Friday, February 23

10 Best Pride FC Fighters Ever, Ranked By Skill

Highlights

  • Pride FC was a major MMA promotion that started in 1997 and gained significant popularity, with events drawing over 90,000 attendees.
  • Prominent fighters in Pride FC included Ricardo Arona, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi, who had successful careers in the promotion before transitioning to the UFC.
  • Pride FC also showcased legendary fighters such as Kazushi Sakuraba, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, Dan “Hendo” Henderson, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Wanderlei Silva, and Fedor Emelianenko, who dominated their respective weight classes and left a lasting legacy in the sport.


Pride FC or Pride Fighting Championships was created in 1997. Their inaugural event was held in the Tokyo Dome on October 11th, 1997 with the main event of Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada. With an attendance of over 47,000 people, Pride FC was officially put on the map and started putting on events that reached over 90,000 attendees.

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By 2007, Pride FC would announce the company’s purchase and its assets by Zuffa and its subsidiary, Ultimate Fighting Championship. Having a relatively short history, it isn’t hard to determine any fighters who had an amazing career in the promotion. So here they are, the absolute best fighters to work in Pride FC based on their skill in the ring.


10 “The Brazilian Tiger” Ricardo Arona

PRIDE Career 2001-2007

Wins

8

Losses

4

Draws

0

No Contests

0

Ricardo Arona started his professional MMA career in 2000 when he was working with another Japan-based promotion, RINGS. Arona had some major fights in that promotion, including a bout against Fedor Emelianenko and Jeremy Horn, before departing and joining PRIDE in 2001.

Arona wouldn’t find any championship gold during his time in PRIDE but made it to the finals of the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix, where he faced Mauricio Rua in one of Arona’s best fights. After leaving PRIDE in 2007, Arona had one more fight in 2009 where he fought Marvin Eastman to a unanimous decision victory.

9 Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

PRIDE Career 2001-2006

Wins

12

Losses

5

Draws

0

No Contests

0

Better known to MMA fans for his tenure in the UFC or the many controversies he has found himself in with reporters attempting to do their job, it can’t be argued that “Rampage” Jackson was one of the better fighters in the PRIDE promotion.

Jackson picked up some big victories over names like Kevin Randleman, Chuck Liddell, and Ricardo Arona before signing with the UFC in 2007. His charisma and personality made him stand out among the rest of his peers, as he is considered one of the more captivating performers in MMA history.

8 “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi

PRIDE Career 2004-2007

Wins

13

Losses

1

Draws

0

No Contests

1

“The Fireball Kid” made multiple records during his time in PRIDE, including the longest-winning streak which lasted ten fights, and a six-second knockout over Ralph Gracie, the fastest in PRIDE history. His work in PRIDE alone made him considered one of the greatest lightweight fighters in the sport.

After leaving PRIDE, Gomi would do what a lot of PRIDE fighters did and sign a deal with the UFC. This run saw Gomi suffer a majority of his losses while amounting to a few wins over names like Tyson Griffin, Isaac Vallie-Flag, and Mac Danzig.

7 “The Gracie Hunter” Kazushi Sakuraba

PRIDE Career 1998-2005

Wins

18

Losses

8

Draws

1

No Contests

0

One of the most badass nicknames anyone could earn in MMA history is that of PRIDE legend, Kazushi Sakuraba of “The Gracie Hunter”. This nickname comes from his four victories over members of the famous Gracie family, including Royler, Renzo, Ryan, and Royce.

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He also holds records in PRIDE, such as his 90-minute fight with Royce Gracie being the longest in the promotion. Sakuraba has also become famous for his time in professional wrestling, working in promotions like New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah (which he still performs in on occasion).

6 Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

PRIDE Career 2001-2006

Wins

18

Losses

4

Draws

2

No Contests

0

Considered one of the greatest heavyweight fighters in MMA history, Mirko Cro Cop made a decent career for himself while working in PRIDE from 2001 to 2006. During this run, Cro Cop won the 2006 Pride World Open-Weight Grand Prix, beating names like Josh Barnett and Wanderlei Silva.

Cro Cop holds many other records in PRIDE, like most finishes (tied with Wanderlei Silva) and most first-round finishes. After PRIDE, Cro Cop would fight with UFC, Dream, Rizin, and Bellator before finally retiring for good in 2019.

5 Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueria

PRIDE Career 2001-2006

Wins

17

Losses

3

Draws

0

No Contests

1

PRIDE’s first-ever Heavyweight Champion was crowned when Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeated Heath Herring at PRIDE 17: Championship Chaos in 2001. He’d hold the belt for almost 500 days before dropping the title to Fedor Emelianenko at Pride 25: Body Blow.

That loss would be one of only three Nogueira suffered throughout his time in PRIDE. Some of his biggest wins also include Dan Henderson at PRIDE 24 and Mirko Cro Cop at Pride Final Conflict 2003. His career and legacy saw him be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2016.

4 Dan “Hendo” Henderson

PRIDE Career 2000-2007

Wins

13

Losses

5

Draws

0

No Contests

0

Dan “Hendo” Henderson was the first combatant to win multiple titles in different weight classes after he held both the Pride Middleweight and Welterweight Championships. He’d also hold both belts simultaneously, only losing them when they were unified with the UFC Light Heavyweight and Welterweight belts.

His time in PRIDE saw him have amazing fights against the likes of Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva, and Vitor Belfort before returning to the UFC in 2007. His first stint with the UFC saw him win the Middleweight Tournament at UFC 17, the same PPV where Chuck Liddell made his UFC debut.

3 Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

PRIDE Career 2003-2007

Wins

12

Losses

1

Draws

0

No Contests

0

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua steamrolled the competition in PRIDE as he only took one loss during his entire tenure with the promotion, that coming from Mark Coleman in PRIDE 31: Unbreakable. To all fans of PRIDE FC, Rua is known for taking advantage of the different rule sets that PRIDE had compared to something like the UFC, using moves such as soccer ball kicks and head stomps.

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His run saw him win the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix after beating Rampage Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Arona in the tournament. Rua had a great career after PRIDE as he was able to move to the UFC and capture the Light Heavyweight Championship and have multiple records in the promotion.

2 “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva

PRIDE Career 1999-2007

Wins

22

Losses

4

Draws

1

No Contests

1

One of the most decorated combatants in PRIDE history is Wanderlei Silva, who held the Middleweight Championship, won the 2003 Pride Middleweight World Grand Prix, and was the semi-finalist in two other tournaments. His middleweight title reign saw him defend the belt four times over names such as Rampage Jackson, Ricardo Arona, and Hiromitsu Kanehara.

Silva then joined the UFC after his time in PRIDE ended and was able to score victories over Keith Jardine, Michael Bisping, and Brian Stann before departing with the promotion.

1 “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko

PRIDE Career 2002-2006

Wins

14

Losses

0

Draws

0

No Contests

1

One of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport and easily the best heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko dominated during his run in PRIDE, ending with an undefeated record. It was during this run that Fedor won the 2004 Heavyweight World Grand Prix and became the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, a title he defended three times.

Fedor took down names like Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro Cop, and Mark Hunt, signifying his reign as the best in the division. Fedor continues to compete and just recently challenged Ryan Bader in a rematch for the Bellator Heavyweight Championship at Bellator 290.

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