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PRIDE Fighting Championships was initially conceived in 1997 by Kakutougi Revolution Spirits (later known as Dream Stage Entertainment
, or DSE) to match popular Japanese
pro-wrestler Nobuhiko Takada
with Rickson Gracie
, the purported champion of the Gracie family
of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
practitioners. The event, held at the Tokyo Dome
on October 11
attracted 47,000 fans, as well as Japanese mass media
attention. The success of the first event enabled its promoters to hold a regular series of mixed martial arts events, and a year later in 1998, promote a rematch between Takada and Gracie. 
enjoying popularity in Japan, PRIDE began to compete with monthly showings on Fuji Television
, as well as pay per view on the newly formed satellite television channel SKY PerfecTV
In 2000, PRIDE organized the first ever PRIDE Grand Prix
, a two-part openweight tournament held to find the "world's best fighter". The tournament was held over the course of two events, with sixteen fighters competing in an opening round
, and the eight winners returning three months later for the final round
. The second round of the tournament marked the first time PRIDE was broadcast in the United States, and featured American fighter Mark Coleman
winning the tournament by defeating Igor Vovchanchyn
in the final round.
In August 2002, PRIDE teamed up with Japan's leading kickboxing and fight promotion, K-1
, and held the worlds biggest fight event, Shockwave
(known as PRIDE/K-1 Dynamite!!
in Japan), which attracted over 91,107 fans.
On January 13
, the PRIDE organization was thrown into turmoil when DSE President Naoto Morishita was found dead hanging by his neck in his hotel room, apparently after his mistress told him she wanted to end their affair.
Speculation still looms whether this could possibly be the real reason, as trouble with tax authorities and the yakuza
have also been speculated to play a role.
Nobuyuki Sakakibara later assumed the presidency.
In 2003 PRIDE introduced the Bushido
series of events, which focused on the lighter weight classes of lightweights and welterweights. The Bushido
series also stressed a faster pace, with bouts consisting of only one ten minute round and one five minute round, as well as quicker referee intervention of stalling tactics, using the new "green card" system of purse deduction.
Also in 2003, PRIDE returned to the tournament format, with a middleweight grand prix spanning two events, Total Elimination 2003
and Final Conflict 2003
. The format would be expanded to three events in 2004, adding Critical Countdown 2004
as the second round. PRIDE would go on to hold annual tournaments, a Heavyweight tournament in 2004, Middleweight in 2005, and Openweight in 2006.
PRIDE announced it would cooperate with the Ultimate Fighting Championship
, North America's largest MMA organization, and would be showcasing their fighters, including Wanderlei Silva
and Kazuyuki Fujita
, at a UFC event in November 2006.
However, Dana White
, president of the UFC, since commented that an announced bout between Chuck Liddell
and Wanderlei Silva
may no longer be happening because of what he claimed that "the Japanese are very hard to do business with".
PRIDE has continued to enjoy success, holding roughly ten events per year, and even out-drawing rival K-1
at the annual New Year's Eve show PRIDE Shockwave 2005
. On October 21
, PRIDE held its first MMA event in USA, PRIDE 32: The Real Deal
took place in front of an audience of 11,727 at the Thomas & Mack Center
in Las Vegas
, and was the first PRIDE event to be held outside of Japan.
On June 5
, Fuji Network
announced that they were terminating their television contract with PRIDE Fighting Championships effective immediately due to a breach of contract by DSE.
This leaves PRIDE with only SKY PerfecTV
, a pay-per-view
carrier, as a television outlet in Japan, and the lack of the substantial revenues from the Fuji deal threatens its sustainability. DSE has been surrounded by speculation in the Japanese media, especially in Japanese tabloid Shukan Gendai
, that it may be a front for the notorious yakuza
crime organization. DSE responded to the loss by stating they will continue with their schedule as currently planned, including an event in Las Vegas, Nevada
, PRIDE 32: The Real Deal
which took place on October 21
, PRIDE's first event outside of Japan.
PRIDE has officially announced plans for Mike Tyson
to fight in the organizations New Year's Eve show
Tyson would face a PRIDE fighter under boxing
rules. Since Tyson is not allowed to fight in Japan
because of his criminal
record, PRIDE wants to stage the fight in an alternate country, possibly Macau, China
. The fight would be broadcast live on large television screens in the Saitama Super Arena
, where the regular mixed martial arts
bouts will be held.
On November 29
, PRIDE announced the discontinuation of it's Bushido events, with the intention of integrating the matches from lighter weight classes, mainly featured in Bushido, into regular PRIDE events. PRIDE also announced that future Grand Prix tournaments would take place on a four year weight class cycle, with one Grand Prix per year.