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GRACIE, YOSHIDA, SAKURABA AND CRO-COP INTERVIEWS: Pride interviewed Royce Gracie, Hidehiko Yoshida, Kazushi Sakuraba and Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic after its July 16th press conference. There are some interesting tidbits in the interviews:

Gracie’s official representatives and his supporters have been on the web trying to persuade fight fans that Gracie did not ask for the special rules in the fight (there will be no punching to the face, and no strikes on the ground). But, were they telling the truth? Royce Gracie tells a totally different story in the interview:


PRIDE Fighting Championships: Did you request any special rules?

Royce Gracie: Actually, I was just talking with the promoters about that. This year will be the 50th anniversary that my father, Helio, and Kimura had their Jiu-Jitsu match. I asked the promoters how it would be if we had the same rules as my father and Kimura fought under. No striking and only grappling. My father will turn 90 years old this October and I would like to fight under those rules as a present to him.

Then Gracie, a man who has said that he despises time limits (and who has insisted on “no time limit” fights in the past), explained that he does not want his special rules in this fight to include an overtime period:


PRIDE: If the match is decided within the three, ten-minute rounds, do you think it would be better to have a draw, go into an over-time or have the judges decide?

Gracie: I believe that when my father fought Kimura, if there was no winner within the three, ten-minute rounds, the match would be a draw. So, I think it should be the same.

I respect Royce Gracie tremendously. But, this interview has provided plently of ammunition for the Gracie bashers who criticize him for insisting on special rules whenever he fights.

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Yoshida dropped a clue in his interview that seems to indicate that he could be in for a long night:


PRIDE: Did you feel anything when you faced off with Royce?

Yoshida: I thought he’s tall. Of course, in doing ground techniques, going for submissions and applying the triangle from the bottom, having long legs is an advantage. I’ve got short legs. What I really hate is when they use their legs to defend. I got the feeling that he’s willing to take chances. I also felt that he’s really a pro martial artist.

I read that to mean that he has a tough time passing someone’s guard or or attacking from within it. Sport Judo does not emphasize passing the guard very highly, so it is understandable if he has problems doing so.

However, you have to figure that Gracie’s tactic will be to pull Yoshida into his guard since his chances of throwing the Olympic judo champion are slim. If Yoshida ends up in Gracie’s guard will we see a submission? Will we see a boring snooze fest in which Yoshida hides from Gracie’s attacks (like Ken Shamrock did in his second fight with Gracie)? Or, will Yoshida shock the world (or, at least me) by passing Gracie’s guard?

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The Cro-Cop interview has a question that shows that Sakuraba’s has not lost his sense of humor:


PRIDE: In the July 9th press conference, concerning your fight with him, Sakuraba said that the police once mistook him for a bicycle thief. Apparently, because you are a police officer, he wants to beat you in order to prove his innocence.

Filipovic: I can sympathize with him for being mistaking for a bicycle thief but I think he chose the wrong police officer to prove his innocence with. (laughing) I don’t work around here. I’m a special investigator in the Croatian Special Forces.

Sakuraba’s pre-fight comments are classic. But, nothing will match the time he showed up wearing diapers and explained that he had to be prepared in case his “no time limit” fight with Roicye Gracie went on for so long that he had to go to the bathroom.

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