The word ‘brutal’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but if you showed someone some Pride FC highlights, that would be one of the first words that sprang to mind, after ‘STOP, HE’S DEAD ALREADY!!!’
Pride Fighting Championships was a Japanese mixed martial arts promotion that was at one time the most popular in the world. It got to this stage by putting on absolutely massive shows, pitting what can only be described as steroid induced super-human killers against each other (as well as really fat guys) and by being totally gonzo-awesome.
Pride events were huge, with their attendances and grandeur utterly dwarfing that of their rivals. Whereas the UFC has taken to opening events with a black and white montage of fight footage soundtracked with The Who's Baba O Reilly, Pride's intros were special - they had fireworks and shit.
One thing that made Pride so violent and set it apart from the UFC, were changes in the rules. Yeah, just some small changes like being allowed to stomp a dude's face whilst he's down. Practically anywhere else, that's literally attempted murder. Fighters were also, naturally, allowed to soccer kick the craniums of dazed opponents attempting to get to the fuck out of dodge - make no mistake, this shit was hardcore.
"Why the fuck didn't I take the admin job?!"
Another factor that added to the intensity was the fact that the fights took place in a boxing-style ring, rather than the UFC style cage. This allowed for some intense exchanges where fighters could get caught on the ropes or a corner and pummelled mercilessly with little hope of escape. Occasionally, like at the end of the second bout between Wanderlei Silva and Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, one combatant would be fucked up so badly, their unconscious body would just fall through the ropes, which looked intense.
"Dude, clinch defence!"
As you'd expect, the organisation was home to some absolutely scary dudes.
Much debate still rages on about Fedor's true standing in the sport: is he really the greatest of all time? One thing's for certain: he's most definitely an expressionless, joint manipulating, brain-discombobulating, ice-cream loving hyper-badass if ever there was one. And there quite clearly is. If you actually watch him fight, it's clear that Fedor doesn't feel pain and certainly doesn't give a flying fuck if he takes punishment that would literally kill the average person Another handy attribute is the Russian's ability to end fights - if there wasn't a ref in there, guys would've lost limbs, teeth and their souls.
Considering how brutal Pride was, you know if someone went from being nicknamed 'Mad Dog' to 'The Axe Murderer', they're going to at least be a whirlwind of fistic insanity. Wanderlei ruled Pride's middleweight division by scaring the crao out of opponents in the staredown, then stomped the shit out of them in the ensuing brawl.
Mirko Cro Cop
(to be expanded soon)
Midway through 2007, it was announced that the parent company of the UFC, Zuffa, had purchased Pride FC and all its assets for approximately $70 million. Zuffa initially announced they would keep Pride running alongside the UFC as a separate entity, but this never happened and Pride was shut down. As they'd acquired most of the Pride fighter's contracts, Zuffa simply bought many of them into the UFC in a move that had fanboys jizzing themselves in anticipation.
Some of the fighters excelled, some didn't, but it should be noted that many of them had already been through a career's worth of fighting already. Debate still rages on about who were the best fighters, who could've beaten who in their prime and which organisation was the best. One thing's for certain -Pride played an incalculable roll in the history and evolution of mixed martial arts. It was also totally awesome.