PRIDE GOES OUT FOR A RIDE
Of the 68 events promoted by the Pride Fighting Championships, all but two of them were held in Japan. The other two took place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, part of Dreamscape Entertainment’s attempt to spread the brand into international markets on the heels of its loss of a television contract in Japan.
PRIDE 32: The Real Deal was held on October 21, 2006 and drew a paid crowd of 8079 and a gate of $2,056,444. Eric “Butterbean” Esch was featured on the undercard, as was former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett. In the main event. Fedor Emelianenko defeated Mark Coleman by a submission in the second round. Pride came back to Las Vegas on February 24, 2007 in an event appropriately titled “The Second Coming.” In a thrilling main event, Dan Henderson knocked out Wanderlei Silva in the third round to win the organization’s middleweight championship.
That second U.S. Pride show drew 8334 paying customers, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, with a gate of $2.033,098, indicating that the brand had held its strength from one show to another.
Shortly thereafter, Pride’s assets were purchased by Zuffa LLC, owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
THE JOHN L. SULLIVAN OF PRIDE?
After weight divisions were established and tournaments gave way to individual matches (at least for the time being), the first heavyweight champion in the brief history of the Pride Fighting Championships was Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who won the title by defeating Heath Herring at PRIDE 17 in the “Championship Chaos” show in the Tokyo Dome.
Nogueira captured the title over Herring on a three-round unanimous decision. He held the title through one defense against Enson Inoue in February of 2002 (PRIDE 19), then lost the crown to Fedor Emelianenko on March 16, 2003 at PRIDE 25: Body Blow in Yokohama.
Nogueira did register two more victories over Herring, winning by submission in June of 2004 and a decision in July of 2007 at UFC 73: Stacked.