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 Interview with 

Kazushi Sakuraba

 After Pride 15

Gong Kakutogi Plus Vol. 14, September 2001

Translated by Kondo Yoko



Q: How do you feel about your come-back win today?

Sakuraba: I feel good.

Q: Did you get hurt?

Sakuraba: My eye, and I don't know how it happened, but my elbow too. Maybe I hit my elbow when I was fallen down by "Power Bomb". 

Q: Was "Power Bomb" effective against you?

Sakuraba: Not at all.

Q: From that position, you took a punch.....

Sakuraba: I took a punch on my left eye, and then my vision got a little bit blurry.

Q: How was your consciousness?

Sakuraba: No problem with it, but I had a problem seeing.

Q: It seemed that you didn't do much standing technique this time. Was it because you failed in it last time? [against Vanderlei Silva] 

Sakuraba: Not exactly. I was thinking about doing some striking, but I couldn't do anything against his aggressive attacks.

Q: Are you satisfied with your own performance?

Sakuraba: It would have been better if I could have finished him with a triangle choke early in the fight, but I wasn't warmed up enough at that point and there was too much space between us, so I didn't think it would work. I should have finished him with it anyway.

Q: Did you expect him to attack you with something like "Power Bomb"?

Sakuraba: Yes, and something like "Body Slam" too.

Q: Were you confused by his attack at any point in the fight?

Sakuraba: No, nothing special.

Q: You've been out of action for a while. Has your ring sense suffered?

Sakuraba: (Sakuraba pauses, thinking deeply). I was a little nervous (thinking some more). I was hoping I would do as well as in training, but when it came to the fight time, I felt nervous. And I had a lot of time to wait for my fight backstage, so I had too much time to think..

Q: You didn't do anything special this time when you entered the ring. Was it because you were nervous?

Sakuraba: No, it was because I ran out of things to try. (everyone laughs)

Q: You finished Jackson with a choke. Was it because you thought he had a lot of power so the only thing you could finish him with was a choke. Is that right?

Sakuraba: That's right. When I tried juji-gatame [arm-lock] on him I felt that he could escape using his power, so I thought it would be better to go for choking, rather than joint locks.

Q: Jackson is said to be "homeless". What's your impression of him?

Sakuraba: Impression?

Q: For example, body odor or something like that?

Sakuraba: He smelled like ordinary soap. (laughs)

Q: Jackson seems to usually weigh 100 kg. (220 lbs).

Sakuraba: That's right. He's naturally bigger than me, so I thought that even if he drops to my weight, he'd still be stronger than me enough to easily lift me.

Q: Considering that, how do you think you did? [Interviewer asks Sakuraba to give himself a percentage score, as on a test] 

Sakuraba: I don't know. I leave it to you.

Q: What kind of belt are you wearing?

Sakuraba: I'm not sure, maybe it's "ru-tezu" [note: we don't know what this means]. I thought Takada used to wear this one, and I thought it looked cool [kakoo ii].

Q: What is it made of?

Sakuraba: Cardboard.

Q: How much did it cost?

Sakuraba: I don't know. Because someone made it for me.

Q: The same guy who made the last one?

Sakuraba: Yes.

Q: Are you going to sell it?

Sakuraba: I don't know. Ask someone else.

Q: How was your condition in the fight compared to what you thought it would be before the fight?

Sakuraba: Condition? Not perfect yet. It took me a while to get started. I have to think about a way to warm up that will get me moving from the beginning. [yappari hajime no hajime kara koo engine kakaru yoo na warming up toka soo iu mono o kangaenai to ikenai kana to omoimasu].

[Sakuraba uses the English words of "warming up" and "engine". He and the interviewer will refer to this metaphor in the following.]

Q:  So your engine didn't work well because you had a long gap between fights?

Sakuraba: It's because it's summer. It's very hot. My head isn't clear because of the heat, even in the waiting room.

Q: What is the meaning Vale Tudo for you?

Sakuraba: Meaning? It's my job. There's no special meaning. 

Q: Did the fact that this fight is your come-back [after loss to Vanderlei Silva] weigh on your mind?

Sakuraba: No, not at all.

Q: So is your next fight a rematch with Silva?

Sakuraba: Hmmm. Anything is ok to me.

Q: When do you want to fight again?

Sakuraba: (in a small voice) If it's too soon, it will be hard for me.

Q: How about September?

Sakuraba: What day in September?    

Q:  September 24.

Sakuraba: If my condition is good, I will.

Q: So from now on, are you going to fight less frequently?

Sakuraba: Yes. For example, when I get injured during training, even a small injury, it takes more time to recover compared to last year or two years ago. I have to take better care of my body, because I am not young anymore (laughs).

Q: So from now on, you are going to fight in every other Pride?

Sakuraba: If I can fight in every one, I want to, but it depends on my condition.

Q: It was announced that Fujita will fight with a K-1 fighter. Are you interested in fighting with K-1 fighters?

Sakuraba: I don't know.

Q: After getting out of the hospital after the Silva fight, you changed your training menu to be more light, and also your way of getting tuned up. Judging from the result of the Jackson fight, do you think that change in training was the right way to do it?

Sakuraba: There are still things I have to deal with. I think I have to change my training method more.

Q: Because you couldn't get your engine started from the beginning?

Sakuraba: That's right. As long as the structure of a Pride fight is three rounds of 10 minutes, 5 minutes, and 5 minutes, I need to move fully for 10, 5, and then 5 more minutes, so I need strength to do that, so I need training to have such a strength.

Sakuraba poses with his belt-

Sakuraba: I wanted to do this pose. (smiles)

 (c) 2001, Yoko Kondo. All rights reserved.


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