SAKAKIBARA COMMENTS FIGHT OF THE CENTURY
11/16/2005

A press conference was held on November 14 th in a Tokyo hotel to announce the "fight of the century" between Hidehiko Yoshida and Naoya Ogawa at the December 31 st PRIDE 2005 Shockwave , to be held at Saitama Super Arena.

Ogawa refused to let reporters photograph him and quickly left, leaving a nervous tension in the room. DSE Chief Executive Officer Nobuyuki Sakakibara began to speak, despite the grim mood.

"Both of them will fight. Both of them were competitive judo players and both have become professionals. Their relationship is one of hard-working rivals. It is an extreme rivalry. The atmosphere here wasn't something they created. I think the hardest thing for both of them was putting on a suit and sitting here beside each other. Today's conference showed what they are thinking. Their entire lives are rolled up in this because they are betting everything they've earned on their December 31 st match."

 

       

 

Pride Fighting Championships : How many years did it take to get them to agree to this?
Nobuyuki Sakakibara: We made the official offer this year. These two don't think like Rickson, where it's just a matter of money. These two have a lot of history together. I think the fans felt that somehow, somewhere these two would meet up in the PRIDE ring and we felt that this year was our one chance at it. We had to lay the groundwork first and we were finally able to talk to them directly about it after this summer.
Pride: What will the rules be?
Sakakibara: Basically, they will be official PRIDE rules. We will adjust them after we hear their opinions, including whether to wear a gi or not. I don't think of this is a competition. It's a duel. A fight between two guys that have as much history as these two do only comes along every 50 or 100 years. We don't expect this to go smoothly, either. Their feelings will probably change as they hear what each other is saying on TV. Fighting fairly, with good sportsmanship... well, this fight will be the 180 ° opposite of that.
Pride: What was the negotiations process like?
Sakakibara: It was complex. Both fighters were concerned about the feelings behind this fight, rather than monetary issues. These guys don't have the kind of relationship where they respect each other, smile when they see each other and go out to eat together. We used a partition (to separate the fighters) for the first time today because we were expecting the unexpected. We didn't know what would happen. Ogawa behaved well, though. I thought he might flip the table over and go home.
S akakibara began to speak more excitedly when the conversation turned to the overall Shockwave event, and his comments gave deep insight in to the future composition of the Shockwave card.
" There's no card bigger than this. I want to make the theme of this event about deciding who is the toughest Japanese, including the main card, so we are also making offers to Sakuraba and Tamura. I want to have put together 5 fights to decide the top Japanese fighters.
D SE will be competing for ratings this year, too. Yoshida and Ogawa will draw higher than 50% ratings. It will be a long program at 5 hours and 20 minutes, and I want to make the rest of the card special enough to easily get an average rating of 20%. I want Shockwave to be different, more special, than the usual PRIDE. For that reason, we raised the price of tickets for Shockwave , and only Shockwave . Fedor, Mirko, Nogueira, Shogun... all of the foreign fighters will be there. There will be 11 matches in total and each of them could be the main event of a regular PRIDE.
T he foreigners on the card will also be battles-of-the-best. Henderson VS Bustamante has already been decided for the Welterweights but we are still thinking about having Heavy and Middleweight title matches. I don't want to just go through the motions. I want this to be such an exciting 5 hours and 20 minutes that the fans watching think it's too much for them. I want to make this a serious event, with no laughter coming from the audience."
A nother press conference will be held tomorrow, where a new best-of-the-best match will be announced.