He throws a good knee to the body and then throws a nice combo of punches that do some damage. Mezger gets away and is backing up.
Mezger gets the best of the next exchange, but his punches don’t have a lot of power and Silva keeps pressing. Mezger is in the corner now. Silva is throwing lots of punches but missing. Mezger gets a brief Muay Thai clinch and lands a nice knee that catches Silva in the jaw. Silva still keeps coming.
Silva lands a nice 1-2 punch combo and the 2nd punch visibly stuns Mezger. This is the punch that is the beginning of the end for Mezger. (It’s interesting to watch Jose Pele Lindis in Silva's corner, who was a legend in Brazilian Vale Tudo.) Silva lands a couple more punches and Mezger is clearly rocked.
Silva rears his head back and throws an illegal head butt. I don’t think he did this intentionally, and think it was just in the heat of the moment. Most of Silva’s previous fights were in Vale Tudo so he was used to those rules. It doesn’t look like the head butt did too much damage, compared to those punches moments earlier, but Mezger did react to being hit from the headbutt. Silva is bleeding a lot now out of his eye.
Silva lands a couple more punches and Mezger is in serious trouble in the corner. He’s just trying to survive now. Silva is now holding Mezger’s head and punching him with his right hand. Silva just hasn’t let up at all since eating that knee to the head when he was on his knees.
Mezger takes one more punch and then goes down in a heap. The fight is over by knockout. In boxing, they would count to 10, but I’m glad they don’t do that in MMA, the fight was clearly over and won by Silva.
Mezger was bleeding and there is a big knot on his forehead. But he will be okay thankfully.
Especially at this time, this was considered one of the greatest MMA matches ever, because of the pace of the fight and skill level of the fighters. To this day, it is still one the best stand up MMA matches ever.
Mezger was clearly winning the first 2/3rds of the fight. It looked like he was starting to get gassed and Silva just kept coming like a pit bull, like he wasn’t tired. Silva is celebrating his victory.
Mezger is back on his feet but he looks rocked and is still recovering his senses. He fought courageously and looked great in this fight. I have nothing but respect for him because of this performance. Mezger is still wobbly but he walks over to Silva and they hug and shake hands. What a class act.
This was a great fight. Very entertaining. Both fighters put in a heroic effort.
That last knockout punch by Silva and watching Mezger go down is pretty graphic.
This fight is a good example of a fighter who is able to absorb damage, recover, and then have enough endurance to keep pressing as if nothing happened. Mezger gave everything he had trying to knockout Silva that first 3 minutes, and he landed plenty of good shots and stunned Silva. Most men on the planet would go down in defeat. But Silva just kept coming, mad dog is one of his nicknames and he fought like one.
Silva is relishing in his victory with the fans, as he should. I love that music they are playing, it is very appropriate for the situation. They don’t show Mezger on camera anymore, but he was standing and walking under his own power out of the ring, but he was still wobbly and one guy had his arm around him when the camera last showed him.
I am happy to say that both fighters turned out successful. Even though Mezger lost this fight, it is still one of his greatest performances. To go toe to toe with Wanderlei Silva in his prime is something few men could ever do.
Mezger went on to have more good Pride fights, most notably in a defeat to Chuck Liddel, but he gave another heroic effort. Mezger never become a top 3 fighter in Pride however and he retired from MMA three years after this fight. Nonetheless, Mezger was a good, respectable fighter and had certainly made a name for himself. He is remembered by all who know the history of MMA. Mezger has done well for himself financially from fighting and he now works for Mark Cuban as President of HDFightNet and also owns his own business.
Wanderlei Silva went on to become the legend that he is today. One of the greatest MMA fighters ever, and certainly one of the most aggressive and violent. He is a good person outside of the ring, but I have never seen a fighter with such a killer instinct. I will always respect and admire Wanderlei Silva for his fighting style and his work ethic to become such a great fighter.
This entertaining fight is really one for the ages and commands respect for both fighters.
Wanderlei Silva and Guy Mezger, thank you for fighting in Pride.