YASUHIRO URUSHITANI: Flyweight Champ talks old wounds, new chances

Yasuhiro Urushitani will be making his debut in ONE Fighting Championship 9 “Rise to Power” on May 31, 2013 against Rey Docyogen, URCC Pinweight Champion. With Urushitani being currently ranked number 10 flyweight in the world by Sherdog, there’s no doubt that sparks will fly in Manila.

Following his attempt to capture UFC gold in the promotion’s flyweight tournament, which christened its newest division, Yasuhiro Urushitani sought hunting grounds closer to home. He follows his TRIBE Tokyo teammates Yuya Shirai and Yoshiyuki Nakanishi into ONE FC, where he can look across a developing flyweight division. The Shooto Bantamweight Champion will enter the division as a very hot commodity due to wins over John Dodson, Mamoru Yamaguchi, Ryuichi Miki, and Kiyotaka Shimizu.

Urushitani joins a group of impressive fighters at bantamweight that forecasts a slew of action-packed matches: grappling stand out Andrew Leone, up and comer Geje Estaquio, super Shootist Shinichi Kojima, and his current opponent URCC Champ Docyogen. Kojima and Urushitani have met and drawn twice in Shooto – could fans see a third battle to decide the winner of the war? Whatever the future holds, it will be exciting. Prior to his ONE FC 9 debut, Urishitani spoke with MMA-in-ASIA Correspondent John Merva.

MMA-in-ASIA: How did you get your start in MMA?

Urushitani: I wrestled in high school and then on to university. I had known Caol Uno from high school and my interest in MMA grew out of watching him.

MMA-in-ASIA: Aside from Uno, did any other fighters inspire you or help you on your MMA journey when you were starting out?

Urushitani: Takeyasu Hirono.

MMA-in-ASIA: How do you feel about your recent fights in the UFC?

Urushitani: Well, when I didn’t manage to get the belt it almost killed my motivation to fight. I didn’t think there would be another chance to become a champion.

MMA-in-ASIA: What were the factors for your performance in those fights?

Urushitani: Well, I wasn’t prepared enough or experienced enough for the UFC yet.

MMA-in-ASIA: And have the losses affected you mentally in your training for ONE FC?

Urushitani: As far as how the losses affected me, it’s the first time I have had back-to-back losses, if I lose for the third time in a row then I really feel like there’s no future for me in the sport.

MMA-in-ASIA: The competitive environment seems to be extremely cutthroat, and it has been difficult for Japanese fighters to find success in the UFC. Why do you think this is?

Urushitani: The first main difference is the difference between fighting in a ring and fighting in a cage. The rules are different as well, with elbows being allowed in the UFC. Of course there are physical differences between Japanese and foreign fighters as well. However, from a technical standpoint, I think that Japanese fighters actually have the edge.

MMA-in-ASIA: What do you think of the current boom in Asian MMA?

Urushitani: The level is definitely increasing and I think that while we have the chance to perform on such impressive stages, it will definitely play a role in raising the overall level of MMA internationally.

MMA-in-ASIA: How do you think your UFC experience will help you in ONE FC?

Urushitani: By fighting in the UFC I was able to get used to fighting on the big stage and it also increased my experience of fighting overseas so I think it will be very useful to me.

MMA-in-ASIA: How do you see the fight with Rey Docyogen going?

Urushitani: I am ready to fight him in any way or anywhere the fight happens.

MMA-in-ASIA: How would you describe your fighting style?

Urushitani: Matador?! I wear my opponent down and then go in for the kill.

MMA-in-ASIA: And how does a Matador train?

Urushitani: On Monday it is running and jiu jitsu, then Tuesday morning it’s grappling and in the afternoon I train my kickboxing. Wednesday is for boxing and Thursday is grappling again. Friday I do strength and conditioning work then Saturday it’s back to kickboxing. Sunday is my day off!!

MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have any advice for young fighters who are just starting out?

Urushitani: If you want to be good, train, train train!!

MMA-in-ASIA: What does the future hold for you?

Urushitani: First things first, I will be a ONE FC champion.

MMA-in-ASIA: Would you like to tell your fans what to expect when you meet Rey Docyogen in ONE FC 9 on May 31st?

Urushitani: Please get ready for an explosive fight!!