FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE TOURNAMENT CONFERENCE
07/15/2006

On July 13th, a special event was held at the PRIDE "Dreamers" dojo. 500 fans gathered to be photographed for a PRIDE poster. Additionally, two confirmed matches were announced for the September 10th PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round, to be held at Saitama Super Arena.

The announcement from PRIDE General Director Nobuhiko Takada was a surprise and the dojo was filled with thunderous applause and cheers.Despite being a weekday, 500 fans gathered to have their faces photographed to appear on the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round poster. Among them were fans so dedicated that they traveled across Japan, from Osaka and Nagoya, to appear on the poster.
When PRIDE General Director Nobuyuki Takada arrived, excitement ran though the dojo. Stepping into the ring, Takada held the microphone and faced the fans. The fans were taking pictures with digital cameras and portable phones, and the atmosphere was that of a live music concert.
"PRIDE posters have always had a theme, concentrated on an idea and been unique," Takada said. "In consideration of recent events, we wanted to immortalize the fans, the pride of both us and the fighters, in a poster. The fighters, the fans and we can work together to make this happen. The staff told me that more people came out today than they had expected. As a DSE representative, I thank you."
Furthermore, due to a large number of calls DSE received from fans saying that they can't go because it's on a weekday or they live too far away, DSE quickly decided to accept pictures from fans by e-mail too.
The atmosphere at the press conference was like a live music house. When Takada explained the idea behind the poster's creation, the gathered fans responded with loud cheers. Takada yelled in an even louder voice, to which the fans responded with loud cheers and applause.
"The truth is that we intended to announced part of the Open Weight Grand Prix Final Round card next week or week after next. However, we were discussing it in the office just now and decided that since so many fans have generously gathered here, we will make the announcement here and now," Takada declared. The surprise announcement sent a stir throughout the dojo.
"Today I announce two of the semi-final fights," Takada continued. "Only a step away from being crowned the strongest. The first match isWanderlei Silva VS Mirko Filipovic!"
This announcement was greeted with a wave of cheers and most of the fans were clapping their hands over their heads. The card chosen by the fans, and for the fans, will finally become a reality. With only one fight left, Takada teased the fans, asking if they had figured it out yet.
"The other card is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira VS Josh Barnett!" This also was met with cheers, applause and foot stomping from the fans as they expressed their excitement over dream cards coming true.
Takada couldn't help but smile as he looked over the fans. "You're all excited, aren't you?" Takada asked. "Two great cards have been confirmed. I know you can't wait until September 10th but when the time comes, you'll feel the same sense of nervousness as the fighters will."
Comments from the fighters in the Open Weight Grand Prix Final Round matches were also announced.

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic: I will be in 100% condition, mentally and physically, in Japan on September 10th. I won't give any excuses about injuries or being unprepared. I don't want to leave anything to regret. Please support me.

Wanderlei Silva: The last time was a draw but if there had been a decision, I believe I would have won. There has been talk of a rematch for a long time but it never happened. I have been waiting for this opportunity. This time I want a clear finish. This time, I want to knock him out.
I think Mirko and I can give a fight fitting of PRIDE. We can do our best because the fans always support us. As the Middleweight Champion, the Open Weight Grand Prix is a challenge for me but I definitely want to win.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: I have waited a long time for the opportunity to stand at the top of the world again. I want to prove to the fans that the PRIDE Champion is the world's strongest Champion.
I have trained hard every day since the last Heavyweight Grand Prix to become the Champion. My first opponent in the Final Round will be Josh Barnett and he's also a great total fighter, so this will likely be an interesting match. I would like to submit him with a joint-lock.
I know that the Final Round will be a difficult battle but I absolutely intend to become the Champion to both show the world the strength of BTT and Brazilians, and to earn the right to challenge Fedor in a title match.

Josh Barnett: "I am happy to get the chance to finally fight Minotauro especially in the ring where he was crowned champion. He's one of the most accomplished fighters in the world right now and I want to test my skills against him. He has never been finished in a fight and I want to be the one to do it. This will be a great fight and a championship caliber match."

"Whoever wins this GP will have to go through the toughest road of any tournament, ever, to capture the crown. For me this is an exciting element and one that I am happy to do. It will make me train harder and faster. Getting that belt will put all my goals in line and help get me a shot at the Heavyweight title. It also gives me the chance to fight three of the top fighters of all time. A person isn't able to get this many opportunities at one time, and although this will be a very difficult endeavor, I am anxious to do it.

Who wants to get suplexed!?"


Finally, the fans gathered around Takada for a group picture. When Takada yelled his trademark phrase, a baby held by its mother nearby began to cry but other than that, the photo session went off without a hitch. Contests were held to award prizes to the fans and the fans all left for their homes with thoughts of golden cards for the September 10th Open Weight Grand Prix Final Round dancing in their heads.