INTERVIEW WITH TAKASHI SUGIURA
07/15/2004

Takashi Sugiura (NOAH) has raised his hand and volunteered to be on the July 19 PRIDE BUSHIDO event. The announcement was made in the DSE office on July 11. "Mach" Sakurai's opponent was also announced.

NOAH's heretic has been away from PRIDE for 2 years. Sugiura's opponent will be Giant Silva, who fought Ogawa in the June 20 PRIDE GP 2 nd Round event.

DSE President, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, explained Sugiura's situation at the press conference. "In consideration of NOAH's schedule, the timing just hasn't worked out until now. Luckily, it worked out this time, 2 years after his last appearance. We offered him Mirko Cro Cop and Giant Silva as 2 possible candidates. NOAH and Sugiura replyed that he would like to fight Silva and now here we are at the press conference.???

According to Sugiura, also present at the press conference, he has always wanted to fight in PRIDE again and has been training at Takada Dojo and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka's G-Square gym. "I love martial arts so I've always wanted to fight again. It's been 2 years but I've always trained so that I can fight at anytime. I was always wondering when they would call me again. I'm grateful that they will allow me to fight in my hometown of Nagoya.???

In regard to his opponent, Sugiura continued, "He's quick for being so big. He played basketball and has a lot of athletic ability. His face is scary, too. (laughing)" Although there is a 52cm difference in height and a 143kg difference in weight, Sugiura feels that will make it an interesting fight. Both fighters have pro-wrestling backgrounds and according to Sugiura, he doesn't want to kill Silva but would like to use some pro-wrestling moves on him. He also shook off concerns that he will be compared to Ogawa, "He's a star. It doesn't bother me at all.???

Asked why he didn't choose Mirko, Sugiura said, "I wasn't interested in that at all. As a fighter, I just didn't get that feeling. I wanted to fight in more martial arts fights but I've been away for 2 years and I do have to consider my age.???

Sugiura is an accomplished Greco-Roman wrestler. He won the 1992 and 1993 All Japan Open, the 1994 and 1997 Nationals and the 1995 All Japan tournaments. Despite is being his first MMA fight, he showed excellent throws and takedowns, heavy punches and an ability to stop submission attempts in his fight against Daniel Gracie 2 years ago in PRIDE 21. He ultimately lost in a 1-2 split decision but he was still able to show his wrestling skill, power and courage.

"Sakuraba and Takayama told me, ??'m not the one fighting him so just throw him'", Sakakibara joked. "I'm not a stand-up striker so I want to get on the inside, take him down and punch him." Sugiura, the newest samurai to be added to BUSHIDO, has promised to kill the giant.

Additionally, the heretofore undecided opponent for Hayato" Mach" Sakurai has been decided. The opponent will be Brady Fink from Team Oyama and teammate to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson .

There was no information on Fink except that his backbone is wrestling and he's received attention in the American MMA world. "He's got a different build than Mach." Sakakibara continued, "I hope Mach will submit him. I'm sure it will be an aggressive fight." Mach wasn't at the press conference but he has already declared that he wants to make it a bloody battle.

With these announcements, the card for the July 19 BUSHIDO event, with 2 challenge matches and 9 main matches, comes to a total of 11 fights. With the existence of the BUSHIDO series itself on the line, these 12 samurai are sure to fight with everything they've got.