DSE CEO NOBUYUKI SAKAKIBARA'S POST-PRIDE 29 COMMENTS
02/25/2005

There were several themes in this event. One was that of the survival match, to help decide which 16 middleweight fighters will participate in the Grand Prix. Another was predicting who would be in the front lines of the heavyweight division, represented by Mirko.

The middleweight Japanese fighters Kanehara, Takahashi and Yokoi, didn't produce the necessary results. Let me say it plainly: There is no way they will appear. Nakamura, despite having a sudden change in opponent, won convincingly and I want him to be in the Middleweight Grand Prix, regardless of whether Ryan is ready or not.

Regarding the foreign fighters, there was some stalling despite being high-level fighters. We, as the promoter, are unhappy with some of the results and it's going to be difficult to decide who to drop and who to keep for the 16-man tournament. Vovchanchyn made an amazing middleweight debut and Shogun's fight was also great. I'm going to begin the final selections bearing these in mind.

I thought it ideally might be a good idea to set up a middleweight challenge framework in the April 3rd BUSHIDO and have a middleweight one-night final survival tournament. We'll be able to announce the fighters that we want to give a chance to soon, including some that didn't appear in PRIDE 29.

Silva VS Yoshida, Sakuraba VS Tamura, etc., there were several possible cards formed tonight. Regarding Sakuraba's challenge, that was done completely on his own, not the promoter's plan. I think it was just something that came out because of his love for PRIDE, he feelings towards Tamura, the worries that he's carried for a long time and the unsettled match (between Tamura and Makhmud). We will put together the card, bearing in mind his feelings. Since this is the Grand Prix, after all, I want to set the card up quickly, have the fighters train hard and show the fans the event of their dreams.

Regarding the heavyweight division, Nastula, a judo assassin and a household name in Europe, has come to PRIDE. Fabricio, a world jiu-jitsu champion, has been training with Mirko for a year and gave a good performance. Kharitonov was strong as usual.

Looking at Mirko from a promoter's point of view, there's no one left to bring to him except Fedor. In fact, Mirko's been chasing us. I'd like to have a Championship bout in the first half of the year but April is going to be difficult. I definitely want to make it happen in June or August. We're going to start working on this from tomorrow. This was probably the first time in Coleman's long martial arts career that he hasn't been able to take someone down. I could really feel Mirko's strength and his desire to stand at the top from not only that he was able to defend the tackles, but also from the speed of his improvement, including tackle defense.

Tamura's match was unfortunate. It was an accidental low blow and nothing can be done about those kinds of things, but it was still unfortunate. I'm sure that Tamura is also unsatisfied with the results and that, as a pro, he wants to make the fans happy. I'd like to provide a place for him to do that.

Sakuraba has challenged Tamura but I would like to see Tamura in the Middleweight Grand Prix. I hope he will be able to show us then what he couldn't show us this time. I'm sure he feels bad about it. It's unfortunate for him so I hope to speak with him once he calms down.

There are several fighters that were chosen from the American auditions that may fights as soon as the April 3rd BUSHIDO. We've already talked to them, supporting their private lives and are having them trained under Matt Hume at our expense. There are many fighters that are active in other organizations, some of which are already at the PRIDE level. We will pick from them. I also want to hold auditions in Brazil and Europe.

Nobuyuki Sakakibara
Chief Executive Officer
Dream Stage Entertainment Inc.