INTERVIEW
07/19/2004
Takashi Sugiura

Pride Fighting Championships: What did you think of MMA after fighting Daniel Gracie?
Takashi Sugiura: It's a tough sport. You can never let your guard down and it's exciting.
Pride: Tougher than you expected?
Sugiura: You can't strike someone's face full power in training. When I got hit in the match, it was shocking. My mind went a little blank.
Pride: You were also able to hit him.
Sugiura: It felt good. (laughing) There were tough parts, too. It was fun.
Pride: Were you interested in MMA before you started pro-wrestling?
Sugiura: Yes. I often went to watch it but I didn't think of actually doing it until after I started pro-wrestling. I'm always around guys like Takayama.
Pride: There have been many pro-wrestlers fight in MMA, including Fujita. Did that have any effect on you?
Sugiura: No.
Pride: Do you think you were made for MMA?
Sugiura: Not really. I've only had 1 fight. If I were made for MMA, I would have beaten Daniel. Since I've experienced it first hand, I do know that I like this sport. I haven't had the opportunity to appear in PRIDE for 2 years since then so I'm really happy.
Pride: You said something like "it finally worked out" in the press conference.
Sugiura: Scheduling is everything. My main job is pro-wrestling. Until an opening in our show schedule opens up, I can't do anything else. It wasn't that I was just waiting for someone to fight. I was, however, always doing MMA training so that I would be ready to fight at any time. 2 years is a long time, though. I'm getting old, after all.
Pride: So, if you're going to do it, it has to be now.
Sugiura: Exactly. I will only be able to give matches that I can be proud of for another year or so. It must be tough after turning 35 but I guess I won't know until I actually get there.
Pride: So, the time is ripe for your return to PRIDE?
Sugiura: It's nothing that cool. (laughing) It's just a fight that I've been waiting on.
Pride: Do you pay more attention to fighters that have amateur wrestling backgrounds?
Sugiura: I am interested in all fights, not just ones that involve wrestlers.
Pride: Were you shocked when Randleman KO'd Mirko?
Sugiura: I was excited. We're on completely different levels though, so I'm not particularly inspired.
Pride: Do you feel that pro-wrestlers need to be stronger?
Sugiura: Not at all. People that want to do MMA, should do it. I don't feel that I'm responsible for all pro-wrestling. I just like MMA and that's why I'm doing it.
Pride: Is there a distinction between pro-wrestling and martial arts in your mind?
Sugiura: It's a completely different thing. In a pro-wrestling match, I'm thinking about how can I give the fans a good time. MMA is first and foremost about the win. That's why I'll use what I trained in when not doing pro-wrestling.
Pride: Your position is as an athlete, challenging yourself in MMA.
Sugiura: Exactly. I'll climb into the ring as a martial artist and Sugiura.
Pride: Akiyama, a popular NOAH wrestler, said because he is the champion, he can't always do what he wants. He wanted you to fight for both of you.
Sugiura: I didn't know that. I'm glad he feels that way. I think that I'm here because there are a lot of people that support me. I would do it even if he hadn't said that, though.
Pride: Are there any other NOAH wrestlers that are interested in MMA?
Sugiura: Nobody. That's why I'm the only one here. (laughing)
Pride: Do you have a preference for PRIDE?
Sugiura: Yes. If you're going to get beat up anyway, it's better to do it in the big show rather than some amateur event.
Pride: Will this fight be a turning point for you?
Sugiura: It's not that important. Really. (laughing) When I was an amateur wrestler, I always had my eye on the Olympics. However, PRIDE is not the ultimate goal for me. I will be happy if I can just finish this fight.
Pride: Do you feel any pressure?
Sugiura: No, because no one expects anything of me. (laughing)
Pride: Won't you get a lot of attention, being from NOAH?
Sugiura: I haven't heard anything like that. They'll probably pay attention right when my match is finished.
Pride: Do you want to gain a lot of martial arts fans with this fight?
Sugiura: Sure. I want to win well and have everyone remember my name.
Pride: There's only a week until your fight. Are you getting excited? (This interview was taken on the 12 th )
Sugiura: I just want to be the same as always. My training has changed but I'll keep all everything about my food and daily life the same right up until the day of the fight. I get tired when everything's changed up. I don't want to get nervous until right before the fight, when I climb into the ring.