Back in September we went hands-on with an early build of UFC Undisputed 3 and detailed the new control schemes and new weight classes you could use. We recently were able to go hands-on with a more complete build and while the controls still amazed us with the ease we were able to pick them up and play, and many of the fighters seem to be better balanced than before, we were more focused this time around in taking a step back into the MMA past.

For 10 years Pride Fighting Championships hosted some of the best MMA fighters in the world and saw the rise of superstars like Rampage Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, and Mirko Cro Cop. Taking place in Japan, the men who competed in Pride were the ones who helped put MMA on the map as when they launched in 1997 they immediately began an AFL-NFL type of rivalry with UFC that propelled both organizations into the limelight. Unfortunately, the larger, American based, UFC would buy out Pride and attempt to perform an AFL-NFL merger circa 2007, but instead simply absorbed many of Pride’s best fighters and let go of everyone else, basically disbanding the organization. But, since UFC owns all the rights to Pride now, they decided to tip their hat to their former number one rival and offer a Pride rules and fighter mode in UFC Undisputed 3.

From the second we hit the character select screen we knew we were in for an intriguing new experience. Since many current UFC fighters cut their teeth in Pride, we were able to choose from both Pride fighters and UFC fighters who once competed in Pride and given new, younger looks to reflect the time period in their lives for which they fight with Pride. We saw a leaner, younger looking Rampage Jackson, a meaner looking Wanderlei Silva, and Mirko Cro Cop with a better head of hair. Their stats were also very different from their UFC versions to help represent where they were in their careers. It’s not just about the fighters though. Pride mode sports a completely different feel to it. The announcers are different. The arenas, rings, and referees are different. And most importantly, the rules are different.

Pride was so intensely popular with some people because it was also so brutal compared to many other MMA organizations as it allowed moves that would be considered fouls elsewhere. And all those moves are allowed in Pride mode. Piledrivers (called ‘spiking’ an opponent in MMA), elbows, soccer style kicks, and (my personal favorite) foot stomping an opponent’s face while they are down are all legal and even encouraged in Pride mode in order to get the victory and adds a whole new level of brutality to the game. On top of this, the time and weight class rules are laid out much differently to UFC and so fighters who might be in different weight classes and can no longer compete against each other in UFC, can go head-to-head once again in Pride.

After several bouts in Pride mode, I admit I can see why it was so popular and had me wondering if it was based in the US instead of Japan if it would have been able to compete better with UFC. But what’s done is done and all I can say about this new game mode is that if you were a fan of Pride more than UFC, you have a big reason now to buy this game now as this is easily the most accurate representation you’ll ever get now of that once great organization.

What do you folks think? Are you a former Pride supporter or is it UFC all the way for you? Will you dabble in this new mode? What do you think of the different rules? Let us know with comments below!