The 1st PRIDE Challenge was held at Omori Gold's Gym in Tokyo, Japan on January 18th. The event was designed to bring amateur fighters together in order to assist in bringing up new fighters who will be able to step into the PRIDE ring. 27 amateur fighters gathered together on this day.

Although there were rules in place to prevent stalling such as no-cross-guards and quick breaks when the actions slows, the amateur fighters fought more aggressively than anyone expected and many of the fights ended in submissions and KOs.

Two fighters that gained special attention were Hozubayaru, from Mongolia and a 3rd generation Japanese-Brazilian, Christiano Kaminishi. Hozubayaru used his Mongolian sumo to gain a takedown and punished his prone opponent with several powerful kicks. The fight ended when Hozubayaru arm-barred his opponent. It's not easy to evaluate his performance this time as his fight was under no-striking rules, he did show that his powerful fighting style can be used effectively.



Christiano Kaminishi is a known name in the jiu-jitsu world. He currently has a brown belt and has amassed an impressive record in many jiu-jitsu tournaments. On this day however, he chose to go toe-to-toe with his opponent, rather than going to the ground. Kaminishi punched his opponent relentlessly and when his opponent was in the turtle position, completely took his will to fight when he launched several knees to the body, causing the referee to stop the fight. Kaminishi has practiced with the Brazilian Top Team before. In fact, he will return to BTT to in June for special training. He said that he plans on making his professional MMA debut, while continuing with his jiu-jitsu training. He's already created a career in jiu-jitsu but the realization of a pro MMA debut came one step closer with his fight in PRIDE Challenge.

Yoshida Dojo's Kazuhiro Nakamura, who watched the fights from ringside had kind words for the up-and-comers, "If it was just about heart, the pros couldn't beat these guys. Even though I'm a pro fighter, I learned a lot today." PRIDE's main referee and the Director of PRIDE Challenge said that future amateur events would be held every 2-3 months in order to expand the foundation of mixed martial arts.

MVP: Christiano Kaminishi
Director's Special Award: Hozubayaru
Special Awards: Noushy Ikegami, Yukiharu Maejima, Hiroyuki Oda, Alan Ballard, Keiji Sakuda