A press conference was held on December 16 th to announce the match-up of Ken Kaneko and Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett on the PRIDE 2005 SHOCKWAVE card, to be held on New Year's Eve at the Saitama Super Arena. At the conference, Bennett expressed his anger at being matched up with the Japanese actor.
Bennett arrived at the press conference wearing a ski mask with both hands stuffed in his pockets and was clearly not happy. Bennett sat on one side of Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara and Kaneko sat on the other.
Sakakibara began the press conference with a greeting and explained the Kaneko-Bennett match-up, "We're finally down to 2 weeks until New Year's Eve and we will have 11~12 matches as of this week. Among them will be Kaneko in his first fight. As a PRIDE special challenge match, and with respect to Kaneko's sincere determination and his desire to put everything he has on the line and climb into the PRIDE ring, we thought it would be a waste to give him weak opponent with no record. So, we arranged for Bennett but Bennett is dangerous and no one knows what will happen. Bennett could send Kaneko to the match with a single punch. I think it's a cruel card but Kaneko is a man and said that he wanted to fight in PRIDE no matter who his opponent is."
The match will be on a must-system, with 2 five-minutes rounds. The rules will be PRIDE rules, with the exception of no knees or kicks on a downed opponent and no soccer-ball kicks. Details are to be officially decided in upcoming rule meetings but according to Sakakibara, stomps will also probably be disallowed.
"We've received a lot of opinions from fans, both for and against this match, but I think everyone will understand the true reason for this match-up on the day of the fight. I hope that everyone will watch, live or on television, as Ken Kaneko shows what he is made of in the PRIDE ring."
"Part of me is really nervous now that my opponent has been decided," Kaneko said. "I know the Bennett is a really tough fighter. I don't have much chance of winning but I don't think I have absolutely no chance at all. I want to take advantage of that small chance in the biggest way possible and win."
Despite Kaneko's humble statement, Bennett refused to remove the ski mask when asked, "I'm not taking off my mask. I've been hurting guys for years so I'm used to fighting. This fight is a waste of time, though. He quit acting? You need to keep acting for the rest of your life because I am going to beat you." Finally, after being persuaded by Sakakibara, Bennett removed his ski mask and showed his gold teeth while staring at Kaneko. The press conference then turned into a one-man talk show for Bennett.
Asked about the rules, Kaneko said, "I've never fought so it's no problem for me." Bennett, however, ignored the question, "I've fought in a lot of fights. Fighting is not easy. You should go back to acting. I'm angry about the rules. Go back to being an actor! Otherwise I am going to embarrass you and beat you down."
"I'm angry at him. I want to hurt him bad. Are you listening? I'm not going to take it easy on you in the ring. It's not acting. I am going to hurt you for real."
"Fighting's not easy. What do you think about getting your jaw broken and face cut? Fighting is real. It's not an act."
"Are the Japanese girls going to cheer for this guy? I'm going to beat him into the mat. There's no way he's going to kick me. You might be popular but what do you think is going to happen when I break your face? I'm looking forward to it."
"He's good at grappling? I don't like grappling but I am superman! I'm strong and more than human! I am going to destroy you! You hit me and I will hit you."
Despite Bennett's persistent challenges, Kaneko remained calm to the end, watching emotionlessly as Bennett continued barking, "This is what I expected so I don't think anything of it."
Bennett was still angry after the press conference, "I wore the mask but I'm embarrassed that I'm being made to fight an actor. I wanted to fight guys like Gomi, Joachim Hansen and Jens Pulver. I want to be an actor but do you think I could quit fighting and suddenly be a great actor? That's what I'm talking about."
"We don't need two 5-minute rounds. The fight is going to end in the 1 st minute. I've fought in the streets with regular guys before so I don't really care who my opponent is but I hate fighting an actor because it makes me look like a beginner. I'm normally excited to come to Japan and fight in PRIDE but not this time."
"Why does he get to fight in PRIDE so easily? I can't stand how easy it was for him. There are so many fighters in the world that are doing their best in order to fight in PRIDE. I want to fight that kind of fighter."
Bennett then took off his shirt to show off and kiss his biceps, "He's taller but that will work in my favor. My center of gravity will be lower. The fight is going to end quickly when he gets these big arms wrapped around him. Hey, it's going to be ground and pound! That's my fight motto!"
Bennett said that after going back to the US and enjoying Christmas with his kids, he will "Stand in front of the mirror and try to act after I go running. I'm going to see if I can act or not." "You listening? Ground and pound," Bennett yelled, echoing throughout the hall.
Kaneko didn't try to hide how he feels about his opponent, "I know that he's strong. I've seen his fights and he's scary." However, Bennett continued, "I'm also training and I don't care what he says. If I've got a 1% chance of winning, I'm going to try to kill him for that 1%."
Kaneko explained that in addition to boxing, he's also training with Rumina Sato at Gutsman Shooto Dojo. "Rumina is teaching me. Advice? That's a secret. I'm also training at Takada Dojo. There's not much time so I'm just going to go with the strategies my teachers create for me. I want to be 100% confident by the day of the fight."
Opinions are split among fans regarding this unusual PRIDE debut. However, Kaneko declared that he wants to give a good fight for the fans, "I have to show them everything I've done until now. The best thing is for me to do that, give a good fight and win. It's a fight with myself. I know this is unusual so I want to show everyone that I'm not half-assed about this."
"The key to this fight is whether Kaneko will be able to stay calm in the ring," Sakakibara explained. "Even experienced fights get nervous standing in the PRIDE ring with all those people watching if they've been away for a while. It will make you weak in the knees. When Kaneko climbs into the ring, it will be a fight with himself before it becomes a fight with his opponent. I've heard that he's been waking up every night from nightmares with different opponents. To overcome that, he has to be ready to hurt himself, to fight against the fear. Mentally, he's ready."
"I think this will be a good sign for him if he can just make it to the 2 nd round," Sakakibara continued, "As Kaneko said, I don't think his chances of winning are 0%. Including working as a second, he's been training a lot. He's analyzed Bennett, created a strategy and worked on a training schedule. The only thing left is to see if that training will pay off. Many fighters say they weren't able to use half of what they trained but his seconds say that if he is able to use his skills as they planned in the strategy, it's more than possible for him to win."
Despite being angry and yelling, Kaneko remained calm. Will that calmness and the strategy he has planned result in a happy ending for him, or one of tragedy? All talking will stop and both fighters will decide the ending in the ring on New Year's Eve!