Posted by Dan Henderson
UFC Middleweight. Former Strikeforce and Pride Fighting Championship champion. 32-14 professional MMA record.
Dan Henderson

This past week’s ongoing shenanigans with Krazy Horse Bennett and Wanderlei got me thinking about their scuffle back in 2005. I should probably call it an “alleged” scuffle, because I didn’t actually witness it, but I did hear about it from a couple trusted sources that were there, so I tend to believe it happened. I’ve got a few last thoughts on Pride that I was going to blog about, so I’m including those, as well.

Backstage Pride Brawls

The only one I ever heard about was the one with Wanderlei and Krazy Horse. Obviously, I wasn’t in the room, so I couldn’t tell you for sure, but what I had heard was that Wanderlei got up in his face, and Krazy Horse—I don’t want to call it a sucker punch—hit him, and Wanderlei wasn’t there to throw blows or anything like that. He'd gotten in his face, but wasn't throwing punches.

Krazy Horse, on the other hand, knocked him down, from what I heard, but Wanderlei wasn’t unconscious, like the rumors suggest. It definitely rocked him enough to put him down, but not out. I think about a half-hour later, Wanderlei fought and won.

There could have been other skirmishes with other fighters involved, but I never heard about them.

Things I Miss

I miss the freedom in that they didn’t worry so much about the logistics of weight classes. The biggest thing I miss is the actual show they put on. That was something special, and that magic hasn’t been replicated by any other organization since. At the time, both the UFC and Pride put on great fights, but Pride put on a great show, and there is a difference in those two things. Pride set themselves apart from the UFC, in my opinion, and it made them the best organization out there at the time.

The Rules

People talk about the soccer kicks, head stomps and yellow cards, but from the ruleset, I mostly miss being able to knee a guy in the head while he’s on the ground. I think they should implement that into the worldwide rules, as well. It changes the dynamic of a fight quite a bit without adding any real danger to the guy on the ground. If a guy is on his hands and knees and knows that he can get kneed, he’s not going to sit there.

The soccer kicks and head stomps are more on the dangerous side. I didn’t really do those much, so I don’t really miss them. The knees on the ground, however, I miss those quite a bit.

The Sale and Aftermath for Japanese MMA

Pride didn’t die because the UFC bought it. They were falling apart at the seams because of the feud they got into with K-1. The accusations of Yakuza involvement with Pride was a big reason why a lot of their prominent sponsors pulled out. Almost any business over there has ties to the Yakuza in some way. It’s just the way stuff was done over there at the time.

On the surface, I never saw anything out of the ordinary—nothing Yakuza or mafia-oriented—with them, at all. They may have gotten their money from that avenue to begin with, but nobody really knows.

They did run a legitimate organization, and they did a good job. They just made the fatal error of getting into that pissing match with K-1, and when they got accused of all the mafia dealings, it gave the sponsors the opportunity to bail out.

It’s sad that they couldn’t work out their differences, and neither Pride nor K-1 was ever the same after that. That pissing match was, in my opinion, the most direct link to the demise of Pride, and probably K-1, as well. Rizin seems like a good alternative right now, but they’ve got some really big shoes to fill.