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PrideFC Sold to UFC Owners?

Rumors have been flying fast & furious for the last 24 hours that the Fertitta brothers have reached an agreement with DSE to purchase PrideFC for $65MM.

Of course, we all know these rumors have been floating around ever since Pride lost their Fuji TV deal, but they appear to have legs this time. All of the major MMA news sites are reporting that the deal is done and all that remains is for the involved parties to sign on the dotted line.

On the flip side, Pride USA VP Jerry Millen is claiming the reports are bogus. However, the Japanese side of the business remains silent on the issue and Sakakibara is supposedly on his way to the states to finalize the deal.

Regardless of how you feel about each organization, this will be HUGE news in MMA world if the deal goes through.

Source: http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/dailynews.asp?articleid=3631&zoneid=13

[i]The rumors swirling around the sale of Pride FC have been ongoing for quite some time, but things flared up again on Monday when Sherdog.com started talking about strong rumors from some of their sources, who said that the deal has finally been struck.

MMAWeekly has confirmed with our own sources, including sources in Japan that are extremely close to the situation, that the deal has indeed been reached. From what we understand, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta have come to an agreement that would put Pride in their hands. But remember, that is an agreement, not a finalized transaction. As with any business transaction as complex as the purchase of one company by another, things are never 100% finalized until the proverbial keys to the front door have finally changed hands.

With that said, unless something changes at the eleventh hour, it appears that Pride will soon fall under the ownership of the Fertitta brothers. According to our sources, the purchase is believed to include fighter contracts, Pride?s video library, and the Pride FC name brand. The issue of fighter contracts is one of the more touchy points, as there can be variables in each individual contract that will have to be dealt with, and no information has come forth that states which fighters would be included.

It was not immediately clear when the deal would be announced, although it is believed that Nobuyuki Sakikabara, the President & CEO Of Dream Stage Entertainment (Pride?s present owner), is traveling to the United States this week in regards to matters related to the agreement.[/i]

The latest from Sherdog:

[i]PRIDE For Sale? What We Know

After the Sherdog Radio Network broached the subject Monday morning, the mixed martial arts world reacted strongly to rumors of an impending sale of PRIDE FC to Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta for an estimated $65 million.

While the Fertittas, Zuffa and UFC have remained silent, PRIDE USA vice president Jerry Millen offered a strong denial of the sale to graciefighter.com early Tuesday morning.

“You can’t beleive [sic] what you read on the Internet and as a matter of fact I just got off the phone with Japan and PRIDE has not been sold and is not being sold to anyone, especially to Zuffa,” Millen exclaimed. “We are in the process of making some ground breaking deals that will be bringing in large sums of revenue to the company and making it stronger than ever.”

However Sherdog.com’s sources continue to suggest the sale is imminent, going so far as to say an announcement could come a week from Tuesday. Various reports attributing Sherdog.com as suggesting an announcement would come this Wednesday are erroneous.

On Monday evening MMAWeekly.com claimed to have confirmed the rumor of Dream Stage Entertainment’s sale of PRIDE, yet their report, which cited an anonymous PRIDE executive, stopped short of calling it a done deal.

Gleidson Venga, Sherdog.com’s correspondent in Brazil, indicated that during PRIDE CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara’s recent visit to Brazil, the embattled executive made no mention of an impending deal.

Rather, after traveling to the Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, he said that former PRIDE 205-pound champion Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) or 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix champion Mauricio Rua (Pictures) would fight on PRIDE’s April 8 card in Tokyo. Additionally, Sakakibara praised Brazilian Top Team’s Ricardo Arona (Pictures) after visiting the ADCC champion’s hometown.

PRIDE USA president Ed Fishman, who today filed papers in a Nevada court against Dream Stage Entertainment for breach of contract, told Sherdog.com Sunday that he’d heard nothing about the sale of PRIDE to the Fertittas, who in 2000 purchased the struggling UFC and in the span if six years turned it into the lynchpin of one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S.

When asked about the rumored price tag, Fishman suggested it was similar to what he offered for control of PRIDE. The casino entrepreneur also expressed that after doing his due diligence, he is no longer interested in purchasing the organization that currently houses Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures).

That is irrelevant if the Fertittas have in fact come to terms with DSE. Yet hurdles will remain in the form of what one Sherdog.com source called sub-standard contracts between fighters currently on PRIDE’s roster and the company’s Japanese branch.

If DSE sells the company, the source said, certain fighters could immediately become free agents.[/i]

[quote]Steve4192 wrote:
On the flip side, Pride USA VP Jerry Millen is claiming the reports are bogus. However, the Japanese side of the business remains silent on the issue and Sakakibara is supposedly on his way to the states to finalize the deal.

[/quote]

According to recent interviews with Enson Inoue and Bas Rutten “Gary” Millen has no idea what goes on in the Japanese Pride office. Considering Enson is close with with Sakikibara I’ll believe him. By all accounts this is going to happen, and probably will be announced next week.

Obviously this is the biggest news in the history of MMA. Every dream fight we could imagine is about to become probable.

Competition breeds excellence

now UFC will have a stranglehold on what we see and how much we pay for it

this is not good news for the mma world

any chance at innovation, creativity and new leagues/venues will be stifled if the power rests in the hands of one

So if they get this, ufc will own Fedor right?

[quote]Hawkson101 wrote:
Competition breeds excellence

now UFC will have a stranglehold on what we see and how much we pay for it

[/quote]

IMO, the business of MMA is much more competitive today than it has ever been.

Two years ago, Pride & the UFC were the only promoters who had the financial ability to compete on a worldwide basis. Today, even if Pride does get swallowed up by the Fertitas, you still have a bunch of promotions with big-time financial backing.

K-1 entered the fray back in early 2005 with their HEROES promotion.

Bodog Fight has the financial backing of a billionaire casino mogul.

EliteXC has the backing of Showtime.

The IFL has the only broadcast TV deal in american MMA and has a TON of cash from their IPO.

Sure, none of those promotions have locked up any top talent … yet. But if the rumors are true about most of Pride’s fighter contracts being null & void in the event of a sale, then all of those promoters are in a prime position to bolster their rosters.

[quote]John S. wrote:
So if they get this, ufc will own Fedor right?[/quote]

Not necessarily. Only if the deal includes fighter contracts. If it doesn’t and guys have guaranteed deals, then the original owner would still have to pay; or UFC could offer the fighter a buyout of his current deal to join the UFC (similar to the WWE deal when they bought WCW).

I’d like to see UFC still keep PRIDE alive in Japan, as I think it’s an important market in MMA.

I’d also like to see Showtime step up and buy up some of the PRIDE fighter contracts to at least create some sort of competition for UFC.

[quote]John S. wrote:
So if they get this, ufc will own Fedor right?[/quote]

That’s the big question.

First of all, it sounds like most of the fighter contracts signed by the Pride Japan will be null & void in the event of a sale. So Fedor might become a free agent.

Second, even if his contract does come with the deal, it sounds like the Fertitta’s plan is to keep Pride as a seperate organization and continue business as usual in Japan. I suspect Fedor would stay in Japan in that event.

Third, even if Fedor does come with the deal and the Fertitta’s decide to keep him in Japan, he still might fight the UFC champion if they decide to do an annual ‘Superfight’ where the UFC & Pride champs square off versus one another.

[quote]John S. wrote:
So if they get this, ufc will own Fedor right?[/quote]

Ssshhh. Quit implying that someone could actually own Fedor. He might hear you.

I hope Pride stays separate of the UFC like the WEC. Resist UFC/unified mma rules because they suck, keep the rules intact for Japan. I hope new ownership will lead to a tv deal.

Josh Gross is reporting that a source in Chute Box is saying that Shogun Rua’s new contract (Sakikibara is in Brazil right now getting new contracts with fighters, presumably to prevenet them from becoming free agents once Pride is sold) includes two fights in Pride and two fights in the UFC, which lends some creedance to this whole swirl of rumors or only clouds it further.

[quote]Hawkson101 wrote:
Competition breeds excellence

now UFC will have a stranglehold on what we see and how much we pay for it

this is not good news for the mma world

any chance at innovation, creativity and new leagues/venues will be stifled if the power rests in the hands of one

[/quote]

This talk of a monopoly is for the most part irrelevant. Pride and the UFC never shared the same market, except in the eyes of a handful of hard core fans who went the extra mile to follow Pride.

Pride had the best talent and the best production values in the world but in the past 10 years they never made a dent in the American market while the UFC has grown exponentially. As Steve alluded to the IFL and EliteXC are much more competition for UFC than Pride ever was.

So is the deal done now, or is this still speculation?

i await the outcome with bated breath, i love to watch both org’s, they have a different feel to them. But millens handling of pride 33 was irritating, im sure he was in the gallery tell the producers to keep showing shots of stupid drunk vegas bints jiggling their fun bits.

Pride also has some issues with fishman to resolve, the next few weeks will be interesting

[quote]John S. wrote:
So is the deal done now, or is this still speculation?[/quote]

Still rumor. It appears all but confirmed that Pride, or at least a major portion of it, has been sold. To who? There are rumors that the Fertitas themselves bought it, that the Zuffa corporation bought it, K-1 might have bought it, etc etc.

Whether or not Pride will continue to exist or will salavaged for figher contracts and left to sunk is all up in the air. It’s even been suggested that Pride’s contracts are void should the company change hands and all the fighters become free agents (which might be why Sakikibara is in Brazil right now signing new deals with fighters at Chute Box and BTT).

I’m having a hard time with the number that has been tossed around simply because 65 million cannot include fighter’s contracts. If it did, there would have to have been some serious competition from Bodog or Elitexc, both of whom are looking to make a strong push into the MMA market and have sizeable financial backing. Collecting that stable of fighters would make them instant players in MMA.

There must be something going on that lessens Pride’s value somewhat to make the sale at 65 million, maybe the organization is in debt and Zuffa will have to eat that as part of the deal. Either way, 65 million seems fairly low for one of the top MMA organizations in the world, with or without financial troubles.

I guess I should add, I don’t know jack about business so my opinion is just what I’m thinking on the matter.

[quote]slimjim wrote:
I’m having a hard time with the number that has been tossed around simply because 65 million cannot include fighter’s contracts. If it did, there would have to have been some serious competition from Bodog or Elitexc, both of whom are looking to make a strong push into the MMA market and have sizeable financial backing. Collecting that stable of fighters would make them instant players in MMA.

There must be something going on that lessens Pride’s value somewhat to make the sale at 65 million, maybe the organization is in debt and Zuffa will have to eat that as part of the deal. Either way, 65 million seems fairly low for one of the top MMA organizations in the world, with or without financial troubles.[/quote]

Pride’s value took a major hit when they lost their Japanese TV deal last year. That loss of revenue (PPV is a non-factor in Japan) greatly limits their profitability. They are by no means a player in the US PPV market (only some boxing, WWE, and UFC are making $$ via US PPV), so Pride is on life support at this point.

It would be great to finally see the crocop fedor rematch, but it just wouldn’t be the same in the octagon instead of the ring.

[quote]slimjim wrote:
I’m having a hard time with the number that has been tossed around simply because 65 million cannot include fighter’s contracts. If it did, there would have to have been some serious competition from Bodog or Elitexc, both of whom are looking to make a strong push into the MMA market and have sizeable financial backing. Collecting that stable of fighters would make them instant players in MMA.

There must be something going on that lessens Pride’s value somewhat to make the sale at 65 million, maybe the organization is in debt and Zuffa will have to eat that as part of the deal. Either way, 65 million seems fairly low for one of the top MMA organizations in the world, with or without financial troubles.[/quote]

$65 million sounds about right to me. They have been bleeding money since this time last year. Whoever buys them will inherit a good bit of debt as well as a $10 million lawsuit from Ed Fishman.