by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As the turbulent world of mixed martial arts continues to swirl, the soap opera surrounding Pride, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and Ed Fishman is hitting a fever pitch. Pride is readying their second foray into the U.S. market, the UFC announced their move into the European market, and Fishman has shown his hand, as he is ready to buy Pride and challenge the UFC.
While Pride is busy ramping up events surrounding tomorrow night’s Pride 33, UFC president Dana White was busy countering by announcing the UFC’s return to the United Kingdom. At a press conference in England, White announced the signing of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic training partner Fabricio Werdum to face Andrei Arlovski at UFC 70 in Manchester on April 21, saying that he isn’t yet done raiding Pride’s roster.
Also announced for the UFC’s return to England were Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga as the main event, Brit Michael Bisping vs. Elvis Sinosic, and Forrest Griffin vs. Ryoto Machida.
At the same time, Ed Fishman, a recent contender to purchase Pride if the company does in fact decide to sell, was making his own moves to counter the UFC’s announced return to England.
As President of Pride USA, Fishman made a public challenge to the UFC to pit each organization’s #1 and #2 fighters in each of four weight classes against each other in a best-of-eight “Winner Take All” format, with both companies putting up $20 million. The first organization to win 5 of the 8 bouts would take home the $40 million prize.
“I’ve always known that Pride has superior fighters over the UFC and the fans unanimously agree that Pride puts on a more exciting event. Once I fully acquire Pride FC, I intend to prove we have the best fighters, in what is sure to be the biggest prize, not just in mixed martial arts, but in sports history,” said Fishman.
Adding fuel to the fire are the constant rumors that Zuffa, the UFC’s parent company, has also been making a bid to purchase Pride FC, while Pride president Nobuyuki Sakikabara has consistently stated that Pride is not for sale.
Although no resolution is clearly in sight, it’s sure to be an entertaining, if not turbulent, time for mixed martial arts.