Heating up for PRIDE 19:
Wallid is coming to Japan!
By Eduardo Alonso
Wallid Ismail is without a doubt one of the most controversial and charismatic fighters in the NHB game. Winning or losing Ismail is always producing epic rivalries and entertaining fights for the audience, and now he is about to face his toughest challenge in recent years: a face-off with IVC champion Alex Stiebling. Wallid left for Japan on Thursday, February 14th, but he managed to speak with FCF in the cab on the way to the airport, as FCF heats up for PRIDE 19!
FCF: Wallid, a good amount of time has passed after your win over Shungo Oyama at PRIDE 15, and now you’re finally going to fight at PRIDE again. Have you been anxious to fight again during this layoff?
Wallid: Look, what happened is that I had closed a deal to fight against Daijiro Matsui in December. But I don’t know what happened, if Matsui didn’t want to take the fight or what, but with around 10 days left for the fight, the fight was unfortunately cancelled. So I kept training for this fight in February, and I’m tranquil. I’m here for whatever may come.
FCF: But does this layoff increase your will to fight?
Wallid: Without a doubt! I’m eager to fight!
FCF: Your opponent will be Alex Stiebling, who won the recent 16-man IVC tournament and also made his debut in PRIDE defeating Allan Goes. What do you know about your opponent?
Wallid: Man, he is very good! He is a young kid that has been standing out. In the last 3 months he beat five Brazilians, so it’s going to be a tough fight. But I’m ready. I’m ready for the war!
FCF: Did you watch his fight against Goes? What did you think of that fight?
Wallid: I watched it. The worst thing that exists is for you to analyze another fighter’s fight. I find it ridiculous when people do that. It has already happened with me when I happened to lose, or when other fighters lose… some guys that aren’t fighting start to say things like, "Gee, he didn’t do that, he should’ve done that, etc." I believe to say these kinds of things is to act like a fool! Because a real fighter doesn’t need to keep commenting on the other fighter’s fights. I believe that only those who don’t really fight comment on this kind of stuff. I don’t think that is right for a real fighter to keep commenting on stuff like, "he made a mistake there, and he made another mistake there," because anything can happen inside the ring. I believe that those who criticize the fighters are a bunch of fools! Because anyone that enters the ring to fight is already a warrior in my book.
FCF: Well, to lose you’ve got to enter the ring first…
Wallid: Exactly! Like something that always bothered me a lot; some members of the Gracie family would never fight. Like Rickson and some others, but he would always talk about the guys that were fighting a lot! When the guy that was fighting a lot would lose, they would badmouth the guy! "He should’ve done that, or he shouldn’t have done that," I think this is a dull thing. It’s easy for you not to fight and keep analyzing the fights of those who fight. This is the role of a fool! Who must analyze the fights are those who are paid to analyze fights. A fighter that wants to be an analyst must get in there to brawl!
FCF: You have focused a lot on your standing up training, and also on your wrestling training lately. Do you feel more comfortable to trading nowadays?
Wallid: A lot more! I’m fine man. Let’s see what will happen in this fight. I trained a lot for this fight, and I’m coming to Japan a lot earlier than usual. Because in the two fights that I lost, my condition was always a factor. You can see that I never lacked in guts or will, and the few times that I happened to suffer an adverse result, only two times during my whole career, it was because of my conditioning and the time-zone thing. Because I would get to Japan two days before the fight, but not now man! Now I’m going ten days before the fight, and I trained a lot for that.
FCF: Also you have been showing an improved cardio condition in all of your recent fights. Do you feel that Wallid is now a much better conditioned athlete?
Wallid: Nowadays I’m without a doubt a professional athlete! In the old days, I was a guy that didn’t respect my opponents a lot. For example, I would leave Brazil 10 days before a fight, go to the USA and only get to Japan like 3 days before the fight! I didn’t respect my opponents. I thought that I was going to beat the guys quickly, no matter what. And that was when I had the adverse results. But nowadays I’m totally professional. I train for that. To represent Brazil and my state of Amazonas. So I’m ready for war! Those old days are over, you can even see that I’m not doing any TV shows anymore and stuff like that, because Wallid is now concentrated in training. The days that I was on TV all the time were the days that I didn’t train.
FCF: Who will be in your corner for this fight?
Wallid: In my corner I’ll have Darrel Gholar, Carlson Gracie, Luis Alves, and of course the support of my managers, Sergio Batarelli and Marcos Jara.
FCF: How do you imagine this fight unfolding? How do you believe the fight is going to be decided?
Wallid: I’ll say something man, excuse the word that I’ll use, but now there are only 10 days for the fight, so I say fuck-off! Now it’s time to brawl! I don’t have to be thinking if it’s going to be like this or like that, it’s time to brawl! We’ll go there to brawl and let’s see what will happen in the end! I’m prepared to brawl! In any way he wants to! If he wants to brawl standing and I can’t take him to the ground, let’s brawl standing! If he wants to go to the ground, let’s go to the ground! I’ll go everywhere he wants to! Fuck-off, you know?
FCF: You were challenged at the last MECA event by Marcelo Giudice, a Ryan Gracie student. What did you think of this challenge?
Wallid: [Laughs] This was nonsense. Poor guy, I pity him. He’s wanting to promote himself. Because let me tell you something funny, at the hotel he was scared to death. He was walking with his head down and stuff, but once he got to the event and he knew that there were people to break up the fight, he got tough again! He doesn’t even have the condition to fight me. Man! Where did this guy already fight? Who is this guy? This guy is nothing, a nobody!
FCF: After your fight at PRIDE 19, what can we expect from you in the near future?
Wallid: This fight aside, I’m ready for war! That’s it; I’m ready to continue, to keep training and fighting and give plenty of joy to the ones that supports me, and plenty of sadness to my opponents! Because there’s no easy time. For how long have you been hearing my name in the fight game? You can see that there’s always a bunch of young fighters coming, but Wallid is always here! A warrior! For how many years have you been hearing about me? A lot of years! The young guys will come and go and I’m always here, with a lot of discipline and a lot of faith in God.
FCF: Is there anyone that you would like to face? Like maybe a rematch against Akira Shoji in PRIDE?
Wallid: This is what I want the most! This is what I ask [for] the most in Japan. But man, those two guys that beat me, Takahashi and Shoji, they run from me like the devil runs from the cross! And a guy that I believe it would be a good fight is Rickson! But gee, he only talks. But let it roll.
FCF: And what about Ryan? Is there any chance of this fight finally happening?
Wallid: Man, he got spanked on his butt by Sakuraba. I don’t even like to analyze fights, but gee, he is a poor guy. He doesn’t exist. Then, gee, he lost to that Japanese fighter that weighs 10kg less than him! I only talk about him because he is nothing, and because he talked about me first!
FCF: Any final message for your fans?
Wallid: I’m here, a warrior as always! I’m ready for whatever may come, and with the help of God I’ll bring another victory to Brazil. And let’s keep going!
FCF: Thanks a lot Wallid. The best of luck in your fight.
Wallid: Thanks man.