|08-21-2003, 12:14 PM||#1|
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Interview with Wanderlei Silva - PRIDE's AXE MURDERER!
STORY by Gleidson Venga / TEAM TATAME
There is no doubt about it, the guy is a tough customer! After being sidelined for several months recovering from knee surgery, PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva put his reputation on the line at the Pride GP.
Japan's top draw Kazushi Sakuraba was to be his first round opponent. Wanderlei had already beaten Sakuraba two times, and the Japanese fighter had stated publically that he entered the tournament just to avenge his defeats at the hands of the 'Axe Murderer'. Despite fighting under pressure, Wanderlei scored a nother definitive KO, and he is starting preparations to fight for the GP belt this coming November 9th.
We caught up with WANDERLEI...
Let's talk about the fight with Sakuraba right away... It seems like all of Japan was anticipating this fight. The fans wanted to see us fighting a third time. What really impressed me about this event was the media attention - it was more than usual, even by PRIDE standards. The arena's capacity was increased for the show, they had close to 40,000 people there and it was packed. The press conference was filled with more than 150 people - writers, photographers, TV and the like. Sakuraba stated to the press that he didn't even care about being the tournament champion, he was there only to try to beat me. He took the losses personally. They showed footage of him training and he really seemed prepared well for this fight, but I was prepared as well.
To tell you the truth I wasn't even going to compete in this tournament. Then I saw on Pride's website, people were saying that the tournament needed my presence, as the champion to establish legitimacy. So the fans wanted me to fight, in Japan I was asked to fight and I decided to fight. I have been waiting to comeback for a little while. I was expecting to fight Quinton Jackson. When they told me it would be against Sakuraba I accepted, of course, because I never pick my opponents.
I accepted but I knew a fight against him is always tough. When he makes his entrance you feel the crowd is on his side and I knew I couldn't let the fight go to a judges' decision, that would be too dangerous. If the fight would be close, I felt they wouldn't give me the win. So I had pressure to end the fight as soon as possible, to score a knockout. I started well, was able to do my game, keeping the fight standing and connecting with some good strikes. My fists were fast, he traded strikes with me, and I managed to connect with some good shots, so I prepared to keep wearing him down. Then my cornerman Rafael [Cordeiro] yekked 'get him when he is moving out of your range'. So I prepared to counterpunch. He tried a low kick, I blocked it, he threw a punch and I threw the right hand. He was moving out of range and it connected right on his chin, so he went out! It was one of the better knockouts of my career.
Enough of rematches for him? People were talking about that in Japan - they were saying this was his last chance, and that if he lost there wouldn't be a fourth time. Someone asked me and I said I would fight hm again! I would! I already beat him three times, so I'm ready. But I am not thinking about him, my goal now is to be the GP champion.
Talk about the time after the show - did you feel like it was a big event? We headed back to the hotel, and at 9 PM that evening the event was aired to the entire country of Japan by Fuji Television, their # 1 channel in terms of sports there. So millions of people saw it, supposedly it was the first time Pride was aired on free TV. K-1 has been aired this way for a long time, and a lot of people that never watched MMA in their lives saw PRIDE for the first time, and it seems that the event surpassed expectations. It was really a success! They had great production for the show and when we were seeing it on TV, they used a lot of build up and drama around my fight.
They showed a little story about my fights with Sakuraba, show a fight and then a reminder 'Coming up, Wanderlei vs Sakuraba!' an there were the announcers talking about this fight again! I really had good exposure on this show and fought for a major audience, I don't even know the precise number of people that saw the fight, but it was really a lot of people.
After that we went out to have dinner and I couldn't walk on the streets, everybody we would cross on the streets had seen the show, everybody. We were already well-known there, but this time it was amazing with everybody talking about the show. The next event will be on the 9th of November and everybody is already talking about it, willing to see it, willing to know who is going to be the champion.
What did you think of the other fighters that won their fights, and you may face next? In fact, except for Yoshida, the two American fighters favor my style of fighting, because both of them also like to fight standing up. I'm sure it won't be easy, They won't give me an easy time. Chuck Liddell or the other guy [Quinton Jackson]. If I face one of them first, I'll go right for the knockout, because my plan is to score a quick knockout so I can go rested to the final. I'll be looking for knockouts, and this is what is going to mark my presence in the tournament.
When does your preparation start? I'll start it on Monday. I'll be going to Londrina on Monday, to meet my physical trainer, professor Waldemar Guimarães, and we're going to come up with my plan for the next event. Now I'm going to do some strength training, try to gain some weight and drop it as the fight approaches. He is going to prepare all my schedule with these thing in mind.
What did you think of Cro Cop's KO over Vovchanchin?
It was good. Igor was in our locker room, and he was tense, he entered the fight worried, already somewhat beaten. But the guy scored a KO that was pretty. it was a great KO, and I'm sure we will end up fighting again. However next time we won't have three minute rounds or any stand up rule, and he saw that against me things are different. I spoke with a guy from his team, who asked me for an autograph and a T-Shirt. There were three guys, I think one was his boxing coach. They were talking to me a bit, and I aksed them point blank 'Did you see my fight with your guy? Who did you think won it?'? The guy got quiet and I said 'Tell Crocop that I'm telling everybody I won'. He was like 'Man, I'm on his team', but it's obvious that he thought I won! I give him credit the guy stayed like 'No, I won't saying anything'.
Now you have to prepare Mauricio Shogun for the IFC tournament? Yes, but first we have Nílson [de Castro] fighting in Pancrase. He is going to face a good Japanese fighter, so this is our next commitment. Then it's going to be Shogun's turn, in a tournament that may very well change his career. We're making him aware of that and my fight got everybody excited on the team. Everybody saw that my preparation was well done and in fact, when you score a KO it always gives your career an 'UP', so everybody is excited and looking to experience the same, so I hope we'll achieve good results.
A lot of people here in Brazil supported you for this fight. What can you say about it? I want to thank all the fans, because the fans here gave me strength for this fight. I could see that a lot of people like me here, and I was approached by a lot of fans during my preparation. At MECA 9 a lot of people came up to talk to me, nobody is ashamed anymore of requesting pictures or autographs, it was very nice. I felt some great energy from the fans and this makes us realize that we're not alone. Even though in the arena everybody is cheering for my opponent I feel that there's a whole country supporting me. All the guys that train in any style of fighting, in the academies, or the ones who watch the fights on TV, they wait for the next one, they spread details and information about what happened in the fight, etc. It is spreading out there! Now that I'm the only Brazilian representing us in this tournament I'm going there to win. I'll perform well, do my best and show everybody that I'm the man here in Brazil and in the entire world.
|08-23-2003, 03:12 PM||#6|
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LMAO at Silva telling Cro Cops boxing coach that he is telling everyone he won their fight to piss off mirko into fighting again. However gotta say in a rematch I would pick Mirko.
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