Dags för Nordstrand på Hawaii

Nedan följer en engelsk pressrelease från K-1 Hawaiis presskonferenc, där svenske Ricard Nordstrand fightas imorgon fredag. Han möter den mycket rutinerade Musashi.

HONOLULU, July 27, 2005 — If only all press conferences were so delightful! — Chubby silver birds chirping; a hot sun setting; a warm sea breeze wafting — and as young women drape leis round the smiling fighters’ necks, hundreds of fans cheer from balconies which encircle the 15 meter open atrium.

That was the scene this afternoon as local and international media and some very vocal fans — along with amused shoppers and tourists — filled the Ala Moana Center in downtown Honolulu for the K-1 World Grand Prix in Hawaii 05 press conference.

Set for July 29 at the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, this will be the first-ever open-air K-1 event outside Japan. It comprises an eight-man K-1 World GP tournament, whose winner will advance to the World GP Final Elimination in Osaka this September; and a trio of Superfights.

All tournament bouts and two Superfight will be contested under regular K-1 rules. The exception is a Main Event match featuring Hawaiian wunderkind BJ Penn and Brazilian veteran Renzo Gracie — this will be conducted under mixed martial arts rules.

The Gracie/Penn fight has fans, and Hawaiians in particular, buzzing with anticipation. It follows on Penn’s victory in Honolulu last November over Renzo’s cousin, Rodrigo Gracie, by unanimous judges’ decision. Renzo will be looking to avenge family honor and defend the hallowed Gracie name on Friday.

Speaking with media this afternoon, Penn brushed off any suggestion he might be adversely affected by pressure from the home crowd.

”It is easy to fight here,” he smiled, ”because this is the air I have breathed since I was born! There is no pressure whatsoever. Of course, Renzo is legendary, and I respect him because he fights the best. Friday, he’ll fight the best in the world!”

Asked for a prediction, Penn didn’t miss a beat. ”I predict I’ll win in the second round, I would like to win by submission — but in any case, I predict pain. Renzo has fought more fights, but I have fought more wars!”

Also big on the card (literally) is a K-1 Rules Superfight featuring Hawaiian Akebono and Hong-Man Choi. A Japanese Sumo Wrestling Yokozuna (Grand Champion), Akebono is a living legend in his home state. He will step in against another giant of a man, Hong-Man Choi of South Korea — the surprise winner at the K-1 Asian Grand Prix earlier this year. Choi is also a national hero, his compatriots marvel at the size and strength of the former Korean Ssirum Wrestler. A total of 380 kilograms or 840 pounds of warrior will rock the ring in this battle of the behemoths.

The Ala Moana spectators erupted when Akebono was introduced.

Said the fighter: ”I have worked on defense, training with Ray Sefo, Glaube Feitosa and Sam Greco. I know Choi has a long reach, so I have worked on that. I also hope to get in and use my jabs and get some close fighting, I want to do well here in my home town.

”Last time we met I fought him in his back yard, in Seoul, and I lost that bout” said Akebono. ”But now he is here, I just want to tell all my fans and friends that I am very excited to be fighting again in my back yard!”

In the third Superfight, Japanese Seidokaikan fighter Musashi will meet Rickard Nordstrand of Sweden. Nordstrand will try to build on a strong performance against Defending World GP Champion Remy Bonjasky earlier this year. This is a very interesting bout, with Musashi now clearly ranked among K-1’s elite; and Nordstrand aware that an upset win here could reflect very favorably on his future in K-1.

Said Nordstrand: Musashi is one of the greatest so it is a big honor to fight him. Hopefully I win, but I promise I’ll do my best!”

Musashi got a very big round of applause from the many Japanese in the crowd: ”This is my first visit to Honolulu,” he said. ”and I know I will take the trophy!”

Of course, along with all the excitement surrounding the Superfights, is the eight-man World GP tournament on the card Friday. The man who goes through three bouts victorious in this grueling contest will win a spot at the Osaka K-1 World GP 05 Final Elimination in Osaka this September.

There is a lot of talent in this tournament, and everyone has a shot at victory. The fighters had this to say:

Yusuke Fujimoto (Japan), a solid technical fighter who knows how to mix it up, promised to come out hard: :”I’m the smallest in the tournament but I traveled all the way from Japan to fight, and so I promise I’ll win”.

His opponent, Scott Junk (USA) trains with BJ Penn, which makes him an instant local favorite. ”Well, it’s a damn shame for Fujimoto,” said Junk, ”but I’m gonna have to send him home with a loss!”

The rotund Butterbean (USA), is a crowd pleaser who hopes to get his hook in. ”I am excited about being here, all these wonderful fans, I love you all!” he said.

His opponent, Marcus ”XL” Royster (USA) is a big fighter making his K-1 debut here: ”It is great that I can debut with an icon as an opponent, it will be a good fight!”

Carter Williams (USA) captured the American K-1 Championship in 2003. ”I am gonna get down and do my best!” he pledged.

His opponent Nobu Hayashi (Japan) is a late substitute who brings experience against good fighters to the ring: ”I will do my best, I plan to win the first then go on from there, I think I can win the tournament!”

A real brawler, Gary ”Big Daddy” Goodridge (Trinidad and Tobago) likes to take the fight to his opponent, and will do that here. ”You know me,” he said, ”I’m zero-to-a-hundred in less than one second, and I don’t quit till it’s done!”.

In the last quarterfinal Goodridge will meet Wesley ”Cabbage” Correia (USA). This promises to be wild.

A Hawaiian slugger who will have the crowd behind him, Cabbage explained his flexible but fist-friendly attitude. ”I have no plan, I’m just gonna wing it. I’ll get in and then you will see the leather start flying!”.

Good time and place for it, a Honolulu summer evening.

K-1 World Grand Prix 2005 in Hawaii Online Ticket Information is available here: E Ticket Hawaii (http://etickethawaii.com/).

The matchups are on the K-1 Official Website Hawaii Matchups Page. (http://www.so-net.ne.jp/feg/k-1gp/top668.htm)

The K-1 World Grand Prix 2005 in Hawaii is set for July 29 with a July 30 rain date. It will be broadcast in Japan on the Fuji TV network (July 30 Japan Standard Time); and in North America on both InDemand and DirecTV at 9 PM Eastern Daylight Time (18h00 Pacific Daylight Time) on Sunday July 31. South Korean fans can tune into MBS ESPN for live coverage on July 30 Korean Time. There will be delayed-broadcasts on Eurosport across Europe, Viasat in Scandinavia, ITV in the UK and Astro in Malaysia. Check with local providers for broadcast schedules.

As always check with the K-1 Official Website (http://www.k-1gp.net) for complete coverage after the event.

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