by Scott Petersen & Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
From the ashes of Pride FC a new organization has risen called Dream, a partnership with FEG, the primary group behind K-1, and the former employees of Pride. Recently, FEG executive Sadaharu Tanikawa spoke to MMAWeekly.com about how the organization was founded and why they decided to work with the Pride staff.
K-1 Hero’s and Pride were two of the major players for mixed martial arts in Japan and Tanikawa explains why they didn’t simply incorporate the Pride staff into the Hero’s brand, but instead changed the name to Dream.
“In order to (attract) the Pride fans, we have to bring something new,” said Tanikawa. “Because the Pride fans, they don’t really come to the Hero’s events. In order to have them in our events … not only the fans of Pride, but the former Pride staff they were kind of intimidated working together with us as the Hero’s front, so that’s why we have to have something (new).”
This new organization has roots in both K-1 Hero’s and Pride of course, and the promotion started to breathe life around the same time the former Pride staff helped to organize the year end Yarennoka! event that closed 2007.
“Maybe a week after New Year’s we started thinking about working together,” Tanigawa stated. “Already in Japan, we had discussed working together with the Yarennoka event, then we started discussing new names and then we went with one of those new names and we finally decided on the event name, Dream.”
Another organization, World Victory Road (also known as Sengoku), also started around the same time in Japan and recently put on its first show as well. Tanikawa explained why the former Pride staff, once released from their positions, decided to work with FEG instead of the new World Victory Road promotion.
“The owner of the Sengoku event did not really have a fighting background,” commented Tanikawa. “Actually the former Pride people they could not visualize which direction they would go with them, but working with us, FEG, because we already have TV and broadcasting, and we have many fighters, it’s easier to visualize working with us.”
The addition of the Pride staff is seen as a huge positive for the new Dream brand, and Tanikawa said he is hopeful to build Dream into the same fan base that Pride had, but understands it may take a year or two.
With the first event for Dream already in the books and a second event set for April 29 featuring the start of the Middleweight Grand Prix, the FEG executive is looking for big things out of Dream and promises they will be sticking around.
“For certain we will be continuing to be proud of the Dream event,” Tanikawa stated. “Of course our main part will be to let the former Pride people handle (the promotion), but there’s still the matchmaking, and making final decisions will be made by FEG.”
The success of Dream could be vital to the overall success of MMA in Japan over the coming years with many top fighters signed to the organization, much is expected out of the upstart promotion from fans and critics alike.