PRE-OWGP 2006 OPENING ROUND INTERVIEWS WITH ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA AND ZULUZHINO
05/04/2006

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: I couldn't come up with a plan until my opponent was decided but I was confident that I would be competing in the Grand Prix, so I trained as usual. So, my opponent being decided right before the fight didn't really affect me. I wasn't really surprised because I had some idea of who it would be. I trained hard, so I want to give a good fight this time.

Zulu is big and he's strong, but his movements are slow so I want to beat him with my speed. The fans probably expect a decisive victory from me, right? I expect so, too. I've got a longer career and I feel a responsibility. I have to give a fight that lives up to expectations. Will this be another Bob Sapp-like fight? That's impossible. In my opinion, my striking has evolved since the time I fought Sapp. I think that I will move faster against Zulu and it will be a good fight.
Of course I've got new techniques. I will do my best to use new techniques in this fight but I can't predict how the fight will unfold. I'm aiming to end the fight with striking. Zulu is heavy, so I think it will be difficult to take him down. Of course, it's entirely possible that the fight will go to the ground but before that, we will definitely be striking. I plan on striking mainly but if it goes to the ground, that's fine too. I don't mind.

I left Rio de Janeiro for 2 weeks and trained in Bahia for this fight. That was mainly boxing. I felt that I hadn't trained enough boxing for this fight and I trained hard to strengthen the muscles I need for boxing. Louis Doria, an incredible coach, has a gym in Bahia and he always teaches me. There are about 6 Champions training there now. I trained muay thai with Louis Alvez, as usual.
I knew that I wanted to become the Champion as soon as I heard there would be an Open Weight Grand Prix. That's a big goal for me this year. I lost in the Final Round in 2004 but I think this year will be my big chance. I always fight with intensity but I think this Grand Prix will have great meaning in my career. I will do my best and fight with intensity. I'm sure the other fighters have the same goal but I have a long career. I was fighting before most of the fighters competing this time started, so I think my chances of winning are strong.
Of course, I want to beat Fedor in the Final Round and become the Champion. I've fought him 3 times and although there was an accident in 1 fight, I believe that I was winning. I lost the other 2 fights. Fedor had a good game plan down at that time. This time when we fight, I will be ready and I will win.

 

   

 

Zuluzinho: I like Osaka. There are a lot of people and it's active. I can see the Osaka Dome from my room, so I took a picture of it. I still don't know much about Japan so I want to go shopping and do some sightseeing after the fight.

My conditioning is great now. I've been training hard and now there's nothing to do but wait for the fight. My last fight with Fedor, that can happen to any fighter. It's a real fight, so you can't predict what will happen in the ring. I think it was a really unfortunate ending but my Dad told me that although he was surprised, it was a good lesson for me. He told me that I have to train even harder from now on.
I was really shocked because of that loss in the beginning but in the end, I knew that's life. You can lose today and still win tomorrow. I think that's what life's all about.
I cried after the fight but my manager and my coach told there's no need to be so down. There will be more chances in the future and maybe an opportunity for revenge, so everyone around me told me to keep my head up and do my best.
My opponent, Nogueira, is popular in Brazil too, and he's a great fighter. I think of myself as a PRIDE employee and I believe my mission is to give a good fight and win.
My father told me to move faster and fight aggressively. I practiced boxing for this fight. I also did jujitsu and wrestling. I trained with my jujitsu coach, Ricardo Gomez. They call him "the bulldog.
He won a big jujitsu tournament in Northern Brazil and he's won all 10 of the MMA fights he's competed in.
I've been learning boxing from a former Brazilian national coach and wrestling from a 2-time Brazilian Champion. I will use this chance that I've been given and do my best.