Tsugi no Yume (次の夢）
From Gong Kakutougi,
September 16, 2002
Translated by Yoko Kondo
Unexpectedly Uno asked
“how did you know that? I was at a loss, not knowing what he
meant. Then he continued. “If I lost in that fight, I was wondering if
I should retire. But I didn’t tell anybody about it. Why…..?” Now
I understood what he meant, and I said I heard about it from Mr. Kevin.
Uno nodded in a big motion. What Uno was talking about was an interview
article about the fight with Yves Edwards in UFC 37. Uno was
talking in his usual bright tone in the interview at that time, but he
was showing a different face in private.. Mr. Kevin Yamazaki told that
Uno was showing a tough face. “He is considerably nervous. He looks
different from usual. Maybe he thinks this would be a key fight in his
life.” Uno was at a crossroads.
Last November, he was
knocked out by B. J. Penn at 11 seconds after the fight started. After
coming back to Japan, he was told to stop the training for one month by
President Kubo of GCM, considering that he should go away from
training so that he could refresh himself and start over again. But even
after starting training again, it seems troubles happened to him
continuously such as hurting an old wound.
Facing the come-back
fight for six months which he finally managed to get by clearing various
hurdles, what was growing in his mind was only negative feeling like
that there would be no more chance if he lost to Edwards. Uno’s
determination was shown here and there in his words in the article at
Uno won over Edward by
a narrow decision. After that, I heard that he was spending busy days,
doing such things as working on "Contenders" as a producer or
performing matches in All Japan Pro-wrestling.
changed due to the fact that the champion Pulver left UFC. The empty
champion belt was decided to be contended by the tournament, and Uno was
chosen for entry along with B. J. Penn and others. But it was a question
whether it would be good for Uno to participate in the tournament. So I
asked Uno a question which has been on my mind for a long time, "Do
you really want the belt of UFC?" Uno fell silent for a moment, and
then he smiled. "In fact, I was asked the same question the other
"What do you want
to be?" Uno was asked by someone somewhere. Uno was at
a loss for answer. "What are you aiming for?" Uno remained
silent for a while, and answered "I want to be the champion in UFC."
Then that man started to be mad with anger. "Why didn't you answer
quickly? If you are a strong fighter, you can say that. Why can't you
say that? Because something is bothering you, isn't it?" The man
was drunk. But his word, "something is bothering you", stuck
into Uno's heart. " That man was drunk. But because he was drunk,
he told the truth, didn't he? What he told me then really meant
He stopped talking
here, swallowed,, and started speaking off the cuff. "A long time
ago, I didn't hesitate to say, 'I want to fight with Rumina Sato'. I
could immediately say that I wanted to fight with Rumina Sato rather
than to be the champion. I remember anew that I could say that clearly
when I was interviewed a long time ago. Now I am saying something which
I don't really mean, and saying it with hesitation. But now I realize
it. What the man said that motivation improves technique. If you have an
aim, you will train for it. I remember the words even during the
training. When the man asked me again, "what do you want to
be?" as he was leaving, I could immediately say that I wanted to be
the champion in UFC. I thought then that's it , my mind is settled now.
I don't have special desire to be famous or to earn money, but now I
have a clear aim in my mind that I want to get the champion belt
of UFC. So I think I can approach the training with a different
feeling than before. "
Asked why you are doing
kakutogi, there are some fighters who can answer instantly,
"because this is my job." They are pro-fighters like Sakuraba
or Kanehara . But Uno is a type of fighter who needs motivation other
than money or honor to exchange blows in the ring (octagon). During the
shoot period, Uno had a clear aim, that is, Rumina Sato. Nothing
bothered him spending days and nights on doing a hard training. When he
looked ahead, there was always Rumina in front of him. Fighting with
Rumina was the dream and motivation to fight for Uno.
But from the moment he
won successive victories over Rumina, Uno lost a clear aim. He gave the
belt of shoot back and aimed at "major league" UFC. But
fighting in UFC was too low a hurdle to be his next dream. As the
light-weight class had just started at that time, the number of the
fighters was limited and most of them were unknown fighters. Uno,
a former shoot champion and a man who defeated Rumina, was a desirable
fighter for UFC. However, a favorable treatment, the fight was matched
against Pulver for the champion belt in the first entry to UFC three
months later from the fight with Rumina, didn't turn out to be good for
Uno always wishes that
he wants to be skillful and strong, and has been training for it. He has
been learning various techniques by taking lessons under various kinds
of people and asking for the training at the other dojos. Compared to
the shoot period, his power must be improved remarkably. He has
increased a lot in the number of technique he can use including punches
However, what I felt
from the technique Uno used in a fight was his passive attitude like
that he just ate something prepared in front of him. In the shoot
period, even if his technique was not so skillful, he had been fighting
with all his heart aiming at the big target, "the fight with Rumina".
But that fighting style has faded away. Even watching the fight with
Edward, I couldn't wipe off my impression that there was more vigor in
his fights during the shoot period.
Just as he is in a
maze, the entry to the championship tournament has been decided. I
thought if Uno participates in this tournament with the same attitude as
he has had so far, he might be easily crushed in the first match. I felt
even danger that "Fighter Uno" might come to an end with the
fight with Din Thomas this time, taking it as his peak when he fought
with Rumina two times with the best motivation.
"But I'm different
now." Uno said clearly. "Because I have the next dream to get
the belt of UFC."
Uno was walking with
dragging feet a little bit that day. It is because in Club Contenders
two days ago, he performed an exhibition match with Magunam Sakai whose
physical size is similar to Din Thomas under the kick rule, and he was
exposed to a storm of low kicks from Sakai. "Mr. Sakai kicked
the thigh with a pinpoint precision.
It was painful. When I fought with Din Thomas in shoot last time,
his reach was so long that it was difficult to get in. Mr. Sakai has a
long reach too, so he reminded me of the feeling that I had then. It was
very a good practice for me. "
Three years ago, Uno
defeated Din Thomas by sleeper. But since then, Din Thomas has triumphed
over Pulver and Perling [spelling?] and others, except for losing to B.
J. Penn. No doubt that he is getting stronger than three years ago.
"I don't have a
feeling that I won last time. I just have an image what it was like. But
I will do it with a fresh mind as if I am fighting with him for the
first time. Will I get my revenge on B. J. Penn in the final
match? It is too far to see it. First I must face Din Thomas. And the
program made by Mr. Kevin will start from next week, so I have to clear
it anyway. I heard that the program Mr. Kosaka is doing now is very
hard. His legs were trembling like a little deer (laugh). "
Recently there were two
fights which stimulated Uno. One was Genki Sudo's successful debut in
the UFC by submission in July, and other was Abe (elder brother) KO
victory over Nogueira. "Mr. Sudo's victory became stimulating to
me. But I can't think of fighting with Mr. Sudo in UFC yet. What was
more stimulating to me was Mr. Abe's KO win. "
Abe 's KO victory
resulted from the experiences of standing fights putting on boxing
gloves in the ring of MA kick or SB after he was defeated by Puring
[spelling?]. Uno is taking it as an inspiration to improve his striking
technique. "It seems that people think I am performing only
exhibition matches, but the exhibition match with Mr. Kobayashi was a
valuable experience for me. I just took a lot of punches without making
a counterattack in the first round. And in the second round what I did
was just to keep the face up. Then when I trained striking after that,
something was different. When I fought with Mr. Sakai this time, I kept
it in my mind not to look down and to launch one punch somehow to him.
As the pressure from Mr. Sakai was quite different from that in the
training, it was a good lesson. Compared to Mr. Abe who did real fights,
the effect must be different in degree. But it was a good experience for
myself, so I think it will be useful for the fight with Din
Thomas. I am standing on the edge this time again (laugh). I hope I can
do a good training and a good fight. I want to show the fight through
which the fans can find me a little different than before. I am looking
forward to seeing what the fight would be like now that I have one big
aim just like a long time ago. "
Uno has a new
motivation--to be UFC champion. I wonder what kind of fight he will show
us in the octagon.
I can't help having a
feeling that Uno, with his new motivation and improved technique, will
explode in the octagon.
Other GTR interviews
with Caol Uno:
Uno after fight with B.J. Penn
Uno from Kami no Puroresu
(c) 2002, Yoko Kondo, all