Dana White on UFC in Japan: There’s No More Pride Events

March 16, 2012
Comments off

Dana WhiteWhen UFC executives purchased Pride Fighting Championships in 2007, they had every intention to continue operating the company in Japan.

After numerous trials and tribulations trying to get things organized in Japan, the Fertitta brothers and Dana White made the determination that it just wasn’t going to happen. They shuttered Pride, coming to the realization that they just couldn’t pick it up and run with it like they had initially thought.

Five years later, at the end of February, the UFC returned to Japan with UFC 144 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Immediately the chatter turned to two lines of questioning. One: would the UFC be the savior of mixed martial arts in Japan, where the sport has floundered since the demise of Pride? And two: even though it was the UFC returning to Japan, would they do so by mixing in elements of the show that Pride was so famous for?

UFC president Dana White has addressed both questions, keeping the UFC’s return to Japan in a rather reserved perspective.

“There’s a hardcore fan base (in Japan) that loves the UFC and we’re going in there, we’re putting on a UFC event. Whether we do 7,000 seats here or we do 56,000 seats in Toronto, no matter where we are, there’s no denying we put on one of the best live shows in all of sports,” said White.

By most accounts, UFC 144 was a success. Whether that spills over into helping the mixed martial arts scene resurrect itself remains to be seen.

As for the Pride question, UFC 144 showed that White was living up to his word. The company is brought the UFC to Japan, not Pride, and not some hybrid of the two. There was never any intent to do anything different.

“We’re gonna go there; we’re gonna put on the UFC show,” said White prior to UFC 144. “We’re not doing anything Pride.”

That has nothing to do with a disregard for Pride. As a matter of fact, it’s quite the opposite. The UFC president holds Pride in high regard.

“Pride is the only other organization that I respected. Pride did huge sellout shows,” he commented.

“The Pride thing didn’t work out. We gave it a shot. It didn’t work out. Great history in Pride, but there’s no more Pride events.”

Check out Dana White talking at length about the state of mixed martial arts in Japan and the UFC’s place in it…

  • http://www.twitter.com/uncanny390 uncanny390

    I for one am glad.

    • Danjitsu

      Yeah, God forbid that the organization that carried MMA through it’s post nascent years be revived for the sake of the Japanese and hardcore fans. It’s not like if you weren’t interested you could just skip it. Uyyyy.

      • http://www.twitter.com/uncanny390 uncanny390

        Who will fight in it? I dont want UFC fighters going to Pride. UFC is superior in basically every way to Pride and people are just looking through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia.

        • shakejunt

          only positive would be headkicks to downed opponents

  • frumps
  • pooby

    It didn’t work for the same reason it “didn’t work out” with the WEC and Strikeforce. You aren’t interested in running another fight organization. Why compete, when you can buy your competition and destroy them?

    • Lesnardo

      There are two different ways a horizontal mergers could play out.

      You ever wondered why Airlines buy each other out but keep the name? Or why auto makers buy each other out but carry on the brand rather than liquidating??

      Then there situations where the merged company’s products are rebranded and the old company disappears.

      So..it is not that easy as you might think.

  • sc_12c8a2724b0c8f7926ed42844e12bd4f

    Bringing PRIDE back would be terrible under Dana. He’d have no idea what to do with it. It wouldn’t be the same, sad to say. It’s not like he’d change the rules and allow soccer kicks, stomps and knees to a ground opponent. Biggest disappointment in MMA was the moment when UFC decided shut down PrideFC down.

    • Triggerman99

      I gotta disagree with that last point. The most important moment in MMAs growth was when the UFC decided to shut down Pride. I’m not dogging Pride, but nothing ever happened in Pride to expand the sport on a global level like the UFC did/is still doing. The Pride org was content to just cruise along under the radar in Japan forever.

  • SoccerStompFC

    DREAM stage should just purchase the rights back to PRIDE
    From the UFC. It’s crazy the legendary fights and just everything else PRIDE brought to the table. What the PRIDE organization did in 10 or so years the UFC will be unable to ever match, IMO. Unfortunately everything great must always come to an end.

    • Danjitsu

      In what terms? The UFC is more popular than PRIDE ever was – puts on more, better organized shows and has almost all the top talent under their banner. Will it ever be the spectacle that Pride was? Probably not. For all the heat that the UFC takes for trying to be too “show business” they are far more into the sport aspect than PRIDE was – you’ll never see Takada’s milky white cheeks gleaning in the spotlight as he beats an 8 foot tall drum in the UFC. And that’s a good thing. I just miss the EPIC matches PRIDE used to put on. They would seriously have 3-5 dream matches per card.

      • SoccerKicksFaceStompFC

        At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. PRIDE won’t comeback and it shouldn’t be revived. It is what it is. Again UFC will never match what PRIDE was !!

        • SoccerKicksFaceStompFC

          As far as epic battles !!
          Look it all the legends that came from and fought in PRIDE.

          • Lesnardo

            I wouldn’t mind seeing a PRIDE event. i think it would be huge in Japan. 50k audience…that’s huge.

            Dana wants to do a 50k audience show.

            So…I wouldn’t rule out PRIDE shows completely.

            If UFC gets Takada/Saku to help them promote the show, I think the UFC could revive Japanese MMA.

    • fsunoles09

      ufc has brought more fans to mma then pride ever did.dont get me wrong i love watchin old pride fights but i think the ufc has not only matched but surpassed what pride done in mma.it would be tight to see soccer kicks and head stomps back in the game though.

  • garyfredericks

    Foreword: I was and always have been a HUGE UFC fan since UFC 1. I am UFC biased and I know it. I liked Pride, and LOVE what some of the fighters that came out of it achieved, but to ME, Pride had a more “WWE” or “circus like” feel to it. For example, the screaming lady, the “feedings” for Wandy, and some of the questionable theatrics that happened based on claims by some of the former fighters eg…Don Frye and Ken Shamrock. That being said….

    I think that if the UFC/Dana White brought the Pride name back for Japan, it would be an EPIC WASTE!!! You can NEVER bring back what Pride was, as it was, and with those whom made it what became of it….figthers in their prim such as Fedor, Nogueria, CroCop…et al aswell as the magic moments they made. The Pride biggies are all but gone or mere shadows of Pride days. What I mean is, a Pride re-birth would lack the ability to see a fighter such as Shogun rise to prominence beginning with the Bushido, we wouldnt see Noguera come back from certain defeat and slay many of great fighters, or CroCop left high kick a man’s head up into the nose bleed section of Saitama arena, or Shogun play hacky sac with a prime and motivated Rampage’s face!

    In otherwords, the UFC would waste tons of money trying to do the impossible, just for the same opinions/results people hate Dana White/UFC for NOT doing anything with Pride post purchase. It simply would be a shadow of what people liked and remember of Pride.

    • SoccerKicksFaceStompFC

      Feedings for Wanderlei ?!
      How many times did he call out UFC fighters
      No one wanted to fight him at the time.
      Dont try to discredit what he’s done for the sport by making ignorant comments.

      I wish UFC fighters would have taken his challenge. Would have been more epic battles under PRIDE rules.

      Lidell couldn’t even make it past Rampage !

      • Lesnardo

        I think what he means is that PRIDE had more WWE elements than the UFC. That seems about right given that KINGDOM guys created PRIDE. But pre-ZUFFA UFCs was crap.

        Also, yes, Wandy and Cro Cop were fed with japanese cans. Those two destroyed every single japanese fighter out there in a very brutal fashion just to show case their skills. Not that they were bad fighters…but they did beat a lot of cans over there and were treated like Gods.

        Liddell/Ricco/Belfort/Barnett were the four top UFC guys that came to PRIDE. I would have to say that they did well. Liddell was a disappointment but he was a semi finalist in a really competitive tourney (at least back then). Ricco beat Nog but it was a bad decision. Belfort…well…had troubles in the UFC and in Pride. And Barnett, a UFC champ, was the #4 guy!

        • Triggerman99

          Yeah agree. Part of it’s allure was the fact that it was a bit WWE-ish. It was more a showcase for certain fighters than it was the best vs the best. That will never be done again…. at least under UFC ownership.

          • Lesnardo

            That will happen all the time even under the UFC ownership.

            We will not get JDS vs Zulu. But we will see fighters getting immediate title shots just because they are a bigger draw than guys who deserve the shot more.

  • RealmmaFan

    I think dana and Zuffa is scared that people would much much rather watch pride events than UFC no offense anyone who doesnt want to see atleast a couple more pride events is a straight POS PIECE OF SH!T get off UFC nutthugging trannies I mean yea UFC elbows are dope and all but why cant we have TOURNAMENTS under the PRIDE BANNER once a year or so? I mean zuffa and dana could CO PROMOTE UFC within pride tournaments and make $$$$$$$$$$$$ NO its NOT IMPOSSIBLE its actually rather simple…

    • Lesnardo

      Well, it is more complicated than that.

      First, would it be in a Octagon?

      Second, would it be under the old PRIDE rules?

      Third, how many events per year (I am guessing three?)

      Fourth, assuming cage and not ring, would the cage be white and have a PRIDE logo?

      Fifth, can Dana white get the deal with Fuji?

  • Anthony

    How cool would it be if the ufc had an open wt tournament–no wt classes just the best against the best –my money would be on Overeem

    • Lesnardo

      I am all about open weight tourneys. But guess who we will see compete….only HWs.

      No matter how good Rashad thinks he is, he would have a hard time against Gonzaga.

      JDS or Overeem would kill Rashad Evans.

      Remember the PRIDE OPGP? Cro Cop killed Wandy. All of the four semi finalists were HWs except for Wandy.

      And yes, GSP and Anderson Silva would not enter. They would get hurt badly against the big boys of the UFC.

  • Triggerman99

    The fact that an OWGP tourney wouldn’t work in the UFC only further proves how much of a spectacle it is. It’s a really cool idea, but only for pure entertainment purposes. In terms of competitiveness and genuine fair-play, it’s not logical or legit.

    • Lesnardo

      I thought the whole point of UFC being better than boxing is that in a real fight, UFC guys would kill boxing guys.

      The weight division thing is there because Dana feels bad about the smaller guys. This way, smaller guys could get exposure.

      Why don’t they have height divisions in the NBA?

      • Triggerman99

        I don’t really understand your point. Weight divisions are there for a very obvious reason. It would be a spactacle and an embarrassment to have a fight between two guys who are 100 lbs apart.