After losing to Paulo Filho at BUSHIDO SURVIVAL: THE FINALS, Kazuo Misaki stepped into the tournament once again as a reserve fighter when Filho couldn't advance to the Final Round due to injury. Misaki made a miraculous comeback in his intense battle against Denis Kang, winning the Welterweight Grand Prix Championship.




Pride Fighting Championships: How do you feel now that a day has passed since your miraculous comeback victory?
Kazuo Misaki: I'm a little groggy. My elbow hurts, too. I didn't sleep for very long but the quality of my sleep was good. I don't think I saw any dreams. I slept like the dead, though. I think I was dead for part of the time! (laughing)
Pride: When you woke up, did you immediately check to see if the belt was still there?
Misaki: The first thing I thought when I woke up was that my body hurts. Then I thought I might have lost by KO the night before and went to see if the belt was there.
Pride: How did you feel when you found the belt there?
Misaki: I smiled. (laughing)
Pride: Do you have some sense that you are standing at the top of the world?
Misaki: No, I wonder if I really am. If I think back on all the things that have happened since I decided I wanted to be the toughest manwell, my dream has finally come true. It's a big thing. There are hundreds of fighters in this division and honestly, I also thought that the 83kg division would be difficult for Japanese fighters. I have no idea what's going to come next. Still, I feel that I have accomplished something that is fitting for everything that I have done this far. I really am glad that I believed in myself.
Pride: Have you watched the fight?
Misaki: No, I haven't seen it yet. I was still groggy after my fight with Paulo was over. I was dizzy. I was dizzy when I got into the ring for the final fight. I remember what happened but I was a little out of it when I was fighting, so I was really concerned with techniques. Honestly, I didn't care if the fight was bad, in a technical sense. In terms of my feelings, I refused to lose so I fought with all the spirit I had.
Pride: The time was quite short between the time you found out that you would be in the Final Round and the time that you climbed into the ring. Did you try to come up with a strategy during that time?
Misaki: I didn't really have any strategy. (laughing) Everyone told me to just fight as hard as I can and I was still really upset from my fight with Paulo because I wasn't able to do anything throughout the entire fight. I think that's the first time I've ever lost like that. I wasn't able to do anything, from start to finish. After that fight was over, I knew that I should never do that again so I had already decided that the next time I fight, I would go all out. Next time, I thought, I will go in swinging even if it means losing by KO. Then someone told me that I might be fighting again. (laughing) I thought, wow, here's a sudden chance to test that idea. Honestly, my body was beat up so I wasn't able to go all out like I wanted but mentally, I just kept going forward, trying to push my opponent back. That was all, really.
Pride: Who would you rather fight, Dan Henderson or Paulo Filho?
Misaki: I think that if Paulo and I fought again right away, it's possible the results would be the same. After I train more, get more experience and become strong enough to beat Paulo, I will ask him for a revenge match. I do want to fight him right now but that's what I have to do first. I can't say who I would rather fight first but I want to challenge Dan Henderson for the belt he has. Maybe the 3rd time will be the charm. We're tied at one-and-one right now and I would like to finish it.
Pride: Do you feel like you can't call yourself the Champion until you beat Paulo?
Misaki: A lot of things happen in a tournament. You don't become the Champion simply by winning a fight. You have to be able to get things around you moving. I think the Champion of a tournament is the man that is best overall. I lost to Paulo in our fight but I think in other areas, I was probably better than him, which is why I was able to advance and win. So I want to be able to stick my chest out and proudly tell the world that I am the best in this weight class. Now that I've lost to Paulo once in martial arts, though, I want to get revenge.
Pride: Takanori Gomi has talked about fighting in America. How do you feel?
Misaki: I would like to fight there, too. I want to see how far I can move fans that were born and raised in a different environment and have different feelings, not just the Japanese fans. I want to try to move them.
Pride: You've gone from being the hunter to being the hunted.
Misaki: Really? That's scare. I'm sure I will be stressed out before my fights.
Pride: Is it easier to be the hunter?
Misaki: I've always chased after the strongest fighters. It's not easy. It's just where I wanted to be. Being the hunted is scary. Watching Gomi, I have a lot of respect for his toughness. There's no one in front of him but everyone is behind him, chasing him. That must be really scary. He lost to Aurelio before but he best him and got revenge this time, right? He must have been fighting under a lot of pressure up until that fight. That's a hardship that only a Champion can know. I want to study and learn from Gomi about that kind of thing and I want to become a better fighter because of it.
Pride: You want to overcome those obstacles?
Misaki: Exactly. I want to become better, not just as a fighter but also as a person.
Pride: Finally, a message for the fans that supported you.
Misaki: I was only able to win because of everyone's intense support. I am grateful from the bottom of my heart. I consider this to be everyone's belt, not just my own. I will keep pushing forward with a can-do attitude, so please continue to support me.