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UFC HAS BOUGHT PRIDE - ITS OFFICIAL

 

UFC acquires Pride Multimillion-dollar deal includes all assets. The owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship scooped up their primary rival Monday, reaching a multimillion-dollar deal to purchase the Japanese-based Pride Fighting Championship.

UFC president Dana White said he and partners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta formed a new company, Pride Worldwide, that purchased the assets of the Pride FC.White, who said the deal was completed about 1:30 p.m. PDT Monday, would not reveal the purchase price, but intimated it was an eight-figure deal.

"I don't like to talk about money, but it was a lot of money, I can tell you that," White said by telephone from Japan. "It was a hell of a lot more than Barry Bonds is making." Bonds, the second-leading home run hitter in baseball history, signed a $15.8 million, one-year deal with the San Francisco Giants in February.

The UFC deal transfers all Pride assets, including fighter contracts, fight video library and trademarks, to the new company. White said he would retain Pride's Japanese employees and that the company's planned April 7 show would go on as planned in Tokyo.

Pride has many of the sport's best fighters, including heavyweight champion Fedor Emialenenko, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Shogun Rua, Takanori Gomi and Hayato Sakurai, signed to promotional contracts.

White said Pride would adopt the same rules that are used in the United States and expressed a desire to use the so-called unified rules around the world. Soccer kicks and knees to the head were legal in Pride fights in Japan, but they were outlawed in two shows that were held at the Thomas & Mack Center. However, White said any fight held with the Pride banner would continue to be in a ring. UFC fights are in a cage.

"This is a sport and we're going to follow the unified rules that were established in New Jersey and then in Nevada," White said. "It's a sport -- mixed martial arts -- and the sport should have the same rules everywhere. As far as I'm concerned, if an organization doesn't follow these rules, it's not MMA. It's something else, but that's not MMA."

White said he will create a "Super Bowl" of MMA that will match the best fighters in Pride against the best in the UFC. White said he hadn't had time to think through the logistics, but said the concept could become the biggest annual event in the sport. He said he has the option to use Pride fighters in UFC shows if he chooses, but plans to run distinct brands.

"Pride is a powerful brand," White said. "The winners in this are the fans, because they're going to see the question answered. How many times have I heard someone say, 'Pride is better,' or 'UFC is better?' Well, wherever you come down on that, we'll answer the question because we'll make certain we put them in with each other and get an answer."

One of Pride's downfalls in the last year in Japan was the loss of its contract with Fuji TV. White said it was one of the new ownership group's leading priorities to negotiate a new television deal in Japan.

June 30, 2011