My MMA Thesis (long-read)
First off: Please, no one take this as a dig on the UFC in any form. Fighters and what the fighters are allowed to do (rules) make the org. UFC owns most of my favorite fighters at this point, and I won't pretend they aren't still the shit.
Seeing Pride dwindle and all but disappear, and then events of late led me into all kinds of trains of thought:
((FIELD COMMENT--)I completed my collection of Pride events today... short of the 2002 GP, I've purchased all of the DVD's out there, and have watched 95% of them...)
THE PAST, FROM A PRIDE-HUGGER PERSPECTIVE
First off, I was mad. DSE did it for me whether their tactics were sound or not. Seeing them suffer from some bullshit and STILL unfounded "Yakuza scandle" and watching Fuji high-tail away at it's very mention pissed me off.
Then I got depressed. Watching Pride in the states (knowing that it was poisioned and desprately scrabbling for somebody to snatch it up in the US and get back on cash life-support) sucked, but still trumped all other contenders.
Once the Fertittas bought in, I was sad. Seeing Pride sans the ASS KICKING RULE SETS hurt enough, but to know that they were about to be gone for good was tears. Screw the 10-pt round judging. I wanted my Matt Hume system, I wanted my soccer kicks, I wanted my yellow and red cards. All of that created top-notch action, and everybody knows it.
I then landed in denial. Of course the Ferttias would bring knees to the heads of downed opponents. Of course the UFC and Pride would swap players and clash on every event. Of course Pride's suitor was "very good", and Sakikabara could rest on his success.
Everybody knows the next step: Acceptance. Pride is through. UFC ate it, and smartly, I will admit. Why wouldn't it? It bought a time-bomb, but a damn good-looking time-bomb indeed.
You could tell the UFC's focus was to smash out Bodog and Elite XC just by the Pride 34 intro vid. It targed Fedor, of course. Dana swung a bat at Fedor's head with threats, but he forgot that FEDOR absorbs Fujita punches, Cro-Kicks and Randleslams for his robot-fuel.
The UFC dominates the talent pool, but we all know that the talent pool is about the up-and-comers, not the already established. That's not saying that UFC recruitment isn't better, because it truly is.
PREDICTION: THE GHOST OF PRIDE
There is a ghost that is floating around from Pride's untimely and mostly unjust demise. I think that Pride's fighters and announcers knew this well before I figured it out. It's got the UFC's number, but by no means am I saying that the UFC can't defend itself.
I think the ghost has found it's new home back where it came from. Mauro is the smartest man in MMA regardless, and I think his landing speaks for itself. That being said, Royce and Saku are frightening Pride monoliths, and EVERYBODY knows pro-wrestler abduction has Pride's eternal stamp on it.
PREDICTION: THE GHOST, FEDOR AND K-1/HERO'S
Saku and Royce swung open the gates for new fighters and displaced Pride fighters. If K-1/HERO'S supports open contracts, it's likely that Fedor will find his home there along with Bodog, and wherever he wants, such as the proverbial 800lb gorilla that he is.
Fedor vs. Lesnar! It's a NEW FIGHT! I don't want to see Fedor re-challenge everyone in the UFC, he's already beaten them all. Send them back at him constantly enough, and he will eventually lose, and none of us will care when it happens.
Should that go down, it's an MMA emergency. The UFC was busy stamping out Pride and shooting missles at Bodog/KOTC/Elite XC/etc. In this meantime, the ghost found it's new body, and will be back with a venegance.
PREDICTION: PRIDE REPLACED/CLASH OF THE TITANS
Give me my soccer kicks back!! Give me my Bushido fight scoring w/the Hume! Give us that badass 10 min yellow-card/"stop! don't move (but still move) square-ring action that isn't found anywhere else!
The UFC scored a great victory, but they will have a new Titan to slam heads against. This time the competition will actually have the US's attention. Now we, the fans may get to see the big boys fight!!
Where's my Soku/Barnett/Trigg/Yvel/Zleg/Baroni/Gomi/Chonan/Sakurai?!
HERO's perhaps? I hope Dana smells blood. I hope HERO's smashes back and we get to see the new market. I hope this sport blows wide-open, because I think we, as the prude US are ready for MMA to become the new football.
Buy your stock now.
...but maybe not... That's just my opionion. What's yours? (Can I graduate yet?)
"...They're not coming out here swinging, and brawling, and just going to spend their wad."
-Stephen Quadros "The Fight Professor"
"Can you say that?"
-Eddie Bravo, Co-Announcer