Fans of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) often hear stories about how good events were in the early 2000s. But none more so than the glory days of Pride Fighting Championships (Pride FC).
Pride FC is still seen as one of the greatest MMA products to ever be released — even more so than the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
But what type of fighting did it entail? How did it differ from the UFC? And if Pride FC has such a rich history, why did it go out of business so suddenly?
What Was Pride FC?
The PRIDE Fighting Championships – also known as Pride FC – was a professional event that specialized in Japanese Mixed Martial Arts. It was promoted by the Japanese company Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE).
It consisted of over 60 separate mixed martial arts events that were all broadcast to over 40 countries around the world.
One of the most unique features of the championships is that they occurred in a completely silent arena. The Japanese culture meant that the audience in attendance would remain silent – even if they witnessed something they enjoyed – instead of hooting, applauding, or shouting.
This is a completely different attitude to Western crowds found at modern-day UFC matches who are encouraged to make as much noise as possible to express their support.
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The Inaugural Event
Pride FC’s opening event was held on October 11, 1997, in the Tokyo Dome. From the second that Pride FC first started it proved to be a powerful force within the combat sporting world. The inaugural event promoted a fight between Japanese pro wrestler Nobuhiko Takada and BJJ black belt Rickson Gracie.
Was Pride FC Fighting Fake?
No, it wasn’t. In fact, Pride FC was a real MMA promotion that was entirely real. It was far more brutal than the UFC as it included illegal moves like stomps to the face, knees to the grounded opponent, and soccer kicks.
It was also home to some of the most skilled and well-known MMA fighters out there; some of which who would later join the UFC and go on to become champions.
Weight Classes Of The Pride FC
The Pride FC didn’t divide fighters based on weight divisions, as you typically see or expect in the UFC these days. Instead, any fighter could be booked to fight an opponent of any type of weight. This is what made Pride FC so unique (and equally as dangerous at times!)
- Lightweight – weight limit of around 73 kg (161 lbs)
- Welterweight – a limit of 83 kg (183 lb)
- Middleweight – weight limit of 93 kg (205 lbs)
- Heavyweight – unlimited weight limit
- Openweight – no weight limit at all
Why Did Pride FC Go Out Of Business?
Pride FC was predominantly unknown within western media, except for dedicated fight fans. The championship still maintains the record for the largest attendance at any type of mixed martial arts (MMA) event, with an impressive number of 71,000. This beats the UFC’s record by almost 20,000 people!
Despite its popularity among hardcore fans, Pride FC went from the top of the world to the very bottom within a very short period. While the exact cause of the fall is unknown, it began with the loss of a TV deal in 2006 with Fuji TV which had a detrimental impact on their revenue.
As a result, Pride FC went out of business in less than a year.
What Happened Next?
The UFC then bought pride in March 2007 and became the proud owner of the two largest fighting organizations in the world. With this, they had the potential to create a super-organization that would break records.
It seemed like a great business opportunity for the organizations and the fans, but there was one key issue that stopped things in their tracks: a breach of contract by DSE. This, combined with the revelation of Pride’s ties with the Yazuka (Japanese mob) led to the dissolving of the company.
Was Pride FC Better Than UFC?
Aside from promoting the same sport, Pride FC and the UFC never shared much in common.
But even today, many fans believe Pride FC to be much better than the UFC. While UFC became a better business investment in the long run, Pride FC took the lead in the early 200s as the most coveted MMA promotion. Those who were deemed as Pride champions were seen as some of the best in the world.
Two of the biggest reasons that Pride FC was seen to be better than the UFC were its use of crazy fights and the fact that fighters did not have to worry about whether or not they would be fired for performing badly. Additionally, it was also very entertaining.
Pride FC is ingrained in the world of MMA, even a decade after dissolving. The championships were entirely real and featured authentic fights that were brutal at the best of times. Nonetheless, Pride FC managed to captivate audiences worldwide. Its legacy remains even to this day.