Global Training Report
From Gong Kakutogi
June 6, 2001
Text by Koji Shigeta
Translated (into Japanese) by Shu Inagaki
Translated (back into English) by Roberto Pedreira
"I'm going to retire after one and a half years. Before
that, I want Sakuraba, and a rematch with Silva".
Q: Congratulations for your victory over
must have been a very satisfying victory.
Dan: Thanks. For me, I can say that my most
satisfying victory was winning the KOK [King of Kings] tournament,
but being able to defeat Renzo by KO made me happy too.
Q: What was the cause of your victory?
Dan: I think it's because everything went well
according to my strategy. I always go into my fights with a strategy but
things usually don't go the way I plan them. But this time my strategy
worked, so I feel good about that. (laughs). This time I stayed on stand
up, and tried not to get drawn to the ground. I was confident that I
could out punch Renzo, and I didn't believe he could take me down. I
didn't give him a chance for a take down and my objective was to wait
and counter punch. And it worked. The last thing that happened wasn't my
what I planned to do, but when he tried to tackle me, I landed a good
Q: You were aiming at sprawling and landing a knee,
and pushing Renzo off when he wanted to do take the guard position. This
was what you planned, wasn't it?
Dan: That's right. I know how jiu-jitsu fighters like
to fight, so I'm careful about being drawn into their game.
Q: The new rules permit you to sprawl to avoid the
tackle and then put the knee in. This is advantageous for you isn't it?
Dan: I think the new rules are advantageous for us
wrestlers. Sprawling is our specialty. From this position, landing knees
is easy. So I used them. Coleman too, and got a KO [over Alan Goes].
Silva too. When I heard about the rule change, I was very much
Dan: Before the Sakuraba vs. Silva fight, I never
thought the rules would be changed like this. Because the change
provided a clear advantage to Silva. Well, since the rules are changed,
we will fight according to them.
Q: Just after the fight with Renzo, was it because of
the rule change that you predicted confidently that Silva would beat
Dan: No way. I wasn't thinking about the rule change
at that time. I was anticipating Silva to win the fight. [Dan vs.
Renzo took place before Vanderlie vs. Sak] Silva is aggressive
[dangerous and violent] and has a big punch. Sakuraba moves well but he
isn't aggressive and he is punching with his open hand and not
contacting with his knuckles so he can't inflict big damage.
Q: I see what you mean.
Dan: Moreover, Silva is the kind of fighter who has
the stamina to fight all out for the whole 20 minutes. So, I was
anticipating that Silva would probably win. Adding to that the fact that
the rules were changed I thought he would win by strikes. But I think
that if the rules weren't changed, Sakuraba would have stayed in there
longer. The new rules allowed Silva to use his knees and kicks more
effectively, you know. For Sakuraba, Silva's style is the most difficult
Q: Analytically, how do you find
Dan: I think he is a marvelous fighter. I haven't
seen many of his fights, but he can strike, and his submissions are
great. Furthermore, he is versatile so it is more difficult to
beat him than it would be if he were more of a one dimensional fighter.
But even that kind of fighter sometimes loses the way he did in the
fight with Silva. It is impossible to know what will happen in a fight.
In that fight, too, it was Sakuraba who landed a good shot first. It
could have happened that everything was finished with that one shot.
Besides, Sakuraba fought more aggressively in his fight with Vitor,
compared to his fight with Silva. A result also depends on the condition
he is in then. and without question, he is a tough and strong fighter.
Q: By the way, you said after the fight that you were
planning to retire after 4 or 5 more fights.
Dan: Being a wrestler, and living a life such that
you always have to pay attention to staying in fighting condition is
stressful, you know. In my post retirement phase, I plan to manage a
construction company, so I am thinking about hanging up the gloves after
about 4 or 5 more fights, within the next one and a half years. So I
want to fight strong fighters who I haven't fought yet, and of course,
Q: Do you think the new rules have improved your
chances of vanquishing Sakuraba?
Dan: With or without the new rules, I would vanquish
Sakuraba for sure.
Q: Whooo! You certainly sound confident.
Dan: When I fight, I have to believe completely
that I can win. If the fight with Sakuraba happens, I will go into it
with the firm intention of winning. That's what I meant.
Q: Would you fight Sakuraba standing up, the way you
did against Renzo?
Dan: Either stand up or on the ground is ok with me.
If it is decided, I will watch the videos of all of his fights and get
into the fight with the correct "game plan." You will see then
what my strategy is. (laugh).
Q: We really want to see you tangle with Silva again.
Your loss seemed to have some connection to the illegal knees
[administered by Silva] that inflicted fatal damage.
Dan: For sure, I got badly damaged from that
knees. [wry smile]. At the time, I was only on my guard against punches.
If knees had been permitted by the rules, I would have prepared for
knees too. Any way I lost by knees, so it might be a good idea to do a
rematch under the new rules. I want a rematch under the new rules.
Because I have confidence that I can't lose even if it becomes a
slugfest. [uchiatte mo makenai jishin ga aru kara.]
Q: You are not at all afraid of punches, and you
excel in attacking with strikes. How did you polish your striking
Dan: Sparring. In fact, when I began learning
from a boxing coach about five years ago, I went in UFC immediately
after doing only technique training (laugh). I was less able to cope
with punches than I thought. After that, every chance I had, I
sparred with boxers and MMA fighters who were good at striking. In
particularly, I sparred a lot with Randy Couture and both of our
technical skills improved a lot. Now I'm in California but Randy comes
down from Oregon. And I'm doing sparring with Tito Ortiz and Fabiano Iha
Q: By the way, the competition to be selected as one
of the competitors in the Sydney Olympics turned out disappointingly,
Dan: [Regrettably] I lost in the final round in the
All America championship . If I win, I am seeded and fight with an
athlete who comes up from a preliminary match. If I win that fight, I am
able to become the representative. But I was the second rank, so I had
to fight from a preliminary match. Despite beating the 1999 World
Champion from Cuba in Pan-am, I lost to the athlete in a preliminary
match who always loses to me. The level of athletes was very close, and
also the result was changed depending on the conditions we were in then.
There was nothing I could do about it. But, I was in the Olympics two
times and I was became a World Champion. I didn't get an Olympic medal
but I am satisfied with my career as a wrestler. This year there
will be the World Championship in New York, so I plan to take part in
the All America Championship in April. Just for my own pleasure, you
Q: Well, Japanese amateur wrestlers will enter Abu
Dhabi this year. Did you hear about it?
Dan: Ahh, I heard that.
Q: Do you think the experience in Abu Dhabi will have
a good influence on the amateur wrestling?
Dan: No, I don't think so. If you want to be a better
wrestler, then wrestle! But the take-down skills of wrestler are
superior, so they might be able to win in Abu Dhabi by taking the man
down and holding on.
Q: Concerning that, in America are you known as
an Olympic wrestler, or as a MMA fighter?
Dan: More than the fact that I appeared in two
Olympics, I hear people say "Oh, that's the guy in the UFC".
I wish it were the other way around [laugh]. In Japan, everyone
knows Sakuraba. But in America, even the UFC fighters are in far from
that situation.. I want to change the situation we are in now, and I
think it under way.
Q: Well, any message for the fans?
Dan: I like the Japanese fans, because they
understand the techniques. So I think I want to fight in Japan even
after finishing with the contract with Pride (one more fight left). But
the tournament [format] is too hard. Count me out.
(c) 2001, GTR, all rights reserved.