TOKYO, July 15, 2007 -- As "Man-Yi" -- Japan's strongest summer typhoon ever -- drove sheets of rain across Tokyo today, 16 of the world's strongest mixed martial arts fighters prepared to do a little damage themselves at the Yokohama Arena tomorrow. In a press conference at the TBS television network's studios, the fighters shared their thoughts in advance of the Hero's Middleweight Championship World Tournament Opening Round.
The event features five Superfights and a trio of Middleweight Tournament qualification bouts -- the three winners here joining Defending Champion JZ Calvan in September's Hero's Middleweight Final. All bouts will be conducted under Hero's mixed martial arts rules.
The Main Event is an 80kg/176lbs class Superfight showdown between Japanese fighters Kiyoshi Tamura and Taiei Kin.
"I come from a background in Pride tomorrow will be my debut in Hero's," said Tamura, "and because it is the Main Event I have two reasons to put on a great fight!"
Kin: "It is an honor to fight in the Main Event and I will be up to the task tomorrow!"
Dutch fighter Melvin Manhoef Holland will take on Bernard Ackah of Cote d'Ivoire in a 87kg/192lbs Superfight.
Manhoef: "I like Bernard, but in the ring it is a war, and in a war there are dead and wounded. I may be wounded, I won't be dead, he will!"
Ackah: "I respect Melvin and I am happy to be fighting him. I know that some people have doubts about my abilities, I will remove those doubts tomorrow."
The tournament bouts will contested in the Hero's Middleweight 70kg/154lb weight class, with 3 x 5min. rounds.
First up are Japanese fighter Kazuyuki Miyata and Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro of Brazil.
Miyata: "My opponent is tough and maybe many think I'll lose, but I have a lot of confidence -- I will devour him!"
Ribeiro: "I was supposed to fight last year but I hurt my hand in training and couldn't make it, so I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow. I'm glad my opponent has confidence because I do too, so it will be a great fight!"
The second of the tournament bouts will pit Indian fighter Black Mamba against Hideo Tokoro of Japan. Mamba scored a shocking first round KO victory against Tokoro when the pair met last year at the Yoyogi Stadium.
Tokoro: "I will use all my skill and strength to revenge myself!"
Mamba: "I don't have a lot to say except I am going to win standing, win on the ground, and win wrestling."
The last of the tournament elimination bouts features popular Japanese fighter Caol Uno, who lost by decision against Calvan in last year's final; and compatriot Katsuhiko Nagata.
Uno: "I will move around a lot tomorrow, my only goal is a submission or a KO."
Nagata: "It is my honor to fight Uno, I will show fans my new attitude and style."
The other Superfights on the card include a 90kg/198lbs showdown between Ralek Gracie of Brazil's legendary Gracie Jiu-Jitsu family, and Japanese fighter Katsuyori Shibata.
Shibata: "This is a fight that goes to the core of mixed martial arts -- Gracie versus pro wrestling. I'm looking forward to it."
Gracie: "I'm looking forward to spilling some blood for the family!"
A 70kg/154 Superfight will see another Brazilian, Andre Dida, taking on Russian fighter Artur Umakhanov.
Dida: "This is my third time fighting in Hero's, so I feel like I'm part of the family. I trained hard and I am going all-out for a KO!"
Umakhanov: "In the ring tomorrow I want to show all my fans a beautiful fight!"
Another 70kg/154 Superfight matchup has yet another Brazilian, Alexandre Franca Nogueira, stepping in against Shuichiro Katsumura of Japan.
Nogueira: "Tomorrow I will fight like a typhoon!"
Katsumura: "I watched the typhoon this morning, and I guess I'll have to carefully watch another one in the ring tomorrow. This is my first time in Hero's and I intend to make a great start.!
The action kicks off at 4 p.m. Monday, July 16 at the Yokohama Arena. The Hero's Middleweight Championship World Tournament Opening Round will be broadcast live in Japan on the TBS network. For delayed broadcast information in other areas contact local providers. As always, check the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official results and comprehensive coverage of this and all Hero's and K-1 events.