Tony DeSouza interview

May 13, 2004
James Hirth: I understand you are training to compete in a Brazilian MMA event and there are quite a few to choose from now. Is your bout going to be in MECA Vale Tudo, HEAT FC, Brazil Super Fight, Challenge Original Vale Tudo, SHOOTO Brazil or something else?

Tony DeSouza: Yeah. My first fight is going to be fight in Meca World Vale Tudo 11 against Luiz Azeredo (Chute Boxe) and I'm looking for another fight now. I'm looking to fight here, looking to fight anywhere.

JH: Are you training with Andre at Nova Uniao?

TD: This is my third time here in Brazil and I train every time with Andre here in Nova Uniao.

JH: Have you trained with or intend to resume training with B.J. Penn?

TD: Of course. I love to train with BJ Penn. He's great. He's a top fighter and when we train there's a lot of exchange of information.

JH: I know you like to watch tape of your opponents and figure them out ahead of time. Have you been provided with footage of your current opponent?

TD: I don’t have the tape, but I work for that. Pedro Rizzo called one of his friends to get footage of Azeredo's fights and I think I'll be able to watch that this weekend. So I will get footage of him before we fight.

JH: Weighing your preparatory habits against your desire to fight, would you ever take a short-notice bout to get back in the ring?

TD: I'm a fighter. Of course I’ll take a fight on short notice. All this time I've been in training so this is not a short notice fight for me. Since I am training all the time I can do this without any problems.

JH: What if it was for a top organization as opposed to a B or C level show?

TD: Azeredo's already fought Anderson Silva, Hayato Sakurai and Rodrigo Ruas, so the event doesn't matter. I want face to tough opponents. It doesn't matter if the event is Meca World Vale Tudo or the UFC, it is how tough the opponent is that matters.

JH: Any chance we'll see you in B.J.'s Rumble On The Rock promotion?

TD: I've had problems with my visa. My papers are on the way. If I get back to USA, I will definitively fight for B.J.'s show.

JH: Aside from having the UFC 38 fight in England against Gil Castillo cancelled (7/02) and this bout in Brazil, have you had any other recent prospects?

TD: I was supposed to fight last time I came here in October of last year. I was going to fight in a Vale Tudo event in Minas Gerais but the opponent got hurt two days before the fight. He hurt his shoulder or something like that and I didn’t get fight. I have been looking for a fight over the two years that I kept myself away of MMA scene. I’m glad that I got fight I have right now (laughs).

JH: Did you feel snubbed because Gil got to fight Hughes for the title in his next bout and you haven't been back in the cage since 2001?

TD: I did not feel snubbed whatsoever. I mean I couldn’t return to the USA at that point and Gil could (laughs).

JH: Are you planning a return to the UFC now due to the fact B.J. Penn has the title for now and Renato Verissimo has been successful in the octagon as well?

TD: I fight anywhere. If the UFC gives me another shot, I am willing to fight for any organization. I want to fight the top guys in any event. I am ready mentally, physically and emotionally. I am happy now.

JH: Back to the UFC, you would likely have to fight a bout or two before being offered a title shot. Would you be willing to make a 3-fight commitment to the UFC or would you prefer an open-ended contract to fight where you like? I think this is especially important given the difficulty you've had getting fights.

TD: This is in the hands of my manager. Whether it is a 1-fight or 3-fight deal, he knows what’s good for me. He’s looking at what is best for me, so my only concern is to train for fighting.

JH: I think I know the answer to this but would you fight B.J. for the title if he stays in the UFC and still has the title when you are ready for a shot?

TD: We’re friends. I don’t want to fight B.J. I lived with this guy. I know his mom, dad and brothers.

JH: You handled Paul Rodriguez pretty quickly in UFC 32 and have said in the past that you feel your wrestling skills give you an advantage against other wrestlers. Do you think you could dominate against fighters like Sean Sherk and Matt Hughes or do you feel that those fighters are more than just wrestlers and their more complex game makes them more difficult to prepare for?

TD: I have always felt myself comfortable with my wrestling abilities and I think because of that I can dominate other wrestlers. I use my wrestling skills differently, to fight MMA, and not like in a simple wrestling match. If you watch my fights, this happened in most every match. I use my wrestling skills to smash my opponents. As for Sherk and Hughes, well I believe in my wrestling and I feel I know things that they don’t know.

JH: You wanted to test your stand-up against Jutaro Nakao in UFC 33 and you had been working with Chuck Liddell. The first round likely had you frustrated from the slow pace and Jutaro's holding on against the fence and the second hardly started before the KO. Had you seen footage of Nakao beforehand what do you feel went wrong there?

TD: I didn’t get frustrated. The best way of explaining that is with a Spanish phrase: “La espera, desespera” or “To wait makes you a little desperate”. I got a bit desperate against Nakao and wanted to get something going. And I did get something going, with a punch on my face (laughs). You take risks in life. I took a risk and learned something from this defeat. It was an experience for me.

JH: In your last bout at WFA 1, you dominated Chatt Lavender for the entire fight. Why didn't you fight on the WFA 2 or WFA 3 cards the following year?

TD: Because I wasn’t in the USA. I left the US in the same period as UFC 35.

JH: And on a side note, do you know anything about those other two events coming out on DVD? There are some great fights on those cards and it is a shame we cannot see them.

TD: I’m not sure, but I think John Lewis is working on these DVDs because they were great events.

JH: When was the last time you went home to Peru?

TD: At Christmas time I was with my entire family.

JH: Who do you train with when you go home or do you simply return home to visit and leave the training for somewhere else?

TD: I train with my students in Peru. We’re getting a big MMA movement in Peru and I’d like to show everybody that the Peruvian fighters are making some noise.

JH: Do you know Carlos Machado black belt Roberto Kaelin? I've read he has a Vale Tudo school in Lima, Peru?

TD: No, I don’t. I never heard of him before. I know Andre Pereira from Gracie Barra and Christian Freire.

JH: You've mentioned wanting to fight in Japan in SHOOTO or Pride. Have you made any contacts to get you a bout over there?

TD: I’ve spoken to Andre here in Brazil about it. He can contact his people in Japan. I don’t focus on that, my focus is to fight.

JH: Are you familiar with the ZST promotion in Japan? They recently had an exciting Lightweight Grand Prix tournament and also feature MMA tag team matches.

TD: No I have never heard of this, but lightweight GPs are good competitions to take part. Tag team matches are uncommon here on the American Continent when we’re speaking about MMA. But who knows, we should never say never you know?

JH: Who would you like to fight in Pride? With Sakuraba retiring soon, is he someone you would like the opportunity to fight? I realize he fights at a little heavier weight than you do.

TD: This would be a dream coming true. I have watched his fights on videos and it would be an honor for me to face Sakuraba.

JH: Are you simply hungry for a title right now, whether it be in the UFC or Pride?

TD: If a tough guy has a title and I get a chance for a title shot against him, I welcome the opportunity. However I’m not hungry for a title/belt. I don’t have this on my mind right now. I just want to fight top guys.

JH: You have a habit of training and living in a gym. Is this something you feel comfortable with doing anywhere or just with a camp you know well? For instance, do you feel you could go to Curitiba, Brazil and stay with the Chute Boxe team for a few months and then return to the U.S. and go to Iowa to stay with the Miletich camp for a few months?

TD: I only train on the camps that are directly associated with Nova Uniao. I mean, I’d love to go in Chute Boxe or the Mitelich camp, but whoever I train with become my friends. I can’t smash my friends, and I’m sure if I visit these academies to train, I’d make friends. You know how it is (laughs).

JH: Thank you for your time and good luck in your return to fighting.

TD: Thank you and I want to thank my sister for sponsoring me.
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