Hunt ready to take on PRIDE Heavyweight Champion!

Mark Hunt will challenge current PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko for his title at the December 31st PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006, to be held at Saitama Super Arena. Josh Barnett will face former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in a rematch following their exciting Las Vegas bout. Barnett and Hunt spoke with reporters at a Tokyo hotel on December 28th.

Mark Hunt, sporting a t-shirt, shorts and beach sandals in the middle of winter, was the first to appear before the reporters. According to Hunt, his t-shirt was a present from Dream Stage Entertainment and is a commemorative "FEDOR VS HUNT" shirt made especially for this title match.

"I feel really good," Hunt said, smiling. "I think it's fantastic that I've been given the chance to have a title match in my 8th mixed martial arts fight. Fedor is a great Champion and he doesn't have many weaknesses but I think this will be an exciting fight."

Hunt also explained that he didn't do any special training for this match, preferring to continue his usual comprehensive training in wrestling and striking. "The only thing different would be that I watched a few of Fedor's fights on video. I just took a look at them, so I didn't discover anything important. (laughing) I have trained very hard, though."

At this point, Josh Barnett arrives late. "Hey, you're not going to dye your hair blonde this time", Barnett teased Hunt. When Hunt replied, "I didn't have enough time to dye it," Barnett continued his teasing, advising Hunt that "They sell hair dye at the local super market."

Hunt revealed part of his strategy against the Champion, "I hope this will be a long fight. I would prefer that it goes long, rather than be short like the fight Josh and I had. I'd prefer to fight standing but I expect that there will be a lot of time on the ground in a fight with Fedor" Barnett, on the other hand, disagreed, "Why do you want a longer fight? The shorter the fight, the better it is for me. I'd prefer the fight end right away."

When reporters pointed out that Hunt has won his fights at the last two New Year's Eve events, Hunt replied. "I'd like to win this time like I did the last two fights." Barnett teased him, "If Hunt wins again this time, you should make some kind of special "Undefeated on New Year's Eve" trophy for him."

When Hunt was told that this may be the first time in history that the same person has held a K-1 and PRIDE Championship title, Hunt just winked. Barnett, however, continued to tease his former opponent, "I'll be excited too if Hunt wins! I will have to give him a lot of presents. I'll nominate him for a UFC title match and I'll nominate him to be a presenter at the Oscar Awards."

Barnett, who seemed to have a lot to say anyway, was asked to predict the outcome of the Fedor VS Hunt bout. "The fighter with the better game plan will probably win. Mark doesn't have a lot of experience in mixed martial arts but his striking is Champion-level. In that sense, Mark has the advantage. Mark may win the fight by KO. Fedor will probably try to wear Mark down and win by submission. I don't think it's possible to KO Mark, though. Mark is a dangerous fighter. Everyone he has fought (in PRIDE) has been strong, right? Fedor is dangerous, too."

Barnett face became serious when asked to give advice to Hunt. Quietly, he replied, "Don't go to the ground, no matter what." Both Hunt and the reporters exploded with laughter at this.

Barnett was finally able to make everyone laugh but the reporters were unable to get an insight into Hunt before his upcoming bout. Hunt is a man of few words; preferring to let his body, and his fists, do the talking in the ring on December 31st!