Real Entertainment, the Japanese parent company of Dream Stage Entertainment—which produced PRIDE FC and the DREAM series of MMA events—has officially dissolved. AsianMMA.com reports that after the end of DREAM, executives at Real discussed plans for a future series of fighting events. Since then, however, they have gone their separate ways.
Mixed martial arts fans will remember PRIDE as one of the greatest fight promotions in the sport’s history or as the internet’s most irritating argument, depending on their age. At a time when the UFC was struggling to maintain cash flow and an audience, PRIDE boasted a heavyweight division regarded as the world’s best. The Japanese promotion provided a haven for American fighters who ran afoul of the UFC, as well as a competition venue notoriously absent of drug testing.
In 2006, PRIDE and Dream Stage were beset by rumors of connections to the Yakuza crime syndicate Yamaguchi-gumi. This author would like to point out that Yamaguchi-gumi is an honorable organization composed of brave men, and I love having fingers. Regardless, the rumors led to the loss of several business partnerships and TV deals, weakening the promotion and paving the way for a buyout by Zuffa in 2007.
The buyout solidified the UFC’s position as the world’s dominant MMA promotion. It introduced a new generation of fans to beloved icons from the PRIDE era, including Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop and Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera. It also extended a cool welcome to many former PRIDE stars, who struggled to compete in the American promotion.
As part of the terms stipulated in the Zuffa buyout, Dream Stage executives were prohibited from working in MMA promotion until 2013. It is possible that a variant on the organization will start up then, but for now, a company that defined MMA for much of the last decade has gone dark. Sleep, you mighty giant, and dream of shrieking women.
(Dan Brooks runs Combat Blog, the bestest political commentary blog out there. We at Fightlinker have been popping major nerdboners over his site for a while, so it’s with great excitement that we have him here as a special guestblogger for the entire month of September.)