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UnderGround Forums >> The History of Pride FC - Part 1 by EatonBeever

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1/7/12 12:22 AM
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PrideFC is a name that is brought up to this day in many threads. In 2007, PrideFC folded. Since then, many new fans joined this forum, the wonderful UnderGround, to discuss & read about Mixed Martial Arts with everyone who will listen. Sadly, those new fans missed the live Pride events and atmosphere of PrideFC.  There was a thread a week ago, by kingbisping (new mudnamer) who asked "When did Pride get good". I noticed that the new fans go back and watch random fights or events , not in chrono order so their view of Pride is misrepresented. The way UFC is today, everything is about records, wins, losses, so a person can go to any UFC event and pick out a fight, skip the rest. When everything is the same, the atmosphere is not that interesting unless you're in the audience. In Pride, you had to experience the card, no exceptions where as UFC , you aren't even offered every single fights on the ppv, fans have to go elsewhere to view it (facebook, FUEL, Spike, etc). And if the fans don't catch the prelims, they aren't missing much and they can view the rest of main card and be 'caught up'. Beyond titles and records, there is nothing more to a UFC fight besides the action the fight provides. Real life storylines rarely occur, maybe if a rematch is to take place because there is some sort of substance behind that match up where as in Pride every fight had substance and was interesting which I'll explain in this thread. Pride fights had the action of modern day UFC mma fight, but substance behind almost every fight. And the storyline and intriguing match ups made each Pride show more and more memorable.

So this thread is dedicated to the new members who don't quite understand why us old timers are so infatuated with a dead mma organization. In this thread, I'll go over the history of Pride, the atmosphere of Pride, tons of misspellings, the difference between then & now and finally conclude it by stating 'Rickson by Armbar'. Back in the 90's, MMA was nicknamed 'nhb' which stood for no-holds-barred fighting. And it wasn't really considered a 'sport' , but considered a 'fighting event' or 'martial arts event' in both Pride and UFC as well as the other organizations such as KOTC, Superbrawl, Pancrase, Rings, etc. Zuffa UFC turned it into a sporting event rather than a martial arts event, but this thread is about the former best martial arts event, known as Pride Fighting Championship.   I am typing this shit off the top of my head, all based off of my memory, so please excuse me if I fuck up anything.  It's been a while since I lasted watched a full Pride event, but I will look over the cards on sherdog and see if I can remember the important stuff.....

Pre-Pride - 1993


Before Pride, MMA was still known to Japanese sports fans. Shooto was the first mma organization which dates back to the late 80's. But what really boomed was two things in 1993, months before UFC 1 happened. Kazuyoshi Ishii, a former Karate practitioner, formed K-1. "K" stood for most of the martial arts that began with the letter , mainling Kickboxing, Karate, & Kung Fu and "1" stood for the martial arts / fighters being number one in the world. Many people believe K-1 WGP 1993 was the first K-1 event, but this isn't true. Ishii held the "K-1 Sanctuary 1993" a month before the WGP with only 2k in attendance. A month later, Ishii held an event that would be produced every year for the next 17 years. The K-1 World Grand Prix 1993 was held on April 30th to determine who was the best kickboxer in the world by using a one night tournament featuring the top kickboxers in the world including Ernesto Hoost & Peter Aerts from Netherlands, Maurice Smith from America, Branco Cikatic from Croatia, and at that time Masaaki Satake was a very popular Karate fighter from Japan. The finals consisted of Cikatic KO'ing Ernesto Hoost. The concept was a hit and from that single 8 man tournament, stars were made.

That was the stand up event, but the grappling was also popular due to pro wrestling roots and famous wrestlers such as Antonio Inoki of Japan. But pro wrestling was grappling works. As the big wrestling organizations bloomed such as UWFi, NJPW, All Japan, etc, a new 'shoot' fight organization was being developed by pro wrestlers Masakatsu Funaki & Minoru Suzuki. Their idea was to have a 'shoot' fight company based off of the ancient Olympic games known as Pankration. Shoot is a term in the pro wrestling circut which means 'real'. A 'work' is scripted bout, predetermined result while if a wrestler was to 'shoot' on his opponent, that would mean he would really fight him. Pancrase developed a system of rules to make it like an Olympic sport. No closed fist striking to the head, rope escapes if you were caught in a submission, a point system to determine the winner. The results of these rules allowed the fighters to take more chances in their submission attempts and more submissions skills were displayed. On September 21st, 1993, the first Pancrase event was held. The main event featured Ken Shamrock defeating Masa Funaki. A year later, a King of Pancrase tournament was held to determine 'The King of Pancrase', a sort of champion title. Ken Shamrock won the very first one. Pancrase produced a number of stars. If a fighter lost, they were brought back repeatedly regardless of records. Japan were more interested about watching the stars of Pancrase perform on as much cards as they could.

Two months later after the first Pancrase event, America held it's own Martial Arts competition led by Art Davie & Rorion Gracie. Inspired by Conan the Barbarian movie, the idea was to have 8 fighters compete in a single tournament much like K-1 GP to determine which style of fighting was the best in the world. Each 8 fighter represented their style of martial arts. Rorion's younger brother, Royce Gracie was chosen to represent Gracie Jiu Jitsu & also represent his family at the same time. The result proved that being a good ground submission specialist could win you the fight regardless of weight, size, or strength. Technique was the only thing that mattered and if you had that technique of submission skills, you could not be beaten. The event was popular, but it was more looked at like more of a blood bath, no rules, fight to the death type of event you saw from a movie like Jean Claude Van Dam's Bloodsport (1987) by the mainstream public. People were tuning in NOT to see Martial Arts competition, but rather tuning into see real life violence rather than the display of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. The 'reputation' of this early UFC events would lead to many problems down the road. However, UFC featured twelve more no holds barred tournaments of no weight classes, 8 men tournament representing styles and built stars out of these tournaments such as Royce Gracie,Ken Shamrock, Kimo,Tank,Ruas,Takatarov,Severn,Mark Coleman and Don Frye. Other stars were created from the dawn of the early UFC tournaments such as Paul Varelens, Keith Hackney, Emmanuelle Yaraborough, Joe Son, Joe Charles, Art Jimmerson, and a few more who weren't exactly champions or winning all their fights but making an impact by memorable interesting fights.
1/7/12 12:26 AM
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Pride KRS Days (Pride 1)

On October 11th, 1997, a company named Kakutougi Revolution Spirits (KRS) formed Pride Fighting Championship. The company thought they could produce a martial arts event with advertising the Gracie Family Champion, Rickson Gracie against Japan's most popular wrestler Nobuhiko Takada. The entire card would be a mix of everything for everyone. Pride 1 would feature a kickboxing bout with the K-1 WGP 1993 Champion, a worked mma shoot fight, two fights featuring UFC superstars fighting each other, another Gracie against a Japanese fighter as sort of a 'things to come' match up. The card featured 4 Americans, 4 Japanese, 1 Australian, 1 Russia, 1 Australia, 1 Croatia and 1 Canadian. So it was a mixed event of fighters from all different countries, all different styles, all different types of fights. It was a true Martial Arts event. It was very different than a Pancrase event, UFC tournament type of event, and a K-1 WGP event. The idea was sort of a Superbowl of Mixed Martial Arts. Everyone who would compete on the show would be representing something and they were the number one representation of that , whatever it was (kickboxing, Gracie JJ, Sambo, Greco Roman Wrestling, etc). It didn't have a tournament style such as K-1 WGP, UFC 1-10 nor the Pancrase KOP. It was a single card. The tournaments of the other organizations produced many stars from those tournaments. What Pride did was to take those stars and match them with other superstars of various things. So each fight was interesting and important. The concept was to take all the superstars of fighting and put them against each other to see what would happen ! The event was inspired by the format of pro wrestling card (superstars vs. superstars throughout the card of known people with a big main event) but contained a mix of everything.

The Main Event

Pride 1 attracted media attention of Takada facing Rickson Gracie. Royce Gracie won UFC 1,2,4 tournaments and competed in the first UFC superfight against Ken Shamrock in UFC 5. Royce was so famous of being the best in the world. But people who knew the Gracie family history and the family knew Royce wasn't the best fighter out of the family. Japan's Shooto organization wanted to hold a grand tournament, their version of the UFC in 1994. The concept was same as UFC 1, difference being it would be held in a ring instead of a caged octagon and provide more rules of the event rather than the no holds barred fight that UFC 1 provided. They figured they would get the better Gracie member for their tournament, Rickson Gracie. Rickson was slightly different than Royce as he provided more physical damage to his opponents by using more strikes from mount and did not wear a tradition Gi, the way Royce did. He used his trademark white shorts and whie knee pads.

Nobuhiko Takada a popular pro wrestler of the organizations New Japan, UWF, and he became the leader of the UWFi. Takada's height came in 1995 as he wrestled IWGP champion Keiji Mutoh which drew 67k fans. The UWFi vs. New Japan was the biggest moneymaking fued in Japan history. It was equal to if WWF vs. WCW in 1998 here in America , if you're familiar with Pro Wrestling. After UWFi folded in 1996, Takada was interested in this new sport of 'shootfighting' and was interesting in fighting the best fighter which at the time was possibly Rickson Gracie, at least to the majority of fans. The fight ended as Rickson mounted Takada and armbarring him in after four minutes in the first round.

Problems of Pride 1

The worked fights of Kitao defeating Nathan Jones (who later wrestled for Vince McMahon) as well as Kazunari Murakami defeating John Dixon who lead to a lot of critism of Pride by the new generation of fans who did not understand that pro wrestling was part of the Japanese Culture at that time. Worked fights was to spotlight certain people as a means to sell tickets in the future. Since it was a Martial Arts event and not a sporting event, there were no sanctions or any rules that all fights had to be real. The promoters can produce any fights they wished , to sell tickets. This concept of worked fights were cancelled down the road, but we'll get to that later.

Another problem was the fights were 30 minutes with no judges. If no one was finished, the fight was ruled a draw. Two key fights were Renzo vs. Shoji & Severn vs. Kimo which no opponent was finished, declaring the fight a draw. Both fights ended up to not have a lot of action. Dan Severn vs. Kimo, although looked great on paper and was anticipated by us fans, did not deliver action and was considered one of the worst fights of all time not just in Pride, but next to Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn 2, Nobuhiko Takada vs. Mike Bernardo as the most boring fight of all time.
1/7/12 12:38 AM
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KRS: The Journey Continues (Pride 2-4)

The end result of Pride 1 was rather successful. It was held in the Tokyo Dome in front of 47 thousand people. The results of the event led to KRS to develop another event, 'Pride 2'. Pride 2 used the same formula as Pride 1. Going from 7 bouts to 8 this time. They did something intelligent to attract the fans. Despite not having Rickson Gracie nor Takada, the biggest draws / main event of the last card return to the event, they still had familiar faces return to the card that appealed to people. Renzo Gracie, Gary Goodridge, Akira Shoji, & former K-1 WGP 1993 winner and K-1 superstar Branco Cikatic back. The fans who saw the last card were familiar with these and the addition of a few more names from different organizations was also appealing. They signed Royler Gracie, the younger brother of Rickson, Kazushi Sakuraba of UWFi fame (I'll get to him more later), a Pancrase superstar Vernon White of the Lion's Den, and two UFC tournament champions Marco Ruas & Mark Kerr.

The problem with Pride 2 was the signed a mega fight main event that was of equal interest as Pride 1 main event (at least to the UFC fans here in the States & Brazil). Originally Royce Gracie signed against Mark Kerr. The idea of Royce fighting a monster wrestler that was in many ways even bigger and better than the former UFC 5 champion Dan Severn whom Royce had already beaten. The fight was anticipated as Kerr was undefeated at the time as was Royce Gracie! There was even a camcorder footage going around of Royce training with huge giant wrestlers in his preperation of his fight with Mark Kerr. Mark Kerr was the equalivant of Brock Lesnar of the 90's. His size and strength plus speed really made him possibly top 5 in the world at the time, if not people did not already consider him number one! Royce was injured and a new main event had to be made. Pride officials brought back Branco and labelled the main event as sort of a classic kickboxer vs. wrestler main event.

Pride 2 had many more finishes and more exciting fights than the last event as well as no worked fights. Pride was interested in making every single fight on the card entertaining, interesting and featured the best or most popular person of whatever style or organization he was representing. They also started the show with Royler Gracie fighting Yuhi Sano, so each opening fight had to be just as interesting as anything else. They weren't interested in unknown prelim fights at the time. It was like a superbowl of mixed martial arts. Renzo & Royler displayed their Jiu Jitsu skills by submitting both opponents which sent a message to Japan that the Gracie family is the best on the ground which will lead to a bigger picture later on, which I'll get to.

In the co-main event, featured Gary Goodridge fighting Marco Ruas. On paper, it looked like just another UFC vet against UFC vet, but Pride signed this fight because there was a backstory so much more interesting than just a UFC vet-UFC vet fight, which is by all means very interesting itself, but Pride ups the anty. At UUFC 1995, Oleg Taktarov defeated Marco Ruas by decision. This enraged Ruas who felt he didn't lose and was pretty obsessed with this loss. At Pride 1, Oleg was KO'ed brutally by Gary Goodridge (a UFC 8 finalist). Ruas decided to take on Goodridge to show he was better than Oleg. He ended up submitting Gary Goodridge by his trademark finish, the heelhook, which Ruas was excellent with.

The main event proved to be controversial. Branco did not want to go to the ground and would do ANYTHING to avoid Kerr on top of him on the ground. Branco held the ropes to avoid being taken down. After warnings from the ref, Kerr shot in again, Branco was elbowing Kerr in the back of the head while holding onto the ropes and Kerr had enough. When the ref was trying to break it up, Kerr began to unleash punches while the ref was trying to break up the fight. More refs ran in the ring to break up the chaos, which ended up disqualifing Branco.

Pride 2, despite having a unsatisfying main event, still was successful enough to do yet another show, Pride 3. Pride 3 moved to the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo Japan. It was a smaller venue than the previous, but had quite an interesting mixed card of big names, the best fighters and intriguing match ups, the way Pride runs a show. Once again, Pride brought in former UFC vets who were known, Emmanuel Yarborough (a HUGE GIANT sumo wrestler from UFC 3) & Carlos Newton who was a UFC 17 finalist as well as Battlecade and Japan Vale Tudo 1997 vet (Battlecade was UFC's only competition back in the early days, it was their Bellator to the UFC).

Mark Kerr, Nobuhiko Takada were two fighters who were the main events of the last two Pride events were both featured in this card. Takada had a worked bout against Kyle Sturgeon in the main event so that the 'win' would build his credibility back up to make it look like he can deserve a rematch with Rickson. Mark Kerr on the other hand fought a VERY popular Luta Livre fighter (Luta Livre , a martial arts, was the BJJ enemy and nemesis in Brazil back in the day) named The Pedro (real name Pedro Otavio). Kerr won his match by armlock in which The Pedro screamed in pain where the ref was forced to stop the fight. Goodridge knocked Amir Rahnavardi out while in Amir's guard which was a VERY rare KO, showing Gary's punching power once again. Newcomer Dajiro Matsui fought Akira Shoji, these two had a boring opening fight, but both fighters would remain in Pride for a long period of time to take on the best fighters of the world!

The other very important fight of our history was Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Carlos Newton. Sakuraba was a fighter who was a former pro wrestler , under Takada's organization. He was also a former real amatuer wrestler before his pro wrestling days. Sakuraba was almost a 'chosen one' of Japanese pro wrestlers / fighters. Sakuraba was a great wrestler, trained with Billy Robinson in 'catch wrestling' which were the roots of his amazing submission skills. Sakuraba made his nhb debut in UFC Japan where he faced Conan Silveria (the former Battlecade HW champion) and armbarred the BJJ Carlson Gracie black belt despite being outweighed. Newton a VERY dangerous jiu jitsu specialist was very good with armbars. The battle between these two was legendary. It was an amazing display of grappling in a real fight. In the end, Sakuraba caught Newton in a kneebar getting the victory. A star was being built and his name was Kazushi Sakuraba. This was the third opponent he has faced that had success in fighting and submitted all three in a row. 
1/7/12 12:39 AM
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After the first three Prides were success, Pride decided to sign the epic rematch from Pride 1, Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada. Pride 4 took place on October 11th, 1998, exactly one year after the first one. This card featured more Brazilians than the previous ones. This was the first Pride to model every fight just like the main event, which meant no kickboxing fights or worked bouts. This was a star filled 100% nhb fights. The traditional 'big bang opening fight' delivered as expected. They brought in a dangerous stand up fighter with HEAVY hands from Ukraine named Igor Vovchanchyn. Igor had many wins in no holds barred , very little rules bare knuckle tournaments in Russia. He threw heavy punches that laid out fighters cold. With such an interesting fighter, they matched him up with another fighter who was familiar to fans with KO power, Gary Goodridge. The opening fight ended with Igor TKO'ing Gary in the first round.

Sakuraba returned to take on the second UFC 17 vet, Allan Goes. The fight was close, very technical, but ended in a draw. Marco Ruas who impressed everyone with his submission of Gary Goodridge at Pride 2 was upset by Japanese Alexander Otsuka, a former pro wrestler. Ruas claimed he fought sick and that is why he lost. Mark Kerr took on the leader of Luta Libve, Huge Duarte who was famous for a challenge street fight with Rickson on a beach. Kerr was too much power for Hugo to handle and ended up losing. A very famous fighter in the fighting community made his Pride debut, Wallid Isamil. Ismail was a Carlson Gracie BB who had beaten 3 Gracies in BJJ competition. He was upset by Akira Shoji.

The main event was a repeat of the first fight, only a couple minutes longer. Rickson once again took down Takada and armbarred him. At this time, the fans were realizing that the fight was just a big mismatch and were calling for Rickson to fight higher competition. But despite what anyone thought of the mismatch of the main event, the bottom line was PrideFC had its superstars established.

-Igor Vovchanchyn
-Mark Kerr
-Gracie Family
-Kazushi Sakuraba
-Gary Goodridge
-Akira Shoji (Nicknamed Mr.Pride)
-Nobuhiko Takada

1/7/12 12:42 AM
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KRS out, DSE in (Pride 5-8)

By Pride 5, Dream Stage Entertainment took over and a new Pride was developed. For the start of DSE Pride, now judges were incorporated. During this time, K-1 was blooming in 1998, 1999. So Pride worked out a tv deal with Fujii tv as well as the ppv provider SKY PerfecTV. The competition to attract 'real fight fans' of Japan provided both organizations to promote bigger and better match ups. Pride 5 provided two more UFC popular vets to cross over to the Pride promotion. Vitor Belfort & Mark Coleman. Coleman was going through a very difficult time in UFC and went through a bad losing streak. Maurice Smith, Pete Williams and Pedro Rizzo all defeated the 'unstoppable' Mark Coleman who looked like he couldn't be beat in his UFC 10 , 11, and 12 fights. Coleman took a worked bout to once again legitimize Takada's reputation. Takade leg locked Coleman in a worked bout as the main event. Vitor Belfort, however suffered a different fate. The young brazilian fighter looked absolutely unstoppable in UFC 12 debut, UFC 13 superfight with Tank , but a unusual upset against the older wrestler, Randy Couture. However, the Couture loss did not damage his reputation as a devestating striker with lethal Blackbelt BJJ groundgame. He was pitted against Sakuraba, the up and coming superstar of not just Pride, but the entire sport of 'nhb', back then. Belfort outpunched himself in the beginning, couldn't put Sakuraba out so he ended up breaking his hand and Sakuraba dominated the rest of the fight giving him the well deserved decision. The Inoue brothers debuted in Pride 5. Egan and Enson of Japanese and Hawaiian decent with incredible ground game as well as dangerous well rounded fighting abilities. Pride 5 also held a exhibition between Rickson Gracie and his brother Royler to educate the Japanese fans about Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Igor Vovchanchyn beat Akira Shoji to prove his lethal striking.

Pride 6 featured more new names plus the other best fighters. The superstars of the sports were also the best fighters in the world. It wasn't all about popularity anymore. It was now focusing on who the best fighter in the world was. The fighters considered to be the best were the superstars and Pride was captializing on this. Pride 6 brought in new big name talent to add to their superstar card. Guy Mezger of Pancrase & UFC fame, Ebenezer Fontes Braga of IVC fame and one of Luta Livre's top talent, and Carlos Barreto a Carlson Gracie Blackbelt HW who was 9-1 with his only lose to Dave Beneteau from UFC 15 by decision. With wins over Paul Varelens, Dan Bobish, AFC 1 runner up Mikhail Illouhkine, and Kevin Randleman, Barreto was a forced to be reckoned with. They immediately matched him against the very dangerous Ukrainian power puncher, Igor Vovchanchyn. The main event was the other absolute best fighter on the planet at the time, undefeated Mark Kerr against Nobuhiko Takada. Igor and Kerr won their HW battles which put them on a collision course toward one another. Sakuraba had his wins over all the Carlson Gracie Blackbelts, a Lion's Den vet, and now we were able to see how he would do against the other Brazilian style of Luta Livre. Sakuraba defeated Fones Braga by a VERY unusal submission that has never been seen up until that point. Naogya Ogawa had a fight with Gary Goodridge. Ogawa won, a popular pro wrestler who also had a Judo background, the fight to this day was never confirmed as a work. Pride 6 went back to its 'mixed' Pride 1 roots by adding a Kyokushin Karate Bout, Nobuaki Kakuda vs. Hiroki Kurosawa.

Pride 7 mimicked Pride 6 as it had its best fighters compete such as Sakuraba, Vovcahnchyn, Mark Kerr plus the familiar faces such as Branko Cikatic, Matusi, Shoji, Enson Inoue. The main event was a pro wrestling worked bout with Nobuhiko Takada vs. Alexander Otsuka. With the 'mixed' different bouts on a Pride card, the uneducated American fans don't understand the Japanese culture and so the Otsuka / Takada pro wrestling match was omitted from the Pride 7 vhs US version here in the states (and later the dvd). Otsuka vs. Takada pro wrestling was the last known worked bout in Pride as Pride was heading the direction of the event that worked for them, which would be the best fighter vs. the best fighter. Pride 7 featured the debut of Wanderlei Silva from IVC fame (IVC was a bareknuckle vale tudo event held in Brazil in a ring with little rules). Sakuraba took on another UFC vet, Anthony Macias and won. With K-1 blooming in 1999, Pride did a very unique match up which was to hold a MMA / NHB fight with two K-1 fighters against each other. Branco Cikatic vs. Maurice Smith. Maurice with much more real grappling experience from his UFC, Battlecade and Pancrase experience was able to submit the fellow K-1 fighter. Bob Schrijber , also known as Dirty Bob made his debut and faced Matsui. Enson competed in a grappling match against Tuli Kulihaapai which was the first grappling match in a Pride event. The Japan fans were def interested in the Otsuka / Takada 'match' but the WORLD was more interested in the VERY anticipated match Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Mark Kerr. These were two very powerful HWs. Igor with very few losses in his big career at this point against the unstoppable undefeated Mark Kerr. Fans had the idea that Kerr would most likely be victorious, but there were a few who believed Igor would win just because he was so dangerous and already has beaten the bigger Baretto (grappler) and Goodridge despite Igor being a shorter, pudgy fighter against Kerr who looked like he was pumped full of steroids, and of course later in a documentary showed he was pumped full of steroids. The anticipated fight ended when Igor kneed Kerr in the head on all fours which seemed to KO Kerr (Kerr possibly faked being 'out' to get Igor in trouble with the ref). Technically it was against the rules, but they ruled it a win for Igor. Kerr complained and the decision was later overturned into a no contest, but for the fans, it was obvious Igor was the winner and the best HW on the planet at this point. Pride 7 also marked the event which the ref stood the fighters up if the fight provided no action.
1/7/12 12:45 AM
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Pride 8 - The Evolution Begins
(Pride 8)

By Pride 8, nhb fighting had its stars established. Pride matched up fighters by weight, but it was very vague. The fighters weight wasn't really important, they kind of matched them up by which was more of an intriguing fight. If they had a great 205 pound fighter rather than matching him up with a 265 pounder, they thought it would be a little more interesting if they matched them with another 265 pounder. Every once in a while, they would match up a MW against a HW , but ONLY if it was intriguing to the audience and interesting. Sakuraba (a MW) and Mark Kerr (a HW) were the biggest names and the best fighters in Pride. The reason why they were never matched up at lets say Pride 6 was simply because there were so many more interesting fights for the two. Sakuraba was beating the best Brazilian BBs on the planet while Kerr was taking on the HWs. Its kind of a gray area, but the bottom line, Pride signed the interesting fights, not because of weight so much as it was to make the fights intersting. And the styles make fights. Pride knew this. They matched up fighters whos styles would make a very intriguing fight. And they did a great job at attracting a world wide audience. Anyone a fan of fighting enjoyed the history of UFC and the evolution of where UFC was going from Ken Shamrock, Royce and Severn to guys like Frank Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, Kevin Randleman, & Pedro Rizzo who were more well rounded. But the biggest, best fighters that were promoted not just as fighters, but promoted as GODS in Pride. It was something you could not miss. You watched UFC. And then you watched Pride. The question would next be 'how would Frank do against Sakuraba?'. The organizations of Pride , UFC, Pancrase, Shooto, and other ones weren't a huge deal back then. No one really cared which organization a fighter fought for, they just wanted to see the certain fights. The organization didn't matter because there was no exclusive contracts. Pride was picking up UFC veterns all the time. It didn't matter because if the fighters stayed there, we were like great - there are tons of fights for him there. If he went to UFC, even better! The truth is events were happening every 2 months, so the fighters didn't have huge careers and there was plenty of fresh fights regardless of what organization they were in at the time. Goodridge was fighting for many Prides, showed up at UFC 19 and back to Pride. Kimo fought Pride 1, UFC 16. No one really paid that much attention to which organization back then without exclusive contracts, anything was possible!

Back on track to Pride 8 and why that one was so significant. The card featured many stars of nhb fighting. Gary Goodridge took on the giant wrestler Tom Erikson, Matsui took on Wanderlei Silva, Mark Coleman gained a win over AFC 1 winner Ricardo Morais, and the return of Renzo Gracie gaining a decision over Alexader Otsuka (popular from his victory over Ruas at Pride 4). A lot of brazilians were on the Pride 8 card. Bueno, Iha, Wanderlei, Renzo, and Royler Gracie.

Main Event
The Gracies had the reputation in the sport as undefeatable Gods. Renzo lost a decision against Kiyoshi Tamura in Rings in a lackluster fight. Ismail beat 3 in BJJ competition, but beyond that - The Gracies ruled the sport for the longest time. It was time to test their Japan superstar and highly ranked fighter - Kazushi Sakuraba against one of the Gracies themselves. Sakuraba had beaten Brazilian Blackbelts trained by Gracies such as Conan, Vitor Belfort and a draw with Allan Goes. But never has he faced an actual Gracie family member. Originally, Renzo Gracie wanted to face Sakuraba. But Rickson's side of the family wanted Royler to get the glory for taking out Japan's number one fighter. Royler signed with Sakuraba as the main event. The main event was highly antipiated. It started as a storyline as Takada's pupil, Sakuraba getting revenge for his loss against Rickson, but the real life storyline changed into this one man taking on an entire family. Sakuraba vs. Royler proved the evolution had occured. Which is that if you take a grappler and pit him against an equal grappler, the bigger one will most likely win due to size advantage. Technique was no becoming an equal playing ground as the techniques were not a secret anymore. Sakuraba dominated Royler from the start. Sakuraba a natural 185lber against a natural FW. Sakuraba beat him on their feet which forced Royler to butt scoot the entire time. Sakuraba eventually did go to the ground and locked in a vicious armlock. Royler refused to tap out as Gracies did not tap in a fight. The ref stopped the fight before Royler's arm snapped. Gracie camp protested that Royler did not tap and that the fight should have continued. But the fight was over and Sakuraba established himself as the best grappler in the world, even over the Gracies. But there were more Gracies out there.
1/7/12 12:49 AM
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2000 - The Grand Prix Tournament debuts to shake the nhb world (GP 2000 Open - Pride 9)

After the shocking loss of a Gracie, Pride decided to out do itself by competing with the highly successful K-1 World GP by doing their own 16 man tournament. The format would copy the K-1 WGP 1995-1999 versions where they would hold an opening round event featuring 16 contestants and then a final 8 for a one night tournament months later. This tournament would be the holy mecca of nhb fighting events. To really out do themselves, they would add Royce Gracie (the original UFC 1 champion and icon of Gracie Family in America) and Kazushi Sakuraba in the tournament to continue the real life storyline of Sakuraba vs. Gracie Family. Also, in the GP they would add Mark Kerr and Igor Vovchanchyn who would obviously be the heavy favorites. Returning to Pride for this grand tournament would be Mark Coleman, Gary Goodridge, Enson Inoue, Akira Shoji, Ebenezer Fontes Braga, Guy Mezger, Nobuhiko Takada, and Alexander Otsuka. The new additions to the tournament would be Kazuyuki Fujita, a former freestyle wrestler who became a pro wrestler similar to Sakuraba. He was a little more unique than Sakuraba as he had one of the thickest skulls in MMA history. He was a short powerful stocky guy with great wrestling made him a very intriguing fighter to the tournament. Also, a former K-1 WGP finalist and popular Karate K-1 fighter, Masaaki Satake entered the GP.

Fighting tournaments generally take place to create stars and fighters or the winners of those tournaments become known and stars are born. However, this Pride GP was different as all the fighters were already known. The idea behind it was to find out just exactly who was the best fighter on the planet. That was the age old question that early UFCs were based upon. Sakuraba was winning , but he's a lighter weight. Kerr was a monster, but had that Pride 7 fight lingering over his head, and Igor seemed unstoppable. The question is which of these fighters was the best out of them all ? So to answer the question , Pride put them all in a 16-man Grand Prix.

In Jan, 2000 - Pride held the opening round. There were a few mismatches for the better fighters to advance in the finals to hold the best possible 8 for the finals in May. Kerr beat the smaller Inoue, Sakuraba had a controversial win over Mezger (the Lions Den representative), Fujita beat the Netherlands Hans Nijman, Goodridge beat a bigger but less experienced fighter. Igor had a war with Otsuka to advance. Coleman beat the past prime Satake in a classic wrestler vs. kickboxer match up. Shoji upset Fontes Braga and finally the main event was Royce Graice vs. Nobuhiko Takada. The fight was a mismatch on paper and proved to be true as Royce won the decision. The fight was easy to promote as it was a sequel to its Pride 1 and 4 main event fights with Takada taking on another Gracie.

May 2000 featured the MOST ANTICIPATED FIGHT IN NHB HISTORY since Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie rematch at UFC 5, but this was easily more anticipated fight. The talk of this fight was world wide. From America to Brazil to Japan. Royler as great as he was , was much lighter. Royce was equal to size with Sakuraba. And to add the antipication, Royce camp demanded special rules for his fights only. That was the only way to get Royce in the GP, but the end justified the means. Royce vs. Sakuraba was the quarterfinal and the special rules Gracie campy added ? No time limits. They fight until someone can not continue anymore. All the fighters had to agree to the special rules if they met Royce Gracie.

There was so much more involved in this tournament than just the Royce / Sakuraba showdown. As great as Sakuraba and Royce were, people already recongnized the evolution of the sport and the heavier guys had much better shots regardless of the MW's record. It didn't matter, the heavier guy had a much better shot. At this point in time, UFC 1 proved technique matters. Pride 8 proved if technique is equal, size DOES matter. So besides the question of who will win, Royce or Sakuraba - the other question was will Kerr and Igor rematch in the finals ? Pride put them on opposite sides of the brackets. The truth is Kerr and Igor looked UNSTOPPABLE and no one could imagine anyone beating either of these two in the GP, so a showdown between these two were expected. However, something else was brewing in the GP and that was a Mark Coleman comeback which proved a lot of things, which I'll get to in a minute.

Gary / Igor quarter final went as expected. Lots of heavy hitting with Igor advancing to the semi finals. Coleman beat Shoji in a decision.

Before I get into Sakuraba / Royce - the unexpected thing happened was that Kerr lost to the new comer Fujita, another wrestler. Mark Kerr was taken down for the first time in his career. Fujita wore him down and won decision. In the process , Fujita was injured and couldnt continue.

Royce vs. Sakuraba was completely worth the wait. The fight went 90 minutes making it the longest fight in nhb history up until that point since 1993 , dawn of all the martial arts organizations. Sakuraba was too much for Royce. Sakuraba seemed to have the tools and answers to defeating the BJJ system, which was a huge shock across the fighting community.

In the semi finals, Fujita couldn't fight Coleman so he got an easy fight to the finals. Igor / Sakuraba did however take place. After Sakuraba fighting 90 minutes and Igor fighting for 10 minutes, Sakuraba still was a true warrior and fought Igor to a decision. After the fight, the decision was a draw and Sakuraba's team threw in the towel. No one really even considered it a loss for Sakuraba at that point. They understood he fought Royce for 90 minutes and lasted against Igor all that time without being KTFO. Sakuraba came out a winner regardless of the "L" from Igor. He beat Royce and the storyline continued...

Before the main event, Ken Shamrock returned to MMA fom WWF and took on Alexander Otsuka in a superfight. He was able to TKO Otsuka. First time since UFC 5 Ken and Royce were on the same card together.

Final was Igor very tired from his two fights against well rested Coleman. The fight was good for Coleman who looked great. He was able take down Igor at will without getting that hurt. He eventually got Igor in the corner and used his knees of doom to make Igor tap the first time since his Russia nhb tournament bare knuckle days. Coleman proved to everyone that it was possible to make a comeback in the fight world. Coleman was now a Pride GP champion and now a major superstar once again!
1/7/12 12:52 AM
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Pride 9 was the GP afterthought. The card featured a lot of the non-GP fighters with the exception of Goodridge & Igor Vovchanchyn who by that time were considered Pride Fighter Regulars. The card featured two Lions Den vs. Carlson Gracie BB fights (Goes / White & Baretto / Telligman). The debut of Heath Herring and Rico Rodriguez. By this time, I believe everyone either paid close attention of all nhb events that took place like Superbrawl, King of the cage, UFC, Pancrase, Rings, etc to know all the big names of each organization. So when Gilbert Yvel, Heath Herring, Tre Telligman, Rico Rodriguez was featured on a Pride card for their debut, everyone either

a) already knew them
b) researched them before they fought because they HAD to be a big deal if they were fighting on a Pride card and you knew they would be there again win or lose.

Pride would bring back guys who lost. A lost wasn't that important, it was more about intriguing match ups and important match ups. Igor losing to Coleman in Pride GP was not the end all for Igor unlike today's ZUFFA UFC. There were plenty of fresh matches we wanted to see Igor participate in. There was unfinished business with Kerr, there were other guys out there for Igor to fight. His style was interesting.

So Pride 9 was nicknamed 'New Blood' because of new names to the card and the other big names were still taking a break from the Grand Prix. It was also a great way to introduce new names for Pride esp the big guys, HWs.

The main event was Vitor Belfort vs. Gilbert Yvel. Belfort's fast hands and amazing stand up boxing skills was to be tested against a dangerous Netherlands fighter Gilbert Yvel who was known as a crazy wild kickboxer with flying knees and impressive KOs overseas. They put Yvel in the main event without the 'hype machine' the UFC does these days. Back in those days, there weren't that many fighters so we already knew who everyone was. And if we didn't know a fighter, we traded vhs tapes as a form of research to find out who this fighter was and see what he was all about. UFC promotes events with assumptions that the fans are stupid and new to the sport. Each UFC seems like a repeat of the last one with the same overhype and same lines from Rogan / Goldberg / Dana. Back in the day, the fans were already educated (at least the small community here in the States, I cant speak for Japanese fans). But Yvel is a classic example, we already knew him and just because he never fought for UFC or Pride, we still knew him because organizations weren't all that important to us, we were actually clueless just how great Pride and Pre-Zuffa was because in a way we were spoiled with stacked cards, less fighters making it easy to follow all of them, less events but more stacked which made it easier to follow - less fighters but the fighters that were there were better because they already proved themselves. The sport at this time was not overhyped, watered down with farm league guys and a clusterfuck of ranking system.

Pride 9 turned out to have some less than stellar fights. New comers, Herring and Rodriguez won their respected fights creating two new HWs we could look forward to seeing down the road. The main event turned out to be a diaster for Pride as their two big HW strikers ended up on the ground the whole time thanks to Belfort who decided he wanted to turn himself into a ground and pound fighter. He went in Yvel's guard as much as he could and wont he decision by his wrestling. Very unusal Vitor Belfort which caused the fans to continue to discuss just what kind of fighter is this guy - a KO master with fast hands, a BJJ guy, a wrestler g'n'p, a mentally weak fighter that loses.....
1/7/12 12:53 AM
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Pride 10 - The Grand Daddy of them All (Pride 10)

On August 27th, 2000, Pride held Pride 10. Pride 10 was considered one of the greatest Pride events as well as the greatest MMA event ever held. Pride 10 had 10 fights instead of the usual 8 on the card. It was held in teh Seibu Dome in Saitama Japan. The Fight Professor Stephen Quadros named Pride 10 'The Best Pride yet'. Each fight was anticipated for everyone with the exception of one (Satake vs. Murakami).

The very first fight featured Vitor Belfort who was the main event of the last Pride which wasn't unusual for a main event fighter to open a show because Pride had such stacked cards from top to bottom. Belfort won his fight by decision against a Japanese Pride regular (Matsui). Though a mismatch on paper, the Japanese liked to see their people test themselves against the best fighters hence why Matsui was always on the Pride card despite losing quite a bit. That was the Japanese culture, it was about honor. Matsui felt honored to be in a battle against the best. The American culture is completely different.

Pride superstars displayed their talent. This Pride became apparent that if you were on a Pride card, you were:

a) The Best Fighter in the World
b) Entertaining as a fighter
c) The Best in a certain style or another mma organization
d) Japanese Fighter willing to test yourself against the best in the world

Or a combination of any of the above.

The greatest fighters displayed their talent for the world. Wanderlei Silva, the bareknuckle IVC vet with brutal vicious style won over Pancrase & UFC vet Guy Mezger. Mark Kerr, Rico Rodriguez, Vitor Belfort all won their fights against lesser opponents, but their skills were displayed. A more even match was two dangerous big HW strikers matched against each other, Gary Goodridge against Gilbert Yvel. The fight proved to be memorable as Yvel, the dangerous Netherlands kickboxer I mentioned earlier in Pride 9, nailed Gary with a devestating high kick to the head, which put Gary out cold... Yvel, coming off a bad loss in Pride 9 main event , redeemed himself as a legit dangerous fighter. Another not so even matched, but more interesting fight was Igor Vovchanchyn fighting Enson Inoue. Inoue had a win or die attitude, never tapping out, having 100% heart. Igor and Enson threw their best shots at each other creating one of the most exciting match ups on the card. Igor got the best of him and Enson's corner threw in the towel. Fujita returned to Pride as the man who upset Kerr with little mma experience. He was matched against Ken Shamrock who returned to Pride. The fight was even MORE exciting not just because Ken was back in the world of nhb fighting rather than WWF, but the fact is Fujita was friends with Don Frye and Brian Johnston from his pro wrestling days. Frye & Johnston fought while Ken Shamrock was in UFC and they hated each other. Frye and Ken Shamrock were two legends in UFC that did not like each other and was everyone's dream match up. Frye in the corner of Fujita was exciting enough to watch regardless of the winner. Murakami vs. Satake was two Japanese fighters who were popular with the Japanese crowd, but were not the best and the fight was a possible worked bout, although never confirmed. The two last fights on the card were part of the ongoing popular Gracie Family vs. Sakuraba storyline. The co-main event featured the debut of Ryan Gracie, Renzo's little brother. Ryan proved himself a vicious fighter as he punched his way to victory against Ishizawa, a Japanese pro wrestler. But the main event was THE fight everyone wanted to see. Sakuraba defeated both Royler and Royce. Royler & Royce were part of Heilo's side of the family. But Sakuraba was now to face the other half of the Gracie Family tree, their cousin, Renzo. Renzo Gracie , known for his wins in Pride 2 and 8, was a nephew of Carlson and grandson of Carlos Gracie. Renzo had more striking in his game, and people thought that could be the key to defeat Sakuraba.

The main event nearly went the distance and was a great fight. Renzo tried to defeat the Japanese fighting icon, but Sakuraba in the very last minute of the last round caught Renzo in his trademark kimura (The sub that beat Royler). He snapped his arm and the ref stopped the fight giving Sakuraba 3-0 against the best Gracies. Immediately , Ryan Gracie stepped in the ring and got on the microphone and challenged Mr. Sakuraba to fight. The young 1-0 Ryan was a more vicious bad boy Gracie and people were still interested in that fight. But the biggest possible fight on everyone's mind was indeed Rickson Gracie vs. Sakuraba.
1/7/12 12:59 AM
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Sakruaba's Reigns Supreme (Pride 11-12)

After Sakuraba defeated his third Gracie and was now the best fighter in the world at least in the MW (205 at that time) category, Pride built its entire company around him. Pide 11 took place on Halloween in Osaka. A smaller show from that of Pride 10, an audience of only 13 thousand. But in true Pride fashion, the card featured big names that the audience were familiar with and interested in seeing. The popularity of Sakuraba influenced Pride to put on few more Japanese pro wrestling background fighters since Japanese pro wrestlers now have a reputation as legit fighters thanks to Sakuraba & Fujita's reputation. Takada was brought back on the card as was Ogawa, and addition of Yoshiaki Yatsu. Yatsu was 44 year old pro wrestler who hadn't wrestled in 13 years. They matched him against the powerhouse of Pride, Gary Goodridge. Despite being old and inexperienced, he managed to last about 9 minutes before losing. The Japanese crowd gave Yatsu a stand ovation. The fight was interesting to the Japanese people considering the backstory of him being totally outclassed. A rematch was booked two years later for his 'warrior spirit' and allowed Goodridge to display his skills. Takada lost to Vovchanchyn, it was obvious Takada could not keep up with the best and was best known in the US as a 'tomato can'. Wanderlei Silva vs. Gilbert Yvel & Tom Erikson vs. Heath Herring were signed and the fights looked incredible on paper and looked like fun exciting fights. Herring vs. Erikson proved to be true as Herring managed to be the first to defeat Erikson who was a giant at the time. Yvel and Wanderlei looked like a fight that would be absolute stand up war with both fighters using vicious styles of brawling and annhilating their opponents. However, Wanderlei threw a low kick which hit Yvel in the nuts and Yvel could not continue after only 21 seconds in. Sakuraba was the main event against the lesser opponent Shannon Ritch who was known for never winning a fight. The fight was obviously a mismatch but Sakuraba was the face of Pride and they could make money and guarentee a victory for their posterboy. Sakuraba won by leg lock at a minute and six seconds.

Pride 12 took place in December of 2000. Like the Pride 10 mega card, this one seemed to be the Pride 10 sequels. It featured big names who were the best fighters, some new additions to the Pride roster, and the big superstars fighting one another. The new names were John Marsh of US mma fame, Ricardo Almeida who was Renzo's protege, and Johil de Olivieria, a VERY popular fighter from Brazil who represented the Luta Livre style of fighting. The last name that debuted in Pride was Dan Henderson. Henderson was already known from his UFC 17 tournament victory and Rings King of Kings 1999 Mega Tournament which was a 32 man tournament featuring big names all around the world. Henderson ended up winning with a defeat over Babalu Sobral in the finals. His opponent, they matched him with the very dangerous kickboxing brazilian, Wanderlei Silva. Mezger, Newton, Shoji, Herring, Inoue, Fujita, Yvel, Rodriguez, Otsuka, Wanderlei were all brought back for this mega card and the two main event match ups were very interesting.

Mark Kerr was matched against Igor Vovchanchyn in one of Pride's first rematches. Rematches were rare in Pride as they provided fresh match ups and new big names added to each card provided even more new fresh match ups, so rematches didn't appeal to that audience back then, however Kerr vs. Vovchanchyn were still the two biggest names in the HW division and widely considered number one and two despite Fujita upset against Kerr. The fight was unfinished business from Pride 7 in which was overturned as a no contest. These two were rivals of the HW division. Igor ended up winning a decision over Kerr in this epic rematch.

The main event was once again the continuation of the real life Sakuraba vs. Gracie Family storyline. Sakuraba's fourth Gracie opponent, yet different than the last three - Ryan was a dangerous opponent for anyone at the time. His bad boy image and attitude plus his BJJ black belt to back up that danger factor was enough to provide a very highly anticipated main event. Sakruaba always had a great style of fighting with his catch wrestling background, but also something I neglected to mention was Sakuraba was a showman. He loved to taunt his opponents in the ring to fool with their head. He was known for entertaining antics during the fight that the audience loved to watch. In Royce fight, he was playing with his gi, in the royler fight, he grabbed his feet and twirled him around, he also did stunt man moves like cartwheels to pass guard and jumped high in the air to land a foot stomp on the opponents head like in the Belfort Pride 5 fight. This fight was no different. As he mangled Ryan up in the corner, he proceed to 'spank' the Gracie badboy for the fans and the fans loved it. Ryan came in with tons of tape all over his body as his brother Renzo claimed he was injured but refused to not show up and would fight Sakuraba no matter what as he had that warrior spirit. Sakuraba was too much for Ryan to handle as Sakuraba handed Ryan his first loss and making Sakuraba 4-0 against the Gracie Family.

At the end of 2000, Pride established the best HW's in the world that being Igor Vovchanchyn, Mark Kerr, GP winner Mark Coleman with the rise of Yvel, Fujita, Herring, Rodriguez, Goodridge to aniticipate many fights for the following year for the HWs. But as great and exciting as the HW division, the real life storyline with Sakuraba versus the Gracie Family put the MW in the spotlight! MW (205 and below, different weight than today's standards) were the showcase of Pride and with Sakuraba and the Family Champion Rickson Gracie available to fight each other in 2001. Names like Wanderlei Silva, Guy Mezger, Dan Henderson, and Renzo Gracie that made an impact as the undercard fights of Sakuraba / Gracie were also becoming more noticed each fight.

After four years of Pride, Pride established itself as the priemere organization that holds the greatest nhb fights in the world. They single handedly found the best fighters on the planets and built them not just as superstars of the sport, but GODS of the sport. Each Pride was filled with names you recongnized and know. Pride put on fights that were a mix of the best vs. the best, entertaining intriguing match ups, fights aimed at the japanese crowd pro wrestling fans, and displayed best fighter's skills if matched against lesser quality opponents. 
1/7/12 1:06 AM
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1/7/12 1:11 AM
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As I mentioned throughout each Pride card, you had to view the full card and experience that atmosphere. With UFC today, everything as I mentioned, is about records, wins and losses are the make all or break all. It has become stale and unimportant if you miss a UFC event. You didn't just read a bunch of this fighter had this record, this person had this record....You read a real life storyline. Matches that contained stories in themselves. Each and every match was memorable for that reason, esp the amazing main events. If you had a top ranked HW like Kerr who everyone was thought was the best and another top ranked HW like Igor, instead of promoting some type of 'title' like Boxing, Pride matched them up to make a real life story. The real life story of who was the best HW in the world during that time. It was like watching a real life movie in front of your eyes with characters larger than life such as Mark Kerr from USA, Igor from Ukraine, Rickson from Brazil, Sakuraba from Japan, etc. These fighters were the best in the world and the fights they won that defined who they were made them superstars of the sport to every fight fan out there who loved nhb / mma. It was a true martial arts event.

Before I continue onto 2001-2007, Pride established itself as what it wanted to be, a mega card filled with the best fighters on the planet, fights that were intriguing and of coure entertaining for the audience. With that said, I'd like to point out some other tidbits Pride had that the new fans on the UnderGround are probably unaware of:

-The Rules

The rules were adjusted throughout the Pride events. Toward the middle, it was two 10 minute rounds and if the fight was even to the judges, the fighters would continue to fight another five minute round to provide which fighter would be victorious. The enforced a 'yellow / red card' rule which was if the fighter did something wrong such as not provide action, stalled, eye gouging, illegal techniques they would receive a 'yellow' card which was a warning. A percentage of the fighters purse was deducted. Rules were better because they allowed the fighters to use more moves such as soccer kicking to the head, kneeing the fighter on the ground to the head, etc. The less rules, the more realistic 'fight' it becomes. Not just about points and takedowns like today's MMA.

-The Posters

The posters of Pride looks quite unusual to the American audience. The posters for each event was VERY different than the ZUFFA UFC posters. In the States of course you see the two fighters of the main event with their gloves on either looking at camera or toward each other. Its a very generatic uninteresting style of poster that is simplistic in order to appeal to the casual fan. Pride , on the other hand, provided posters that were art. A hand climbing a mountain. A baby sucking the mother's breast. Very unusual to the American sports fan, but in Japan, this was a way to show that Pride was more than just about who's fighting who, but about a deeper meaning. The posters represented the Pride card to be about LIFE, BIRTH, DEATH - philosophical idealogy that a simple martial arts card would have mean so much more than just 'who will win', the posters provided a level of interests that exceeded 'another sports event', but an event that would be extrodinary beyond just a fight. It would be an epic duel that represents more than just themselves, but about life, death, rebirth. Some posters did contain the fighters, but contained multiple fighters rather than JUST the main event the way UFC does things these days.

-The Production

Production value was very different than what you see today in ZUFFA UFC. In Pride, the time clock was not present at the bottom of the screen. It only flashed up when it was a halfway point in the round, or 1 minute remaining, or 30 seconds remaining. This provided the audience to concentrate more on the fight than watching a countdown to when a decision is coming. Also, there was not a lot of loud commentary with yelling. With a silent crowd, the cameras focused on the fighters and you could hear the punches and the heavy breathing of the fighters. The closeness to the action without Joe Rogan screaming about 'he has sick knees' allowed the audience to be more close to the fight as you could hear a fighter breathe, you could clearly hear the fighter's corners. With Wanderlei, each punch or kick or knee he hit his opponent with, you could hear the corner yell 'heyyy'. Or Mark Coleman screaming "KERR GET UP..KERR GET UP". You felt like you were as close to the fight as the ref! In the UFC , you don't hear anything, just loud crowd and loud commentary. There was something beautiful about peaceful of an entire arena during a fight. Despite these two warriors trying to hurt or punish each other, the silence in the atmosphere created the fights to seem sort of graceful.

-The Ring Girls

Sex was not used in PrideFC. The Ring Girls were there to hand the fighter their trophy and provide the traditional walk around the ring with their round number sign. The UFC glorifies their ring girls and even promotes them as part of their event and allow them to show off their personalities through magazines, host all access shows, use them in many ways to attract young men to their programming. This UFC tactic is a cheap way to promote their program. Sex is the easiest thing to sell in this American economy. In Japan, the ring girls were used just to get the job done by using them as a way to distract the crowd while the fighters were resting and using them to present trophies. I think, in a way, a beautiful woman presenting the trophy at the end of the fight showed that if you win, you get the girl which is something that goes back to any part of history. The fighters didn't just get a metal thing from some old President dude, but a pretty woman presented the trophy meant a lot more to the viewers mind, as sort of a metaphor. If you won in Pride, you were a GOD. And GODS get golden trophies presented by beautiful women. In UFC, the ring girls are just masturbation material and a cheap way to market their product toward younger audience.
1/7/12 1:11 AM
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1/7/12 1:13 AM
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-The Japanese Audience

This is probably the most noticable difference between modern day ZUFFA UFC & Pride of Japan. The Japanese culture is very different than American culture. A silent crowd means they are interested in the fight. The silence allows the fighters to concentrate more on their task at hand. In America, the screaming and yelling of uneducated fans from the audience makes fighters uneasy and creates a negative energy sometimes. The will boo if the fight goes to the crowd simply because they are not familiar with the techniques of the ground game for them to be interested. They understand punch punch kick kick blood blood and the uneduated fans of the UFC events are there for that. I generalize the UFC audience but typically , that is how it is. They are more simple minded because the sport is more complicated than just kick kick punch punch submission. If you are a true fan, then you will examine all aspects of the fight. That is why they say MMA fans are the most intelligent, because you have to have basic understandings of all different styles and moves - the casual fan who boo a fight unjustified has never taken the time to understand the sport fully. In Japan, most of them WERE educated. From their pro wrestling matches, they have been familiar with 'real' submission moves, even though they were worked bouts, the audience still understand the logistics of the moves. Kickboxing is pretty simple to view as a simple spectator.


A big difference between Pride and current day MMA was that Pride emphazied 'Honor'. Before ZUFFA UFC took over the sport and everything is about money, betting odds, how much Bones is making, who's record is better, who's getting fired from UFC, who pushed each other at a weigh in....Pride was about honor. You gained honor by stepping in the ring. I think today, you earn a level of respect if you step in UFC, but respect and honor are two different things. Respect means you admire his courage. Honor is about integrity and is also the highest level of respect. The audience didn't just admired his courage, they idolized it. The definition of 'honor' according to the dictionary reads "Honor - one whos worth brings respect and fame". Each fighter brought honor to themselves when they competed in Pride. I honestly never remember a discussion on the old UG (called Submission Fighting back then) where we discussed who made what money. I can't remember any discussion about money. There might have been threads about how much a GP winner obtained, but thats about it. I don't recall anyone discussing betting odds back then. I can't recall anyone giving two shits about a fighter's record. The only thing I clearly remember was when the next Pride card was and who was on the card. We would discuss endlessly how we thought the fight would go down and talk about each fight from the card. It was all about honor back then. Whatever fighter was the winner would gain a certain amount of honor from the fans even in the States. Earn their respect and anticipate his next battle. These days, a fighter wins, you will have 13 threads about how he is overrated and will lose his next fight. Little to no honor is presented in present day MMA. Its about rankings, titles, TUF reality stars, and contenderships. With this Boxing formula that the UFC copies, it takes away a little of the honor that Pride was all about as the UFC wants to ignore the honor factor and focus only on getting the sport exposure and fan regulars to purchase their ppv and be excepted mainstream. They are much more concerned with being headlined on ESPN than ever caring about any of the honor of Martial Arts event. When ZUFFA UFC main objective is to strictly obtain money, I think it rubs off on the fighters as it now seems to be all about money even during the fight. Rather than winning just to become the best, they win to not get fired and get better paychecks because if you win, you're value goes up in your next fight just like Boxing. It feeds families and people accept this, but the atmosphere changes from a martial arts event with honor to cage fights with big paychecks. You can lose in Pride and still have honor. You can't lose in modern day ZUFFA UFC or else Dana will fire you. There is no honor in that, just an organization (very successful org) looking to use MMA as a means of income, which is fine - but the true fans will wish the sport would be about something more than just money.. A deeper meaning to a fight.

As Pride 12 was the final Pride event of 2000, the evolution of NHB fighting was about to become full circle in the years to come and as the sport evolved into a sport 'MMA', a dawn of a new Emperor was about to take over the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

To Be Continued in Part 2 in another thread.......

Rickson by Armbar

1/7/12 1:14 AM
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 There are not enough vote ups on the UG for this epic and I'm only up to 12......
1/7/12 1:20 AM
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Rychek -   This looks very interesting. I've seen many PRIDE fights but wasn't around during that era so I'll read all this later. Thanks!

 This thread is dedicated to you, my brother.
1/7/12 1:51 AM
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Such an epic thread. Thanks a lot man!
1/7/12 1:55 AM
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Sub'd Phone Post
1/7/12 1:58 AM
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Funaki Masakatsu #1
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Member Since: 9/18/09
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This needs to be stickied. Great thread. Phone Post
1/7/12 2:27 AM
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great post .how long did that take you?
1/7/12 2:30 AM
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Member Since: 11/18/11
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I think you meant luta Livre not Lucha Libre, different things altogether, Dos Caras Jr. being Lucha Libre, Eugenio Tadeu and The Pedro, Luta Livre.
1/7/12 2:30 AM
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1/7/12 2:58 AM
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Sub'd to VTFU later. Phone Post
1/7/12 3:10 AM
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Neil McCauley
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1/7/12 3:15 AM
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