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« | Home | »

UFC vs. PRIDE

By Zach Arnold | July 8, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

UFC President Dana White announced Chuck Liddell vs. Vanderlei Silva to happen in November.

Internet response to this story: Eddie Goldman | Whaledog | MMA HQ | Ivan Trembow

Update: Commenter Torn Victor points out a report on Fox Sports that Vanderlei Silva has signed a 3-fight deal with the UFC. This means that he is under contract to UFC and not PRIDE. Does this mean that Silva will not work the 9/10 Saitama Super Arena show for PRIDE, or will UFC getting a booking fee out of the deal from DSE for it? Or is this a co-promotional deal where DSE gets to use Silva one more time in Japan and then UFC gets the rights to him? Here is the quote from the Fox Sports site:

Dana White was a bit vague in talking about the Wanderlai Silva-Chuck Liddell fight, saying he’d have more details next week. He did say Silva is contracted for three fights and that UFC will be able to use PRIDE footage to promote the show.

Big question: Is UFC paying a booking fee to DSE for this? If so, this opens up some very interesting issues. PRIDE & UFC working together now puts UFC in a vulnerable position on several levels. Considering how much UFC has been recently making, this is a very odd and risky move. It also motivates me to ask: Is UFC going to help promote the PRIDE 10/21 Las Vegas show at the Thomas & Mack Center? If the answer is “yes,” then even more questions arise from this development.

As far as the Japanese angle is concerned with this story, the big issue is UFC working with PRIDE (a company that had a magazine launch a multi-month negative campaign against them, labeling DSE as a yakuza company, which eventually led to Fuji TV dropping PRIDE — a monster moneymaker and ratings-getter — without publicly stating why). What happens if the police in Kanagawa or Tokyo suddenly make claims against PRIDE? If UFC goes ahead and works with PRIDE, they are now setting themselves up for some big potential problems. If PRIDE does find itself in future legal trouble, UFC can no longer use “ignorance” as an excuse because the Japanese scandal is a very public story in both English and Japanese languages.

As far as the American angle is concerned, Vanderlei Silva is unlikely going to lose to Chuck Liddell. Silva is also not getting any younger. Two fighters who are at their peak but will eventually go on the downside as opposed to having more upside long-term. Curious, curious.

My initial verdict on this story is that this is a win-win for the fans and a potential lose-lose for the companies involved.

Topics: All Topics, Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, Zach Arnold | 16 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

16 Responses to “UFC vs. PRIDE”

  1. Dr J says:

    This is definately a huge win for the long-time MMA fan. We have been talking and, more or less, begging for this online for a few years now. The fight should happen; the business implications for the promotions involved are another thing completely.

  2. […] Zack Arnold has a good article on the benefits, or lack of benefits, that this matchup presents for both the UFC and Pride FC. (No Ratings Yet)  Loading … […]

  3. PizzaChef says:

    Hey Zach, when does Silva’s contract with PRIDE end? Or did Silva ask DSE to end his contract at the end of the GP?

  4. jalapeño says:

    Okay, lots of questions. I actually the move reveals PRIDE’s weakened condition: No Fuji TV, heavy reliance now on live gate in Japan, etc. The Lidell-Silva fight, on the other hand, opens up PRIDE to the N. American audience. Consider the bout a big PRIDE advertisement to the N. American MMA/UFC fan, especially the legions brought in thru TUF. PRIDE needs revenue. Perhaps the loss of the FUJI TV deal encouraged them to move forward with this sort of deal with the UFC.

    Obviously, there are many more questions (e.g., What’s in it for the UFC? etc. etc. Will the UFC mention PRIDE FC on its ads & broadcasts? I noticed White didn’t say a thing about PRIDE, but Silva was wearing a PRIDE t-shirt.)

    But this is flat-out fantastic for fans of the sport. The two best 205 lb. fighters in the world going at it. That’s how it should be.

  5. Zach Arnold says:

    Pizza – I know that PRIDE had to pay good money to get Silva to work the 7/1 Saitama show. I don’t know if it was a one-fight deal or a multi-fight deal, but he doesn’t fight for less than $300,000 USD. That’s another question that has to be asked here in this whole deal, but the fact that Silva wore a PRIDE shirt and put PRIDE over on PPV is interesting.

    Jalapeno: [Okay, lots of questions. I actually the move reveals PRIDE’s weakened condition: No Fuji TV, heavy reliance now on live gate in Japan, etc. The Lidell-Silva fight, on the other hand, opens up PRIDE to the N. American audience.]

    You’re right on these aspects. Although it should be noted that Silva (who showed up last year on UFC PPV) didn’t get any sort of reaction from the UFC fans. They don’t know who he is. I don’t know how well a Silva vs. Liddell fight would draw, and imagine if Silva went over! You’re asking the most critical question, which is what is in it for UFC? PRIDE’s money is starting to run out. Why would UFC put themselves at risk on multiple levels to put over PRIDE? There are always various ways to rationalize some of the moves Dana has done before, but this one seems to be a one-sided deal in favor of the Japanese (and the fans).

  6. Mizark says:

    This is great all around for the sport. The fans win either way.

  7. jalapeño says:

    >>Although it should be noted that Silva (who showed up last year on UFC PPV) didn’t get any sort of reaction from the UFC fans. They don’t know who he is.

    Yeah, I noticed this too. Depressing, really. Does that mean that my initial assumption — Wow! What a massive fight! — only applies to the sporting aspect of it and not the business end?

    [Pet Peeve: These in-broadcast announcements by the UFC suck. They’re never scripted. White rambles. He’s not well-spoken. The annoucements come across as flat when they’re meant to be dramatic. The UFC needs a simple video package. A short dramatic movie introducing Silva, e.g. Something as basic as three-minute video would get fans hyped & be informative.]

    >>. Why would UFC put themselves at risk on multiple levels to put over PRIDE? There are always various ways to rationalize some of the moves Dana has done before, but this one seems to be a one-sided deal in favor of the Japanese (and the fans).

    Maybe. But…these sorts of discussions tend to assume a zero-sum game when it comes to stuff like this. The basic assumption seems to be that if PRIDE wins, then the UFC loses (and vice-versa). But why does it have to be that way? In fact, I don’t think it is that way. Everything we’ve seen the last several years tells us that the MMA pie is not a finite size. It’s growing. So why can’t a LIddell-Silva match continue to spur growth in both companies and in MMA, in general? More pie for everybody! Obviously, White & Sakakibara also have more single-minded selfish interests at play (as they should), but perhaps this move isn’t so risky after all? Maybe it’s just good business.

    Another question: Will this be a title fight? (White said the bout was predicated on Chuck beating Sobral, so I assume it would be. But we do have that loathsome Gracie-Hughes precedent/superfight.) Especially if it is a title fights, UFC must have some idea about what the plans would be should Silva win?

    Another question: Is this announcement a prelude to other PRIDE fighters making their way over to the UFC either by some sort of inter-promotional agreeement or by simple contact signings? Do you think UFC sees this as a signal of sorts to PRIDE fighters to come on over? The money-making possibilities over here for individual fighters are vast.

  8. PizzaChef says:

    Zach, possibility this being like….”PR” to Wandy himself just incase PRIDE actually dies out? Like…some sort of incentive to fight in the UFC?

  9. PizzaChef says:

    Hmm jalapeño has a good point on this being a signal?

    Maybe Arona can go to the UFC too to try to get a rematch with Silva if PRIDE dies.

    And Rogerio can try to fight Silva too, and Shogun can join the UFC cause Silva recommended it, and lolz.

  10. jalapeño says:

    Pizza–Well, you know, I’m just talking/writing out loud. I’m happy & pretty surprised by the announcement. Never thought it would happen.

    Anyway, the point is that PRIDE’s business position is precarious right now, so maybe — maybe — the UFC will use its newfound cash & enhanced business position to scoop up fighters who until now have been working for their once-strong but now-weakened overseas rival. Who knows? Maybe it’s just a one-fight deal.

    As for the Novemeber bout being “PR” for “Wandy himself,” as you say — No. Sure, Silva likes it. He’s a fighter. And he also stands to make some cash. But this doesn’t get done without the two companies heavily involved and moving it. No lone fighter makes something like this happen in today’s MMA landscape. If it were up to the fighters, this would have happened ages ago. But it’s not up to them. It’s up to White, Sakakibara, and impersonal economic forces.

  11. Torn Victor says:

    Wanderlei has a 3 fight deal with the UFC. Dana said this at the post-fight presser. SOURCE: FoxSports MMA blog.

    Fedor was offered a fight with Tim Sylvia in October earlier in the week, according to Fedor’s management team. SOURCE: Miguel Iturrate.

    Things are heating up.

  12. […] My previous post on UFC vs. PRIDE can be found here. […]

  13. Lynchman says:

    I don’t think the UFC could be hurt by the Pride scandal. At this time, they seem to have simply purchased Silva’s contract from Pride. Ok, maybe it is more like renting his contract, since it is likely he will go back to Pride.
    It is not like they are going into business with Pride, they are not putting on a card together.

  14. Ivan Trembow says:

    For what it’s worth, White did not say, “We have Wanderlei Silva under a three-fight contract.” The way that it was worded in the FoxSports.com thing was a little bit misleading, although unintentionally. I heard the actual audio, and this is how that part went:

    Unknown Reporter: Is he [Silva] signed for a certain number of fights in the UFC?

    White: “Yeah, three [fights]. We’re probably going to have him for three.”

    The FoxSports.com left out the fact that White said “probably” and also made it seem like White said that Silva is under UFC contract, when in fact what he said was, “We’re probably going to have him for three,” which doesn’t really specify one way or the other.

  15. Shaolin says:

    I thought this should be obvious even to zach, since vanderlei was with sakakibara wearing a pride shirt, ufc has him for 3 fights but he is representing pride, he is not leaving pride at all, and pride is simply using ufc brand name in america to build themselves up, if you ask me ufc is getting used by pride.

  16. Zach Arnold says:

    [pride is simply using ufc brand name in america to build themselves up, if you ask me ufc is getting used by pride.]

    I think that point is one that doesn’t escape any of us. Which is why I am befuddled by why UFC would be so confident in thinking that Chuck Liddell would automatically beat Silva. I don’t understand the logic of it. This is the second straight year that UFC is putting over Vanderlei, and this time he’s wearing a PRIDE shirt.

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