Takanori Gomi won his first PRIDE Lightweight Champion title defense in the joint PRIDE BUSHIDO 13/PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round event held on November 5th at Yokohama Arena. Although Gomi was able to get his revenge on Marcus Aurelio, who beat Gomi in their last non-title bout, neither Gomi nor the fans were satisfied with the decision ending. What does the Fireball Kid think of his win?




Pride Fighting Championships: How did you feel when you woke up this morning?
Takanori Gomi: The same as always but I get upset when I think about the match. I wasn't satisfied. It was a really great opportunity but the contents of the match Yokohama Arena is a great venue, there were a lot of fans and the atmosphere was exciting. It's unfortunate that my fight wasn't what it should have been. If they had just held the (Grand Prix) Championship Round instead of my title defense, it probably would have been better. I wish we could have had an intense fight like they did in the Championship Round.
Pride: Are mentally tired from the pressure of being the Champion and having to fight to defend your position?
Gomi: I don't know what people will say to me when I lose and even if I win, there are still some people that won't accept it, so the fighting industry is a difficult world to be in. However, what I want everyone to remember is that it's difficult to get even one win in PRIDE. You can ask (Nobuhiro) Obiya and (Yoshihiro) Maeda about how difficult it is. I wish everyone would accept me when I win but people demand a lot from me and the higher the hurdle gets, the more they demand of me.
Pride: Before the fight you were saying things like you were going to knock him out and that you wanted to bring back your old style. You said that you were going to go all out. Did you change that strategy after you go into the ring?
Gomi: No, I decided the day before the fight. When I saw Aurelio the day before, I knew he had been training hard but he didn't seem as powerful as he did in April. So I decided that since I'm the Champion, I would make him come to me because he is the challenger, after all.
Pride: So you wanted to stand and fight like a Champion.
Gomi: I've fought for the title in SHOOTO and it's very difficult when you're the one trying to get the belt. If you're going to fight, you have to win. If you win, you're the Champion and then everyone will be coming after you. If you can't handle both sides of that, you can't win. If I had lost my title defense yesterday, I doubt I would feel like going after it again.
Pride: It's tough being the Champion.
Gomi: There's been something bothering me since April. Beating other fighters doesn't make me feel better and although I watched Ishida beat Aurelio, that didn't make me feel better. That's why I asked them to match us up, because I knew that I had to beat (Aurelio) myself. I guess I was stressed out. Even though I'm the Champion, I'm always compared to other fighters.
Pride: You're now 1-1 with Aurelio. He has asked for a 3rd match, saying that you would definitely give him a rematch.
Gomi: Everyone from Brazil demands rematches. (laughing) I'm 28 and he's 33. In terms of a martial artist's life, I think he has had an incredibly good life to get the chance to become Champion at 33. So I was talking with him after the fight and I said that as veteran fighters, we should work a little harder and be figures that the younger fighters hate. It's rare for me to speak with my opponent. I don't want to say anything to the Chute Boxe guys, for example. (laughing) Foreign fighters quickly return to the hotel and then their country, so there aren't many opportunities for us to speak at the venues.
Pride: Now that you've fought twice, do you feel some friendship between you?
Gomi: Maybe. It's been a tough year for him too in many ways. In April, he won an upset and completely changed his ranking. I imagine that Aurelio wanted to beat me both on the ground and standing this time, which is why he was also standing for so long yesterday. If he had beaten me that way, fighters through the world would look at him in a new way and his rating would have gotten even higher. I'm glad I was able to prevent that, though.
Pride: Even though you've just finished a title match, you've still got another fight left on New Year's Eve.
Gomi: I don't think the next fight will be a title defense, so I believe I will be able to fight with everything I've got in the next one. And if I do that, I think the fans will be satisfied, too.
Pride: We haven't seen last year's Fireball Kid at all this year. I hope you'll show us that side of you as we close out the year.
Gomi: Well, I'm also running a gym and it takes time to build a good environment to train in.
Pride: When you first opened the gym, you said that you wanted your students to fight in autumn.
Gomi: I'm hoping they will be ready for the Combat Wrestling event this month, and I'm thinking of putting them in PRIDE's amateur MMA event, PRIDE Challenge because they will work harder if they have a goal. Now that I'm able to run the gym and think about something other than myself, the training is going to become tough from this month. I have to be careful and not run off the members, though. (laughing)
Pride: You also said that you want to fight in an American PRIDE event.
Gomi: That's good, right? It would be exciting.
Pride: [Dream Stage Entertainment CEO] Sakakibara said that he would send the PRIDE Champion anytime UFC wants. Is there any possibility of you fighting in the UFC?
Gomi: That's great. I'd love to represent PRIDE and fight there. I don't want to switch organizations, though. It'd be better to have an organization versus organization match, wouldn't it?
Pride: Finally, a message to your fans.
Gomi: I would like to say thank you very much to all the fans that came (to the venue) yesterday. I apologize to those fans that were hoping for a KO win but please expect a KO win the next time, and please cheer for me again.