PRIDE Press Conference 3/27/07 Live Blog

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.

Update 11:15 PM: Checking in with some of the scenarios that other MMA media outlets are coming out with…

Jordan Breen of Sherdog made clear what the three different Japanese newspapers I mentioned earlier in this post are stating.

Also the infamous Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer was sure to his give his interesting take on things.

Update 11:39 PM: GracieFighter as well Meltzer are both reporting that Dana White is traveling and may have already landed in Japan for the press conference…

Update 11:55 PM: UFC Junkie - PRIDE purchase update: Dana White lands in Japan

Update 1:26 AM: NBC Sports: Major UFC announcement coming Tuesday

Lorenzo Fertitta is expected to announce the acquisition of Pride Tuesday morning.

Fertitta and his brother Frank are the owners of Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The move has been rumored for months, since the Japan-based mixed martial arts organization suffered major financial losses after the Fuji Network terminated their TV deal in June 2006.

Speculation has heated up in recent weeks, and on several occasions it was reported the deal was at or near completion, but Tuesday’s announcement should provide details on whether the two groups will run independently or under the Zuffa banner.

It is expected that the Fertittas will run Pride separately from UFC and the organizations will have at least one supercard per year with matches pitting one group’s fighters against the other.

Among the Pride roster are decorated fighters Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Takanori Gomi and Fedor Emelianenko, the man largely considered the best fighter in the world.

Update 2:33 AM: Well no new links or news to report of right now. Today is going to be a big day, there’s no doubt about that. Is the announcement going to be everything we are expecting? It could be huge and it could be relatively small. What we do know as of right now is that PRIDE is most likely going to stay in Japan, bottom line. It seems that things are leaning towards the Fertittas investing money in a new company that will include Japanese investors such as television companies and things of that nature to help run PRIDE.

However because of the amount of money that the Fertittas will invest, they will own a significant portion of the company and PRIDE, as well as the video library and probably the ability to bring some fighters to the UFC and vice versa to PRIDE. At least that’s what my gut feeling is. It could be something totally different, who knows. All I know is that I’m in this for the long run and as soon as Scott or myself finds anything out, we will report it…

Update 3:33 AM: Funny how I’m doing an update exactly one hour later. Still awake and going strong. The press conference is scheduled to start sometime between 5 and 6 PM Tokyo time at the Roppongi Hills Arena. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later…

Update 4:20 AM: Contrary to reports on some MMA message boards, I’m not going to fall asleep any time soon. I’m very surprised at the amount of people who are awake and waiting for any piece of news to come. Just goes to show how many people are truly falling in love with the sport.

The press conference should be starting shortly. It’s going to be interesting to finally hear what’s really going on instead of going on all different kinds of reports, rumors, and opinions…

Update 4:38 AM: Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion has posted a link to a picture of the outside of the arena where they are holding the press conference. Apparently all of the seats available to media inside are already filled and fans began waiting in line to get into the press conference at 8 AM this morning in Tokyo…

Update 4:51 AM: The press conference is about to start in a few minutes. Looks like Sherdog had the same idea as us and decided to live blog it as well. According to Stephen Martinez nothing big has happened yet inside of a packed house.

Update 5:08 AM: The english version of PRIDE’s official site has a new banner marking the company’s 10th anniversary. Martinez of Sherdog is now saying that many fighters from throughout’s PRIDE’s history are in attendance at the news conference. I wonder if there will be some special announcements regarding the 10th anniversary as well. What if the press conference is just about the 10th anniversary and nothing else? That would be something…

Update 5:13 AM: Ignore my last post, it seems that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has been spotted at the press conference. This at least tells us that there is some kind of agreement in place for the two promotions to work together, even if it is only an agreement to send fighters over from one side to another like the Liddell situation in 2004…

Update 5:15 AM: PRIDE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara is currently on stage speaking…

Update 5:23 AM: Sakakaibara thanked those in the crowd for years of dedication to PRIDE as the fans truly make the sport what it is. He stated that he considered stepping down as the head of PRIDE many times throughout his tenure but is glad that he decided to stay. Sakakaibara announced that he will now step down as head of PRIDE and that Lorenzo Fertitta will now be taking control of the promotion under the Zuffa banner.

Update 5:26 AM: PRIDE now has a piece on the press conference on their official site:

Update 5:29 AM: Sakakibara also stated that PRIDE 34: Kamikaze will be the last event produced under Dream Stage Entertainment. He also said that it doesn’t mean PRIDE will fold as a company after that because Lorenzo Fertitta ensures the fans that PRIDE will still operate without a doubt. All future PRIDE events will be conducted under the Zuffa banner. PRIDE Executive Director Nobuhiko Takada is now taking the stage to speak…

Update 5:35 AM: Takada also thanks those in attendance for 10 wonderful years of PRIDE and hopes that there can be many more in the future. Takada informs that crowd that Lorenzo Fertitta and Zuffa are not just businessmen but big fans of the sport of MMA. He says that is extremely grateful that those involved in helping PRIDE operate were able to hand over the company to people that will ensure the promotion will stay alive and true.

Update 5:44 AM: Takada thanks the crowd again and leaves the stage to a warm ovation. Lorenzo Fertitta steps up and begins to speak. He lets the crowd know that he has been a fan of PRIDE since the early days when the organization first started operating. He also says that he hasn’t come to Japan as an enemy. He doesn’t want to make the UFC better than PRIDE and that he isn’t in it for the money or anything bad for that matter. Fertitta says that he is taking over the operations of PRIDE as an MMA fan.

Update 5:53 AM: Fertitta continues to talk about PRIDE and how the company has been vital to the sport of MMA and it’s growth. He also mentions the UFC and how both companies sport some of the greatest mixed martial arts in the world. Fertitta says that his main goal in having Zuffa take over the daily operations of PRIDE was to be able to set up some matchups that fans all over the world would want to see between the two sides. Fertitta states that events will take place pitting the best fighters from each organization against each other in what he calls “The World Series of Mixed Martial Arts.”

The video screens inside the arena show fighters from both PRIDE and the UFC. After that a message from former PRIDE and current UFC heavyweight title contender Mirko Cro Cop is shown on the screen. Cro Cop states that he is not finished fighting over in Japan and that he will return very soon. The crowd erupts with the loudest ovation yet during the press conference. Fertitta thanks everyone for coming and UFC President Dana White takes the stage.

Update 6:10 AM: Dana White takes the microphone and starts things off by being his usual brash self. He says that all of the other small MMA promotions that are popping up in the United States and all over the world are ” a joke.” He says that the only two promotions that matter are the UFC and PRIDE. White goes on about how excited he is to be able to not only work with those associated with PRIDE but that he can finally bring some phenomenal matchups to MMA fans around the world. He says some of the matchups he would like to put together are Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson, Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko, and Georges St. Pierre and Takanori Gomi. He laughs and then adds “last but certainly not least” Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva.

White also announces three other bouts for PRIDE 34 on April 8th. Ikuhisa Minowa and Don Frye will be a battle of legends according to White. White also says that Wanderlei Silva will be cleared to participate by the Nevada State Athletic Commission against an opponent that will be named soon. It is also announced that Jeff Monson and Kazuyuki Fujita will fight at PRIDE 34 in the first official “UFC vs PRIDE” super bout.

Update 6:25 AM: Monson and Fujita appear on stage. Fujita takes the microphone and says that he will help PRIDE take down the UFC. Monson is next to talk. He says that he wants to show the world that the UFC has been the better organization for years now and that they house the most talented fighters in the world. Takada takes the microphone again and gives another speech about the last 10 years of PRIDE and how thankful he is for all of the support over the years. He thanks everyone for coming and the press conference is abruptly ended without the media or fans being able to ask any questions or mingle with any of the fighters.

All I have to say is wow. The whole UFC vs PRIDE thing just got taken to a whole different level. The Japanese fans seemed to really support those involved with Zuffa and the UFC which is good considering their only other choice for MMA entertainment would be K-1 at this point. It’s pretty interesting to see how Monson is being billed as on the UFC’s side even though his contract with the company expired after the Tim Sylvia fight. I guess it doesn’t really matter now since both sides are under the control of Zuffa.

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