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Dave Meltzer explains why PRIDE and RIZIN ‘cannot compete’ with UFC globally

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Some die-hards will live and breathe by the days of Pride, but Dave Meltzer says the inabiltiy for Japanese promotions to truly make a global dent comes down to economics.

Japanese promotions would still have an uphill battle out-performing U.S. companies even if they actively had the best fighters on Earth.

PRIDE holds a very special place in the hearts of many early MMA fans. Over in the pro-wrestling world, New Japan Pro Wrestling is often touted as home to the industry’s best athletes. So why is it companies like UFC and WWE continue to expand globally while promotions like RIZIN try to recapture the spark of PRIDE?

Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter joined episode four of The Insiders to detail exactly how Japanese promotions have the deck stacked against them.

“I think it all has to do with culture. America has the backbone because of these big television deals in the U.S. Japan doesn’t have that. Japan doesn’t have the big television deals... no matter how popular they are and often they are more popular in their country than the American products are in ours, but they don’t have the ability to generated revenue so they can’t expand,” Meltzer explained. “The advantages of being in the United States and being in America and expanding are such that the Japanese cannot compete or overcome on a worldwide basis.”

Even if Japan had the better athletic product, which it once did, and the superior presentation, which some would argue it still does, the U.S. already has a firm grip on global entertainment consumption.

“I think the way the Japanese put shows together. If I look at PRIDE and K-1, Bellator tries to copy that. Those are really fun live shows. I went to a RIZIN show about a year ago and it was really fun in a way. It’s different than UFC. The UFC is fun too but I would actually enjoy a RIZIN show more than UFC show,” Meltzer said of the presentation while conceding that UFC hosts higher quality fights. “What Japan had early was that the guys were very submission oriented and less striking oriented. You got a lot of really cool submission style matches. That also probably came from the pro-wresting influence. Submission pro-wrestling led to Japanese MMA and they loved jiu-jitsu because it is submission wrestling.”

In a more amusing story, Meltzer also revealed how he once confronted his friend Bas Rutten for hitting on Meltzer’s wife.

“We were at a show in Vegas and Bas Rutten pretty much hit on my wife. She was upset. It was a pretty strong hit and he was drunk. What do you do? It’s Bas Rutten, right? Thank God I was friends with Bas Rutten. I went up to him and told him. I’m thinking, ‘I hope he remembers that we’re friends,’” Meltzer laughed. “I don’t want to start a fight with him. He came over and apologized, ‘I’m so sorry, I love you, Dave.’ That was it.”

“She knew Bas, she was an MMA fan. She knew exactly who he was,” he added. “It was a weird couple of seconds of, ‘He is drunk and he may not remember who I am. This could be real bad.’ But you gotta do what you gotta do in that kind of situation.”

Timestamps are below for the video above.

0:56 - Dave Meltzer and MMA
3:33 - Early Days of MMA
5:56 - How Important is the Meltzer Rating?
8:21 - Are Fighters Low-Key Fans of the Media?
9:40 - Has MMA Media Lost Power?
11:13 - Industry Corruption
15:09 - Accusations Against Dave Meltzer
18:05 - Challenges of Doing Radio
20:01 - Bas Rutten & Your Wife
22:24 - Did WWE Fail Mauro Ranallo?
24:17 - Past and Future of MMA/Pro-Wrestling
27:17 - Japan’s Influence on North America
30:45 - Shak S—t’s His Pants