Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Five Ounces of Pain: Popular ex-Pride duo speaks out

By Sam Caplan

In an interview with Pride vice president Jerry Millen that was published last week, I asked Millen about the details surrounding the departure of the organization's former English-language announcing team, Mauro Ranallo and Bas Rutten.

Millen was candid in his answer, but critical of the duo's abilities.

"As the company grows I think you have to get better," said Millen. "With me making the decisions on the television broadcast side, I wanted professional broadcasters. We're an American broadcast; I wanted Americans on the broadcast and I wanted professionals. I wanted guys who knew how to do television and I wanted some professional guys."

I also asked Millen for his response to comments Rutten had made to me several weeks earlier in an interview, where he expressed dissatisfaction with the way he had been treated toward the latter part of his tenure with Pride.

Millen pulled no punches in his response.

"People watch the fights for the fighters," Millen began. "I don't know anybody that buys a pay-per-view for a commentator for Bas Rutten or for Mauro Ranallo. People buy the fights for the fighters, not the commentators, and I think the problem sometimes is egos get big and the commentators think they're stars and they're not. The fighters are the stars and when you think you're bigger than the fighters then I think there's a problem."

But Rutten and Ranallo have answered back in separate interviews with CBS SportsLine -- and they're none too pleased.

Ranallo especially took issue with my line of questioning in which I asked Millen why he and Rutten weren't retained, along with the answer that followed. Ranallo felt that the exchange left the impression that the company had made the decision to let him go, something which he claims couldn't have been further from the truth.

"No, in fact I don't," Ranallo answered when asked if he felt "not retained" was an apt description pertaining to his departure from Pride. "And I understand why you may have used that (term) but the right description and the only one that's absolutely 100 percent true is that Bas Rutten and Mauro Ranallo quit Pride to pursue other opportunities.

"He (Millen) made an asinine comment regarding him being the reason; the way he made the comments to you in his interview makes it seem like he replaced us, like he was the one who decided to get rid of us, he was the master of our domain. That could not be further from the truth."

Rutten not only concurs, but has already confronted Millen directly on the issue.

"After I read your interview I e-mailed Jerry Millen and I told Jerry Millen, 'Listen, you told a bunch of lies. You are going to go back and you're going to rectify, you're going to make sure you tell the truth,'" said Rutten.

Ranallo said his decision to leave Pride was not easy, as he had considered the promotion's English-language play-by-play announce position "an MMA dream job."

"When I was approached by Bas Rutten in 2003 to send a tape to Pride Fighting Championship to do the broadcast, I mean, I thought I had won the lottery. It was the dream job in the sport, I still think it is the dream job in the sport."

But what would make Ranallo walk away from a job he had once so coveted?

"Unfortunately the last year-and-a-half or so with Pride Fighting Championships, there were parties involved in the organization that frankly made it almost impossible for me to do the job I was hired to do," Ranallo revealed. "I was paid to be the Pride play-by-play announcer and when you have people internally trying to sabotage that, trying to make your job almost difficult, absolutely impossible to perform… frankly it had come to a head where it was no longer enjoyable to be doing that job."

Rutten supported Ranallo's claim.

(Continue Reading)

No comments: