Late last week, Jaime Pollack, president of Pride FC Worldwide, notified employees that the company office in Tokyo was being closed and that they were dismissed. Several accounts in the media painted a bleak picture surrounding the firings, indicating indifference and betrayal.
Pride FC Worldwide, citing “erroneous media reports,” released a statement this week about the Tokyo office and the release of its staff.
Pride FC Worldwide (Pride WW) is the company that was born out of Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta’s purchase of Pride Fighting Championships from Dream Stage Entertainment, Inc. (DSE) in March. The Fertittas are also the majority owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Pride WW stated that the decision to close the Tokyo office “was not made lightly, but was necessary because of a lack of cooperation from Directors at Dream Stage Entertainment, Inc.”
“We purchased the Pride assets with high hopes of producing live events in Japan,” said Pollack. “Unfortunately, this is not possible today due to lack of cooperation from the former Dream Stage directors.”
The statement also indicated that employees were released “pursuant to Japanese law” as advised by Pride WW’s legal counsel. Evidently, the company is not allowed to retain its staff without providing appropriate office space.
Most employees were provided with a retirement package according to Pride WW.
Although the Tokyo office is now closed and its employees released, Pride WW says it will “continue to pursue opportunities for the Pride brand in Japan, the United States and other markets around the world,” including continuing to air Pride fights on television, DVD and online distribution.
Those continued efforts do not, however, appear to include pursuit of live events, as Pride WW says in the statement, “For elite mixed martial arts fighters from Japan, as well as from other countries in the world, they have an immediate chance to discuss opportunities to showcase their talents in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.”
Pollack backed that by saying, “(We) have great respect for Japanese fight fans, and so we are hopeful they will appreciate our efforts to sustain the Pride brand under Pride FC Worldwide and will continue to follow the incredible sport of mixed martial arts and its athletes in the UFC organization.”