I'm in very good shape. I've fought a lot this year, so I haven't taken any vacations and I've been able to stay in good condition. I'm naturally in good shape.
Suloev is definitely strong since he made it to the 2nd Round. He's especially good at kicks. His kickboxing skills and his footwork are good. I'm better at pressuring my opponent and better overall, so I don't feel threatened by him. I will be relaxed in this fight but that also means that I will have to be careful not to get hit with a counter.
I would like to start out striking and eventually take it to the ground. The reason is that submissions are the quickest way to end the fight. I think the fight will unfold just like that. Recently I've been working on wrestling, boxing and jujitsu a lot. As far as submissions go, I like arm locks, arm bars and rear naked chokes.
Apparently the fans saw my Opening Round fight and said that I might win the entire tournament. I feel extremely proud that they said that kind of thing about me. I'm extremely grateful to the fans. I'm still in good shape now but I think I will have to train even harder to become the Champion.
Butterbean will also fight in this event and he became my teammate at American Top Team three or four weeks ago. He's very famous in the US. He has a lot of experience and he's huge so he will probably surprise the Japanese fans. He has only just joined American Top Team but he learns techniques very quickly and we were all surprised at that. He has an advantage, too. He doesn't have much of a neck, so it will be tough to choke him.
I am proud to represent American Top Team. Compared to other teams, we are still a young team but we have a lot of very strong fighters. I want to take the belt home and give the team even more momentum. I don't know what the chances of my winning or losing are but I'm 150% confident about fighting in the ring. I will win the belt for the fans.
My conditioning is very good right now. The only special training I did for this fight was a training camp. The Red Devil Team was also training there, including the Emelianenko brothers. We trained for about one month at a gymnasium. I can't talk about everything we did because it would take too long to explain.
I've known about Denis for a long time. We're in the same weight class so I expected that we would fight eventually. My strategy is just to get in the ring and fight. It will be a good fight. Even if he takes it to the ground, it will be an interesting fight. I've prepared myself for everything, including grappling.
I'm happy that some people said I was a candidate to win the tournament after the Opening Round fight. I think all of the 2nd Round fights will be exciting.