INTERVIEW
07/21/2004
Kazuhiro Nakamura

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Kazuhiro Nakamura spoke with us, in advance of his BUSHIDO 4 fight against Rogerio Nogueira, about their previous fight and his change in attitude towards MMA.

Pride Fighting Championships: You seemed a little tamer than normal at the press conference announcing the card.
Kazuhiro Nakamura: Yeah, my feelings have changed a little. There's a lot of pressure. I worried a little when I got the offer, which isn't usual for me. I wondered how it would turn out. Then, I thought that I'll have to fight him again, sooner or later. I'm also doing well at the moment too, so I decided to accept.
Pride: You thought it was still too early?
Nakamura: Rogerio has taken down a big name since fighting me. I did think about it. I've always said, "Yes, I'll fight" when an offer came but this time, it was, "Let me think about it for awhile." I only thought about it for an hour, though. (laughing)
Pride: Have you been watching your debut fight against him?
Nakamura: I watch it. I watched it yesterday, actually. (laughing) I don't watch it everyday but I watch it a lot.
Pride: Why?
Nakamura: Research. The fights you lose are the ones that teach you the most. I did the best that I could at that time but having lost that fight is bitter for me now.
Pride: What do you think of Rogerio?
Nakamura: He's very tough. He doesn't play around at all and he comes straight out for you. He moves faster than his brother, Rodrigo, but his brother is stronger. To be honest, I'm worried. He was using punches in Korea. His defense is perfect and I think that will also make it a stiff fight.
Pride: How are you going to fight him?
Nakamura: How can I beat him? I won't know until we are actually fighting. I'm the kind of guy to make a thorough game plan, though. I've been watching his videos.
Pride: Did you see his year end fight with Sakuraba?
Nakamura: I saw it. It looked like Sakuraba was tired in the end. He took a lot of hits, didn't he? It didn't hurt him, though. (Rogerio) is good at hitting his target but it's questionable whether it hurts or not.
Pride: So, you're just going to go straight it, even if you get hit?
Nakamura: I don't think he has much of a weak point, except getting KO'd. I've watched his videos many times but... I won't know until we are actually fighting. I'll probably just go with ground fighting.
Pride: Do you think you can win on the ground?
Nakamura: I really felt he is good on the ground when I fought him last time. I've never been overwhelmed on the ground like that before. His attacks aren't very strong but he incredibly quickly. I think if you can pass Rogerio's guard, there's no one in MMA that can stop your guard pass. That's why I've been working heavily on guard passes.
Pride: Were you good at revenge matches when you were doing judo?
Nakamura: No. I never though about it that way in judo so I don't know.
Pride: You said that you just gave up in your last fight. Can you be more specific?
Nakamura: I thought that I might never fight an MMA fight again. I was tired and I hated it. I thought I would never climb into the ring again. Then, with time, I started to feel bitter about the loss and that it wasn't over yet. I've been carrying that feeling inside of me.
Pride: Were you confident before you actually fought in MMA?
Nakamura: In the beginning, I thought I would easily be able to pass his guard. Reality and what I was thinking turned out to be completely different.
Pride: So, you thought that you must have a rematch?
Nakamura: I was always thinking about it. When he beat Sakuraba, I thought "this guy is really good", though. (laughing)
Pride: What does it feel like to be the main event for the first time.
Nakamura: I don't like it. I feel pressured. If the earlier fights aren't good, it will turn out bad. It's also too long to wait until my fight. Japanese fighters have lost all of their main events fights in BUSHIDO. So, I think I have to win. Mr. Sakakibara has gotten tough, too.
Pride: You seem the same as usual now.
Nakamura: I feel a lot of pressure. Really. I just don't want to show that to people.
Pride: Have you done any special training for the Rogerio fight?
Nakamura: Tough as always.
Pride: Have you mastered a defense to the spinning choke?
Nakamura: Yokoi, who actually experienced it, and I have been working on it. I think I'll be fine. He's got a lot of techniques but if I stayed focused, he won't get me.
Pride: So, this fight is all about "heart"?
Nakamura: Heart. Will I give up or won't I? Will he give up or won't he? My career has advanced too so I want to see how accurate my feelings then were.
Pride: What has Yoshida said to you?
Nakamura: That (Nogueira) is going to come out striking. That's all he said. He always leaves it up to me.
Pride: You've been doing a lot of boxing too, right?
Nakamura: I haven't been able to go recently. (laughing) The last time I went, there was a world title fight or something and the gym was completely empty. I just punched the heavy bag by myself and went home. (laughing) My punch combinations have increased. It's a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to this fight. I've got some new combinations.
Pride: PRIDE General Director, Takada, and DSE President, Sakakibara, have issued an order to win by submission or KO.
Nakamura: That's basically what I'm aiming for. If not, it won't be exciting. If I win by submission or KO this time, it will raise my position. In boxing, this would be a preliminary match. We have to give them what they expect.