PRESS CONFERENCE FOR VICTORIOUS GRAND PRIX FIGHTERS
05/04/2004

A press conference for the 6 victorious Grand Prix fighters (Ogawa/Schilt were not present) and Mark Hunt was held on April 26 th in Tokyo before they even had a chance to cool down.

 

 

DSE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara began the conference with his outline of the near future. "I think this was a great start for the Heavyweight tournament. I'm grateful to all 16 fighters. We're now working on the July 20 card plus matches for Kazushi Sakuraba and Mark Hunt. Additionally, we hope to have a match at the May 23 Bushido event to decide the Middleweight challenger."

The conference atmosphere was very relaxed and the fighters present showed no signs of fatigue or damage from their previous night of fighting. Each fighter gave a few words about his match.

Giant Silva : I'm very happy that I won my match and that I can be here. I want to improve myself with every match.

Heath Herring : I'm happy to be standing here. I'm looking forward to the 2 nd round on July 20. There are a lot of really tough athletes here and I think the next matches will be even more exciting.

Sergei Kharitonov : I will be ready to fight my next opponent.

Kevin Randleman : Looking around this stage, I see 3 fighters that were already fighting when I made my debut in PRIDE. That's Heath, Nogueira and Fedor. To be here with them is an honor. It's a tough job but I love being a fighter in PRIDE.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira : I'm glad that I was able to win the fight well. I'm also looking forward to July. All 8 fighters are strong and it's an honor for me to be among them.

Fedor Emelianenko : I'm happy that the fans enjoyed my fight yesterday. All of the fights were interesting but these 8 fighters' fights will be even more exciting.

Mark Hunt : I had a good time myself. All of the fights were exciting. I thought it would take longer for the fights to finish but I was really surprised that they finished so quickly.
Asked about who they wanted to fight, all of the fighters said "anyone" except for Nogueira and Randleman, who both wanted Ogawa.

Silva : That's a tough question because I'm new to PRIDE. I'm only here because of PRIDE's goodwill so I will fight anyone. But, if I had to say one name, it would be Heath.

Herring : All of these fighters are strong, tough opponents. However, they are also my friends. My ultimate goal is to get the belt in August though, so I'm going to go home and train hard. Mirko, who was favored to win, lost to Kevin yesterday. That's why you've got to take each fight, one by one, seriously. I'm going to fight with everything I've got, regardless of who my opponent is, and get the belt.

Kharitonov : I think you can imagine my response but I can't say who I want to fight. I will fight anybody.

Randleman : Looking at yesterday's fights, Silva is PRIDE's newest fighter. He's improved a lot in a short time and I think he's a great fighter. I think everyone here is a strong opponent. I've got to go home, train hard and study these 7 guys. Nogueira's triangle choke and everything about Fedor. Everyone here is scary. I'm actually a chicken, just like chicken Ogawa. That's why I want to fight Ogawa.

Nogueira : All 8 fighters are strong. I think it will be a tough fight no matter who my opponent is. I respect all of the fighters but like Kevin, I want to fight Ogawa. I wanted to fight Ogawa since I came to Japan this time. I definitely want to fight Ogawa.

Emelianenko : I can't say who I want to fight but all 8 fighters are great fighters and I will fight any of them.

Hunt : Everyone here is a really great fighter. I'm new so I think it will be interesting no matter who I fight. So, anybody is fine with me.

Then, the fighters were asked about Mirko.

Silva : They were both strong fighters. Kevin had a great fight and I was really impressed but, in a fight, someone has to win and someone has to lose. Yesterday was Kevin's day to win.

Herring : Considering that Mirko was on the front of the event pamphlet yesterday, I think his loss has a deep meaning. I was talking with Bas Rutten and we were both shocked. I knew that Kevin could win, though. That fight showed me the beauty of sports. I think that proved that anything can happen in a PRIDE fight.

Kharitonov : Sportsmen always win and lose. It's normal.

Hunt : It was a good fight. They are both good fighters and either side can lose in a fight.

Nogueira : That was a really great fight yesterday. I was surprised but I had hopes for Kevin's technique and possibility. Kevin has been a UFC Champion and he can fight well at Middleweight or Heavyweight.

Emelianenko : I knew Kevin is very strong and a great fighter. Coleman is a great trainer. Kevin did everything that he should have. Maybe Mirko was too confident of beating him.

Although a lot of the fighters said they were surprised, many of them also said that they knew Randleman could win. There was also a cold feeling that no one was really concerned about it.

DSE also discussed the matchups for the second round. "We're going to mix the results from the surveys yesterday, the surveys from the home page and our feelings as the promoter to decide by May 10 th . Ogawa should be at this top technical and physical level by August. We want the best 4 remaining in August so there probably won't be a Nogueira/Fedor match. It will be a tough match no matter who their opponents are. Regarding Sakuraba's match, he's set himself out to get revenge during the remainder of his career. We hope to put together a card with a similar them that will have people looking forward to next year's Middleweight Grand Prix."