Former middleweight champion “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva and Olympian Hidehiko Yoshida were two of Pride’s biggest attractions.
Silva was known for this berserker style who dominated Pride’s middleweight division while Yoshida had conquered most of the obstacles Pride had thrown at him whether it was a heavyweight like Gary Goodridge or Kiyoshi Tamura.
The two would meet in the semi-finals of Pride’s 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix tournament. The tournament was already drawing attention due to the involvement of UFC fighter Chuck Liddell, and a bet between UFC President Dana White and Pride FC CEO/President Nobuyuki Sakakibara that Liddell would win the tournament.
However it would be the match between Yoshida and Silva that would be the talk of the night.
The roars could be heard the moment the two fighters stared each other down.
After the opening bell, Silva went for his striking while Yoshida gracefully him down. Yoshida continued to smother Silva while the Axe Murderer delivered a few strikes in an attempt to break free. The referee would bring them back to the center to restart in the same position until Silva was able to pop out get on top of Yoshida.
Silva would stand back up, kicking Yoshida, who was trying to pull guard. The referee would force Yoshida to stand back up. The two fighters would exchange shots until Yoshida tossed Silva to the canvas to gain control. Yoshida would remain on top, smothering Silva with his gi while controlling the Axe Murderer’s hands.
Yoshida delivered a kick to Silva before the bell rang.
In the second round Silva was able to defend a takedown from Yoshida. The Axe Murderer delivered a front kick and a knee before he and Yoshida went on a fast exchange of blows. Silva continued to bring the pressure to Yoshida before they went on another quick exchange.
Yoshida went for another takedown; however Silva countered with a knee before bringing Yoshida back down to the canvas.
Yoshida rolled Silva over, gaining top position as the bell rang. The Axe Murderer helped up Yoshida, who had blood on his face.
Although Yoshida had dominated the first round, Silva finished strong in the second, which was enough to earn the decision victory. He would move on and defeat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the finals of the grand prix.
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