A press conference to announce 9 fights for the upcoming PRIDE Bushido 4 card (Nagoya City, July 19 th ) was held in Tokyo on July 1 st.
Present at the meeting were DSE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara, General Director Nobuhiko Takada, DEEP President Saeki, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Takanori Gomi, Shungo Oyama, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, Kenichi Yamamoto, Dokonjyonosuke Mishima, and Hiroyuki Abe.
"This will be the 4 th PRIDE Bushido and I think this event will determine the value of the event. I want the fights to be complete and the outcomes to be clear. Excuses like 'it's only getting started' and 'it's only the 4 th event' won't cut it. I want the Japanese fighters to have high aspirations and produce results. Nagoya in July is incredibly hot but I expect them to have fights that are even hotter." These words were how DSE President Sakakibara started the conference.
Following this, DEEP's President, Saeki, blasted the fighters, "Both President Sakakibara and myself come from Nagoya and we are very excited about this event. We want to show the Nagoya fans the excitement of Bushido. Bushido has been held 3 times in the past but, to be honest, there were a lot of decisions and a lot of fights that left us with a bad taste in our mouths. We want everyone to go for KOs or submissions this time. That may increase the risk of you being beaten but we want to attack and attack and continually work to finish like Gomi and Nakamura in the last event. President Sakakibara and I want to walk the Nagoya streets after the fights, with our chests stuck out proudly. Don't let us down."
This Bushido will have 3 themes. Japan Team versus Brazilian Top Team 3 on 3, Japan versus World Challenge Matches and Japan versus Japan.
The ever-evolving Nakamura has been chosen to lead the Japan team. His opponent will be Rogerio Nogueira, who beat Nakamura lost to in his debut match.
Nakamura was full of confidence, "It's been a year and a half since I made my pro debut but I still care the disgrace of losing it. I want to win this fight and advance to the next level. I've been working on my striking for this year and a half and every fight has been a new experience, giving me strength. I assume that Rogerio has also gotten stronger but I'm confident that I won't be outdone this time. I want to show everyone how much I'm changed."
The "disgrace" that Nakamura refers to is when he lost heart in the fight. "That fight taught me how tough MMA is. I've gained experience since that time and I can now fight while staying relaxed." He wants to beat Rogerio, who holds a victory over Kazushi Sakuraba, and set next year's Middleweight Grand Prix on fire.
If Bushido's middleweight ace is Nakamura, the lightweight ace must be Gomi. Taking on Gomi, who has 2 consecutive KO victories in Bushido, will be Brazilian Top Team's lightweight ace, Fabio Mello. "I want to make this an event that will bring out the Nagoya fans." Gomi continued, "For myself, I want to fight exactly like I did in Yokohama. I can really go crazy now. I wan to get excited by watching my fights and I want the crowd to get excited, too."
After a year and a half of being out of the ring, Shungo Oyama volunteered to fight Mirko Filipovic, the face of Bushido 4. "I think this may be the biggest chance of my life. I'll fight like hell for the biggest, and the greatest, chance of my life. I'm sure that Mirko just thinks of this as 'the next step", but I plan on being a mad dog and eating him for lunch."
This won't be the first time that Mirko and Oyama have come into contact. They sparred together at a training center in Los Angeles in 2001. President Sakakibara, who took Oyama to Los Angeles, said, "Oyama had Mirko completely pinned before 3 minutes had even passed." Oyama also remembered that time, "I had complete body control over him. I can still feel it today" Everyone thought that this was a foolish match up when they heard the card announced but Oyama has reason to be confident.
According to Sakakibara, the plan for Mirko is to have him go after whoever is standing at the top of the heavyweights, whether it's Nogueira or Fedor, within the year. The fans and the press are wondering how he will advance in the remaining half-year to take on Fedor. He wants to accept, again, a Japanese challenger this time but have a top heavyweight fighter ready in August, with those 2 fights leading him to the top of the heavyweights.
Sakakibara, in response to this request from Mirko, outline his vision of the future, "If he wins against Oyama this time, he will get a special one-match at the Grand Prix Finals in August. Some candidates for his opponent will be Mark Coleman, Alexander Emelianenko, and a UFC veteran, whose name I cannot reveal at the moment, that would be making his PRIDE debut. We will agree to Mirko's request only if he can get past Oyama."
Sakakibara doesn't think that Oyama will lose so easily, though. "We thought there wouldn't be any Japanese fighters to face Mirko in July but Oyama immediately asked us if he could fight when he heard that news. We aren't using Oyama as a step to the next level. We actually put the card together thinking that Oyama will use Mirko as a step."
Mirko rested for about 10 days following his fight with Kanehara in May. He has brought in new jiu-jitsu and wrestling sparring partners, and restarted his training. His goal is clearly to stand at the top of the heavyweights. Even Mirko knows that he can't stand still."
"Compared to his fights with Herring and Vovchanchyn, Mirko's fighting style has recently changed." Sakakibara evaluated, "He forced the opponent to fight his fight when he fought Heath. Mirko knows that he must return to this style and is working towards that goal."
Mirko or Oyama? Only one of these fighters can be reborn this time.
* The card is planned to have 1 or 2 additional fights.
This will be my first fight here but looking at my opponent, I don't think it will be any different than the main PRIDE. That's the kind of fight I want to have.
I'll do my best to make my fight the most interesting fight.
Hayato "Mach" Sakurai
My opponent hasn't been decided yet but I want to have a bloody fight.
I've been away from the PRIDE ring for a while and my last fight (vs. Alexander Otsuka) wasn't very good. I think Minowa and I can put on a great fight. I'm really looking forward to it.