Kazushi Sakuraba vs Carlos Newton, Pride 3, 24 June 1998
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Carlos Newton is an incredibly technical, suspenseful and action-packed grappling match. The fight is a spectacular match-up between grappling masters. Both fighters come from an incredible wrestling background and are skilled technicians of the sport. Just from the first two minutes of the first round, Kazushi Sakuraba attempts two submissions and Carlos Newton defends them both.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Carlos Newton is not a blood bath, it is not a punching match where fighters are head hunting with heavy swings. Kazushi Sakuraba vs Carlos Newton is a suspenseful and strategic match of grappling chess. During the fight, viewers can tell that the fighters earn more and more respect for their opponent. The fighters turn down opportunities to land significant strikes almost as if respecting the grappling match they have and wanting to end the fight via a submission.
This is an incredible performance from Kazushi Sakuraba especially given that it is only his fifth pro MMA fight. Sakuraba is coming off an armbar win over Vernon White and an armbar win over Marcus Silveira. He has started to build a name for himself as an armbar specialist. In beating Marcus Silveira, Kazushi Sakuraba won the UFC Ultimate Japan Heavyweight Tournament.
This fight is also coming relatively early in Carlos Newton’s career. This is his seventh fight. Prior to this fight, Carlos Newton suffered a split decision loss against Dan Henderson. However previous to that he had submitted four opponents. Three of them were wins by armbar.
Just looking at their professional MMA records, we see two deadly grapplers that are well matched to fight each other.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Carlos Newton
Both fighters come out with sparks flying. Carlos Newton immediately goes for the body lock but is met with Kazushi Sakuraba’s awesome wrestling in defending. Newton goes for a trip takedown but Sakuraba shows incredible balance and agility in getting the better of the takedown with a cartwheel and ends up on top. From Newton’s open guard, Sakuraba then tries to step over Carlos Newton and attempts an armbar! Newton fights through the armbar attempt and ends up on top in north-south position. The first minute of this fight is absolutely incredible.
Sakuraba reverses the position and ends up in Newton’s open guard again and immediately goes for a toe hold. Very active and exciting grappling match with Sakuraba attempting two submissions in the first two minutes of the fight!
The fighters continue their grappling war with Sakuraba in Carlos Newton’s guard. Sakuraba attempts another armbar and Newton defends fluidly. It is interesting to note the unorthodox methods that both fighters are using to attempt and defend submissions.
Sakuraba goes for a toe hold, Carlos Newton successfully defends again and is able to take Sakuaba’s back. Carlos Newton has one hook in but Sakuraba is able to shake Newton off and get to the top position again. Carlos Newton muscles his way to his feet and the fighters end the round standing.
Carlos Newton bursts out of his corner and drags Sakuraba to the ground, taking his back. Sakuraba tries to roll out of it but Newton maintains control of Sakuraba’s back. Newton lands a couple of good knees to the turtled Sakuraba but doesn’t seem like he wants to continue with the striking and possibly ending the fight via TKO. Sakuraba tries to reach for a single to drive for a takedown from the knees. However Carlos is able to roll with Sakuraba and we have returned to the back mount position. It seems that the fight may be at a stalemate. Newton not able to find any submission opportunities and Sakuraba not able to shake Newton off his back. Sakuraba finally turns and gets into Newton’s guard. Sakuraba steps over Newton again in a similar armbar attempt as was attempted in the first round. This attempt was closer but Newton again muscles and rolls out of danger. We are back to Newton trying to mount Sakuraba’s back while Sakuraba turtles up. The announcer says that there are five minutes left in the fight. Newton attempts to put his hooks in but Sakuraba takes advantage of change in movement, grabs Newton’s left leg and executes a perfect kneebar. Carlos Newton taps, the match is over.