We caught up with Wanderlei Silva at his favorite restaurant in Japan, Hanamaru Udon, on the day after his December 31st victory against Ricardo Arona at PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2005. Silva spoke with us about his views on martial arts as a life, his past and the future that he envisions.




Pride Fighting Championships: You came to eat udon (Japanese noodles) right away.
Wanderlei Silva: I just ate one bowl but I'm starving so I can eat a lot of them. (laughing)
Pride: Please take your time. Have you already told your family about your win yesterday?
Silva: I told my wife, my friends and my physical trainer. My wife keeps up with the results on the internet and she was very happy when I told her I won.
Pride: You spent New Years in Japan again this year. What do you want to do the most after you return to Brazil?
Silva: I think I want to take a vacation and spend some quality time with my family. I really concentrated on training for these past 3 months and I didn't even have time to spend with my son. I thought that this fight was so important that I had to train that much for it.
Pride: How do you feel now that a day has passed since your win?
Silva: I'm completely satisfied. Arona was a truly strong opponent and I just wanted to win, no matter what, so I think it was a really great New Year's Eve.
Pride: The audience made a lot of noise when you were attacking during the fight. Could you hear those cheers?
Silva: Yes, even when I'm tired I feel like doing more when I hear everyone cheer. I think I won yesterday because of all the fans' support. I believe this was a victory that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Pride: It was a split-decision but did you feel that you had won as soon as the fight was over?
Silva: I was confident that I had won. I believe that I was the one attacking in all 3 rounds. I thought it would be 3-0, but I can accept the decision because Arona was a strong fighter and it was a good fight.
Pride: I heard that you put particular emphasis on building stamina in your physical training for this fight. Did you feel the results of that training?
Silva: Yes. It was a long, 20-minute fight and I don't think I could have kept up my stamina until the end if I had not done that physical training.
Pride: You are always trying to give good fights. Do you believe that your fight yesterday was a good fight?
Silva: I wasn't able to knock him out but of course, the fans were happy so I believe it was a good fight.
Pride: Now that you've gotten revenge on Arona and fought just about everyone in the Middleweight Division, is there anyone in particular you'd like to fight? For example, Alistair Overeem and Igor Vovchanchyn, who you weren't able to fight in the Grand Prix, and Vitor Belfort, to whom you have lost in the past.
Silva: If I get the chance, I would definitely like to fight those guys. A professional fighter has to be ready to fight anyone.
Pride: Kazuhiro Nakamura beat Yuki Kondo in yesterday's event. There are many people saying that Nakamura is the strongest Japanese Middleweight fighter. What do you think?
Silva: I feel the same way. I think that, at the moment, Nakamura and Yoshida are pulling the Japanese Middleweight Division along. Nakamura is one fighter that I would like to fight again.
Pride: One a TV interview, you said that you would like to retire around your 70 th fight. With this Arona fight, you are half way there. What kind of martial arts life have you lead up until now?
Silva: I think it has been really spectacular. When I was fighting in an event called Gladiator in Brazil, I never expected that I would become this active in Japan and certainly never thought that I would became a Champion. Now the fans get excited if I show up, even if I'm not fighting. Recently, people around me have jokingly said that I'm like a celebrityE and I'm very happy that I've been able to become something like that. And it was because of PRIDE that I have been able to come this far.
Pride: How did you come up with the 70 fights figure?
Silva: I would really like to fight about 100 fights but 70 seemed like a more realistic number. As a fighter, though, I want to fight as long as I am able to fight. I think the fans can look forward to see whether I will fight more than 70 fights.
Pride: Which fight was a turning point in your life?
Silva: It was the fight where I fought Mr. Sakuraba, of course. I think everything changed because of that fight.
Pride: What was your hardest fight?
Silva: The fight with Dan Henderson, because I injured my eye in that fight and had to fight with only one eye.
Pride: Which was your best bout?
Silva: That's a hard question. Which do you think was good?
Pride: How about your 2 nd fight with Quinton RampageEJackson?
Silva: Yes, I think that fight was my best fought. It wasn't fun while I was fighting but the cheers from the fans were loud. I was satisfied with that fight and felt that they really believed it was a good fight.
Pride: Have you ever finished a fight and then thought that it was fun?
Silva: The fight with Mark Hunt was good, regardless of winning and losing. It was an interesting fight for me and I was happy, just like the fans.
Pride: Now that you have gained fame and the Championship belt in Japan, what will motivate you to continue fighting?
Silva: My goal from now is to continue winning and continue being the Champion. Those are difficult goals but with the support of my team, I believe I can make it happen. When I lost to Arona in August last year, as the Champion, I felt a responsibility that I mustn't lose. Because of that, the loss to Arona was a good lesson for me. I was also able to once feel the support of my team and that of the fans who support me.
Pride: As long as you are the Champion, Shogun can't challenge you for the title, right? Have you thought of eventually returning the belt and giving your juniors a shot at it?
Silva: No. I want to continue being the Champion and I won't think of anything like that until I am ready to retire.
Pride: In an interview before SHOCKWAVE, you said that you are always concerned about the overall success of the vent and of viewer ratings. When did you begin thinking about the success of the event, in terms of things other than your own fight?
Silva: In PRIDE, all of the fighters give everything they have to make the event a success. I think of PRIDE not so much as an event, but like a single company. As PRIDE became bigger and more successful, I naturally began to think of the overall event. I want all of the fights to be good fights, not just mine. I believe that PRIDE is the greatest mixed martial arts event and I will do my best to make sure it stays that way in the future.
Pride: We interview many fighters before the events but there aren't many fighters other than you that talk about the success of the overall event. Do you believe that it is the Champion's mission to think about the success of the event?
Silva: Well, I definitely began thinking about the overall event after I became the Champion. If I, as the Champion, don't give a good fight, I would feel responsible if the event wasn't exciting.
Pride: I think that one reason you receive such support from the fans is because of that attitude.
Silva: Thank you. The cheers from the fans have affected not just my fighting style but also my way of thinking about fighting itself.
Pride: Changing the topic a bit, DSE CEO Sakakibara said after SHOCKWAVE that there might be an Open-Weight Grand Prix. Are you interested in that?
Silva: If I receive an official offer, and the fans want to see it, I would like to consider (fighting in the Open-Weight Grand Prix).
Pride: Finally, please tell us what your goals for 2006 are.
Silva: I don't know if I will be in the Grand Prix or not but if I am, I will give everything that I have. If I'm not in the Grand Prix, I want to continue protecting the Middleweight Championship title. I think PRIDE will grow even larger this year and I will do my best to help them.