INTERVIEWS WITH SHUNGO OYAMA
07/21/2004

Shungo Oyama, coming off a 1 and a half-year break from the ring, will take on Mirko Filipovic in the upcoming Bushido 4 event. How does Oyama, who volunteered to fight Mirko, plan on beating his dangerous opponent?

 

       

 

Pride Fighting Championships: There's been a lot of talk about when you completely controlled Mirko on the ground in America, before he made his MMA debut.
Shungo Oyama: He didn't know anything about ground fighting at that time so it doesn't really help me now. It's just a fact and nothing more. At that time, I thought that Mirko's physical strength is incredible and even though he supposedly didn't know any ground techniques, he moved with instinct. He's got a lot of sense. If someone as strong as he is learns to fight on the ground, he'd be a real threat.
Pride: From when did you start thinking that you want to fight Mirko?
Oyama: Very recently. I heard that Mirko still didn't have an opponent and I had wanted to fight for a while. It's weird but I had a feeling in America, when we sparred, that I'd fight him someday. So, I think this fight has some strange fate connected to it.
Pride: Why did you volunteer?
Oyama: There aren't many Japanese fighters that can fight with someone that strong, are there? I thought it was great when the fight was decided. I knew it was a great chance and I was incredibly happy.
Pride: You made your debut against Wanderlei Silva and then fought several more strong fighters. There are some fans that pity you for having to always fight such strong guys. What do you think?
Oyama: Yeah. (laughing) I'm the opposite. I think I'm very lucky. I think there should be at least 1 person like me. As a man and a martial artist, being able to fight guys of this caliber is like an investment for me.
Pride: So, you would rather not fight someone who looks like you could beat him?
Oyama: At the present moment, yes. Honestly, I've injured both eyes and I don't know how long I can continue. I think it's best for me to take it 1 fight at a time and fight each one like it's my last. This will be a really important match. It was possible that I wouldn't be able to fight again due to my eye injuries but God gave me another chance so I'm very happy.
Pride: How will you fight him?
Oyama: I will fight my game, not his.
Pride: How will you defend against his greatest weapon, the left middle kick?
Oyama: I'm thinking about that, of course, but I really won't know until we actually get in the ring. How far can I go forward? He is, without a doubt, the strongest guy I have ever fought so there it's difficult for me to predict. That' s both exciting and scary for me. I want to have fun on the fight day. It's just like right before I made my debut. It's fun but it's also completely terrifying. I felt the same way when I fought Silva and that brings back all those memories. They call him one of the most dangerous men in the world, don't they? It's the feeling of taking on that kind of guy and seeing exactly how strong he is. It's like my 2nd debut.
Pride: Do you have some secret strategy to win?
Oyama: Yes. There's nothing else for me to use.
Pride: I assume that you have seen Mirko's fights. Which ones helped you prepare?
Oyama: Sakuraba and Kanehara's fights. I learned the most about distance and how close you can get. Once you get into his range, the fight will end with a single hit.
Pride: It looks like you get angry sometimes during your matches.
Oyama: Yes. (laughing) That happens. would rather fight with a calm head, though. This time I think I can do it.
Pride: You've been resting due to injuries for the past 2 years. Well, you said that you haven't been just resting, though. What have you been working on in your training?
Oyama: I've been working mainly on how I can use my main styles of judo and sambo, rather than striking, in MMA. The last time was about 70% striking but this time I've changed to ground fighting. I don't know if you would call it a return to my roots but this resting period was very good for me. I can think calmly now.
Pride: Can you picture the fight in your head?
Oyama: Of course. I think about Mirko 24 hours a day. It's just like when I fought Silva. It was Silva all the time, whether I was awake or asleep.
Pride: Mirko apparently requested a warm-up fight before his fight against Fedor in August. It seems that he's looking past you.
Oyama: That's why I think this is my chance. I'm gratefully. The motivation is different. Mirko may think this is just a stepping-stone but for me, my life is on the life. I think that difference will show itself.
Pride: There has been talk of BUSHIDO disappearing. What do you think about President Sakakibara's comments?
Oyama: Everyone needs to have a feeling of danger inside of them. If you don't give a fight that the fans enjoy, we have no value. I understand that. You have to always be looking for a submission or a KO.
Pride: Some people think that it's impossible to easily get submissions or KOs because your opponent is also highly skilled.
Oyama: That true. Even in amateur fights, if your opponent is skilled too, it will turn out the same way. We are pros, though, so we have to get over that wall. I think everyone has to think like that, all the time.