BUSHIDO SURVIVAL PRESS CONFERENCE
05/18/2006

A press conference was held on May 17th at the Dream Stage Entertainment office in Tokyo to announce the full card for the upcoming joint PRIDE BUSHIDO 11 and PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 Opening Round event, to be held on June 4th at Saitama Super Arena.

Present at the conference were confirmed Lightweight fighters Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Mitsuhiro Ishida, in addition to CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara and Public Relations Director Shigeru Saeki.

The full card for the world's toughest tournament has finally come together, with seven Grand Prix Opening Round fights and three single Lightweight Division fights. In the Grand Prix, Hector Lombard will take on Akihiro Gono in a grudge match, born from Gono's challenge to Makoto Takimoto. Phil Baroni, the "new Japanese killer", will take on Kazuo Misaki and in a bout for hard-core fans; Murilo "Ninja" Rua will face rising star Denis Kang. Any of these fights could be the main event and each of these fighters has a solid chance of winning. Dan Henderson, Champion from the previous Grand Prix, will enter the tournament from the Second Round due to injuries to his left knee and leg sustained in his fight against Kazuo Misaki.
"This is the Age of War. Now that Takanori Gomi has been defeated, the battle to take his place has restarted", Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara spoke about the Lightweight Division.
Mitsuhiro Ishida's performance in his first BUSHIDO fight showed great promise and he's now received a boost in his second BUSHIDO fight, going against Marcus Aurelio. "I'm more relaxed now because I have fought in PRIDE once already. Aurelio is a fighter with support behind him, coming off his win against Gomi, and from what I've heard, he doesn't seem to take me seriously. I do feel that I want to make him take me seriously and I want to beat his head in. There are rumors going around in a lot of places about a title match between Gomi and Aurelio, but I won't be a stepping-stone for that. I will give Aurelio the kind of exciting fight, and the kind of beating, that he can only get from me," Ishida said. "Aurelio has excellent ground skills and stamina. He's persistent with his tackles, too," Ishida continued. Ishida has also fought jujitsu expert Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro and should be able to use that experience against Aurelio. "He's 32. I'm younger and I will fight a younger fight."
Eight months after his extreme battle with Gomi, Tatsuya Kawajiri will return to BUSHIDO. "Honestly, I'm so happy that I'm able to fight in BUSHIDO again." Kawajiri continued, commenting on his opponent, Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett, "In a word, he's a joke. He's a completely different fighter than me and I never expected that we would fight each other. The fight has been confirmed though, so I will fight with everything I have." Kawajiri spoke confidently about a striking war with Bennett, "I wouldn't be me if I wasn't punching. I will beat on him from start to finish." Kawajiri's fights haven't been going well recently. Following his loss against Gomi, he won a February SHOOTO fight against Joachim Hansen due to Hansen being disqualified from a low blow. "I haven't really been able to open up lately, so I won't open the throttle all the way in this fight and enjoy BUSHIDO. I also want everyone to see how I've grown. I want you to see it all. Striking, takedowns and submissions. Doing everything is mixed martial arts and I want you to see the new me. I want to stand in a ring and show everyone that Tatsuya Kawajiri is here," Kawajiri continued, declaring his return. "I thought that I might get an offer for the Open Weight Grand Prix but it never came."
Hayato "Mach" Sakurai will also be making his return following his New Year's Eve bout with Takanori Gomi. After his loss, Mach looked very meek and left with a "no comment" but today he was full of his old power, appearing at the conference wearing a jersey. "I have the longest career and the most experience of everyone competing in this BUSHIDO. I don't know if my last fight was bad luck or maybe fate was mocking me," Sakurai said, although he looked positive and seemed to be over his loss against Gomi. "In mixed martial arts, you have to train striking, grappling, jujitsu, wrestling and a lot of other stuff. You can't do just one, though. You have to excel in striking, takedowns and submissions to win. That's what I believe." Shigeru Saeki spoke about his opponent, Mexican fighter Olaf Alfonso, "He's strong, of course, but he's a Krazy Horse-style of fighter and he can bring character to BUSHDIO." To which Mach responded, "He looks very strong. I'm just 171cm and he's 175cm. Whatever. I will beat him with striking, takedowns and submissions."
"Before Kawajiri beat Shaolin in SHOOTO and became Champion, I fought Shaolin and lost, basically setting up Kawajiri's fight. I won't let that happen this time and my theme for this fight is don't make the same mistake twice,'" Ishida said. "My theme is to appeal to the fans," Kawajiri commented. "I had a worthless fight in SHOOTO in February, so I want to show everyone that I'm still here and I want to show off a new Tatsuya Kawajiri." Mach commented, simply, "My theme is to make fate my friend."
"BUSHIDO doesn't depend on a single fighter. For example, if Ishida beats Aurelio, it would instantly create rivalries in the Lightweight Division and it's impossible to predict who lead BUSHIDO after the June event is over. Who is going to stand out among these fighters? That's what I will be paying attention to," Sakakibara commented on the absence of two of BUSHIDO's biggest stars, Takanori Gomi and Ikuhisa Minowa, from this card. Shigeru Saeki continued, "I want everyone here to think of Gomi and Minowa's absence as your big chance to shine."