The Pride Fighting Championships were once the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in the world before the UFC took that title away in 2007.
Based out of Japan, Pride FC is the birthplace of modern MMA. Many of the top Pride fighters are still top-ranked today, despite the fact that the organization has been defunct for five years.
The organization began in 1997 when Xavier Cullars promoted a fight between popular pro wrestling star Nobuhiko Takada and Rickson Gracie. The event attracted 47,000 fans to the Tokyo Dome and launched the organization, and the sport of MMA, into the modern era.
Shortly after the organization began to promote monthly events and a deal with SKY Perfec TV got the action into homes in Japan.
Price Fighting Championships enjoyed continued growth over the next decade. In 2000 the organization held its first open-weight Grand Prix tournament to find the best fighter in the world.
That event was won by former UFC Heavyweight champion Mark Coleman. Two years later, after teaming up with kickboxing promoters K1, Pride held an event called Shockwave which attracted over 91,000 fans.
Pride FC continued to be the premiere MMA organization, and in 2006 a potential deal with the UFC was in the works but fell apart after Dana White announced publicly that “the Japanese were very hard to do business with.”
Not long after that the organization lost its television deal with the Fuji Network for breach of contract, and allegations of the company being controlled by organized crime surfaced in the Japanese media.
With no television deal the organization began to crumble and the UFC saw an opportunity to take out their biggest rival. In March 2007, it was announced that Pride FC was bought out by Zuffa for a sum of about $70 million.
Zuffa then promptly buried the Pride brand, never to be seen again. All talent contracts became property of the UFC, and most notable fighters from the organization have since fought in UFC events.
Pride FC produced some of the most popular fighters in the history of MMA, including Fedor Emelianenko, Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson, Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Filipovic, Mauricio Rua, Josh Barnett, Alistair Overeem, Jens Pulver, and Gilbert Melendez.
Check out the latest MMA odds featuring former PRIDE fighters here at Best UFC Odds.