Pride FC Sold to UFC..

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Report: Boss Tells PRIDE Employees Company Is Being Sold to UFC?s Fertittas

Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer, one of the best and most-informed members of the MMA media, has some major news regarding the rumored sale of PRIDE Fighting Championships to Frank and Lorenzo Fertittas, the primary owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. According to Meltzer, PRIDE employees have been notified of a pending sale.

Additionally, PRIDE boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara has told his employees he is leaving the company but that all of their jobs are safe.

From Wrestling Observer:

Nobuyuki Sakakibara yesterday told several members of the U.S. Pride staff that the company is in the [process] of being sold to Lorenzo & Frank Fertitta. He said the agreement in principal is done but there are still some minor points to be worked out and the contract is not signed. Sakakibara said he would be leaving the company but that everyone would be keeping their jobs. The company would be operated separately from UFC, but obviously UFC could use any Pride fighter for a big match that it needed.

Again, it?s worth repeating that despite an agreement being in place, any number of reasons could keep the deal from happening.

With that being said, this is obviously the most convincing and definitive news yet that PRIDE will probably soon become part of the UFC family. Despite denials by Sakakibara in recent months and and profanity-laced rebuttal from PRIDE USA Vice President Jerry Millen earlier this week, the Japenese-based fight organization has, in fact, been on the market and is on the verge of being acquired by the UFC.

With the deal now apparently in the homestretch, an official announcement could come soon ? certainly in time for two major upcoming UFC shows: UFC Fight Night 9 (April 5) and UFC 69 (April 7). Assuming the contracts are signed, expect some major song and dance at one or both events.

The amount of fights i want to see take place are actually endless.

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This is bittersweet. It will be good to see the best of the best compete under one umbrella, however I enjoyed PRIDE's product a lot more than the UFC's on every level.

It is time for state regulatory boards to allow kicks and knees to a grounded opponent. It hasn't been a problem in Japan.

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DSE is holding a press conference in about 15 minutes to announce whatever has gone down. There is a possibility that PRIDE will still operate as its own brand in Japan, but have a yearly interpromotional PPV pitting fighters from PRIDE vs UFC. I guess we'll find out in a few minutes!

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DSE is holding a press conference in about 15 minutes to announce whatever has gone down. There is a possibility that PRIDE will still operate as its own brand in Japan, but have a yearly interpromotional PPV pitting fighters from PRIDE vs UFC. I guess we'll find out in a few minutes!

Yeah I dont think Pride will be renamed just that it will be like Pride owned by Zuffa :)

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NEW YORK -- The majority owners of Ultimate Fighting Championship have agreed to buy their biggest mixed martial arts rival, Pride Fighting Championships, in a deal that will establish megafights among the outfits' titleholders and possibly attract huge pay-per-view audiences.

Company executives declined to comment on the sales price, but a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta will purchase the Japan-based Pride for less than $70 million. The person was not authorized to speak to reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The deal was completed Tuesday and was announced during a news conference in Tokyo, where Lorenzo Fertitta has been negotiating with Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the majority owner and chief executive of Dream Stage Entertainment Inc., Pride's owner.

"We have been talking to Pride for probably about 11 months," Lorenzo Fertitta said. "It's been a long, drawn-out process but we finally were able to put the two brands together."

To buy the company, the brothers created a new entity called Pride FC Worldwide Holdings LLC. The newly formed company will take over Pride assets, including its trademarks, video library and valuable roster of fighters, from Dream Stage. The Fertitta brothers, who own Las Vegas-based Zuffa LLC, the parent company of UFC, intend to keep the well-known Pride name and promote fights under that brand.

The acquisition marks a new phase in the brothers' quest to dominate the burgeoning world of mixed martial arts since they bought the struggling UFC in 2001.

"This is really going to change the face of MMA," Lorenzo Fertitta said. "Literally creating a sport that could be as big around the world as soccer. I liken it somewhat to when the NFC and AFC came together to create the NFL."

The deal allows the Fertitta brothers to broker the biggest MMA fights possible in the near future, increasing their influence in this sports entertainment business.

"We will be able to literally put on the fights that everyone wants to see," Lorenzo Fertitta said. "It will allow us to put on some of the biggest fights ever."

In the past, there has been at least one case in which Pride and UFC couldn't hammer out a deal to put their top fighters in the ring together. With Pride in their pocket, the Fertitta brothers intend to ensure that never happens again.

The sale gives Pride more financial backing to expand the business internationally after suffering a recent financial blow.

Major sponsor Fuji Television Network Inc. dropped Pride in June after a tabloid linked Pride to the Japanese mob -- something Sakakibara has denied vigorously. To help bolster Pride, the company staged two PPV fights in Las Vegas. Neither was a financial success. The fights gained exposure for Pride but lost money, making the sale of Pride more likely.

"I think it certainly weakened their position," Lorenzo Fertitta said. "One of our goals is to get back on a major platform back here in Japan."

Lorenzo Fertitta said he'll be looking to expand Pride internationally.

Buying Pride is the latest in a series of acquisitions that the brothers have made in the last six months. Zuffa snapped up World Extreme Cagefighting and World Fighting Alliance last year.

Similar to Pride, buying WFA gave UFC the rights to a popular fighter named Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Jackson will face UFC's most popular fighter, Chuck Liddell, the current light heavyweight champ in Las Vegas, on May 26 on PPV.

In the combat world, the Pride deal leaves a fragmented group of upstarts and K-1, another Japanese company that promotes fighters skilled in various forms of kick boxing.

Thanks to a surge in popularity, the brothers' investment in UFC and MMA in general has begun to pay off.

Last year, UFC cracked $200 million in PPV revenue, putting it on par with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.

UFC stages fights in arenas across the country and airs a clutch of successful television shows on Spike TV. It has also opened an office in London, looking toward establishing itself internationally.

The brothers also run Station Casinos Inc. in Las Vegas. Lorenzo Fertitta is president and Frank Fertitta is chairman and chief executive of Station Casinos, a public company that was recently agreed to be purchased by a private equity investor group that includes key members of the Fertitta family.

Just read that on ESPN...Awesome News!!! :D

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