Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara Post-PRIDE BUSHIDO 10 Comments

As a promoter, I thought this was one of those rare events that really showed the appeal of martial arts. I believe that the fans at the first BUSHIDO of 2006 were able to get a taste of both PRIDE and the allure of martial arts. The battle lines for both BUSHIDO's Lightweight and Welterweight Divisions has become chaotic in 2006, and now a giant theme has come into view. If last year was a successful year for BUSHIDO, I want to make this year a year of great leaps-and-bounds. This event was very fruitful and made me feel as if that goal is truly possible.
The biggest surprise was Gomi's loss. I'm think he said the same thing but even as the promoter, he didn't seem very motivated. My feeling is that his lack of motivation became reality in the ring. Gomi is still young though, and I think he has fought his way this far just from the pure enjoyment of fighting. I know he must have felt some sense of accomplishment on New Year's Eve but this fight was a fight with himself and I think that he lost that fight. He lost to himself, rather than his opponent.
However, this will be something big for Gomi to focus on. This was a good result in that it will increase expectations of him. He doesn't have any major injuries so he can focus on his mental state and we'll put a fight together for him when the timing is right.
Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson wants to fight in the Open Weight Grand Prix but what intentions does he have for the Welterweight Division? If he keeps going like he is now, I think there will be someone from Japan will eventually take his head. I could feel the energy of Misaki chasing after him in this fight. New fighters will continue to appear, so Henderson can't afford to let his guard down. I want to talk with him about whether he wants to fight in the Welterweight Division or if he's going to fight as an Open Weight.
The (Giant) Silva fight was an opportunity for Minowa to show that he is ready for the Open Weight Grand Prix. I would like to enter Minowa in the Open Weight Grand Prix as the Welterweight representative. We will talk to Minowa and decide on an opponent as soon as possible.
There many exciting, hungry fighters tonight, both Welterweight and Lightweight, including new Japanese and foreign fighters. There were many fighters that we just couldn't work in, even though we wanted the fans to see them, so I hope everyone will look forward to the newcomers that will continue to make appearances in the future. In the first half, Joachim and Azeredo had a good fight and I could see that Joachim had improved his conditioning with an eye on facing Gomi. I believe we can expect good things from him in the future.




Pride Fighting Championships: Gomi said that he would like to take a break for a while. Is there any time limit for defending a Championship title?
Nobuyuki Sakakibara: There's no definite limit, like once per year or every 6 months. I do want to put a title fight together within the year, though. I have no plans to put off a title match until next year and I don't think Gomi would want that either. I have no intentions of indulging Gomi in some special way.
Pride: Gomi also said that wasn't motivated. Does DSE have any plans to help him out?
Sakakibara: If he's unmotivated after losing, he's hopeless as a fighter. I hope Gomi will accept this loss and work to regain his position. That should be his biggest motivation. Gomi brought two belts into the Coliseum during this entrance this time and I want him to be so strong that no one will doubt whether he should have the belts or not. We will do what we can to back Gomi up as we work on putting fights together and as he motivates himself.
Pride: Will Aurelio have the right to challenge Gomi in a Championship title match?
Sakakibara: We will probably put a fight together with Aurelio. Most likely their rematch will be a title defense.
Pride: After tonight's fights, there will probably be some Welterweight fighters in the Open Weight Grand Prix. Have you thought of anything regarding the rules in their fights?
Sakakibara: We are currently working out the final details in the rules. In the past where we've had matches in PRIDE that crossed weight-classes, we've left it up to the fighters whether to have to kicks and knees in the 4-points position. For the Grand Prix though, we will decide the rules after talking to the judges and the doctors.
Pride: Will there be a Lightweight or a Welterweight Grand Prix this year?
Sakakibara: Which would you like? (laughing) I think this event was a good opportunity to consider that. We will listen to the fans and then consult with the TV broadcaster, including possible event dates in June, August, October or November, and hopefully decide within this week. I will consider the voice of the fans.
Pride: Any more thoughts about putting the show on TV during prime time?
Sakakibara: I don't think there is any TV station that would broadcast an event with as much heat as this one. It may be with the same broadcaster before or it may be with another. Today was a test for that and I'm curious how they evaluated parts of it. I'm sure we would have gotten excellent ratings if today's event had been broadcasted (in prime time on free TV). I believe that we will be able to make a decision on this within the next few days.
Pride: The California State Athletic Commission is going to decide whether to allow the use of a ring or not, but is there any chance that you will hold an event in the US with a cage?
Sakakibara: We won't use a cage. There has been some speculation about the use of a ring and there was talk that it would be approved at an earlier stage. We want to apply so that we will be able to use the ring. Even if the ring is permitted, say with 4 ropes, that would still be different than the PRIDE ring. I hope that the PRIDE ring, with 5 ropes, will be approved as soon as possible. If that happens, I'd like to put together an event in Dodger Stadium that would amaze the American fans. I hope that American fans will work so that we will be able to put on PRIDE events in America. Please support PRIDE too, not just the UFC. (laughing)