Whatever the outcome of the 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-heavyweight champ, Dan ‘Hollywood’ Henderson, will put his belt on the line against the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s top 205-punder Quinton ‘Rampage’Jackson.
The victor of tomorrow'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 says UFC president Dana White.
"They went out of business for a reason. It was very messed up," he says.
White says 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. It’s been an absolute nightmare," he says.
With the purchase, Zuffa inherited some top fighters and with Pride in limbo, White says 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 says.
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 says.
"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."
Sounds a lot like, Sayonara Pride.
For the latest in mixed-martial-arts news log on to The Scrapyard blog at canoe.ca.