Well my fight was at the end of 2003, and I was very pleased with it, and appreciate DSE/Pride setting it up. It helped me settle some unfinished business. As for the state of MMA, it was a good year for MMA. A lot of good fights and great shows were put on for the fans.
On October 5, 2003 you were the head coach of the Gracie team in the inaugural PRIDE FC BUSHIDO show. Please give us your impression about that particular show and about the PRIDE BUSHIDO shows in general.
I have wanted to fight, and have had a lot of offers. I get offers all the time, but I have already fought my battles so nowadays I am more selective and when the right offers comes up, I am always ready to fight.
In 2003 PRIDE FC had its Middle Weight Grand Prix Tournament. Were you interested in participating in the tournament as a fighter? What were your thoughts on the tournament?
I think the tournament was great, some very close and great matches and a good line up. As for me, I have done tournament style fights in my career. To this day I am the only fighter to have fought 4 fights in one night, and back in those days, we had no rules, no gloves and no time limits as well as no weight classes. I started my fighting career in a tournament style competition.
It has been just a few weeks since your New Year's Eve match against Hidehiko Yoshida. Please give us your thoughts on the match. In addition, what did the match mean to you?
The first time Yoshida and I fought, the fight was unfairly stopped and it left a very sick feeling in me. I was disgusted with MMA in general. If such a thing can happen to me, it can happen to any fighter at any time. For the past year my management and Pride have been trying to set thing right, and Pride came through, they offered a rematch with Yoshida, and I accepted on the spot. The fight is now over and it meant a lot to me, I can now find peace within myself, it gave me a chance to redeem myself as well as MMA in general.
Is it true that Rickson Gracie trained you for your match against Hidehiko Yoshida? If you did train with Rickson, what kind of training was it? If any, what kind of advise did he give you?
Yes, I trained with Rickson for the fight, as I did with Royler and Rolker and had help from my cousin Rodrigo. Well Rickson helped me find myself, light up that fire, as well as help me along with Royler in strategy for the fight.
In training and at your last fight, we've seen you and your family displaying a carved wooden object. What does the object represent and what does it mean to you?
The wooden object was given to me by Rickson. He asked me to have it with me all the time during training and ring side for the fight. Rickson and his late son Rockson made this wooden object together, and Rickson wanted me to have it with me during training and the fight, kind of like having Rickson and the spirit of Rockson by my side. It meant the world to me, I could feel the support, and love of Rickson and Rockson as well the rest of my family by having this wooden object with me.
You took off the Gi for your match against Hidehiko Yoshida. Was this advice from
I like to fight with a GI, but I am a fighter and have been doing Jiu-Jitsu all my life, so I can fight with the GI, I can fight without the GI. I was not concerned with Yoshida's skills with the GI, last time when we fought Yoshida spend a lot of time stalling by holding on to my GI, this time I did not want to give him a chance to do that, so I took the GI top off, so that he can not stall and hold on to me.
The low blow/low kick at the beginning of the first round ...there has since been criticism of it like "NOT FAIR" or "DIRTY." What are your thoughts on this and was it also one of your strategies?
I did not kick him in the groin. It was not my strategy and it was not my intention. I know from the video it looks like it, but it was not. It was a high thigh kick and did not touch him on the groin at all. I have been fighting for over 10 years and one thing that no one can accuse me of is being is a dirty fighter.
What did your brother, Rickson Gracie, and father, Helio Gracie, think about your last match with Yoshida?
I am very satisfied. I came to the fight to win, and I did everything to get there. The fight was officially a draw, and I am not changing that at all, but watch the fight, and you tell me who is the winner.
Kiyoshi Tamura has recently announced that he wants to fight you. Do you know who he is? If you do, please tell us your impression of Kiyoshi Tamura as a fighter.
f PRIDE FC was to offer you this fight, would you be interested in fighting Tamura?
I have seen some of this fights, he is a tough guy, as for me fighting him, tell him to take a number, there are a lot of people that want to fight me (laughing).
If you fight Kiyoshi Tamura would you be confident of winning?
I am always confident of winning, otherwise what is the point of fighting.
Also on the New Year's Eve show was the match up of Kazushi Sakuraba VS Antonio Rogerio Nogueira If you saw the match, please give us your thoughts. Would you ever be interested in a rematch against Sakuraba?
I saw the fight, it was a tough fight, both guys are tough, congratulations to Nogueira for the win, Sakuraba is a tough opponent and a very smart fighter, I have a lot of respect for him, beating him is a major accomplishment.
K-1 intends to have a mixed martial arts tournament involving Rickson Gracie. Would you also be interested in participating in a K-1 event?
I think its good, its healthy; keep a health competition good for the fans too.
Please tell us about your fight plans for the future. PRIDE FC is organizing several events this year including the heavyweight Grand Prix. Of course depending on the opponent and money terms, would you be interested in competing?
I am a fighter, if the offer is right and the time is right, I will fight. I do a lot of things during the year, so its not easy for me to stop everything and start training for a fight, but if the offers are right, I will do that.
Do you consider PRIDE FC Middle Weight Championship one of your goals right now?
Best bout, there were a lot of tough fights this year, to be honest with you, after my last fight in Shockwave 2002, I was so disgusted with MMA that I did not spend much time watching it, but I did manage to see some shows and there were some tough fights out there. As for the fighters, they are all tough guys, if I had to pick some, well the GRACIE's, Renzo, Ryan, Daniel, Rodrigo (laughing) but outside the family, Silva, tough fighter had a good tough fights out there, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira tough fighter, had a very tough fight with Mirko "Cro Cop."
Do you have any message or anything you would like to say to PRIDE FC fans?
I want to thank my fans from Japan. I have a lot of them and they have been very supportive. I have received a lot of e-mails from them after the first Yoshida fight, telling me how disgusted they were with the outcome, and I have received even more after the second fight congratulating me and telling me how much they support me, and have been cheering for me. I am not a Japanese fighter and to get that kind of support in Japan is very special and I am honored by that very much. So I love all of my Japanese fans and I will see them very soon.