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« | Home | »

Uncertain futures for PRIDE fighters

By Zach Arnold | April 10, 2007

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Nikkan Sports has a headline grabber today, claiming that Hidehiko Yoshida will fight at 205 pounds in the future (for a run at the UFC Light Heavyweight division). The article claims that Yoshida’s 5/20 Saitama Super Arena fight will be preparation for him fighting in UFC later this Summer.

Daily Sports has an article claiming that Josh Barnett may work for the IGF 6/29 Ryogoku debut show. From what I have been told directly, Barnett’s status right now as a fighter is in limbo. He is waiting for any and all offers. He has not been contacted by Zuffa in relation to the ‘new’ PRIDE.

In the other category…

Hollywood Tadao Yasuda is expected to compete in Antonio Inoki’s new IGF (Inoki Genome Federation) promotion. Their first show is on June 29th at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

Yomiuri Hochi published an article discussing the possibility of disgraced Judoka Yoshihiro Akiyama “getting a second chance” thanks to an appeal by Antonio Inoki.

Topics: Japan, MMA, Media, Pro-Wrestling, UFC, Zach Arnold | 27 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

27 Responses to “Uncertain futures for PRIDE fighters”

  1. Zurich says:

    Why on earth would Yoshida fight in the UFC? It would be like sending a (not as competitive) Randy Couture to fight in PRIDE – the star power and draw does not translate. What PFC WW should be doing is signing as many compelling fights for Yoshida _in Japan_ as possible. If Zuffa wants to warm America up to MMA Judokas, send Pavel Natsula to the UFC, NOT Yoshida.

  2. oOkami says:

    Will IGF be an pro-wrestling promotion or mma?

  3. Zach Arnold says:

    It seems like it could be a split promotion or a promotion featuring both guys doing wrestling and/or works. In other words, expect Inoki-style matches.

  4. Armen says:

    I’m sad to hear that the new US fans won’t be getting to know Barnett and his fun to watch grappling game. I think he would do quite well in the US, but it seems to me that he enjoys his gaijin celebrity status in Japan very much and will be sticking to it for some time to come.

  5. Zurich says:

    Barnett will probably end up fighting Fedor in Bodog… he’s pretty much the only PRIDE HW that Fedor _hasn’t_ beat.

  6. Stu says:

    The once so great PRIDE HW division has been completely obliterated, clearly Zuffa has no plans to keep it. What division is next in line to be plundered? Probably the 205′ers.

  7. Liger05 says:

    For me Pride is dead. Its UFC Japan, simple as that. Barnett can go to the IGF but im still not 100% certain that will actually happen. Who is behond this promotion? Have they got serious start up funds and wont just last one show? I will be surprised if K-1 dont sign up Barnett.

  8. white ninja says:

    I wonder if the Fertittas will try to cut the price they are paying to Sakakiyakuza

    - No Fedor
    - No Josh
    - Nogueira signs directly with UFC
    - Yoshida signs directly with them

    What exactly did the Ferittas buy (apart from a video library and unsold PRIDE merchandise)

    Maybe the plan all along was to just bury PRIDE and the $12m was a small amount to do this

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    Barnett is in a tough situation. He already has losses to Cro Cop & Nogueira. If he fights Fedor outside of Pride and loses, then he has lost to the Top 3 fighters in the division. Basically career suicide at that point.

  10. Stu says:

    I wonder if the Fertittas will try to cut the price they are paying to Sakakiyakuza

    It’s their own damn fault really, if Zuffa hasn’t even contacted Barnett no one can be blamed but them.

  11. Liger05 says:

    White Ninja I think thats the point some tried to make. While so many people are excited the truth is Zuffa havent bought a company which is on top of the world. Zuffa have bought a company in trouble and with questionable assets and a questionable future.

  12. Body_Shots says:

    It’s been a whole 2 weeks since they announced the acquisition of PRIDE. Stop speculating and wait and see what happens.

    When they bought the WEC it was about month before we heard anything from the new company. When they purchased the WFA it was weeks until we knew what fighters they kept and what their plans for them were. The purchase of PRIDE is even bigger, you might want to give them a little time before you deem it a failure.

  13. Body_Shots says:

    As far as fighter contracts go, who else besides Josh and Fedor have brought up issue with their deals? There’ve been countless interviews with PRIDE fighters since then.

    What does seem to be a growing problem is fighters wanting to bypass PRIDE completely and fight in the UFC. There’s no reason for Yoshida or Kawajiri (at this point) to fight in the UFC…at all.

  14. JThue says:

    That weight class has been Yoshida’s home since he started MMA, so not sure what the news is there. Obviously he’s not being MOVED to UFC any time soon.

    “Why on earth would Yoshida fight in the UFC?”

    To get UFC/UFC Fighter X over in Japan.

    Is the IGF date a FACT?

  15. Liger05 says:

    Body_Shots publically we may not have heard anything but that doesnt mean there are no issues. I will be surprised if K-1 are not snooping around just waiting for the fallout of this sale to snap some fighters up.

    I see what u are saying in terms of it has only been two weeks but that doesnt change the fact that the company bought was not exactly one which was growing. Pride was on the decline for a long time and unlike some I dont believe just cos Zuffa is in charge the glory days are suddenly coming back.

  16. Liger05 says:

    Inoki has mentioned dates for wrestling shows before and they havent happened. I am not certain this date will happen but it all depends on who is behind the promotion. If Inoki has managed to get some serious start up funds behind him this could be a reality.

  17. Body_Shots says:

    Body_Shots publically we may not have heard anything but that doesnt mean there are no issues.

    Doesn’t mean there are issues either.

    I dont believe just cos Zuffa is in charge the glory days are suddenly coming back.

    PRIDE wasn’t ever going have another 2005, scandal or no scandal. So I agree with you there, but I do hope that PRIDE is successful the Japanese MMA scene needs it.

  18. Grape Knee High says:

    On the subject of what will happen to PRIDE fighters (assuming PRIDE even manages to stay afloat long-term), I think it will be a similar situation as exists for the player exchange between the MLB (Major League Baseball) and the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball).

    The UFC will probably keep the majority of the good, marketable Western fighters and cherry pick the best, marketable PRIDE fighters (ala Big Nog). PRIDE will keep the rest of the international and Japanese fighters and get the occasional UFC washouts (ie, I think Tim Sylvia would be perfect for freak show matches in Japan). Unfortunately, I thnk the majority of the elite fighters (with a few minor exceptions) will absolutely end up in the primary brand, the UFC.

  19. I dunno … i don’t think the UFC has lots of room for quiet and unresponsive foreign fighters, no matter how good they are. I also bet you’re gonna see a lot of fighters moving back and forth after failed title shots etc.

  20. Ultimo Santa says:

    Barnett would be awesome in UFC – he’s American, cuts amazing promos, and is the former champion.

    Why NOT sign him?

    My guess would be personal issues with Dana White. The man knows how to promote MMA in North America, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a petty, indictive little fucker with an ego bigger than Vince McMahon.

    IMO.

  21. Barnett has said that he has no issues with the UFC, but he just prefers Pride.

  22. Grape Knee High says:

    “I also bet you’re gonna see a lot of fighters moving back and forth after failed title shots etc.”

    I can see that also, but maybe not to the extent that you’re suggesting.

    Tito Ortiz is a good example. There’s no way he’s getting another title shot anytime soon. What to do with him though? You can’t send him to PRIDE because the UFC gets way more ROI from his PPV draw. He’s got no pull in Japan. So he stays where he is.

    The only elite fighters that I see going from the UFC to PRIDE are those fighters that are not PPV draws but need somewhere else to fight because they are no longer in contention for the title (yet they are good enough that you want to keep them in the Zuffa stable).

  23. David says:

    I think that if Tito loses to Rashad Evans, he will move up to hw.

  24. Zurich says:

    There’s just something so discouraging about seeing a decorated and famous (in Japan) fighter like Yoshida get stuffed up against the cage for three rounds by some redneck college wrestler-turned-UFC “mixed martial artist”. He should be PRIDE FC WorldWide’s figurehead! This is troubling.

    Re: Barnett, I think he is the only man with a decent shot to beat Fedor. The fans need this fight to happen, and if the Fertittas can’t do it, you can bet Calvin Ayre will.

  25. Royal B. says:

    redneck HIGH SCHOOL wrestler-turned-Ultimate Fighter.

    be accurate Zurich.

  26. Armen says:

    Tito moving up to heavyweight? Hahaha. That would be fun to watch.

  27. D. Capitated says:

    There’s just something so discouraging about seeing a decorated and famous (in Japan) fighter like Yoshida get stuffed up against the cage for three rounds by some redneck college wrestler-turned-UFC “mixed martial artist”. He should be PRIDE FC WorldWide’s figurehead! This is troubling.

    PRIDE did a great job protecting Yoshida putting him in with Cro Cop and James Thompson.

  28. Asa says:

    There’s just something so discouraging about seeing a decorated and famous (in Japan) fighter like Yoshida get stuffed up against the cage for three rounds by some redneck college wrestler-turned-UFC “mixed martial artist”. He should be PRIDE FC WorldWide’s figurehead! This is troubling.

    Is it discouraging because we’d expect a “Judoka-turned-UFC” to be able to keeps some vague semblance of control of his hips, and circle-out form the cage? Or because the “wrestler-turned-UFC” isn’t pushing him up against the ropes before taking him down? Or is it just discouraging that a man with as much heart and skill as Yoshida already has people saying he’ll get demolished by “INSERT-AMATEUR-SPORT-REQUIRING-INCREDIBLE-PHYSICAL-CONTROL-AND-SKILL-turned-UFC/Pride?”

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