PART TWO- K-1 TO PRIDE

THE K-1 CHAMPION

Bob Sapp: arm wrestling on Japanese TV 

After the World Grand Prix, Mark became an instant celebrity in Japan, and was regularly invited to appear on Japanese TV. Here Mark appears on a game show, arm wrestling American fighter and entertainer Bob Sapp. 

Bob Sapp: Tug-o-war on Japanese TV 

Another appearence on Japanese TV, this time competing against Sapp in a tug-o-war competition. That night Mark also defeated a well-known European professional strongman. 

Mirko CroCop: Nagoya Grand Prix, Japan (2002)

Still revelling in the change of life that the K-1 GP win had bought, Mark came into this fight unfit, untrained and underprepared.

Jerome Le Banner: World Grand Prix, Japan (2002)

Mark went into the defence of his K-1 crown with little preparation under his ever-expanding belt. In his first fight he defeated Stefan Leko, but this behind-the-scenes video shows the beginings of what would be a persistant injury.

Jerome Le Banner: World Grand Prix, Japan (2002)

In the semi-final of the K-1 GP, Jerome Le Banner attacked Mark's injured leg repeatedly, eventually snapping his posterior cruciate ligament. Although Mark would fight twice more for K-1, this fight would essentially be the end of his kickboxing career. 

THE PRIDE YEARS

On the left is Mark at Pride's NYE 2003 show, making the suprise announcement that he's signed with the organisation. On the right is Glenn Elliott, then Mark's caretaker manager, who was threatened in Auckland by Japanese gangsters representing K-1 interests.

Training for Pride at Hunt's gym in Minto

After signing with Pride, Mark was given $20,000 to go to Los Angeles to learn grappling from Bas Rutten, but instead decided to train with Steve Oliver and Marcelo Rezenda. Here Mark rolls with a very game (and highly incentivised) blue belt.

Hidehiko Yoshida: Pride Critical Countdown, Japan (2004)

In his first Pride fight Mark faced off against Olympic champion, and Japnese fan-favourite Hidehiko Yoshida. Mark showed a natural aptitude for ground fighting, and managed to break the gold medallist's collar bone, but was submitted in the first round. 

Mirko CroCop: Pride Shockwave, Japan (2005)

After defeating Wanderlei Silva and Dan Bobish, Hunt was tasked to fight a surging Mirko CroCop, in what he would later find out was a Pride Heavyweight title eliminator. His title fight against Fedor Emelianenk would be his last in Pride.

There may never again be a sporting organisation quite like Pride. The video on the left is the opening ceremony of one of their largest events, undertaken at the100,000 seat Tokyo Olympic Stadium, and a pomp and ceremony yet to be matched in combat sports. The video on the right is a backstage brawl between a competitor and a coach, while arguably the organisation's biggest star, Wanderlei Silva, watches on. Both speak to the wild energy of the Pride story which ended in extreme controversy.

NZ TO K-1

PRIDE TO UFC