A press conference was held at Tower Records in Shibuya, Tokyo on October 7th to announce five non-tournament matches to be held on the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round card, to be held at PRIDE BUSHIDO 13 on November 5th at Yokohama Arena.
The fight most popular with fans gathered at the event was Gilbert Melendez versus Shinya Aoki. Nobuhiro Obiya and Ikuhisa Minowa also entertained the fans while Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara delivered the good news that PRIDE series DVDs will go on sale in Japan once again.
The event space was filled to the maximum with fans but unlike the now legendary September 8th PRIDE event in Shibuya, a limit was placed on the number of fans able to enter, preventing the chaos that emerged last times. The limit had no effect on the intensity of the fans, though. Nobuhiro Obiya, the first to climb onto the stage, was greeted by cheers of "Obiya!" and Shinya Aoki was also greeted loudly when he appeared next. Although both fighters have had only one fight in PRIDE BUSHIDO, there names have already spread among the fans.
Then a familiar song echoed throughout the venue. Bright lights illuminated the stage as Ikuhisa Minowa rose up through the stage, exciting the fans!
Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara could help but smile at the fans' excitement, "Recently, many of our press conferences have involved the fans. The fighters also gain energy from the fans at this kind of event and I think there is a synergistic effect that will help them in their training. We will continue to hold this kind of events and I hope everyone will come and join us."
Murilo Bustamante (Brazil/Brazilian Top Team)
Yoon Dong Sik (South Korea/Takada Dojo)
Nobuhiro Obiya (Japan/Kikuchi Dojo Team Rascal)
Luis Buscape (Brazil/Brazilian Top Team)
Shinya Aoki (Japan/Paraestra Tokyo)
Gilbert Melendez (America/Jake Shields Fight Team)
Ikuhisa Minowa (Japan/Freelance)
Mike Barton (America)
Of the four cards announced, the Aoki VS Melendez card gathered the biggest response from the crowd. Aoki laughed, surprised at the scale of the reaction. BUSHIDO fans understand the true value and excitement of this card.
Shigeru Saeki also touched on that point. "I was really surprised. I'm happy. There was a lot of applause for Aoki VS Melendez, so I knew that the fans gathered here today are real BUSHIDO fans. You all know exactly how exciting this match is," Saeki said excitedly.
Regarding Ikuhisa Minowa's opponent, Mike Barton, Saeki added, "He was active in All Japan and New Japan pro-wrestling. He began training in mixed martial arts three years ago and has a submission victory over a UFC fighter. He's 194cm and 128kg."
Buscape's opponent, Nobuhiro Obiya, gave a hearty greeting, "I was beaten in my last fight but I'm not worried about that. I'm just going to go crazy (in the ring). I want to give a fight that will remain in the hearts of the fans. I want to go drink some good beer together with Gomi after we win both of our fights."
"I don't have any special strategy. I underestimated my opponent the last time and I have some weaknesses, so I will strengthen those areas. This fight will be better than the last," Obiya continued. "He's going to try to tackle me, right? I'm sure of it. I'll stuff his tackles and beat on him more than I usually do. I would like for him to trade (strikes) with me a little, though."
Shinya Aoki gave the crowd an exciting greeting; "I had a lot of fun in the BUSHIDO ring in August. This time too, either my opponent will go to sleep or I will. Either I'll give up to a submission or he will. Either way, this will be an exciting fight." Aoki also promised that he would be wearing tights, which were a hot topic at the past Nagoya event, again in this upcoming fight, drawing applause and cheers from the crowd.
Asked about his opponent, Aoki replied that he wants to test out his grappling against a world-class competitor, "I'm going to fight like myself and give it all. Melendez is an aggressive fighter. He's the classic American fighter with tackles and striking. I want to fight him using my strength, which is grappling."
Ikuhisa Minowa also stirred laughter from the audience with his unique greeting, "To the fans, to DSE officials, to Mr. Mike Barton, I would like to sincerely thank you for this wonderful match up. I will do my best as I take myself to the forefront."
Apparently, Minowa's newest theme is "forefront" and as usual, he seems to be the only one that knows exactly what he's talking about. "I think the entire world is moving along at the forefront, so I want to bring out my forefront in my fight on the 5th. I want to bring out the deeper meaning of the word forefront."
Minowa also explained that his pro-wrestling is different than that of Barton's, "Physically, my opponent seems like a pro-wrestling. He has worked as a pro-wrestler and that's his style. I will just bring out the pro-wrestling that I have always aimed for. I'm a new type of pro-wrestler and I will fight as a real pro-wrestler."
"I'm considering many different ways of taking him out but I can't talk about them here. I'm developing some new techniques. I tried out some new techniques that I wasn't able to use before and I want to try some of them again. That's what I want to do in the fight but I can't give specific here."
Sakakibara also announced that PRIDE DVD would be sold in Japan in the future by Universal Pictures Japan.
"After the loss of FUJI TV broadcasts, sales of DVDs also stopped but we have now reached an agreement with Universal Pictures to begin selling DVDs from December 22nd. It will be a three DVD set, with all of the Open Weight Grand Prix matches, Mirko's road to victory and a look back on the past 10 years of PRIDE, since this October will be our 10th anniversary."
Sakakibara continued, speaking confidently about PRIDE's future, "Although I'm unable to announce the return of PRIDE to free television today, PRIDE has the strongest fighters in Japan and it's the world's leading MMA event. I believe that we will absolutely return to free TV if we continue to create the greatest events possible, as we have always done in the past."