While the sport of mixed martial arts was forced underground in North America, PRIDE Fighting Championships flourished in Japan. During its brief 10-year lifespan, PRIDE FC served as the arena of choice for the world’s elite fighters.
Crowds of 40,000 or more packed the Tokyo Dome and Saitama Super Arena to watch as fighters like Kazushi “The Gracie Hunter” Sakuraba, Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva, “Minotauro” Nogueira and Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko cemented their legends.
Perhaps the greatest legacy of PRIDE comes in the form of their two open-weight tournaments. Tailor-made to determine the greatest living mixed martial artist, the PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 started with 16 fighters and ended with Mark “The Hammer” Coleman forcing Igor “Ice Cold” Vovchanchyn to tap from knee strikes. PRIDE promoted its last live card in 2007 but any diehard MMA fan will tell you, “PRIDE never die.”