Pre-PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006 Interview with Hidehiko Yoshida and James

Pre-PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006 Interview with Hidehiko Yoshida and James




Hidehiko Yoshida: I thought I wasn't going to fight anymore this year because it took so long to finalize my fight. This time, I wanted to watch the fights and have fun as Kazu's corner man rather than do play-by-plays. There are good fights on this card, so I thought watching would be more fun. I wanted them to decide it earlier, at least whether I would be fighting or not. If I'm going to fight, I have to train for that and if I weren't going to fight, I would have thought up a good way to spend New Year's Eve. (laughing) Anyway, it turned out that I am going to fight, so that's what I'm going to do.
I've been training intensely for the past week. This is a first for me. I've never done this before but now that my fight is confirmed, it's something I have to do and in this condition, I won't know what kind of fight we will have until we actually do it. My opponent is huge, and strong, and has punching power, so I have to be careful of all of that. I didn't really ask for a big opponent. (Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki) Sakakibara said at the press conference that I wanted to challenge myself in a different weight class, thus this fight was put together, but that's not exactly true. It just turned out this way. I guess that's fine. You have to have different themes when you fight in SHOCKWAVE. So, in that sense, I guess my theme for this fight is to challenge myself against a big opponent.
I didn't think Thompson was so big at the press conference but when he ripped his shirt off at the SHIBUYA 109 event, I realized that he is, indeed, huge. (laughing) I haven't watched his fights. I saw the Fujita fight at the venue. If Thompson is going to "gong & dash", then I'm going to "gong & dash", too. (laughing) I like to make my opponents feel comfortable.
He has enough strength to finish me with one punch, so I will keep my chin tucked in and do my best not to get hit. As long as I don't get hit and lose consciousness, I will trade strikes with him. Thompson said at the press conference that he normally trains with a gi, but that doesn't really concern me.
I don't know if I will wear a gi this time or not. It's SHOCKWAVE, so I'll decide depending on how I feel the day of the event. I took it off last year. When you wear a gi against a big opponent, there are a lot of disadvantages. If you're on the ground, you can't move because of your opponent's weight. You can't make any opportunities to move. It would probably be difficult for him too, but I would become twice as tired as him. It will work out if you're in the same weight class but this time, my opponent is very big. Will Hidehiko Yoshida take his gi off in SHOCKWAVE? I'll decide depending on how I feel at the time. (laughing)
I seem to have the advantage? That's not true. People that fight just fight as hard as they can. The results come later. In terms of power and size, he's much, much better than me, so I have to fight with heart. I'm sure that Thompson wants to destroy me and that's the scariest kind of fighter to fight. I don't necessarily want to finish it as quickly as possible but I do hope the fight is interesting to the people that are watching. I want to have a good time. It's a festival.
Regarding Shogun and Kazu, I think this fight will determine a lot of things for Kazu next year. Kazu has to become someone that is hunted. At my age, I don't know how many more fights I can do but I will do my best not to lose to the younger fighters.
Everyone come to the venue to see SHOCKWAVE. I think my fight will probably be fun, so look forward to it!
James Thompson: This fight was put together quickly but my conditioning isn't too bad. I'm always training so I'm never in bad condition. Honestly, I didn't think I would have a fight and I was ready to relax on Christmas and New Year's Eve. I haven't done everything I need to do to prepare before the fight so in that sense, I'm not completely prepared but mentally, I'm ready to take Yoshida out. I'm ready to kill Yoshida.
I trained with Josh Barnett for 6~7 weeks. I trained together with Josh and Erik Paulson. I wanted to train with another Heavyweight fighter at Josh's level, so it was extremely good training. I also learned catch wrestling from Josh. He taught me about the movement of catch wrestling, something I was always interested in learning. Erik is one of the best trainers in the world, so that was an incredibly opportunity for me. Erik is excellent overall and at the same time, he's a very knowledgeable trainer. Catch wrestling is similar to jujitsu but there are differences. He will teach you about the good points of catch wrestling and jujitsu, and everything when it's all put together. I've never seen a trainer better than him.
I like to train with a lot of different teams. I also trained with American Top Team and Team Quest. When this fight is over, I will train with my own team in England but I want to go to Josh's place and train with Erik again. I also love Japan. I'd like to come here to train too, not just for fights. For example, Minowa puts on exciting fights and is an incredible performer, so I would definitely like to train with him. Going to the mountains and racing with airplanes. (laughing) He's different but I would like to imitate what he's doing and see what I can learn.
Yoshida may wear a gi. I train with a gi too, but I just started that recently. I haven't gone as far as I want but I'm getting a feel for it and I have an idea of how Yoshida might use his gi. I have a small understanding of what I need to do to deal with that.
The reason I lost 7kg and improved my stamina is because I learned from my experience in the last fight with Fujita. When a fighter loses, he has to search for the reason for his loss and improve it before the next fight. I was winning in the beginning of my fight with Fujita but I ran out of stamina and lost. Losing 7kg has been really effective and I can move flexibly now. I can move like I want to move.
A lot of fans probably expect Yoshida to win but I'm confident that I will be able to surprise everyone in a big way. The offer came really quickly but it was the same for Yoshida. I'm sure Yoshida didn't get to train the way he would like either, so there won't be much of a difference. If I can fight exactly as I planned in my strategy, I will definitely win.
I can't imagine fighting anywhere other than Japan on December 31st. It's a real honor to receive the offer to fight here. I will give an exciting fight so everyone look forward to it.