HIDEHIKO YOSHIDA INTERVIEW
08/20/2003

A bandaged Hidehiko Yoshida held a press conference for the first time at his dojo, Yoshida Dojo, on August 12th. Although Yoshida defeated Kiyoshi Tamura in their August 10th PRIDE GP bout, Tamura left Yoshida with a seriously injured left knee that is expected to require 2 months to heal.

Yoshida's left knee was wrapped in ice bags when he appeared for the press conference. Yoshida's knee has been diagnosed with internal bleeding and will require 2 months to fully heal. "We at DSE definitely want him to continue fighting." DSE President Sakakibara grimly explained, "However, it's possible that he won't be capable of fighting, even if he wants to. His knee requires 2 months to heal and that would only leave him with a month to train. It's a very difficult situation."

Hearing this, Yoshida declared his strong intent to fight, even if it means forcing himself to. "I may be injured by I am focused on fighting in the November finals. There will problems with losing weight and lack of training but I'll have to make up for it with mental training."

A same-day delayed broadcast of the PRIDE GP in Japan was watched on average by 16% of viewers, with the highest ratings of 21.9% coming in at the end of the Yoshida/Tamura match. Yoshida has garnered a lot of attention and is sure to continue to be under the spotlight. "Yoshida has become a pro" President Sakakibara continued, "and this was proven out by his willingness to stand up and strike with Tamura."
It seems that Yoshida is finding it hard to give up his ticket to the finals. Despite his desire to continue, he still has problems to overcome. "It didn't hurt during the match" Yoshida explained, "but afterwards, my knee locked up and I couldn't straighten it." Yoshida was taken to the hospital after the match but he said that he wasn't even able to sleep that night due to the pain. His knee was bleeding internally and 50CC of blood was removed. Yoshida has injuries in both of his knees from his judo days and according to him, his left knee is beginning to deform.

Yoshida is still maintaining a positive outlook. "I'm used to being injured so it's okay. I'll increase my training according to the pace of my recovery. I don't know how long it will take until the pain goes away but I believe it will be fine."

Ultimately, a decision will be made between the official doctor, Yoshida Dojo and DSE, with a decision and the card lineup to be announced in September.

 

       

 

Pride Fighting Championships: What was your impression of Tamura?
Yoshida: He's got great punches and kicks. When we clinched though, I felt that I was stronger and it was just a matter of figuring out how to overcome his striking.
Pride: What about when he took your back?
Yoshida: It didn't bother me. I was worried about his knees before that but I never felt in danger of being choked.
Pride: Do you think you were not being careful when you were hit and knocked down in the beginning?
Yoshida: I didn't even have time to not be careful (laughing). It knocked me down straight away. When I realized what was happening, he was already jumping towards me and I just got angry. It was like "you get hit, you hit back."
Pride: So you started trading with him.
Yoshida: I was thinking about striking from the beginning. It would be a waste of all the training I've received not to. I'd feel embarrassed to be in front of my trainer if I didn't get in at least one punch (laughing). In a way, it was like shedding my old skin. It was a good confidence builder and good practice for November.
Pride: What percent of your striking training were you able to use?
Yoshida: None at all. I was punching like I was in a street fight (laughing). My trainer told me, "That wasn't a punch. That was a clothes-line." I've got to keep my calm and not get aggravated. I also need to work on my guard and keeping the proper distance.
Pride: Were you planning on getting the sleeve-choke?
Yoshida: No, that's just how it turned out. When I got it on, I was just praying it would finish him.
Pride: What about the headlock?
Yoshida: Normally I can move from there to kesa-gatame and work for the finish but it looks like I haven't practiced it enough.
Pride: A lot of the fans want to see you up against Silva in the finals.
Yoshida: That's not up to me to decide. No matter who my opponent, I will be fighting as a Japanese fighter. It doesn't matter who my opponent is.
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DSE President Sakakibara's Comments

I haven't thought about replacing Yoshida at all. However, if he does need to be replaced, I want to be fair. The replacement would not necessarily be Japanese. I do want Yoshida to get into the ring in November as the representative of Japan, PRIDE and judo. We'll decide how the tournament finals will be put together based upon the surveys we distributed at the recent event. We want to give the fans what they want. If there's not a big lead for any particular matchup, it's still possible that it will be decided by lottery.