I gained weight for this fight because I knew I had to be bigger. I'm exactly 99kg right now. The biggest change was in my power. I'm in top-condition now so I think I will be able to give a good fight.
I don't have the video of my previous fight with Mirko anymore. I watched it a lot at that time but I haven't seen it recently. Will my strategy be the same as before? I don't create strategies before my fights. I prepare myself well to be able to fight, whether striking or on the ground, and my strategy depends on the flow of the fight. Of course, I think I would like to try this or do that but I don't know what will actually happen, so I think about that while I'm actually fighting.
I definitely think Mirko has become an incredible fighter lately. He's like an idol in Japan. I'm happy to fight him and after I beat him, I think I will be even more motivated, so I'm looking forward to that. Mirko's weakness, to put it plainly, is the ground. From what I have seen, Mirko's jujitsu techniques are very limited.
I will decide whether to trade strikes with him or go to the ground as we fight. Attacking with strikes is my style, though, so I think I will strike in the beginning of the match.
Mirko is a fighter than mainly kicks and no matter which of his kicks hit you, you'll take some damage. I have worked on defenses against his low-kicks, in particular. I just want to focus on this fight, so I will use everything I have every learned. Of course, I want to prove that my muay thai is better than his kickboxing, too. If I can, I would like to knock Mirko out with a knee kick.
It would be a historical match if Nogueira and I could fight in the Final Round. I am really looking forward to this fight. It's on an entirely different level than the other fights in my career.
I'm the smallest of the four fighters but what you need to fight and win in the Grand Prix is good preparation. The support of your team, physically and technically, is very important. The coaches will tell me exactly what I need to do against this opponent, and that's extremely valuable. Also, you need God's strength. This Grand Prix is an extremely difficult event to me, and I love to challenge myself, so I will continue challenging myself without fear of losing.
Takada [PRIDE General Director] called me Mr. PRIDE. He said that I am the symbol of PRIDE and that's an honor for me. That's not something I gained but rather something everyone on my team gained. PRIDE has overcome many difficulties in the past, just as I have in my life. As a fighter, I know that I have to overcome many difficulties in my life.
This event will be the most exciting even of the year. I definitely want all of the fans that always support me to come and watch. I will be fighting fighters that are heavier than me but I think it's because of everyone's support that I am able to compete in this Grand Prix and I will do my best to give a great fight.
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic was unable to attend the pre-fight interviews.