Shungo Oyama will fight again at PRIDE 25, March 16, at the Yokohama Arena. This will be Oyama's first match since his right elbow was broken in his match with Ryan Gracie as PRIDE 22. His opponent will be Dan Henderson, who lost an exciting match to the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. We asked Oyama to speak with us regarding his upcoming bout.




Pride Fighting Championships: What do you think of last year?
Shungo Oyama: Hmm... It felt really busy. I wanted to please everyone around me, probably wanted to please them too much. I think I really pushed myself down too far. I was too concerned about the voices around me and bound myself up. I'd like to relax a little more this year.
Pride: How do you feel now that your fight with Dan Henderson has been signed?
Oyama: It feels a lot like when I had my pro debut fight with Mike Bourke (February, 2001). I came into the ring with a completely blank mind that time. Now I feel close to that again. Starting again from zero. I feel that something inside me has been reset since my fight with Ryan. So, I feel like I can once again climb into the ring refreshed.
Pride: How's your right elbow? (broken by Ryan Gracie in PRIDE 22)
Oyama: It's at about 80% right now. I'll be at 100% by the day of the fight...well, I'll make it 100%.
Pride: When were you able to train again?
Oyama: I wasn't able to do anything for 1 month after the fight with Ryan. After that, I was able to do some light ground sparring. Now, I'm training for this fight. I'll go to Hiranaka's gym in Okinawa again and work on my conditioning there.
Pride: What's your impression of Henderson?
Oyama: Strong, of course. Honestly....even if I remain calm and use all the power I have, I still don't know who will win. I don't feel confident enough to say that I will absolutely win. Even if I try to work up a strategy, I just can't find too many holes in Henderson's game. I'm watching videos of his fights but the more I watch them, the fewer holes he seems to have! (sick laugh). There's nothing for me to do but go in there and give it all I've got. That's all there is. I don't think, however, that Henderson can knock me out with just one punch. I think it was just lucky when he won by TKO over Renzo (Pride 13). I'll just have to hang on and do whatever I can.
Pride: After your match in PRIDE 22, you said that if you have another match, you want it to be a revenge-match with Ryan.
Oyama: I definitely want to fight Ryan someday. I felt that I lost to myself more than I lost to Ryan at that time. I can't forgive myself for losing to myself, even now. I'd like to fight Ryan again and take revenge on myself for that time. I really felt a lot of heavy pressure at that time. But, if you're going to be a pro, you've got to prepare yourself for that heavy pressure. I wasn't prepared at that time. I definitely want to beat Henderson this time and follow it with a revenge match against Ryan.
Pride: What's your goal for 2003?
Oyama: First, a win by Ippon. I haven't won by Ippon yet in PRIDE. I want to get everyone excited with some amazing win.
Pride: Now, a message for the PRIDE fans, please.