Mixed Martial Arts

UFC Takes Pride In Its Process Of Unification

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White has had his fair share of headaches in the past five-plus months. Since buying out Pride Fighting Championships in late March it has been difficult to navigate the Japanese market and resurrect the once-proud, now defunct fighting organization.

Helping White through some of his frustrations with Pride were thoughts of unification bouts like the one he will witness in UFC 75, when Pride middleweight and welterweight champion Dan Henderson takes on UFC light-heavyweight title-holder Quinton"Rampage" Jackson tonight at 9 on Spike TV.

"It's not even about unification," White said. "It's all about seeing the best fighters in the world fight each other. I'm so sick of all the talk about who would win this fight and who would win that fight. There's only one way to find out."

While White had envisioned a fight of this caliber, he did not necessarily see these two fighters participating in it. Mixed martial arts fans, including White, had long dreamt of a bout between legendary Pride fighter Wanderlei Silva and UFC poster boy Chuck Liddell. But Henderson, 37, knocked off the now UFC-signed Silva in Pride 33 and Jackson, 29, beat Liddell in UFC 71.

"Chuck and Wanderlei have been the big dogs everyone wanted to see fight for years," White said. "And these guys knocked both of them out. Could you ask for anything better?"

Jackson (27-6) is quite familiar with Pride fighters. He has 17 Pride fights under his belt -- two of which he lost to Silva. He has fought just twice in the UFC. Henderson (22-5) fought twice in UFC 17 in 1998 before moving over to Pride. Since 2000, he has fought 18 Pride bouts, the last of which was in late February.

In tonight's other bouts from the O2 Arena in London, England native Michael Bisping (14-0) will face light heavyweight Matt Hamill (5-0) and heavyweight Mirko"Kro Kop" Filipovic (22-5-2) will square off against Cheick Kongo (20-3-1).

-- Ryan Mink

© 2007 The Washington Post Company