Exclusive: One-on-One with PRIDE’s Sakakibara


By Josh Gross Aug 24, 2005
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 2 — On the day that the California State Athletic Commission voted unanimously to modify its proposed mixed martial arts regulations by including PRIDE rules, sat down with Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara inside the Japanese organization’s Los Angeles offices for his first-ever one-on-one interview with American MMA media.

The theme of the day was sanctioning, and much of the hour-plus conversation veered in that direction. We spoke about big-ticket issues: the future of MMA rules; PRIDE’s relationship with FILA and Olympic possibilities; PRIDE’s stance on steroids; and why the biggest MMA promoter in Japan wants so desperately to come to the United States.

We also hit the hot-button stuff: UFC champion vs. PRIDE champion; Sakakibara’s thoughts on Sunday’s PRIDE “Final Conflict” card; and whether or not legendary Japanese fighter Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures) should hang ‘em up.

At points throughout the conversation, DSE executives Yukino Kanda, who helped translate for Mr. Sakakibara, and Hideki Yamamoto chimed in with their thoughts as well.

Sakakibara was charged with running PRIDE after the suicide of the company’s president, Naoto Morishita, in January 2003. During his reign, Sakakibara has implemented two new weight classes — lightweight (160 pounds) and welterweight (183 pounds) — and began the successful PRIDE Bushido series.
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