During the UFC 71 post-fight press conference, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White confirmed what Josh Gross reported last week: The purchase of Pride Fighting Championships has been finalized.
“We’re still trying to figure out this whole Pride and UFC thing. The deal is done. We acquired the company yesterday or the day before,” White told the media at the UFC 71 post-fight press conference.
White continued, “Talking about all the Pride stuff, we’re going to work on that stuff over the next [weeks] now that the deal is officially closed. You can’t start running a business when you don’t own it yet. We’ve owned it for two days. I know we made the big announcement [on March 27], but it might have been a little premature. The deal wasn’t done yet. The deal was pending, but we were far enough along where we felt comfortable announcing the deal. Now that it’s closed two days ago, we’ll get that straightened out.”
Now that the deal is done, questions still remain surrounding Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta’s plans for the newly acquired Japanese mixed martial arts promotion. Originally, it was announced that the UFC and Pride would be run separately, and while there would be super-fight match-ups between champions, all of the top Pride fighters would be staying in Pride.
White’s comments concerning the Pride fighters and what he plans to do with them indicate that many of Pride’s top fighters will be assimilated into the UFC. White said, “We’re going to have them all. We’re going to have them all. At the end of the day, if you want to fight the best fighters in the world, if you want to cement your place in history… and at the end of the day, the money is great, all that stuff is good, but for me I’m one of those types of people… it’s all about cementing your place in history. Who is the greatest fighter in every weight division? It’s here. It’s in the UFC. They’re all going to be here.”
When asked about one of Pride’s biggest stars, Wanderlei Silva, White said, “We’re going to have them all here. He [Silva] is going to be here. They’re all going to fight… they’re all under contract.” White also said that Silva would likely be Chuck Liddell’s next opponent.
When asked about Fedor Emelianenko, who is the Pride Heavyweight Champion and the #1 ranked heavyweight fighter in the world, White said, “We’re working on Fedor right now, too. We’re working on everybody. Everybody means everybody, all of them. We’re trying to get them all. They’re all going to be here. If not now, eventually we’ll have them all.”
What about the Pride champions? White addressed that question as well: “I don’t think we should disrespect the guys who have belts in Pride. They were champions in that organization, and they have belts, too. We’ve still got to figure this thing out, but at the end of the day the great thing is that the best are going to fight the best. That’s all that really matters at the end of the day.”