Was your fight at UFC 144 in Japan reminiscent of the glory days of PRIDE and K-1?
It was good, ya it was similar.
Did it bring back fond memories?
Well, a lot of good and bad memories, you know? I’ve had a career that’s been up and down in Japan, so I’ve had some good memories and some bad memories.
After you clipped Cheick Kongo the first time, you remained totally poised. What was going through your mind?
Um, probably the same stuff that goes through my mind all the time, but it just wasn’t the right time to rush in. I took my time and finished him off. That fight wasn’t a fight I wanted to take. I didn’t want to fight Cheick because he was one of the guys who has helped me with my training. But slaves like me don’t have a choice.
Did you go out in Japan and celebrate after your big win over Kongo?
No, I didn’t. I’m too old to go out and party. I was just in my room playing chess and hanging out with some of the guys.
You’re not the guy who hosts his own after-party?
No, no. I go out if I have to go, but I didn’t go anywhere after UFC 144. People keep saying how old I am. So, you know, I am 38 years old [laughing].
You’re currently on a three-fight winning streak in the UFC. Are you surprised by your recent success?
No, every fight I just go out and try to do well.
What do you attribute your current success to?
I had to change my mindset about fighting and training. Hard training every day— that’s what’s been paying off.
Do you work harder at your craft now, as opposed to just relying on your physical gifts?
No, I work smarter now.
The UFC made it well known that it had no interest in having you fight inside the Octagon when they inherited your contract through their purchase of PRIDE. Did you feel incredibly unwanted?
Ya, that’s the thing that makes my goal a little bit harder to accomplish—to be the fighter that I know I am. It’s hard for someone who’s not wanted to still want to go out and compete. Actually, it sucks. But, I’ve done well for someone who was not wanted by the UFC, and it’s looking up now.
At 38 years old and with 60 pro fights under your belt, how much longer do you figure you’ll be beating up suckers for a living?
I’ll fight for as long as I can, and then if it’s time for me to go, it’s time for me to go.
You’ve fought some of the biggest names in MMA, including Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, and Alistair Overeem. Is there another fighter who you want to face before you retire?
No, retirement can wait. My journey is not at an end yet.
I know you’re a big gamer, so what video games are you playing these days?
Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
No UFC Undisputed 3?
No, I don’t play any fighting games.
You’re a big comic book fan too, right?
Ya, I love comics. I don’t have much of a collection, but I like to read comics.
Who’s your favorite?
Juggernaut and the Beyonder. The Juggernaut because—until he get his helmet off—he is virtually unbeatable. The Beyonder because he is unbeatable [laughing].
You’ve already got an iron chin and superhuman power, what other superpower would you like to have?
It would be good to be able to fly.
I don’t think the world is ready for a flying “Super Samoan.”
Probably not, mate [laughing].
Thanks for the time, Mark, and we will see you in the cage against Stefan Struve on May 26 at UFC 146.
Excellent. Can’t wait. Cheers.