Pride fights to conquer the U.S.

, Last Updated: 6:28 PM ET

Had we been in the same room, I might have chosen my words differently.

But, hey, Frank 'Twinkle Toes' Trigg is on the other end of the phone nearly 2,000 miles away and when you're a writer not a fighter, bravery tends to grow with distance.

"Are you going to change your name to Twinkle Tonsils?" I ask the veteran mixed-martial artist who has become the voice of the Pride Fighting Championship.

After an uneasy pause, the wired-for-sound colour commentator shouts back: "No, I don't think I'll be doing that any time soon."

Trigg's new bosses at Pride -- the Ultimate Fighting Championship's biggest international rival -- are taking the fight for mixed martial arts supremacy to the UFC's own backyard.

Pride Fighting Championship's The Real Deal goes tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

And once North American fans get their first taste of a full Pride event -- complete with pyrotechnics and between-bout entertainment -- they will see why this organization has taken Japan by storm, says Trigg.

Bad blood between the two fight clubs has existed for years with each trying to woo the other's top fighters. But there seemed to be a peace deal struck when it was announced this summer that UFC light-heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell would square off with top Pride fighter Wanderlei Silva.

Silva was even ringside and entered the Octagon when UFC president Dana White announced the fight.

But that deal soon came apart with each side blaming the other for the kerfuffle.

Trigg maintains it was never Pride's decision to call the fight off.

"It's entirely up to (UFC president) Dana White to make that fight work," says Trigg, adding that maybe the UFC is not confident enough in its fighters to make the crossover scrap happen.

There are subtle differences in the rules between the two fight clubs, but the most obvious one for fans is that instead of fighting in a caged Octagon, opponents in Pride square off in a boxing ring.

"That makes a big difference because there isn't a bad seat in the house," says Trigg.

"You don't have to peer through a cage to see the action."

For its North American debut, Pride has called on some of its biggest names to take to the ring.

Russian powerhouse Fedor Emelianenko -- who is at 13-0 is unbeaten in the Pride ring and holds the heavyweight belt -- will take on American wrestler Mark Coleman.

Brazilian Muay Thai expert Mauricio Rua will take on American Kevin Randleman.

There are also many former UFC scrappers on the card including Phil Baroni, Vitor Belfort, Josh Barnett and Robbie Lawler. There is even some comic relief with Eric 'Butterbean' Esch taking on Mark Hunt.

Trigg says the Real Deal is notice to North American MMA fans that Pride is here to stay.

"There will definitely be more shows," he assures

jose.rodriguez@calgarysun.com

FIGHT NOTES:

* King of the Cage Canadian light-heavyweight champ Travis 'The Gladiator' Galbraith will be on tonight's PRIDE FC undercard. Galbraith will take on Kazuhiro Nakamura.

* Anderson 'Spider' Silva won over a lot of critics last week in taking the belt away from UFC middleweight Rich Franklin. Silva put on a Muay Thai clinic disposing of fan-favourite Franklin in the first round. For his loss, Franklin earned a mere US$21,000. Silva collected $50,000.


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