pride fighting information
pride fighting venue information
Popularized in Japan, the mixed-martial art (MMA) tradition that would become known as PRIDE fighting first made its entry into the United States in 2006 at the UNLV’s Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Most all PRIDE events take place in Japan in cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Saitama, and Yokohama; if you’re lucky enough to catch them stateside, however, Las Vegas is the place to be.
Tickets to the Thomas and Mack Center moved quickly, as the controversy surrounding PRIDE fighting paralleled that of the UFC. The 19,522-capacity ring previously played host to professional wrestling matches, arena football, and yes, even rodeo championships.
Unlike the “sissy” UFC that frowns upon hitting a downed opponent, pretty much anything and everything goes in PRIDE fighting. There are even championships featuring “open weight” classes, meaning that wiry kid you used to pick on in high school may very well train to become a hardened killer and whoop up on the All-American lineman everyone feared. There are plenty of fighters to keep a close watch over this year, with the two most prominent being the open weight grand prix finalists Mirko Filipovic and Sergey Kharitonov.
Hailing from Croatia, Filipovic is a kickboxer known for his lethal left high-kicks and paralyzing head and body punches. You’d think a man whose left leg was famed for one-shot knock-outs would be obvious enough, but it seems most PRIDE fighters to fall victim to the Filipovic bout-ender can’t avoid that deal-sealing blow. A cunning strategist, Filipovic is a favorite among purists and MMA junkies alike.
Russian heavyweight Sergey Kharitonov combines elements of combat sambo, judo, and hand-to-hand combat he picked up as a student in a Russian paratrooper academy. The passive throwing and locks of judo, combined with close hand-to-hand combat and combat sambo makes for an incredibly diverse fighter and a wholly unpredictable opponent.
Ironically, the country associated with the forebears of MMA—Brazil and its Gracie family—has yet to forge a commanding dynasty of fighters to dominate the PRIDE championships. If there is one Brazilian to start such a dynasty, however, it would be Murilo Bustamante. A classic MMA fighter and reigning, undisputed middleweight, Bustamante originally left the UFC citing financial reasons before signing onto the PRIDE circuit in Japan. With a professional MMA record of 12-6-1 (as of 7/23/06), Bustamante’s style and form seem to be his worst enemy, as he fought to close decisions against names including Quinton Jackson and Chuck Liddell. Watch Bustamante closely—his losses are primarily decisions, meaning that this Brazilian is resilient and has a real chance to shine this coming year.
If high speeds, diverse fighting styles, and showmanship are more your game, check out Akihiro Gono, whose MMA career started in 1994 and has surged on to include decisive wins against Crosley Gracie and Daniel Acacio. Widely reputed to be a funnyman, Gono often makes stage appearances in strange costumes and plays the colorful character known to many PRIDE fans as DJ Gozma.