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The Top 10 PRIDE Fights of 2005

When you're hoping for time to go by, two years can seem like an eternity. On the other hand, during those times when you wish time would just stop, it often seems like the clock ticks 10 times as fast as normal.

So which one are you? Depending on that, your memory for 2005 PRIDE fights may be excellent or lacking.

Regardless, here are the factors taken into consideration in making this Top 10 PRIDE Fights of 2005 list.

1. Fight drama and/ or excitement: Did it seem as if both fighters could win at one point or another during the fight? Further, did one (or both) fighters show such skill that their performance alone warranted inclusion?

2. The setting: The bigger the stage, the better. Thus, Grand Prix and championship bouts were weighted more heavily than everyday bouts. Further, known fighters were given a hand up as well.

3. Shock value: A huge upset means something in terms of making this list. So does a sudden turn of events or a coming out party.

So, without further ado, let's get to it.

10. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Ricardo Arona

Event: PRIDE Final Conflict 2005 on 8/28/05

Result: Rua wins via KO at 2:54 of round one

Not a great fight; in fact, Rua simply dominated, even when Arona tried to take him down. But that ending picture with Rua kneeling over Arona dropping hammerfists that put him to sleep held a ton of significance for the MMA world.

You see, Shogun had arrived. And the meaning of this fight plus the Grand Prix Champion's exciting and impressive performance is what landed it on the list.

9. Wanderlei Silva vs. Ricardo Arona

Event: PRIDE Final Conflict 2005 on 8/28/05

Result: Arona wins via unanimous decision

Not a back and forth bout. In fact, the gist of this one was simple: Silva got taken down repeatedly. Though Arona never really had the PRIDE Middleweight Champion in trouble, that was irrelevant. Here's what was relevant, however.

For the first time in 22 fights, Silva had lost to someone in his weight class. And this alone puts this fight on the list.

8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Alistair Overeem

Event: PRIDE 29 Fists of Fire on 2/20/05

Result: Nogueira wins via unanimous decision

As usual, Overeem started things off strong and was winning this one on his feet in a big way early in the first. But here's the thing about Nogueira: He's tough. Further, he's always in great shape. And because of this, he made it through his opponent's initial onslaught.

Then he took him down later in round one. Though none of his submissions worked; the ground and pound took its toll on Overeem, particularly his conditioning. This led to Nogueira being able to out strike the striker in round two.

In the end, Nogueira took home a decision win in a fight that was looking somewhat hazy for him early on.

7. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic

Event: PRIDE Final Conflict 2005 on 8/28/05

Result: Emelianenko wins via unanimous decision

Coming in, many considered this bout to be the biggest of all-time. On one end, you had Emelianenko, the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion (still is, if there really is any such thing as PRIDE anymore); while on the other end, you had Cro Cop (a world class kickboxer able to use the high kick better than anyone in the history of mixed martial arts).

This fight makes the list because of the stakes. However, the bout was not that great a fight, per se, because Emelianenko succeeded in crowding Cro Cop and beating him to the punch even on his feet. Further, the PRIDE Champion eventually succeeded in taking the Croatian down and pounding on him. Though Cro Cop defended as well as anyone ever has against Fedor (getting through a fight with him on top of you is no easy task) Emelianenko proved once and for all that he was the best heavyweight in the world, bar none.

6. Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva vs. Hidehiko Yoshida

Event: PRIDE Total Elimination 2005 on 4/23/05

Result: Silva wins via split decision

Not as good as their first fight (Silva won this one clearly despite the split decision). Still, Yoshida demonstrated the same great jaw and toughness he had in the first bout. Further, he displayed some of those great takedowns. But in the end, Silva came through for the second time with superior striking and an ability to stay on his feet for much of the fight.

5. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Event: PRIDE Critical Countdown 2005 on 6/26/05

Result: Rua wins via unanimous decision

In an excellent fight where both fighters sustained knockdowns, this one set up Rua's coming out party at Final Conflict 2005 against Arona. In the end, this one was surprising because Rua seemed to do better for the most part on the ground (where Nogueira was considered king) whereas Nogueira did better (at least for the majority of the fight) on his feet (where Rua would've been considered the better fighter coming in).

Simply put, this was a war that could've gone either way. But a strong ending by Rua took home the victory for him.

4. Mark Hunt vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic

Event: PRIDE Shockwave 2005 on 12/31/05

Result: Hunt wins via split decision

These two had previously met in a kickboxing match where Cro Cop had dropped Hunt with a high kick on his way to a victory. Along with this, Cro Cop hit Hunt early with everything under the sun, including some of those dreaded high kicks. In fact, Cro Cop decidedly nailed his opponent with low kicks, punches, and even an axe kick during the encounter.

But Hunt and his unbelievable chin weathered the storm. Then he began to dish out some punishment of his own.

It was during this time that Hunt showed he was the better puncher, particularly on the inside. And eventually this reality began to compel Cro Cop to literally move away from his opponent every chance he got. Thus, Hunt won a deserved decision, avenging the aforementioned kickboxing loss.

3. Takanori Gomi vs. Luiz Azeredo

Event: Bushido 7 on 5/22/05

Result: Gomi wins via KO at 3:46 of round one

How does a fight that doesn't even last four minutes get so high on this list? Simple. First, Gomi was losing this stand up war to Azeredo initially (something that PRIDE fans hadn't seen a lot of). In fact, he was taking shot after shot and looking to be the less adept striker.

But then came one of the best knockouts in MMA history when he nailed Azeredo with a left-right combination that sent him to the canvas for a long time out cold. The crazy part was that Gomi followed his opponent down and tried to continue the onslaught even while Azeredo was down and out, causing a melee in the ring.

2. Phil "The New York Bad Ass" Baroni vs. Ikuhiso "The Punk" Minowa

Event: PRIDE Bushido 7 on 5/22/05

Result: Baroni wins via TKO (foot stomps) at 2:04 of round two

Baroni was coming off losing four of his last five and was trying to regain his reputation as one of the most feared power punchers in the game. Minowa, a Japanese favorite, was willing to throw down with Baroni for a good portion of this fight (especially in the second).

That said, coming into the second round both fighters were exhausted, which had many believing that Baroni would once again lose from exhaustion (as he had against Pete Sell in the UFC).

Not so. Baroni showed a warrior spirit and dropped Minowa. Then several foot stomps later, the fight was over.

A classic.

1. Takanori Gomi vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri

Event: Bushido 9 on 9/25/05

Result: Gomi wins via rear naked choke at 7:42 of round one

This fight was as big to the Japanese public as they come. After all, it involved two highly skilled native sons going at it in their homeland (Gomi was the PRIDE Champion and Kawajiri the Shooto Champion).

This was a standup war in which both combatants fought valiantly. Further, Kawajiri really used his legs well, landing several low kicks and some higher ones. But in the end, Gomi's hand speed and power took over.

And once he succeeded in flooring his opponent with a flurry of punches and knees, it was only a matter of time before he followed him to the canvas and sunk in the choke.

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