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Old 03-27-2007, 03:35 PM   #1
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UFC buys Pride for less than $70M

http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/new...=ESPNHeadlines

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NEW YORK -- The majority owners of Ultimate Fighting Championship have agreed to buy their biggest mixed martial arts rival, Pride Fighting Championships, in a deal that will establish megafights among the outfits' titleholders and possibly attract huge pay-per-view audiences.
Company executives declined to comment on the sales price, but a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta will purchase the Japan-based Pride for less than $70 million. The person was not authorized to speak to reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The deal was completed Tuesday and was announced during a news conference in Tokyo, where Lorenzo Fertitta has been negotiating with Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the majority owner and chief executive of Dream Stage Entertainment Inc., Pride's owner.

"We have been talking to Pride for probably about 11 months," Lorenzo Fertitta said. "It's been a long, drawn-out process but we finally were able to put the two brands together."

To buy the company, the brothers created a new entity called Pride FC Worldwide Holdings LLC. The newly formed company will take over Pride assets, including its trademarks, video library and valuable roster of fighters, from Dream Stage. The Fertitta brothers, who own Las Vegas-based Zuffa LLC, the parent company of UFC, intend to keep the well-known Pride name and promote fights under that brand.

The acquisition marks a new phase in the brothers' quest to dominate the burgeoning world of mixed martial arts since they bought the struggling UFC in 2001.

"This is really going to change the face of MMA," Lorenzo Fertitta said. "Literally creating a sport that could be as big around the world as soccer. I liken it somewhat to when the NFC and AFC came together to create the NFL."

The deal allows the Fertitta brothers to broker the biggest MMA fights possible in the near future, increasing their influence in this sports entertainment business.

"We will be able to literally put on the fights that everyone wants to see," Lorenzo Fertitta said. "It will allow us to put on some of the biggest fights ever."

In the past, there has been at least one case in which Pride and UFC couldn't hammer out a deal to put their top fighters in the ring together. With Pride in their pocket, the Fertitta brothers intend to ensure that never happens again.

The sale gives Pride more financial backing to expand the business internationally after suffering a recent financial blow.

Major sponsor Fuji Television Network Inc. dropped Pride in June after a tabloid linked Pride to the Japanese mob -- something Sakakibara has denied vigorously. To help bolster Pride, the company staged two PPV fights in Las Vegas. Neither was a financial success. The fights gained exposure for Pride but lost money, making the sale of Pride more likely.

"I think it certainly weakened their position," Lorenzo Fertitta said. "One of our goals is to get back on a major platform back here in Japan."

Lorenzo Fertitta said he'll be looking to expand Pride internationally.

Buying Pride is the latest in a series of acquisitions that the brothers have made in the last six months. Zuffa snapped up World Extreme Cagefighting and World Fighting Alliance last year.

Similar to Pride, buying WFA gave UFC the rights to a popular fighter named Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Jackson will face UFC's most popular fighter, Chuck Liddell, the current light heavyweight champ in Las Vegas, on May 26 on PPV.

In the combat world, the Pride deal leaves a fragmented group of upstarts and K-1, another Japanese company that promotes fighters skilled in various forms of kick boxing.

Thanks to a surge in popularity, the brothers' investment in UFC and MMA in general has begun to pay off.

Last year, UFC cracked $200 million in PPV revenue, putting it on par with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.

UFC stages fights in arenas across the country and airs a clutch of successful television shows on Spike TV. It has also opened an office in London, looking toward establishing itself internationally.

The brothers also run Station Casinos Inc. in Las Vegas. Lorenzo Fertitta is president and Frank Fertitta is chairman and chief executive of Station Casinos, a public company that was recently agreed to be purchased by a private equity investor group that includes key members of the Fertitta family.

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Old 03-27-2007, 03:51 PM   #2
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Cool......

Man, I wish I had tickets to the one they're holding at the toyota center here in april......
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:52 PM   #3
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This is crazy....

So hopefully we finally get to see who the best Middleweight(Pride) Light Heavy(American) fighter is...

Chuck or Danny boy?

OoooHhH...n we get to see Fedor in American Heavyweight action as well...

I have beeeen wanting to see Arona fight Tito in more than a grappling match ala Abu Dhabi...

good shyt good shyt...
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Old 03-27-2007, 04:31 PM   #4
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they will become what the WWE is now in pro wrestling. a super brand!
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Old 03-27-2007, 04:33 PM   #5
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they will become what the WWE is now in pro wrestling. a super brand!
Just hopefully not as fake...
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indifferent0028"They've created a nation of spenders, speculators, and consumers, and they've destroyed the savers, producers, and the investing class that built this country. We're moving from a market-based economy to essentially a planned economy. We're abandoning capitalism and embracing socialism. That's a recipe for disaster." - Peter Schiff
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Old 03-27-2007, 08:05 PM   #6
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after two ufc paperviews they can earn enough to buy pride with cash, lol
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Old 03-27-2007, 08:07 PM   #7
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I knew about this last week. Pride style is a lot more entertaining!!
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Old 03-28-2007, 07:59 AM   #8
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yea.
This should be exciting
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Old 03-28-2007, 08:35 AM   #9
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nice.
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Old 03-28-2007, 09:12 AM   #10
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I knew about this last week. Pride style is a lot more entertaining!!
Wonder if they will allow the kicks to the head of a downed opponent here in america? Get some Vanderlei/Mauricio head stomp action goin on...doubt it, American commissions won't allow for it...would be nice though...:eh:
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Old 03-29-2007, 07:22 AM   #11
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sweet thay should add some of pride fighter to the fight card for UFC 69 so i can see more fights
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Old 03-31-2007, 12:09 PM   #12
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crazy.
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Old 03-31-2007, 12:19 PM   #13
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speaking of the UFC and for those who didnt feel like buying tix....

Hilton Americas Houston Downtown -- Noon-2pm CT 4/6/07
Second Floor Concourse
1600 Lamar Houston TX 77010
Free and open to the public
Featuring:
Randy Couture, UFC Heavyweight Champion
Sean Sherk, UFC Lightweight Champion
Matt Hughes
Rashad Evans
Chris Leben
Josh Burkman

UFC 69 Fighter Weigh-in 2-4pm CT 4/6/07
Root Memorial Basketball Court
*Located directly across from the Toyota Center on La Branch Street
Free and open to the public
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