Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Is Rizin as good as Pride FC?

The first show for what many are referring to as the new "Pride FC", Rizin did their first New Years Eve Grand Prix. The Grand Prix was a staple for Pride Fighting Championships until the promotion went under in 2007. With many of the same decision makers behind Pride putting on Rizin Fighting Federation events, it was no surprise to see many of the same fighters from the days of Pride.

But how was it? Were you impressed? It was definitely one of the best looking MMA events in recent Japanese MMA history but was it enough to make you chase the sport the way Pride FC did when they were competing with the UFC?

Hard to tell with only one show, but most long-time MMA fans were excited to watch and having Fedor Emilanenko in the main event was cool, even if he fought an unknown 2-0 fighter. The UFC has done a good job of saturating the US market and establishing themselves as the upper tier promotion for MMA. Could Rizin’s attempt to come back be too little too late? It’s no secret that Japanese MMA has suffered since Pride fell and outside of Pancrase (now a UFC Fight Pass event) and any other shows it has not been what is used to be.

The event aired in the US on Spike TV and while visually stunning, the new generation of MMA fans may have not felt the show was worth all the effort and hype. Jimmy Smith, combat sports commentator for PBC Boxing and Bellator MMA said it best when asked who Emelianenko should fight next.

“They can’t throw him another softball”, he replied referring to Jaideep Singh. Singh’s record in MMA made it seem like an exhibition match for the former Pride champ. In pro-wrestling, Singh would be considered the “Jobber” as many knew the outcome would benefit Emelianenko.

As much as long time MMA fans may miss the UFC/Pride rivalry, Rizin may have taken too long to put on a show. The cost of holding events alone can crumble a promotion if you recall the one World Fighting Alliance’s (WFA) one show that had great names on the card and folded after one pay-per-view. However, Rizin is partnering with Bellator to broadcast events here in the US and Bellator is owned by media giant Viacom. If they stay interested, Rizin could be here to stay.

Photo: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com

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