Akira Shoji

Pride Fighting Championships: What's your weight for this fight?
Akira Shoji: 205.
Pride: You're still representing AMC Pankration?
Shoji: Yes.
Pride: And your MMA record is 12-11-5?
Shoji: Yes, that's right.
Pride: This will be your 22nd time in PRIDE. Who has more, you or Vovchanchyn?
Shoji: I don't know.
Pride: What have you done since the last time we saw you?
Shoji: I've been training as usual at AMC. I also did some training with the University of Washington's football team.
Pride: When was that?
Shoji: Twice every week. We trained in the morning, doing a lot of different football training.
Pride: You put the pads on?
Shoji: No. Like rolling big tires.
Pride: This is a big opportunity for you. You're fighting to advance in the tournament but you have to watch out for Dean Lister's ground game. How are you approaching this fight with him?
Shoji: His techniques are great. I saw him in Abu Dhabi and I have great respect for him.
Pride: After you found out that you would be fighting Lister, have you worked more on your submissions or submission defense?
Shoji: I did both, actually. I've worked on everything. Lister is a well-rounded fighter and he's training in a good gym.
Pride: Where do you think you are stronger than Lister?
Shoji: Heart.
Pride: How important is this tournament for you, in terms of your PRIDE career?
Shoji: There's a lot of attention on the PRIDE Grand Prix.
Pride: Do you about that too much, or is it just another fight to you?
Shoji: This is the first big match for me in a long time. I'm really excited. I definitely want to go to the Grand Prix.
Pride: Is there any extra motivation knowing that Paulo Filho is on the other side and knowing that Filho is the only guy to have submitted you?
Shoji: I'm not really thinking about it. I'm just focused on Dean Lister but if I had to think about it, I would like Filho to advance so I can get revenge on him.
Pride: What personal goals do you still have in PRIDE?
Shoji: I don't have anything in particular that I want to do but there are still a lot of strong fighters around. There are much older fighters who I respect. I want to improve myself physically and mentally like them.
Pride: At 31, do you feel that you are getting better or have you peaked?
Shoji: I think I'm getting better, little by little.
Pride: How much longer do you want to keep fighting? What do you plan to do after you retire?
Shoji: I don't know how much longer that I can keep fighting. It's possible that I may get injured in my next fight, or I may keep going until I'm 41 like Randy. Once I retire, I'd like to have a job like Bas Rutten.
Pride: You want to stay in the sport as a coach, a teacher or a broadcaster after you retire from MMA?
Shoji: I want to stay in MMA.
Pride: Maybe open your own gym.
Shoji: Yes.
Pride: In Japan or the United States?
Shoji: In the United States.