Finally, the match that fans have waited for has been put together. Yuki Kondo will face Wanderlei Silva in the May 23 PRIDE Bushido 3 event at Yokohama Arena. Wanderlei gave us an exclusive interview immediately following the announcement.
How do you feel now that your fight with Yuki Kondo (Pancrase) has been decided?
Yes, I saw them when my teammate, Nilson de Castro, fought there. I think it was a really good event. There are similar events in Brazil and I was surprised to see so many fighters that will be strong in the future.
What can Kondo do to make the fight better on May 23?
I want him to work on his striking. I don't think the fans want to see a fight with no movement. Fighting on the ground is interesting but they won't like it if he stalls. I want to get the fans excited by fighting on our feet. In that sense, I think Yoshida was good last year. I know Yoshida didn't have much experience in striking but he came out and traded and I think that made it a very interesting match. I'd like to have another fight like that and excite the fans.
You've fought a lot of Japanese fighters. Is there anything common among them?
I don't feel that way at all. I think I was the first foreign fighter to rise to this position after beating Sakuraba. That makes them want to take me down even more. And, this is Japan , after all, so it's natural that they want a Japanese fighter to win. Recently there have been more fans cheering for me, even if my opponent is Japanese, and that makes me really happy. I can fight like I'm in my home country.
So, if a Japanese challenger appears, you'll accept?
Of course. I think the reason that I fight so many Japanese fighters is because that's what the promoters want. I've already said that I will fight anyone. I've never chose my opponent even once. My style, Chute Boxe's style is a new, unique style in vale tudo. It's aggressive and it's a style that makes the fights interesting. If PRIDE and the fans want it, I'll take on anyone with this style, even a Japanese fighter.
Since you and the other Chute Boxe fighters never watch your opponents' videos or otherwise study them before the fights, doesn't that make you nervous?
Not at all. Everybody on the team, including myself, practices very hard and is prepared to respond to anyone in any situation. On the other hand, I think that if you know that your opponent is good at this and this, you'll focus too much on that and that's not good. I believe that it's better to go into the fight without those feelings.
I just thought it might be easier for you to fight if you knew what kind of fighting style your opponent has before the fight.
You can't imagine how a fight is going to play out and it's never going to go exactly as you might plan. Fighting without knowing anything about my opponent allows me to fight with all my power and give everyone a good show.
Do Fujimar and your other coaches train you after having seen the opponent's videos?
I've never asked them so I don't know for certain but the training does change a little for each fight. Basically, it's the same thing, though. We train hard, regardless of the type of fight, and train in detail. I think of Chute Boxe as a martial arts university. The younger members are all talented and if I get the chance, I want to help them fight a lot in Japan . Ninja and Shogun have a little brother, Shaolin, that's just 18 but he's big and strong and he'll eventually fight in Japan .
This will probably be a fight where I can show Chute Boxe's strength. Fighting with us is not simple and it will be very hard for him. I'll beat you down, just like you want. I know you're going to have trouble sleeping from now on but I expect that you'll come out swinging.
I'm going to aim for his eyes when I punch. I'll make his eyebrows swell up. This fight will sell out soon so you'd better buy tickets fast if you want to see it. (laughing) I'm already at 100% so this will definitely be a great fight.