A press conference was held in a Tokyo hotel on June 16th to announce the matchups for Takanori Gomi and Tatsuya Kawajiri in PRIDE BUSHIDO Vol. 8. Both fighters were present at the press conference but the mood was tense from beginning to end, and they never looked at or spoke to each other. Although the flames are still small, a rivalry has begun to emerge in the 73 kg division.

Takanori Gomi will face off against the 3rd assassin sent out by Chute Boxe, Jean Silva, while Kawajiri will go up against the "Little Jiu-Jitsu Magician", Luis Buscape. Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara said "both fighters chose tough opponents themselves." "The reason that the fans and the media gave such high praise for the newly reborn BUSHIDO was become of the incredible way that Gomi won at Ariake, because he gave us the best possible ending," said BUSHIDO Public Relations Director Saeki, introducing Gomi. "You could feel that he really wants to help bring all of BUSHIDO up. He is BUSHIDO's ace."

"This will be the 2nd time for me in Nagoya. I plan on fighting even harder and giving an even more exciting match than the one in Ariake, and I want to be in top shape when I go to Nagoya," Gomi said, declaring that this fight would be even better than the last. Saeki's introduction for Kawajiri was a little harsher, though, "Kawajiri had his debut match in Ariake and if I may say so, I don't think Kawajiri showed us what he can do. He's really a great fighter. I'm sure that this time, he will give us the kind of fight he always does."

"I didn't get fully into the fight last time so this time, I'm going to explode. I'm going to be more aggressive, more powerful and faster when I fight and set BUSHIDO on fire," replied Kawajiri.

Kawajiri explained why he chose his opponent, "I came to PRIDE so I could fight tough opponents. I wanted to show my strength off by even more by fighting a tough opponent." "Hansen will also be there but his opponent was already decided, and I think this is a fight on the way to the Grand Prix," Gomi explained his choice. Asked what they thought about each other's chances, Kawajiri replied, "I'm sure he will win like an ace should." Gomi replied, "Buscape doesn't seem to be in good condition so Kawajiri will be in better physical shape. If he is careful of (Buscape's) quick movements, he won't have any problems at all."

Saeki, however, was a little more cautious, "Gomi's fight smells dangerous. There was a big scuffle after the fight in Ariake. What do you think they had in mind when they sent another fighter after him? They are probably are coming here to kill him." "I was the one that negotiated with Chute Boxe," Sakakibara explained, revealing that the situation is indeed delicate. "However, Chute Boxe will do anything to take Gomi out. Because of what happened last time, they demanded that they be able to fight Gomi in Nagoya and Azeredo wants a re-match as soon as possible. Gomi needs to be careful. For the moment, I think he should avoid running into Chute Boxe on the street."

"I know I have to think a lot about what I did last time but there are young fighters in my team now and I can learn from Chute Boxe about how they come together as a team. As a team member, I don't want to lose," Gomi said, laying bare his opposing thoughts.

As has become almost a tradition in BUSHIDO, both fighters were asked what the themes of their fights are. Kawajiri replied, "I will just fight like I always do. I want to break him mentally. I want to give him such a tough fight that he will never want to fight me again." Following that, and trying to lighten the mood, Gomi replied, "My theme is love." Gomi continued, "I think I got rid of the conceit I had from my accomplishments last year and pent-up feelings I had from the past 6 months in my last fight. From now on, I'm delivering love to the fans."

Gomi, as the current 73 kg ace, and Kawajiri, a fighter aiming for the ace position, had opposing comments. Kawajiri said that he doesn't think of Gomi as a rival, "The only thing in my head right now is beating Buscape down in July. I don't care about the rivalry." However, there will still be a sense competition between the two, "In terms of fight quality, I don't plan on losing to him, so we can make BUSHIDO exciting together." Gomi, on the other hand, was talking about a possible match with (Wanderlei) Silva again, almost disregarding the 70 kg range entirely, "The Grand Prix will be as far as I can go in the 73 kg division. Silva is in the middle of the Middleweight tournament but it's not impossible that we will be able to face each other. I came from SHOOTO as a 70 kg fighter and I want to create a new goal after I win the Grand Prix at 73 kg."

Gomi continued, "You have to move up in weight to fight better opponents. The first thing I have to do is to fight my way to the Final Round of the BUSHIDO Grand Prix and get the belt", but Kawajiri has anything to say about it, it won't be that easy. No matter what happens, the day when these two face off is not far away.





Tatsuya Kawajiri Comments

Pride Fighting Championships: Gomi seems intent on winning the BUSHIDO Grand Prix and moving up in weight.
Tasuya Kawajiri: I don't plan on just lying around, either. I want to fight him before he goes, whether it's in the First Round of the Grand Prix, the Final Round or just a regular match. Personally, I'd like to fight him tomorrow. Once we know who is stronger, that'll be enough. As a pro, though, I'd like to fight on a big stage and have as many people watch us as possible.
Pride: What did you think about sitting next to Gomi?
Kawajiri: I've never been that close to him before. It was inspiring. My motivation to train from today on just got higher. I've never even spoken about this before.
Pride: BUSHIDO was on free TV last night. Did anyone say anything to you?
Kawajiri: I live in the country side and never see anyone. Nobody knows me. (laughing)
Pride: Have you been studying Buscape?
Kawajiri: I haven't even seen any videos of him. My image of him is like Shaolin, tackling and then trying to win on the ground. I'm prepared for that so I want to beat on him until he loses heart.
Pride: What is your training like?
Kawajiri: I'm training like I did before, plus a little more. I'm doing something to make me stronger and I hope I will be able to show that in the next fight. I go to different places for training and I want everyone to see a new me. There are things that I feel I've neglected and I'm putting a lot of detailed studying into them. Having my own style has always been my strong point and now I'm just aiming for a stronger method of attack. I'm making myself a stronger weapon.

Takanori Gomi's Comments

Pride Fighting Championships : Do you have any info on your opponent?
Takanori Gomi: I saw his fight in the cage. He fights with ground techniques from the bottom and doesn't seem like a Chute Boxe fighter.
Pride: Do you think he's strong?
Gomi: He's no match for me. I'm really tough right now. Last year was a good year but I started all over from the last fight. Winning like that, I know that I've got a little luck left. It's like a message, telling me to keep pull BUSHIDO along. After winning 6 times in a row, my friend told me that I'm going to use all of my luck and die next year. (laughing) There are young people coming into my gym now. Watching them try to go pro, I can remember how I felt when I was trying to go pro. I began to feel that if I've got time to go drinking, I should be doing more sparring, even if it's just one more round. I don't want to have any regrets.
Pride: You spoke about Wanderlei Silva.
Gomi: If we were in the same weight class, I'd never shut up. My first goal is to get the belt, though.
Pride: Kawajiri said he won't let you escape so easily.
Gomi: First thing is the Grand Prix. There will be a lot of rematches, like with Hansen, but the only one in my mind is Wanderlei Silva. If you think about it though, he's two weight classes above me. (laughing) Even Chonan's weight class is below (Wanderlei). I want that kind of stimulation. There's no motivation in the 73 kg class anymore.