Friday, March 23, 2007

UFC Purchasing PRIDE Talk Getting LOUD

Will the Top US MMA Company Finally Purchase the Biggest Japanese MMA Company?

The Pride Fighting Championships is one of the top mixed martial arts promotions in the world. Based out of Japan, the nearly 10-year old company features some of the best MMA fighters anywhere. And now, Pride may become an asset to Ultimate Fighting Championship owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. According to numerous reports, most recently one by Dave Meltzer, Pride will be sold to the Fertitta brothers very soon. Meltzer wrote in a recent report, Pride ownership has told office workers the company is being sold to the Fertitta's and the status of their jobs.

UFC and PRIDE have been strong competitors for years and most recently when PRIDE came to the United States to hold pay per view events. UFC while having the larger fan base due to its wide national television appeal on Spike TV has been criticized for having a lack of overall major talent. That has not been a problem recently as former PRIDE stalwarts like Mirko Cro Cop and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson have jumped ship and are among the new top crop of talent.

Currently, PRIDE features such top names as heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko (arguably the best heavyweight in the world), middleweight and welterweight champion Dan Henderson (the former US Olympian is the first MMA fighter to be world champion in two weight classes) and lightweight champion Takanori Gomi. Other top fighters in PRIDE are Kazuo Misaki, Mark Coleman and Wanderlei Silva.

There is no shortage of questions regarding the possible sale of PRIDE to the UFC owners. If it does in fact happen, how will they implement their new acquisition? Will they keep PRIDE running and keep the two separate as sort of opposite leagues? Will they purchase the contracts of the fighters they wish to use (and what kind of problems may arise will be interesting in the individual fighter contracts)?

UFC fans have been dreaming of the possibilities of seeing the likes of Fedor or Gomi in the octagon.

If it does happen, MMA (and most specifically UFC) in the United States would benefit and continue to grow. Record numbers on pay per view and live attendance figures are being set at rapid paces and along with growing television exposure, UFC is on a seemingly non-stop rocket.

Stay tuned for more information as word of a possible sale could come down within the next couple of weeks. If/when it does, it will be groundbreaking.


No comments: