PRIDE New Year's Eve show on December 31 st , 2004. A gold medal match-up, Gardner vs. Yoshida! Kazushi Sakuraba, too!



PRIDE New Year's Eve show on December 31 st , 2004. A gold medal match-up, Gardner vs. Yoshida! Kazushi Sakuraba, too!

PRIDE General Director Nobuhiko Takada officially announced in the ring at PRIDE 28 on October 31 that the 2004 PRIDE New Year's Eve show would be held on December 31 st at the Saitama Super Arena. Kazushi Sakuraba and Hidehiko Yoshida's participation was also confirmed. Additionally, Yoshida's opponent is...

Nobuhiko Takada appeared in the ring just before the Middleweight title match and made an important announcement to the fans, "Although Sakuraba just said it, I'm officially announced that the 2004 New Year's Eve show will be held on December 31 st , at Saitama Super Arena." Then, Takada invited into the ring Sidney Olympic Gold Medalist Rulon Gardner, whose participation had been announced the day before.

Gardner come to the ring wearing his gold medal on his chest and greeted the crowd in Japanese, "konbanwa." "I have decided to fight in PRIDE," Gardner continued. "I wanted to fight in the greatest martial arts ring in the world. And, I wanted to prove that American wrestling is the strongest in the world. I will come back on New Year's Eve and have a fun fight. Arigato".

"Let me ask you a question," Takada said, after taking the microphone from Gardner . "Who do you want to see Gardner fight?" Holding Gardner 's gold medal in his hand, Takada continued, "This is the gold medal you got for beat Karelin? We are thinking gold for gold. There is one guy in PRIDE that's right for you. Let's call him. Yoshida, get out here!"

That's right. Amateur wrestling gold medal winner Gardner's opponent is none other than judo gold medalist, Hidehiko Yoshida. Yoshida was greeted with huge cheers from the fans as he approached the ring, wearing a white judo uniform.

"Good evening. I will be joining Mr. Sakuraba on December 31 st ," Yoshida explained. "I will do my best to have a great fight so everyone, please come out to watch. To be honest, I only heard about the Gardner fight yesterday so I'm still a little lost. (laughing)" "As a fellow gold medalist, I hope that we can give you a match to be proud of," Yoshida commented and then he and Gardner shook hands.

Mirko Filipovic and Wanderlei Silva, both winners of their matches in PRIDE 28, asked to be able to fight in the 2004 New Year's Eve show. There are only 2 months left until the event and it already looks like the card will be greater than last year's.

Kazushi Sakuraba

Just as the interval began, and one step ahead of Takada, Kazushi Sakuraba entered the ring, "Hi. I'm Sakuraba. I don't know who my opponent will be yet but I will fight here, in Saitama, on December 31 st , New Year's Eve. I will do my best to give a great fight."