A press conference was held at a Tokyo hotel on December 7th to announce two additional cards for PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006, to be held at Saitama Super Arena on December 31st. Present at the conference were Kazuhiro Nakamura (Yoshida Dojo), Takanori Gomi (Kugayama Rascal) and Mitsuhiro Ishida (T-BLOOD).
"This is an extremely interesting card," PRIDE General Director Nobuhiko Takada explained as he announced the anticipated Kazuhiro Nakamura VS Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Takanori Gomi VS Mitsuhiro Ishida matches. These two amazing match-ups come on the heels of the recently announced Tatsuya Kawajiri VS Gilbert Melendez and Shinya Aoki VS Joachim Hansen bouts.
Takada continued, "Both Shogun and Nakamura had incredible wins in Las Vegas. There have been high hopes for Nakamura since he first stepped into the PRIDE ring. In fact, he appeared at a time when we were calling for Japanese fighters that believed they could make it in the Heavyweight and Middleweight Divisions. Over the past few years, we have hoped that he would leave an additional impact and undergo a change. Now he will face Shogun. I'm not sure how Nakamura feels about this but I believe Shogun will be a very tough mountain to climb. I also believe that Nakamura will be strong in the face of this difficult hurdle and by doing so, bring out the best he has to offer, make the fans take his side and also make them want to stand up and cheer for him. My heart beats faster just by reading the names on this card.
The Lightweight and Welterweight Divisions are currently supported by Japanese fighters and now a Japanese Grand Prix Champion has been born. I hope that Nakamura will be in top condition and put on an incredible fight. I want him to show that Japanese can be strong in the Middle and Heavyweight Divisions, too. Shogun, too, will no doubt be as tough as nails in this fight. Both fighters are aggressive and fight with everything they have. I can't help but be excited over this fight.
Any of the three Lightweight matches announced for New Year's Eve could headline a BUSHIDO event. I believe these are the three cards that fans wanted to see most. I noticed that the media and the fans sitting behind them were all surprised when they heard about these cards. No one can complain about a Gomi VS Ishida match and we have six of the world's best fighters here. There's no need for explanation or reasons. These are incredible cards with many appealing points that will have a big effect on the upcoming year. This match is a non-title match but I'm sure that Ishida is ready to take out Gomi and fight for the title the next time."
Kazuhiro Nakamura, who will take on the Middleweight Grand Prix Champion "Shogun" in the biggest event of the year, commented, "I've always knew there would be a wall that I would someday have to climb as I've fought in PRIDE. This is a wall that I have to climb but I do not believe that it is an impossible wall to climb." Nakamura continued, commenting on his hope to fight a Champion-class fighter just before the Las Vegas event, "I wanted to fight Arona or Alistair in Las Vegas, if possible. I never expected to fight on New Year's Eve." "Shogun is a spectacular fighter and I knew that this would be a good fight," Nakamura explained his thoughts when he received the offer. Although a fight with Shogun is definitely an important event for "Kazu", he still spoke confidently, "I don't feel this is a special fight. My job is still the same so I will go into the fight as I always do. I want to fight Wanderlei. To get there, I have to get past Shogun."
Also present at the conference were Takanori Gomi and Mitsuhiro Ishida. "I watched the ring from far away last New Year's Eve but I'm happy to say that I will actually be in the ring this year. I'm the challenger in this fight with Gomi so I will go all out to win," Ishida commented. Gomi also commented, revealing his thoughts on the fight, "It's an honor for me to compete in my third consecutive New Year's Eve event. Of course, as long as I'm doing martial arts, I want to fight in the same ring that Fedor, Silva and Yoshida do. I also hope that Ishida and I will be able to put on a fight that will solidify the position of the Lightweight Division."
Considering his loss to Marcus Aurelio in March, it's difficult to say that 2006 has been a good year for Gomi. "I haven't fought a Japanese fighter this year. I've fought Aurelio twice and I fought David Baron. As the final event of the year, I wanted to fight someone that is both popular and strong. I don't really know how to rate the foreign fighters so in that sense, I preferred to fight a Japanese fighter," said Gomi. According to Gomi, he has been working on basic training with the students at his Gym that competed in the Combat Wrestling competition. "Las time I was too focused on winning and didn't fight my own fight, with my own style. I will be ready to bring my style to the last fight of the year," Gomi added, promising the return of the old Gomi. Asked about his opponent, Ishida, Gomi answered, "Basically, he uses his wrestling to keep moving forward and he never stops punching. His style is like a model for people that want to become MMA fighters." Asked if he would be able to fight like himself against Ishida, Gomi avoided a clear answer but predicted a tough battle, "Some parts of our styles are similar. Wrestling and pounding. This will probably be a fight to see who has more stamina and power."
"Some people may look at this as getting revenge for Kawajiri," Ishida commented, "but this fight is mine alone. I want to fight my own fight. If I win this fight, it will be a big step for me. I don't want to just stare at Gomi. I will be moving forward towards him." Although this is a non-title fight, Ishida still has the challenger spirit. Ishida is not without confidence, though, commenting that Gomi "is not an unbeatable opponent."
Kazu has to climb the wall called "Shogun" to reach his goal of fighting Silva. Gomi, on the other hand, plans on a complete comeback to wipe away the last year. Ishida is burning with desire to beat Gomi, whom he clearly believes he can beat. What battles and stories will be born from the PRIDE ring as these three fighters compete in the most anticipated event of the year?