UFC President Dana White claims the promotion’s “Contender Series” library is far superior to the PRIDE Fighting Championship library, which tells me he never watched PRIDE or is perhaps still bitter about taking Chuck Liddell to Japan in late 2003 and watching him lose to longtime rival Quinton Jackson at “Final Conflict.”
That’s the same event that saw Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira armbar Mirko Cro Cop in dramatic fashion, shortly before Wanderlei Silva pummeled “Rampage” with fight-ending knees in the main event. Dan Henderson and Kazushi Sakuraba also picked up wins — and finishes — at the jam-packed Tokyo Dome.
“This is the second-best library in combat sports,” White told MMA Junkie. “I mean, you could make the argument for PRIDE, because PRIDE had some classic, unbelievable fights, but they had a lot of shitty fights, a lot of mismatches and things like that too. But this thing? In four seasons, top to bottom, I mean, every single fight is excellent. It’s crazy. This is the second-best library in all of combat sports. It’s unbelievable.”
There’s no question “Contender Series” has delivered some exciting fights, especially for a weekly show that is designed to showcase unsigned and in many ways unproven talent. But the stakes are relatively low for each fighter and much of the drama that makes marquee matchups so compelling simply isn’t there.
White and Co. purchased PRIDE as well as most of its assets for just $70 million back in early 2007 (more on that here), scooping up some (but not all) of the biggest names in mixed martial arts (MMA). Former PRIDE head cheese, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, went on to create RIZIN Fighting Federation in 2017.
The rest as they say is