Critical Countdown was the second (semi-final) round of the 2004 Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix. Despite the field of sixteen challengers having been narrowed to eight, it remained an incredibly star-studded event: the list of fighters on this card is a virtual "Who's Who" -- not only of the heavyweight division, but, when you throw in the additional matches, of the best fighters of mixed martial arts during the mid-2000s.
The fight card featured the following bouts:
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Heath "Texas Crazy Horse" Herring: A highly motivated Herring looks for revenge against the guy who'd beaten him once before, Pride's interim heavyweight champion, Big Nog.
Fedor Emilianenko vs. Kevin Randelman: Randelman had just buried his father and came into this match on Father's Day, 2004; Fedor, on the other hand, was the reigning Pride heavyweight champ, yet coming off an injury. It features one of the great slams in the history of MMA, and considering what else happened on this card, that is saying something.
Sergei Kharitonov vs. Semmy Schilt: "The Russian Mercenary" Kharitonov had exploded onto the MMA scene with a brutal KO of Ninja Rua, but in Schilt he faced a kickboxing legend who scaled in at 7' tall. (I've seen Semmy in person, and he is HUGE.)
Naoya Ogawa vs Paulo "Giant" Silva: Speaking of seven-footers, this match pits Judo expert and "great Japanese hope" Ogawa vs. Giant Silva, who was 7'3" and weighed 365 lbs. It's a case of skill vs. size...lots and LOTS of size.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Elivs Schembri: The first time these two fought, Saku put a beating on the jiu-jitsu expert only to get caught with a knee and KO'd. The Japanese legend came looking for revenge, and Elvis came looking to repeat.
Quinton :"Rampage" Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona; Two dangerous and colorful middleweight contenders meet in a fight that featured THE most notorious slam in MMA history.
Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Mark Hunt: Hunt is a minor MMA legend today, but at the time he was a K-1 champion looking to transition into MMA...against one of the best Judoka ever to strap on a gi.
Critical Countdown was a damned good card, much in the tradition of Pride and its wonderful Grand Prix tournaments, which allowed reigning divisional champions to compete for the GP belt without putting their own titles on the line. In addition to featuring more MMA legends you can shake a stick at, as well as all the glamor and pageantry that came with Pride shows, there are some genuinely entertaining fights here, including two bouts Fedor - Randelman and Jackson - Arona, which have rightly become legends. This DVD also includes a second disc loaded with special features, so all in all it's hard to go wrong. Enjoy the countdown!