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Great Night for Fans, Bad Night for PRIDE?

The Houston Chronicle's Steve Sievert raises questions about Wanderlei Silva's future:

The loss raises some real questions about Silva, who has long been one of MMA's most compelling and competitive fighters. However, he's now been KO'd in consecutive bouts and is a pedestrian 2-3 in his last five outings. In his last two fights, Silva, 30, has simply not looked like the same fighter who ripped through opponents earlier this decade.

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for Silva as a truly elite mixed martial artist?

Zach Arnold of FightOpinion.com thinks that


One fighter who suffered major damage to his PRIDE career was Kazuo Misaki, winner of PRIDE's 2006 Welterweight (185-pound) GP tournament. Misaki beat PRIDE's Welterweight champion, Dan Henderson, on August 26th last year in Nagoya.
...It was a high point in Misaki's career, and most assuredly set-up on paper an anticipated match between Misaki (the 2006 Welterweight GP champion) and Dan Henderson (PRIDE welterweight champion). DSE had an opportunity to book the fight for their New Year's Eve event.

They didn't.

The promotion then had a chance to book the fight for their PRIDE 33 event in Las Vegas.

They didn't.

Instead, PRIDE decided to strangely book Kazuo Misaki against ICON Sport 170-pound champion Frank Trigg.

...Frank Trigg ended up defeating Kazuo Misaki via unanimous decision (winning all three rounds, 30-27, on the scorecards). Misaki's image in Japan takes a big hit from this loss. It also limits what fight options he has coming up in PRIDE. More than likely, Misaki will have to face a healthy Denis Kang in a re-match. That is not a good outcome for Misaki.

...However, the night of career damage in PRIDE just started after Misaki's loss. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the little brother of #2 PRIDE Heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, faced off against Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (from Cameroon). Sokoudjou was a massive underdog going into this fight, ranging anywhere from +1000 to +1600 in major online sportsbooks.

...In one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, Sokoudjou KO'd Rogerio Nogueira on the PRIDE 33 event. To say that this caused major career damage to Rogerio Nogueira would be the understatement of the year. Indirectly, this also affects the political power of BTT (Brazilian Top Team) in PRIDE. Everyone is left stunned with this fight outcome. The damage to the Nogueira name in Japan has been done.

...For Takanori Gomi, the loss to Nick Diaz is devastating. It completely halts any talk in Japanese media circles about Gomi being ready to face Sean Sherk, BJ Penn, or Matt Hughes.

Arnold goes on to say that something bigger than a couple of fighters' careers took a hit last night. He sees last nights results as a disaster for the PRIDE organization itself:

PRIDE 33 will go down as an event that, on paper, had a fight card line-up that looked like a turkey but produced some exciting fights. Short-term, the event was successful. Long-term, however, major damage was done to several of PRIDE's key Japanese assets.

There is no turning back to Japan now for PRIDE.

Four fighters (Misaki, Rogerio, Gomi, and Silva) suffered major career damage in Japan after the PRIDE 33 event. There will be PRIDE supporters who will immediately state that automatic re-matches between Misaki/Trigg, Rogerio/Sokoudjou, Gomi/Diaz, and Silva/Henderson will draw big money in Japan. The reality is that they won't. Without having a free-to-air television deal in Japan, PRIDE will be fortunate to have 50,000-70,000 eyeballs who actually watched the live fights on SkyPerfecTV PPV. How will the rest of the Japanese fight fans get their coverage of these fights? Through the newspapers and various news wires. When fans read that Takanori Gomi lost to Nick Diaz and Vanderlei Silva lost to Dan Henderson, this isn't going to propel Diaz and Henderson in becoming bigger stars in Japan. It's just going to provide a shocked reaction from the Japanese fight fans that Gomi and Silva lost. More damage done to the losers than progress gained for the winners. That's the conundrum that DSE promoters are facing right now in Japan.

MMA Weekly has a good photo gallery from the event.