Nobuyuki Sakakibara Spoke about Fedor and Mirko

A press conference was held on December 13th at the Tokyo Dream Stage Entertainment office to announce a rematch at the December 31st PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006 between Kiyoshi Tamura (Japan/U-FILE) and Ikuhisa Minowa (Japan/Freelance) that has been four years in the making. Following the conference, President Nobuyuki Sakakibara spoke to reporters regarding the remaining New Year's Eve card and recent rumors flying around on the internet.




Pride Fighting Championships: What is happening with the remainder of the SHOCKWAVE card?
Nobuyuki Sakakibara: We want to have 10 or 11 fight cards in the end, including Mirko, Silva, Josh and Nogueira, so I want to finalize the Heavyweight fighters' cards as soon as possible. Gono is also a fighter that I want to bring out again this year and have him fight someone that the fans want to see. However, we can't have everyone fight so we will also be thinking about cards for the February event in America. I believe we will be able to announce 1 or 2 more fights this week. I will do my best to work out the details so that we will be able to announce the remaining cards at the beginning of next week.
Pride: Did you go to America?
Sakakibara: We are making preparations for the 2nd American event now, centering around Wanderlei Silva's Middleweight Championship title match on February 24th. I will travel to America this weekend to deal with sponsorships results from the last event and lay the groundwork to firmly establish us as a business in America. We have to prepare to we, as PRIDE, will be able to continue growing after 2007 amid stiff competition. There are a lot of changes happening to mixed martial arts worldwide, not just in Japan. Organizations are going to get weeded out, like when the UFC bought the WFA, right? That's how fast the market is growing and we have to consider how DSE's PRIDE will proceed. We have to be competitive.
Pride: Have you finalized Yoshida's New Year's Eve fight?
Sakakibara: We have narrowed it down to several possible opponents but it probably won't be a Japanese fighter. I want to arrange a foreign fighter that will generate interest but I don't really want a rematch.
Pride: What about Mirko?
Sakakibara: He had surgery after the Grand Prix but the recovery hasn't been going very well. He's injured and if he can't fight in SHOCKWAVE, I'd also like to consider having him fight in the February event in America. I don't think there's any reason for him to fight if he's injured.
Pride: There have been rumors that Fedor Emelianenko will leave for another organization.
Sakakibara: Those rumors about March are not true. We have a contract (with Fedor). This, however, is an industry that has little respect for contracts, so you never know what's going to happen. (laughing) Fedor is proud of being the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion and he loves PRIDE, so I have difficulty believing that he would throw away PRIDE and go to another organization so easily. However, fighters do move around, no matter what sport you're talking about. It's happened before and it will happen again. However, Fedor won't be leaving us after New Year's Eve.