INTERVIEW
07/19/2004
Hiroyuki Abe

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Hiroyuki Abe, a veteran MMA fighter, will appear in a challenge match in the upcoming PRIDE BUSHIDO 4 event. He'll be taking on the Brazilian "Buscape" and says that he'll fight as if he were in the big show. Will Abe be able to show off his MMA skills in front of the fans of his hometown, Nagoya?

Pride Fighting Championships: This will be your first appearance in PRIDE. What is your image of PRIDE?
Hiroyuki Abe: I've been to PRIDE as second for Shoji and other fighters so this won't be a big shock. That was also heavyweights. I figured that I would probably get a chance eventually since Bushido was created and I've gained some weight.
Pride: You're a veteran of MMA and have fought in K-1, too. What do you think of being put in a "challenge match"?
Abe: I was a little shocked but there's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is using it as a step to the next level... or at least that's what I tell myself. I don't think my match will be inferior to the regular matches. (laughing) Just watch and see for yourself.
Pride: Buscape is one of the top Brazilian lightweight fighters. He's fought in Shooto, like you. What do you think of him?
Abe: He's very strong. He won by decision in Shooto recently but other than that, most of his wins have been by ippon. He's young and is probably the fighter with the most potential. In my opinion, he should probably be a little higher on the card, compared to some of the other lightweight fighters fighting this time. (laughing)
Pride: Your match-up definitely isn't inferior.
Abe: However, I am glad that I can fight someone good. He's strong, he's good at takedowns and he's strong on the ground. I think his weakness is probably striking.
Pride: Recently, your striking has stood out more than you backbone of wrestling.
Abe: Not really. (laughing) I train everything. I do want to get in at least 1 hit, though. I'm not hung up on it, though. If it's a question of getting a submission or knocking him out, I'll go for the KO this time. We can knee on the ground in PRIDE and kick to the face too, right? I want to take advantage of those rules.
Pride: Although this is your first appearance here, were you surprised when they said this might be the last BUSHIDO?
Abe: I was surprised. (laughing) I think that's the right thing to do, though. I've watched all of the BUSHIDO events and, honestly, compared to the Grand Prix, it's boring. As a fan, if I'd rather go to the Grand Prix than BUSHIDO. That's why the fighters this time have to really work hard. They have to change the fans' attitudes.
Pride: What do you want the fans to look for when they watch you fight?
Abe: I'll be the one of the lightest guys in Bushido. Buscape is also a fast fighter. Everyone should look for fast attacks and striking.
Pride: Both Gomi and Mach have fought people heavier than them in Bushido. Are you going to move up in weight class, too?
Abe: I fight in the 65kg division in Shooto. This time the contract weight is 70kg but I also had a 70kg contract in MAX.
Pride: If you go up to 70kg, you might have to fight Gomi or Mishima.
Abe: Yeah... if I can just get that chance. I can't say anything because I'm just a "challenge match" fighter. (laughing) It guess it's going to take me a while to climb up to where Gomi and Mishima are. I'll have to use this as a step.
Pride: Are you going to keep fighting in standup matches?
Abe: Yes, of course, but this year I'm concentrating on MMA. I don't think about it in the long term. I train year by year.
Pride: I see. Your friend, Akira Shoji, will fight Paulo Filho in the same event. What are your predictions for that fight?
Abe: He was in his best shape 2 years ago and I thought he would win, but his is opponent was very good from the bottom. I think Shoji had that in mind when he was training for this fight and he will win this time. Getting a submission would be the best.
Pride: Finally, any last words before the fight?
Abe: I won't be in the opening ceremony but I'll be out right after that, so pay attention. (laughing) Nagoya 's my hometown and I want everyone to watch. I'm relaxed so I think I will be able to put on a good fight.