BUSHIDO GP LINEUP
09/09/2005

Dream Stage Entertainment held a press conference at its Tokyo office to announce match-ups in the upcoming Lightweight Grand Prix tournament, to be held in the September 25 th PRIDE BUSHIDO 9 "THE TOURNAMENT"

* PRIDE BUSHIDO Lightweight Tournament First Round

Takanori Gomi VS Tatsuya Kawajiri

The match fans having been waiting. The match to decide who is the top in Japan . It may even be a match to decide who is the strongest in the world and it's going to happen in the First Round! On August 28 th , at the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix 2005 Final Round, both fighters climbed in to the ring. Kawajiri asked to fight Gomi and Gomi accepted on the spot.

"I think Kawajiri... Kawajiri is the greatest challenger so let's make the first fight the greatest fight," Gomi said and Kawajiri responded, "let's have the ultimate fight." Gomi then replied, "and let's do it in top condition." Both fighters have been compared to each other since Kawajiri's began fighting in BUSHIDO and now the will see who is the best, once and for all.

Kawajiri originally came to BUSHDIDO because he wanted to fight Gomi. In addition to being the former SHOOTO World Welterweight Champion, a title that Kawajiri now holds, Gomi has also been partly responsible for the recent excitement in BUSHIDO. Both fighters have a lot to lose. Win or lose. Heaven or hell. This is a super-fight that will forecast the future of BUSHIDO.

* PRIDE BUSHIDO Lightweight Tournament First Round

Naoyuki Kotani VS Luis Azeredo

Kotani, the "true ZST ace" will finally come to BUSHIDO! ZST has taken out fighter such as Hideo Tokoro and Remigijus Morkevicius to stand at the top of ZST. Called a fighting machine, Kotani's expression never changes as he dismantles his opponents. He's been refining his striking at RIKIX, along with Chonan and Nakamura, and will be burning with desire as he makes his entry into BUSHIDO.

Azeredo needs no introduction. In addition to striking skills honed at Chute Boxe and wild Capoeira-style kicks, he was able to handle all the grappling that Luis Buscape could dish out and made Gomi sweat for a moment at BUSHIDO 5.

Both fighters are excellent on their feet and on the ground, and both fighters are capable of destroying the other. Which one of these fighters will go up against the winner of Gomi vs. Kawajiri in the Second Round?

* PRIDE BUSHIDO Lightweight Tournament First Round

Hayato "Mach" Sakurai VS Jens Pulver

This match is also a dream for fans. Mach, who has been fighting in the 83kg division, has dropped down to lightweight, making his a danger to every other fighter. He's going to have a giant advantage in power and size, dropping down from a higher weight class. Mach has also been training in the US for the past few months, completely adapting himself to PRIDE rules. The fans should get to see a Mach faster than ever.

Pulver, on the other hand, coming off a loss to Gomi in the New Year's Eve show, made his comeback with a stellar KO over TAISHO in the May BUSHIDO. Not only was he an undefeated champion in the UFC, he's proved that he's a fierce lightweight no matter where he fights. Proud of his boxing skills, which he has honed in professional boxing matches, he has recreated himself for the BUSHIDO Lightweight Division.

Although both of these stars have had nothing to do with each other in the past, they will meet head on in the Lightweight Grand Prix. Everyone will be watching as Mach is reborn as a lightweight, but with the speed and technique that both of these fighters have, the fans won't be able to take their eyes away for even a second.

* PRIDE BUSHIDO Lightweight Tournament First Round

Yves Edwards VS Joachim Hansen

If Gomi and Kawajiri are settling who is the top Japanese fighter, then this is a fight to see who is the toughest foreigner in BUSHIDO, and this battle is going to happen in the First Round!

Yves pulled off an amazing submission against Dokonjyonosuke in the May BUSHIDO and proved that not only does he have one of the hardest punches in the business; his ground game is world-class, too. He's even went so far as to declare that BUSHIDO's Gomi and Kawajiri and he, from the UFC, are the top 3 fighters in their weight class. Yves is a likely candidate to win this tournament and he's the fighter Gomi is most concerned about.

However, Hansen is also a top contender to win the tournament. He has taken out nearly everyone at the top in Japan , including Takanori Gomi, Kaoru Uno and Rumina Sato, and send Imanari to the mat in July with a single knee. Called the greatest "pounder" in the world, his striking is fearsome whether he's on top or bottom. His grappling skills are world-class and his fight with Yves may come to define what MMA really means.

Both fighters are strong in every department and this match promises to unfold into a battle of extreme proportions. It's impossible to predict which of these fighters will move up to face the winner of Mach vs. Pulver.

* PRIDE BUSHIDO Lightweight Tournament Reserve Match

Dokonjyonosuke Mishima VS Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett

The fact that this match is the reserve match is a testament to the high-level of the Lightweight Grand Prix.

Mishima made a mistake in his BUSHIDO match against Yves in July but he was once called Gomi's strongest rival. With strength unusual in Japanese fighters, his takedown skills and grappling abilities are some of the best in the world. His opponent, Bennett, is a wild fighter that gave Gomi a run for his money and sent a then undefeated Yoshiro Maeda sprawling to the mat in May.

Will Bennett keep it standing and end the fight with strikes or will Mishima be able to take the fight to the ground and work his magic there? This will be a thrilling match.