Tuesday, May 27, 2008

MMA and the PRIDE Legacy

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) have been on a boom lately. Being an MMA junkie myself I can’t help but ponder on the evolution of the sport. Whoever thought that this sport would be as “hot” as it is today? Because of the success of the sport, many organizations are being developed world wide to cater to MMA enthusiasts. From Russia to the United States, MMA leagues have been on a roll. Among the premiere MMA leagues or organizations include the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), M-1 Global, Elite XC, and Affliction MMA. The other MMA organization stripped from the list was PRIDE Fighting Championships (PRIDE or PRIDE FC).

Pride FC was considered as a world-class MMA organization that featured world class fighters from top martial arts schools like Chute Boxe Academy, Team Quest, and Takada Dojo. The development of PRIDE FC was considered a significant crossroad in the development of MMA. It was an MMA organization based in Japan. Its inaugural event was held at the October 1997 at the Tokyo Dome. PRIDE accomplishments include having a sold-out crowd of 70,000 people at a production called Shockwave/Dynamite as well filling up a seating capacity of 67,450 at Pride Final Conflict in 2003.

In addition to these accomplishments, PRIDE showcased world class fights between the Gracies and Kazushi Sakuraba. The Gracies are known for their influence on martial arts because of the proliferation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Gracie Jiu Jitsu. The Gracies and Sakuraba went on to stage one of the most heated rivalries in MMA history. Sakuraba went to on win four of the five fights with the Gracies. Because of this feat he was called by many as the “Gracie Hunter.”

March 2007 was a sad moment for the PRIDE organization and its fans because the organization was sold to Zuffa promotion. The company which owns the UFC. While remaining legally separate entities with separate management, the two promotions were supposed to cooperate in a united manner. However, this arrangement did not materialize which led to the termination of the Japanese staff. As a result, PRIDE FC's chapter in martial arts history abruptly ended. Gone were MMA fights where foot stomps were legal and brought the audience to the back of their seats in excitement. the Gracie—Sakuraba showdown, the spectacular fireworks and opening ceremonies. The cancelation of the PRIDE events changed MMA in a significant way.

However, on February 2008, it was announced that the remnants of the PRIDE organization collaborated with the Fighting and Entertainment Group, the owners of K-1 (kickboxing and mixed martial arts organization) to form another MMA organization that hopes to hit the MMA world with a bang. Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Jerome LeBanner are among the fighters that will highlight the said organization. A new MMA organization that intends to keep the PRIDE spirit has been formed to compete with other rival organizations.

There is a lot of talk about what martial art is the toughest and which masters of the art could beat all the rest, but never has that question been tested so thoroughly as in the field of MMA. This full combat, nearly no-holds-barred type of fighting pits one competitor against another and the results is here and it’s here to stay.

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