Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara Post-PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Opening Round Comments




Pride Fighting Championships: There were many close fights in the 1st half. What did you think about the differences in abilities of fighters in the 2nd half?
Nobuyuki Sakakibara: That was just a problem with order of the fights. I think the fans were wondering what would happen in the next 3 fights, and looking forward to the next 3 fights, after the first 5 fights finished. The 2nd half ended smoothly but as an event, I think about 2 of the fights from the 1st half and 2nd half should have been switched.
Pride: How about the main event?
Sakakibara: I expected that they would be able to bring out each other's abilities a little more. I thought that we'd be able to see Yoshida come out swinging but he was better prepared (than Nishijima). I think Nishijima should have just gone in punching and give it his all. It would have been more exciting to see him come out with a flurry of punches rather than watching Yoshida move around or Yoshida throwing a high-kick. Honestly, I wanted to watch the fight a little longer.
Pride: How about a return match for Nishijima?
Sakakibara: I hope he will use this loss as a spring and bounce back into the PRIDE ring. As long as he still wants to fight, he has a chance to enter the PRIDE ring. This ring will use up your body and mind. It's a ring that demands many sacrifices.
Pride: From the remaining fighters, it looks like a Heavyweight Grand Prix now.
Sakakibara: Yes, that's how it turned out.
Pride: Minowa and Overeem didn't come to the post-fight interviews. How are they?
Sakakibara: I haven't seen Alistair so I'm not sure but Minowa apparently doesn't have any serious damage.
Pride: Who are candidates to fight Fedor in the 2nd Round?
Sakakibara: If Fedor is ready by July, I would personally like to see Fujita or Yoshida step up. Mirko and Nogueira are there, of course, but I'd like to see Fedor fight someone that he hasn't fought before.
Pride: If he's ready? Is there a chance that he won't be ready in time?
Sakakibara: A small chance. Seeing his little brother lose like that will motivate him though, and I think he will be ready in time.
Pride: Will there be any Japanese vs. Japanese matches in the 2nd round?
Sakakibara: It's very possible. We will do the matchmaking after we collect the questionnaires we distributed to the fans and see what they have to say. We will do our best to decide as soon as possible. We will do our best to finalize the fights within May.
Pride: What about Sakuraba?
Sakakibara: If I start talking about it, we'll be here all daybefore the fights I was thinking about many things but talking about them would have been silly.
You can see by looking at the fighters that fought today that you have to do a lot of preparation in order to climb into the PRIDE ring. It's a cruel ring and you have to be ready to give up a lot of things. If a man's not willing to do that, he won't make it in this ring. I felt very aware of that today.
Both the DSE staff and I have many thoughts about Sakuraba. For example, going to HERO'S was never an option for me. I thought that Sakuraba was the same kind of person. We love him like you would love your family, like a brother, and that's not something you can just make yourself do. I thought that we were a family.
Apparently there was a gap between our feelings and those of Sakuraba. I feel okay when I'm talking about that love but sometimes I feel hate and sometimes it motivates me. Personally, I feel betrayed. I wonder if Sakuraba ever felt the same way about us. Were we the only ones that felt we were a family? We didn't have a contract because I thought that if there was a relationship of trust, we didn't need a contract.
I could feel it in all of the fights I saw today. The fighters that put their lives on the line to fight are family. They are our brothers now. I want to create the world's greatest stage with that kind of people. I think if you look at how Fujita and Kosaka handled themselves, you will see that that is the only way for a true hero to be born.
Trading strikes is primitive but that is martial arts. For a true hero to be born, he has to keep fighting and keep winning. We will work even harder than we have before and we ask for your support.