KAZUO MISAKI INTERVIEW
03/09/2006

Mar 9, 2006- In a press conference at the Dream Stage Entertainment office in Tokyo on March 7th, a match between Kazuo Misaki, the hit man of the Japanese Welterweights, and the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix Champion, Dan Henderson. The match will be held on April 2nd, in the Ariake Coliseum, at PRIDE BUSHIDO 10.

Kazuo Misaki has shown remarkable growth as the secret weapon among the Japanese Welterweight fighters and now he will be tested against Welterweight Grand Prix Champion Dan Henderson. At the press conference, Misaki showed now fear against his tough opponent and said he was out to get Henderson. "Henderson is a Champion and the best kind of opponent, but I know for certain that if we're standing, there's a chance to win by KO, and if we're on the ground, there's a chance to win by submission. I want to take down a Champion in this fight. After I take down the Champion here, I will aim for the peak."

Asked about his impression of Henderson, Misaki replied that he was ready for a stand-up battle with Henderson, even though Henderson has sent both Chonan and Gono to the mat with strikes. "He has a strong wrestling base, and he's got enough power in his right (hand) for a one-punch KO. I don't think my punches lack anything compared to him though, so I think it will depend on who is more accurate."
"Looking at his past fights, Henderson's opponents give in to his pressure and start backing up. As a result, he's won many fights by KO, so I want to go forward and be the kind of opponent that will put pressure on him," Misaki said strongly, revealing that he has already begun researching his opponent.
In the Semi-Finals of the Welterweight Grand Prix in September 2005, Henderson beat Misaki's teammate, Akihiro Gono, by KO. "I've wanted to fight Henderson since the day he beat Gono," Misaki said, although he has another motivation. "He's the Champion now. He' s standing on top. I want to beat him and prove my own strength. I don't care who it is; I just want to fight a Champion. Henderson just happens to be the Champion at the moment."

"I'm happy that we can fight in the greatest of rings," Misaki said. Misaki proved that there are still strong fighters left in Japan when he beat George Patino Macaco in his first BUSHIDO appearance but lost his chance to compete in the Welterweight Grad Prix when he lost to Daniel Acacio in last year's preliminaries. Misaki has apparently grown from that experience.
"I will be in my best condition when I get in the ring this time. I've always trained hard and as always, my condition was poor in the last fight but I was so tired. Not being in good condition when I got into the ring was the biggest reason for my loss. This time, I will be relaxed when I fight, both physically and mentally. I've been able to obtain a balance in my training." As a result of Misaki's new confidence, he beat Akira Shoji, a PRIDE veteran, in DEEP in February 2005 and gained a ticket back to BUSHIDO.

After seeing the Welterweight Grand Prix, the feeling among fans and MMA insiders is that like the Middleweight and Heavyweight Divisions, there are no Japanese in the Welterweight that can win. Naturally, Misaki disagrees. "I think this is the division where Japanese fighters have a real chance. There's nothing to be afraid of."
Misaki is aiming to be the top of the Welterweight world and he's not giving up anything to his senior, Akihiro Gono. "Who's Junior and senior doesn't matter. First, you've got to solidify your own position. Gono and I are on the same team but if we keep a good distance between us as rivals, it will motivate both of us, improve each other and help us win."
The man called the "hit man" has set his eyes on the Champion. All eyes, and the hopes of Japan, are on Misaki!