Dream Stage Entertainment held a press conference on April 13th at a Tokyo hotel to officially announce the participation of Kazuyuki Fujita in the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Opening Round, to be held at the Osaka Dome on May 5th.
The man that everyone has been waiting for will finally return to the PRIDE ring. It has been three years since Kazuyuki Fujita fought Fedor Emelianenko at PRIDE 26 in June of 2003 and now he will make his return in the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix, a stage where the strongest fighter in the world will truly be decided. "I thought that he might never come back," Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara said. "But, he is Japan's last stronghold and I wanted him to return." Sakakibara explained that there was a variety of factors, including issues with Fujita's management until February of this year, prevented Fujita from fighting in PRIDE. In fact, it was only the day before the press conference that Fujita shook his head yes and agreed to fight. Sakakibara couldn't hid his joy at the return of the man that stunned the current Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko, "Fujita is one of the few Japanese fighters that you could put up against fighters such as Fedor and Mirko and expect them to be able to win." "This is a sudden come-back. I want to respect his reasons for returning and give him the most appropriate opponent to represent PRIDE," Sakakibara said of Fujita's opponent for the Open Weight Grand Prix Opening Round. Following the press conference, Sakakibara added, "There is someone in particular that I would like him to fight. However, I can't say (who) at the moment because it would be a problem if it didn't work out." Next, Fujita took the microphone. "I've received many different offers but, in the end, I was the one that made the decision," Fujita explained that it was his own decision to return to PRIDE. Fujita, continued, explaining that it was Sakakibara's enthusiasm that finally convinced him, "The Open Weight Grand Prix ring is the ring for me. I heard that Sakakibara is enthusiastic and that he wants to make the Grand Prix a success, no matter what."
Pride Fighting Championships:
Now that your participation in PRIDE has been confirmed, is there someone that you would like to fight?
I want set my sights on the highest target possible, so, of course, I want to fight in the tournament to decide the best. Looking at the fighters, I knew there was no other place that this. I believe that the PRIDE ring is the best ring.
Do you think the level of PRIDE competition has increased during your absence?
If you want to fight where you want, and how you want, you've got to cut ties with a lot of things and eventually outgrow certain things. This was that time and mentally, I have improved. I've always trained so I could fight at any time.
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