Pride FC was one of the greatest MMA organizations of all time. In fact, many people consider the days of Pride FC to be the Golden Age of MMA. Some of the best fights of all time took place in Pride, and that's because many of the greatest competitors fought there. Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson became megastars in Pride.
The top fighters in Pride FC did not shy away from taking on other high ranked competitors. Many of the fighters in the UFC pick and choose who they would like to fight next. How long has the public been clamoring for Conor McGregor to take on Frankie Edgar? Instead, McGregor is allowed to hold the featherweight title hostage and fight who he wants.
Have the MMA fans forgotten about the days of the open-weight fights in Pride FC? Wanderlei Silva was at a 70 pound weight disadvantage when he fought against Mark Hunt on short notice.
Dana White makes a big deal about his golden goose fighting a "bigger" fighter, and he acts like its never been done before. Many Pride FC fighters fought larger fighters, but it wasn't really a big deal. Without even getting into this list, the fact that Dana White is in control of the UFC is one of the main reasons that Pride FC was better!
In 2007, Zuffa purchased Pride FC, and they thought that they had killed Pride. However, someone forgot to tell Dana White and the Fertitta brothers that Pride FC will never die! True MMA fans remember the glory days of Pride FC.
Pride FC might be out of business, but that doesn't mean that the UFC is better. With that being said, here are the reasons Pride FC was better than the UFC.
13 The Fights
I figured I'd start off this list with a bang. It only seems right, doesn't it? I mean, some of the greatest MMA fights of all time took place in Pride FC.
While the UFC has put on some amazing shows in recent years, some of the PPV cards have been loaded with boring fights. Also, the best fighters aren't always paired against the other top fighters in the UFC. In Pride FC, the best fighters in each division fought against each other all of the time.
As the Pride FC Middleweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva fought against Kazushi Sakuraba, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Dan Henderson, Ricardo Arona, Mark Hunt, Mirko Cro Cop, and Guy Mezgar. If that's not murderers' row, I don't know what is. Fedor Emelianenko, who was also the undefeated Pride FC Heavyweight Champion, took on all comers as well.
Fedor versus Mirko Cro Crop was another legendary battle and Fedor's bouts against Minotauro Nogueira were also unforgettable. Other great Pride FC Fights include: Shogun Rua vs. Rogerio Nogueira, Rampage Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona, Nick Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi, and Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie.
12 The Vignettes
Some of the most entertaining fighters of all time became famous in Pride FC. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson showcased his hilarious personality on several occasions while in Pride.
One of the most memorable Pride FC vignettes starred Quinton Jackson and Bas Rutten. Bas was interviewing Quinton prior to one of his fights. Jackson was eating some fried chicken, and Bas decided to steal a piece for himself. Jackson gave him a dirty look, but Bas enjoyed the chicken without a care in the world.
Bas Rutten was also involved in another funny vignette, but this time it was with Wanderlei Silva. Rutten was showing Stephen Quadros the official Pride FC gloves, and he was going on and on about how a fighter never gives up his gloves. Well, "The Axe Murderer" showed up and demanded the Pride FC gloves. Without any hesitation at all, Bas Rutten took off the gloves and handed them over to Wanderlei.
Watching a Pride FC event was entertaining from start to finish. The UFC rarely utilizes their fighters in skits or anything fun at all. Dana White wants his fighters to compete and then leave.
11 The Entrances
Pride FC was known for putting on an incredible show. Every fighter on the roster had an awesome entrance. The UFC doesn't do much for their fighters when it comes to an entrance. Of course, Conor McGregor is different, as he has had Sinead O'Connor sing for him during his entrance. But, aside from McGregor, UFC fighters have bland and boring entrances.
Pride FC treated their top fighters special. Huge light shows and fireworks were a regular occurrence for fighters like Sakuraba, Fedor Emelianenko, and Rampage Jackson.
Probably the most memorable entrance in the history of Pride FC took place back in 2003. It was the finals for the Middleweight Grand Prix, and it was time for Wanderlei Silva's entrance. "The Axe Murderer" appeared from beneath the stage in front of 67,000 fans. His iconic techno music was blasting, as he made his way to the ring to face Quinton "Rampage" Jackson for the tournament championship.
10 The Announcers
While we all love Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, the Pride FC announcers were awesome as well. Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros were the original Pride FC commentators, and they did a hell of a job. Bas was always entertaining on the mic, and Stephen Quadros was great at keeping the conversation rolling along.
Bas Rutten is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He provided an incredible insight to each fight he was calling. Bas would often come up with crazy and quirky one-liners.
Mauro Ranallo would replace Stephen Quadros in 2003. Mauro and Bas were also hilarious together, and they developed a deep bond that has lasted the test of time. Bas Rutten and Mauro Ranallo recently came out with a new podcast titled, "Rutten & Ranallo." They have already become one of the most popular podcasts in the sports category.
9 The Japanese Audience
Pride FC was a Japanese MMA production. The organization's audience was much different than the one that we are used to today. In Pride FC, the crowd was dead quiet. Several Pride FC fighters have commented on how relaxed the Japanese crowd made them feel.
The Japanese crowd was very intelligent, and they knew when to cheer. Simple things such as ground transitions were applauded by the audience. Pride FC fighters were rarely booed. Competitors were always applauded and cheered as long as they showed heart.
The Japanese audience showed loyalty and respect to the brave fighters who stepped inside of the Pride FC ring. MMA was a special and sacred thing for the Japanese fans.
8 The Rules
Pride FC had a number of differences when it came to the rules. In Pride, elbows were completely illegal. The Pride FC officials felt that elbows served no purpose other than to cut open an opponent's face. The UFC allows elbows, and they definitely make fights bloodier. However, causing a bad gash on an opponent's face will usually lead to a stoppage. Elbows aren't usually knockout blows, and they seem to cause more cuts than anything else.
Fighters who stalled in Pride FC were given yellow cards, which resulted in the deduction of 10% of a fighter's pay. The penalty cards encouraged Pride FC competitors to fight harder.
Pride FC fighters were also allowed to spike or piledrive their opponents. Of course, piledriving an opponent is extremely dangerous, but it rarely ever happened anyway.
The UFC does not allow piledrivers. Of course, head stomps and soccer kicks are also illegal in the UFC, but Pride FC allowed them (more on that later).
7 The Low Key Drug Testing
According to most MMA experts, Pride FC did not have the strictest drug testing policy. With that being said, at least the Pride FC fighters were on an even playing field. In the UFC, some fighters are juicing and others are not.
Pride FC's discretion on steroids allowed fighters to have superhuman levels of energy and power. Just take a look at Wanderlei Silva's physique in 2006 compared to today. He was a monster, and he was also one of the best fighters in the world. Of course, steroids alone did not make Wanderlei the legend that he is, but they did play a part in his success. But again, everyone in Pride FC was allowed to take steroids without getting in trouble.
According to Enson Inoue, the officials at Pride FC actually encouraged their fighters to take steroids. Enson also revealed other Pride FC secrets when he was a guest on the Joe Rogan Podcast.
6 The Judging System
How many times have we seen a terrible decision in the UFC? It happens a lot, and it's truly unfortunate. The problem is that the UFC's judging system is based off of the same way that boxing matches are judged.
Unlike the UFC, the Pride FC judges based their decisions on the entirety of a fight. How the fight ended was significant as well. If a fighter was close to getting knocked out or submitted before the final bell, the Pride FC judges would usually give the aggressor the decision.
While Pride FC had a better system for judging fights, the Japanese organization would get the wrong call from time to time as well. With that being said, it seems clear to me that the UFC judges get the calls wrong on a much more frequent basis than Pride ever did.
5 The 10 Minute First Round
Another thing that made Pride FC better than the UFC was the 10 minute first round. Today, every round in the UFC is 5 minutes long.
The Pride FC 10 minute first round was great for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, grapplers were given much more time to work with. Ten minutes on the ground probably seemed like an eternity for someone who was stuck in a bad position against a skilled wrestler or Jiu Jitsu practitioner.
A 10 minute first round also forced competitors to take their training extremely serious. Many fighters of today (Conor McGregor) can't make it out of the first round without being gassed.
Even UFC commentator Joe Rogan agrees that the 10 minute first round was awesome. Unfortunately, Dana White does not. During a UFC press conference, White was asked if he would ever consider utilizing a 10 minute first round. Of course, Dana White said that he wouldn't change anything about the UFC's current model.
4 Open Weight Fights
While the importance of weight classes cannot be denied, there is something truly exciting about watching a smaller fighter take on a larger opponent. Conor McGregor recently jumped up to the UFC's welterweight division, but he was choked out in the process.
The UFC allows their fighters to compete against whoever they like, but only to an extent. In Pride FC, a welterweight could take on a super heavyweight.
Back in 1998, Emanuel Yarbrough, who weighed 600 lbs, fought against a 169-pound fighter named Daiju Takase. The total weight difference between the two fighters was 417 pounds, which is the highest weight difference of all time. Other notable Pride FC fighters who took on larger competitors include Sakuraba, Wanderlei Silva, and Ikuhisa Minowa.
When the UFC debuted many years ago, open-weight fights were a regular occurrence. Today, it's considered a big deal if a fighter jumps up just one weight class.
3 The Tournaments
The legendary Pride FC tournaments were amazing events in which fighters competed in multiple bouts on the same night. While the tournament style of fighting is dangerous for a competitor's well-being, there was something special about it.
On the night of November 9, 2003, Wanderlei Silva won the Middleweight Grand Prix by knocking out Rampage Jackson in the first round of the finals. Wanderlei's knockout of Rampage made him a true superstar.
While the 2003 Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix was awesome, the 2006 Pride FC Heavyweight Grand Prix was even more exciting. Fedor Emelianenko, who was expected to win the entire event, was forced to pull out because of an injury. Instead, Wanderlei Silva filled in for Fedor, but things did not end well for him.
Mirko Cro Cop was on a tear in 2006, and he put a stamp on his career by knocking Wanderlei Silva out cold with a monstrous left high kick in the quarter finals of the tournament. Cro Cop went on to win the event by defeating Josh Barnett in the finals.
Dana White has stated that the tournament style of fighting is something that will most likely never happen while he's in charge.
2 Soccer Kicks/Head Stomps
What sort of sick individual would enjoy watching someone get their head stomped in? Well, I must admit that I miss watching Wanderlei Silva and Shogun Rua stomp out their unfortunate opponents.
Soccer kicks and head stomps completely changed the strategy for fighters, especially wrestlers. A missed takedown would often lead to terrible repercussions. Head stomps and soccer kicks were brutal attacks, and they often resulted in a knockout.
The king of the head stomp is unquestionably Wanderlei Silva. His Pride FC highlight reel is filled with brutal stomps and soccer kicks. Wanderlei must have killed at least three Japanese fighters in Pride.
As brutal as the UFC is, head stomps would take things to another level. However, we would probably see more exciting fights if head stomps were added.
1 The Talent
It can't be denied that the UFC fighters of today are amazing. The evolution of MMA has forced the current generation of fighters to learn new skills and techniques. With that being said, some of the greatest fighters of all time made their names in Pride FC.
Many of the most popular UFC veterans were huge stars in Pride FC. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Shogun Rua, and Anderson Silva became UFC champions after coming over from Pride FC. Wanderlei Silva also had a decent run in the UFC, but he was by far the most dominant in Pride FC.
In 2003, Dana White brought over Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell to compete in the Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix. Dana's plan was for Lidell to make it to the finals and defeat Wanderlei Silva. Unfortunately for Dana White, Quinton Rampage Jackson knocked out Chuck Liddell in the semifinals. Many people felt that Liddel's loss was a clear indicator that the UFC's talent wasn't as skilled as the Pride FC fighters.
When it comes to the greatest fighters of all time, Pride FC had many of them. Of course, Fedor Emelianenko was unquestionably the most dominant fighter in the history of Pride FC. He was the reigning and undefeated Pride FC Heavyweight Champion from 2003 until the day that the UFC purchased Pride FC.
The Pride FC roster was loaded with talent, and that's the main reason why the organization was better. Like the fans of today who buy tickets to watch the fighters compete in the UFC, the Japanese people also went to Pride events to watch the fighters do battle. Dana White and the Fertitta brothers believe that the fans watch the UFC because of the brand name alone. Someone needs to remind White and the Fertitta brothers that it's the fighters who the fans pay money to see.
The owners of Pride FC gave their fighters the ultimate platform to entertain the fans. Pride FC will never die, and we will never forget the contributions that the legendary fighters of Pride FC gave to us.