Stage Set for ‘Yarennoka!’

30 Dec

by Taro Kotani for (2007-12-30)

TOKYO, December 30 — The final pre-fight press conference was held Sunday for New Year’s Eve’s Yarennoka! show, which is supported by M-1 Global. The press conference was open to the public and an estimated 7,000 fans gathered to watch the 16 fighters who will be competing.
Said Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures), who drew the biggest cheer from the fans: “This is my fifth time spending New Year’s Eve in Japan. I have the toughest opponent from K-1 tomorrow and it will be an exciting fight.”
The PRIDE heavyweight champion’s opponent, Hong Man Choi (Pictures), responded by saying he would “fight as hard as I can tomorrow.”
Another fan favorite, Shinya Aoki (Pictures), sounded very delighted and sent a simple message to the crowd: “I am coming out to fight.”
While Emelianenko drew cheers, Yoshihiro Akiyama (Pictures) was booed as he appeared in front of fans. He did not seem affected and made brief comments appreciating the opportunity. His counterpart, Kazuo Misaki (Pictures), asserted that he also is appreciating the chance to fight.
“I will be going to war tomorrow,” continued Misaki. “I want to thank the opportunity to fight in front of the fans and God. I hope that the fighters and fan would cooperate and make it a wonderful day tomorrow.”
One fighter who was clearly ecstatic about the opportunity was Mitsuhiro Ishida (Pictures). “I almost cried when I came out here and heard the cheers from the fans,” said Ishida. “I want to bring it all out tomorrow and have an awesome fight that only Gilbert Melendez (Pictures) and I can create.”
All fighters made weight prior to the press conference, according to the promoter. The order of fights, from first to last, will be as follows:
Roman Zentsov vs. Mike Russow

Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Luiz Azeredo

Murilo Bustamante vs. Makoto Takimoto

Mitsuhiro Ishida vs. Gilbert Melendez

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Kazuo Misaki

Hayato Sakuraivs. Hidehiko Hasegawa

Shinya Aoki vs. Jung Bu Kyung

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Hong Man Choi
The rules for the fights will be a version of those used in PRIDE Bushido. Fights will consist of two rounds (10 minutes for the first round and five minutes for the second). “Soccer” kicks and stomping will not be allowed, but knees to the head on the ground will be permitted, with one exception.
The executive committee has announced that knees to the head on the ground will not be allowed in the fight between Fedor and Choi due to the fighters’ large size disparity.
Billed as “Fedor Returns” in the U.S., Yarennoka! will air live on Dec. 31 on HDNet at 3 a.m. PST/6 a.m. EST.

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