Two weird things going on during the final Pride show.
First things first, there’s an official looking flyer going around for the next PRIDE event implying that Matt Hughes and Diego Sanchez were going to participate in the PRIDE lightweight tournament on May 20th. Now in ‘Reality’, the chances of this happening are ‘snowball’s chance in hell’. So it raises the question : what the fuck?
PRIDE’s got a rep for implying that fighters are going to fight on a card, and then the fighters don’t. Just look at Wanderlei Silva, Dennis Kang, and at least 4-5 others who were announced as participating at PRIDE34. This actually happens so much it’s a pretty big joke amongst MMA fans, and no one believes the lineup promises until an actual match is confirmed.
This was one of the things that we all assumed would end with Sakakibara’s reign. Of course, his reign only ended on Saturday, so who’s to say he’s not behind this last act of false promotional hype? It’ll definately be interesting to see if this kind of stuff continues after he leaves. Originally i thought not. Now, after reading so much stuff from and about the Japanese fight media, I think it’s just an integral part of how stuff is promoted in Japan.
Second thing: The Sakuraba / Tamura thing. Yeah … speaking as an ‘outsider’, this was pretty weird. Considering K1 and Zuffa are gearing up to go to war, it just doesn’t make sense that Sakuraba would be allowed to return to Pride. Of course, I don’t understand the nuances behind the Japanese scene and Sakuraba.
It seems like Saku has a good amount of pull and respect in Japan, enough to do what he wants when he wants to do it. Is it possible that this massive fight in Pride (and don’t kid yourselves, this is gonna be huge in Japan) was forced down K1’s throat, with Saku using the Smirnovas/Akiyama controversies as leverage? Or perhaps there’s just so much honor going around that when Sakuraba asks for something, he gets it? A final and more tinfoil possibility is the idea that this match will never happen in PRIDE, and that it will actually happen in K1. Could it somehow make sense that Sakakibara, stepping down from PRIDE, used the final show as a platform to set up this match for another promotion? You’ve seen Sakakibara use a similar kind of bait & switch before with Wanderlei Silva and the UFC.
Anyways, there’s two random thoughts for you.