Following the January 19th press conference at the Dream Stage Entertainment office, Chief Executive Officer Nobuyuki Sakakibara gave comments to reporters about the card of the upcoming PRIDE 31.
Pride Fighting Championships:
Why did you choose Mario to be Kosaka's opponent?
Nobuyuki Sakakibara, Dream Stage Entertainment CEO:
They are both instructors. Mario coaches the Brazilian Top Team, one of the top teams in Brazilian MMA now. Kosaka has raised many young Japanese fighters and they have grown under his instruction. In that sense, I think this will be a match between the pioneers of Japanese and Brazilian mixed martial arts to see who is stronger. Another reason is that Kosaka's student, Yokoi, was beaten by Mario and if Kosaka, as a strategist and a theorist, can use what he has learned to beat Mario, he will be a good fighter in the next Grand Prix.
About how many Japanese fighters do you intend to enter into the Open Weight Grand Prix?
I'm thinking of between 3 and 6, from different weight classes.
How did you decide on Hunt as Nishijima's opponent?
Nishijima said that he would fight anyone and both Hunt and Shogun said they would fight him. We decided on Hunt in hopes that we would have a magnificent striking battle. I want Shogun to fight someone that wants to be in the Open Weight Grand Prix.
Will Shogun's opponent by a Heavyweight?
Yes. I want to put together a card for PRIDE 31 that is a preview of the Open Weight Grand Prix, exceeding weight classes, such as a Heavyweight VS Middleweight match. Nogueira, Kharitonov, Coleman and Einemo will also probably be mixed up with Heavyweights and Middleweights on the card. We've narrowed down possible opponents for Einemo to a few names and I think we will be able to announce the main fights next week.