The theme for the 2004 New Year's Eve show will be "SADAME". It is "destiny" in English. Fedor VS Nogueira in a final battle to decide who is the Champion.
Mirko, Hunt, Gomi, Wanderlei Silva and Giant Silva have also been confirmed.
A press conference regarding the December 31 PRIDE 2004 New Year's Eve show was held in Tokyo on November 1, just a day after the intense PRIDE 28. In addition to the previously announced Yoshida/Gardner match up, a rematch between Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Nogueira was also officially announced.
Today's topic was the PRIDE 2004 New Year's Eve show, officially announced by PRIDE General Director, Nobuhiko Takada. The first fighters on the card, Hidehiko Yoshida versus Rulon Gardner, were already announced. Who will be next?
To begin with, 10 confirmed fighters were announced. Yoshida, Gardner, Kazushi Sakuraba, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop (who couldn't make the press conference because he overslept), Takanori Gomi, Mark Hunt and Giant Silva. It seems that Gomi was selected from BUSHIDO fighters and Giant Silva was chosen because his match had the highest ratings in last year's New Year's Eve show.
"We just finished an event but we won't stop here," commented Dream Stage Entertainment President, Nobuyuki Sakakibara. "PRIDE and Fuji Television have agreed to join forces and create a great event on December 31st. Since this is PRIDE putting it's name on the line and creating a special event, we have absolutely no intentions of creating a tepid or comical fighting event. We want to create an event that contains the spirit of "true fighting", like yesterday's (PRIDE 28) event, excites and moves you, and makes you so nervous that your hands begin to sweat."
The subtitle for the event (in Japan) is SADAME, which translates as "destiny". According to President Sakakibara, the reason for the title is "this year's them will be about the destiny, or fate, of the men that are fighting. We will create the greatest event on the greatest stage, and the them will be about men that are destined to fight."
"We are aiming to take it one step at a time, in order to get both high ratings and fan attendance, and beat NHK's (public broadcasting channel) New Year's Eve special and (K-1 show) 'Dynamite!!'", Sakakibara continued. "We may lose to NHK (laughing) but, at a minimum, I want to beat 'Dynamite!!'." And with that, a challenge had been issued to DSE's New Year's Eve rivals.
"The intensity of last nights event, only a few hours ago, still remains in my heart and my mind," added DSE General Director Takada. "I'd like to say, on behalf of everyone, thank you and job well done to Silva, who defended his belt in a difficult battle." "PRIDE's New Year's Eve event has a party-like image, but fighting is not a party. This year, I don't think we need the party image. On December 31, PRIDE will have head-on battles, as it always does. I am confident that these men will stand on the greatest stage and show us the greatest fights in the world."
"All of the fights will be main-event quality but there ultimately has to be one main event," Takada continued. "We have been in contact with Fedor, Nogueira and their teams since August 15th and it was finally decided last night. Both they, and we, want them to fight in their best condition and to give their best fight to the fans. That condition was the main reason that it took until that last night to decide. We had to convince both fighters that this fight should be a special event and a gift to the fans. As such, it was officially decided that this match between Fedor and Nogueira will be for both the Heavyweight Grand Prix Championship and the Heavyweight Champion title."
Due to an unforeseeable accident in the August 15th PRIDE Grand Prix 2004 Final Round, the tournament was left without a Champion being decided. New Year's Eve, an already special day, will be even greater this year. On the final day of 2004, everything will be decided in an all-or-nothing battle where the winner takes all and the loser goes home empty handed. It will be a fight fitting of the "destiny" theme.
"I'm eagerly looking forward to the December 31st match," PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko commented. "It's an honor to be able to rematch Nogueira. He is an incredible fighter. I will be in my best condition and give the fans a fight they will be happy with."
"I also will be in my best condition," responded Antonio Nogueira. "When you turn on the television on December 31st, you will see the greatest fight ever. It will be a great show. I promise you that this will be the most exciting Heavyweight battle in the world. I will train very intensely in preparation for that day."
There were worries about both fighters motivation, given what happened in the last fight but both fighters said that it is not a problem.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: I was focusing on the Grand Prix Championships since my fight with Mirko last year. I train with the dream of becoming the strongest man in the world. Unfortunately, there was an accident in the Grand Prix Final Round and I wasn't able to finish the dream. I think the fans also wanted to see who is the strongest man in the world. I will train even harder for this fight on December 31st. I haven't lost any motivation. My motivation will be even greater. I will be the greatest in the world.
Fedor Emelianenko: It was unfortunate that there was an accident in the last event but my motivation has not decreased. I want to fight to see who is the best and settle this. I completely agree with Nogueira's opinion. I will be in good condition for the fight. I think the entire world is looking forward to this fight. There will be a lot of attention so I want to have a great fight.
The two men shook hands and smiled. There's little doubt that this fight will be harder and more exciting than their previous matches. This will truly be a fight to close out the old year and ring in the new.
Hidehiko Yoshida: It's been decided so quickly that I'm surprised. Of course, I said that in the ring last year, too. I noticed he has huge hands when we shook hands in the ring. I just thought, "I'm going to be in trouble if he punches me with this." I'll work on my defense against him from now and do my best to help bring in the New Year.
Rulon Gardner: I'm happy to be participating as a representative of American wrestling. I will add MMA training to my wrestling ability and use my strength to the greatest degree possible. I also want to have fight that will make everyone happy.
Takanori Gomi: This will be the first time for me to fight on New Year's Eve. I'm grateful that I can stand in the same ring with a fighter that has the respect of other fighters around the world. My fight will be quick and vicious, as the representative of the BUSHIDO middleweights. I'll be in my best condition when I get in the ring on fight day.
Mark Hunt: I'm always happy to fight in Japan. I'm looking forward to December 31st. You can count on me giving an exciting fight.
Wanderlei Silva: It's also an honor for me to fight on December 31st. My opponent hasn't been decided yet but I would like to fight someone tough. I hope to have a good fight like yesterday. It will be an exciting fight for the fans.
Giant Silva: I've very happy to be able to fight in PRIDE again. I don't have much experience in MMA and only have 4 matches in PRIDE but I want to have a good fight, continue to grow and make the fans happy. I also want to help prove that PRIDE is the number one (MMA) event.
Kazushi Sakuraba: I want everyone to be happy that they came to watch me fight.
"I definitely want to fight Mirko" (Hunt)
Asked if he felt anything particularly special about this "destiny" themed event, Gomi replied, "I'm happy to fight any top middleweight fighter in the world. It'll probably be difficult to do on New Year's Even but I'd like to fight, and beat, top fighters like BJ Penn and Nogueira."
Next up was Mark Hunt, and he had a clear preference, "I'd definitely want to fight Mirko." President Sakakibara was a little surprised, "Um, we haven't done the match making yet and Mirko isn't here so we can't ask him."
"I'll fight anyone. I want to fight someone that's really tough", said Silva, the "fighting Champion." Asked what he thought of fighting a heavyweight, laughing, Silva replied, "I'll fight Gomi." "Never happen", was Gomi's response.
Giant Silva was humble, as always, "I don't have much experience and I respect all of the fighters. I would be happy to fight anyone."
"Anybody is okay," replied Sakuraba. "Really, anybody." Asked by press members to relate a color to an opponent, Sakuraba answered, "Red, I guess." That's right, "red". A match up with Kiyoshi Tamura, known for his red trunks, could not be successfully negotiated in time for last year's New Year's Eve show. There wasn't enough preparation time last year but President Sakakibara stated that he "wants to realize the match in the near future." A lot of attention is being focused on whether this match will come together this year.
There have been rumors that Sakuraba changed his training style but he said that he hasn't changed it except for being "taking up running after being affected by the Olympics for the first time." Until now, Sakuraba has always said that he hates running. He also said that he has yet to think about what kind of performance he will give in his entrance this time.
Asked whether he would be willing to be his gold metal against Gardner's (gold metal), Yoshida replied, "What the hell are you talking about? (laughing) That's a different sport and I only have one. Maybe if I had more of them...
"I began my MMA training in 1996." (Gardner)
Most of the Q&A following that centered on Rulon Gardner, who will make his MMA debut soon. Gardner's answers were surprising, "I began my MMA training in 1996. In the beginning, I trained with Dan Severn, Don Frye and Mark Coleman at a place called the Fighting Competition. After that, I went back to wrestling and improved my kickboxing skill little by little. I will train even harder from now." Asked about the MMA loss of another Olympic wrestler, Matt Ghaffari, Gardner replied, "When we wrestled for the right to be in the 2000 Olympics, I won. I'm stronger and I think that my balance, movements and grappling techniques in particular are better. You'll see if you watch the fight on December 31st. I wanted to prove that I am suited for MMA when I saw his fight. I'm very serious about fighting this time. I want to do my best and prove that American wrestling is the best." The wrestler that stopped Karelin is serious. Gardner is scheduled to train in preparation for this debut fight with Team Quest.