A press conference was held in Tokyo at the DSE office to announced 8 matchups for the April 3rd BUSHIDO 6, to be held at the Yokohama Arena. Attention was focused on the main event, Fedor Emelianenko versus Tsuyoshi Kosaka. Kosaka, present at the conference, surprised the media with his comments, "I can beat Fedor at everything."
"It's like 'Finally, you've made it", PRIDE General Director Nobuhiko commented. "I'm grateful. Myself, the fans and everyone in the business have been waiting on him to fight the world's greatest fighters on the world's greatest stage."
That's not far from the truth. Kosaka was regarded as a Japanese fighter on par with the heavyweights of the world during his RINGS days. He was the first Japanese fighter to be a regular participant in the UFC, and even challenged for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. After returning to Japan, he created his own gym, G-SQUARE, and many fighters from a broad range of organizations come to him for instruction, including Hidehiko Yoshida, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Ryo Chonan and Yoshiki Takahashi. Still active as a fighter, Kosaka defeated Ron Waterman in November of last year to become the PANCRASE Super Heavyweight Champion. He beat Ricardo Morais in NJPW and drew with (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira in RINGS.
It has been a big mystery why Kosaka hasn't fought in PRIDE before. "He's like an ace up our sleeve," Takada said. "It's a sudden trip to the top but Kosaka is Japan's last fortress. This has been a long time coming." In December of 2000, Fedor and Kosaka fought in RINGS and Kosaka won a TKO victory by opening a cut above Fedor's eye with a punch, Takada explained. "For Fedor, his fight with Kosaka is the only black spot in his record. This is a match of destiny for both of them. This fight has a heavy theme." "I'd like to thank (DSE) for putting this fight together," Kosaka began, explaining how he had wanted to rematch Fedor for a long time. "I really wanted it. I wanted it because although we have fought before, it was a match that haunted me. I'd like to fight him one more time, man to man. Fedor has become the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion so as far as I'm concerned, the first match we had no longer exists in my mind. I want to beat the Champion and prove that I'm the best MMA heavyweight fighter."
Then, a message from Fedor was read aloud: "Kosaka is the only fighter that I've lost to and I want to pay him back. I was able to rest a little after New Year's Eve. I restarted my training following that and now I'm training intensively with my teammates. I've been learning many things about stand-up from a special coach and I believe that I am improving. Kosaka is a tough fighter and I won't look past him but I will do my best to beat him convincingly, win over the next big challenge and end this year undefeated. Please support me."
Pride Fighting Championships:
You've wanted to fight in PRIDE since its inception. Why now?
Why? I'm always thinking of what I should do before I do it. I came back to Japan in 2001 and the first thing I did was create a place where I could bring up younger fighters. That required a lot of time. Fedor and Nogueira fought fiercely in RINGS and now the fight even harder in PRIDE. When I saw them fight, I felt that I need to fight them and this was my chance.
I've always thought that since we are fighting in Japan, if that Japanese don't stand up, who will? Even in the heavyweight division, there is a difference in body types and a difference in power. Even so, I think the Japanese have to do their best. I will fight with Japanese pride and there will be opponents that I have to take on.
I train with other pro fighters at G-SQUARE. Mainly we spar. I'm lucky. Many fighters come to train there and I really get pushed. We train how to use power and technique against a heavyweight foreign fighter to win.
The biggest change is his confidence. He's confident that he can fight the strongest in the world and win. Compared to when I first met him in RINGS, he's sure of himself. Following the Q&A session, Kosaka surprised the media. Asked about where he thinks he is better than Fedor, Kosaka replied, "I think I can beat him at everything." "I'm 100% certain I can beat him on the ground," Kosaka continued. "Fedor has great striking on his feet and pounding on the ground but if you look carefully, there are a lot of holes. There are other fighters than have noticed them. That's where I want to strike. I know where the holes are." Not only is he confident against Fedor, Kosaka believes that he's got Fedor's weaknesses figured out. Kosaka is not one to talk trash so for him to go this far, he must have something up his sleeve. Perhaps it's something that only Kosaka knows because of his history with Fedor.
This will be a non-title fight. Would you like to have a title match next?
You can only say that after you win. I can't say anything. This is the battle for me. If I don't win, I can't go forward. That's how I feel.
"If he wins, the path forward will open naturally for him," Takada added. "There are only so many top fighters, after all. If Kosaka is going to fight for us now, it will probably naturally happen like that." Of course, Takada is referring to possible chances at Nogueira and Mirko, in addition to a title match. Will a Japanese fighter be able to break up the top 3 heavyweights? Tsuyoshi Kosaka bears the weight of Japan on his back as he takes on the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion in BUSHIDO 6!