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Pride making same mistake as UFC in 97?

With Pride’s American debut right around the corner, one can’t help but be reminded of the UFC’s similar situation nearly a decade ago. Back in the UFC Dark Ages of the late 90’s, the promotion was forced to hold its events in some less-than-marquee locations. While Lake Charles, Louisiana and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi may boast modest amounts of glitz, it would take a tenuous stretch of the definition of the word “glamour” to describe these and other locales that played host to the UFC during its gawky adolescence. But perhaps no location was more awkward than the one chosen by the UFC on December 21, 1997: Yokohama, Japan. Just two months after Japanese audiences saw the Rickson Gracie armbar that launched a thousand message board posts at the inaugural Pride event, the UFC fled regulators, cable executives and one belligerent senator to the Far East. And while four UFC events occurred in Japan between 1997 and 2000, the promotion never built a solid following in the country and does not appear to have any plans to return.

The truth is, the UFC’s first Ultimate Japan show was never an attempt to win over Japanese fans. Unwelcome in its native land, the UFC simply picked up its operation and tried to run a typical American show in Japan (only two of the 12 fighters on the card were Japanese), marketing it to the same American satellite television audience as its other shows.

Not so with Pride’s current bid for the American fan and dollar. In a similar bind as the early UFC, Pride is running from bad press, a cancelled television contract and possible investigation for mob ties in Japan. The company desperately needs a foothold in other markets to keep afloat and the U.S. must look like a land whose octagons are paved with gold. But the similarities to the UFC’s former predicament don’t end there: Pride is making the exact same mistake the UFC did in 1997.

In Freudian terms, Pride's error is one of projection; they are putting on a typical Japanese Pride show, assuming it is what Americans want when it is actually exactly what Japanese fans want. Part of Japanese culture is reverence for "guts" and "fighting spirit" over actual results. This applies in Pride’s case as it relates to Japanese fighters facing foreign opposition. Over the course of years, Pride has sent numerous overmatched and undersized Japanese fighters to face superior foreign competition. But it is arguably the beatings endured by Japanese fighters that have endeared them to the public more so than their victories. Pride knows that its fans would rather see a Japanese fighter lose than see a match featuring no Japanese fighters at all. So it has a win-win situation in creating fight cards: If the Japanese fighter wins, he brings honor to his country and people. If he loses properly, he does the exact same thing.

Modern American audiences do not react the same way as the Japanese, however. For evidence, one need only look at the names of the two major competing MMA organizations. Japanese are concerned with matters of pride. Americans just want to know who is the best, the ultimate fighter. So Pride's decision to face Fedor Emelianenko against Mark Coleman is perfectly understandable from a Japanese perspective. Though Coleman is a past-his-prime, relatively unpopular fighter who enjoys little name recognition among new fans, his passport still carries the Stars and Stripes. And to the Japanese mind, that should be enough. But Americans will doubtfully relish watching a fighter, countryman or not, getting pummeled by Fedor. Sustained excitement in the States is built around the prospect of great fights, not on the back of blind patriotism.

Some might argue that Pride's intention is to build up their champions as the best in the world by giving them a few easy fights. In America, however, perception of quality is best achieved by triumphing over superior competition. In many cases, we tend to blame the defeated as being overhyped and overrated (see Nate Quarry, Babalu Sobral and John Kerry) rather than laud the victor. Whatever Pride’s intentions, the message this match sends to American audiences will likely reflect more negatively on Coleman than favorably on Fedor.

Several other Pride decisions point to this projection of Japanese interests. The Japanese still love Mike Tyson, though his days as a respectable commodity in America are long since past. His inclusion stateside confers an automatic brand as gimmick rather than serious athletic contest. And because the Japanese love freak show fights, they can wrongly infer that Americans must love them too. Just fill the spot reserved for Giant Silva with Butterbean and the card is good to go. Never mind Butterbean’s lack of MMA bona fides, reputation for worked fights and association as a Toughman fighter, with its frequent negative confusion with MMA.
Projection has blinded Pride to the fact that MMA does not enjoy mainstream American acceptance as it does in Japan. Stunts and freak show matches work in Japan because the public and media do not have ill-informed opinions and preconceived negativity toward the sport. They add to the air of spectacle that keep the Japanese clamoring for more. But more than anything, America needs to see the respectable, skilled, athletic and pure side of MMA. And to succeed in America, Pride needs, more than anything else, to show that it has more of those traits than the UFC. How exactly Butterbean and Tyson qualify as “the real deal” is anyone’s guess.

From their rhetoric, Pride seems to view America differently than the way the UFC saw Japan in 1997, as a convenient place to run until the heat was off. Their decisions, however, have engendered some question as to their prospects of success. In coming to America, they’ve been made to look like Yoshihiro Takayama in his famous fight with Don Frye; like a bewildered Japanese fighter flailing wildly in the hopes of making contact with an American target.
 

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I eat babies
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Wow man you really know your shit...Is that true about PRIDE having ties with the Japanese mob? I had never heard that before. Man this was one of the most well written and informative posts I have ever read on this site that wasn't from Oganju. Good job, although I have no real response to the topic other than it's an interesting thought about PRIDE'S Real Deal possibly being a bust. :thumbsup: :thumbsup: to this man ^


Oh yea your getting some rep don't worry ;) :laugh:
 

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cabby said:
shit i wouldn't doubt if they did have ties with the mob. guys that own a huge fighting organization. they probably bet with each other and make loads of cash

That's true, but I hope it's not true true if you know what I mean. That would suggest that some of the top PRIDE fighters are not legit, and only win because the mob wants them too. That would suck! :laugh:
 

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That was actually quite amazing. Very good read and points. I think it's absolutely right.

Edit: I wouldn't be suprised. FMW is an extinct wrestling promotion from Japan and the boss of the company hung himself due to debts and problems with the Yakuzas. So, you never know.
 

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The Reverend
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I wouldnt doubt the Yakuza being involved. i heard alot of the russian fighters are sponsered by he Russian Mafia. hell look at Fedor's tattoo's, from what i was told, he absolutly screams Russian Mafia... been told this by people in the Chicago P.D. Gang Division.... so take it as you will.

so if one Mob is involved it wouldn't suprise me of others were too..


but yes, great origional post! i remember watching the first few PPV's, then having it banned from my cable providor, and Illinois banning it.... i do like Pride, i know much much more about UFC as i can see it on a regular basis, bu i hope Pride will be able to rebound and get back on its feet as its not looking all that great for them.
 

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JuggNuttz said:
I wouldnt doubt the Yakuza being involved. i heard alot of the russian fighters are sponsered by he Russian Mafia. hell look at Fedor's tattoo's, from what i was told, he absolutly screams Russian Mafia... been told this by people in the Chicago P.D. Gang Division.... so take it as you will.

so if one Mob is involved it wouldn't suprise me of others were too..


but yes, great origional post! i remember watching the first few PPV's, then having it banned from my cable providor, and Illinois banning it.... i do like Pride, i know much much more about UFC as i can see it on a regular basis, bu i hope Pride will be able to rebound and get back on its feet as its not looking all that great for them.
definitely dont want to **** with the mob then!
 

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it's too long to quote, but i have a question for GSPfan... in what way is PRIDE putting on a typical PRIDE show, that favors japanese audiences over american? because they have butterbean fighting? i fail to see how the other fights are more "japanese oriented" than "american oriented".
 

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I think there are two basic differences in what the UFC did 10 years ago and what pride is doing now. The first is that the UFC was a fledgling organization with no real support. They were struggling to make it were being chased out of the US. Pride on the other hand mob ties or not is a HUGE organization that regularly sells out 80,000 seat arenas. They will be successful even if that is all they do.

the other major difference is the mma community is no longer just an underground community. it is out in the open, sanctioned in several states, on cable regularly. The mainstream public knows who the top fighters are even if they have never watched a fight.

In short Pride coming to the US is a good move for them and us as fans. The mistake that pride is making as you alluded to is their marketing scheme. We are for all intensive purposes an adrenaline based society we want that quick ko and we want nonstop action. We also want to see the blood. Pride is not marketing that at all and they are not marketing where the viewing public outside of mma will see it. Pride is marketing a "better" fighting style and format. One mistake they just made was making the Wandy show a ppv. it is basically a highlight reel and the general public won't see it. Americans in general don't care about styles they want to see people get hurt and they want to know the story behind the fighters. Not allowing elbows is actually going to hurt pride and they also don't give a lot of background info on fighters which will also hurt them..

I think in the beginning Pride will have limited success but only because of the hardcore fans that are already familiar withthe produc.they are business men and should see that the original model does not work. They will revamp what they are doing and eventually gain some marketshare. I don't think they will challenge UFC for another 3-5 years for US market share.

That was a long first post on this forum.
 

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Mastiff_Owner said:
I think in the beginning Pride will have limited success but only because of the hardcore fans that are already familiar withthe produc.they are business men and should see that the original model does not work. They will revamp what they are doing and eventually gain some marketshare. I don't think they will challenge UFC for another 3-5 years for US market share.
Realistically speaking, no one is going to be able to viably challenge the UFC for the a significant share of the US PPV market. As far as MMA going mainstream, a lot of casual "observers" still refer to MMA as "Ultimate Fighting." It's going to a take a year minimum for any other MMA organization to get a recognizable foothold in the U.S.

Whether Pride changes its format or not may hinge on how it views the US PPV market over the next year. I'm just glad that they're finally here.
 

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JuggNuttz said:
I wouldnt doubt the Yakuza being involved. i heard alot of the russian fighters are sponsered by he Russian Mafia. hell look at Fedor's tattoo's, from what i was told, he absolutly screams Russian Mafia... been told this by people in the Chicago P.D. Gang Division.... so take it as you will.

so if one Mob is involved it wouldn't suprise me of others were too..


but yes, great origional post! i remember watching the first few PPV's, then having it banned from my cable providor, and Illinois banning it.... i do like Pride, i know much much more about UFC as i can see it on a regular basis, bu i hope Pride will be able to rebound and get back on its feet as its not looking all that great for them.
I think you are mixing up Fedor Emelianenko (the heavyweight champion with no tatoos) with his brother, Aleksander Emelianenko. Aleksander has spent time in prison and received some of his tatoos there.

I think PRIDE's downfall will be trying to hold events in the US and having to obey US law. If you watch PRIDE you expect kicks to the head on a downed opponent, foot stomps, and gis (or whatever the plural of gi is...) They should keep the events in Japan and just market the hell out o fthemselves in the US. They also need to get a little more mainstream than Fox Sports Network.
 

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Onganju said:
Realistically speaking, no one is going to be able to viably challenge the UFC for the a significant share of the US PPV market. As far as MMA going mainstream, a lot of casual "observers" still refer to MMA as "Ultimate Fighting." It's going to a take a year minimum for any other MMA organization to get a recognizable foothold in the U.S.

Whether Pride changes its format or not may hinge on how it views the US PPV market over the next year. I'm just glad that they're finally here.
Realistically noone is going to just jump into any market and just take over. That would be like me opening a burger stand across from Mcdonalds.

That being said with a solid product Pride can eventually challenge the UFC. Problem is they are using FSN to broadcast their shows. They are not using an effective marketing strategy. This is America we will buy whatever is presented to us in the most agreeable manner. Right now UFC is doing it right to get new fans. Pride is not.
 

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No, they aren't making the same mistake, UFC was getting screwed by politicians off cable, PRIDE FC isn't. Ultimate Japan 1 was a brutal PPV however, Randy Couture .vs. Maurice Smith was pretty boring, so was Yoji Anjo and Tank Abbott but the new middleweight title was pretty cool.

I think Ultimate Japan 2 in late 1999 is the mistake, SEG was downhill and let the company go after UFC 22. Therefore right after UFC sucked and went into those lame dark ages.

PRIDE FC is a large money making company, by UFC 22 I think they were going downhill and not doing nearly as good as PRIDE FC is now.

This new PPV won't be like Ultimate Japan 1 or UFC 23- Ultimate Japan 2.
 

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The Reverend
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prophet665 said:
I think you are mixing up Fedor Emelianenko (the heavyweight champion with no tatoos) with his brother, Aleksander Emelianenko. Aleksander has spent time in prison and received some of his tatoos there.

yup, my bad, sorry! still new to Pride, i know a few fighters and seen some fights on FSN, but still new to it. thanks for the clariffication
 

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I hope that they arent succesful here.

They belong in Japan. The reason for watching Pride is to see a different type of matchup, not to see UFC in a ring. Thats just plain stupid. I wanna see stomps and soccer kicks. Go back to Japan you idiot of a company.
 

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spearsoldier said:
I hope that they arent succesful here.

They belong in Japan. The reason for watching Pride is to see a different type of matchup, not to see UFC in a ring. Thats just plain stupid. I wanna see stomps and soccer kicks. Go back to Japan you idiot of a company.

i agree its not gonna be the same without soccer kicks and stomps. not gonna like it as much but still rootin' for ma man shogun
 

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Mastiff_Owner said:
Realistically noone is going to just jump into any market and just take over. That would be like me opening a burger stand across from Mcdonalds.
You would still get "residual" market share. It's all about getting a foothold here in the States. Nothing revolutionary is going to happen off of the Real Deal PPV. I think we both expect that much.

Mastiff_Owner said:
That being said with a solid product Pride can eventually challenge the UFC. Problem is they are using FSN to broadcast their shows. They are not using an effective marketing strategy. This is America we will buy whatever is presented to us in the most agreeable manner. Right now UFC is doing it right to get new fans. Pride is not.
Which (even as a fan of Pride FC) is what I have been saying all along. It's going to be easier to gauge of how Pride can vie for PPVs in North America as a whole 6 months from now than it is even before their first Stateside PPV has even happened. However, if we take into account what Pride FC has been doing thus far, it is obvious that they are lacking in an effective way to expose their product to fans. It's just like you said about the burger stand analogy: If you don't have a big enough sign out for the folks passing by to see, you won't exist.

Again, I want the UFC to feel Pride FC's presence here. A monopoly on any one source of entertainment or Sport does not bode well for anyone; the fans especially.
 
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