Sunday, April 15, 2007

Memo to Lorenzo Fertitta (Thoughts on the next Pride event)

With the recent acquisition of Pride by the Fertitta's the next event will be crucial to them it in many ways. They will need to show a sense of tradition and connection with the Pride fans as well as have a little something for the UFC fans that have been largely unaware of Pride until the acquisition and are just now tuning in to see what it really is. With that in mind I got to thinking about some fights that would be compelling. Okay, yeah basically I was thinking, "Hmmm, if I was Lorenzo Fertitta and had this greatest of all toys to play with what would I do?"

While Cro Cop vs Fedor is an obvious choice for MMA fans. I would be somewhat surprised to see it so soon, as Mirko has work to do in the UFC right now and a next New Years fight between UFC HW champion Cro Cop versus Pride HW champ Fedor would be truly epic.

The African powerhouse known as Sokoudjou has beaten two top-tier opponents and has gained a fairly large following already. Meanwhile, Wanderlei Silva is on a two loss slide. Talk about a fight with long term ramifications. Not to mention short term action!! Sokoudjou wins and he's among the pinnacle of 205 pounders in the sport. If he loses, well losing to Silva isn't much of a black mark on a man's record. A loss for Silva puts him in a freefall whereas a win gives him much needed credibility. Maybe enough for a showdown with Liddell. Another option instead of Silva would be "Shogun" Rua.

Win or lose this next fight Andrei Arlovski would be someone that could make a big impact in Pride and he comes with a built in fanbase. If he beats Werdum then I could see him getting a fight with Fedor sometime before the showdown with Cro Cop, mostly because there really just isn't much competition left in Pride for Fedor. Then again that forestalls an Arlovski/Cro Cop showdown which might even be more compelling. Tough F'in call! Should Andrei lose to Werdum I would say for sure we'll see him in Pride, though K-1 could be an option for him. In that scenario Arlovski against Mark Hunt would be a great fight on paper. Massive chin versus massive right hand.

Renato "Babalu" Sobral would be another good guy from UFC that could bring some fans to Pride with him. Not to mention he's sort of dead in the water in the UFC at 205 as long as Chuck holds the belt. Tito Ortiz would also work but with his match with Rashad coming up I would hazard that is less likely. Babalu against "Shogun" Rua or maybe Alistair Overeem would be a great fight. Babalu is one of the rare fighters with Pride fans and UFC fans.

An appearance from Pride legend Kazushi Sakuraba would be a great choice for the first Fertitta led Pride event. A fight with up and comer, hell who am I kidding he's been here a little while now, Mauricio Rua would be have ramifications similar to the Silva/Sokoudjou fight. Other great grapplers that would be perfect for "Saku" could be either of the Nogueira brothers or maybe Marcio Cruz from the UFC. Babalu, too, would be another nifty option.

Now if I were to take things to extremes and since I do have that tendency let me just lay this one last fight down. I hope I am not reaching for the stars a little too fervently. Dan Henderson is probably the best American fighter Pride has, as his two belts attest. Why not pit him against the young stud "Shogun" Rua. Being from Wanderlei Silva's camp, whom Hendo just beat, would add a very intriguing element to this fight between two apex predators. Just for icing on the cake......Hendo also beat "Shogun's" brother, Murilo "Ninja".

Oh the possibilities! I'm licking my chops people and you should be too.