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The second anniversary of PRIDE’s death

By Zach Arnold | March 27, 2009

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I will have an article coming up this weekend about this topic, since it’s a story I invested many years in covering on a daily basis. However, let me point you to this Total MMA article to get you started on what I will be focusing on in my upcoming article. Read it. There are some points that need to be addressed that haven’t yet, but will be in due time.

A quote from the Total MMA article:

The events that transpired following the death of PRIDE and its subsequent purchase by Zuffa are then glossed over. We are reminded that the UFC does own the tape library of PRIDE and sells their DVDs, as well as uses the video to promote their fights, all the while able to keep that video from being promotionally tied to other organizations (such as Affliction). Along with that, two of PRIDE’s belts were able to be “unified” with their UFC counterparts, forever linking the current lineage of the 205 lb and 185 lb titles to the “true” championship of the sport. As with the UFC welterweight title before it, the owner of the belt is the undisputed and true champion of the sport. Those were all successes. To list the failures, however, is a far longer list.

Topics: Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, Zach Arnold | 13 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

13 Responses to “The second anniversary of PRIDE’s death”

  1. Alan Conceicao says:

    Two things I wanted to mention but didn’t get a chance to in the article:

    1) The signing of Cro-Cop combined with the way the PRIDE purchase went down ended up a disaster. Mirko ended up getting KOed before they could get any real value out of him and then was gone by the end of the year. Randy Couture was so enraged about Mirko’s signing bonus and guaranteed money that he ended up leaving the UFC and put the division in over a year of limbo. Since the UFC couldn’t take care of the Fedor issue, he languished outside the company with the Bodog event (originally to fight Monson, then later changed to Lindland), creating nothing other than a target for Randy to try and run after, leaving them with a potentially broken down Noguiera as their lynchpin.

    2) PRIDE did shockingly well with live events in the US and the alternative to a Zuffa takeover would have been a sort of Super Bellator. It probably wouldn’t have worked, but then again, a bunch of guys would have gotten to fight live bodies that either didn’t do that or didn’t fight at all. After all, we return to the classic “It ain’t your money”.

  2. mattio says:

    UFC spent 70 million for PRIDE? And literally nothing to show for it accept video footage they can use for 1 or 2 fighters? That’s laughably sad.

    Any other estimates for how much UFC paid for PRIDE? Any so low it doesn’t make Zuffa look like just fell off the turnip truck suckers?

    Does anyone have an estimate how long it takes UFC to generate 70 million dollars profit? I haven’t a clue, but it seems that would take a long time.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Whatever they spent, they definitely overpaid. There is a lot of revision to history here. There was more then a few fighter contracts and a tape library that was purchased here.

    This purchase officially made Zuffa the top dog. Before this occured, there was always the debate of who was better, UFC or Pride. Since then, no organization has rivaled the UFC. Everything appears and seems to be on a secondary level compared to what the UFC is doing.

    Not to mention that it was a different time in MMA. Bodog, IFL, and others were starting to rise. I forget the guys name, but there was also a guy who was interesting in purchasing Pride, who helped them put on their two Vegas shows. He basically wanted to turn it into a circus act, and had no real clue about the sport.

    Really, the development of the sport was up in the air. That is what drove up the price…. The unknown factor.

    And Zuffa purchased the WFA & WEC around the same time. Those ended up being great purchases. The WFA gave them Quinton Jackson & Urijah Faber. It also kept Jackson away from other interested promoters.

    Of course, those two smaller purchases aren’t mentioned, as anything Zuffa does successful typically get thrown to the side for the negative articles.

  4. Ultimo Santa says:

    When PRIDE died, a little piece of my soul died with it.

  5. Zach Arnold says:

    Not to mention that it was a different time in MMA. Bodog, IFL, and others were starting to rise. I forget the guys name, but there was also a guy who was interesting in purchasing Pride, who helped them put on their two Vegas shows. He basically wanted to turn it into a circus act, and had no real clue about the sport.

    Without Ed Fishman, they would have been fortunate to do crowds that K-1 used to do in Las Vegas (read: bad).

    Ed is no dummy — once the Japanese didn’t allegedly pay him his fee for the first show, things went south quickly. If PRIDE had its business in order, he could have taken the operation to Macau, Atlantic City, and other casino hotspots.

    Realistically, he was the only shot they had for expansion once they lost the Fuji TV deal. But, as we know how the promotion unraveled, even someone like Ed probably couldn’t have saved that sinking ship.

  6. Alan Conceicao says:

    The argument that the UFC purchase was necessary to prove the UFC’s supremacy is a joke. The top fighters in PRIDE were already defecting and were PRIDE to have simply collapsed and went into bankruptcy/administration, they likely would have ended up where they ultimately did much sooner. The purchase of PRIDE was nothing but a waste of money and time for everyone involved, and the booby prize are the rights to footage of fights no one cares about.

  7. Alan Conceicao says:

    And Zuffa purchased the WFA & WEC around the same time. Those ended up being great purchases. The WFA gave them Quinton Jackson & Urijah Faber. It also kept Jackson away from other interested promoters.

    I might as well add in for this:

    Its tough to picture the WEC as a “success” by any standard other than the one 45 applies (ie: that Zuffa did it). The WEC is another comedic example of people’s willingness to shift blame off Zuffa: It can’t be that bantamweights don’t draw, that the lightweight-light heavyweight classes were clearly inferior and marketed that way and that feeling carried over to the rest of the show, or that the production looks and feels minor league, nor can it be that all of their stars except Faber are black holes of charisma. No, its all Versus’ fault, and if it just went somewhere else, and so if we fantasy book a major network wanting it and paying for it, then it would definitely be successful. Or something to that effect.

    I do suppose the WFA purchase was a “success” since it was basically intended solely to get a couple contracts. That did lead to the UFC paying someone so that they could pay Heath Herring top end money to get laid on by Jake O’Brien.

  8. 45 Huddle says:

    What fighters were defecting before Zuffa purchased? Most of them didn’t go anywhere…. Didn’t fight anywhere. Even the guys who weren’t picked up by Zuffa (like Barnett & Hansen), had to sit out for a while.

    If Zuffa hadn’t purchased Pride, it is likely that some of the fighters they got, would have signed on with Bodog or others.

    And I would say the WEC is a success. In a 2 year time frame, the WEC has established itself as the home for the top lighter fighters in the world.

  9. Alan Conceicao says:

    2/3 of PRIDE’s great heavyweight triumvirate had already bailed to the UFC before the collapse of PRIDE. And you’re right: Most of them didn’t go anywhere or fight for anywhere, either for a resurrected PRIDE or the UFC. Can’t call that much of a success on Zuffa’s part.

    The WEC is a success for having become transformed into the USA’s answer of Shooto in much the same way Affliction is a success for providing great heavyweight fights. I’d agree with you in that sense.

  10. EJ says:

    Affliction is losing millions a show and has resorted to doing a kamikaze show to go out with a bang, while the WEC is the premier home for lighter weight fighters and has a positive future they are in no way the same.

    I’m really beyond tired of this myth about Zuffa purchasing Pride being a failure, considering the aftermath it was probably the second smartest business decision they ever made behind TUF.

  11. Alan Conceicao says:

    If the WEC’s PPV doesn’t draw when they finally decide to go through with it, you can count the days till its contracted into the UFC. The difference between Affliction and the WEC is that the WEC costs a lot less to do, and so they lose less money.

  12. Jeremy says:


    There is another very big difference between Affliction and the WEC: The WEC gets money from Vs. for every show.

    Including that money, Zuffa is not losing with the WEC shows. Are they making a ton? No, but the television money is enough to offset the expenses.

    One thing that does need to happen is Zuffa getting Vs to spend some money promoting the WEC. It is one of the highest rated shows on Vs, doing far better than their average rating.

    The recent WEC attendance has been solid. Good to see that Zuffa realized that those Vegas shows made the WEC look bush league.

    As far as the purchase of Pride goes, it was not a success. I think they should have learned from getting screwed by Sak on the Liddell/Silva match-up and realized that there was a very real chance that Sak and co were trying to screw them again.

    That said, nowhere near 70 million traded hands. It might have been 20% of that, but I think the number is lower than that.

    A failure? Sure. A disaster? No.

  13. Lester Grimes says:

    How do we really know the PRIDE buyout was a FINANCIAL failure or success? After all, the UFC is a private company that’s not required to release their financial statements. Unless someone leaks out Zuffa’s balance sheet for 2007-09, all this rambling about dollars and cents is mere speculation.

    Whatever the cost Zuffa paid for PRIDE, it put to death a major or potential competitor. Did the UFC gain additional PPV buys? Did they make residuals from the PrideFC library?

    This mass consolidation was bound to happen sooner or later, especially when mergers or buyouts is a common practice for any growing industry (MMA is no different).

    Others can probably claim the UFC made a return of 10 fold, since buying out PrideFC. But in the end, we’ll never be able to prove any point because Zuffa holds their REAL financial performance pretty close to their chest.


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