PRIDE HELD A PRESS CONFERENCE IN SHIBUYA
09/09/2006

PRIDE held a press conference in Shibuya, Tokyo on September 8th, just two days before PRIDE FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE 2006, the Final Round of the Open Weight Grand Prix. Unexpected problems developed when more fans than anyone had expected gathered at the conference!


The venue was filled with people long before the press conference even began. As time passed, the number of fans continued to swell, creating a giant wall of people. The crowd swelled so large that by the time the event was scheduled to start at 6pm, the people in the back could no longer see the stage and people were over flowing into the roads.

Yano, the SkyPerfect! play-by-play announcer and PRIDE MCs Kei Grant and Lenne Hardt first took the stage. Asked about the Open Weight Grand Prix, Grant replied, "All of the fights were memorable. The two Semi-Final Round matches will be incredible, no doubt, because all of the fighters are great." Hardt joked around saying that she was in the neutral corner so it would be fine no matter who won.

"I want Wanderlei (Silva) to do his best because he's smaller," Grant added. Yano, who interviewed Silva earlier in the day, added a surprising comment from Silva, "Silva, comparing Mirko to an animal, said that Mirko is a parakeet because he's been talking a lot recently. He also said that he is the cat that is going to eat Mirko."

Grant, asked how his favorite fighter is, replied, "I like Gomi," but added, "Actually, I like him so much that I misread his name. Gomi's the only one I've ever made a mistake on." Hardt, asked the same question, replied, "I like them all because they're all my friends." Grant added, "Actually, she's in love with Mario Sperry. Pay close attention to her entrance call. It's different with Mario." An embarrassed replied, "Takanori Gomi is really cute... Maybe handsome. He's really cute."

Hardt chose two fans from the crowd and announced their names in her trademark trilling voice, which made the event's atmosphere even more exciting.

And then, at long last, the fighters appeared. Mirko. Silva. Nogueira. Barnett. The four fighters climbed the stage and were met by intense cheers. The fighters raised their hands and the fans responded with more cheering.

 

 

Right when the event was heating up, everything went crazy! There were so many people gathered at the event that they were beginning to panic. PRIDE General Director Nobuhiko Takada decided that the event had become too dangerous and ended it, "We originally planned for a 30 minute to 1 hour event but this is too dangerous and we have to stop it early! The fighters are going to go head-to-head on Sunday to decide who will have the honor of being the world's greatest fighter. We ask for your support." The event closed following a commemorative photo with the four fighters. The event lasted just 14 minutes in total.

"It was a crazy situation," Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara said after the event, unable to hide his surprise. "The response was more that we imagined."

Sakakibara continued, "So many fans had gathered and we were worried whether Mirko would actually show up. We relaxed when he arrived. Although the event had to be cancelled it's more motivating for the fighters to have than many fans show up rather than a dull conference. Mirko showed up at the press conference looking sleeping and tired because he just arrived in Japan today. After leaving the stage without saying a word, he was probably surprised, too. We expected people to gather but we had also hoped that the event would continue for a little longer than it did."

Sakakibara spoke with each of the fighters individually in the back room. The fighters weren't able to comment because of the incident but Sakakibara spoke for them.

"Mirko is the lightest he has ever been. He said he's 106kg. My impression of him is that he's in good condition. Silva might be bigger than Mirko now. He's focused on weight training with his upper body. His arms are really big. Silva said very strongly that the three Chute Boxe fighters are going to give the best performance on Sunday. From the beginning of this year, Nogueira has been planning to be in his best condition by September. He stepped up his training in July and he apparently timed his final conditioning well. All four of these fighters, including Josh, are at their peaks, in terms of timing, age, technique and powereverything. They are all in their best condition. It's a miracle. As a promoter, I'm happy that they will be able to decide the strongest fighter in the world on Sunday in such good shape."

While the press conference did experience an unexpected problem, it shows the level of attention being paid to this event. Sakakibara expressed his gratitude to all the fans that gathered, "As long as you are giving them quality shows, the fans will come to watch the events, even if you don't have free TV broadcasts. We didn't even run any TV advertisements and still so many fans showed up and made the event exciting. I can't help but feel that, finally, we've arrived at the Final Round."