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A Word From The Asian Sensation…

Posted on by Al Yu

Pride Arena 2006 Grand Prix

Pride Arena 2006 Grand Prix

void

-adjective

1. without contents; empty.

2. an empty space; emptiness

I miss Pride.

I long for the lights, the elaborate introductions, and the overall production value that set Pride apart from other events. I even miss Lenne Hardt. Yes, that’s how much I miss Pride. Before every show, I literally had goose bumps waiting in anticipation. To be honest, no other organization/event has had that effect on
me since.

Pride Fighting Championships will always have a special place in my heart. It was almost like a revered work of art to me. After the acquisition of Pride by Zuffa last March, I remained optimistic. I gave an expectant ‘thumbs up’ to the Fertitta brothers who were accomplished business men, hoping they would be able to overcome the often contrasting side of Japanese MMA and work with the existing staff to rebuild Pride’s name.

Unfortunately, the remaining Pride employees were later relieved of their duties and the organization’s sojourn in limbo continued.

The eventual resurrection of Pride was always in my thoughts and I’m certain many fans shared the same sentiments. As time passed, hope turned into desperation; desperation turned into denial. All that remains now is a void.

On New Year’s Eve, Yarennoka may fill that void.

Backed by former Pride Fighting Championships staff in association with DEEP, M-1 Global, and parent company to K-1, Fight Entertainment Group, Yarennoka will signify the return of a major event to the Saitama Super Arena and continue a New Year’s tradition.

When the show was announced in November with promised appearances by Fedor Emelianenko, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Mitsuhiro Ishida and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, people were initially skeptical. Fans soon clamored at the possibility of Pride’s reincarnation; a second coming perhaps. Roughly a week later I was floored by the subsequent press conference that announced the event’s first official match-ups, Shinya Aoki vs. Gesias “JZ” Calvancante and Hayato Sakurai vs. Hidehiko Hasegawa.

One thing is certain; Yarennoka will not suffer due to a lack in star power. Headlined by a fight between former Pride Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko and K-1 kickboxing veteran Hong Man Choi, the event will also feature the likes of Gilbert Melendez, Kazuo Misaki, Murilo Bustamante, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Luiz Azeredo. On paper some fans and pundits seemed disappointed with the matchmaking, particularly in the main event. It’s important to note that this fight card was made to appeal to the Japanese fans. In the end, they’ll be the ones buying tickets at the gate and ordering the Pay-Per-View.

Given the circumstances behind Pride’s demise, I feel that this is a very solid card and we should be grateful that a collaboration of this type of talent could materialize. Even with the unfortunate absence of Gesias Calvancante due to injury, I’m confident that Yarennoka will prove to be worthy in comparison to some of Pride’s previous Shockwave events.

Pride Ringgirls Farewell 2006 Grand Prix

Pride Ringgirls Farewell

This could very well be Pride’s symbolic last hurrah; a glorious exodus. Conversely, it could serve as a commencement that might lead to a rebirth which many are hoping for. On December 31st, Yarennoka will be a palpable treat for diehard Pride fans. Regardless if the event somehow fails to meet expectations, I will be able to at least relive the grandeur that was Pride in my mind for one more night.

Thank you, Yarennoka, for giving the fans something to look forward to on New Year’s Eve.

 

 

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