ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 16: UFC President Dana White speaks during a press conference promoting UFC 145: Jones v Evans at Philips Arena on February 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
It says something about PRIDE's impact on the sport that there are still UFC vs. PRIDE debates after all this time. With the UFC set to return to Japan for the first time since UFC 29, UFC president Dana White has shared some of his thoughts on what it's going to be like at the event. He also touches on the idea that the UFC killed PRIDE.
"[Fans might boo me after they] see my face on the screen? Oh, I see. You're saying I'm not very popular over here," White said in response to a local reporter who suggested the UFC's brash boss might not get the favorable reception he's grown accustomed to. "Listen, I can take some boos. I can handle it. I'm pretty thick skinned.
"We didn't kill Pride. I've said this many times, Pride is the only other organization that I've ever respected. Pride was an organization here in Japan that did huge sell-out shows. There were tons of Pride fans in the United States. There are a lot of big stars, not just out of Japan, but worldwide that came from Pride. It's the only other organization that I have ever respected or given credit to."
Of course, that last bit ignores stuff like when Dana said "Have you heard me say a bad word about Strikeforce? I wish them all the luck in the world. I have nothing bad to say about guys who are running the right promotion." before Strikeforce's debut on CBS. But, Dana is a promoter and promoters change narratives based on what is best for promotion at that time (and that's not a bad thing, before someone gets all upset).
That being said, Dana is saying the right things about leaving PRIDE in the past. There have been constant questions about running a "PRIDE style show" somewhere in the future and Dana was very clear that they'll bring more UFC events to Japan, but there are no more PRIDE events.
We'll get our first glimpse Saturday of just how well the modern UFC will do with the Japanese fans.