If you haven’t already heard, PRIDE is planning to hold a press conference later today in Tokyo concerning a huge announcement involving the company.
Various Japanese media outlets such as Sports Hochi, Nikkan Sports, and Fight! Miruhon are stating at least something concerning a merger/buyout/new company forming between the UFC, PRIDE, Zuffa, and the Fertitta Brothers as well as other potential clients.
The press conference is said to be happening between 5-6 PM Tokyo time. That would mean 4-5 AM EST. You may think Scott and I are insane but we are going to stay up and live blog any news as soon as we receive it regarding the details of the press conference.
News and Notes
- If you didn’t see it already, Bill informed us yesterday via Bill Meltzer that Nobuyuki Sakakibara told several staff members of PRIDE USA that the company was in the process of being sold to Lorenzo & Frank Fertitta.
- K-1 and Elite XC parent company Pro Elite will work together to present K-1’s first MMA event in the US - DYNAMITE!! USA - on July 7th at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the home of the USC college football team. The fighters currently heavily rumored to be participating at the event are Royce Gracie, former pro wrestling superstar Brock Lesnar, and Hong Man Choi. A press conference will be held next week to discuss the event.
- Claude Patrick, the primary welterweight for the IFL’s Toronto Dragons will miss the remainder of the league’s season with a torn ACL and meniscus. Patrick will undergo surgery to repair the injuries on April 13th.
Just a quick follow up to the story about Pride being sold to the Fertittas. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, who in recent days has repeatedly hinted that the sale of Pride may actually be to the FEG, the owners if K-1, rather than the Fertittas, now has the following story on his website.
—Nobuyuki Sakakibara yesterday told several members of the U.S. Pride staff that the company is in the proces of being sold to Lorenzo & Frank Fertitta. He said the agreement in principal is done but there are still some minor points to be worked out and the contract is not signed. Sakakibara said he would be leaving the company but that everyone would be keeping their jobs. The company would be operated separately from UFC, but obviously UFC could use any Pride fighter for a big match that it needed.
We’ll keep an eye on this continuing story.
News and Notes
- PRIDE USA president Ed Fishman has filed a lawsuit against Dream Stage Entertainment.
- PRIDE USA VP Jerry Millen has commented on the rumored sale of PRIDE FC to Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.
“It’s bullshit. You can’t beleive what you read on the internet and as a matter of fact I just got off the phone with Japan and Pride has not been sold and is not being sold to anyone, especially to Zuffa. We are in the process of making some ground breaking deals that will be bringing in large sums of revenue to the company and making it stronger than ever.”
- PRIDE president Noboyuki Sakakibara feels if there is anyone that can defeat Ricardo Arona it’s Sokoudjou.
“Nobody thought he would fight so well against Rogério. We received thousands of requests from Japanese that want to see him, live, fighting, and the BTT does not want to leave things as they are, so we chose him to face Arona. Sokoudjou accepted the challenge saying: ‘The answer is yes, whether my opponent is a human, a giraffe or Arona,’” said Sakakibara. “I implore everybody to watch this fight. Sokoudjou is only 22 years old, and if there is anyone that can knock down Arona, I believe it will be someone like Sokodjou,” Sakakibara completed.
- ProElite.com will be streaming Icon Sport: Epic live March 31st. The card feature a title fight between PRIDE and UFC veterans Frank Trigg and Robbie Lawler. Also on the card is UFC veterans Jason Miller and Renato Verissimo.
Clip of the Day
Fight Opinion: Fishman Companies vs. DSE
News and Notes
- PRIDE has canceled their 04/28 USA show. This is unfortunate considering how exciting PRIDE 33: Second Coming was but one can definitely assume the organization is in some serious trouble. PRIDE USA President Ed Fishman is in the process of taking legal action against the company. For more information on the situation check out Zach Arnold’s piece at Fight Opinion.
- At the UFC 68 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White, said that UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell is currently suffering from pneumonia and he should never have been let on the “Good Morning Texas” show. White was visibly unhappy and he said that he was flying to San Luis Obispo to check on him. The representative that took Liddell to the appearance was from Warner.
- During the UFC 68 post-fight presser, Matt Hughes stated that former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia came into the fight with a bad back that almost forced him to withdraw from the fight.
Sylvia, who dropped to 25-3, said in the ring that he had come into the fight carrying an injury but was beaten “fair and square.” He did not attend the post-fight news conference but Hughes said Sylvia had an injured back and had considered pulling out of the bout.
- Injury or not, Dana White didn’t feel it was an intelligent move on Sylvia’s part to tell the crowd he was injured coming into the fight.
“Even if he did, he should have never said it,” White said when asked of the injury and the comment in the ring. “Tim has an big image problem, you could see it tonight. Tim’s a good guy. He’ll come back. He’s a tough kid. This is going to be a hard one for him. There was no doubt in his mind he was going to beat Randy Couture tonight. He was overconfident.”
- Assuming Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic gets by Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70: Nations Collide, Cro Cop and Couture will face off in a heavyweight title fight some time during the summer. For the first time in a while the UFC will have a very legit and marketable heavyweight title fight.
- Speaking of Cro Cop, according to Canada.com, Cro Cop asked the UFC brass for a fight with Brandon “Truth” Vera but it is currently on hold as Vera and Zuffa are having a very difficult time agreeing on a new contract.
Just some random thoughts from this past weekend’s Pride 33: The Second Coming show.
It was a great show put on by DSE, which is great considering the amount of mismatches that most thought plagued the fight card. Stunning KO upsets (Lil’ Nog especially), an absolute war between Nick Diaz and the Fireball Kid Takanori Gomi that saw the UFC vet Diaz choke out Gomi with a gogoplata, and another highlight KO of Wanderlei Silva by Dan Henderson highlighted the event. While the production style of Pride may take some getting used to in the American market, the event was a much better representation of Pride than their first foray into the US this past October.
PRIDE 33 FULL RESULTS
Dan Henderson def. Wanderlei Silva by KO at 2:08, Round 3
Nick Diaz def. Takanori Gomi by Gogoplata at 1:46, Round 2
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua def. Alistair Overeem by TKO at 3:37, Round 1
Sergei Kharitonov def. Mike Russow by Armbar at 3:46, Round 1
Hayato “Mach” Sakurai def. Mac Danzig by TKO at 4:01, Round 2
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by TKO at 0:23, Round 1
James Lee def. Travis Wiuff by Guillotine Choke at 0:39, Round 1
Frank Trigg def. Kazuo Misaki by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Joachim Hansen def. Jason Ireland by Armbar at 2:33, Round 3
That being said, there are some stories out there that claim the results of Pride 33 will hurt the promotion in the long run. The first one by Zach Arnold was first printed on BoxingScene.com.
PRIDE 33 will go down as an event that, on paper, had a fight card line-up that looked like a turkey but produced some exciting fights. Short-term, the event was successful. Long-term, however, major damage was done to several of PRIDE’s key Japanese assets.
There is no turning back to Japan now for PRIDE. *Read More*
Arnold goes on to intricately detail how the surprising results will hurt Pride, especially in their stronghold of Japan itself.
A few days later, Al Yu, a Japanese columnist for MMAWeekly who specializies in covering the Far East MMA scene for the site, offered very similar setiments to Arnold. He even called it a disaster, the same as Arnold.
Operating under financial turmoil, DSE continued forward with their second U.S. show in hopes to make a further impact in a market currently dominated by the UFC. Pride 33: The Second Coming produced many exciting fights and was easily one of the best events of the year. Of the nine scheduled fights, only one went to a decision. So why was it a disaster?
What makes an organization is its stable of fighters. Pride’s large roster consists of some of the best fighters in the world. Any time a marquee fighter loses, it can have an adverse affect on an organization. In this case, four of Pride’s stars faltered on a crucial night for the Japanese organization.
There is no question that the event itself was a huge success, especially fight wise. The key will be where the PPV buy numbers end up, especially considering how poor the PPV numbers for the October event turned out. Let’s hope for the best.
Finally, for the first time ever, Pride CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara made a comment that did not deny that Pride may be up for sale. In the past, he has always firmly denied the sales rumors. From Loretta Hunt’s article on the Fight Network…
“Maybe,” PRIDE CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara answered of rumors that the PRIDE organization could go up for sale. “Today[‘s] show is very good [though].”
Today, Sherdog.com released an excellent interview with Ed Fishman where he discusses his hopes to purchase PRIDE FC.
Fishman expresses his hopes to eventually have a chance to purchase the organization but he also reveals that he hasn’t currently had any discussions with PRIDE or Mr. Sakakibara.
Ed Fishman: Yes I am. I wish I could have a chance to buy PRIDE. It’s to me the best MMA in the business. And I have absolutely made that known to Mr. Sakakibara — I call him Nobu. We have not gone into real heavy details yet. He is back in Japan now, and he’ll be here next week when we’re getting ready for the 24th. I’m sure we’ll have more conversations then, but I am dead serious about buying it.
While they haven’t currently had any discussions, Fishman hopes to kick them off in a week or so when Sakakibara comes to the States for the upcoming PRIDE show.
Fishman: As soon as possible. [Sakakibara] is coming here in a week or so to do the 24th, and I’m sure we’ll spend a lot of time talking about it.
News and Notes
- Icon Sport will be holding an event February 9th and the headline bout will be a battle between UFC and Pride veteran “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and Trevor Garret. Also on the card will be Renato Verissimo, Jeremy Williams, and Scott Junk.
- UFC veterans Justin Eilers and Pedro Rizzo will fight March 9th at the American Airline Center. The fight will take place in the new organization dubbed the ‘International Fighters Association’ and it will be televised on HDNet. HDNet previously televised the WEC until it was purchased by the UFC and moved to Versus. The matchmaker will be UFC and Pride veteran Guy Metzger and the ring announcer will be Bruce Buffer. Here is the current card…
Pedro Rizzo vs. Justin Eilers
Carlo Prater vs. Dennis Levensky
Alex Andrade vs. Klas Akesson
Matt Grice vs. Yuki Inoue
Buddy Clinton vs. Kenneth Rosfort
Eric Schambari vs. Christian Smith
Justin Wren vs. Trent Standing
Alonozo Martinez vs. Tom East
Sonny Neilson vs. Travis Bush
- MMAWeekly has Luke Cummo vs. Josh Haynes and Wilson Gouveia vs. Hector Ramirez rumored for the UFC Fight Night 10 card on April 5th. Also rumored to be on the card is Josh Koscheck and Kendall Grove.
- Mitsuhiro Ishida has vacated his Shooto Pacific Rim 154-pound championship title.
- In an article on the TKO homepage, UFC matchmaker confirmed that Mark Hominick and Sam Stout would be back in the UFC in the New Year.
Pride officially announced that Wanderlei Silva will defend his Pride Middleweight Title against Pride Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson at Pride 33: The Second Coming on February 24th at a press conference in Los Angeles yesterday.
The biggest surprise of the day: Tommy Lee was on hand to voice his support for the event.
Not the biggest surprise of the day: Lee screwed up the date of the event, saying that it was in January instead of February, confusing Motley Crue fans everywhere.
Pride CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara was very confident that his company would succeed in the UFC-dominated American market…
“2007 is the year of change and challenge for PRIDE,” Sakakibara told Sherdog.com. “We take the American market very seriously and also we have champions like Fedor and Wanderlei, strong fighters — they’re waiting for anyone to challenge them. We’re here to stay in America and those champions are here to stay in PRIDE.”
While he couldn’t say anything more about the matchups for Pride 33, Sakakibara did state that Takanori Gomi will be fighting on the card.
Sakakibara also quelled the rampant rumors that are circulating through some of MMA’s most popular message boards that Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC and WEC, has come to terms to purchase Pride:
“It’s just a rumor. I haven’t had any close conversation with (UFC president) Dana White so far. But since the Fertitta brothers bought the UFC we’ve had a very close relationship and we have had friendly conversation. We’re just trying to come up with the idea on how we can make this sport grow. That’s our main concern. I think that is where the rumors are coming from. We’re constantly having a conversation with the UFC.”
While an MMA monopoly might not be the best thing for the sport, it’s always good to know that the two superpowers are working together to try and better the sport and also constantly talking to each other.
If there ever comes a time when Pride has to be sold, I’d rather Zuffa acquire it than WWE or Showtime…
In a recent interview, PRIDE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara provided fans with his thoughts on “Cro Cop” signing with the UFC among other things.
Mirko has decided to challenge himself in the UFC in 2007, just as the UFC officially announced today. We support Mirko’s desire to challenge himself and we hope that he will be a success as one of PRIDE’s top fighters. I think Mirko has left some unfinished business in PRIDE as well, such as rematches with Fedor and Nogueira. So, I anticipate Mirko challenging himself once again in PRIDE after he has taken the UFC Championship belt. For our part, we have decided to accept Mirko’s desire and support him as we see him off.