A press conference was held in DSE's Tokyo office to announce a special single match and a Middleweight Grand Prix reserve match, both to be held at the August 28th PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix 2005 Final Round (Saitama Super Arena). Hidehiko Yoshida will face off against Tank Abbott in Tank's first PRIDE appearance, while Kazuhiro Nakamura will fight Igor Vovchanchyn.
"The only way to beat a brawler is to brawl," claimed Hidehiko Yoshida. A special single match with a unique flavor has been put together for the August 28th Final Round of the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix 2005, to be held at Saitama Super Arena. Yoshida, the judo king, will go head-to-head to Tank Abbot, the famous brawler who made his name in the UFC.
At the press conference, Yoshida declared a certain victory over Abbot, "Since this is a special single match and Yoshida Dojo has been on a losing streak, I have to turn this into a victory. Tank Abbot is a large fighter and if I'm not ready, I won't be able to win. I want to fight well and win."
Abbot's style is as if a street fighter just climbed into the ring and throws punch after punch until the other man falls. Asked what his defense against this brawler is, Yoshida cut right to the point, "Brawling."
"I think this is going to be an interesting match. He's not so much a professional striker as he is a brawler. My striking looks like it came out of a street fight, too, so I think we will tie up and this will be an exciting fight. I definitely want to tie-up with him once," Yoshida continued, the excitement obvious in his comments about a match that will be like nothing he has done before.
Yoshida was always strong willed in his judo days. Calling himself a "match teacher", he has lived in the world of wins and losses since he was a child. If someone wants a fight, you give it to him. That's the feeling you get from him. This open weight-class match is the essence of judo. Yoshida has fought heavyweights in MMA such as Don Frye, Mark Hunt and Rulon Gardner but he says that he doesn't care about body weight. "I train and fight at whatever weight I am at that time."
Yoshida also has another strong motivation to win this battle. "Yoshida Dojo has been on a losing streak since I lost. I have to win to bring in a wave of wins. I hate people seeing judo lose and Kazu and I will give great fights."
Indeed, Yoshida's loss to Silva in the Opening Round of the last Middleweight Grand Prix set off a chain-reaction of losses among the Yoshida Dojo squad, including Omigawa, Kazu (Nakamura) and Murata. Yoshida's plan, along with Kazu, is to win his fight and bring back a positive movement to the Yoshida Dojo.
"It's disappointing but I just have to give it all I've got. To be honest, I'm not thinking of anything but Vovchanchyn," Kazu replied, putting his own victory before everything else. "I've known about Vovchanchyn before I started doing martial arts but respecting him and fighting him are two different things. I want to clearly show everyone the difference between the old and the new." Kazu, betting on a change in the guard, expects a striking war; "I want to have a well-balanced fight, including stand-up striking. I don't have any particular defense strategy for his Russian hook. I'll just deal with it as it comes. I haven't decided if I'm going to wear the gi or not, yet."
Kazu's has been further motivated by the fact that his match with Vovchanchyn will be a reserve match for the Middleweight Grand Prix. "When I fought Wanderlei in the Second Round last time, I tried to concentrate while I fought but in the split second (when I lost my concentration), he got me. My fight with Vovchanchyn will be a reserve match so I consider this to be my own semi-final round. After I fight two times, I will aiming for the Championship." Kazu continued, praying that this match will be the miracle he needs, "I want to fight Silva in the Final Round. It was fun when I fought him the last time and I would simply like to fight him again. As a man. I wouldn't mind fighting Shogun in the Final Round either. If he were injured, it would be even better! (laughing)"
Yoshida also said that he would use the inspiration he will get from the 2nd VIVA JUDO! Summer Camp, to be held from August 1st - 3rd, where he will teach smiling children who do their best to learn judo, when he goes in to his fight.