after Pride 17
from Gong Kautougi
Plus VOL. 16
November 21, 2001
Translated by Roberto Pedreira
Q: How do you feel about getting the belt?
Vanderlei: I'm really terrifically happy. I trained
for this day with all of my heart in order to get this title, and this
time the day came that I got it. This Pride is the biggest of all events
in the whole wide world, so I'm thrilled to be able to have gotten this
title. What I'm most happiest about is that the fans supported me
with all their hearts and I could win. I really appreciate all the fans.
Q: Was the Sakuraba you fought before different from
the Sakuraba you fought today?
Vanderlei: As I thought, this time it was a tough
fight. Sakuraba is a great fighter, I knew that. Both in newaza and
stand up striking his punches landed on my face. This time, actually, I
was lucky to win. Therefore, this time I think I fought my best fight
ever. This time, Sakuraba dislocated his shoulder. Things like that
happen in a fight. But I won this time.
Q: You didn't seem to panic at all when you were on
the bottom on the ground. Did you train in the expectation that Sakuraba
would take you down?
Vanderlei: No. We train both stand up and jiu-jitsu
at my academy. We do nothing but that kind of training every day.
Q: I was expecting you to finish Sakuraba with
punches or kicks this time, but the fight ended due to Sakuraba's
dislocated shoulder. Regarding that, do you have a feeling like that you
wanted to give him more punches?
Vanderlei: No, not at all. I respect Sakuraba
as a fighter. The reason why I glare at him or say something strange to
him is that I am a pro. Not because of Sakuraba, I do the
same thing to every opponent. So I really think Sakuraba is a great
Q: When you came to Japan, I heard that your weight
was 89kg and you were going to lose weight 2kg. But today you
weighed in at 92kg, which was 3kg heavier than before. Is it because you
heard the limit was 93kg so you got back your original weight?
Vanderlei: No. That wasn't it. I like to eat. The
main problems was the time difference between Brasil and Japan and the
food problem, and at the weigh-in I was one kg over. I went to a sauna
and dropped 1.5 kg. It wasn't because I intentionally wanted to weigh in
at 92 kg..
Q: You admit that you were struggling on the ground
in the bottom position in the first round, but if the fight hadn't
stopped because of the dislocation of Sakuraba's shoulder, how do you
think the second round would have gone?
Vanderlei: Even if Sakuraba had come out for
the second round, I would have recovered well during the break..
Therefore, I think I would have turned up the juice in the second round.
Q: When Sakuraba grabbed your neck, and then
you slammed him into the ground. Then it led to the dislocation of
Sakuraba's shoulder. Did you train to be able to do that, or was it
Vanderlei: In the waiting room Pele taught me that
technique. I wanted to slam him into the ground more skillfully, but it
happened like everyone saw.
Q: Did you realize that Sakuraba's shoulder was
Vanderlei: I didn't realize it. During the break, I
saw the doctor and referee approach him and I thought "oh, is it an
injury?" "oh, he got injured?" I didn't realize it when.
I slammed him into the ring. I realized it when the referee said it.
Q: In your next defense, who do you want to fight?
Vanderlei: I'm going to be training intensively from
tomorrow. I want to fight anyone the Pride matchmakers match me with.
But now that I have this title I plan to continue to defend it against
Q: Sakuraba was crying after the fight. What do you
think about that?
Vanderlei: What I think is that Sakuraba is a great
fighter. Of course, for someone who had been the champion to lose twice
to the same opponent could make anyone bitter [kuyashi]. Fighter like us
who don't fight for money, but fight because we love fighting, for us,
it can really be bitter to lose. But what doesn't kill us makes us
stronger. [sore ga bane ni natte ganbareru node]. I can understand
Q: Do you have any final message to give to the
Vanderlei: To all my fans, thank you all for taking a
lot of pictures and supporting me. It was thanks to everyone, thanks to
the fans, that I was able to get the title today. Really, thanks very
Two previous interviews with Vanderlei on
(c) 2001, Roberto Pedreira, all