Pride Officially Announces Silva-Henderson; Sakakibara Denies Purchase Rumors

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…

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