A press conference was held on November 15th in a Tokyo hotel to announce two new matches for the December 31st PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2005, Yuki Kondo VS Kazuhiro Nakamura and Sanae Kikuta VS Makoto Takimoto.
Pancrase ace Yuki Kondo will face off against Kazuhiro Nakamura who made it to the Best 8 in the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix, and judo Gold Medallist Makoto Takimoto will fight one of the best grapplers in the world and Abu Dhabi Champion, Sanae Kikuta.
Although the impact of the previous day's announcement of the match between Naoya Ogawa and Hidehiko Yoshida still remained, DSE Chief Executive Officer Nobuyuki Sakakibara said that these matches would lack nothing in excitement. Nobuhiko Takada, PRIDE General Director, continued, explaining that this is a great lineup, "Although we weren't able to escape that heavy, nervous feeling yesterday, somehow we've made it to today and this are just the cards to turn it all around."
"Although the Ogawa VS Yoshida is a miracle card of the highest class, these 2 cards are match-ups between Japan's great fighters and need little explanation. There will be a lot of attention on these cards and are only possible because this will be the New Year's Eve show," Takada continued. "The Ogawa and Yoshida card definitely has impact, with centrifugal force from all corners of Japan, but I want these 4 fighters to give everything they have and not lose to Ogawa and Yoshida. Kikuta, Kondo or Takimoto. Anything of these guys can make it about themselves. Nakamura is currently training in Brazil. I know that each fighter will not only be compared to his opponent, but also to the rest of the card so I want each of these to give their best performance and outshine all the other cards."
Makoto Takimoto: It's an honor to be able to compete in this kind of large event after October. There was some booing after the last fight and I wasn't satisfied with some parts of the fight myself. This time, I want to give a fight that PRIDE fans will be happy with.
Sanae Kikuta: First, I would like to say thank you to Mr. Sakakibara and DSE officials who offered the fight to me. To sum this fight up simply, it's the 'Olympic Judo Gold Medallist" versus the "best ground Fighter in the world." However, I don't want to just be called the "best ground fighter in the world." I want to show everyone that I can submit a Gold Medallist.
Yuki Kondo: It's an honor to fight in my 3rd consecutive New Year's Eve event. I wasn't able to give a good fight, or product good results, last year so this year, I want to have a hard fight worthy of the event and win by KO or submission.
Kazuhiro Nakamura: This will be the first time for me to fight on New Year's Eve, so I'm glad it will be against someone that I respect like Kondo. I think it's really an honor. This is supposed to be a festival, so let's give the fans a great fight and send them home feeling like they've really been to a festival. (*Comments sent from Brazil)
Questions and Answers
Pride Fighting Championships: Please tell us what you think of your opponents.
Takimoto: I've known of him since I was in high school. His judo is strong and he's active in martial arts, so I knew he is strong. I will do my best.
Kikuta: I've also known about Takimoto since I was in high school. He was already famous at that time, and then he became a Gold Medallist. He's a strong judo player. I've been in mixed martial arts for 10 years, including my time as an amateur, and I think he is the type of fighter that I will be able to use all of my grappling skills against.
Kondo: He's a strong fighter in the clinch. He beat Randleman and he beat Vovchanchyn, who I lost to, so I think he's a very tough fighter.
Pride: Kikuta and Takimoto, did you ever meet in your high school judo days?
Kikuta: We have trained together but that was more than 10 years ago. I was a judo dropout and Takimoto was an elite judo player. I still wanted to travel this path and perfect my ground skills and finally, after 10 years, I will be able to test myself, so I'm very happy.
Pride: Do you remember training together?
Takimoto: I believe it was when I was in high school and went to train at Nippon Sports Science University. I think he was strong but it's been a long time, so I don't remember very well.
Kikuta: That's a tough question. I remember that he was gifted, with good technique.
Pride: Kikuta, how is your leg injury?
Kikuta: I injured it in the middle of August. It's been 3 months now and it's gotten better. I think it will be in perfect shape for New Year's Eve.
Pride: This was originally supposed to be a Yoshida Dojo versus GRABAKA match.
Kikuta: Yes, GRABAKA is one of Japan's top teams and that would be fine, too.
Takimoto: I've never heard about that and didn't think you'd ask me. (laughing) I want to fight no matter who my opponent is.
Pride: Kikuta said that he would submit you.
Takimoto: The rules allow for striking so I always try to use whatever will be effective when I fight. I have no preference between grappling and striking. I'll decide what's best at that time.
Pride: Kondo, you've lost 3 consecutive matches in PRIDE. What do you think about these cards that are going to determine the ranking of Japanese fighters?
Kondo: I think that I am on the edge, and that I want to win convincingly.