Global Training Report
SRSDX No.54 Sep.27, 2001
Interviewed by Munehiro Hashimoto
Translated by Yoko Kondo
"Arona in Rings"
This interview was held when Arona came to Japan for the fight in Rings on Aug.10. It turned out to be the first and the last interview of "Arona in Rings", because he decided to enter Pride after that.
Where Arona attained fame was Abu Dhabi combat held last year. Although it was his debut there, he won the under 99 kg. class, and whose shocking appearance still remains in my mind. And this year again, he won in two classes, under 99 kg. and no-weight limit.
"Abu Dhabi combat is something special for me. My world-wide career started from there. I got the black belt too when I won in Abu Dhabi. "
Not only Arona, but also any member of the Top Team brings a good result as soon as he appears on the ring. I've never seen any fighter from the Top Team who is against expectations. I wonder what is the key to their success.
"Surely, the Top Team came to dominate the world for last a few years. Do you want to know why we are strong? I think various kinds of fighters get together and train hard to improve their technique with each other while taking in various technique. And also the timing to enter a big competition is good. In the Top Team, it's not allowed for the fighters to enter a big fight like vale tudo until they get ready enough for a fight. They improve their skill in jiu-jitsu competitions when they are young, and enter the world competitions at the right time when they grow up enough. That's why everybody is surprised to see a strong fighter turning up so suddenly. "
Speaking of jiu-jitsu, the Gracie family was a synonym for it before. But the formula is coming to change recently to that the strongest jiu-jitsu group is the Top Team.
"Well it has been known in Brazil from a long time ago that jiu-jitsu is not only the Gracies. There are many good dojo or teams other than the Gracies. The world has come to know that fact lately. "
Then what is the difference between the Gracies and the others?
"Most of the Gracie are training only jiu-jitsu, while we are training various kinds of technique in order to win in vale tudo. We have even a special coach of striking. That is a difference, I think. "
Arona started Jiu-jitsu at his age of 14. Before that he had been doing boxing and judo, but one event made him turn to jiu-jitsu. That was the three matches between jiu-jitsu and luta livre held in Rio on Aug. 1991. It became a big topic in Brazil and was aired through the nation. Arona made up his mind to do jiu-jitsu after watching the fights.
"Murillo (Bustamante) was one of the fighters then, and jiu-jitsu side won all three fights. I thought watching it how great jiu-jitsu was."
Arona has a strong pride for jiu-jitsu, maybe it's because he was motivated to start jiu-jitsu by the match with a different style in the first place.
"Compared to other sports, jiu-jitsu is most advantageous and important to vale tudo, I think. Especially as far as the ground work is concerned, 90% of it depends on jiu-jitsu. Jiu-jitsu has actual results for that. I've never forgotten that I am a jiu-jitsu fighter all the time. "
At present, Arona is doing his job separating from the Top Team like many other fighters. This incident became sensational called "mass secession" or "split".
"Maybe everybody concerned has a different opinion with regard to that matter, so I can't say anything easily. It is not something like a quarrel, but there was some issues that need to be worked out in terms of business. "
"Order and Progress" is written in the Brazilian national flag. Sometimes a foul-tongued person says, "there is neither of them in Brazil". But as far as the Top Team is concerned, there were without fail. On the final day of Abu Dhabi combat this year, after most of the fighters went back to the hotel, the members of the Top Team sitting in a circle reviewing the fight results.
"You were watching us carefully, weren't you? (laugh) The members of the Top Team know what is important to win. Debriefing after the fight is one of them. The Top Team has a tight unity much more than the Gracie family does. "
Arona left not only the Top Team but also Rings. In the end of this interview, he said, "I am still proud very much that I grew up in the Top Team, and fought as one of the members, and could bring a good result." I want him to say the same words after the fight in Pride by exchanging "the Top Team" for "Rings".
"Interview Before Pride 16"
Q: First of all, could you tell me why you decided to enter Pride?
Arona: Whatever you may say, Pride is the most definitive big event in the world. Besides many strong fighters get together there. I was also very motivated by the fact that mass communication and fans pay a lot of attention to it.
Q: What aspect of fighting in Pride is attractive to you?
Arona: I like the point that it requires more total ability. Using hands and legs, and the real ability of both standing and ground work is tested there.
Q: You have been naming Mr. Sakuraba from a long time ago as an opponent you want to fight with, haven't you?
Arona: Yes. I've been saying many times so far that I want to fight with Sakuraba. It's because he has been defeating some fighters of jiu-jitsu. I want to defeat Sakuraba to prove again how strong jiu-jitsu is as one of the jiu-jitsu fighters. I still have the same feeling now, but I want to fight other fighters in addition to Sakuraba too. I don't have anybody special who it would be, though.
Q: You won two straight victories in Abu Dhabi, and became the middle-class King of Rings. How do you rank your ability in vale tudo?
Arona: I have no idea about where I am ranked now, but if I keep fighting in this 95kg category from now on, I think I will have a big chance. I believe that I will even be able to be a champion.
Q: How do you think about the rules of Pride? Is it completely different from that of Rings?
Arona: I think it is to produce an exciting fight. I have no complaint about it at all.
Q: Are you ready for the attacks on the ground position, especially a four-point attack.
Arona: No problem. I am used to fighting on the ground, and this rule is rather easier for me to fight under. I think I will adjust to this rule easily.
Q: What have you been training since you left the Top Team?
Arona: I have been doing a hard training as usual even after leaving the Top Team. I am training six hours a day. Both physical training and the training for new technique are perfect. I am training not only ground technique, but also striking such as knee-kick or punches. As for defense, I am training both cases, when I am top over him, and when I am under him. I didn't have to pay attention to defense so much so far when a fight went on at my pace. But defense will become important from now on, I think, so I have been training it hard enough. The members who I am training with are Carlos Baretto, Vitor Belfort, Alan Goes, and Paulo Filho.
Q: Recently it seems that jiu-jitsu fighters are not necessary advantageous even in vale tudo. How do you think about the fact that other styles of fighters like wrestlers are gaining power?
Arona: It is good for spectators, I think. It must be interesting to see a fight by the different styles of fighters. Even for fighters too, it is important to fight with a different style of fighter. It helps fighters grow up, because they have to make their technique perfect in order to win. As a result, they will be able to all-round fighters who can cope with any type of fighters.
Q: Well then, in what is jiu-jitsu superior to other martial arts?
Arona: It is most effective to fighting on the ground. And I think jiu-jitsu fighters are superior in attacks rather than in defense.
Q: It sounds unexpected to me. The word of jiu-jitsu gives me an image of self-defense.
Arona: But jiu-jitsu today has progressed from the old days.
Q: In Pride fighters are required to show other element other than only winning, such as aggressive action to aim at finalization. Do you have confidence in yourself to get the support from spectators in such a ring?
Arona: Yes, I have confidence that the fans will appreciate my fight, because they can know that I always fight with all my best, and I have enough strength and power.
Q: But some people say that you are aggressive and good at positioning too, but never goes to aim at finalization.
Arona: Is that so? I'm really sorry to hear that. To be sure, finalization was only one time out of six fights in Rings so far. But all the fights were so severe that I couldn't take them to finalization even with all my efforts. But it doesn't mean I lack something positive. I don't want everybody to consider me that way. Luck also affects the result, but I always aim at finalization without fail.
Q: It has been decided that you fight with Guy Metzger in Pride 16. What kind of impression do you have about him?
Arona: He is good at striking, isn't he? His punches and kicks are great too. It would be a hard fight for sure.
Q: Are you thinking about any strategy?
Arona: I'm just thinking various kinds of things about how to fight with him. In a real fight, however, it sometimes happens that things go differently from my expectation depending on an opponent. What is most important is to keep on training which enables to cope with all contingencies.
Q: Metzger has changed his fighting style recently to be with more aggressive striking in response to the expectation of spectators.
Arona: Surely his fighting style was changed, but nothing changed for opponents who will fight with him, because he is originally strong and has technique. No matter what his fighting style is, he is always a formidable opponent. I will think about how to defeat him, rather than how his fighting style was changed. As long as I am aiming at being the champion, I have to defeat everyone, don't I?
Q: What do you think the fight with Metzger would be like?
Arona: It would be not easy without fail (laugh). Maybe it would be a desperate fight of standing and ground work.
Q: Do you know anything about Mr. Antonio Inoki who is a producer of Pride?
Arona: Yes, I do. People talk about him a lot.
Q: Mr. Inoki is a master of Mr. Maeda Akira in the New Pro-Wrestling [Shin-puroresu]. Do you see some similarities and differences between them?
Arona: I don't know well, but as long as I hear about them, Mr. Inoki is more famous than Mr. Maeda. Isn't that right? It is because Mr. Inoki has a longer career, I think.
Q: Well, it is right in some sense (laugh). Then do you know anything about the Inoki Group vs. K-l? Do you want to enter it?
Arona: Of course I'm interested in it, but I'm not sure if I enter it or not. It is up to my agent.
Q: There was the first fight between the Inoki Group and K-l the other day, and Mr. Fujita and Mr. Yasuda from pro-wrestling were defeated there. In other words, grapplers were defeated by strikers. Does it bother you, who is also a grappler?
Arona: Surely it is dangerous, because K-l fighters have a great standing technique. Fujita is a great fighter, but the fight went to a bad direction. If he fights again, however, it might turn out to be a different result. No matter how strong a fighter is, he can't always win. The result doesn't mean Fujita is inferior to his opponent, or grapplers are inferior to strikers.
Q: Finally, could you tell me your goal for the future?
Arona: My biggest goal at present is to be the champion. And I want to perform good fights so that spectators can enjoy them, which is the same stance which I have been doing with and I will keep on doing in future too. Anyway I will do my best, so I want you to look forward to watching the fight.
(c). GTR, 2001, all rights reserved.