Alan Kermorvan/Mmaweekly.com: Hi Jérôme. You got in touch with me because you’d like to pass a message, what is it?
Jérôme LeBanner: Hi, yeah indeed I’d like to issue a challenge to a well known MMA fighter from the USA.
AK: Great! But who is he? A UFC fighter?
JLB: Yeah he’s a UFC fighter. I’ll give you a few hints: he’s tall, a striker, and wears ridiculous sunglasses (laughs).
AK: (laughs) Sunglasses? That must be Tim Sylvia right?
AK: Why do you want to fight a MMA fighter? And why in the USA and not in Japan?
JLB: Actually I just want his sunglasses (laughs). No seriously, I love UFC, the USA and MMA. I’ve been paying more attention to MMA lately and I’d like to fight under these rules more often. I liked the ground training with Dean Lister and I’d really like to keep on improving. For my fight against Karaev at K1 New Year’s Eve, it was the first time I trained seriously on the ground. And I must say I liked it. Against Karaev I didn’t only try to survive on my back, waiting to go back on my feet. Ok my takedown attempt was pathetic… but it was the first one in my life!
AK: Why Tim Sylvia?
JLB: Sunglasses are my weakness. (laughs)
AK: Ok so you want to fight him to get his sunglasses?
JLB: Yeah if I win he should give them to me, it should be in the contract. Seriously now. Tim Sylvia is a great fighter in the USA, he’s considered as the n°2 UFC heavyweight and fans often say that he’s a good striker. I often read on forums “Sylvia is a deadly striker”. I’d like to show american fans what a deadly striker really is (laughs). I don’t have anything against Sylvia and he has all my respect. However I think I can beat him… even in MMA.
AK: So you want to fight for UFC? Does it mean you’d leave K-1?
JLB: No, not at all! I don’t want to leave K-1. I always hear about organizations exchanging fighters and it doesn’t happen too often. So here’s the deal: 2 fights, Tim Sylvia fights me in Japan under K-1 rules and I give him a rematch in the octagon.
AK: That’s a great idea. Do you think both companies and Sylvia will accept?
JLB: I challenged Sylvia, now it’s up to him. Does he accept to fight me? K-1 rules should suit him as he’s a deadly striker and I don’t have any problems with fighting him under MMA rules. Furthermore it’d be great for UFC’s exposition in Japan and vice-versa… Everybody can get something out of it.
AK : Thanks a lot Jerome, we hope that Tim Sylvia will accept the challenge !
JLB : You are welcome, I hope he will accept ! We keep in touch with my new official site www.jerome-le-banner.com. 2006, will be a very very busy year for me !