Pride Fighting Championships on April 8, 2007 held what would end up being its final show—even if nobody knew it at the time.
Pride 34 “Kamikaze” ended up being headlined by a heavyweight bout between Kazuyuki Fujita and Jeff Monson, thanks to rumored main-eventer Wanderlei Silva’s knockout loss to Dan Henderson at Pride 33 a month earlier. The Fujita-Monson main event stands out for lack of sizzle against the promotion’s usual offerings, as Pride cards had remained stacked even as rumors swirled about the company’s financial and legal difficulties.
However, while Pride 34 went on with rather less star power at the top than usual, it featured plenty of classic Pride elements, including “Mr. Pride” himself, Akira Shoji, who holds the unique distinction of having fought at the very first and last Pride events. It also delivered one of the most extreme circus sideshow fights the promotion ever put on, as Eric Esch and Wagner da Conceicao Martins were each billed at a preposterous 408 pounds for their match. That number, if accurate, might make “Butterbean” vs. “Zuluzinho” the heaviest match in mixed martial arts history, rivaled only by Chad Rowan and Paulo Cesar Silva’s clash at K-1 Premium Dynamite! in 2006.
What might have been just another event for the legendary Japanese promotion instead became its swan song. Just two weeks prior to the show, it had been announced that Ultimate Fighting Championship parent company Zuffa had made a deal to purchase Pride from Dream Stage Entertainment. UFC President Dana White briefly discussed the idea of running both promotions simultaneously, but nothing came of it. Pride’s Japan office closed for good less than six months later, signifying the end of an era in mixed martial arts.