Okay, well the last DSE show has come and gone. I thought it might be fun to look at a list of things that may or may not change
The Unified Rules
Yep, this is the one thing that has been constant … Unified rules are in, so that means elbows in, stomps out, kicks on the ground out, knees to the head on the ground are out. Most people generally agree that if knees were allowed back in they’d be okay with the Unified Rules. Even UFC brass has said this. Realistically I see knees on the ground back in the sport by 2009, but for now we’ll have to suffer for the sake of proving to people we’re not bloodthirsty barbarians. watching Pride34 though, you had to shed a tear for soccer kicks and stomps. You could sense that fighters were using them at every opportunity because they knew this was their last chance to do so, and it was really enjoyable. There’s no denying that these tools allow a fighter to definitively finish off an opponent, and danger wise I don’t see them as too bad so long as you have competent referees ready to step in. Will we ever see these bad boys back? I doubt it. Sayonara, you crazy kicks and stomps. You’ll be missed. See you soon though, knees to the head on the ground.
To me, the biggest casualty of the unified rules is the loss of the yellow cards. Nothing like hitting a fighter where it hurts … the wallet. I’ve always wondered why the UFC hasn’t adopted the yellow card rule … it seems like a perfect fit for an ADD league that stood Okami/Swick up 3 times in one round. I have to wonder if there’s some kind of sanctioning rule against docking a fighter pay for something that isn’t clearcut. Perhaps the CSAC wants to be the only one that arbitrarily fines fighters for whatever reason. This is something I’d like to know more on … you’d figure if promotions in North America were allowed to fine for lack of action at lease some would be all over that shit like a fat kid on a butterfinger.
Here’s another change that has been talked about but isn’t quite as simple as flipping a switch. I’ve always found it funny that Japan’s lightweight division is actually heavier than the UFC’s. Now that’s gonna change, with LW going down to 155 and the introduction of a Welterweight division in Pride. So many questions come out of this … who will stay at LW, who will move to WW? Will Gomi move to welterweight with his belt, meaning a vacant Lightweight title? Is the lightweigth tournament going to be lightweight or welterweight? There’s 1001 conflicting messages right now … PRIDE released a flyer for the Lightweight Tourney that showed several UFC welterweight fighters. Past the fact that I don’t think they’ll actually be included (see my post below on why), it does raise the question of which weight the tourney will be held at … 155 or 170.
Another big question: Is this the end of the new Super Heavyweight division? Technically I don’t even know if the Unified Rules have a division above 265 pounds. I can only hope that PRIDE keeps it’s freakshow division intact as a speciality, just like WEC has it’s featherweight and bantamweight division. I loves me a good fatty fight.
Sane rankings and bookings
Here’s something people are taking for granted. Everyone I’ve talked to has assumed that with Zuffa in control, it’s the end of retarded matchups and non-title fights. While I’m sure the title shot picture might become a bit cleaner, I have my doubts that the way PRIDE books will change significantly. The questions are thus: Will Pride actually sort out it’s lineup more than two weeks before an event? A month before the event? Will it be like the UFC and have at least the top end of the card organized a few months in advance? While I’m sure fighters will be excited about this, will this help or hurt fan interest now that we aren’t being wowed by retarded last second additions and changes to the lineup? My favorite fights of the night from Pride34 were Brian Lo-Na-Joe vs Shinya Aoki and Don Frye vs James Thompson. These are prime examples of fights that would never happen if Zuffa cleans up the PRIDE booking style.
Ah, people love to dream. Everyone is all in a buzz about UFC fighters being included in the lightweight tournament. Personally, I doubt it. For all the excitement going on right now, I don’t think you’re going to be seeing a lot of cross-promotional work being done for the next 6 months. While a few fighters might be moved back and forth between the organizations like Joe Riggs was with the WEC, that’ll most likely be the extent of things until the dust settles and Zuffa can assess the situation on the ground in Japan. Mostly you’ll see guys who haven’t really managed to fit in with their respective companies trade organizations. But a full blown ‘invasion’ and regular usage of eachothers fighters? You’ve been watching too much pro wrestling, brother.
Pride losing fighters
Word on the internet is that PRIDE’s contracts were all written in crayon on a Boston Pizza napkin. I have my doubts about that, but there’s no questioning that PRIDE’s paperwork is somewhat sketchy and several of their top fighters have enough wiggle room in their contract to demand a lot more money before bowing to their new masters. Cheif amongst these in my mind are the Emeilienenko brothers, Josh Barnett, and Wanderlei Silva. We’ll have to sit back and see what happens, but I can only hope that they end up somewhere where i can actually enjoy them fight.
Talking to most hardcore Pride fans, you get the feeling they think the ring and the screechy bitch are the only two things which survive the transfer to Zuffa. Past that it’ll just be a shell. Personally looking over this list, I think too much emphasis is being put on the rules change and not enough on the change in booking strategy that may or may not happen. In the end, PRIDE as a company has started out ‘new’ with all the same people on board as before, minus Sakakibara. I’d say that should be a pretty heartening fact. Now we just have to wait to see who replaces him, which will really determine if Zuffa is serious about letting Pride stay Pride.