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« | Home | »

Dana White admits that PRIDE is dead

By Zach Arnold | August 26, 2007

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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…

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Topics: Japan, MMA, Media, PRIDE, UFC, Yakuza, Zach Arnold | 28 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

28 Responses to “Dana White admits that PRIDE is dead”

  1. Xenos says:

    So is, in my opinion, Dana White’s business reputation in Japan.

    I’m not sure why Dana or anyone else should care. Personally, I don’t think he planned on keeping Pride alive from the beginning.

  2. Have fun running SSA or the ‘dome.

    Ignorant ass!!

  3. Zach Arnold says:

    I’m not sure why Dana or anyone else should care. Personally, I don’t think he planned on keeping Pride alive from the beginning.

    He’s the same guy who proclaimed that he would get a free-to-air TV deal for PRIDE because of “PRIDE’s strong brand name,” yet he can’t get anything solid TV-wise for UFC over there in the first place.

  4. Jordan Breen says:

    Anyone who ever thought PRIDE was going to run anything ever again is gullible to the nth. I feel sorry for them, and wish to give them a warm hug.

  5. Ian Dean says:

    ^^^

    But it would of been nice to see “pride” run shows in areas where the cage is still a big no no

  6. white ninja says:

    LOL – Zach could have saved Dana and the Fertittas a few million $$$ if they bothered to read this site

    apart from the dirty nature of PRIDE, you even flagged the issue with the non transferability of the fighter contracts before it became public

    cheque’s in the mail i suppose : )

  7. [...] jeden i ?ród?o dwa. To by by?o tyle Panowie i Panie. Ostatni gasi ?wiat?o… Podziel si? [...]

  8. Jeremy says:

    I personally find it hard to get to involved with anything Dana says. The guy can say some of the more outlandish stuff and contradict himself better then anyone. It gives me a headache really just thinking about it.

    But I would have been stunned if Pride ever ran a show again, and Dana now saying it’s dead doesn’t come as any surprise. I mean what fighters are left for them to use, most(besides the majority of the japanese fighters) are already signed somewhere else. Unfortunate that Pride is gone, but it’s time to move on.

  9. Ryan says:

    Well Dana was saying, the PRIDE fighters were in the UFC merely to keep current, avoiding ring rust. He said that a few times, something like “well we got to get these guys some fights in the meantime.”

  10. Jonathan says:

    I’ll take that hug Jordan.

    Long live Pride.

  11. Mateo says:

    Do you think if the Zuffa had passed on purchasing PRIDE, that another company could have scooped it up and kept it afloat?

    Was there anything Dana/ Zuffa could have done to get the PRIDE brand back to running shows in Japan without spending enormous amounts of money to fix the problems they ran into?

    Will a new company apppear and fix the “power vacuum” currently in place for Japanese MMA fans soon?

    If some MMA startup looking to compete with HEROES comes along, will they face the same indifference from the TV Networks when they attempt to get a contract to air their programming?

  12. Ivan Trembow says:

    I think it has been plain as day since March that Pride is dead, despite the UFC’s denials. And you know what? If Zuffa wanted to buy and shut down their biggest competitor, that’s their prerogative. They just should have been less dishonest about it from the get-go.

  13. Ogrot says:

    Frankly I’m glad to hear it.

    They were talking about doing a japanese all-stars version, weren’t they? I wasn’t too keen on seeing Fujita VS Kohsaka or any such nonsense.

  14. The Citizen says:

    You can’t run an office in Japan like you can in the states, that is for sure. If Mr. White wanted to run in Japan, he would have had to set up shop in Tokyo and make a real go at it. The Japanese people are much to smart to let some absentee landlord proclaim he can market fight competitions better then they can — especially if he is going to phone in the deal. There is no way Mr. Whites sunken cage fighting concepts can translate into the larger then life RAISED FIGHTING ARENA once known as pride. Elevate your fights, and elevate the event. This simple fact still avoids you, UFC. But that should not surprise me being that your fighter promos have some dude shadowboxing in a shower area that looks like a high school photographer decided he’d get into video production for a night and call it a day.

  15. Maceo,

    If Zuffa didn’t pick up PRIDE, it would’ve died on the vine and a couple members doing perp walks.

    What could Zuffa done? Liquidate, adopt the crew neccisary to them and start from scratch. If they put some elbow grease behind it, we would have seen a new organization in time for the NYE wars.

    But Dana’s too much a gaijin to pull anything like that off.

    As to the future of Japanese MMA, I think it’s possible to dethrone K-1. They have almost no understanding of MMA. I’m wondering if they got Maeda there for cosmetic purposes only. I’m not going to lie though. It’s gonna take a shit load of money to be at least competitive. You’re going to need a ton of sponsors to do that. I wonder if something like what Yukes is doing with New Japan would work?

    Correct me if I’m wrong guys.

  16. [...] what Zach Arnold over at Fight Opinion is saying and he has the proof right out of Dana Whites mouth. The article list some of reasons for [...]

  17. ukiro says:

    This, along with the recent steroid comments and his general tactlessness throughout his career makes for a decent argument against letting Dana remain at the wheel. I think it will take quite a bit more before he’s replaced by someone with the ability to think before they speak, but looking at the history of Dana White he has an astounding inability to learn from his PR mistakes. I’m pretty sure Zuffa has Dana to thank for a lot of their success though, so they will be pretty lenient towards him. But sometimes it seems as though he’s got some sort of business tourettes syndrome, and the more there’s at stake, the bigger risk he is for Zuffa.

  18. Sam Scaff says:

    This sucks. I hate the cage.

    The viewing audience deserves a RING and NO Bruce Buffer.

    I am in mourning.

  19. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    I think that there was both a lot of naievite and some bad timing involved here.

    In the early part of the year, Pride FC WAS the number one brand in Japan. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. There was evidence even then that all was not right, but I don’t think even Zach was predicting that Pride would go away permanently at that point.

    As to Zuffa being stupid to think that they could get a Pride contract when they couldn’t get a UFC contract in Japan, that’s just a dumb statement. UFC doesn’t have a significant number of Japanese fighters and doesn’t have anywhere near the brand cachet that Pride did.

    Zuffa wanted into that market, and they probably believed that the way to do it was to buy an existing strong brand name then use it to cross promote their primary brand (UFC) for instance as stated by using a “superbowl” series of crossbranded events.

    Ultimately that may have lead to an actual brand merger, but I really don’t think that they intended to do away with the brand entirely from the get go. From this perspective, getting all of the contracts was not necessarily the biggest part of the deal. As long as you could hold on to some of the big names (something Zuffa has successfully done) and bring back other major names from Japanese MMA, you had a good shot at reviving the brand if you could get events done on a breakeven basis.

    Zuffa had a nice handful of contracts for foreign fighters who had been working in Japan in their pockets before they finalized the Pride deal. Cro Cop, Rampage, Jens Pulver. You had other guys who would be perfect for Japan (Arlovski). You also had a good crew of guys fighting in Pride at the end that had previously worked for Zuffa that you probably could have brought back in (Baroni, Belfort, Barnett maybe) if you could patch things up with them.

    Overly optimistic about their chances? Yeah.

    Stupid? Not so much, in my opinion.

  20. Fred says:

    No need to over-analyze this. Did anyone think Dana was going to say: “I just bought PRIDE yesterday, but PRIDE is a disaster. Forget about ever seeing PRIDE again!”??? Of course he wasn’t going to say that at the time of the purchase. He wanted to keep the possibility afloat that PRIDE could be brought back to profitability. Zuffa mgmt. probably realized weeks after the acquisition that the PRIDE mess was too much to straighten out, but it was smart to let the public (on their own) get used to the idea of PRIDE never coming back. After a few months, with smart fans realizing the truth for themselves, Dana could finally admit what we’ve all known.

    It really doesn’t matter. Most of the good PRIDE fighters have found a home in another org. Japan still has a ton of good MMA orgs, and the U.S. has EliteXC and Bodog as second-tier substitutes for competition to the UFC. Who the hell cares?

  21. Fluyid says:

    I just can’t wait for this quote to happen:

    “I guarantee you that we’ll have Pride on HBO by the end of 2007.”

    - Dana White

  22. JThue says:

    In the Dana isn’t ALL Vince McMahon ALL the time depertment: Zuffa did not buy PRIDE to shut it down, and there was no one else on the door step that would have been able to keep PRIDE alive either. I was as big of a PRIDE-lover as anyone, but really, when looking at all the evidence, I feel Zuffa have done absolutely nada wrong here.

    Everything from interviews with fighters and staff to comments from Dana and the Fertittas has shown that Zach Arnold(let’s give due when deserved here) was in fact spot on when he last year painted the picture of the yakuza scandal and Fuji problems potentially leading to the demise of PRIDE F.C. He even got the time table pretty much spot on. It WAS a big deal, and it DID kill the company. I was one of many who thought it was all being blown a bit out of proportion on this site, but that’s how wrong one can be I guess. PRIDE F.C. was a corporate tumor with some pretty make-up, and it would be nice to see the
    “Zach is anti-PRIDE”-sayers step forward and show some humility right about now.

    Of all the victims that came out of NYE 2003, the biggest one fell last. It’s sort of mind boggling to look back at those three events and realize that the biggest night in MMA history left such a devastating aftermath.

  23. Chris says:

    Not happy now. look, K-1 will prboably buy the UFC within the next few years so they can bolster Heros. i think its enevatable

  24. David says:

    K-1 couldn’t do a show in Los Angeles for the life of them and UFC couldn’t pull off a PRIDE replica (a knock-off as the Japanese would take it) in Japan. Communication is a HUGE part of the fluidity of the world but people still refuse to take it slow and learn it.

  25. Zack says:

    ^^^ A brilliant man.

  26. liger05 says:

    I think back to when zach was breaking the yakuza scandal and what the pride hardcore on sherdog would say about zach arnold. I do wonder how those people feel right now. even when zuffa bought pride and people would post that there will be no pride run shows and the deal doesn’t change anything those same crazy sherdoggers would go mad.

  27. [...] remember Dana White’s comments a couple of days ago when he said that the Japanese fans don’t want another MMA organization? I’m sure you [...]

  28. [...] Pride is Dead. Join me in mourning. According to Zach Arnold over at Fight Opinion (and he speaks the truth), Pride is dead. [...]

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