By: Albert Cameron – I often get asked why I’m such a PRIDE FC fan boy. The answer, while an amalgamation of a couple of different reasons, usually boils down to their production values. I know that PRIDE FC is gone and is never coming back; no matter how many times we try and repackage the product as DREAM, Rizin FF, or Sengoku, PRIDE is gone. I’ve made peace with that. On this week’s Friday 5ive, I wanted to count down five of my favorite cage entrances. The entrance, that was the magic in PRIDE. It was ceremony and actually built the drama to the fight. Whether those entrances were serious, somber, or entertaining, it got you ready for the fight. So, for this week’s Friday 5ive: five of my favorite cage entrances
No. 5: Billy “The Psycho” Ward: The Heart Break Kid (vs. Brad “The Machine Gun” Mountain; CDMMA 11)
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Complete Devastation MMA (CDMMA) 11 will go down in the history books as the last fight card put on by the promotion. While CDMMA wasn’t a stranger to promotional heartburn (CDMMA 6 nearly melted down in Clearfield, Pennsylvania), this particular event seemed like it was cursed. The card boiled down to four fights; one amateur and three pro. Fans came far and wide to see the fight, and there was a lot of concern that there would be a major issue like Valley Fight League had with their last event at the Jaffa Mosque. What we needed was a light hearted pick-me-up, and we got that when Billy “The Psycho” Ward’s music played: the WWE’s Shawn Michaels’ theme. Ward hammed it up in the cage, mimicking Michaels’ trademark pose; Ward even picked himself up a win that evening.
No. 4: Jason “Mayhem” Miller Dance Party (vs. Jacare Souza; DREAM 9)
Let’s not sugar coat it: Jason “Mayhem” Miller’s publicist has the single worst job on Planet Earth. In the last five or so years, Mayhem has invaded a church in the nude, been arrested more times than we can keep track of, and stormed off of Ariel Helwani’s podcast set. Despite those flaws and despite his troubles, Jason “Mayhem” Miller might be one of MMA’s greatest entertainers. In particular, the dance party that he threw on the entrance ramp at DREAM 9, as he’s making his way to fight Jacare Souza. Mayhem was adorned in a silver suit and was accompanied by a dance troupe of Japanese School Girls. When you think of a man who willingly slugs another man in the face for money, you rarely think of that man being into dancing. Stranger things have happened, I imagine.
No. 3: Super Mario Sakuraba (Vs. Kevin Randleman; PRIDE Final Conflict 2003)
It was hard to pick just one Sakuraba entrance for this entry. He’s done so many good ones: Road Warrior Sakuraba, Sakuraba Machine, Tiger Mask. The one that sealed the deal for me was his Super Mario homage. The video started off with the classic Mario sounds, old school NES Super Mario sounds. Sakuraba, and PRIDE, really took note from the Japanese strong-style wrestling (pro wrestling moves, but with intent to actually injure). They borrowed the pageantry and ceremony of their entrances; for that, we’re thankful.
No. 2: James Te Huna: Galaxy Defender (vs. Ryan Jimmo; UFC on Fuel TV)
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has little to no focus on the cage entrances for their events; it’s never been their style and why adopt something that doesn’t work now. Every now and again, you’ll get a fighter who wants to make the most impact out of their time on the camera or possibly lower their stress levels. Enter: James Te Huna. While the UFC doesn’t indulge in cage entrances, it does allow entrance music. The purpose of entrance music is to prepare the mind and attitude for the combat to occur. James Te Huna took his opportunity and ran with it: he and his entourage dressing in black suits and coming out to Will Smith’s “Men in Black” theme. It was a feel good moment.
No. 1: The Gracie Train (UFC 1)
Any team worth its weight in salt will advocate for treating your teammates like brothers, to be able to depend on those people like family. What better way to associate your teammates as brothers than when they are your brothers? The Gracie Train was the Gracie family, hands on shoulders, one after another, marching towards combat and hopefully victory. No one who had come to the cage that night showed that much solidarity, perhaps hasn’t since. Paraphrasing an interview with Royce Gracie, the Gracie Train was to represent unity and solidarity, that no one man was going into the cage alone, that his brothers were with him. That’s the kind of commitment to a team that sprouted the super gyms in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s (Lion’s Den, Miletich Fighting Systems, Jackson’s MMA) and has been one of the most positive trademarks of modern MMA to date.
It’s a big weekend this week: “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock will be taking on Royce Gracie in a rubber match, will the Gracie Train make an appearance? Kimbo Slice and DaDa5000 will try to settle a beef in the middle of the Bellator cage. The UFC also returns to Pittsburgh this weekend with Donald Cerrone headlining and Cody “No Love” Garbrandt making his first appearance in Pittsburgh since fighting for Gladiators of the Cage.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s Friday 5ive. Until next time: Fights, Cameron, Action!