PRIDE sold to UFC -- Lame Rumor?

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I knew PRIDE was in financial trouble, then I saw this on Wikipedia. I was at the site a few days ago and this excerpt was not there...

PRIDE Decline

It was recently reported by that PRIDE FC sold all assets and fighter contracts to the Ultimate Fighting Championships, headed by UFC President Dana White.

Source: Wikipedia

This has to be unsubstantiated crap, there are no direct references to valid sources. I am sure if the UFC bought PRIDE it would be all over there web site right now wouldn't it? Neither MMAWeekly or Sherdog have reported this. It doesn't make sense, just a few days ago Dana White was bad-mouthing PRIDE calling their organizers "f***ing idiots." The only relative article I found was this...

Dream Stage Entertainment is taking part in ongoing negotiations with several different companies based in several different countries to sell Pride, according to a report in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Among the companies with which DSE has had talks are the Ultimate Fighting Championship, World Wrestling Entertainment, and multiple companies in both the United States and South Korea that were not named in the article, which further stated that the majority of the interest that has been shown in purchasing Pride has come from outside of Japan.

The crux of the Observer article is that it is necessary for DSE to eventually sell the company because while the company can continue to put on mega-shows like the December 31st show in the short term, Pride at its current level is simply not a sustainable business model over the long run without the all-important Japanese TV deal.

Fuji TV cancelled its contract and removed Pride from its network earlier this year due to company scandals, even though Pride's 2005 New Year's Eve show won the head-to-head ratings battle with the K-1 New Year's Eve show for the first time.

Fuji TV was much more than just a TV outlet for Pride, as Fuji also paid the company millions of dollars and provided it with valuable promotional exposure. Pride has been unable to secure a new TV deal with any other major network in Japan.

The DSE-owned Pride will continue to aggressively expand into the U.S. marketplace, add big-name fighters to its roster if given the opportunity, and continue to run shows in Japan. While it remains possible that a huge explosion in popularity or a Japanese TV deal could change the situation, neither of those two things are particularly likely to occur, and this would likely make it necessary for DSE to sell the company to new ownership if things don't turn around in the next year or so.

If Pride were to be purchased by World Wrestling Entertainment, it is not a stretch to say that it would be unlikely to succeed. Putting aside any fears that WWE would be tempted to fix fights, there's also the well-documented fact that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has never displayed competence in any business outside of his core business of pro wrestling, with unsuccessful business ventures in nutritional supplements (IcoPro), a bodybuilding league (WBF), the movie industry (WWE Films), reality television production (Manhunt, Tough Enough, WWE Diva Search), a professional football league (XFL), the book industry (WWE's self-published novels in which McMahon solves crimes), and yes, even promoting legitimate shoot-fights on national television (Brawl for All).

The Observer article noted that Zuffa is faced with a strategic choice. If the UFC bought Pride and inherited what the Observer referred to as Pride's "very high contracts," Zuffa would acquire lots of world-class MMA fighters, but the move would raise the UFC's salary structure and "up the ante greatly" in terms of the amount of money that the company spends on fighter contracts.

If, on the other hand, Zuffa were to sit back and take a different kind of risk by letting the situation play itself out, the ideal scenario for Zuffa would be that Pride would eventually go out of business (or whoever buys Pride would fail with it and go under), thus making all of Pride's fighters free agents.

This would enable Zuffa to pay a lot less for the fighters than they would otherwise have to, because at that point there would be a very large amount of free agent fighters and only two stable, big-money options available for those fighters (UFC and K-1), although upstarts like BodogFight have managed to lure Fedor Emelianenko away, at least for one fight.

As the Observer reported, in the latter scenario Zuffa would be able to "work at signing only the people they want with the ability to negotiate more favorable terms [for Zuffa] due to the only other option [for the fighters] being K-1, which generally doesn't pay at Pride's level." In this scenario, with Pride's entire roster as free agents, the top-level fighters would likely end up split primarily between the UFC and K-1.

In the face of all the speculation, Pride broadcaster Frank Trigg appeared on MMAWeekly Radio's SoundOff and denied outright that Pride was for sale. Trigg said, "Two major organizations offered to buy Pride and both answers were no. They were both very substantial offers." Trigg was adamant as he said, "[DSE President] Sakakibara does not want to sell Pride. Pride is not up for sale. I spoke with him earlier today. Are we trying to do cross-promotions with other people? Absolutely... [but] Pride is not up for sale."

The Observer reported in its initial article that DSE's senior management will continue to act like "everything is status quo" and will continue to tell company employees that the company is not going to be sold.

Regardless of how the situation with Pride plays out, the Observer reports that Zuffa is planning on getting "very aggressive" when it comes to signing top talent.

The only thing for certain is that in the ever-changing landscape of MMA, only time will tell.

Source: MMAWeekly

And since this was reported in December, it is old news.

What do you guys think about a PRIDE-UFC merger if it ever happened? On one hand it would be nice to see most of the top talent in the MMA world under one promotion. On the other I think the PRIDE combat rules, Grand Prix, and event atmosphere would be missed.

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I knew WWE were interested in doing something with Pride a little while back but I couldnt see them doing a deal with UFC because they are to similar except for the rules...but who knows...

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Anyone can post anything, at any time, on Wikipedia... so it means nothing, that said as I posted in another thread I don't think Pride will survive into 2008 in it's current form.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 - by Ken Pishna -

The rumors swirling around the sale of Pride FC have been ongoing for quite some time, but things flared up again on Monday when started talking about strong rumors from some of their sources, who said that the deal has finally been struck.

MMAWeekly has confirmed with our own sources, including sources in Japan that are extremely close to the situation, that the deal has indeed been reached. From what we understand, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta have come to an agreement that would put Pride in their hands. But remember, that is an agreement, not a finalized transaction. As with any business transaction as complex as the purchase of one company by another, things are never 100% finalized until the proverbial keys to the front door have finally changed hands.

With that said, unless something changes at the eleventh hour, it appears that Pride will soon fall under the ownership of the Fertitta brothers. According to our sources, the purchase is believed to include fighter contracts, Pride?s video library, and the Pride FC name brand. The issue of fighter contracts is one of the more touchy points, as there can be variables in each individual contract that will have to be dealt with, and no information has come forth that states which fighters would be included.

It was not immediately clear when the deal would be announced, although it is believed that Nobuyuki Sakikabara, the President & CEO Of Dream Stage Entertainment (Pride?s present owner), is traveling to the United States this week in regards to matters related to the agreement.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wonder when they will have their "Super Bowl of MMA" event; PRIDE vs UFC. I think Mirko Filipovic will be UFC heavy weight champion by then and we will see the Fedor versus Filipovic rematch.

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