How PRIDE FC was different from the UFC (and how they were the same)

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Many MMA fans remember the early days of PRIDE FC and wish the UFC could capture that same kind of magic. While the two companies can be seen as similar in many mundane ways, something that drew people to PRIDE on the cfu were the sometimes wild differences.

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PRIDE has hosted tons of amazing fights just like the UFC, but some claim PRIDE is more memorable due to the visceral fights and memorable entrances. The UFC has had its fair share of incredible fights, but for several reasons, their fights are rarely as brutal as those featured in PRIDE.

9 Different – Exciting fights mattered more than victories

While the UFC obviously cares about putting on impressive and exciting fights for home fans, PRIDE prioritizes entertainment over victories. A fight can end with a single punch in the UFC, and a fighter can be elevated to the title, but that could have created problems in PRIDE.

Instead of getting a quick and easy victory, PRIDE fans wanted to see two fighters trying to tear each other apart. The brutal fighting style featured in the promotion led to tons of amazing fights, and most people completely forgot about the win and loss records when watching PRIDE.


8 Same – No headbutts or blows to the back of the head

A quick glance at the rule differences between PRIDE and the UFC may shock some people. Fortunately, one of the most important rules that stayed the same between the companies was that headbutting and hitting the back of a fighter’s head was considered illegal.

PRIDE was often seen as the most brutal promotion for the competition, but they were unwilling to allow headbutts, which could potentially end the careers of two fighters at the same time. Of course, unprotected shots to the back of the head should always be a concern, so it’s good that both promotions have strict rules against that.

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7 Different – Pride was all about the theater

While the UFC can get theatrical at times, that sort of thing is still pretty reserved when used for their biggest stars. In PRIDE, the fighters had some of the most elaborate and exaggerated entrances in MMA history.

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A quick glance at some PRIDE entries, and one could be forgiven for believing they were actually watching a pro wrestling event. PRIDE had great music, pyrotechnics, the odd troupe of dancers or performers and fighters who enjoyed every second of the theater. One of the most hilarious was thanks to famed fighter, Kazushi Sakuraba, who came to a Super Mario-style entrance at the Pride Grand Prix 2003 Final Conflict.

6 Ditto – No fight is a sure thing

While there was a very clear difference between a UFC fight and a PRIDE fight for a number of reasons, one thing that was no different was that any fight could end at any time and no anyone could emerge victorious. Some of the biggest upsets in MMA have happened in PRIDE.

While some of these losses have become suspect due to comments from fighters over the years, that doesn’t change the fact that while betting odds exist, any fighter has the potential to come out on top. One punch landing the right way for an underdog can be the start of a blossoming career.


5 Different – Knees to opponents on the ground were allowed

Usually when a UFC fighter knees an opponent on the ground, there is a visceral reaction from the fans. Whenever this happened in PRIDE, fighters were greeted with a roar of cheers thanks to the brutality that was displayed.

Knees were perfectly acceptable against opponents on the ground, but that’s not all, kicks were also allowed. Some of the most shocking moments in PRIDE’s history have come from repeated football kicking or headbutting, which has often worried even the most ruthless MMA fans. Surprisingly, some fighters want knees and kicks to opponents on the ground to be allowed in the UFC.

4 Even – Top talent that is larger than life

One thing that never seems to change is that some of the most successful athletes have incredible personalities. When you watch PRIDE and the UFC side by side, it can become clear that sometimes the best talent is some of the most charismatic people in the world.

Even though they’re all professionals when it comes to a fight, seeing them interact outside of the competition tends to reveal an incredible sense of humor. Sometimes an over-the-top attitude results in success on the mic, which can add some much-needed hype to a fight.

3 Different – Blocking a fight came with penalties

Many people may have wondered why sometimes PRIDE can feel like the action never stops. A big reason for this is that the company has been said to take money out of a fighter’s purse if they seem to stagnate or slow down in a fight.

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Some said the penalty was as high as ten percent of a fighter’s purse for a first warning. Taking away a fighter’s livelihood is probably something they weren’t ready to put up with, so the stock tended to run high following that single decision.


2 Different – PEDs apparently weren’t a big deal at PRIDE FC

There have been a handful of fighters who have claimed that PRIDE really doesn’t care about using PED, as long as their fights aren’t in an area that needs testing. More so, veteran Enson Inoue said on Joe Rogan’s podcast that the contracts specifically state that the use of PED is not actively discouraged.

If that’s true, that’s a huge difference with the UFC. Thanks to the collaboration with USADA, anyone suspected of using PEDs can be seriously suspended from competition. Those caught once will be out for quite a while, and that number only increases with more infractions.

1 Same – Use same stars

The UFC has been smart in recruiting many of PRIDE’s most promising people. Many PRIDE stars went on to put on amazing fights for the UFC, and many fighters who weren’t yet stars went on to become some of the greatest fighters on the planet.

While businesses can sometimes be incredibly different, one thing never changes, a skilled fighter can thrive wherever they find themselves. Things could have been very different had the UFC been too proud to use those who actively compete against them.


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