SAKAKIBARA INTERVIEW
07/08/2005

Following the official signing ceremony for the Heavyweight Championship match between Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, and a conference announcing Mirko's upcoming movie distribution on DVD, Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara answered questions from the media.

It was announced the result of a post-match conference was to give a yellow card to Ricardo Arona for the unsportsmanlike act of trying to use his fingers to open Kazushi Sakuraba's cut. In addition to the yellow card, Sakakibara explained Sakuraba's post-fight condition.

 

       

 

Pride Fighting Championships: Some people have said that the referee waited too long to stop the fight.
Nobuyuki Sakakibara: The swelling in his face hasn't gone down and he will be in the hospital for 3 days. Once the swelling has gone down, tests will be conducted. There doesn't appear to be any damage to his brain though, so we will be checking for things like broken orbital bones. We will have more detailed information 2~3 days after the exams but the results of the CT scans indicate that the brain has not been affected. Sakuraba is upset and of course, he still wants to fight but I don't think he can make it as he is in today's PRIDE. He is in the final stage of his life as a fighter, so he will have to re-train his body and change his training methods. He probably doesn't want to do it but there is the possibility of dropping weight classes. If he insists on fighting in the 93kg division, I believe he can still add another 5 kg of muscle to protect himself. I just hope he will use these feelings of regret to make a come-back. As Mr. Takada said, to make a come-back will be impossible in the current PRIDE Middleweight division if he just trains as usual, though.
Pride: Some people have said that the referee waited too long to stop the fight.
Sakakibara: Rather than the referee stopping the fight too late, I think Sakuraba's corner should have thrown in the towel sooner. The fight should have been stopped earlier but there's room for debate over who should have stopped it.
Pride: All of the Japanese fighters have been eliminated from the Grand Prix. What will you do in August?
Sakakibara: We will have Japanese fighters in single (non-Grand Prix) fights.
Pride: How were the television ratings (for the Grand Prix 2 nd Round)?
Sakakibara: They averaged 14.6%. I think it's a passing grade. We took 20% when we broadcast during the same time last year so of course, this broadcast will be compared to that but I don't think the numbers are bad.
Pride: Now that you have held the signing ceremony for Fedor VS Mirko, have you thought about having any penalties if the fight is delayed again by injury?
Sakakibara: You cannot avoid getting injuries so if that's the case, there's nothing that can be done about it. I really, really don't want it to be delayed any longer, though. (laughing) This is the one fight that Mirko has been waiting for and Fedor has been training well. There are still 2 months remaining so I'm confident that both fighters will be in good shape for the match.
Pride: In the 2 nd Round's event pamphlet, it says that there is a possibility that Kharitonov and Hunt will fight for the right to be the next (title bout) challenger.
Sakakibara: We're considering it.
Pride: Tamura has talked about a VS match.
Sakakibara: I've received ideas about a VS match from both Tamura and Kikuta. If they are motivated, have the desire and it's something the fans want, the DSE will consider providing a place for them to do it. I would like to discuss the further.
Pride: What is the fine for the yellow card you gave Arona?
Sakakibara: A forfeiture of 10% of his fight money. Actually, we received an objection from Dean Lister before that Arona put his fingers in Lister's cut. It was clearly visible on-screen this time. Arona said it wasn't intentional but his fingers were doing so much work that you can't really blame the judges or the referee for thinking that it was intentional. Arona himself probably doesn't want to admit this but although that kind of mean behavior may help towards winning, we have to be strict about it. We took this measure because we do not want this to influence other fighters.