NOBUYUKI SAKAKIBARA INTERVIEW PRIDE 31
02/07/2006

A press conference was held in the Tokyo Dream Stage Entertainment office on February 6th to announce 4 additional matches for the PRIDE 31 event, to be held on February 26th at Saitama Super Arena. The 8 matches announces so far, including these 4, will be evaluation matches for the upcoming May 5th Open Weight Grand Prix. Dream Stage CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara also had another surprise"

Following the press conference, Sakakibara answered reporters" questions and said that there would be 1 or 2 more additional fights on the PRIDE 31 card.

 

       

 

Pride Fighting Championships: What does the rest of the card look like?
Nobuyuki Sakakibara: There will probably be 1 or 2 more fights, both suitable to be the main event. I hope to announce the remaining card within the next few days, centering on Nogueira.
Pride: Will that be against a Japanese fighter?
Sakakibara: It's possible that there will be a Japanese fighter. We're working out the final details.
Pride: There are rumors that Kazuyuki Fujita will fight.
Sakakibara: Fujita is a freelance fighter now so if he is willing to come to PRIDE, I think there's a place for him. If we get the chance to talk, there's a lot I'd like to talk about. I think it would be difficult to fight in the February event, though.
Pride: Is it possible for him to fight in the Open Weight Grand Prix?
Sakakibara: It's possible and that's something for us to discuss in the future. For our side, we want to use the Open Weight Grand Prix to decide who is the strongest regardless of weight class, rather than just creating a show. If he strongly feels that he wants to challenge himself in that sense, the door is always open for him.
Pride: Are there any fighters that people would be surprised to find out they want to fight in the Open Weight Grand Prix?
Sakakibara: I can't announce them yet but they aren't just PRIDE fighters. There will be many fighters that had solid records and that the fans will understand why they are there.
Pride: What will be the rules for Open Weight class fights?
Sakakibara: We are working the final details out now. We are discussing whether to outright ban knee kicks to an opponent in the 4-points position and kicks to the face on the ground when the fighters are in different weight classes. It's also possible that we may just leave it up to the fighters, as usual. We'll decide on that as we approach the Opening Round in May. Will weight affect judges" decisions? Of course not. (laughing)
Pride: What will be the conditions for entering the Open Weight Grand Prix?
Sakakibara: That will be the fans" voices. If we just put in people because they won a match, it would be a card of 16 fighters but would ignore the wishes and expectations of the fans. So, even if they lose their evaluation match, if they can inspire the fans and win the support of the fans, it's possible that the fighter will be among the final 16. On the other hand, fighters that don't give them hope for the Grand Prix won't make the cut. We will try to make our decision without bias in regard to the fighters" records and countries of origin but the voices of the fans" will be the most important factor