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"That first punch!"

An Interview with

Mario Sperry

Zé Mario explains why Nogueira lost and what Brazilian Top Team plans to do about it

From Kami no Puroresu Radical

2003 NO. 60

Nogueira̔sFedor̋

Interviewed by Horie Gantsu

Translated by Yoko Kondo

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Q: I am very sorry about the result this time. How do you feel about it now?

Mario: Well, it often happens in fights, so therefs nothing I can do about it. Itfs not because Minotauro neglected the training or made a fundamental mistake. He trained really hard to win, but it turned out to be this way. So all he has to do is just to make use of this loss as a motivation to train harder.

Q: Nogueira took some pretty hard punches in the fight, so I am worried about his condition. How is he?

Mario: He had a minor injury on his nose, but not a big deal. He is resting today, but yesterday he went out for sushi, which is his  favorite food.

Q: Thatfs good. I closely watched the video yesterday, and Fedorfs great punches astonished me again. Was he stronger than you expected?

Mario: No, not stronger than expected. I expected him to be strong, and he was strong. I believed that Minotauro would win, but I also thought it would be a close fight.

Q: What do you think was the cause of Minotaurofs loss to Fedor?

Mario: Itfs difficult to say it in one word, but Minotauro lacked mental concentration when the fight started, and then he took a very strong punch on the ground. The damage of that punch affected his whole fight until the end.

Q: Is there any reason why Nogueira lacked concentration in the early stage of the fight?

Mario: I have no idea. He usually keeps concentration, so it is impossible for him to get a punch like that.

Q: There was no problem with the preparation, was there?

Mario: No way. Rio was in the middle of  carnival and the whole country was in festivities. But we were focusing on hard training in the gym, so everything was well-prepared.

Q: It always happens in a fight with Nogueira that his opponent is finished with his joint technique in spite of knowing itfs coming. Why do you think Fedor could get away from it?

Mario: Probably Fedor studied about Minotauro very well. Besides he originally had an ability to escape from it. And that first punch. Everything considered, I think everything went wrong because of that first punch.

Q: It means Nogueira was not his usual self after getting the first punch, doesnft it?

Mario: Anyhow, Minotauro was not his usual self, because Fedor, who was not tired yet, landed a punch on the face of Minotauro with 100% of his power and a dry glove in the early early stage of the fight, and the damage continued throughout 20 minutes. That is the main cause. [Note: Nogueira's left hand was down, and Fedor dropped a hard right on him.]

Q: What kind of strategy did you have originally?

Mario: What we planned was to make Fedor tired by exchanging blows and to finish him on the ground. Minotauro trained for striking much harder than usual for that.

Q: Then was it unexpected that he couldnft perform well in standing?

Mario: He was originally great at standing technique too, and he did enough training. But, getting such a big damage in the beginning prevented him from putting forth the strength he originally had.

Q: This time Nogueira lost due to the damage he got in the guard position which is his favorite position. Do you think that he has to change his way of fighting from now?

Mario: We always should seek for a better way of fighting. But so far as this fight is concerned, Fedor did a very good fight on the top position, and more than that I want to emphasize that a condition of Minotauro was not 100%.

Q:  Nogueira beat Bob Sapp,  who launched powerful punches from the top like Fedor, with an armlock, but he lost to Fedor. What was the difference between Sapp and Fedor?

Mario: First was the degree of damage. The damage in the fight with Bob Sapp was not so bad as this time. But this time he took a strong punch in the beginning and was also attacked continuously without let-up after that, so he had no chance to recover. And also, Minotauro could make Sapp tired in standing, but couldnft  do it with fedor this time. As I told you many times, it was because he couldnft fight the way he always does due to the heavy damage in the beginning.

Q: But watching Nogueira continue to fight until the end even under such a condition in both fights with Sapp and Fedor, I felt anew that Noguira has a strong sprit.

Mario: That is what we have faith in, and it is the first priority for us to fight to win with all our best until the end. So I also continued to give him advice until the end,  like gMake a sweeph or gTry anything constantly.h

Q: As Nogueira continued to fight until the end, the spectators applauded him too regardless of the result. How do you think about his fight?

Mario: I always think that a loss for weak fighters is just a loss, but a loss for strong fighters is a motivation to get stronger. So I believe that Minotauro will show you a "scaled-up" version of himself  the next time he fights in the ring of Pride.

Q: Is Nogueira already fired up for his comeback?

Mario: He says, gI want to go back to Brazil for training soon.h But as his coach, I think I should let him take a rest.  He has fought with only strong fighters for the last two years, so I think invisible damages have been accumulating.  So my plan is to give him a rest for relaxing, and then to make him start training, and make him stronger.

Q: Well then, will defeating Fedor become a target for the Top Team from now on?

Mario: Thatfs right for sure. We want to pay our respects to Fedor who is a great fighter. And also we think we are very lucky to meet a fighter like him. Minotaurofs loss brought us a big target which is Fedor and a chance to become stronger. In that sense, we think it is lucky for us to have been defeated by a strong fighter like him. And we will continue hard training to defeat many strong fighters including Fedor in future. That is the general intention of the Top Team.

Q: I see. I wish the Top Team further activities in future, and wish Nogueira his comeback.

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**Zé Mario 's DVDs are still available and still worth watching:

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@Brought to Kakutogi Fans around the World except Japan exclusively by Global Training Report (c)2000-2003, R.A. Pedreira. All rights reserved.

 

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