PRIDE Never Die.
The much-beloved fight promotion did die, actually, 10 years ago to be exact, after Zuffa purchased the Japan-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion. But, during it’s run, PRIDE FC was one of the most -- if not the most -- popular fight organization in the history of the sport.
With so many memorable matches to speak of, the organization produced and helped promote some of the greatest fighters in MMA including Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Mauricio Rua, just to name a few.
Another combatant who rose to combat prominence under the PRIDE banner was longtime veteran Dan Henderson, who was the only man to ever hold two different division titles simultaneously -- ala Conor McGregor -- for the promotion, winning the Middleweight and Welterweight straps.
During a recent interview with MMA Fighting, “Hendo” talked about his time with the organization and what separated it from the likes of UFC.
"They had so much to show and so much to win," he said, "And it probably depended on the fighter. But it was never in the 50/50 range (guarantee vs. winning bonus). It was more like 70 percent to show and 30 percent to win,” said Henderson.
“They weren't as concerned about wins and losses with the fighters as they are here. They were more concerned with how you competed. You can lose and if you're super exciting, they'll pay you more the next time,” confirmed Dan.
One of the big differences between PRIDE and UFC was the theatrics side of the show, as PRIDE never cut any corners when presenting a show, days “Hendo.”
"What made Pride unique was the show they put on," he said. "It was the production, not just the fights. They had great fights but they had a great show, especially if you're there live. You got a little sense of it on TV, but the live events were phenomenal. They had a little different rule set which made the fights a little more exciting. UFC had really exciting fights as well,” he added.
One thing you rarely found under the PRIDE banner was a boring bout, as the promotion used to dock fighters 10-percent of their fight purse if they stalled.
"Pride would give you a yellow card for being a little bit passive, and that meant they would take 10 percent out of your pay,” Henderson said. “Guys aren't going to be passive when they felt they were winning and risk losing pay."
And while Dan appreciated the yellow card system, he admits the promotion was a bit quicker to deduct from fighter’s pay toward the end of the promotion’s run.
"They started going over-the-top the last couple of years," he said. "They got a little happy taking 10 percent from people, but for the most part, it created a sense that you wanted to be aggressive because you didn't want to lose 10 percent of your pay,” said the hard-hitting brawler.
“Also, the rules allowing knees on the ground made the fights a little more active. Instead of guys sitting in situations and just hanging out until something is happening, guys won't sit there and wait if they can get kneed in the face. I wish they would add that rule here."
But, not everything was on the up-and-up with PRIDE, as Henderson says most fights were announced a couple of weeks prior to the event, giving very little time to gameplans and prepare for an opponent.
"Pride was always pretty last minute with their match-ups," he said. "They couldn't make up their minds. They didn't need the matches to sellout the show. People were coming because it was Pride. Sometimes they were sold out before they announced matches. But there were only a few times I fought with less than two weeks notice,” concluded Henderson.
Dan’s prestigious career came to an end last year after he decided to hang up his gloves for good after coming up short in his Middleweight title fight against Michael Bisping at UFC 204.
And just to reassure everyone, “Hendo” doesn’t have the itch to get back into the fight game after putting in 20 hard years in the hurt business.