PRESS CONFERENCE AFTER THE OPENING ROUND OF THE PRIDE 2005 MIDDLEWEIGHT GP
05/01/2005

A press conference was held in Osaka on April 24th, the day after the Opening Round of the PRIDE 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix. Seven of the eight remaining fighters were present and Sakuraba stole the show, as usual. Sakuraba couldn't wait until the noon conference and said that he started drinking at 9 in the morning.

Of course, everyone is wondering about the Second Round match ups. "We will decide what everyone wants to see the most after looking at the questionnaires we handed out at the event yesterday and the fans' opinions on the official website," Sakakibara explained. "I'd like to decide the card after listening to the fans and the press," Takada added. "I want to make the June 26th event as great as possible, having four fights as evaluation matches for the upcoming Heavyweight Grand Prix and a reserve match."

Wanderlei Silva, at the invitation of the Brazilian Embassy in China, set off on a trip to promote both PRIDE and martial arts in general this morning so he wasn't present at the conference. Yoshida, Silva's opponent the previous night, went directly to the hospital after the fight. However, "he has no serious injuries and only a little bruising and inflammation around the knee. I think the biggest damage was done to his spirit. I don't think it was broken, though. I think he's already thinking about his return," Sakakibara explained.


Fighter Comments

Ricardo Arona


I think I had a good fight yesterday. It was unfortunate that I couldn't get a KO or submission, even though I was trying. Lister is a fighter with incredible ground skills and the ground fight was so tough, we could have been in Abu Dhabi then. That's why I planned on standing with him but I couldn't knock him out. Next time, I want to win by KO or submission.


Alistair Overeem


I'm glad that I can go to the Second Round. I trained hard for this so I was at 100%. I promise that my fight in the Second Round will be great, too.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira


I'm happy about yesterday's results. I was able to fight my own fight. I'm also happy that I was able to get a submission and I will keep doing my best to have good fights.

Igor Vovchanchyn


I'm happy that I won in my fight yesterday.

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua


I'm glad that I won yesterday. I'm glad that my training showed and I was able to represent Chute Boxe well.

Kazuhiro Nakamura


I won yesterday but I wasn't able to get a KO or submission, even though I had the chance. I will improve myself and show everyone the new version of me in the next fight. I planned on going to sleep right away yesterday but Sakuraba called me and asked me to go out drinking with him. I'm still drunk, now.

Kazushi Sakuraba


(smiling) Give me a shochu and water, please. [Note: shochu is a clear liquor]

 

       

 

Pride Fighting Championships : There are 2 fighters each remaining from Chute Boxe and Brazilian Top Team. It's possible that you will have to face each other after the Second Round. What will you do in that case?
Arona: That's a very tough question. Rogerio, sitting here at my side, is my training partner and we always train together. If we have to fight, it will be tough. I don't even want to think about it. I'd like to avoid it, if possible.
Nogueira: I feel the same as Arona. If we have to fight, then there's nothing we can do, though, except do our best.
Rua: Actually, I've already talked to Wanderlei and Fujimar about what we should do if that happens. Fujimar told me that if we have to fight, fight as hard as we can. We always spar hard and I think I will just imagine that we are sparring in a new place.
Pride: Alistair, you lost to the UFC representative in the last Middleweight Grand Prix but had an amazing victory over Vitor this time. How do you feel?
Overeem: I feel really happy. Vitor was like a role model for me. When I was 17 and started martial arts, he had already taken out several tough opponents in the UFC. I think it's an honor that I was able to beat him.
Pride: Who do you want to fight in the Second Round?
Arona: Everyone is tough and it will be a difficult fight, no matter who my opponent is. I will leave that decision up to PRIDE. I want to fight whoever they decide.
Overeem: All eight fighters are strong and they will all be difficult. I would like to fight Vovchanchyn. He is also a role model to me. I wanted to do martial arts after I saw him fight. And Shogun. He's young and his style is similar to mine so I think it would be a great fight.
Nogueira: I also think these eight fighters are all high-level and it will be a difficult fight. I will let PRIDE choose my next opponent and I will absolutely give a good fight.
Vovchanchyn: I want to fight whoever PRIDE chooses for me.
Rua: Everybody is great. I don't want to choose my opponent so I will fight whoever PRIDE decides.
Nakamura: Everyone is tough and any of them will be a hard fight but... since Yoshida lost, I do feel like fighting Silva.
Sakuraba: Shochu on the rocks, please. (smiling)
Pride: To Chute Boxe and Top Team, who is stronger in your sparring?
Rua: Silva is stronger. He's powerful and has a lot of experience and it shows in training.
Nogueira: I spar with everyone in Top Team and each is strong in their own way. It would be a high level match up. It's not about who is strong but who wins and who loses.
Arona: My opinion is the same as Rogerio's. We have a lot of heavyweight fighters and we lose and win in sparring. There is no one that's the strongest in our team.
Pride: Have you thought about Chute Bose vs. Top Team?
Rua: As a member of Chute Boxe, I will fight anyone. I don't care if my opponent is Japanese or in Top Team.
Nogueira: Looking at their skills, I think our teams are the two strongest teams in the world. If we fight, it will be a difficult, and great, match. I would want to do my best, since we are both Brazilians.
Arona: These two teams have fought in the past and they will probably fight in the future. As professional fighters, we will fight anyone. That's why we train so hard.
Pride: What did you do last night (after the event)?
Vovchanchyn: I went to a restaurant with my team members and drank beer. It was a fun opportunity to speak Russian.
Rua: Yesterday was definitely a special day for Chute Boxe. I think we gained our victories well. We talked with Ninja in our room after going out for dinner.
Nogueira: We went to dinner and had a great time with our teammates and our sponsors.
Arona: I went to dinner with Rogerio and everyone.
Sakuraba: I was drinking.
Nakamura: I was forced to drink.
Pride: What did you eat?
Overeem: Rice, beef, ketchup and French fries... I haven't been able to eat them because I was cutting weight. I like pancakes too but I couldn't eat them. I drank coke and vodka.
Vovchanchyn: I drank a lot of beer, a little at a time.
Arona: There was so much food that I don't remember. I like sushi and sashimi, though. I've been eating it in Brazil, recently.
Nogueira: I ate a lot of stuff but my favorite is pasta and pizza. Also, sashimi and sushi. My favorite is Ootoro [tuna].
Sakuraba: I drank a lot.
Nakamura: I was forced to drink a lot of champagne. He didn't order any snacks.
S akuraba and Nakamura
Pride: Sakuraba, how long have you been forbidden to drink alcohol?
Sakuraba: Takada told me yesterday that I can drink for just a day, so I drank until about 3am. I'm still drunk so I don't remember much.
Nakamura: I wasn't drinking either and I said I didn't want to drink yesterday but then Sakuraba came...
Sakuraba: I fell asleep and he said goodbye and left. There were 4 or 5 other people. We drank champagne and wine. I don't remember what we talked about. Probably about how strong Randleman was.
Pride: Nakamura, when are you going back to Brazil?
Nakamura: If I can go again, I will go after I take a little break.
Pride: Do you remember Silva saying that he wants to fight you in the Second Round?
Sakuraba: I remember. I think it'd be more interesting if Nakamura fought him, though. I'm tired of fighting him. We've fought 3 times before. Just leave me to the side until August. (laughing)