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Celebrating the Two-Year Anniversary of the Death of PRIDE: Ten Reasons Why I Miss PRIDE

April 8 is the two year anniversary of the last Pride FC show, Pride 34. These things tend to make me nostalgic, especially when it comes to my favorite MMA promotion of all time. When I watch my library of old Pride DVDs, I am overcome with memorable moments, things that define the sport at the time for me. I tried to list ten of the more memorable characteristics that made Pride the spectacle we knew and loved. If I missed anything please leave your choices in the comments section below.

10. 40,000 screaming (at the proper time) Japanese fans – Japanese fans are some of the most knowledgeable and respectful fans in all of MMA. To watch 91,000 fans file into the Tokyo Dome for Pride Shockwave 2002 was both staggering and beautiful. It set the mood for a live event that the UFC has yet to reproduce.

9. “Screaming Pride Lady” Lenne Hardt – What can I say about Lenne? She moved from annoying to irreplaceable in one event for me. Lenne Hardt is an icon of Japanese MMA and helps contribute to the level of showmanship that sets Pride apart from all others.

8. Kazushi Sakuraba – The greatest Japanese MMA fighter of his generation, he was both an innovator and a ferocious competitor. Sakuraba fought the best of the best in his career, and never failed to put on a show. He may have been a victim of his own dominating and electric style, as with each win came a more impressive and larger opponent. Sakuraba was almost as well known for the punishment he took as for the wins he collected. Always a gentleman outside of the ring, his infectious personality made him even more of a fan favorite. To this day he is an icon of Japanese MMA and a true national treasure.

7. Any fight could happen at any time (Japanese match making) – Gotta love the Japanese. They can make any match up of fighters seem like a good idea. From Bob Sapp vs Big Nog to Butterbean vs Minowa, They can make the impossible possible, regardless of the fighters well being.

6. Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros – In their hay-day, the best announcing duo the sport had ever seen. From Quadros’s logical approach to Rutten’s school-boy enthusiasm, they explained the sport while giving you the feeling you were watching it in a living room full of your pals.

5. Fight Posters – Some of the most amazing event poster themes ever made. They were modern day artwork and still populate my desktop background from time to time.

4. Pride theme music – The sound of the fight music and the winning fighter music still give me goose bumps. Nothing drove the point home to me how much the music had become part of my consciousness more than when Mirko Crocop walked out to it at his first UFC fight.

3. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic – Many iconic fighters came out of Pride FC, but none had such a dramatic turn from top of the heap with his win in the 2006 open weight tournament to his disappointing performance in the UFC.  Crocop had build a legend of epic proportions and earned his reputation as the deadliest striker in MMA. No other fighter offered such a mixed bag of feelings of both dread and wonder at the same time.

2. Chute Boxe vs. Brazilian Top Team – It was the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry of our sport. Two complete camps of fighters who hated each other with a passion. Two camps who fought both within the ring and in the locker room. The feelings were not manufactured, they were real and palpable. Whenever there was even a chance that a fighter from each group may run into each other, it immediately heightened the suspense. The pinnacle of the feud for me had to be when Murilo “Ninja” Rua fought Mario Sperry at Pride 20. You felt like the whole stadium would ignite at any moment as these two fought a back and forth battle. We may never see a rivalry between camps of this magnitude ever again.

1. Tournaments – The greatest memories for me from Pride center around their tournaments. A format we cannot support here in the states due to the athletic commissions, they pitted the best of the best against each other and allowed the cream to rise to the top. From Royce Gracie vs. Sakuraba in the 2000 Grand Prix, to Wanderlei Silva vs. Rampage in the 2003 Middleweight tournament final, they produced memorable fight after memorable fight. Although not a perfect answer for who was best at the time, they provided the matchups that conventional matchmaking would almost never supply.

28 COMMENTS
  • Q says:

    I miss soccer kicks. You couldn’t just lie in guard and try to draw your opponent, because he would kick you. The more “striker” friendly rules are what made Pride so exciting.

    The only thing about Pride is that they were running out of matches for Fedor. Next match would’ve been Fedor vs. Godzilla. (Fedor sub Armbar round 1).

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  • freedom says:

    Ok, maybe I’m reading this wrong. You like ride yet you are celebrating the death of Pride?

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  • TheLevi75 says:

    there is some stuff on this list that I miss as well. But 3 of the things that you miss ,I say good to see gone.
    such as
    9.Lenne Hardt and the four introductions of fighters was just too much.
    7.Japanese match making, the Champions were protected too much.
    4.Pride Theme music, I didn’t really care for the generic theme music

    BTW real fights happen in a CAGE not a RING.

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  • freedom says:

    10) Japanese fans are more educated in MMA than American but the last event I attended the American fans were pretty good too.

    9) Screaming Lady = PUKE

    8) Saku was popular but just ok. Dinosaur

    7) Any fight, anytime = freak show

    6) Bas and Quadros = boring

    5) The best posters, no doubt about that.

    4) Pride theme music = see #9

    3) Cro Cop??? Really?

    2) Chute Boxe vs BTT = awesome

    1) Tournament = Winner!!

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  • BKViper says:

    1. Kicks to a grounded opponent
    2. Yellow card system
    Both helped to avoid stalls in action.
    3.) The Ring
    Cages are for animals, rings are for fights. Much better visibility for the crowds. And you can’t leave an opponent hung through the cage links, ala Wandy v. Page
    4.) Fighter entrances
    I guess this is subjective, but I always liked the full card introduction before the event, and then the individual walk outs before each fight. It just was more exciting to me than the way the UFC brings their fighters through the crowd.

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  • Grappo says:

    I like the audience to be loud and enthusiastic throughout the whole show, but I’ll take Japan’s respectful golf clappers over the incessantly-booing numbskulls in Chicago any day. You’re right, they have a much more knowledgeable fan base over there. Or maybe they’re just not drunk off their asses. The last UFC that was in Chicago, and the recent WEC had some of the worst crowds I’ve ever heard.

    Hated the trilling Pride announcer lady though. Still can’t stand her in DREAM.

    Also didn’t care for the Quadros / Rutten combo. Listening to Rutten cover DREAM now is almost torture. He was slightly more tolerable back then.

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  • allelbows says:

    i miss the awesome walk outs just as much too.

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  • Cathedron says:

    There’s so much I hated about Pride’s shady, pro-wrestling approach to MMA, but I gotta admit that seeing tens of thousands of people who all seemed to know what was going on was pretty damn awesome. I get so annoyed with American fans sometimes. And yeah, Chicago is especially bad when it comes to that. Not the whole midwest, mind you. We aren’t all like that. It’s really just Chicago. They embarrass us all (when it comes to sports, at least).

    Lenne never mattered to me one way or the other. I just couldn’t stand how much time they wasted on formalities and pagentry before fights. At least on the DVDs, you could skip them. Imagine trying something like that with a Chicago audience. They’d friggin riot.

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  • Brandon says:

    I miss Pride so much!

    I think what I miss the most was the presentation of the full event. From the great intro, to the fighter entrances and to the larger then life characters that filled the show.

    I also liked how they would mix matches that featured top fighters to fights that didn’t mean anything to rankings but would instead be action packed and great for the fans.

    Knees to the head were also very nice.

    Oh well RIP Pride…

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  • Austin says:

    We’re not going to mention the rampant steroid use? That’s how Chute box became so dominant… DISCUSS!
    Japanese don’t care about roids.

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  • freedom says:

    Brandon: Knees to head allowed under unified rules too.

    For me all the paegentry was BS. Hated all the entrances, characters, intros… Fights were good but again they never tested for steroids.

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  • freedom says:

    Grappo: Totally agree on the commentating team Bas and Quadros sucked. I cant stand Bas commentating in DREAM either. And I dont know what I can say about Mauro Renallo that would fully describe how I feel abt him. I hate his fake radio voice.

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  • hindsightufuk says:

    no the Japanese didnt care about steroids, and the match ups were freakish, but fuck me it was entertaining. and tho you had to sit thru some truly tedious inactive fights, and some none to subtle ‘works’, you did get to see some of the greatest fights & fighters in mma history.

    Agree strongly with the Pride marketing/posters – i was lucky enough to collect a bunch back then and they still look fucking awesome
    Shockwave 2002 is still to me the greatest mma event yet, it was crazy!
    Bas & the prof i gotta agree on too, still my favourite combination

    couple of other things i miss

    the awesome dvd releases – the little bas rutten movies at the beging of the early prides, the great interviews
    Rampage – his guest commentarys were hilarious, as were his interviews (especially the fuck wanderlei one) & the stare downs (swatting the refs hand away as he pats his box). i remember him commentating on the fedor fujita fight and they kept watching the fujita punch that almost floored fedor over and over cos they found it so funny. just letting him loose to say what he wanted was genius marketing.
    all the guest commentators – renzo, sperry, baroni, dana – wicked
    knees and stomps – watching curran benavidez at WEC 40 just BEGGING benavidez to jump over currans guard and smash a foot through his face.
    the word liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiivvvvvvvverrrrrrrrrr
    the ring – who said real fights happen in the cage?? the cage is one of the reasons mma still isnt regarded as a proper sport, cos some dumb fucks think it looks better in a novelty cage. fuck that, legalise it everywhere and ban the cage. lets make it MMA, not cage fighting, leave that to the fat bearded fucks who wanna bang it out for 90 seconds. let the proper athletes fight in a proper arena

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  • Grappo says:

    The ring is completely impractical. The action having to repeatedly be stopped so the fighters can get re-situated away from the ropes, the constant fumbling by the staff to push and shake the guys off the ropes… other than the ref and cornermen, there should be no one else touching the fighters during a fight. It’s just distracting and unnecessary. The ring is conducive to stand-up sports like boxing and kickboxing, but MMA, not so much. The cage is the proper arena for these athletes.

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  • leo005 says:

    loved the yellow card! no better way to get action into a boring fight or stop fighters from stalling than to have 10% of your purse taken away.

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  • mu_shin says:

    Absolutely agree with Grappo’s comments on the cage versus the ring. Tactics developed in the octagon using the fence to trap an opponent have become integral to modern MMA. The fence can help an escaping fighter stand, or keep the fight going as opposed to constant stoppages when the fighters slip beneath the ropes.

    Aside from the technical aspects inherent in the action within the cage, I think the octagon adds to the aesthetic atmosphere of the contest, distinguishing MMA from boxing and scripted pro wrestling. While Affliction still uses the ring, and has hosted some good matches, I think the octagon has become synonymous with MMA in most fan’s minds

    The element of Pride fights that I think I miss the most is the ten minute first round. It created some difficulty in terms of fair and accurate judging, but I always felt the challenge to a fighter’s conditioning and the extended opportunity to take the fight out of the judges’ hands created some of the most memorable Pride contests.

    I also concur with the earlier comments about the kicking techniques that have been excluded from the MMA repertoire since the Pride days. The one situation that has caused a couple of controversial moments in recent fights is the inadvertent knee from a standing fighter to an opponent on his knees, which should definitely be a legal shot. Jamie Varner versus Donald Cerrone comes to mind. I was also a fan of the soccer kick, but realize that may be a bit extreme, especially when you have 265 pound heavyweights coming into the ring at 275 plus on fight night trying to stomp one another’s brains out.

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  • frozendave says:

    i love this aritcal. If you had ever been to a pride show you would understand. The antmosphere was amazing. The ufc its kinda the same. But the fans were differant. I will always love pride.
    I wish they would have sold to someone else thats all.

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  • Angry Mike says:

    I HATE the ring due to the increased stand-ups and re-starts. The cage significantly reduces them. The cage has its drawbacks, but imo it forces the fighters to keep fighting once they’re down. No cheap time outs because a fighter manages to wriggle over and into the ropes.

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  • JoeyKK says:

    Pride fights were better than UFC fights…FACT

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  • Davey D says:

    For me, Final Conflict 2004 was one of the best MMA events I have ever seen. The Sergei Kharitonov/Minotauro Nogueira fight was absolutely outstanding. Fedor destroyed Ogawa in less than one minute after the roof was blown off by Ogawa’s entrance. Cro-Cop knocked out Aleks and Wanderlei lost his first fight in Pride to Mark Hunt which, IMO, Wand should’ve gotten the win. The only bad part was the last match which was Nog vs. Fedor 2. Emelianenko suffered a cut on his forehead and was deemed unable to continue. You could hear Mark Coleman screaming, “Use fu#kin’ super-glue, use fu%kin’ super-glue!!!”

    The thing about Pride FC is that it made me realize just how huge MMA is. Anytime, 80,000 or even 40,000 fans pack a stadium. You know your watching something special. I would look at the UFC back then and think gosh, imagine what it would be like if they got this big? They could rule the world (in MMA, of course). Look at it now.

    The crowd was quite because everyone was watching and not doing unnessasary booing (Chicago) or just plain ol’ heckling. I hate that stuff. The Japanese fans really appreciated what they were watching. I wish I could’ve attended an event in (the City of) Japan. : )

    Bas Rutten, Quadros, Mauro, Rampage – anything combination of those guy’s were just fantastic. Your had the comedy, the telling of stories behind the sences, or even the regular commentary. How many times did we get, Oh My GOD!!! Kevin Randleman’s suplex of Fedor – Man! – that whole moment was amazing.

    Fedor, the Nogueira brother’s, Quinton, Wanderlei, Cro Cop, Shogun, Gomi, Aleks, Sakuraba, Hellboy, Anderson, Chonan, Hendo, the list really does go on. I found out all about these fighter’s through Pride FC. The grand entrance’s that kicked off every Event were truly a sight to see. How about seeing Christ the Redeemer blown up high above the crowd at Samita Super Arena as Lenne Hardt screamed, “From Braaazzilllaa – Anttooniioo Rodrigooo Minotaurooo Nogueiraaaaaa!!!! Sadly, we may never see anything like it again. Oh and the poster’s were the awesome too.

    At the end of the day, if you watched Pride FC when it was in business there is no way you didn’t like one aspect of it. Be it just for the fight’s, the fighter’s, Bas Rutten’s many, many laughable moment’s, the show as whole, whatever. It made me an even bigger fan of MMA than I already was.

    Before I forget, for those who don’t know. Brazilian Top Team vs. Chute Boxe was truly like Michigan vs. Ohio State, Yankees vs. Red Sox. It was a BIG deal whenever their fighter’s crossed paths. Pick up a copy of A Fighters Heart by Sam Sheridan. He describes their rivalry perfectly and also follows Big Nog’ before (and after) his thrid bout with Fedor, you’ve got to read it.

    Cheers!!!

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  • Davey D says:

    Double Post here, but for the record. I like to see MMA contested inside a Cage better than inside of a Ring. The game is just played out a whole lot better in all area’s inside of a Cage. The whole restarting of position’s, getting limb’s caught in the ropes, fighter’s falling outside the ring is just something that doesn’t need to be. It just comes with the territory.

    I’ll watch it either way but if I had to choose – the Octagon get’s my vote. I wonder what the fighter’s who have competed in both have to say?

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  • platypus says:

    Thanks, I recently downloaded a huge 101 gigs torrent of pride and started watching all the events in order.

    I didnt care if the fighters use some kind of enhancer.
    I didnt care if the matchups were not remotely fair.
    I didnt care for all the show and the flair of some fighters’ entrances.

    In the end, I cared about the most entertaining fights, and pride had some of the most truly entertaining fights.

    Pride also had fedor.

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  • s00nertp says:

    I too miss Pride. It is easy for UFC fanboys to look back and critisize, but Pride is
    where MMA was started and designed for this generation. While the UFC was figuring itself out, Pride created incredible shows that I’d wait weeks to see on DVDs. I’d curse the Japanese horrible marketing ability… they never catered to the US and it was almost impossible to get anything recent on DVD.

    I loved the soccer kicks, the yellow cards, the standing up fighters if there is no action, the tiered tournament style events, and the silly crazy unpredictable fights.

    I appreciate UFC for what it does now for the sport, but I also miss the beauty of a Pride show.

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  • jasonah says:

    I started out watching the U.F.C . And started checking out the web, and heard about Pride FC.And started watching clips on youtube.And I was like holy@#$% this guy,Wanderlie Silva Would Murder Chuck Liddell. This was when he was kicking the shit out of Everybody.It was Wanderlie against the Japanese and Every body else. Fedor was kicking Everyones ass.The elimination tournements.The fighters .The shows.I considerd the U.F.C to be a B level orginization.When Dana took Chuck to Japan to fight In the G.P. I honestly think that if he would have been able to get through Rampage,He would have lost to Wanderlie.I’ve been around long enough to know that The Wanderlie we see today is not the guy we used to see in Pride. The most feared M.M.A fighter in the world.Something Changed in him after he got K.Oed With that head kick from Cro Cop. Enough about that. Iwould like to see the U.F.C put on a show like the Japanese did when they put on pride.For crying out loud they own the whole thing.If they made U.F.C .100 staged under a pride format This would go down as off the hook. Advertise on cable T.V Pepole would buy this shit and not care about the fight’s.But we can DREAM right………..

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  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    If Pride and the UFC were in a MMA fight who would win?. It always amazes me how often the thread turns into a slanging match between the two orgs as soon as the word PRIDE is mentioned. People say but look at how poorly Crocop and Pride fighters did etc and the UFC’s fighters were better etc. Nogueira Rampage and Anderson were all pride fighters and were all UFC champs. No LW fighters came from pride really, otherwise I would say that BJ would have some more stiff comp. As for ring vs cage…how about half ring half cage lol. I just wonder would people like Randy, Tito and other wrestlers that rely on the cage be anything more than average fighters out of the cage?…and so is the cage really showing us who is the better fighter or just the person who can use the cage to stop his opponent from fighting back by making it easier to take opponents down and pin them?. For me the best thing would be a massive space that had no barrier, just man vs man with no assistance from any outside source like a cage, so I think that the ring is closer to that idea. Also somebody said fighters would try to make there way to the ropes to get a restart? when and how often cuz I have seen all of Prides fights and that was not often an issue if ever, because they would start in the middle of the ring in the same position. Also I think the rules in pride were more man vs man with knees on the ground etc it was more difficult to abuse rules to protect yourself..

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  • VENOM says:

    I died a little inside the day that Pride folded! NOTHING the UFC does will ever bring back that euphoric excitement I felt before a Pride event. So Sad! :-(

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  • TheLevi75 says:

    to all the replies that cofuse my statement of CAGE over Ring.
    I meant all CAGE fights not just the ones in the Octagon.Strikeforce uses a Cage,as well as KOTC & CageRage and a few other small Orgs like MFC here in Canada.
    real MMA bouts take place in CAGE not a Ring.

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  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    IFC, Dream, Pride, K1Heroes, M1global, Affliction, Pancrase, Sengoku (or whatever), Rings, Shooto, use or used rings, so I think rings win for now. Real MMA fights that have stomps and knees on the ground happen in rings Levi. Don’t be so North American.

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