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« | Home | »

Good cop, bad cop

By Zach Arnold | April 2, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

Yesterday, we alluded to Dana White playing ‘good cop’ in Daily Sports newspaper by openly discussing PRIDE needing their own rules. Today, we have Marc Ratner playing ‘bad cop’ in MMA Weekly by openly discussing how PRIDE fighters will need to adjust to the Unified rules (10-point must scoring system, no more 10-5-5 time limits, no soccer ball kicks or stomps or knees to the head while on the ground).

Simply speaking as an MMA fan, I enjoy the PRIDE-style rules. Take this aspect of PRIDE away from the Japanese fans and you’re essentially telling them to go watch K-1’s HEROs promotion if they want to see some similar rules to the ‘old’ PRIDE.

Changing to the Unified rules will not go over well with the Japanese PRIDE fans. UFC does not need more PRIDE-related PR nightmares in Japan right now.

Topics: All Topics, HERO's, Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, Zach Arnold | 28 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

28 Responses to “Good cop, bad cop”

  1. BSP says:

    This is bizarre. I have a hard time imagining that Zuffa is so internally disorganized that they’re unintentionally sending a mixed message. But at the same time, if they’re being deliberately obscure, they’ll pay a price when the Japanese fans realize they’ve been deceived. I mean, does Zuffa think the fans will forget what they’ve read in the press — specifically, White’s recent DS interview?

  2. Zach Arnold says:

    The biggest mistake UFC is mistaking is sending out conflicting signals. In the end it seems clear that we’re going to get the Unified rules. However, Dana is talking to Manabu Takashima or he’s talking to Daily Sports and then you have Marc Ratner and Lorenzo Fertitta talking about what rules they see in place.

    Just look at what Dana says in the Takashima interview. He’s encouraging knees on the ground to be allowed. That’s not part of the current Unified rules.

    In other words, UFC needs to look at this as an opportunity to establish a new trust with brand new fans. Staying on message might help.

  3. Grape Knee High says:

    Has HERO’s changed their rules recently?

    To my knowledge, the HERO’S promotion has never allowed four-point strikes. Basically, they have similar rules as the IFL right now: unified rules with no elbows.

  4. Grape Knee High says:

    Zach, you might be remembering some of the old K-1 events that had random MMA matches (not under the HERO’S banner). I believe some of those bouts allowed four point strikes.

  5. Zach Arnold says:

    HEROs has different rules for different weight classes (and yes, I would like to see K-1 clean up the rules to have more uniformity). Middleweight fights are three 5-mnute rounds with 1 minute round intervals. Light Heavyweight fights feature 1R at 10 mins and 2R at 5 minutes with room for overtime. Open fingered gloves and fighters can wear trunks, Judo-gi, Wrestling singlet, Jiu-jitsu wear, pants, or a Sambo outfit. Knee pads, elbow pads, shin guards, taping, and ankle supporters are allowed. Wrestling shoes are permitted.

    The full rules (in Japanese, not English) can be read here.

    There are certainly some differences between HERO’s rules and the Unified rules. For example, if UFC enforces the Unified rules in PRIDE fights, Hidehiko Yoshida and Kazuhiro Nakamura would not be allowed to wear the Judo-gi. I doubt that Yoshida will be interested in fighting without the judo-gi.

    Zach, you might be remembering some of the old K-1 events that had random MMA matches (not under the HERO’S banner). I believe some of those bouts allowed four point strikes.

    You may be right, the old ROMANEX (Romance + Extra – don’t ask me where they came up with that name) show perhaps had those rules. I think there were also K-1 MMA fights.

  6. Ben says:

    What is the best course of action for Zuffa to take here? I think that unified rules are really important, but, at the same time, I realize that part of the appeal of Pride is the fact that the rules allow for knees/kicks to a grounded opponent.

  7. Hero's Rules? says:

    “Take this aspect of PRIDE away from the Japanese fans and you’re essentially telling them to go watch K-1’s HEROs promotion if they want to see similar rules to the ‘old’ PRIDE.”

    Zack, I’m looking at the K-1 website( and it defines the Hero’s Rules as follows:

    Article 8
    The following actions are defined as illegal attacks.

    A fighter executing a foul technique shall be given a caution and point reduction from the referee, and four (4) cumulative cautions in the fight shall result in a disqualification. However, the referee may immediately disqualify a fighter by showing him a red card, if the referee finds the foul technique being inflicted intentionally or with a malicious intent. Furthermore, 10% of his fight fee shall be confiscated by the promoter, per caution.
    1. Biting
    2. Attacking the eye, nose mouth and ear
    3. Head butting
    4. Attacking the groin
    5. Pulling hair, ear and nose
    6. Direct attacks to the throat with fingers/hands, such as attacking or grabbing the throat
    7. Striking the back of the head, the spine, and/or the medulla of his opponent. (The back of the head is the centerline of the head, and the side of the head and the area around the ears are not considered as the back of the head)
    8. Strikes with elbow and/or forearm to the head, or to the face of the opponent
    9. Kicking by a fighter in the standing position to the face and head of a fighter in the ground position (When both fighters are in the ground position, kicking to the face and head of the opponent fighter is allowed)
    10. Knee kicking to the face and head of a fighter in the state of any ground position including 4-point position etc.

    That means no elbows, knees, soccer kicks or stomps are allowed. This doesn’t seem like the “old Pride rules” to me.

  8. Zach Arnold says:

    Clearly, HEROs does not share all of the same rules as PRIDE does (and I wish K-1 would change this pronto). However, the HEROs rules in my opinion seem to be more appealing to PRIDE fans than UFC fans. Barnett can’t wear the wrestling shoes under the Unified rules. Yoshida and Nakamura can’t wear the judo gis. So on and so forth. Excluding Kazushi Sakuraba (who for his own health does not need the PRIDE rules), most of the top fighters who have been competing in PRIDE would probably prefer the HERO’s rules.

    But you’re right. K-1 has to create uniform rules for all their weight classes and should adopt the ‘old’ PRIDE rules if UFC ditches them.

  9. Stu says:

    I doubt that Yoshida will be interested in fighting without the judo-gi.

    He did so against Ogawa so it’s not totally foreign to him, he’d loose tons of sponsorship money though. But I guess he could always take Nakamura and Aoki’s approach by wearing a gi in the entrance only.

    Anyone remember Genki Sudo wearing some weird kung-fu outfit against Ole Laursen? What the stars want the stars get I suppose.

  10. Jordan Breen says:

    HERO’S had soccer kicks and knees on the floor and whatnots for the first two events. Recall Greco almost punting Herring’s face off and KID nearly curbstomping a helpless Ian Schaffa.

  11. The Gaijin says:

    Lest we forget Fujita’s penalty kick extravaganza on Bob Sapp’s large melon!

  12. Zack says:

    Also Fujita decimating Bob Sapp with punts to the dome while wearing shoes. I think that may have been one of the Romenex shows, though.

  13. mose says:

    IMO, the whole big thing about the rules changes is way overblown and will have little overall impact outside of sherdog….

  14. Chemical Ali says:

    The Dana White/Marc Ratner good cop, bad cop situation is ridiculous. I don’t understand what they are trying to accomplish with that one because every indication points to unified rules and it’s unreasonable to assume that White and Ratner have not discussed the matter.

    Zach- What is the possibility of Japanese fans turning their back on the PRIDE product? Any Japanese MMA fan with even the slightest sense of nationalism cannot be happy with PRIDE being sold to Lorenzo Fertitta.

    Also, what impact will K-1 (Yakuza) have on Zuffa owned PRIDE in Japan? Should this be a serious concern for the new, non-Yakuza PRIDE owners? I mean, there are rumors stating the powerful Yakuza behind K-1 already “put the screws” to DSE/PRIDE with regard to vendors, hotel accommodations, etc.

  15. Body_Shots says:

    The interview with Ratner is old (3/27/07), the transcript just came out. In the conference call Lorenzo didn’t mention anything about rules, Dana White did. Perhaps too hastly because he’s seemed to soften his stance as of late.

    I think the best thing he could of told the Japanese media, is what he did. No final decision has been made yet. It’s not a good cop, bad cop thing, it might be the case that fan outcry have swayed their initial plans.

    One thing’s for sure, they need put a Japanese face on the new company pronto and get some of positive press out there.

    HERO’s rules = IFL rules, except you get to wear costumes.

  16. Clin says:

    What do you think are the chances that Zuffa goes half way on the unified rules? Like banning Knees, Stomps, and Soccer Kicks but allowing Pride’s scoring system and Gi’s/wrestling shoes.

  17. PizzaChef says:

    Zach, I have a few questions about the Gendan (spelling? whatever) article. I get mixed messages from the article about PRIDE being back on free tv. It sounds like the article said it’s safe for PRIDE to get back on Free tv, then at the end says they shouldn’t. Secondly a bit off topic question. How come K-1 is able to avoid these scandals, except for a tax evasion one? Is this a matter of PR where K-1 ended up using better PR to stay on free tv?

  18. ilostmydog says:

    KazNak hasn’t worn a judo gi in ages (since Wanderlei pasted him IIRC, and I don’t think he wore one against Randleman earlier in that tournament), so I don’t understand why these changes would effect him. I can basically think of 4-5 guys who would be effected by equipment bans, and Josh Barnett is the only one in any top ten.

  19. Allen says:

    Nak hasn’t worn the gi in years, and Yoshida didn’t wear it in his last fight, so I don’t see how that’s affecting them. HEROES rules are closer to IFL, with the Light-Heavies having a 10 minute opening round thrown in there to appeal to Sakuraba. Looks like Zach is misinformed and just looking to drum up trouble again.

  20. white ninja says:


    my take on your questions-

    – its only safe for TV to broadcast the new PRIDE if they want to challenge Shukan Gendai. Shukan Gendai has shown a tendency to go for the throat in yakuza related issues and so Zuffa owned PRIDE has the same problems. In other words, Shukan Gendai sees this whole thing as a “shell game”

    – K-1 is not owned by yakuza. It was owned by Ishii, who is a convicted tax felon. But DSE was owned by violent criminals. There is a bit of a difference here (white crime vs violent crime)

    – the common point is that Fuji TV broadcast both PRIDE and K-1- although these days, TBS is closer to K-1 than Fuji (mainly as a result of KIYOHARA using the yakuza to attack K-1 and Inoki Bom Ba Ye)

  21. Rollo the Cat says:

    ” K-1 is not owned by yakuza. It was owned by Ishii, who is a convicted tax felon. But DSE was owned by violent criminals. There is a bit of a difference here (white crime vs violent crime)”

    Why are we always told that everyone in the Japanese fight game has Yakuza ties? How can K1 be an exception?

  22. white ninja says:


    the structure of the fight industry in Japan means that yes, everybody has yakuza ties

    as i mentioned in a previous post on a previous topic, yakuza ties usually means

    1. selling the expensive VIP tickets to yakuza through yakuza ticket distribution networks

    2. dealing with fighters who are backed by yakuza managers

    as far as both 1 and 2 go, K-1 and PRIDE are the same. However, these things were never seen as major problems

    The problem with DSE/PRIDE is that it is a yakuza owned and controlled company. Sakakibara is just a yakuza front man. So all profits from events (especially TV broadcast money) goes straight to the yakuza (this means that publicly listed companies like FUJI TV were directly funding and paying the yakuza)

    even with the Zuffa new PRIDE shell game, everybody in Japan knows that PRIDEs expensive production is done by Sakakibara (yakuza) controlled companies and that the same people (everybody except Sakakibara) is still in the company, so the question that Shukan Gendai is asking is what has changed? Even with Zuffa owning PRIDE, money will still be flowing to the yakuza

  23. Allen says:

    White Ninja is just a savage, savage troll. A true animal.

  24. white ninja says:

    Dear Allen

    thanks for your usual informative input to these discussions, i always look forward to reading your analytical and thought provoking replies, especially on topics on which you have absolutely no idea about what you’re talking about

  25. iain says:

    Now now ninja. Admit that you are kind of trolly a lot of the times.

  26. D.Capitated says:

    So, in other words, the fact that ownership of the company is different doesn’t change anything? What is the newspaper going to do? “BREAKING STORY: LIGHT SUBCONTRACTORS WORK FOR MAFIA”? That’s gonna be a monster story, lemme tell you.

  27. Jwebb says:

    Nobody cares about the shukan gendai in japan.

    Really, does anybody but white trash and fat housewives care about the national enquirer in the US? No. It’s the same trashy entertainment read. Except in Japan the target is biz men who buy it and read it on the train…. and those guys hardly are ever reading anything but the sex stories and shots of naked chicks.

    Quit treating it like the NY Times.

  28. Dick says:

    Is there any substance to this rumour?


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