At a press conference held by Dream Stage Entertainment on April 6th at their Tokyo office, two additional fights for the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Opening Round card, to be held at Osaka Dome on May 5th, were announced. Ikuhisa Minowa, present at the conference, said that he has wanted to fight his confirmed opponent, Mirko Filipovic, for 5 years.

PRIDE General Director Nobuhiko Takada announced the cards, Ikuhisa Minowa VS Mirko Filipovic and Josh Barnett VS Alexander Emelianenko, two matches that are guaranteed to draw attention.
"Alexander VS Josh will be an important element in the Open Weight Grand Prix," Takada explained that this match will hold the key to this tournament. "I don't know yet what will happen with Fedor (Emelianenko) but stopping Barnett means that Alexander may end up fighting his brother in the Final Round. If Josh wins, he will be one step closer to becoming Champion and it will certainly be motivating for Fedor."
Takada continued, saying that the bout between Mirko and Minowa is a dream come true for Minowa. "5 years ago, right after Fujita lost, Minowa raised his hand, saying that he will take out Mirko and he continued asking to be allowed to fight him. At the name, Minowa wasn't the big name that he is now. Nonetheless, he felt strongly that he should be the one to fight Mirko. Now, today, after overcoming a giant hurdle by beating Giant Silva in BUSHIDO, he has risen from the ranks of the Welterweight Division to see his dream from 5~6 years ago, which he never forgot, realized on a giant scale. I think this is a card that all of the fans, the media and the promoters want to see. Mirko has pulverized the Japanese fighters that have faced him but I heard that Minowa has already envisioned himself beating Mirko. Please think back. Minowa has a record of powerful wins over strikers such as Yvel and Leko. If Minowa says that he has a strategy for Mirko, I'm inclined to believe him."
"Minowa is serious. Very serious," Takada said. "Even before I fought Mirko, DSE asked if there was anyone that was willing to fight him. Minowa was apparently calling the DSE office non-stop after that. He was virtually unknown at that time, so the fight was never realized but I heard that he was passionate and stubborn in contacting DSE." Takada continued," I want Minowa to show us his true self as he puts his martial arts career on the line. I hope that he will be able to show Mirko that pro-wrestlers are strong and the Japanese are tough. If Minowa manages to win this, the roof will probably be blown right off the Osaka Dome. This match is that explosive."
A small occasionally came over Minowa's face at the press conference, happy that the day he can face Mirko in the ring has finally arrived. "I'm deeply grateful that they have put together this fight and that I can compete in the Grand Prix. I have wanted to fight Mirko for about 5 years. I have always considered him to be an opponent that I will have to beat eventually and I am grateful to the fans and the DSE staff for making this dream a reality. I've always fought as an open weight fighter. I want to prove in the Open Weight Grand Prix that this is a fight between two men and that weight and shape don't matter in a fight. And, I want to bring about a revolution in this event."
Minowa has wanted to fight Mirko since Mirko made his MMA debut in August 2001, defeating Kazuyuki Fujita, saying that with this match-up, "the time has come."
Comparing this fight to his favorite Japanese comic book "Kinniku Man", Minowa said, "If I compared Mirko to someone from Kinniku Man, he would be Buffalo Man. I'll fight him as if his high-kicks are long horns. I've been imagining myself beating Mirko for five years now."
"I'm in Heaven now that this fight has been confirmed. When the fight begins, I'll be in Super Heaven. If I can win and appeal to the fans at the Dome, that feeling and that atmosphere will be Ultra Heaven," Minowa said, aiming for Ultra Heaven for the first time since his fight with Kazushi Sakuraba on New Year's Eve.
Minowa's theme for this fight is "Heaven Revolution." "I've been using the word Revolution since five years ago. This dream coming true is a Revolution and I'm going to start a Revolution in this Grand Prix where the difference in body weight doesn't matter. I will start a Revolution using everything I believe in and I want to make everyone that watches the fight feel Heaven," Minowa said with tremendous emotion.
What will Minowa use to defeat Mirko and conquer the Open Weight Grand Prix? Minowa's explanation defies understanding, "I can't talk about technical things here but I can say that my body is necessary,"
"I expect something from Minowa that other fighters don't have," Takada said. "There is just no way to predict how Minowa will fight or how the fight will develop." Mirko likely has no idea how the fight will develop, either. If Minowa can somehow beat Mirkothe heat from the event will probably blow the roof off the Osaka Dome.



Pride Fighting Championships: How did you feel when you received the offer?
Ikuhisa Minowa: I felt like "so this is the time." I've always been ready for this fight so I wasn't really surprised.
Pride: Are you excited?
Minowa: All of the 16 fighters will be big names. I think they are all great so the surprise won't change, no matter who my opponent is. I've been simulating this fight in my mind for five years and now that's mixing with my current techniques, so I've got a strategy floating around in my head now.
Pride: How is the Mirko of today and five years ago different?
Minowa: He's completely different. Physically. Mentally. Technically. I think I've also changed, though.
Pride: Are you doing any special training?
Minowa: I'm thinking of several things but I haven't decided which to do yet.
Pride: Which of Mirko's fights have affected you the most?
Minowa: His first fight with Fujita, of course. It's also been hard watching him beat pro-wrestlers. His fight with pro-wrestlers broke my heart.
Pride: What kind of training are you thinking of doing?
Minowa: I will do whatever I think of when I start training.
Pride: What will you strengthen?
Minowa: I will strengthen everything.
Pride: Striking? Grappling?
Minowa: Both are options. In terms of strategy, there are several ways to beat him striking and grappling.
Pride: There's not much time until the fight.
Minowa: One month is plenty. I've only had two or three weeks notice until now. One month is more than enough time. When time starts running out, I'll use slow motion.
Pride: Are you going to win the Grand Prix?
Minowa: Of course, I am going to be the Champion!
Pride: Japan and Croatia will face each other in June's World Cup. Does that have any meaning for you?
Minowa: I'm more concerned with the pro-wrestler's match than Croatia's. However, if the Japanese fans that watch soccer also watch my fight as a VS Croatia match and support my win, that would make me happy, too.
Pride: Will you knock him out with a soccer ball kick?
Minowa: yes. (laughing)