Spoiler: Zuffa Purchase Lorenzo Fertita completed the purchase of PRIDE in March 2007. However he been negotiating to purchase it since July 2006 which was when PRIDE had been dropped by Fuji TV. What motivated Lorenzo to invest in PRIDE was the fact that he was a fan of the famous Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie 90 minute fight. He was very enthusiastic about the idea of investing into and expanding PRIDE. However PRIDE was already into a huge financial debt as they had lost their TV deal with Fuji TV and it would've cost Lorenzo $12 million to put on another PRIDE event. On October 4, 2007, Jamie Pollack called the PRIDE FC Worldwide offices and notified them they would be shutting down all operations and all of the employees were dismissed. Spoiler: PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix The first event of this new revamped PRIDE was scheduled to include a lightweight grand prix. The first round of the grand prix was scheduled to take place on May 20, 2007 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The second round was scheduled to take place on July 16, 2007 at the Nihon Gaisha Hall in Nagoya, Japan. The finals were scheduled to take place on September 30, 2007 at the Saitama Super Arena. Takanori Gomi, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Gilbert Melendez, Joachim Hansen, Luiz Azeredo, Marcus Aurelio, Shinya Aoki Satoru Kitaoka (who had defeated Fabricio Monteiro in a qualifying match in DEEP) were some of the names scheduled to participate in this upcoming tournament. There was talks of Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes and then UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk also participating in the tournament as UFC representatives. The tournament however never took place as the Fertitas had purchased PRIDE months before the event and thought it was a bad idea to put on such a big card in that short of a time frame. Spoiler: DREAM After PRIDE folded, Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE, the old PRIDE management company) decided to create a new MMA organization which they named DREAM. Their desire was to follow in the footsteps of PRIDE and to follow in those footsteps they decided to put on their own lightweight grand prix at their first event known as DREAM 1. Spoiler: Shinya Aoki Before fighting for PRIDE, the UFC had made Shina Aoki an offer to fight BJ Penn in the UFC. Aoki considered the offer as he could've made a living from MMA if he fought 4 times a year in the UFC, however his manager Mr. Hasegawa advised him against it and Aoki declined the offer. In hindsight Aoki said he felt it was the right decision careerwise as he didn't feel he had reached that level professionally at that point. Aoki also spoke about the thoughts of taking a hiatus from MMA and focusing solely on becoming a police officer as there was no money to be in MMA untile he began fighting in PRIDE. He said PRIDE paid and treated him well. Spoiler: PRIDE 1 The original plan for PRIDE was for it to have a UWF International vs. Gracie Family theme. The planned main event was Nobuhiko Takada vs. Rickson Gracie which of course panned out. Aside from Rickson, it was also expected other Gracie family members participated such as Renzo Gracie and Royler Gracie. Renzo was expected to face Kazushi Sakuraba, however that fight didn't materialize as Sakuraba was a Kingdom (Ehrgeiz) fighter. Renzo ended up fighting Akira Shoji. KRS (who originally ran PRIDE) tried negotiating with Kingdom in hopes of getting to book some of their fighters such as Yoji Anjoh, Hiromitsu Kanehara and the previously mentioned Sakuraba. However an agreement wasn't reached. Rickson had previously beaten and bloodied Anjoh up in a fight they had the Gracie Dojo. KRS' was hoping to capitalize on this by putting both Anjoh on the same card as Rickson and hoping this beating Anjoh suffered at the hands of Rickson would've drawn Rickson more heat for his fight with Takada. Another fight KRS had planned for PRIDE 1 was Tank Abbott vs. Kimo. However the fight was cancelled as Tank encountered VISA issues and couldn't fly to Japan. Tank was then replaced by Dan Severn who fought Kimo in what they considered an underwhelming bout. Spoiler: Pro-Wrestling The pro-wrestling influence was key in PRIDE since their foundation. Another idea KRS had in mind, was setting up dream matches between pro-wrestling and Vale Tudo fighrts. Some of the pro-wrestlers KRS had in mind for these dream matches were Akira Maeda, Masakatsu Funaki, Kiyoshi Tamura, Minoru Suzuki, Shinya Hashimoto, Riki Choshu, Mitsuharu Misawa and a series of other U-System wrestlers. Many of these pro-wrestlers declined the offers to fight in PRIDE as they were superstars in pro-wrestling already and accepting the offer would've meant they would've had to fight on the under card below the Takada vs. Rickson main event and they felt that would've hurt their stock. Spoiler: Tiger Mask PRIDE also planned on creating their own version of Tiger Mask. KRS approached pro-wrestler Tiger Mask 4 who was wrestling for Michinoku Pro at the time, but nothing ever materialized. The other fighters they thought of turning into Tiger Mask's were Guy Mezger and Kiyoshi Tamura. The idea was to have Tamura as the main Tiger Mask character. They had scheduled an anime to go along with the character similar to the original Tiger Mask anime series, but the idea never materialized as the creators of the anime backed out. Spoiler: Nobuhiko Takada's Retirement Nobuhiko Takada was originally scheduled to face Naoya Ogawa in his retirement. However offers for a fight with Mirko Cro Cop and Hidehiko Yoshida arrived. Takada however turned down both of those offers as an offer to fight Kiyoshi Tamura arrised. PRIDE management decided to make the Tamura fight instead they thought it'd be a more marketable fight they could build with both guys having history with each other from their UWF-i days. Spoiler: TV Before the UFC had created the Ultimate Figher, PRIDE had already run it's own reality TV show called PRE-PRIDE, PRIDE OU and PRIDE KING. The show ran for 6 seasons and the winners of the show were given chances to fight in PRIDE. The coaches for the first season of the were Masaaki Satake, Daijiro Matsui, Akira Shoji and Alexader Otsuka. Some of the winners of the show however declined the offer to fight in PRIDE. One of the winners of the show opted to fight for RINGS instead of PRIDE and others only fought once or twice in PRIDE and were never built as winners of the show on PRIDE events. Yushin Okami was one of the winners of show and he wore a Batman mask during his walkout for the fights on the show. PRIDE also produced another reality TV show called PRIDE Challenger which featured amateur fighters. The footage of these shows however is very limited as these shows only aired on syndicated local TV stations in certain cities of Japan only. PRIDE also promoted some smaller events in smaller venues under the MMA THE BEST banner. The fights were contested in an octagon ring. Joe Son fought Yusuke Imamura in the main event of the first event. Spoiler: Mirko Cro Cop When Mirko Cro Cop negotiated with K-1 about crossover to PRIDE his first fight was scheduled against Heath Herring. Mirko's manager, Kenichi Imai (who was also an agent for other K-1 fighters) flew to Holland to meet with Stefan Leko who was training Herring at the time for the fight. Imai approached Leko and pleaded him to go hard on Herring in training mainly attacking his face so Herring would focus on covering his head in the fight with Mirko and thus leave his body exposed for Mirko to attack. When the fight occurred, Mirko began throwing strikes to Herring's face and Herring would cover up exposing his body which Mirko followed up on and attacked before eventually dropping him with a body kick. Spoiler: Fujita and Kharitonov UFC Bound There was talks between PRIDE and the UFC at UFC 44 with the idea of setting up a possible fight for Kazuyuki Fujita at UFC 46. PRIDE was hoping the UFC would offer Fujita a big fight, but the UFC offered him a fight against Wesley Correira. PRIDE however turned down the fight as they thought it wasn't a big enough fight for Fujita. There was also talks about setting up a possible fight for Sergei Kharitonov in the UFC, but this time the UFC turned down the offer. Spoiler: PRIDE vs. K-1; Tamura vs. Holyfield, Leonard, de la Hoya K-1 put on an event on NYE 2003 featuring a huge fight featuring Akebono and Bob Sapp. To counter attack K-1's event, PRIDE put on a co-promoted event with Antonio Inoki featuring fights such as Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Mirko Cro Cop, Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Peter Aerts, Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Naoya Ogawa, plus Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva and Fedor Emelianenko. PRIDE's response to K-1's Akebono vs. Sapp fight was Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Kazushi Sakuraba or Tamura vs. Rodrigo. Rodrigo had heat behind the scenes, so the potential fight with Tamura feel through. PRIDE continued to negotiate in hopes of putting on Tamura vs. Sakuraba even proposing a potential tag team MMA fight pitting Tamura teaming with Kazuki Okubo vs. Sakuraba and a partner, but Sakuraba turned the fight down. With none of negotiations panning out, PRIDE dropped the idea of Tamura vs. Sakuraba and instead scrambled to try and put on Tamura vs. a series of boxers. The first boxer PRIDE try to schedule face Tamura was Evander Holyfield. However those negotiations feel through quickly and PRIDE considered the possibility of setting up Tamura vs. "Sugar" Ray Leonard or Tamura vs. Oscar de la Hoya. Again those ideas didn't materialize and Tamura ended up fighting Rony Sefo. On the other side PRIDE was scrambling to find an opponent for Sakuraba. The only 2 considerable opponents had for Sakuraba were Antonio Rogerio Nogueira or el Solar. The idea of Sakuraba vs. el Solar was to have Sakuraba face el Solar in the first ever all masked man MMA fight with Sakuraba wearing his Saku-machine mask which he wore for his entrance for the first Royce Gracie fight. Sakuraba however turned down the fight and accepted the fight with Rogerio. Spoiler: Fedor vs. Russian Top Team After Fedor Emelianenko left Russian Top Team and joined Red Devil Team, Russian Top Team began training fighters to beat Fedor in PRIDE. The first fighter they trained to beat Fedor was Sergei Kharitonov. The other fighter they were trained to beat Fedor was a Sambo fighter who had beaten Fedor twice in Sambo and who they thought was superior to Fedor named Suren Balachinsky. Balachinsky was set to make his debut at PRIDE 28, however Balachinsky was forced to withdraw from the event due to injuries he sustained. Spoiler: Wanderlei vs. Krazy Horse To put an end to the rumors that Krazy Horse KO'd Wanderlei backstage, he didn't. What did occur was Cristiano Marcelo choked out Krazy Horse and Krazy Horse got up all wobbly and began throwing punches wildly and he caught Wanderlei off guard, but didn't knock him out. Spoiler: Big Van Vader PRIDE wanted to book famous American pro-wrestler Big Van Vader who had made a name for himself in Japan. However due to his poor physical condition, PRIDE retracted that idea and opted not to. Spoiler: Gomi vs. Tokuyama PRIDE originally had plans of potentialy setting up a fight between Takanori Gomi vs. WBC Super Flyweight boxing champion Masamori Tokuyama. However once news broke of the idea, many situations arose making it impossible for the fight to take place. One of the talking points about the fight was the 20 kg weight difference between the fighters. The boxing comission also approached Tokuyama and informed him that if he went ahead with the fight then he would have to relinquish his title and would have to temporarily retire from boxing. After hearing the news, PRIDE tried setting up a potential 4 round 3 minute boxing match between Gomi and Tokuyama that could only be one by KO/TKO and would be ruled a draw if it went the distance. Due to all of the inconveniences that arose, the fight was never allowed to take place. Spoiler: Anderson Silva's Departure The reason Anderson Silva departed PRIDE and went on to fight elsewhere was due to the strong relationship Chute Boxe founder, Rudimar Fedrigo had with DSE and the fact that Anderson wanted to depart himself from Chute Boxe. Spoiler: Georges St. Pierre Before Georges St. Pierre had signed with the UFC, a PRIDE video producer who lived in the US informed DSE about a young Canadian fighter he knew who was of course GSP. DSE told the producer to send them videos and material of GSP, however they never gained interest in him as he was virtually unknown in the US and virtually unknown in Japan at the time. Spoiler: Kimbo Slice Another name PRIDE was rumored of having interest in signing was Kimbo Silce. PRIDE's original idea was the fact that they wanted to sign a big black fighter for their second Las Vegas show, however Dan Henderson spoke to DSE and informed them he knew of someone else who fit that mold and brought up Sokoudjou. PRIDE listened to Henderson's recommendation and opted signing Sokoudjou who fought Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Spoiler: Mike Tyson PRIDE began negotiating with former boxing heavyweight champion Mike Tyson about potentially fighting in PRIDE. At the time Tyson was facing a series of legal problems and he couldn't get a license to fight anywhere. PRIDE's original plan was to do a world tour with Tyson. The original opponents in mind to face Tyson were Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Cro Cop and those with stand up skills. The world tour with Tyson was scheduled to feature Tyson facing MMA fighters in boxing matches. The tour was scheduled to kickoff in Macau, China and then head to Russia and across different countries in Europe. Tyson signed a contract with PRIDE and appeared at the first PRIDE event in Las Vegas press conference, but he did not appear at the event itself. Spoiler: DEEP Shigeru Saeki's DEEP organization was originally scheduled to be a pro-wrestling organization that then ended up turning into an MMA organization. DEEP original matchups were scheduled being Nobuhiko Takada vs. Cactus Jack and the Road Warrios, Hawk and Animal vs. NO FEAR, Yoshihiro Takayama and Takao Omori. Yuji Shimada advised Saeki about negotating a talent exchange relationship with WWE. All of Saeki's ideas feel through and talks with several Brazilian fighters such as Royler Gracie kicked off and a strong relationship with Pancrase began and DEEP changed it's idea and turned into an MMA organization. Similar to PRIDE's original idea of pro-wrestlers vs. MMA fighters, DEEP tried putting on several fights featuring pro-wrestlers vs. MMA fighters including Kengo Watanabe vs. Road Warrior Animal, however that feel through as Animal turned down the fight, Minoru Suzuki vs. Kiyoshi Tamura, but Tamura turned down the fight, Sanae Kikuta vs. Ricardo Arona, but Arona turned down the fight, Suzuki vs. Wataru Sakuta, but the fight never materialized. Masakatsu Funaki pitched Saeki the idea of Yoshiki Takahashi vs. Sakata, but the Pancrase president, Mr. Ozaki turned down the fight. Another fight that Saeki tried to put together was Minowaman vs. Japanese ZERO-ONE pro-wrestler Tatsuhito Takaiwa. The plan for the fight came up after Minowaman tried a piledriver in his fight with Paulo Filho. In the post fight interview Minowaman expressed he would try a death valley bomb in one of his fights which is a move Takaiwa has been using as one of his main finishers in pro-wrestling matches. Takaiwa accepted the fight Minowaman, but ZERO-ONE management turned it down. Saeki came up with the idea of potentially booking Osaka Pro comedy pro-wrestler Ebessan in an fight on a DEEP card after there was talk of Ebessan potentially taking on Alistair Overeem at the 2003 Inoki Matsuri NYE event. Saeki also tried booking pro-wrestling NOSAWA Rongai in a fight, but it never materialized. Other fights Saeki tried to put together include Yuki Kondo vs. Hayato "Mach" Sakurai and a fight between pro-wrestlers Kim Duk and the Cobra George Takano. Duk accepted the fight, but Takano turned it down. Another fight Saeki thought of making was Yuki Kondo vs. Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, but he opted not to even try to put it on because he knew it would be a problematic fight to put on. Saeki also tried putting a fight between pro-wrestlers Kim Duk and the Cobra George Takano. Duk accepted the fight, but Takano turned the fight down.