Gary Goodridge has confirmed what many MMA fans have long known, or at least suspected: there were fixed fights in Japanese promotion Pride FC.
Writing in a blog post for Cage Potato the former Pride FC heavyweight stated baldly that certain fights did indeed have predetermined outcomes, an accusation that has often been levelled at the Japanese promotion.
“Yes that type of stuff happened all the time in Pride. There are some pretty famous examples that the old fans all talk about. Chances are if you think it’s shady, it might have been. Naoya Ogawa’s camp offered me money to throw the fight but I didn’t want to sacrifice my integrity for a buck,” he wrote.
In the end it made no difference. Former Olympic judo standout Ogawa submitted Goodridge with a key lock in the second round. The fight is often on the list of matches fans suspect to have been fixed, even though Goodridge has denied it.
Pride also gets criticised for having its referees wear earpieces through which the event producers could communicate with them. There were many questionable stand-ups and restarts which cynics attribute to referees being told to protect the promotion’s favoured fighters.
One fight that almost certainly was fixed was Mark Coleman’s submission loss to Nobuhiko Takada at Pride 5 in 1999. Takada was the owner and booker of pro-wrestling organisation Hustle, which had close ties to Pride at the time and also provided an platform for Coleman‘s pro-wrestling endeavours away from MMA.
Coleman was the far superior fighter and was in the driving seat before standing still for a suspiciously long time while Takada put a heel-hook submission together. He has since commented that the bout “was what it was. I needed to support my family. They guaranteed me another fight after that and I needed that security… I'm going to leave it at that.”