When the Ultimate Fighting Championship bought Pride Fighting Championships two and a half years ago, UFC President Dana White said one of the big reasons for the purchase was that it gave the UFC the rights to video footage of all of the old Pride fights.
So far the UFC hasn't made a whole lot of use of those Pride fights, but that will change in January, as Spike TV announced Monday that it will launch a new show, The Best of Pride Fighting Championships, premiering in January.
Spike's press release named several of the great Pride fighters who will be part of the show, including Fedor Emelianenko, who last week spurned the UFC's contract offer to sign with Strikeforce instead. I credit Spike for mentioning Fedor in the release, but I'll be very curious to see how, exactly, Fedor is portrayed on the show.
The UFC certainly doesn't want to help Strikeforce advertise the fact that Fedor was the best fighter in Pride, compiling a 14-0 record. And the UFC doesn't want to remind viewers that six of Fedor's 14 wins were against fighters currently under contract to the UFC (Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mark Coleman twice apiece, and Heath Herring and Mirko Cro Cop once apiece).
Will the UFC and Spike show fans footage of Fedor smashing UFC fighters? Probably not, and that will be a weakness of Best of Pride. But there were scores of great fights in the Pride days, and many of them will help the UFC promote its own upcoming fights.
When Wanderlei Silva has a pay-per-view fight coming up, you can bet we'll see some of his great Pride wars on Spike. Ditto for Rampage Jackson, Dan Henderson, Shogun Rua and more. There's a lot of great stuff in that Pride video library, and it'll be great for a new generation of MMA fans to see it -- with or without Fedor.