Publicly advertising for a Japanese opponent to fight Mirko Filipovic was an unusual move but unfortunately, no one qualified applied. There was a foreign fighter that raised his hand, DEEP'S foreign ace, Dos Caras Jr. DEEP Representative, Saeki, is confident that Caras Jr. will prevail.
Nobuhiko Takada, PRIDE's General Director laid out a challenge at his September 23rd press conference. He was looking for Japanese fighters will to step up and face Mirko. There was a flood of calls to the DSE office the following day, with more than 50 applications. Kawano, a young All Japan pro-wrestler volunteered but DSE felt that he lacked enough experience. Although his offer was declined, DSE told him that if he's that willing he should fight in Bushido, gain more experience and then fight in the "big-league".
Takada was a little surprised that no one from New Japan Pro-Wrestling applied, "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the highest class opponent. Nagata didn't apply. Nakanishi didn't apply either. I didn't expect any of them to apply but I think it's unfortunate that they didn't even try."
It was at this point that the star born from Mexican pro-wrestling's Lucha Livre, Dos Caras Jr., pushed for a shot at Mirko. DEEP's Saeki, along with Dos, immediately requested the match when they heard of the advertisement. They called Takada and DSE President Sakakibara, who were in Las Vegas for a UFC event, to relay their desire. After a long meeting on the DSE side, a final decision was made to have Dos face Mirko.
Saeki has faith in his fighter, "DEEP is confident Dos as our representative. Mirko is a top-level fighter but nobody knows what will happen in a fight. Nothing is 100% guaranteed." Dos also seemed confident, "I think he's a great fighter. He's definitely one of the best but I'm a strong fighter, too." Mirko has been labeled the "Pro-Wrestler Hunter" and that doesn't sit well with Dos, "It's ridiculous that he's called that when he's never beaten anyone but Japanese pro-wrestlers."
Dos is not short of credentials. Before he entered Lucha Livre, he was the Mexican representative in Freestyle Wrestling at the Sydney Olympics. In his 4 vale-tudo matches in DEEP, he has accrued 2 wins, 1 loss and 1 disqualification and he's currently training at Marco Ruas' gym.
Marco, a PRIDE veteran, has coached both Nobuhiko Takada and Mirko. According to Takada, "He excels in strategy. Dos has a good coach." Takada was amused at the turn of fate that has (distantly) connected him with Dos.
"The one thing that I can say is that I didn't come all the way to Japan to lose." Dos declared, "I came to win. I want to win here and then fight in the PRIDE GP. I want to challenge Fedor. After my victory, I want to hear the theme song of my father and grandfather, "Sky High".
When asked about his mask, Dos replied, "I always wear it when I fight so it's not a problem for me. If it's a real problem for him, I'm willing to take it off." However, Takada interjected and told him that it won't be a problem, "Of course we want to improve PRIDE but this will be the first BUSHIDO event, kind of like a new toy. We want to try a lot of new things and the mask is one of them." DEEP Representative Saeki added, "He won't remove his mask. If Mirko doesn't like it, I'll negotiate with him personally."
Wearing a mask is actually prohibited in PRIDE rules. However, it's possible there may be other changes made, such as the length of the first round and the number of overall rounds. It seems that if Mirko gives the OK, PRIDE will let Dos wear his mask.
PRIDE's top fighter versus the masked pro-wrestler. It's a wild card to top the BUSHIDO lineup. Even more so than Dos, Saeki has gotten worked up over this match, "Mirko won't be able to fight at the Dome. I'm sorry PRIDE but Dos will be the one challenging Fedor." Saeki continued, with a straight face, "He may even use a drop-kick or flying cross-chop."