By Zach Arnold | August 26, 2007
By Zach Arnold
Update: One point that I forgot to mention in the initial point is that White’s public quote that the PRIDE assets are ‘tainted’ is going to perhaps raise some interest from the Nevada Gaming Commission. If there is one thing that the NGC does not like, it is any sort of connection of license holders to organized crime. If the NGC asks Dana White why the PRIDE assets in his view are suddenly ‘tainted,’ he’s going to have to explain the whole backstory with PRIDE and why Lorenzo Fertitta was able to make the asset sale purchase in the first place. Not smart at all.
Update II: More Dana White comments on PRIDE, including this gem of a line — “I’ve pulled everything out of the trick box that I can and I can’t get a TV deal over there with PRIDE. I don’t think they want us there,” said White. “I don’t think they me want me there.” I cannot stop laughing.
Alex Marvez has an excellent article at Fox Sports with quotes from Dana White on many issues, including the future of PRIDE. In short, Dana White has changed his tune on PRIDE — or is finally revealing his true feelings.
Even though he purchased PRIDE earlier this year, White insinuated the Japanese-based promotion is essentially history. White said the PRIDE brand was “tainted,” referring to the alleged mob involvement of its previous ownership group that cost the promotion its television outlet in Japan.
“(The Japanese) don’t want another (mixed martial arts) organization over there,” White said. “That company was in trouble. We went in and bought it out with every intention of keeping PRIDE alive. (Japan) is a very tricky place to do business.
“The problem is PRIDE was never a big company in the United States and I’m not going to drop another $44 million to try and straighten it out. We kept running the Japanese offices over there and it didn’t work out.”
Let me count the interesting things about the statements that White was quoted about in relation to PRIDE…
- White has been going around in the media proclaiming that PRIDE is a “strong Japanese brand.” There’s plenty of articles that have White quoted on-the-record as saying this.
Here’s what White told Kevin Iole on March 27th in The Las Vegas Review-Journal about PRIDE:
“PRIDE is a powerful brand,” White said. “The winners in this are the fans, because they’re going to see the question answered. How many times have I heard someone say, ‘PRIDE is better,’ or ‘UFC is better?’ Well, wherever you come down on that, we’ll answer the question because we’ll make certain we put them in with each other and get an answer.”
Now, White all of a sudden claims that PRIDE is “a tainted brand.” Oh, really? Then why did you spend the money to buy the PRIDE assets in the first place?
Let’s dig into the Fight Opinion archives. On July 25th, we posted this item about Dana White discussing PRIDE’s brand strength:
Well, according to Dana in another interview (with Kamipro), he is frustrated with the negotiations he has had so far with Japanese television stations about getting PRIDE on free-to-air TV. White says he’s frustrated that he can’t get PRIDE on Japanese TV even with new ownership. The funny thing is that UFC does not have a television contract for a free-to-air show, yet expected to get one for PRIDE. Dana stated that HERO’s is Japan’s #2 brand, while PRIDE is still Japan’s #1 brand. He really said this.
So, we now have Dana White on-the-record doing a complete about-face about PRIDE within the timespan of one month.
- White now claims that the Japanese fans don’t want another MMA organization over there. How the hell would you know about the Japanese marketplace, Dana? The answer is that he knows absolutely zero about the Japanese fight industry and his move to buy the PRIDE assets from Dream Stage Entertainment is proof-positive of this. If Dana wants the truth about Japan, all he has to do is send an e-mail or place a phone call to an MMA writer that actually knows what is going on over there – like Manabu Takashima or Dave Meltzer or Jordan Breen or myself. It’s easier than ever to understand the global picture of the fight industry, yet White continues to show his total ignorance about doing business outside of America.
You want an accurate assessment of what is happening in Japan? It’s simple. PRIDE vanished and a power vacuum was created. K-1, for the most part, has done a real poor job of filling that vacuum. HERO’s is the same disorganized, chaotic organization that it has been since the first day it was created. White is confusing the complete ineptitude of the power brokers in Japan with what the Japanese fight fans want. The reality is that you have a lot of thugs, criminals, and stupid idiots on the ground right now trying to do business in Japan. That’s the real story and lesson to learn from the downfall of PRIDE, but it requires you to actually pay attention to the facts and to listen to those with some knowledge about the situation.
- White’s line about Zuffa LLC trying to run the Japanese offices is hilarious because as we pointed out on this site in the last few months, DSE staffers were using the same Japanese offices to promote Hustle events. Hustle, as in the Japanese pro-wrestling company that Sakakibara has/had ties with. So, while Zuffa was trying to float the sinkhole that was “shinsei (newborn) PRIDE” in Japan by sending over lawyers to take over, the Japanese were making out their American buyers to be total clowns by running their own wrestling operations out of those same offices (essentially showing little or no respect to their American owners).
The real lesson to take away from Alex Marvez’s fine article is that Dana White is about as knowledgeable about the Japanese marketplace as Vince McMahon is, which is one hell of an indictment. This is why stereotypes about gaijin doing business in the entertainment world (the ‘geinokai’) exist — there’s an element of truth to them. The bombastic, nationalistic, arrogant, ignorant, aggressive, and greedy characterization of foreign businessmen is one that will likely never die in Japan. Dana White just became another textbook example of the Japanese stereotype about gaijin bosses.
White and the Fertittas completely miscalculated their business dealings with the Japanese and paid a heavy price for it. Little did Dana and crew know that Ed Fishman was waiting in the wings, ready to screw things up with his lawsuit against DSE Inc. for non-payment. In the end, Fishman reportedly got most of what he wanted in the settlement. While there is no official report or statement regarding the private settlement between Fishman Companies and DSE Inc., one of the heavily rumored provisions of the settlement was that PRIDE would never return again to the fight marketplace. If this is true (and I have no reason to believe it is false), this would be the likely justification for White burying the PRIDE name in the media. Whether White would go on-the-record and answer yes or no to that claim is another story in its own right.
PRIDE is dead. So is, in my opinion, Dana White’s business reputation in Japan.