(Originally posted at Fightlinker)
When I heard that an idol of mine, Enson Inoue, had signed up to fight MMA again after a long hiatus, I did what any sane person would do. Tracked him down on the internet, got his telephone number, and called him all the way over in Japan.
In case you didn't know, Enson Inoue is one of the hardest men ever to step into the ring. In a time when the words "samurai", "warrior", and "to the death" are thrown around by every pencil necked geek (such as myself) in a Tapout rash guard and Hayabusa shorts, Enson Inoue can legitimately claim to be a modern-day samurai. Various skirmishes and alliances with the Japanese mafia, delivering and receiving epic beatdowns, and a true never say die attitude, the first ever Shooto heavyweight champion's legacy is already a part of the history of MMA.
Here is what he had to say. Hat tip: The Grappling Dummy. (Me.) Yes, I just tipped my own hat to myself. Word.
TheGrapplingDummy (GD): Congrats on the fight. Any thoughts about your opponent? He is obviously someone who prefers to stand and bang. Will you meet him in the middle or look to take him down?
Enson Inoue (EI): (laughs) Definitely going to bang with him.
GD: Does this fight signal a more permanent return to competition or is it a one off?
EI: Well, it's a one fight contract so I'm going to see how it goes. I've been out of the ring for six years, you know? So I'm going to see how I feel, see what happens.
GD: So how do you feel at the moment?
EI: (laughs) Things are a lot harder than I remember. I've been out of hard training for a while, but I still got a month left. It's enough time to prepare, but I won't be at 100%.
GD: So I take it the offer to fight was a surprise?
EI: It was a big surprise! The promoters emailed me asking for advice. I thought maybe they had some yakuza problems so I said alright, I'd meet them. And they ended up offering me the fight.
GD: I take it it was a good offer?
EI: Yeah, definitely!
GD: What is your relationship to Yoshida (Hidehiko)... Are you guys friends?
EI: I like Yoshida-san. We aren't personal friends, but regular acquaintances. They made me the offer, and the offer was good, so I took it. I added some of my own conditions to the contract, to make sure that I would get a chance to help thank my fans. 9000 fans signed a petition to help me stay in the country.
I want to show people that I'm not sitting at home smoking marijuana. A year and a half ago I was sitting in a jail cell, and now I'm getting ready to fight again, and that feels amazing.
GD: I just heard that Yoshida may fight Fedor at the show. Any thoughts on that?
EI: Oh my goodness! He's gonna punch him into retirement! But Yoshida is a tough guy, though.
GD: Who are your training partners?
EI: I'm training at my Purebred gyms in Japan, and a guy from Fisticuffs boxing gym in Portland, Oregon is coming over to work on my hands. Of course it would probably be best for me to take my opponent down and to the ground but that was the strategy for Igor (Vovchanchyn) too, and we all know how that turned out!
GD: How do you think your experiences in recent years (trouble with Japanese authorities etc.) will affect your mindset for this fight? Are you more motivated than ever or is it another day in the 'office'?
EI: In japan, in that kind of situation, people can turn their back on you. The loyalties here are sometimes very shallow. I'm so happy to get back in the ring. I was all over the news in japan being escorted to jail, in handcuffs etc. People were calling me out, saying 'That's it, Enson's done..."
Now I'm getting back in the ring and I'm going to fight my heart out for everyone, for the fans, for the people who turn their back on me. I'm proving that I can adapt, and bounce back. That I straightened up my life and I'm back on track.
That was it. It was great to speak to Enson, he was very funny and friendly.
In case you didn't know, he has a blog here that he constantly updates with pictures from his mobile phone.
I'm looking forward to seeing him back in the ring and though I don't see him making a run for any world titles, a couple of big money fights in Japan would make for some good viewing--and a pretty decent retirement fund for the man.
And yes, this is a real interview. Not a made up one.