Interview with Pride FC
August 31, 2002
|PRIDE: It’s been a couple of days since the event. How do you feel now?|
Hidehiko Yoshida: Nothing special. Just relaxed a little bit. I had to go to my dojo yesterday. I went in at about 2pm, did some light training, taught the children and adults’ classes and was there until about 9pm. Not much change from the usual.
PRIDE: What do you think about the reaction (to the match)?
Yoshida: I’m trying not to look at newspapers or television so I’m not really concerned about it.
PRIDE: What do the people around you think (of the match)?
Yoshida: The people who were cheering me on are incredibly happy. Everyone in my dojo told me “congratulations.”
PRIDE: Do you feel that your final preparations went well?
Yoshida: In Judo, you know your opponent’s level. This was a completely different world. I had no idea how much I was supposed to do of anything. So, I worked on striking and judo like I have never done before and gave it all I had.
PRIDE: Were you nervous when you began the match?
Yoshida: I’m always nervous but I forgot about it when the fight began.
PRIDE: Did it bother you that there were so many demands, right before the fight, to change the rules this way and that?
Yoshida: No, not really. Any rules are fine. We weren’t really asked for this rule or that rule so we didn’t really worry about it.
PRIDE: Did the striking rule have any effect?
Yoshida: Well, it became easier for me when no striking to the head was decided. I think if it had been allowed, I would have been able to deal with it, though. I didn’t really worry about it.
PRIDE: Did the fight go as you expected?
Yoshida: Yes, I think it went about as I expected. I figured that if we clinched, he would pull me in and I practiced for that. When we went into the clinch, I knew about how much power he had and it wasn’t scary at all.
PRIDE: So you were able to fight calmly?
Yoshida: Well, I’ve only done judo until now so I was a little confused by the leg locks.
PRIDE: It looked like you really had the heel hold locked in.
Yoshida: Maybe he felt it. I thought to myself “it’s in.” but his joints are limber so it was difficult to finish it.
PRIDE: And your leg was also attacked.
Yoshida: That didn’t hurt very much. He was holding my gi so I couldn’t pull my leg out. I was thinking about how I should attack from there.
PRIDE: You said that you when you first clinched, you knew how much power he had. What do you think about Royce now that you’ve fought him?
Yoshida: I knew that he wouldn’t give up from a joint lock so I was always thinking of getting a choke on him. To tell the truth, I’d rather have thrown him from the standing position and then move into a choke or a joint lock. But, before I could do anything, he pulled me down. I could feel that he had a lot of leg strength. A lot of stubbornness.
PRIDE: Were you being careful after you went to the ground?
Yoshida: Of course. After the pulled me down, he went for my leg so I was careful about where I put my legs. After that, I moved out of that position and looked for places to attack him.
PRIDE: You had side-position in the end. Was that easy to get?
Yoshida: Once, I got that position, it was easy. I expected him to fight back more. Really, once I got over his leg, I got the position very easily and relaxed.
PRIDE: You went from side position to the mound and finally got a sleeve choke. Before that, you were going for an arm lock. Had you been practicing that a lot?
Yoshida: That’s a part of judo. I went to side position but one of my legs was still stuck so the arm lock wouldn’t work. Then I worked my hand around to the back of his head and he let me do it fairly easily. After that, it was just like practice. I couldn’t believe that he would let me do that so easily.
PRIDE: Did you practice sleeve chokes when you were active in judo?
Yoshida: No, as you can see, my ground work is not very good. (laughing) Lately, since the fight was decided, I thought about how I could possibly win and ultimately, it would have to be a choke. I practiced many other chokes and I think it paid off.
PRIDE: Was there any choke that you wanted to use?
Yoshida: I can’t tell you that.
PRIDE: Is that because you’re saving it for next time?
Yoshida: To tell the truth, there was a technique that I wanted to use.
PRIDE: Should we look forward to seeing that next time?
Yoshida: If I get the chance.
PRIDE: What did it feel like fighting in that stadium?
Yoshida: I was less nervous than I expected. It was the first time for me to fight outside and in a ring. It was also the first time for me to fight in front of so many people so I expected to be really nervous. Somehow I was able to be relaxed, though.
PRIDE: Helio Gracie asked that yesterday’s match be declared a no-contest.
Yoshida: I don’t really want to worry too much about that. It’s up to the promoters to decide. I’ve done everything that I was supposed to do so there’s nothing I can say about that. ï¿½He was probably out. I felt the power go out of him. That’s why I thought he was out. The choke was in perfectly.
PRIDE: So you instinctively told the referee “he’s out, he’s out.”
Yoshida: No, I said “Didn’t he pass out?” I couldn’t see him and I also didn’t want to kill him. (laughing) I wasn’t sure at all (if he was out) so I had to ask the referee. However, it would have been fine with me if we had kept going like that. As for the decision, I think the referee had the best position to see. I knew that his strength was gone but I don’t know if he was out. If the fight hadn’t been stopped I could have continued choking him. I’m confident that I could have choked him out.
PRIDE: Do you feel that you won?
Yoshida: In terms of the fight, yes. If there’s a problem, there’s nothing to do but leave it up to the promoters. I’m just glad I was able to get this new experience. That’s the most important thing. What will happen from here, I leave that up to the promoters.
PRIDE: If you fight again, would you rather fight someone other than Royce?
Yoshida: Hmm, (the fight with Royce) left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth but the fight was only a couple of days ago so I can’t really say anything. If they want to fight again, I’ll think about it. ï¿½There’s no one that I really want to fight now. Right now, I’m going to take a break. I need to build more confidence in myself. My training period was too short and I need to learn more techniques. Muscles not necessary for judo must be built up, the feel of the fight is different and the time is different. If I want to win, I’ve got to practice and study all of these.