THE OFFICIAL SIGNING CEREMONY FOR THE PRIDE LIGHTWEIGHT GRAND PRIX FINAL ROUND
12/28/2005

The official signing ceremony for the Pride Lightweight Grand Prix Final Round was held at the Takeshiba PRIDE Dojo on December 26th. Present were Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai and Takanori Gomi. This was the first time for Mach and Gomi to meet in 2 months, since the opening of Rumina Sato's gym.

Approximately 8 years have passed since the birth of PRIDE,EDream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara began with an expression of deep feeling. No matter which fighter wins, the first Japanese PRIDE Champion will be born.E
The PRIDE ring is at the peak of the mixed martial arts world but it has been a tough ring for Japanese fighters. Many Japanese fighters have suffered bitter defeats at the hands of powerful foreign fighters. Even skilled fighters such as Kazushi Sakuraba and Hidehiko Yoshida havent worn a PRIDE Championship belt. However, Takanori Gomi and Hayato MachESakurai both fought their way up to the tournament ladder in the Lightweight Grand Prix held in September of this year, and will fight for the PRIDE Lightweight Champion title on New Years Eve.

I want both of them to fight a fight that DSE and the fans will approve of. I want them to give us a historic battle, worthy of deciding the worlds strongest fighter, not simply try to win. I can feel the strong feelings and emotions of our core fans regarding this fight. Ogawa VS Yoshida is the main fight in this years event but the Lightweight Grand Prix Final Round is our hidden main event,ESakakibara said.

Once Sakakibara finished his greetings, both fighters signed the Championship agreement. Clad in suits, both fighters spoke about the fights and answered questions from reporters. I can say this or that but its just a waste of time. It doesnt matter what I say. The only thing left is to fight.E(Mach) Its been 10 years since I began martial arts. I think that fighting the strongest opponent on the greatest stage is a happy career for a martial artist. Im just going to fight without thinking, just go as my body tells me. I want our fight to win over the fans. (Gomi)

 

 

Pride Fighting Championships: How do you feel with the belt in front of you?
Hayato MachESakurai: Its a nice looking belt.
Gomi: Its made of leather and the leather parts look like the SHOOTO belt. I like leather goods. (laughing)
Pride: How do you feel now that youve looked your opponent in the eyes?
Mach: I didnt really look at him.
Pride: I was late today so I didnt really look him. I dont have any strategy for Mach and it will be our first time to fight so I will just fight as best I can.
Pride: How will you spend your time until the fight?
Mach: Its a secret.
Gomi: We have rule meetings on Thursday and Friday, and with only one week until the fight, I cant get any stronger so I will just relax.
Pride: What do you think about Sakakibara saying you are the hidden main event?
Gomi: I want to have a fight that will make all the fans happy.
Mach: I dont really want to think of unnecessary things. Theres nothing to do but fight.

After the press conference ended, both fighters continued their interviews with reporters.

I was relaxed today but I will be ready to explode on the day of the fight. Im all-natural so Im not thinking of a fight strategy. What am I going to do when the bell rings? I want to create a work of art and a fight that will remain in everyones memories.E(Gomi)

Im relaxed. The other fights dont have anything to do with me and Im not going to worry about them. If he wants to strike, I will strike and if he wants to grapple, I will grapple. I really havent thought of any game plans other than being in my best condition for the fight.E(Mach)

With only 5 days left until the Final Round, both Gomi and Mach will step into the PRIDE ring on New Years Eve relaxed and ready to fight.

Post-Press Conference Comments

Takanori Gomi:

We stood beside each other for the photos but I didnt feel that nervous. Im relaxed. Im calm right now but I will be ready to explode on the day of the fight. Im all-natural. As the fight gets closer, I remember when I met Mach for the first time at the Kawasaki Branch of the Kiguchi Dojo.

Ive fought great Japanese fighters like Mishima and Kawajiri in my career but its an incredible turn of fat to fight Mach on New Years Eve in my 10th fight in PRIDE. I think Im blessed by having this opponent. He is beyond imitation. The only thing I can think of now is being free of this but I guess being tense is better than being nothing.

I havent thought of any game plan. What am I going to do when the bell rings? I just want to create a work of art and a fight that will remain in everyones memories. The stage, the opponent, the timingEts difficult to get all of these things together. Even in movies it doesnt work out this well, with us both winning our way up the tournament to get here.

This is the first time for me to meet Mach since the opening of Ruminas dojo. He seems to be steadily losing weight. Hes a knowledgeable fighter and we both like to fight so it doesnt really help to try to come up with some trick. I will just fight a bold fight. Did you ask me if I could punch my senior? Of course, I can punch him. (laughing) If I dont punch him, hell punch me. Im just going to give a good fight and thats what Im training for.E

Hayato MachESakurai:

I returned to Japan on the 24th. Ive weight around 76kg now. In America, I trained for every case and I trained everything, if you want to call that a strategy for Gomi. This is the Final Round so I trained appropriately for it.

The other fights dont have anything to do with me and Im not going to worry about them because Im not fighting in the other fights. Ive got my own role to play.

I always think that I want to give a fight that makes the fans cry. It really makes me happy when a fighters performance moves the fans.

Strategy? If he wants to strike, I will strike and if he wants to grapple, I will grapple. I really havent thought of any game plans other than being in my best condition for the fight.

Nobuyuki Sakakibara:

Im impatient for this fight. PRIDE has been a harsh stage for Japanese fighters as theyve been shown hardship by foreign fighters. And now we have the deeply emotion birth of a Japanese Lightweight Champion. I hope that they will fight a fight that is suiting of a Championships title match, one that moves you and leaves you numb. I believe this will be a moving place and time for both the fans and us.

Ogawa VS Yoshida has been the symbolic card that has provided the force to bring PRIDE into everyones living rooms on New Years Eve but in terms of bringing out the spirit of PRIDE, of satisfying the fans and showing who is also the best technician in the world, the Gomi VS Mach fight is PRIDEs royal card. There are many fans that decided to come to the event after this fight was decided.