ONE FC recently signed two top featherweights in Asia Pacific, Rob Lisita and Yusuke Kawanago. The both have something in common, which happens to be a lot of blood that was spilled in a conquest for the Legend FC Championship belt two years ago.
Lisita has since moved to Thailand and put in a full life of training at Phuket Top Team. His most recent win over Lion Takeshi most definitely landed him on the global MMA map if he wasn’t before. Now Lisita will have his chance for revenge against the man who took a decision win from him to claim a title. Being signed to ONE FC, he was offered the rematch against Kawanago immediately and didn’t hesitate to take it.
Here are his reasons in his own words.
MMA-in-ASIA: You’ve said this is the best fight you could have asked for. Why?
Rob: Because I’m 6-1 as a featherweight and my only loss is to Kawanago. It’s a decision loss, and the judging criteria was technique, striking, grappling, aggression and ring control. I feel like the striking was relatively even, I landed some kicks, he landed some knees. I definitely won the grappling, I was aggressive, and I controlled the ring. But somehow they gave it to him. So I’m proud to be able to redeem myself.
MMA-in-ASIA: I was there for your first match together. The first match was pretty bloody.
Rob: Yeah, I bleed a lot.
MMA-in-ASIA: What has changed with you since that fight with Kawanago?
Rob: I first started training in MMA in 2008, and I started fighting in 2008. One year since then you can take away because I fought only one time, and that was 5 days after my father died. What people don’t understand is the progression from then until now. I’ve trained and lived as an athlete. I’ve improved ten-fold. I’ve worked on not cutting so much weight, I’ve improved my boxing, and I’m training to become a smarter fighter. I know I’m aggressive, I know I have a good chin. But it’s not just a matter of that, it’s the matter of putting it all together in a fight.
MMA-in-ASIA: Is there anyone you see yourself matching up with in the future, or are you only focused on Kawanago as your next opponent?
Rob: I think about it, even though Kawanago’s the challenge right in front of me. Every day is a challenge in the gym. I’m exited that we (ONE FC) have the deepest division at featherweight. We’ve just signed Jadamba; Harris Sarmiento is a fighter that I look up to; Koji Oishi – the Champion – is a great well-rounded fighter. These are the guys that I want to fight. There’s some jiujitsu players with not a lot of MMA under their belts, I have no problem fighting them and showing them my ground skills. There are many, many fights I can have. As long as I’m fighting, I’ll be happy.
MMA-in-ASIA: In a rematch from such an original barn-burner fight, many times both fighters know the strength of their opponent and play it cautious the second time out. What do you see happening in this fight?
Rob: I fight the way I fight. No matter who’s in front of me. Because we’re in a cage this time, I feel he can run but he can’t hide. The first match, he was able to do that but that’s not going to work this time. I’ve worked on my footwork, I’ve worked on my speed, my power’s always been there. I’m going to fight my fight. My idol’s Pacquiao, and I’m going to put on a show for the Filipino fans.
MMA-in-ASIA: Kawanago didn’t fight for a long time because he had that Champion clause in his contract and didn’t get an opponent. After Legend FC closed, he’s only had one fight since. Do you think that’s going to affect him?
Rob: Since we fought, I’ve fought 5 times, 2 times in Combat 8 which is boxing with MMA gloves. And I finished my 3 MMA fights. One of those was number 35 in the world, one was number 3 in the world. I finished both of these guys, one by KO, one by submission. I know I’ve improved. I’m ranked number 76 in the world, and he’s the one who’s ranked 210 or whatever it is. He’s coming for MY spot, but I’m coming for revenge.
MMA-in-ASIA: So there is bad blood between you?
Rob: I don’t have a grudge against him, but I have a grudge against the fact that the first time we fought he sent his coach to come and train at my gym to feel me training. His corner came to train for his UFC fight. He smiles at me like we’re friends, but then he tries to head butt me at the weigh ins.
MMA-in-ASIA: So there are lots of reasons for this match to be violent?
Rob: Well you know he just had a baby, and congratulations to him, and I’ve got my third child due in August. We’ve both got something to fight for. We both have motivation. But my motivation is that win bonus and to prove that I’m the best featherweight in the world.