Kakutougi no.91, Nov. 1999
Translated by Kondo Yoko
(Before Kerr's loss to Vovchyanchin)
First of all, I would like to ask your impression of the training
from which you learned a lot of technique.
Kerr: I think
Sakuraba is a best technician in the world. Observing
his fights, it seems that he is doing technique with a different point
of view from the ordinary people. For example, in the
fight with Victor Belfort his motion was new to me. (Kerr stood up and
imitated Sakurabafs low-kick from above just like in the Ali vs. Inoki
fight.) Sakuraba held Victor's leg from above and kicked it, at the same
time preventing him from counter kicking. That was
tell the truth, I wanted to swing his leg. (He disclosed that his
original plan was to take position by swinging Victor's leg from that
Kerr: Oh, I
see. I think Sakuraba is a perfect fighter who is
creative, doesnft depend on power, and is fighting with intelligence.
Is this your first time to meet Kerr for training?
Sakuraba: No. I
met him once before at Beverly Hills Jiu-jitsu Club. (He accompanied
Takada to America before his rematch with Rickson)
Yes, right. Then what is your impression about
seemed that he didnft get out of a frame of amateur wrestling in his
early time. But he is trying to absorb various kinds
of thing and turn them into his own. I think he is
gradually making a progress in his fighting. Only his
power is emphasized from his appearance, but in a real fight he is
showing not only power but also more technique as time goes on.
Did you do sparring with him at Beverly Hills?
We just met each other and had a meal together.
Then, this is the first training with him, isnft it?
Sakuraba: I did
a light training with him when he came here with Marco Ruas in Pride 4.
(according to the story I heard later, when he did a light
sparring with Kerr, he taught Kerr how to escape from heel-hold in
response to his request.)
His power must be amazing.
Kerr: Wha ha ha (laughing)
For me Sakurabafs technique is more impressive than my power.
I think he is training technique while I am doing
weight-training. It will be great if two of them are
think so. (laughing)
But you donft like weight-training much, do you?
is more fun. (laughing)
Kerr: Itfs an
interesting opinion, I think. I had done amateur
wrestling very hard for 15 years and learned a lot of things.
But the reason why I came to NHB (no holds barred) is it is very
enjoyable for me to learn new things since I met a new sport, NHB.
That is one of the main reasons.
It is said that Sakuraba and Kerr are placed on the top of the
world in each class, middle class and heavy class respectively.
If both of you keep winning, a fight between
you might be arranged in Pride some day. Are you
going to accept the offer then?
Sakuraba: No, I
donft want to. (laughing)
Kerr: When I
saw him defeat Conan by arm-lock once before, I thought he is a very
strong, creative and smart fighter. I donft want to
fight with him either (laughing).
Donft you have any intention to seek for the top in open class?
Sakuraba: No, I
donft any intention. But If there is no striking, I
Kerr: I think
some 30 or 40kg difference in weight creates some difficulties that can't be overcome, even with technique. For
example, a lighter fighter will get tired out more and more just and
then it will be hard for him to avoid taking punches. I
will give you an example of that. When I fought with
Fabio Gurgel, who is a great fighter, I used my weight to tire him out.
It was a conscious strategy.
If it has a rule of no striking like Abu Dhabi Combat rule, are
you interested in fighting even in open class?
it is OK as long as there is no striking.
Kerr: It might
be possible to fight in open class in Abu Dhabi, because one sport
changes into a different sport by taking in striking. A main point is
that you can keep the position by technique, if there is no striking.
But, if striking is included into the rule, it will be difficult
to keep the position.
Kerr won a championship in Abu Dhabi this year. How
do you think about participating in it?
fact, I was invited to participate.
Oh, you were?
But basically I donft like to go abroad. (laughing)
None of my dojo goes there, and I donft want to go to a foreign
What a waste! Actually, you are not alone.
There are other Japanese fighters and people from the media with
what about food?
No problem. It is an ordinary city with
beautiful buildings standing.
that so? But it will be really hard to be there, if I
have no friends (laughing).
doesnft have to make a special appeal to others in Abu Dhabi, because
everybody knows that he is a great technician. He
already proved his capabilities in vale tudo. In my
case, everybody finds me just big and powerful. So I
wanted to prove my ground technique in Abu Dhabi.
Donft you have any idea of spreading your fame to all over the
world in such a championship, or any desire for a prize?
wish I could have won a prize. (laughing) But the
place is a problem to mec.
Kerr: He is so
famous that his guarantee must be very high. If he
won a prize, it would amount to close to 10 million yen including
will go wherever there is a door. (everybody burst out laughing, an
interpreter explains to Kerr)
Kerr: Open the
door, here is Abu Dhabi (laughing).
----Kerr, bursting out laughing,
started to say that, gI am sorry to say that, but I want you to finish
the interview with two more questions. I am so
hungry.h In fact, there are still more questions we
preparedc Then the reporter rushes to select the questions.----
Well, Sakurabafs training menu is focused on sparring.
He does neither running nor stretching. As for
weight-training, he does only about 20 minutes a day. It
must be quite different from your way of training. How
do you think about it?
Kerr: If you
have a very good sparring partner, your technique will be improved and
your movement will become more sharp by sparring. You
canft get these effects in weight-training. But it
is difficult to find a good sparring partner. Thus
one thing clear to me is that as you get old (Kerr is 30 years old), it
gradually becomes more difficult to do sparring than when you are young.
I myself have a problem with my knees and hips. Under
this condition, training for conditioning is becoming important.
I used to have good partners in Beverly Hills such as Marco Ruas,
Bas Rutten, Pedro Rizzo, etc. But since I left
Beverly Hills, it has been difficult to find a good partner.
There are about two who can be considered a good partner in
Q: Now it is
said that a fight of Sakuraba vs. Franck Shamrock is the final strongest
match of middle class in the world. If it happens,
what do you think it is going to be like?
Kerr: Any way,
Sakuraba is the best technician in the world now, so nobody in middle
class can defeat him. I believe in his victory,
because he shows a good fight no matter how bad his condition is.
Well, may be he will defeat Shamrock by taking arm-lock.
Can I ask you one more easy question?
Recently I heard from Kosaka that most famous Japanese fighters
in America are Sakuraba and Rumina Sato. What is your
opinion of it?
Sakuraba and Akira Shoji are great fighters and many people know them by
checking the result of Pride through internet. And
Takada is also famous for his 20-year-long fighting career.
-------- To my regret, time is up
here. Kerr left Dojo in a good mood. But it was
beyond my imagination that a few days latter from this interview a
shocking fight would be held between Igor Vovchyanchin and Kerr.
@(c) 1999, Yoko Kondo, all rights reserved.
Sakuraba interviews here.