Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Galesic Ready for Takimoto and his Pride Debut

By David West

Preparing for his Pride debut on April 8th, Full Contact Fighter caught up with rising star Zelg “Benkei” Galesic from his training camp in Thailand. Galesic is coming off the biggest win of his career, a 20-second KO of Mark Weir that earned the fighter his first title, the Cage Rage British Middleweight Championship. He was scheduled to take on Daijiro Matsui at Cage Rage 20 in December, but was sidelined by an injury in training.

Now Galesic is set for his first outing on Japanese soil, alongside his Trojan Free Fighters team-mate, James “The Colossus” Thompson, who’ll be meeting Don Frye. Galesic’s opponent will be Makoto Takimoto, the gold medallist in judo at the 2000 Olympics. Takimoto now trains in MMA with Japanese fan favourite Hidehiko Yoshida. Galesic is not without honors either, having won two World Tae-Kwon-Do Championships, making their match a classic striker versus grappler contest. Galesic’s nickname, Benkei, refers to a famous warrior from Japan’s feudal era, Saito Musashibo Benkei, who was renowned for his strength and loyalty to his lord, which should warm the hearts of the Japanese audience.

When were you approached to fight in Pride?
“There had been some discussion over a period of time, as my team has strong links with Pride through one of my teammates, James Thompson. My name was constantly put in the frame, but I think it was Japanese fan power that really started the ball rolling.”

What do you know about Makato Takimoto?
“I know he wears a gi and that's it!”

How is your training progressing in Thailand?

“I have been in Thailand for a month. My team has close links with Master Pimu's camp in Bangkok . There are some good former Champions there, Thailand Pinsinchai [two-time All-Thailand Champion], Sangchern Lek [five-time All-Thailand champion], so if you are willing to learn then it is all there for you. The training itself is very hard and I have struggled with the debilitating heat, but it’s all good preparation for the stuffy conditions I’ll have to fight in.”

Now that Pride has been purchased by the Fertitta brothers, who own the UFC, does that open new doors for you?
“It's too early to say, I don't know enough about the ins and outs of the new amalgamation but I certainly don't see the Fertitta brothers buying Pride as a bad thing.”

Will you be back to defend your title at Cage Rage this year?
“I hope so but unfortunately it seems that some of the changes that have occurred might preclude me from doing so. I personally like Dave and Andy [Cage Rage promoters] and want to support them where I can, so if politics don’t get in the way, then I’m there.”

Were you disappointed to not be able to fight Daijiro Matsui?
“I am disappointed when I wake up and it's not a Friday, so I'm just disappointed full stop.”

How do you see the 185 pound division in Pride versus the UFC?

“I see some really good potential match ups, but with me in Pride I see the Pride 185 division as far superior. [Laughs]”

Who would you most like to fight in 2007?
“Every fight is a challenge so I am happy to fight whoever Pride puts in front of me. I am not arrogant enough to think I still don't have a lot to learn, so I hope the fights in 2007 will be ones that allow me to grow as a fighter.”

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