ESS acquires Pride FC; consolidates wrestling platform

MUMBAI: ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has acquired the world’s leading Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) game – Pride FC.

ESS signed an exclusive contract with Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE), the parent company of Pride FC, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

All matches will be available on Star Sports to be shown as one hour episodes on Special Archives of Pride FC every Friday and Saturday starting 14 October at 10 pm.

Talking about the strategy behind the acquisition, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd managing director R C Venkateish said, "We are in the process of consolidating our wrestling coverage. Pride FC is our next big acquisition after TNA and both wrestling properties are completely different from each other hence adding to the variety on our networks. We expect a good reception from our viewers on Pride FC."

While TNA is free style wrestling, Pride FC is a mixed martial arts competition. Pride FC allows two wrestlers following different martial art forms to compete with each other. For example a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a form of martial arts, practitioner can compete with a kick boxer or a Judo specialist. This cross fighting, between martial art forms, makes players fight for their personal pride and for the pride of the martial arts form.

Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara said, "We are delighted to be entering into a relationship with ESPN Star Sports to broadcast Pride FC to the Indian audiences. Pride FC has grown steadily as a television property world wide through innovation, high production values, matchmaking, and a history of dramatic clashes. We are confident that Indian market will respond positively to the property."

Pride FC began in 1997 in Japan with one philosophy -- the acceptance of any fighting technique from any school. The fighting platform attempts to mimic the realities of an actual fight in the form of a legitimate and honorable sport. The basic idea in Pride FC competition is to eliminate as many restrictions as possible in a mixed martial arts match.

Pride FC is the most popular Mixed Martial Arts organisation in the world based on the number of event attendees: the Pride Shock Wave 2002 event had 91,107 audiences at the Tokyo National stadium. Pride FC features two tournaments – ‘Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament’ and 'Pride Heavyweight Championships.’

Pride Fighting's 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament has spanned three events – ‘Total Elimination' (opening round), ‘Critical Countdown' (second round) and then the 'Final Conflict (semi-finals and finals).

Sixteen fighters began the championship and Mauricio “Shogun’ Rua was crowned champion on 28 August, 2005. Fedor Emelianenko from Russia is the current Pride Heavyweight Champion.

Pride FC is currently available in the following countries (via broadcast or home video):

    Asia: Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan and now India

    Europe: Belgium, Denmark,, Finland, France, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

    Australia and Oceania: New Zealand

    South America: Brazil

    Middle East: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Algeria, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia.

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