Mirko Filipovic

Pride Fighting Championships: That was one of the most exciting events ever in PRIDE history
Nobuyuki Sakakibara: It was a wonderful event thanks to the fighters. Seeing tears fall from Mirko's eyes as he put the Championship belt on, I couldn't help but cry myself. I remembered how many times he has had to struggle and overcome setbacks. When the belt was wrapped around him, I was filled with emotion and it felt like those tears cleansed my soul.
I think today's event was made by the four remaining Grand Prix fighters. The other fighters did their best but these four fighters; they prepared themselves perfectly and refused to compromise as they won their way here. Today made me think about many different things, such as whether we might see Silva move up a weight class and fight Mirko again. I believe this was a Grand Prix full of miracles, including the fact that all four fighters were able to fight in their best condition.
T he Grand Prix was concentrated into a single day today. Arona and Shogun won their fights and I think these two young Middleweight fighters will soon bring about the second generation of Middleweight wars in the new future.
Pride: Now that Mirko has won, will there be a unification bout with Fedor Emelianenko at the end of the year?
Sakakibara: I won't know until we formally talk to Mirko. The current thinking is for him to fight in the American event too, provided he's not injured, and having him fight in the American event is the priority right now. Once Mirko and Fedor are both past October 21st, I'd like to have a final, decisive fight at the New Year's Eve show.
Pride: Silva apparently went to the hospital. How is he doing now? How will this affect his appearance in the UFC event?
Sakakibara: Silva is being examined at the hospital. I don't think that he has any serious damage. I'm concerned about the injury at the corner of his eye but as the PRIDE Middleweight Champion, I think he wants to lay down a challenge to (UFC fighter) Chuck Liddell. I don't think Silva will lose that fight, and I think the timing will be perfect when Silva has recovered from his injuries.
Pride: Please tell us your impression of Lee Tae Hyun.
Sakakibara: He didn't seem to have prepared at all. I think he had the heart to fight and the toughness to take hard shots but he also needed to work harder to improve his stamina. I hope that he will challenge himself to find his own (MMA) style to add to his Ssireum base.
Pride: Nishijima has now lost three consecutive fights.
Sakakibara: That fight was unfortunate. I heard that he was training in grappling and expected that he would be able to deal with ground fighting but he wasn't able to do anything. I want to think about it after I talk to him about how, and whether, to bring him back, and talk to the people around him. I think there are still a lot of things that he has to learn if he wants to continue fighting in MMA. Cyborg seemed to be pressured by Nishijima's striking in the beginning but still, I think we're going to have a tough talk about what he wants to do and why he wants to do it. If he doesn't properly prepare himself, he's not going to be able to continue fighting.
Pride: What about the two other Japanese fighters, Yasuhiro Nakao and Kazuhiro Nakamura?
Sakakibara: The Lightweight and Welterweight Divisions are full of Japanese fighters capable of fighting at the top. Unfortunately, the reality is that the fans were booing Nakamura and Nakao's fight, so there's no room for excuses. I think the extent that they wanted to show something to the fans or the fight they wanted to bring to the ring really contrasted with the other fights. On the other hand, this may be a chance for Japanese fighters in the Middleweight and Heavyweight Division. I hope a fighter we will see some fighters appear that want to be the Division aces.
Pride: Josh has also lost to Mirko three consecutive times.
Sakakibara: I think today was the first time that they've fought with Barnett in his best condition. I was simply moved by his passionate devotion and the fans were also cheering for him. My impression of him isn't three losses. I think Josh's performance made everyone want to see a rematch with Mirko. I take my hat off to him.
Pride: What was your impression of Kharitonov and Shogun, both of who were coming off of injuries?
Sakakibara: They've both been away from the ring for some time but I there wasn't anything definite that would make me think these were comeback fights. Kharitonov didn't have that frightening aura that he used to when he would silently, and surely, shut down his opponents. I don't know if he was confused about how he should fight or maybe he couldn't concentrate. Shogun recovered from a serious injury, he was in a car accident and he had a burn on the back of his left shoulder. He overcame those obstacles for this comeback fight and I want to keep an eye on him for just a little longer. I think his fight with Randleman in October will be the real moment of truth.
Pride: Do you have any information on Fedor?
Sakakibara: I think he is working hard so he won't lose to Coleman in October. I think if the Russian Champion fights in America, the battle will unfold amid loud USA chants. Although Fedor is definitely a popular fighter in America, he won't be fighting just Coleman. It will be a fight against Coleman and the American audience. Fedor is already training intensively and I'm eager to hear his reaction after the fights tonight.
Pride: Will Josh fight at the event in America?
Sakakibara: I met Josh as he was leaving and I think he will compete once he has repaired his mind and his body. Mirko will probably take a little time off, too, but I think he will appear in the American event.