Looking Back on PRIDE in2006 -Part 1-

In just a few short days, PRIDE will close out the year 2006 with PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006 on New Year's Eve. 2006 was a roller-coaster year for PRIDE, full of dramatic turns both good and bad. New Year's Eve is a time to look back on the previous year and this year, PRIDE asked four Japanese martial arts magazine editors and the PRIDE girls to look back on the past year. In this first installment, we went to the Editor of GONG KAKUTOUGI, Hiromi Matsuyama.

[Which event left the greatest impression on you this year?]
Event: September 10th PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round

Each Grand Prix lets us know exactly how difficult it is to win in PRIDE, particularly in the "weight class of the gods." I was happy to be able to see fights between the top fighters like Mirko, Josh, Nogueira and Silva in Japan and, at the same time, this was an event that made me wonder what must be done to ensure that fans continue to love PRIDE in the future. And there is still Fedor, towering above everyone

[Which fight left the greatest impression on you this year?]
Fight: Tsuyoshi Kohsaka VS Mark Hunt (May 5th PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Opening Round)

Kohsaka is one of the pioneers of Japanese MMA. He is a technical expert and he has fought worldwide for 10 years, including in RINGS and the UFC. I could feel the weight of his words following this retirement fight when he said that he wanted to focus on the emotional aspect of his fight. He never once backed down from Hunt and he continued pushing forward. He didn't just show us his spirit. He showed us the techniques that are necessary to become strong and he taught us that there is always a chance to win. Koshaka proved that there are "good losers" in martial arts.




[Which fighters left the greatest impression on you this year?]
Fighters: Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic & Josh Barnett

First, Mirko. Fedor beat him convincingly, even if by decision, in their August 2005 fight but look how high he has climbed since then. I'm amazed at how much he has evolved. I would like to nominate Josh Barnett for the Most Important Person award in consideration of his fights since May of this year. In 2006, he will have fought in seven fights, including the one on New Year's Eve, and he has shown us a consistently high potential and large presence. I was also surprised to see "chubby" Josh with a 6-pack stomach.

[Which achievement left the greatest impression on you this year?]
Achievement: PRIDE 32 THE REAL DEAL

The "Fedor" chants by the fans in Las Vegas left a big impression on me. The PRIDE fans in the US had long been waiting for their own event and there they were, cheering for the Russian fighter over the American fighter. They weren't intentionally trying to pick up the voices of the fans on the pay-per-view but you could tell the fans at the venue were really excited. Robbie Lawler's TKO win in the beginning of the event was also an achievement.

[What are you looking forward to next year?]

I hope that PRIDE will continue to be the peak of international MMA and continue to make martial arts enjoyable for as many fans as possible. I hope that fans and fighters will cultivate pride through these martial arts and that it will become a genre respected by others. I also think that Tsuyoshi Kohsaka's TV commentary [in Japan] is strongly contributing to the spread of MMA.