by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Pride Bushido Broadcasting Team of Mauro Ranallo and Frank Trigg)

This upcoming Monday, April 3rd marks the PPV debut of the 10th edition of Pride FC’s Bushido series. Conceived to be a showcase for the lower weight divisions, the series has seen a change from a team-based format to a more traditional one.

After last year successes of the Lightweight and Welterweight Grand Prix, Pride hopes to keep the momentum with what is arguably the most stacked regular Bushido edition yet. To help break down the night’s big match-ups, Pride commentator Mauro Ranallo spoke to MMA Weekly shortly before leaving Japan for Bushido 10.

MMA Weekly: Before we get into the upcoming Bushido 10 card, tell us how things are going with Pride FC after the first show of the year, Pride 31 in February.

Mauro Ranallo: Everyone is of course pleasantly surprised by what transpired at Pride 31. I know going in a lot of people were second guessing the open weight format, saying that such a thing had been old news and that issue had been settled. But the brilliant minds of DSE, figuring now that they wanted to find out who were the best fighters period, invited certain opponents to compete against each other at Pride 31.

With heroic performances by (Yosuke) Nishijima, making his debut against Mark Hunt, and even the rapid improvement of Dong Sik Yoon against Quinton Jackson, and then of course the real life drama between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Mark Coleman, it proved to be one of the more memorable nights in Pride FC history.

MMA Weekly: The Bushido series has really started to come into its own recently and now appears to be one of the premier MMA events in the world.

Mauro Ranallo: Definitely, coming off of Bushido: The Tournament last September, which many are hailing it as one of the greatest MMA events ever, Bushido has definitely picked up momentum. One person of course you can thank for that – which is without a doubt one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world today – is Takanori Gomi.

Him winning the Lightweight GP Championship over (Hayoto) “Mach” Sakurai at Shockwave 2005 was very important to this series. Also crowning a Welterweight GP Champion in Dan Henderson, who defeated Murilo Bustamante on New Year’s Eve, was a big step forward for Bushido.

Taking a look at this card every match-up is competitive. It features some of the best lightweights and welterweights in the world and I’m definitely looking forward to April 2nd at the Ariaki Colosseum in Tokyo for what should be another banner night for the Bushido series.

MMA Weekly: Okay let’s get to the fights themselves. First we have a fight that’s been getting a lot of media attention in Brazil lately, Paulo Filho VS Murilo “Ninja” Rua.

Mauro Ranallo: Well the two top teams in Brazil are the Brazilian Top Team and Chute Boxe, they’ve both had tons of success in Pride and in their native country, and now the rivalry is spilling over to individuals. Paulo Filho is coming down something like 30lbs to make the welterweight limit of 183lbs and also this is also Ninja’s debut at welterweight.

This goes back to the 2005 Middleweight Tournament when Ricardo Arona defeated Wanderlei Silva in a monster upset in the tournament. The respective corners were exchanging Portuguese trash talk if you will, some visuals as well, and prior to the finals, even on PPV, you saw Paulo Filho raise two fingers saying, “We’re going to go two-for-two against you guys,” and Ninja responded in his own inimitable fashion.

So this was building for a long time and promises to be a huge fight in terms of interest in Brazil and to Pride fans all over the world. I’m really looking forward to what accounts to a good old fashioned grudge match between the powerhouse Paulo Filho and one of the more well-rounded fighters, Ninja, who I believe will be in terms of coming down in weight will be stronger in all aspects of his game.

MMA Weekly: Moving onto a lightweight showdown we have Joachim Hansen VS Luiz Azeredo, what do you see for this fight?

Mauro Ranallo: Well taking a look at that fight on paper, it could very well be for a lightweight title in any organization. When you take a look at Joachim Hansen VS Luiz Azeredo it’s the Striking Viking VS the Brazilian Wolverine, Hansen made a very impressive debut in Bushido with his KO of (Masa) Imanari, and Azeredo has been involved in wars, particularly with Takanori Gomi.

So I feel both are going to put on an MMA war and it’s going to come down to Hansen’s striking and Azeredo’s Muay Thai skills. This one will be a war and I don’t feel it will go the distance. Both have KO power and that’s been evidence in past fights. This one could very well be the match of the night.

MMA Weekly: All right, before we get into the main event bouts let’s help clear up some confusion. Are these fights going to be Championship fights or regular Bushido rules bouts?

Mauro Ranallo: The main events are non-title affairs. These are regular rules matches, non-title matches.

MMA Weekly: Having said that, tell us your thoughts on Dan Henderson VS Kazuo Misaki.

Mauro Ranallo: This one again promises to be a very entertaining battle. Dan Henderson has never been beaten at 183lbs and is of course coming off that big win in the welterweight finals against Murilo Bustamante. Kazuo Misaki made a big splash in his debut at Bushido 3 in May of 2004. He won an entertaining affair that went the distance against Jorge Patino, and for a Japanese fighter he loves to strike and ground ‘n pound.

He has come out publicly saying he can KO or submit Henderson, now we’re going to have to wait and see if he can do that. Misaki has said he wants to be the aggressor in the fight and I think he can give Henderson a strong test but he has to be careful. Of course Dan has the dominant right hand and wrestling skills; many people have tasted that lethal right hand and have bad memories of it. I believe Henderson will try to control the fight with his wrestling if he can’t get the KO, but you can’t count out the Deep/Pancrase veteran Misaki.

MMA Weekly: Now onto the final match of the evening, Marcus “Maximus” Aurelio taking on Japanese superstar Takanori Gomi.

Mauro Ranallo: With Aurelio, we’re very impressed by what we’ve seen of him since his debut at Bushido 4, he lost a very exciting fight to Mishima, it was a great fight which Mishima won via split decision, but Marcus has won two fights in a row. In his last fight against Jutaro Nakao he suffered a broken nose and broken hand, which kept him out of the Bushido Lightweight Tournament, but this is an opportunity for him to prove he’s one of the top lightweights in the sport.

When you look at who he’s fighting, Takanori Gomi – who is proving to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world – he’s got tremendous stand up, but people feel if he does have an Achilles heel it is on the ground. He has a wrestling background, but he hasn’t been tested that much on the ground. If Aurelio can take Gomi down to the mat that will serve Marcus best in this fight, but when it comes to pure stand-up VS stand-up the edge has to go to Takanori Gomi.

MMA Weekly: Overall what are your thoughts on Bushido 10?

Mauro Ranallo: As long as the fights live up to what the promoters feel they should, with the personalities and characters signed to fight in Bushido 10, it would be hard for it to not live up to its hype. When you look at this card from top to bottom, from Dennis Kang making his return, Paul Rodriguez making his debut, Mark Weir from England, this is their opportunity on the big stage and showcase what they can do. I think this is going to be, next to Bushido: The Tournament, the best Bushido card we’ve ever put on.

MMA Weekly: Good stuff Mauro. Thanks as always for your time. Is there anything you’d like to say as we close out this interview?

Mauro Ranallo: All I want to say this marks Frank Trigg’s first Bushido show with yours truly, and I know for a fact that Frank has worked diligently to become as good of an announcer as he is a fighter and I am looking forward to working with him on the Bushido shows.

Of course I look forward to working with “El Guapo” Bas Rutten as always on the bigger events and I’m looking forward to a great year in Pride FC. There are always surprises when it comes to Pride FC and again Bushido 10 promises to be one of those events that people will be talking about for some time to come. So fans should definitely check out Bushido 10 debuting Monday, April 3rd exclusively on PPV.