We caught up with Takanori Gomi and Hayato "Mach" Sakurai to ask them their thoughts and feelings on their upcoming December 31st fights at PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2005, to be held at Saitama Super Arena.

Takanori Gomi:

I feel the same as always. I'm relaxed.

Sakurai and I were basically around each other all the time. He was my senior when I was in SHOOTO and we would train together at the dojo in our free time. We're in the same weight class and he fought his way up the tournament, beating foreigners, so there's nothing I can do about us fighting.

I'm looking forward to the fight. There are many fans waiting and like last year, it will be an all-star lineup of martial artists. If I compared it to baseball, it would be the Major Leagues. I've been chosen to be among them, so I am confident.

I want to have fight so that all the fans are on their feet. When Silva comes in, everyone in the Arena gets excited and stands up. I want it to be like that. The fans in the VIP section pay 150,000 yen (approx US$1,500), so I want to give them their money's worth. I will be happy if they are excited.

Sakurai is loved by all the Japanese fans and he's inspired people with dreams. I think Kawajiri is the same, too. They both have walked the same path. I guess it's my fate to fight my seniors. It's the best situation. I think everyone watching just assumed that I would make it to the Final Round. On the other hand, everyone was worried about Sakurai but his condition improved and now he's in the Final Round. It's fate.

Normally, Sakurai would have gone up a weight class but he was able to successfully cut weight. I think the God of martial arts is telling me to fight Sakurai in the Final Round. If I can beat Sakurai in the Final Round, He will recognize me as the Champion. In SHOOTO, it was Rumina Sato. Now, I have to fight Sakurai in BUSHIDO to become the Champion. That's the destiny that I feel.

I will absolutely take the belt. I was born for this day and I've worked hard everyday for this day. Everything is for this day. I believe that all of the times that I thought I don't want to do this but kept on training anyway will pay off when I put the belt on. Everyone believes that way.

And I'm thankful that my parents gave me a strong body. I'm thankful for my body that allowed me to come this far. I invite my family every time and I've invited them this time, too. They are just normal parents but I am glad that they are proud of me. They are probably proud that their son is in the Final Round on this great stage. I'm sure they are more worried about me getting injured than about winning or losing. I've been thinking about my family a lot, recently.

When I become the Champion, January is going to be one long party. (laughing) I haven't drank for a month so I'm really looking forward to it.




Hayato "Mach" Sakurai:

I'm just going to fight. I'm in good condition. I will be in top condition on the day of the fight. It's cold outside but I prefer than more than it being hot.

About Gomi? I'm just going to fight. I don't have anything to say. I know he's strong. I've always thought so. I'm not that concerned about Gomi. I just make myself like a machine, with no emotions. There's no talking in the ring, so I just become a machine.

I always talk to my opponent before the fight but Gomi won't say anything to me. I don't mind talking but he refused. It bothers me a little. I'd like to cane him and say what's the deal with your attitude! Well, I guess there's nothing to be done about it because we are going to fight.

I'm satisfied with the training I did in America. I'm always satisfied. I did my best. America is a lot of fun, so I like it there. The food is good and they speak English, so I don't have to be bothered by idle chitchat. It's just me, so I can concentrate on training.

Regarding the belt, I would like to have it if possible but I'm not concerned about it. I'm just thinking about my opponent. It's not like when I was young and everything was about the belt. It will just get thrown in the trunk of my car or inside the front door of my house.

Rather than say I want to have a good fight, I want to win this time. Losing is not acceptable. I want to win because Gomi is my opponent. I can't lose to my junior. That's is my pride.

I'm still losing weight. I have to lose another 2 kg (as of the 29th). These last 2 kg are tough. I'm originally in a different weight class so I'm struggling. I'm already fighting. I just keep struggling. Please make a weight class in the middle. In that sense, maybe I'm not necessary in this era. I have to make myself necessary. That's another reason that I want to win this time.

Everyone expects the real Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, right? I know they always expect it. If you are expecting it, you won't be let down. This is a turning point in many ways.