Sherdog has a massive opus of an article on the first PRIDE open weight grand prix – it’s 9 pages long and goes through the entire tournament with tons of quotes from the Gracies to Mark Kerr to Sakuraba. It’s a great history of one of the most badass tournaments in the history of the sport, so check it out. Here’s some of my personal favorite highlights:
Guy Mezger on leaving the ring after that surprise overtime round with Sakuraba was announced:
Mezger: Royce’s father came up to me after my fight and said, “You got screwed. You won that fight.” Here’s Helio Gracie walking up to me and telling me I got ripped off. Japan is notorious for the big f-cking.
Sakuraba on Royce Gracie getting a no time limit clause added to their fight:
Sakuraba: Unlimited rounds? Okay. Let’s fight for about a week. We can hurt each other for six days and decide it on the seventh. I’ll have to go to the bathroom, so I’m going to borrow a diaper from my son and head to the Dome. The audience should be prepared. Please bring at least three days’ worth of change of clothes. Oh, and bedpans.
Tokyo Vice journalist Jake Adelstein on the Yakuza:
Adelstein: The consequences of not paying the site tax are that you may have interference with your ticket sales. Scandals about your athletes would be released to the media. It’s not always the threat of physical violence. If you’re not paying your dues and operating in their area, they’ll do something that makes life difficult for you. That can include things like telling a local magazine, this competitor is sleeping with an underage girl. Or, this guy is cheating on his wife.
Mark Coleman on the infamous Dole banana ad:
Coleman: I did a couple of commercials over in Japan. I took a lot of sh-t about the Dole banana commercial. Did I know what I was going to do when I got there? No. Hell, no. I knew it was some kind of Dole banana commercial and that was it. But it was a blast doing it and my mom and dad got a first-class trip to Japan out of the deal.
Mark Coleman on the PRIDE Grand Prix movie that never happened:
Coleman: Me and Kerr actually got paid by the producers of the movie. They rewrote it. It was all set to go and start filming. When they wrote the script, they made me the main character. That was going to be neat. I saw the script. Jean-Claude Van Damme was going to play me. I wasn’t all that thrilled about that, but oh well.