Yuki Kondo was recently interviewed for the PRIDE website. Here’s what Kondo had to say: 

PRIDE: This will be your second consecutive appearance in the New Year’s Eve show. 

Kondo: I’m proud of that as a martial artist. There are a lot of different entertainment shows on TV on New Year’s Eve, but now martial arts has become the main thing. I think that’s incredible, and as a professional and a human that does martial arts, it’s an honor for me to be a part of that.

PRIDE: You chose to fight Dan Henderson over Murilo Ninja and Mauricio Shogun. Was it an easy choice? 

Kondo: When I heard the three choices, I felt it would be Dan Henderson, but I watched all their videos anyway. I think Ninja and Shogun are both very powerful so I was a little confused, but I felt that Dan Henderson is the strongest. So I chose him.

PRIDE: What is your impression of him? 

Kondo: All of his movements are quick. When he decides he wants to go somewhere, he gets there quickly. Does that make sense? (laughing) For example, his defense is quick when he’s attacked, and his pace is fast when attacking too. 

PRIDE: Which of Henderson’s fights left you with the greatest impression? 

Kondo: The (Vanderlei) Silva fight of course. Then his fight with Nogueira in PRIDE. 

PRIDE: What do you want to be most careful of when you fight him? 

Kondo: His straight right. His knees in the 4-points position are dangerous too, so I have to do my best not to let him get on top of me. 

PRIDE: He gets a lot of his opponents by holding them with one arm when they are in the clinch, and throwing uppercuts with the other. 

Kondo: I don’t think he’ll do it to me. (laughing) 

PRIDE: You seem confident. Do you want to have a rematch with Silva after Henderson? 

Kondo: I’m focusing on the Middleweight Grand Prix more than a rematch with Silva. I’d like to fight him there. 

PRIDE: The theme for this event is «destiny». Do you have some destiny with Henderson? 

Kondo: It seems like it. I don’t know why though. (laughing) We’re both guys and fighters from the same generation that have done what needed to be done. That’s destiny. If there’s a strong fighter in the same generation, I think it’s natural to want to fight him. It’s a waste not to. In that sense, I really want to be in the Middleweight Grand Prix. It’s boring if we don’t fight, right? I think I’m very blessed to have a chance to fight. If I had been born in a different generation, I wouldn’t be able to have this exchange with them. That is destiny.

PRIDE: I see. So you put Henderson and Silva in the same category? 

Kondo: I put everyone in the same category. Silva, Henderson, Jackson, Arona, Ninja, Shogun… I feel a destiny with all of them because we are alive at the same time. We have to fight each other. 

PRIDE: When did you become aware of Henderson? 

Kondo: When he won the first KOK (January, 2000). 

PRIDE: That’s a long time ago. 

Kondo: I wondered why this guy won. He doesn’t look that strong, does he? I thought this must be some kind of strength that I won’t understand until I fight him once. Some guys, like Silva, you can tell they are strong just by looking at them. I think it’s hard to tell that Henderson is strong just by looking at him. Despite that, a lot of martial artists regarded him highly. I think that I will really understand why, for the first time, after I have the chance to fight him. 

PRIDE: The 1st KOK was an unlimited weight class tournament. There must have been some connection because he won that tournament and you also fight in the unlimited weight class. 

Kondo: That’s true. I have a lot of respect for Henderson’s heart because weight doesn’t matter to him. A lot of guys today will quickly make excuses about weight differences. Even if they aren’t trying to make excuses, they say it anyway. I think that’s sad for a martial artist to say that. If you are a martial artist, you don’t say that even if you are thinking it. Henderson doesn’t say things like that, and I respect him because he can beat fighters that are heavier than him. 

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