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Good and Bad on 'Best of Pride'

Spike TV debuted its Best of Pride series on Friday night, which is welcome news both to Pride fanboys like me and to newer fans of MMA who haven't seen all those old Pride bouts. There were a couple things I liked about the first show and a couple things I didn't, and I'll detail those here.

-- The fights themselves are, of course, outstanding. This is what we got on the first episode:
Wanderlei Silva vs. Rampage Jackson
Chuck Liddell vs. Alistair Overeem
Takanori Gomi vs. Charles Bennett
Anderson Silva vs. Carlos Newton
Shogun Rua vs. Kevin Randleman
When the UFC bought the Pride video library, it bought the rights to scores of great fights, and it's exciting that a lot of new fans will see these fights for the first time. But it's exciting for longtime fans, too -- I had seen all five of those fights before, and I was excited watching them again.

-- Best of Pride uses the original commentary. Pride announcers Mauro Ranallo and Bas Rutten are now working for UFC competitors, so I thought they might have been excised from the show, but their commentary is included, as it should be.

-- If you're looking for unvarnished MMA history, this isn't the show for you. All five fights shown were won by fighters currently under contract to the UFC, and they were sure to include a loss by Overeem, the Strikeforce heavyweight champion. I think it's safe to say that trend is going to continue. When Pride went under three of its four title belts were owned by fighters currently under contract to Strikeforce, so a lot of significant Pride fights probably won't be included.

-- Host Kenda Perez sounds like she's reading off cue cards, and her introductions and post-fight recaps add nothing. It would have been better to have the show hosted by someone who could provide some historical commentary about who these fighters are and why the fight was significant. Joe Rogan would have been perfect in that role.

So it's something of a mixed bag, but if I were Roger Ebert and Best of Pride were a movie, I'd certainly give it a thumbs up. Revisiting these old fights is a lot of fun.
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