A press conference was held at Dream Stage Entertainment's Aoyama, Tokyo office on January 23rd to announce four new cards for the February 24th event, PRIDE 33 THE SECOND COMING, to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each of the announced matches features a Japanese star, including Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi and Welterweight Grand Prix Champion Kazuo Misaki!
▼Takanori Gomi (Japan/Kugayama Rascal Gym)
Nick Diaz (America/Caesar Gracie Jujitsu)
Takanori Gomi, the PRIDE Lightweight Champion, will make PRIDE's second Las Vegas event the first stop on his journey to shock the world! Gomi captured the attention of Japan as he wrote to the top of the Lightweight Division. Will the "Fireball Kid" be able to light a fire under the Lightweight Division in America? America, keep your eyes fixed on the Champion and the pride of Japan!
Gomi's opponent is also amazing. Mixed martial arts fans have long waited for the PRIDE debut of Nick Diaz and now their wish has been granted with Diaz competing against the Champion. Diaz is a 23 year old hailing from the state of California. His MMA record is 14 wins and 6 losses, fighting primarily in the UFC. With the exception of one local fight, his last 10 fights have all been in the UFC. In his most recent UFC fight on November 18, 2006, Diaz scored a TKO victory over Gleison Tibau. In April 2004, Diaz also won a KO victory over Robbie Lawler, who himself left a major impact when he KO'd Joey Villasenor in the last Las Vegas event, PRIDE 32.
While Diaz is a striker that prefers to slug it out, his real background is Brazilian jujitsu, which has proven to be Gomi's weak point. Diaz will be out to launch himself as a worldwide superstar in this match. How will the Champion fight against this tough, and eager, opponent?
▼Kazuhiro Nakamura (Japan/Yoshida Dojo)
Travis Wiuff (America)
"Kazu" Nakamura's participation in his second Las Vegas event has been confirmed. While Nakamura's bout at THE REAL DEAL was relatively relaxed, his intense battle against Mauricio "Shogun" Nakamura at PRIDE SHOCKWAVE on New Year's Eve is considered by many to be Kazu's best fight yet. Will Kazu be able to draw some kind of energy from this Las Vegas event?
Kazu left a strong impression on the American fans in his last Las Vegas appearance when he sent Travis Galbraith to the mat with a hook and pounded him to finish the match. This time, however, Kazu will face an even tougher opponent with a record of 42 wins and 9 losses, Travis Wiuff. Also known as "Diesel", Wiuff is a powerful 28-year-old fighter hailing from Minnesota.
Wiuff's career has centered on cage matches in events such as the UFC and the FFC, and he has victories over Carlos Barreto, Emelianenko Fedor's sparring partner Roman Zentsov, and one-time opponent of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Ibragim Magomedov. Will Kazu be able to meet the challenge when Wiuff steps into the ring with superior power and a career that is twice as long?
▼ Hayato "Mach" Sakurai (Japan/Mach Dojo)
Mac Danzig (America/LEGEND Fight Team/Team Extreme)
Mach is out for revenge in America! Las Vegas has not been kind to Mach. On March 22, 2002, Mach fought made his first appearance in the UFC, fighting in a title match against Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes. Mach, however, suffered from intense back pain just before the fight and barely able to walk, his title challenge ended in a TKO loss at 3 minutes and 1 second in the 4th round. Unfortunately, Mach was unable to show the American fans his true, tough fighting style.
Now, four years later, Mach will once against fight in the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas. His opponent, Mac Danzig, has a record of 16 wins and 1 loss, primarily fighting out of the King of the Cage event. Danzig has successfully defended his KOTC World Lightweight Champion title four times. However, in January 2006 and at the end of a 12-match winning streak, Danzig lost his title to Clay French in a 2-1 split decision.
Danzig's backbone is Brazilian jujitsu and he is a strong submission artist. Danzig scored a submission win in the profession submission event "X-Mission" and even he refers to himself as an "elite grappler." Danzig, a member of Millenia Jiu-Jitsu, excels at chokes from every angle. Most of Danzig's victories come by way of submission and he will be a difficult opponent for Mach. Danzig is also unique among mixed martial arts fighters in that he is a vegetarian.
▼Kazuo Misaki (Japan/GRABAKA)
Frank Trigg (America/RAW Team)
In his first bout as the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix Champion, Kazuo Misaki will take on Frank Trigg in a match that all mixed martial arts fans are sure to enjoy. Misaki made his name known around the world in his miraculous comeback win in the Welterweight Grand Prix, but how will he fair when he's not fighting on his home turf?
Frank Trigg is fighter on the worldwide level and a name that all mixed martial arts fans recognize. Relying on his wrestling backbone that he perfected at the University of Oklahoma, Trigg has mainly been active in the UFC. However, this will not be his first PRIDE fight. Trigg fought, and won over, Fabiano Iha in PRIDE 8 in November 1999. Trigg also fought in a SHOOTO match against Hayato "Mach" Sakurai that is now legend. Since his debut in October 1997, Trigg has amassed a record of 14 wins and 5 losses. Although Trigg uses his wrestling and punching skills to effectively ground-and-pound, his standing striking is also a force to be reckoned with. In his latest fight, Trigg beat Jason "Mayhem" Miller on December 1, 2006 by TKO in the 2nd round.
While Misaki also has a lot of momentum behind him now, Trigg is a popular fighter in Las Vegas and will likely have the audience behind him as he fights on the home filed. Trigg's presence in this event is dangerous for Misaki, as he will no doubt be looking for any opportunity to destroy the Champion and establish a position for himself in PRIDE.