^Akira Maeda vs Alexandre Karelin, the biggest event in Rings history, drawing 17,048 fans to the Yokohama Arena on February 21st 1999. The event took pro wrestling back to it's roots, presenting a worked shoot style match as if it were a legit sporting event in the same vein as a major boxing match. The show drew a live gate of $2,479,000, other than Pride 1 and 4 in the Tokyo Dome there had been nothing this successful in MMA up to this point. Just like probably hundreds of Rings matches this one was clearly worked shoot but it is credited by all database record keepers as a legit MMA fight. The match also drew coverage from New York Times and Sports Illustrated.
Rings made a strong run coming off of Maeda vs Karelin as they continued to move more and more towards a full shoot to compete against Pride, bringing in UFC Champions such as Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, and Pat Miletich, as well as scouting and signing an all new generation of some of the best talent in the sport such as Fedor, the Noguiera twins, Dan Henderson, Ricardo Arona, Gilbert Yvel, and Alistair Overeem among others. Pride and Rings were like WWF and WCW of MMA in 1999-2000, the two promotions took the young sport of MMA from the dark ages to sold out arenas and million dollar box office gates for the first time.