PRIDE For Sale? What We Know

By Greg Savage and Josh Gross Mar 20, 2007
After the Sherdog Radio Network broached the subject Monday morning, the mixed martial arts world reacted strongly to rumors of an impending sale of PRIDE FC to Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta for an estimated $65 million.

While the Fertittas, Zuffa and UFC have remained silent, PRIDE USA vice president Jerry Millen offered a strong denial of the sale to graciefighter.com early Tuesday morning.

"You can't beleive [sic] what you read on the Internet and as a matter of fact I just got off the phone with Japan and PRIDE has not been sold and is not being sold to anyone, especially to Zuffa," Millen exclaimed. "We are in the process of making some ground breaking deals that will be bringing in large sums of revenue to the company and making it stronger than ever."

However Sherdog.com's sources continue to suggest the sale is imminent, going so far as to say an announcement could come a week from Tuesday. Various reports attributing Sherdog.com as suggesting an announcement would come this Wednesday are erroneous.

On Monday evening MMAWeekly.com claimed to have confirmed the rumor of Dream Stage Entertainment's sale of PRIDE, yet their report, which cited an anonymous PRIDE executive, stopped short of calling it a done deal.

Gleidson Venga, Sherdog.com's correspondent in Brazil, indicated that during PRIDE CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara's recent visit to Brazil, the embattled executive made no mention of an impending deal.

Rather, after traveling to the Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, he said that former PRIDE 205-pound champion Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) or 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix champion Mauricio Rua (Pictures) would fight on PRIDE's April 8 card in Tokyo. Additionally, Sakakibara praised Brazilian Top Team's Ricardo Arona (Pictures) after visiting the ADCC champion's hometown.

PRIDE USA president Ed Fishman, who today filed papers in a Nevada court against Dream Stage Entertainment for breach of contract, told Sherdog.com Sunday that he'd heard nothing about the sale of PRIDE to the Fertittas, who in 2000 purchased the struggling UFC and in the span if six years turned it into the lynchpin of one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S.

When asked about the rumored price tag, Fishman suggested it was similar to what he offered for control of PRIDE. The casino entrepreneur also expressed that after doing his due diligence, he is no longer interested in purchasing the organization that currently houses Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures).

That is irrelevant if the Fertittas have in fact come to terms with DSE. Yet hurdles will remain in the form of what one Sherdog.com source called sub-standard contracts between fighters currently on PRIDE's roster and the company's Japanese branch.

If DSE sells the company, the source said, certain fighters could immediately become free agents.
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