BUSHIDO SURVIVAL: THE FINALS PRESS CONFERENCE
09/29/2006

A press conference was held at the Dream Stage Entertainment office in Aoyama, Tokyo on September 21st for the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round, to be held at Yokohama Arena on November 5th. Kazuo Misaki and Akihiro Gono, facing Paulo Filho and Denis Kang respectively, were present at the conference and promised a Japanese versus Japanese match in the Final Round.


"The long-awaited Welterweight Grand Prix Semi-Final Round card has finally been confirmed," Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara began the conference. According to Sakakibara, when he took the results of the 15,068 votes received from fans on the PRIDE Japan web site and their portable phone site to the fighters, "all four fighters replied that they would fight whomever the fans want," and today's card announcement reflected the opinions of those fans.
In first place, 7,772 votes were received for matches between Kazuo Misaki and Paulo Filho, and Akihiro Gono and Denis Kang. In 2nd place were the match ups of Misaki versus Kang and Gono versus Filho. There were 1,260 votes for Misaki versus Gono and Kang versus Filho, accounting for 8% of total votes. "This card will be Japanese fighters versus foreign fighters, so we can hope for a Japanese versus Japanese match (between Gono and Misaki) in the Final Round," Sakakibara said.
"I didn't think there was any chance that Japanese fighters would make it to the Final Round of this tournament. I think a real miracle has occurred," Shigeru Saeki, BUSHIDO Public Relations Director said. He continued, apologizing, "I've always said Gono was just so-so until now. I'm sorry!"
"Even though I've been involved with martial arts events for the past five years, I never expected these two fighters to last so long," Saeki continued. "Paulo and Denis, though, are in the top four, just as I expected. The semi-final matches will be tough but there were a lot of fans that voted and I hope that we will be able to see a Japanese versus Japanese match in the Final Round. I believe that would be one of the most emotional scenes ever in PRIDE's history. I know the chances are slim but I definitely want everyone to witness this historical moment."
"I was ringside watching the Final Round of the recent PRIDE FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE. When I saw Mirko win, I thought he was amazing. As more time passed, I began to feel very strongly that I want to stand in that same position," Kazuo Misaki said, inspired by Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's Championship victory in the Open Weight Grand Prix. "My dream, since I started doing martial arts, has been to become the strongest man. On November 5th, I will give my best fight, one that will remain in history, both for myself and for the fans."
However, Akihiro Gono lived up to his reputation for being a comic and destroyed the otherwise tense mood of the conference. "Kazuo (Misaki) and I watched the Semi-Final Round together on September 10th but I wasn't able to watch the Final Round ringside becauseI was taking a cr*p," Gono began with a little low-brow humor, causing the reporters to laugh.
"Seriously, though," Gono continued. "I am more calm in my fights than the other fighters and I'm always counting up the points. It's difficult to get a submission or KO at this high level, so I've always worked for points to win decision victories. However, Khan is a tough fighter, just like Paulo, and even getting points will be tough. After all, Khan was the best goalkeeper in the 2002 World Cup. Oh, wait! That's Oliver Khan [goalkeeper for the German soccer team]. I'm fighting the wrong Khan!"
"Sorry for all the bad jokes today. I worked on these jokes for today but this was all I have so, I'm finished," Gono ended.
Misaki, asked about his impression of Filho, replied, "He's undefeated in mixed martial arts and his jujitsu is very strong. He is without a doubt one of the toughest fighters I will have ever faced. My impression of him is that he's strong. As always, though, I'm not going to worry about my opponent when I fight. My fighting style doesn't change depending on my opponent."
Gono chimed in again with another Oliver Khan joke, "My opponent is tough. He doesn't have any holes so it will be difficult to get a KO or a submission. When you're fighting someone like Khan, it's tough to score any points at all."
At this point in the press conference, messages from Paulo Filho and Denis Kang were read.

Paulo Filho: I want to show everyone that BTT is the strongest team in the world with this win. Minotauro [Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira] lost in the recent Open Weight Grand Prix, and I want to get revenge for him. My opponent, Misaki, is an extremely dangerous fighter. I think it's safe to say that he is the strongest Japanese fighter I have ever faced. I'm sure he will bring to our fight the same energy he used to take out the Welterweight Champion, Dan Henderson. Just like Mike Tyson, though, I'm going to get in the PRIDE ring and destroy him, though.

Denis Kang: I feel like I've finally made it. I want to win this tournament and create a new legend in PRIDE. November 5th is going to be the first page of that legend. I know that Gono is a high-level technician in his fights. Honestly though, I can't say he is a technician in his pre-fight performances. The only way to decide this is to fight and finish it in the ring. I promise you that I will show you a great fight.

Gono responded strongly to Kang's comments. "That's weird. After the last event was over, he told me that my dancing was the greatest," Gono said, his pride apparently wounded. "But no matter what Khan says, in 2002okay, enough with those jokes." Misaki also replied strongly, "If BTT says that they are the strongest team in the world, I will prove that I am the strongest person in the world."
Both fighters also promised that there would be a Japanese versus Japanese match up in the Final Round. Gono said, "If that happens, it will probably be difficult to fight without emotion. There are a lot of feelings (between us) because we have trained together for six years." Continuing, Gono seemed to remember something worth hating Misaki for, "Sometimes we would go out with girls and despite me being the one making everything fun, Misaki would get the girl. So, I won't be able to fight without emotion. I'm going to pay him back for years of hate when I make him eat these fists!"
Misaki struck back, saying, "Recently it's been the reverse when we go out. I've been the one that had to make it fun. Gono's been on a roll lately. That was only luck though, and Gono has just run out of luck."
"I think we will fight each other in the Final Round," Misaki continued. "My theme is fight naturally, without emotion, because I can't imagine what it will feel like once we are in the ring. We are always punching and grappling with each other though so I think I will just fight as usual and the fans will just happen to be watching. I believe that they I feel something greater than the fight itself. I'm looking forward to it."