Pride Fighting Championships interviewed Sentoryu in advance of his Dec. 31 fight in PRIDE SHOCKWAVE.

Sentoryu's participation in this year's New Year's Eve event, SHOCKWAVE, was confirmed when he gained his first MMA victory in PRIDE BUSHIDO 5. Taking the microphone, he declared, "Sumo is strong!" The theme of this year's event is "destiny", so which fighter lies in Sentoryu's destiny? A surprising name came out of Sentoryu's mouth...




Pride Fighting Championships: It's a little late but, congratulations on your first PRIDE victory.
Sentoryu: It felt great. I was so happy and everyone congratulated me.
Pride: It really left an impression when you took the mic and said, "Sumo is strong!"
Sentoryu: I had to say it. I was so happy that I was in a panic but that's how I felt and it was for the sumo fans.
Pride: Were you planning on saying it?
Sentoryu: I thought about saying it if they gave me the mic but I didn't practice it. (laughing) It just came out naturally.
Pride: There must have been a big reaction from people in the sumo industry.
Sentoryu: Many people called me and said that I was the one that finally proved (that sumo is strong).
Pride: Did it bother you that sumo players kept being beaten?
Sentoryu: I've been doing sumo for 15 years. It's a really strict sport and it's the national sport of Japan. Japanese people have an image of sumo players as being strong and I wanted to keep it that way. I don't like to lose anyway, and I'm proud of the strength of sumo.
Pride: Did it hurt to see other sumo players lose?
Sentoryu: It's an individual competition but it was sad.
Pride: You were able to see his punches well in that match.
Sentoryu: Sumo players that specialize in turns will have a hard time adjusting to MMA but since my style of sumo was to push, I was already used to striking. I always train to see the punches and avoid them with my personal trainer, a former boxer. When you get him in the face, and it hurts, you begin to block and evade. I was able to use what I practiced and it was the best way for me to win. It was really just like I practiced.
Pride: Did you learn to keep your eyes open and not turn you back in sumo?
Sentoryu: That, too. If you are pushing in sumo, you have to look at your opponent. I never noticed it really but I guess I wasn't closing my eyes.
Pride: Are there any more sumo techniques you can use (in MMA)?
Sentoryu: Sure, several. I'd like to knock them down with "harite" (open handed strike) but my hand just naturally balls into a fist. If you hit someone straight on with a harite, it will hurt him. I think if I had hit him with a harite in that fight, it would have KO'd him too. I don't have the timing down yet but my opponent would probably have some problems if I use harite. MMA is different than sumo, though. In MMA, your opponent doesn't necessarily come straight out at you. They move around you. It's hard but I want to fight with my own style.
Pride: Do you practice taking people down when you train?
Sentoryu: Rarely.
Pride: What about being taken down?
Sentoryu: I don't really get taken down because I did sumo. I also wrestled. 70% of the time, I won't be taken down. (Kazuhiro) Nakamura said that it was difficult to take spar with me. It was difficult for me to spar with a judo player too, though.
Pride: Do you practice fighting from the bottom?
Sentoryu: In training, yes. It depends on my partner. When I train with (Daijiro) Matsui, we spar on the ground a lot. With (Ikuhisa) Yamamoto, we do a lot of striking.