On December 31, Dan Henderson will face Murilo Bustamante at PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2005, to be held at the Saitama Super Arena. Henderson is motivated in his quest to become the newest PRIDE Champion and answered Gomi's challenge: Get the lightweight belt first!




Pride Fighting Championships: I would like you to look back on the First Round. The Ryo Chonan fight ended in seconds.
Dan Henderson : The fight was short so it probably looked like I won easily but I studied him a lot before the fight. Chonan is very tough and I knew he is an all-round fighter. When I hit him with the right punch in the match, it just happened to hit a really good spot and I was able to carry the fight at my own pace.
Pride: You looked at the referee after Chonan went down.
Henderson : When that one punch connected, I knew it was over but the referee might not have seen it. So I hit him 2 or 3 more times and the referee stopped it. I thought that it might have been a little too much. The fight was over with the first punch.
Pride: The fight with Gono in the Second Round was a close fight.
Henderson : I don't think it was a close fight. I took some good punches and kicks from Gono but I was the one pressuring him and I was the one that controlled the flow of the fight.
Pride: After seeing you and Bustamante, I thought that Japanese fighters can't win in this weight class.
Henderson : Of course, I think there are many Japanese fighters that can succeed. The Japanese fighters than fought in this tournament all fought well. I think that if Sakuraba fought in this weight class, he would have great fights.
Pride: Did you know that Gomi said he wants to go up a weight class and fight you?
Henderson : No, I didn't know that. I wonder what he's thinking? Tell Gomi that he needs to beat Sakurai and get the belt before he challenges me. That's better, right? I'm the same way. First, I have to beat Bustamante on New Year's Eve and get the welterweight belt. I'll be glad to fight him after that. I'll accept his challenge. I've already dropped down from middleweight so he has to increase his weight, right? He's still going to be small compared to me, no matter how much weight he gains. Gomi has punching skill and his striking is particularly great. But, fighting me?"
Pride: The Final Round will be jujitsu VS wrestling, a historic rivalry in MMA.
Henderson : It definitely has a jujitsu VS wrestling aspect but I don't get tied up in wrestling VS jujitsu, because I study jujitsu, too. Bustamante also does wrestling and boxing, right? I just happen to have a wrestling base.
Pride: Which do you think is stronger, MMA fighters with jujitsu bases or wrestling bases?
Henderson : I think that fighters with a wrestling base are strong. Wrestlers have punching strength and I am proof of that. Jujitsu is better in submissions but to get a submission, you've got to take your opponent down first. I wonder if Bustamante will be able to take me down.
Pride: Even through you both having wrestling bases, I think the strengths of your team, Team Quest, and Coleman's team, Hammer House, are different.
Henderson : We do have the same base but there are differences between our teams. That's because we have different ideas about MMA. Team Quest tries to evolve as MMA continues to evolve. We have a wrestling base but we are a MMA team. We research new skills and strategies daily to win in MMA. The Hammer House guys seem like they are still wrestlers fighting in MMA matches. It seems like they think that it will be enough to use their wrestling base.
Pride: Do you want to see MMA become a major sport like wrestling?
Henderson : I hope that MMA continues to spread in the world. As you know, it's very popular in Japan and it's continuing to spread in America. I believe that it will continue to spread and become a mainstream sport.
Pride: Are you done with wrestling or do you think you will make a comeback?
Henderson : I want to continue doing MMA as long as my strength holds. I plan on continuing to fight in MMA as long as I can keep training hard. My feeling now is that I definitely want to win this tournament. I've never wanted the belt as much as I do now.