Ricardo Arona defeated Wanderlei Silva in this year's Middleweight Grand Prix. Although Arona lost to Shogun in the Final Round, he believes that it was simply because of an "accident" Arona, not one to accept a loss, said that once he has beaten Silva on New Year's Eve and taken revenge on Shogun, he would accept Sakuraba's request for a rematch.




Pride Fighting Championships: You were the unfortunate runner-up in the Middleweight Grand Prix. How do you feel when you look back on that match?
Ricardo Arona: I hate it. I came to Japan to become the Champion. That's why I trained but my dream didn't come true because of bad luck.
Pride: Didn't you achieve some success with your win over Silva?
Arona : Of course, beating Silva has been a desire of mine for a long time so I am satisfied with that. However, that would have been a perfect night if I had become the Champion. I feel unhappy because I wasn't able to do that.
Pride: What was your strategy against Silva and what was the biggest factor in your win?
Arona : It was vital to just keep moving. If you stop, even for a little, you give Wanderlei a chance. Wanderlei has become good at defending against takedowns so it was crucial to keep moving around and striking, looking for a chance to take him down.
Pride: So, you weren't really thinking about trying to submit him?
Arona : I was thinking to do that on the ground if it was possible but Wanderlei's closed guard is tough and Wanderlei will punch you if you try to pass. That's why I wasn't able to move around on the ground.
Pride: It looked like Wanderlei's low-kick hurt you.
Arona : No, it didn't hurt that much.
Pride: You lost to Shogun in the Final Round. Does he seem like he will be a tough rival for you?
Arona : Of course, I think of him as my rival but the reason I lost against him in the Grand Prix finals was just bad luck. I hit my head against the mat 1-minute after the fight began, Shogun fell on top of me and my head was sandwiched. I lost control of the fight because of bad luck. That is the entire reason.
Pride: How strong do you think Shogun is?
Arona : I don't really know Shogun personally but I respect other fighters and he seems to have respect, too. That's the most important thing for me. I think he's a good guy, unlike Wanderlei.
Pride: After the Grand Prix press conference, you said that you want to fight for the Middleweight title next and then fight Shogun in a rematch. Are you interested in any other fights?
Arona : No, there's no one else to fight. I did hear that Sakuraba wants a rematch, though. If so, I would accept.
Pride: Why is that? You beat Sakuraba.
Arona : I still respect Sakuraba. He's a great fighter and he's very popular in Japan. If he wants to prove that he can beat me, I will respect Sakuraba and give him that chance.
Pride: Your striking skill seems to have surprisingly improved. Who is teaching you?
Arona : I'm learning muay thai from a French trainer.
Pride: Your low-kick is very strong.
Arona : Because I practice it in particular. And my legs are strong, so my low-kicks are going to continue to get stronger.
Pride: What kind of fighter do you want to become now?
Arona : I'm practicing boxing and wrestling but I am a jujitsu fighter. My heart is always in jujitsu and I don't want to forget that. I want to train harder until my next fight and become a fighter than can win by submission.
Pride: I see. Finally, a message for the fans.
Arona : Thank you for always supporting me. I love fighting in front of you and I always fight for you. I want to keep fighting until I die. I want to beat Wanderlei again on New Year's Eve and then beat Shogun to prove that I am the true Champion.