In his first interview at Abu Dhabi, Carl Fisher talks to Ze Mario Sperry
Carl Fisher : When did you arrive in Abu Dhabi?
Mario Sperry : I arrived about five days ago. The journey took about 28 hours and we were about seven hours jet lagged, so we were pretty much wiped out.
Youre pretty much acclimatised with the weather and climate?
Mario Sperry : Yeah, pretty much the same as in Rio, so we dont have much of a problem.
What training have you done in Abu Dhabi?
Mario Sperry : We have done everything we can to prepare for the championships in Rio, so we are trying to maintain our fitness and stamina. Lifted some weights and training techniques and with different guys from Bulgaria and Russia who train and live over here. We are used to our own training partners, they know our game, so training with these other guys is very interesting.
Who have you been training with in Rio?
Mario Sperry : All my partners, Carlos Baretto, Ricardo Arona, Vitor Belfort, Ricardo Liborio, Murillo Bustamante, and a bunch of other guys from the Brazilian Top Team.
How does it feel to be in the Superfight? Do you feel honoured?
Mario Sperry : Yes indeed. In 98 I came here the first and had 7 fights and returned in 99 to fight Inoue the Japanese champion and then came back in 2000 to fight Roberto Traven. It wasnt a very nice fight but I fought to win, and now I am here to fight the Absolute Champion, Mark Kerr.
Do you know much about Mark?
Mario Sperry : Yes, I know some things he can do, but its hard to say if he will do them, as hes a pretty complete fighter - he knows how to defend on the ground and has a good stand up game, he knows his submissions and is very strong, so its unpredictable what will happen.
Do you feel he will be under pressure after his recent losses at Pride?
Mario Sperry : You would have to ask him personally, but he is a very experienced fighter and very professional and will have to live with the defeats and victories and handle them and thats why hes such a great champion.
Prior to Abu Dhabi, what tournaments have you done this year?
Mario Sperry : This year I have done nothing. I was supposed to fight in Pride at the start of the year, but they changed the date to March 25th, which was too close to Abu Dhabi and I was concentrating on this fight, as with Pride there are three or four tournaments a year, so I will try to fight in Pride after this event.
Youve done so well in your career, where can you test yourself now and in the future?
Mario Sperry : I think its like life. You are born, become a kid, grow up and become an old man and then you become a kid again, and what I am trying to do now is just go into Pride, UFC, Colleseum in America, and then try to get into the ju jitsu tournaments again, and go back to the way I started. My view of the ju jitsu tournaments is that they dont give a lot of money, but they are very interesting and I like them very much.
Will you be doing any seminars this year?
Mario Sperry : Hard to say. Last year I did a lot in the USA and Brazil but I have had to concentrate on my fight here and I have had invites to Portugal, Thailand and the Philippines and I will be working on them after the fight.
What does the Ze stand for?
Mario Sperry : Its a nickname; my real name is Jose Mario.
Who is your instructor?
Mario Sperry : I was with Carlson Gracie, but we are not with him anymore and basically I am the instructor and we have a pool of instructors in the Brazilian Top Team; myself, Ricardo Liborio, Murillo Bustamante and Bebel and we take care of Brazilian Top Team and we share the workload so when one of us has to train for a fight we can let the others teach at the Academy.
How is the Academy going?
Mario Sperry : I have my own Academy in the South of Brazil with about 200 students and I have a partnership in the Brazilian Top Team in Rio. Its doing great and we do boxing, wrestling, ju jitsu Muay Thai and the no rules and there are lots of competitions going on all over the world, so really busy.
What do like about being here in Abu Dhabi?
Mario Sperry : It feels like home. Its my fourth time here and I feel to be a part of it without sounding proud of myself; I was first Absolute and Superfight Champion and I hope to be champion here again this year, so I am one of the greatest fighters here and I like being here a lot.
Any predictions for the tournament this year? Anyone to look out for?
Mario Sperry : Its pretty hard as all the fighters change and develop new skills and change their game plans. I would say Jean Jacques Machado would be one to look out for; Royler Gracie for sure, but I have a guy coming out whos quite unknown coming from Brazil, Fredeson Piaxao who is under 65kilos and very strong and technical and good on the ground. It would be a very good fight between these two guys; lets see, Saulo Riberio a good strong fighter; Ricardo Liborio; Ricardo Arona, champion last year and looking very strong; the heavy guys, Erikson, Vitor Belfort went up to the over 99s so he didnt clash with Arona and I think he will be in the top three.
Well Mario I will leave it there for now. Thanks for your time.
Mario Sperry : A pleasure my friend.
Carl Fisher - "The European voice of MMA News "
submitted 25 April 2001
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