September 8, 2007
Henderson fights for Pride
Whatever the outcome of today's historic unification fight in England, one thing is certain: When the lights go out at London's O2 arena, there will be no Pride left.
Today's card, in essence, marks the end of the fabled Japanese fight league.
Its light-heavy-weight champ, Dan (Hollywood) Henderson, will put his belt on the line against the Ultimate Fighting Championship's top 205-pounder Quinton (Rampage) Jackson.
The victor of today's UFC 75: Champion vs. Champion, will be crowned the UFC light-heavyweight champ, dissolving the Japanese title.
Since it was purchased in March by Zuffa, the UFC's parent company, the future of Pride has been on the ropes.
There hasn't been an event since the sale. Steadily, Pride's top talent has signed on to the UFC -- with the obvious exception of heavyweight champ Fedor Emilianenko -- while the journeyman-fighters have gone on to find jobs with smaller promotions.
The slow and agonizing death of what many considered the premier mixed-martial-arts league in the world has been painful to watch but not scripted, UFC president Dana White said.
"They went out of business for a reason," White said. "It was very messed up."
White said a sullied reputation and no TV deal in Japan has rendered the once-proud fight league impotent.
"I don't know what we're going to do with it," White said. "It has been an absolute nightmare."
With the purchase, Zuffa inherited some top fighters and with Pride in limbo, White said the UFC was forced to step up and create work for them.
"These guys need fights, we're going to continue to give these guys fights until we can figure this thing out," he said.
But with the steady exodus of talent from Pride to the UFC -- Mirko (Cro-Cop) Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Wanderlei Silva and Mauricio (Shogun) Rua -- it is already too late to save anything but the brand.
White says that whether Pride lives or dies, the real winners are fight fans.
"At the end of the day, we're going to find out who is the best," he said.
"It's the first time where two guys from different organizations, different belts, have met for a title fight.
"If we get Fedor over here now, all the questions are going to be answered. Who's the best fighter in each weight division."
- Canadian John Alessio earned a unanimous decision in his World Extreme Cagefighting match against Marcelo Brito earlier in the week. The B.C. native earned $24,000 with the victory.
- UFC middleweight Terry Martin is suing the Chicago police, the mayor and the city, claiming he was falsely arrested and forced to endure disrespectful comments, including racial slurs, and was even criticized for being a professional fighter. Martin was charged in 2005 with fleeing and eluding when the officers alleged Martin returned to his car after being pulled over prompting a one-mile chase. Martin was eventually found not guilty of the charges.
- And last but not least, the most important fight note of all. UFC 75 is available on free TV. It will be broadcast on Spike TV at 10 p.m. EDT.