The “Global Phenomenon” that is the UFC has swallowed up all
the competition. The PPV numbers soared at the end of the last decade, all
their competition has been monopolized err…”folded in”, the best fighters on
the planet are all in one place. There’s one game in town, and that’s ok (NFL).
But before that one game, we had a game that was a complete and viable
alternative (AFL/ABA). There’s debate whether or not Pride FC’s backers were
gangster Yakuza, there’s little debate on PED’s (because everyone but Fedor
Emelianenko looked like HHH circa 2002). All that ancillary stuff means nothing
to me. Being a Pride fan-boy gave me the alternative to Tim Sylvia being
considered an actual fighter, and it gave me more than two marquee matchups a
year. Here are the pros and cons of Pride vs. UFC in the 2001-2006, the major
reason why I became of true fan of mixed martial arts and a practitioner of the
arts.


Tim Sylvia as HW Champ vs. Fedor “No Last Emperor Crap Nickname Yet” Emelianenko as HW Champ

Ok, Tim Sylvia. 6 foot 20, flat-footed, enough knee braces
and ankle sleeves to hang out with Allen Iverson. The guy walks like Bill
Walton, he wore his belt to ringside when he wasn’t fighting (total faux-pas),
he was lucky no one named Fedor, a pre KO’d Mirko Cro-cop and Antonio
“Minotauro” Noguiera were nearby and/or competing in Japan. He was an absolute
joke. You can only watch him and Andrei Arlovski suck at beating each other so
many times.


Tito Ortiz was your mega-heel

Every organization whether it be the NBA, NFL, UFC, WWE or
the Lower Oakland Roller Derby needs a bad guy. Tito had a long reign as
champion. Beating guys named Elvis Sinosic and somehow Wanderlei Silva (He laid
on top of him for 5 rounds, Tito’s championship modus opperondi). It’s ok for a guy to duck the up and comer named Chuck Liddell for so long, but he did it until it wasn’t cool anymore. When the
bad guy ducks the good guy, the good guy should have the payoff by obliterating
the bad guy in a hackneyed comeback fashion to finally conquer all evil and
take what is rightfully his. Ask Vince McMahon how this works (he rarely books that
smart anymore). Every bit of luster was rubbed off of the sport’s most prized
possession when Chuck and Tito finally fought. That never happened in Pride FC.
Yeah, the champ would have the occasional freak fight against Bob Sapp or
Zuluzhino, but then he would be thrust into a championship tournament and have
no choice but to fend for his livelihood and title, because whoever won that
tournament, was getting a shot at your belt. And it was fresh all the time.
Matchups were no issue. No shortage of pure entertainment. You didn’t get to
pick and choose opponents in Pride FC. UFC lacked that in 2001-2006. And they
still could use a tournament. A real one, not like that flyweight tourney where
they get decisions wrong and we all forget it was a tournament bout by the end
of this sentence.


The Greco-Clinch on the cage wall vs. Ropes and Japanese guys pulling ropes off of guys heads (Plus, The Yellow Card Rule)

How many times, even to this day (see UFC 149) do we see
guys clinching on the cage wall ad nauseam, trying to secure a takedown and
lazily win the fight from ground n’ pound or top position? It still happens! With
the ropes, there was none of that. You didn’t have the cage to lean on. You
bounced off of the white ropes and hit the canvas or peeled off and kept the
fight standing. Another bonus of this was, the referee wouldn’t put up with it
in Pride, and he wanted action. If you stalled, you received a yellow card.
That’s a restart to standing position and a 10% reduction in pay and you lost
your dominant position. If you got enough of these yellow cards, you were
disqualified. Fights are meant to be exciting. If you ask Dana White today, if
Jon Jones lost 5 straight fights in an exciting fashion, would you release him?
He would say “HELL NO, F*CK YOU JOHN V.!” 10 out of 10 times. Dana wants
excitement, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses sometimes. The yellow card
would be great in the UFC, so would ropes.


Tradition(White Canvas, All Attires Allowed, Opening Ceremony) vs. Gordon Biersch and Mickey’s Logos and Cheesy Nu-Metal Buttrock

Pride had a distinct cultural appeal. It was traditional
Japanese arts. The way of the warrior, the way of the samurai, and the Pride at
which they fought. It wasn’t set around titles, it was about the will, the
heart, the want of a champion. How bad did someone want to be the king? The
opening ceremony was a showcase of each warrior, and drums were beaten, dragons
were dancing, and shrieking Lenne Hardt was doing what she did introducing each
of tonight’s combatants. UFC had Nu-Metal walkout songs and dudes with awful
tattoos. That would bread a whole society of duded up guttersnipes with graphic
tees and regretful tribal artwork, lackadaisically needled into their bi’s and
tri’s. It’s not so bad now, the UFC walkout is somewhat of a throwback to my golden era of boxing, 1989-1997. The white canvas signified something as well. In traditional martial arts, each art trained and competed on a certain color of canvas. The white canvas invited all of the arts, as it was a neutral color
in the traditional sense. I thought that was so cool! I always wanted white
mats wherever I trained but I have yet to be so lucky. They always seem to be
blue, all the dojos and gyms I’ve been to and even in my garage…blue mats,
wooomp-wooomp. But that attention to detail is so important to me, recognizing
history and how we all came to learn each respective art. They are all welcome
here on this white canvas. Wearing gi’s and all kinds of tape were cool too.
Gotta love that! Dos Caras Jr., who most of us know now as the WWE’s Mexican
Aristocrat, Alberto Del Rio wore his Lucha Libre mask into a fight with Mirko
Cro-Cop. Needless to say, you could see his blood pour from his “Cara”. We
haven’t seen a gi in the UFC since probably Royce Gracie, back when they had no
rules. Speaking of no rules…


Kicks, Knees and Stomps to a downed opponent vs. Elbows     

With some opinions in this article, you will have the
naysayers on each subject. This may be one of those where you disagree. I AM A  
PROPONENT OF STOMPS, KNEES, SOCCER KICKS TO A DOWNED OPPONENT! Well, what’s 
wrong with elbows? Back in the day, it was a big problem. Cuts use to stop 
fights, now they let these guys go. You put in an 8-12 week camp, who wants to 
stop a fight because of a little blood? Well, no one now. Not always the case 
in the middle of our previous decade. But kicking an opponent while he’s down 
is a Great American Pastime, even more so than baseball and apple cake! Might 
not be so safe in a cage, there’s no give to the cage wall…ask Frank Mir how 
Wes Sims’ foot taste. But in Pride, you had not only Yuji Shimada pulling the 
ropes off your head so you could naturally move, but also you had a whole team 
of very small Japanese men doing the same from the outside. Maybe because 
Rampage Jackson is so big, but those guys look tiny compared to most 
competitors. Either way, I miss Shogun Rua stomping someone’s face off. Give me 
stomps and a ring over a cage any day of the week. I like to train in both, 
just because of the differences in each fighting environment, but there’s 
something about stepping in a ring that puts me back to the good old days. I no 
longer train at Bushi-Ban Martial Arts, but they had a ring right next to the 
cage. You always found me in the ring. It felt like home.

Just like Pride Fighting Championships, it is my home. I  
won’t even go over how many Pride shows I own on DVD in the original packaging  
all legally purchased and not one second downloaded. I have Pride in Pride, I 
miss my Pride Sundays, and to a lesser extent Dream Stage Entertainment. They 
were the parent company who staged Pride FC before selling to the Fertitta 
Brothers owned Zuffa. They attempted to recapture the days of old with some 
Pride holdovers and newcomers not yet heard of on the main stage of the UFC  
with the Dream organization. That was also fun while it lasted but never truly 
brought the credibility that Pride FC had. Japanese MMA is buried in a pit of 
melancholy and less and less of the Japanese fighters want to make the trek 
over to our side of the world. This isn’t a “Goodbye” Japanese MMA, it’s a “See
Ya Later.”

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