Pride Fighting Championships was a major mixed martial arts organization which operated from 1997 until 2007. Originally based in Japan, Pride FC has since been bought out by Zuffa LLC, the holding company which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championships. The UFC has now fully absorbed Pride FC.
In its heyday, Pride FC was the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotional organization. It was particularly popular in Japan and Brazil, and set an MMA live event record by attracting over 91,000 fans to the Shockwave Dynamite event in 2002.
The first Pride FC card was held in October of 1997 in Tokyo, and differentiated itself by implementing many more rules and regulations than the renegade UFC. While the UFC was fairly light on rules, Pride FC had strict requirements for ring attire, protective equipment, fouls and fighter conduct during matches. Its flagship event was the Pride Grand Prix, a series of elimination tournaments in which victors were awarded cash prizes and championship belts.
The UFC acquired Pride FC in March of 2007, and initially intended to run the two outfits as affiliated but separate organizations. However, that vision failed to materialize, leading the UFC to effectively absorb Pride FC’s remaining operations.
At the peak of its popularity, Pride FC launched two video games for the PlayStation 2 console. While it is now defunct, Pride FC holds a special place in mixed martial arts history. Prior to the rise of the UFC, Pride was widely considered to be the world’s top MMA organization, and attracted elite talent. Many of today’s most recognizable UFC stars got their start with Pride FC, and it is safe to say that the UFC would never have been able to become as successful as it is without the pioneering work of the Pride organization.