Sunday, March 11, 2007

James Lee wins PRIDE debut on 3 days notice

By Ray Hui

James Lee’s first invitation to PRIDE came at a fairly inconvenient time. Late one Wednesday night, Lee found himself playing video games with his son when his phone rang. Setting aside his cupcake, Lee discovered that PRIDE was finally putting him on a fight card, something which he had been working towards for years.

It was a good thing that PRIDE called before he finished his dessert, since he was informed that they wanted him to fight in only three days.

Despite the short notice, Lee found that he couldn’t turn PRIDE down. He began negotiating, and finalized a deal by 1 A.M., giving him time to catch a 4 A.M. flight to Las Vegas.

Upon arrival, Lee found that his already strenuous three days of preparations had been cut down to two, as his medicals ate up his entire first day in Vegas. Thursday night, less than 48 hours until the fight, was his first chance to begin not only his training, but also his attempts to get down to the 205-pound weight limit.

“I didn’t get to check into the hotel probably until 8 or 9 o’clock at night. Went for a run, got up, ran again, and then hopped in the sauna at 8 in the morning, and cut 14 and a half pounds in like 5 hours,” said Lee.


On top of everything else, Lee’s opponent for the fight was no slouch. Travis “The Diesel” Wiuff had accumulated over 40 MMA wins over the past six years.

Lee had never seen Wiuff fight, and admitted to not having a well-thought out game plan going into the fight. However, in his first attempt in the PRIDE ring, Lee tried to simply block out the stressful nature of the fight and work to give the best effort he could against Wiuff.

“I can fight a round out of shape. And I figured I’d gas midway through the second. That’ll be my breaking point. Depending on the pace of the fight,” said Lee. “I’ll go balls out, and see what happens, give it my all, one hundred percent.”

And he did. Lee connected on his first punch and did not hesitate to take advantage of the stunned Wiuff.

“I power punched him real fast. And I’m thinking the whole time, like s—t I can’t let this guy go. I better keep the pressure on him and finish this guy off before he gets some confidence.”

Lee followed with relentless rights and attempted a kimura before submitting Wiuff with a guillotine choke. All told, it took him only 39 seconds to upset the IFL and UFC veteran.


Lee has one more fight left on his contract with PRIDE. However, he does not know when he will step foot in the PRIDE ring again. After the dominating performance, Lee thinks he should deserve a spot on the card in the future instead of being brought in as a reserve.

“If I put my best foot forward, I hope that they would put me in the limelight a little bit more, and say ‘hey, this guy stepped to the plate, and he seized his moment to shine,’ and that’s what champions do. I hope that they will see that.”

Until his inevitable return to PRIDE, Lee will continue training with MASH (Martial Arts Submission Hybrid”)—which he co-founded in 1989–as he prepares to defend his King of the Cage 205-pound title this June in his home state of Michigan.


No comments: