From RIZIN FF:
Officials announced that Tsuyoshi Kosaka who will be making his come back at “RIZIN FIGHTING WORLD GRAND-PRIX 2015 SAITAMA 3 DAYS” will be fighting James Thompson. Along with details on the 3 day “Fight Expo”.
“RIZIN FIGHTING WORLD GRAND-PRIX 2015 SAITAMA 3 DAYS” will be held on December 29th and 31st. During the press conference on November 20th, officials announced 2 additional fights a d details on the 3 day “Fight Expo”.
RIZIN FF chairman Nobuyuki Sakakibara, General Manager Nobuhiko Takada and Tsuyoshi Kosaka appeared at the press conference, Takada announced the additional fights for AJ Matthews (USA) vs Anatoly Tokov (Russia) and Tsuyoshi Kosaka (Japan) vs James Thompson (UK).
Takada described the matchup “Matthews and Tokov are both excellent strikers. Matthews 27, Tokov 25, both are young and ambitious. Matthews has a high KO rate and very aggressive. He’s got tons of potential of becoming a monster fighter. This fight is going to be a high level fight that you cannot miss.” He added an episode where Matthews kicked down a palm tree in Phuket during fight camp.
Takada followed onto the Kosaka vs Thompson matchup. “When Kosaka announced his retirement after the loss against Mark Hunt during the PRIDE GRAND PRIX in 2006, I thought it was a loss of talent. After a 9 year hiatus TK is back to RIZIN at 46 with many thoughts in head. He claims that he is in the best shape of his career. I’m sure he’s added many techniques to his library. How will he fight against an explosive, technical fighter like Thompson, and what will he say after his fight. Every aspect of this fight is interesting including the post-fight conference.”
Next, the comments from each fighters were announced.
“I am very excited to be able to fight in Japan for the first time. I hear my opponent is this young guy from Russia, but honestly I don’t care who it is. I’m sharpening up my striking, so I would like to beat this guy up and celebrate the New Year!” (AJ Matthews)
“I am very happy to participate at the first RIZIN event. This is a very serious promotion and I am really honored to fight in Japan. Many famous fighters started their carriers here. I am grateful to Fedor Emelianenko for organizing our fights and for helping us to get ready for the Tournament. I am looking forward to meet my opponent on the ring, I think he is a strong and an interesting fighter.”(Anatoly Tokov)
“I am grateful to Bellator and Rizin for giving me this opportunity to return to Japan. Having fought 10 times there during my career it has become a second home and I love the Japanese fans. I am coming for you TK!!!”(James Thompson)
Tsuyoshi Kosaka commented on his comeback, “I have decided to make my comeback at RIZIN after 10 years. I have been thinking about how a “fighter” lives after he retires, and kept training and practicing every day. I just couldn’t give up “Fighting”. That was my answer and the main reason why I decided to come back. It’s not a decision I made recently, I have had this idea since last October. At that timing I had a chance to meet with Mr. Sakakibara, and I felt that this was some kind of guidance. It is an honor for me to participate in RIZIN. I would like to show my way of a Fighter.”
Following Kosaka’s comment, Sakakibara chairman announced the additional fighters entering the WORLD GRAND PRIX. Mark Godbeer from BAMMA, Teodoras Auktuolis from BUSHIDO and Goran Reljic from KSW.
“Each promotion’s representative fighters from our alliance are being confirmed one by one. Some provide us with their Champions, some provide us with former Champions. It is interesting to see each promotion’s take on this event. This will be RIZIN’s kickoff event, and eventually we would want everybody to want to provide us with their best fighters. It all depends on how we polish the concept. We have 3 more fighters to introduce including a Japanese representative, we will decide this week. These fighters may not be recognized in Japan, but their performance will make you remember.”
Details on the 3 day FREE “Fight Expo” held at the Community Arena inside of the Saitama Super Arena were also revealed. “What I felt during my absence in the fight scene, is that the fighters lacked in the fans first mentality. I felt like there was a need in creating an opportunity where the fighters can communicate, educate, and cooperate with the fans. The Fight Expo will provide the opportunity where fans can communicate with the fighters, legendary fighters, ring girls from all over the world, signing sessions, weigh ins and much more. We will also put in a ring and a mat area and hold public sparing and grappling tournaments.”
Sakakibara followed by announcing the dates of each match up. 29th will consist of the 5 fights for the first round of the tournament including the reserve fight, Kazushi Sakuraba vs Shinya Aoki, Yuki Motoya vs Nam Jin Jo, AJ Matthews vs Anatoly Tokov, Tsuyoshi Kosaka vs James Thompson. 31st will consist of Semi Finals and Finals of the tournament, Fedor Emelianenko, Kaido Hooverson, Gabi Garcia vs Lei’D Tapa, RENA vs Jleana Valentino. Other fights are soon to be announced.
Sakakibara chairman finished the press conference by explaining the event concept “29th will be a tribute to the old PRIDE, DREAM days, the sub title will be [SARABA (Farewell) Fiesta], a requiem for the fighters and fans who believed and supported us. This will be the grand sum of the past, in PRIDE style.”31st will be a totally different a production that will open the doors for the future [IZA (Takeoff) Saltation]. This will be the moment where the past and future will sync. We really want you to attend both days.” Takada followed, “If somebody can start the stopped MMA scene, it has to be TK. I suggest him for the first fight.”Kosaka responded “Please let me take that spot. I would love to take that position.” In that moment, the first fight on the 29th was determined, Kosaka stated, “The time may have been stopped, but the fighters and fans were constantly moving, waiting for this. I have been feeling their emotions, I would like to express everybody’s feelings and emotions through my fight.”