Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara Post-Middleweight Grand Prix 2005 Opening Round Comments

First, I would like to thank all of the fans for making this PRIDE event a success. I think we saw the pride of Japanese fighters. It wasn't a fluke that four Japanese fighters were in this Grand Prix. They proved that Japan has fighters that can compete with fighters from all over the world in the PRIDE ring. In addition to Sakuraba and Nakamura advancing to the Second Round, Yoshida took Silva head on, making us want to see them fight again or even wishing that he had just one more minute. I rate Kondo highly too, being able to fight a tough Vovchanchyn until the 3rd round.

The Americans were lifeless and, as a result, four Brazilians have advanced. America is the birthplace of (modern) MMA. I want fighters than can compete at the top of PRIDE's middleweight to fight and I will continue to search for that kind of fighter. Vitor is Brazilian but he was representing the UFC, so I consider him to be half American, and the American fighters have all disappeared.

Regarding the Second Round, I want to hear the fans' opinions, just as Takada said. Considering that four of the remaining eight fighters are Brazilian, as the promoter, I will bear in mind nation vs. nation match ups while trying to keep the fights in line with what the fans want.




Pride Fighting Championships: At the current moment, who looks like a likely winner? Nobuyuki
Sakakibara: I cannot say just one person but Shogun surprised me. It was a one-sided victory over Jackson, who is a tough fighter. I really took notice of Shogun. I think Alistair's potential is beginning to blossom, too. I'm really excited to see how the veterans, such as Sakuraba and Vovchanchyn, will handle the new generation of fighters in PRIDE.
Pride: Sakuraba apparently told Silva that he would like to fight again. Will that happen in the Second Round?
Sakakibara: I'll have to listen to the fans. If the fans want it, it's possible. Of course, if they would rather see a different match up, we will work towards that.
Pride: There are two fighters each remaining from Chute Boxe and Brazilian Top Team.
Sakakibara: They understood from the beginning that they may have to fight someone from their team. They won't be matched up together in the Second Round, though. It will probably be a Chute Boxe vs. Top Team match up. We will have to think about it.
Pride: There were a couple of fighters that advanced to the Second Round that are also supposed to compete in Abu Dhabi.
Sakakibara: I'll leave it up to the fighters whether to compete or not. It would be a problem if, for example, Arona competed before the Second Round and became injured, though.
Pride: How is Yoshida now?
Sakakibara: He went to the hospital, just to be safe, but he doesn't have any serious pain. We are just concerned because he received a lot of strikes while on the bottom. If you fight that way for 20 minutes though, you're going to hurt somewhere. I heard that Takada asked him if he'd like to fight (Silva) again and Yoshida replied that he'd fight as many times as he can, so he's probably still not satisfied.
Pride: What about your future relationship with the UFC?
Sakakibara: Dana White wasn't able to come today but we still have a good relationship. I would like to send some fighters to their event planned for June. We're in the middle of a Middleweight Grand Prix so it would probably be a heavyweight fighter representing PRIDE. It looks like we will also have some UFC fighters in the May BUSHIDO and we will be able to announce that soon.
Pride: What about the Fedor/Mirko fight in June?
Sakakibara: It depends on Fedor's injury. I'd like to make an official decision in the beginning of May, after looking at his improvement. There are still two months left so I hope Fedor will take care of his injury and be in perfect condition.