With the sudden victory, Main called out for a shot at the title – and it looks like he just might be deserving. The current King of Pancrase Nam Phan took the title from Takumi Nakayama in Pancrase’s new foreign fighter wave. Being a ranker with time in the promotion, Main strongly feels he should be up next.
After Main’s rapid fire win as the co-main event, ASIA MMA spoke with him regarding the fight, and heard him make his case on why he deserves the title shot next.
ASIA MMA: Since the fight was not on live broadcast, can you describe what happened?
Main: I circled around, I was trying to stay at length, and in an exchange I clinched him against the cage. He turned me against the cage, and he went for takedown. He lifted to take me down, and as he lifted I threw my leg up over and then we were on the ground when I was able to get the tap.
ASIA MMA: So he went for a high crotch and you were able to take advantage?
Main: Yes. Maybe three fights ago I did the same thing, it was almost a repeat of the other fight. I saw it and I said, well you know, he’s a strong guy, I figured he wouldn’t want to go to the ground with me. If you bait it and make it too easy for them it’s natural. “I’m going to take this person down because he feels light”. I’ve got him in position so that if he takes me down, I’m going to catch him in the submission.
ASIA MMA: Do you consider yourself primarily a grappler?
Main: I’m a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu, my grappling is definitely my strength. At this point I’m a freestyle fighter, a hybrid fighter. I feel comfortable everywhere. I stood with my last opponent until he clinched with me and then we ended up on the ground. I don’t force the takedown. I’m perfectly happy to boxer kick box with anybody.
ASIA MMA: This was the first time anyone’s finished Hulk. When you got the finish, how did you feel?
Main: He came into the fight with a couple of good wins, he’s got a couple of TKO’s to his name. He’s a very strong fighter. I knew that if I was able to go out there and finish him, it would be a statement. I’m proud of it but I also think it positions me where I need to be.I’m really gunning for that King of Pancrase title shot.
ASIA MMA: Former King Takumi is still ahead of you in the rankings, but I don’t see them putting him back into contention right away. There is another guy ahead of you, literally Guy Delumeau. Are you looking at a fight with him or do you think you deserve an immediate title shot?
Main: I think I deserve the fight for the title. If there’s anyone else I would fight it would be him, but I should jump him in the rankings after this fight. If you look at his last two fights, he beat Hulk by split decision and he beat Tamura by split decision. I TKOed Tamura in 2 rounds and I beat Hulk in under a minute. Even though I did just beat a number four guy, I beat the two guys he beat to get into position and I beat them more impressively. In my opinion, I should jump above him in the rankings, maybe even above the former champion because he hasn’t been active either, except for his defense. For me, it’s my fourth fight here. I’m undefeated here. The only fight I didn’t win was a draw against Akira who’s ranked number two at a weight class above me. I’ve beat AB when he was number three. I beat the number three guy and the number four guy with finishes, which nobody else has done in a while, so I think I deserve a title shot. I think it’s my turn.
I think I deserve a title shot. I think it’s my turn.
ASIA MMA: Did you watch Akira’s fight after yours, against Satoru Kitaoka?
Main: I did, yeah. It was cool seeing him fight. I was disappointed that he lost. Kitaoka controlled enough of the fight. It wasn’t super exciting. I was kind of hoping to see more fireworks on the feet.
ASIA MMA: What did you think about your own experience with Akira?
Main: I see these guys fight and they’re both physically stronger. I’m taller but they’re such powerful fighters. Akira is a tough guy, he’s strong and a solid fighter. I’m technically one of the best in the division and I know I can hang in there with anybody, but being in my natural weight class is the best for me. But his fight was very good. I can’t believe I got in there and went to three rounds with Akira. I’m proud of what I accomplished in that fight with him. The first round was close, the second round I almost got TKOed, and then I was able to come back in the third. If I had 15 more seconds, 20 more seconds I might’ve been able to finish him off – I had him in a triangle. Then I might’ve been four and 0 out here.
ASIA MMA: What are your thoughts on Nam Phan, the current champion of your division?
Main: He’s sort of a friend of mine. He was on TUF with me so I know him pretty well now. He’s been around and he’s had some great fights. But I want my opportunity to fight for the title, I don’t really care who has it. Nam just happens to have it. He’s a veteran, he’s got good boxing, he’s a black belt in jujitsu. I don’t think his jujitsu is as strong as mine. It would be a fun fight. I would love the opportunity. I deserve the title shot.
ASIA MMA: What is the best part about fighting in Japan?
Main: I love the fan base out here, the appreciation for martial art in Japan is different than any other place that I’ve ever fought. That’s probably my favorite thing. Even though there’s a 14 hour flight and time differences, it’s actually less stressful for me because I can focus, disconnect, I’m able to get in the zone I need to be in to perform my best. Just my coach and I come out here. I’m a martial artist first and a fighter second so the martial arts appreciation in Japan is the best.
ASIA MMA: Are you a big sushi fan?
Main: I’m not, I’m actually a vegetarian, I don’t even eat fish. It was difficult in the beginning. I brought a lot of my own food. But most the time I’m here I’m cutting weight anyway. And there are plenty of grocery stores that have fruit and vegetables. My coach Brian McLaughlin is also a vegetarian.
ASIA MMA: So when you win do you celebrate by eating a big head of broccoli?
Main: No, we go out! We can eat! Last time I came they gave us restaurant vouchers and I had a little fish but it didn’t treat me too well. I haven’t eaten meat in like eight years.
ASIA MMA: Why are you a vegetarian?
Main: Primarily health reasons, I got pretty sick in 2011. I couldn’t fight for a year and a half. I had a lot of different health issues. I was back-and-forth being a vegetarian before that, I would feel really good training and everything when I didn’t have meat in my diet. But after I got sick I couldn’t digest meat so I just quit. I started to feel so much better. It made the weight cut easier. I felt stronger just walking around, don’t fix what’s not broken! I just decided to stick with the diet and it’s become a lifestyle for me at this point.
My most valued moment in my MMA career was fighting in the Pancrase ring.
ASIA MMA: You’re only 25 years old, so you’re still sort of a prospect, you’re not even in your prime. Do you see a long road ahead of you?
Main: A lot happened quickly when I started fighting. I got on The Ultimate Fighter after fighting less than a year professionally so that threw me into veteran status. I didn’t get to have what other guys go through being considered a prospect. I went from 0 to 100 in a lot of different things. I opened my gym because I didn’t want to have to rely on the money I was making fighting. I think that now I’ve reached another level in my training and everything and I think it’s starting to show in my fights. I’m only 25 and I think I haven’t reached my peak. I’m excited for everything that happens, but I’d rather have the title shot sooner than later, but we’ll see.
ASIA MMA: There’s a lot of western talent coming into Pancrase now. Do you think that there’s an interest in Japanese MMA from the US side of the world?
Main: In terms of the fighters, I can’t even tell you I get messages every single day from the fighters asking me to get them fights in Japan. They want to fight in Japan. Especially true martial artists. People who know where it comes from and know history of martial arts really want to fight in Japan. I understand what it means. I had to keep winning in order to be able to keep fighting here. In terms of fans’ interest, there’s not so much yet, I hope there will be more as there’s more talent coming out of Japan and Asia in general, and with the UFC holding coming over here more often.
ASIA MMA: You have fought in the Pancrase ring and in the new cage. What is the new cage like?
Main: I prefer fighting in the cage because that’s where all my experience was. The cage is great, it’s the perfect size. I enjoy it. I think it was a great transition for them to adopt western rules. I will say there’s a sentimental value to the ring and I’m glad I got to fight in the Pancrase ring. The old PRIDE, the rules with the soccer kicks, knees to the grounded opponent, and things like that. Slowly everything is becoming unified, so it was really cool to be able to do that. My most valued moment in my MMA career was fighting in the Pancrase ring.
ASIA MMA: Do you have sponsors, or people who have helped you that you’d like to speak about?
Main: I’m basically self sponsored! I have a gym back home, and I support myself. My gym is Pure Mixed Martial Arts. I’d like to take thank my team, they’re my family, my students, I run the academy with my brother. They’re my backbone, my family, my team. They give me so much support. Those are the people I want to recognize.