DAN HENDERSON PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2005 INTERVIEW
01/12/2006

Dan Henderson won the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix Championship title on December 31 at the PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2005 event at Saitama Super Arena. According to Dan, the PRIDE Championship belt is like an Olympic medal. Now that Dan has the belt, what will he set his sights on in 2006?

 

       

 

Pride Fighting Championships: What did you do after your fight on New Year's Eve?
Dan Henderson: I had a small cut below my eye so I went to see a doctor right after the fight. After that, I went down to the ring to watch the other fights and when the event was over, I went to eat in Roppongi. My time in Japan is a little longer than usual this time, so I'm thinking about going to Kyoto for about 3 days as a vacation.
Pride: Who do you want to tell about your victory the most?
Hederson: My kids. Before I came to Japan, my daughter told me "I'll play for you. I hope you win" and my son told me to "get the belt." So, I think they're going to be pretty happy when they see this belt.
Pride: How do you feel about the fight with Bustamante now?
Hederson: I'm satisfied with my performance. I was in perfect shape and didn't have any problems with my conditioning but I am a little tired. I was probably nervous because it was the Final Round of the Grand Prix on New Year's Eve.
Pride: Before the fight, you said that this would be a very tough fight. Was Bustamante as tough of an opponent as you expected?
Hederson: He was stronger than I expected. I thought the fight might be over with the knee-kick and the front choke in the 2nd round.
Pride: The decision was close. Where you do think you won the fight?
Hederson: I think it was because I almost KO'd and tapped Bustamante. For myself, I wonder why it was even a split decision.
Pride: Okay. You didn't feel that the takedowns, the stomps and the kicks you took in the 1st round were as dangerous as they appeared to the audience?
Hederson: I didn't think they were dangerous at all. I was more surprised at the kicks than anything because Bustamante doesn't usually attack like that.
Pride: You tried to catch his kicking leg several times. Were you trying to set up some kind of leg-lock that Chonan taught you?
Hederson: No. I wanted to catch the leg from below, take Bustamante's balance and put myself in a better position.
Pride: Is that front choke that you almost got one of your specialties?
Hederson: Yes. A front choke when I'm in the half guard is one of my better techniques. I often make my sparring partners tap with that. Even if the front choke doesn't work, you can move to knee kicks from that position.
Pride: In your pre-fight interview, you talked a lot about the (Championship) belt itself. Why was that?
Hederson: I've never had a belt until now. It was my first chance.
Pride: Do you think wearing the PRIDE belt is like winning an Olympic gold medal?
Hederson: That's a tough question... to me; it's like the same thing.
Pride: Now that you've got the belt, as you predicted before the fight, will you return to the Middleweight Division?
Hederson: I still don't know. I'm going to leave it up to the promoter to decide which division I should fight in.
Pride: Did you see the Silva VS Arona fight?
Hederson: I think that was a good fight. Arona didn't have many effective strikes standing and he was really going after the takedowns because he wanted to fight on the ground. Even so, Wanderlei fought well and did a good job of not letting Arona get the takedowns.
Pride: You fought a close fight with Silva in the past that was popular with fans. There are a lot of people that want to see a rematch between you and Silva.
Hederson: It's possible and I wouldn't mind fighting Silva for the Middleweight (Championship) title. I don't know if that's what the promoter wants, though.
Pride: Sakakibara (CEO of PRIDE promoter Dream Stage Entertainment) said that it's possible an Unlimited Weight Grand Prix might be held this year. Are you interested in that?
Hederson: I'm going to look into it.
Pride: Sakakibara also said that there might be a Welterweight Grand Prix, too. When Grand Prix are you more interested in?
Hederson: Basically, I will leave it up to the promoter but individually; I'm more interested in the Unlimited Weight Grand Prix.
Pride: Japan's martial arts culture considers a smaller fighter beating a bigger fighter with techniques as a virtue. I think if you fought in an Unlimited Weight Grand Prix, like the KOK Tournament, you would get a lot of support from Japanese fans.
Hederson: That culture is the same in every country, not just Japan. I think I would get support from a lot of fans.
Pride: Do you want to get all 3 Welterweight, Middleweight and Unlimited Weight belts?
Hederson: I could set that as a big goal for myself. I think it would be amazing if I could really get all 3 belts. I think it would be difficult to make that actually happen, though. It would be a big challenge. (laughing)
Pride: Changing the topic, I heard you will start a new gym this month.
Hederson: I am planning on opening it at the end of January. We will primarily teach MMA and wrestling at the gym. We will also invite kickboxing coaches and teach fitness-type kickboxing. I want to be a gym where many people can experience martial arts, not just for creating professional fighters.
Pride: Even so, maybe there will be another strong fighter like yourself borne from your gym.
Hederson: There are a lot of young, talented athletes. They still need time to grow as fighters, though.
Pride: By improving your training environment, won't the new gym also benefit you?
Hederson: Of course, I will train more in 2006 than I've ever trained before and be able to prepare for each individual fight.