K-1 Superstar Jerome LeBanner recently took some time to talk with PDG about his career, Cro-Cop, his future and who is the greatest fighter on the planet now.
PDG: Since your fight against Semmy Schilt in June; what have you been doing?
JLB: Vacations! We were also doing some business negotiations for my 2 next movies in 2009. But today, Iím going biking in the French mountains and thatís going to be great!
PDG: What is your current training schedule?
JLB: I usually train twice a day. Cardio and weight Ė strength training and in the morning and kickboxing, sparring, lesson in the evening.
PDG: Do you know who your opponent is going to be for the WORLD GP 2008 in Seoul?
JLB: Not yet, Iíll let you know as soon as I have a name. By the way, Iím ready to take on anybody. It doesnít matter.
PDG: Mirko 'Cro-Cop' recently stated that you chose not to face him in DREAM; what are your thoughts on that potential match-up?
JLB: That statement is wrong! I agreed on that match up but apparently Mirko was out because of some injury! Then later, DREAM came back with Mark Hunt but my management didnít accept. They said that 2 fights and 2 jet-lag in less than 3 weeks was crazy....So for once I decided to listen to my guys and to not take the fight on short notice. I also had a little injury, so I wasnít at 100%. Iím becoming a wise guy!
PDG: In your opinion, who are the 5 best fighters overall right now in the world?
JLB: I donít like to rank myself, so I will not include my name in any list.
K-1 Heavyweights: Semmy Schilt, Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Badi Hari and....I donít know who would be fifth!
MMA Pound for Pound: Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva, GSP, BJ Penn and Randy Couture.
PDG: Outside of K-1, what other organization would you like to fight for?
JLB: It was always my dream to fight at least once in the UFCís octagon. But it seems itís impossible. They said they will be interested in signing me but not for just 1 single fight. I would have to do an exclusive contract without any K1 fights....
Since Affliction is doing some great shows, I would love to fight Tim Sylvia there. Affliction is one of my sponsors, I love their clothes and we have a great relation with Tom Atencio.
PDG: In the past, you and Tim Sylvia exchanged some words; what did you think of his recent fight with Fedor?
JLB: Fedor just showed why so many people say heís number 1. It was an impressive demonstration of his skills and his rank. I met Fedor and I trained with his guys at the Red Devil gym. Fedor is incredibly strong and explosive.
Now I have nothing but respect for Tim Sylvia, challenges, words are a part of the game! I would love to fight him at Affliction now that it is possible! Tom (Atencio), make this fight happen my friend! I know the fans will love this fight! It would be a slugfest.
PDG: You have fought some of the biggest names in K-1 and MMA (Hunt, Schilt, Hoost, Aerts, etc.); who was your toughest opponent and which fight did you enjoy the most?
JLB: I donít know. Those 4 guys probably gave me the biggest opposition! I had my toughest fights versus Aerts and Hoost. The 4 fights against Hunt were great too. Schilt is just too damn tall and he knows perfectly how to use his reach. Heís not my toughest opponent but he is so difficult to fight. I really enjoyed my victory against Hunt in our last confrontation.
PDG: When you are not training or fighting; what do you enjoy outside of the ring?
JLB: Being with my family and friends, biking, acting in movies and taking care of my dogs.
PDG: Thanks for your time; is there any thing else you would like to add?
JLB: I would like to thank my fans for their continued support, especially my Japanese fans who always are behind me! Most of the fighters donít even realize that without fans there is no sports!
To my US fans, Iíll be visiting at least 2 or 3 times in USA next year. We are also planning some seminars in California, Florida and maybe others states. All gyms that are interested in hosting seminars please contact my agent at firstname.lastname@example.orgT