In a press conference at the Dream Stage Entertainment office in Tokyo on March 7th, a match between Takanori Gomi, who became PRIDE's first Lightweight Grand Prix Champion in the New Year's Eve show, and Marcus Aurelio, from American Top Team. The match will be held on April 2nd, in the Ariake Coliseum, at PRIDE BUSHIDO 10.

Takanori Gomi, the Lightweight Grand Prix Champion who has become the crown jewel for BUSHIDOnay, for the Japanese martial arts world, will start fighting again in 2006. Gomi looked relaxed at the press conference and gave the following greeting.
"This will be a quick start for me this year but I think it's best to have to Champion fight to support PRIDE BUSHIDO. And I want to fight hard. I'm grateful that my opponent accepted the fight and since we will be the main event, I want to end the fight with a KO. I will give a fight that leaves the biggest impact of the night, is fitting of a Champion and that will make everyone glad that they came out to watch the Champion fight."

Gomi has awoken to his role as the BUSHIDO ace and his personality and confidence show through his words.
Asked about his opponent Aurelio, Gomi seemed unconcerned. "I watched on his videos for the first time yesterday. He's a ground fighter. If he pulls guard, well, I think hitting him as hard as I can should work. He's not that scary of a fighter. He's good at triangle chokes and arm-bars but building up damage on your opponent is something you can do in MMA, because we have striking, so I will just have to be careful in the first half. I don't see anything to be that worried about."
This will be the first match against a tough grappler/jujitsu fighter for Gomi since his bout with Ralph Gracie. Aurelio lost his BUSHIDO debut in a close, split decision but won his next two fights by unanimous decisions. He attacks carefully on the ground, pressuring his opponent while not give up anything himself. Asked if that bother him, Gomi replied that he wouldn't fight Aurelio's fight and was ready to produce a product worthy of being the main event. "Ralph is a decent striker too but (Aurelio) is just a grappler. He's going to pull me to the ground. If I'm in the right condition and in the right mood when we look across the ring at each other, I believe I will knock him out. I won't fight his game. I have to fight at my own pace, not his, and I can't let him use the entire 15 minutes. This is the main event, after all."

"If I hit him with a good punch on the ground, he'll go down. Finishing it faster is better," Gomi said, eager for a quick KO victory rather than a decision.
The big worry is that Gomi will lose his motivation, as he did when he was in SHOOTO. According to Gomi, he lost his desire to fight in SHOOTO after he realized his goal of becoming Champion. In that regard, he says that his team now is different.
"Although I have just achieved my goal, there are some differences. It doesn't feel tragic like before. I can fight as a team and motivate myself. One motivation is to fight in golden time (on TV) and I still feel that there are more things that I can do."
Gomi has created a team with active DEEP fighter Nobuhiro Obiya called Team Rascal. Gomi leads them on daily, intense training. Gomi is confident enough to declare that his team is the best in the world.
"DEEP is an active organization within Japan and Obiya will definitely take their (Championship) belt. Until now, Chute Boxe and Brazilian Top Team have been said to be the best teams in the world. Chute Boxe said that want to fight with me but when I went to see their fighters fight at Korakuen Hall, they were so weak. I felt like I wanted a refund after watching those fights and I knew that I could be more confident. I knew that my team is the best in the world."

Gomi also spoke about BUSHIDO's direction. It's no exaggeration to say that Gomi built up BUSHIDO and the BUSHIDO ring has special meaning for him.
"What they need is to be on golden time. (laughing) While I respect many sports, I want to raise the status of martial arts. While I want to make it something that it closer to the average person, there was still a feeling that only a select few would make it to the ring when I was fighting as an amateur. Now that it's become popular, even elementary schools can tell you what guard position" means. I want to make PRIDE BUSHIDO a ring that only the truly strong can enter, something that can't be easily imitated. I want to make it something that the fans will respect when they watch."

Finally, Gomi said that he has not intentions of quitting and will continue to get stronger. "All I want is a KO in the end. I really hate it when the fans go home disappointed. I went around to watch a lot of fights during my time off. I saw Nishijima's fight and I thought he's an incredible guy and an amazing person but when you lose, the fans are worried, deep down somewhere, about what will your future be. I want to finish the fight and win. I don't know exactly what it is but that good feeling that tomorrow will be fun so let's do our best, I like that. My friends are always joking around they say that what I need to learn now is how to lose. I'd rather fight without losing, though. (laughing) My friends say they are about ready to see me fall."
"The fight I will show you won't be half-assed. I don't plan on doing anything except martial arts. Maybe I wanted to sell clothes or be a comedian when I was a kid but I've already forgotten those dreams. I just want to live as a fighter now."
Takanori Gomi, the fighter, will return to the ring on April 2nd in BUSHIDO 10.