Translation by Kei Kumaki
Former contender Kume Takasuke faces Kwon A-Sol for the ROAD FC Lightweight Championship on August 17, 2014. The stand out Japanese fighter is hoping the third time’s the charm.
Kume and Kwon will face each other for the chance at taking home former Champion Nam Yui-Chul’s belt, which he relinquished when he signed to the UFC earlier in the year. Kume already tasted the gold against Nam twice. In the first time they met, the two finalists of the Lightweight tournament went at it full bore for three rounds. Unable to decide a winner, the judges asked for a fourth round, and Nam edged out their decision in overtime.
Kume was mentally crushed, but it wasn’t the first time this had happened to him. In his very first time to run for a title, the Shooto Rookie Tournament of 2008, Kume was tied with Takuya Sato after three rounds and the bout was officially recorded as a draw, but judges asked for a fourth, and because of that score, Sato earned the right to be the Rookie Champ.
After the incredibly emotional battle with Nam, Kume was given the shot at the first title defense. It was another three-rounder fraught with back and forth excitement, but this time Nam did more to edge out a victory and keep ahold of the title. This was, sadly, also reminiscent of Kume’s second shot at Shooto gold in 2010, when a bout with Yoichiro Sato for the 167 pound title saw him edged out on the scorecards as well.
That was Kume’s first and only loss before meeting Nam. The two title contentions with him snapped Kume’s incredible nine win streak – all submission finishes. Looking at the three lone blemishes on his record, it seems that maybe Kume’s only weakness has been against grinders. However, he resolutely changed up his style and came back with a vengeance against Eduardo Simoes by putting in his own grinding performance to win on the scorecards at ROAD FC 14.
With a new title match ahead of him, Kume’s headed into uncharted territory. MMA-in-ASIA spoke with him prior to his title fight at ROAD FC 17 about his feelings on the championship, his opponent, and what he has learned in the toughest part of his career so far.
MMA-in-ASIA: Congratulations on your title shot. What does this chance to become Champion mean for you?
Kume: I appreciate that I have been presented with the chance three times already. I definitely want to get the title.
MMA-in-ASIA: What did you learn from your matches with Nam Yui-Chul?
Kume: I learned how important my state of mind is, and that I have to keep progressing as a fighter.
MMA-in-ASIA: Your last fight after the title challenge was a bout was with Eduardo Simoes. You really wrestled. Was this because of what you learned from Nam?
Kume: Yes, I felt that I could fight calmly because of the experiences I had in my matches with Nam.
MMA-in-ASIA: So have you changed your training these days?
Kume: I dont change big things. But I train attempting to think of the tiny points I need to work on.
MMA-in-ASIA: What would you characterize as your style?
Kume: I attempt to use my speed in a fight.
MMA-in-ASIA: Who are your training partners?
Kume: I spent the most time with Hatsu Hioki.
MMA-in-ASIA: What are your thoughts on Kwon A-Sol? He is known for KOs. Do you change your game plan for a striker?
Kume: I think he is a very strong fighter, I have to beware of his striking skills. I want to fight him keeping in mind a good defense.
MMA-in-ASIA: What do you think of Korean fighters in general?
Kume: Korean fighters have gotten stronger day by day. In fact, a lot of Japanese famous fighters are forced into an uphill battle with them.
MMA-in-ASIA: Kwon is a big talker – like Chael Sonnen. What do you think of fighters who use “hype”?
Kume: I don’t know what he says, but I think it’s just a character he plays as a professional fighter.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have anything to say to him?
Kume: Let’s fight in the best condition with each other.
MMA-in-ASIA: Speaking of that, how do you keep up your excellent physical condition?
Kume: I’m conscious to get enough of the correct nutrition and make sure to exercise a lot.
MMA-in-ASIA: So then what is your regular diet like? And do you recommend any supplements on top of it?
Kume: I eat everything, I work on keeping a good balance. Especially I like meat, and I often eat Korean food.
I get good effects from drinking creatine.
MMA-in-ASIA: How much weight do you cut when you fight?
Kume: Almost 10 kg.
MMA-in-ASIA: You fought in Japan for many years before ROAD FC. What are some differences between Japan promotions and Korea that you’ve noticed?
Kume: Yes, lately I mainly fight in Korea. ROAD FC has given me a very good situation to fight in, and Korean fans give me warm cheers.
MMA-in-ASIA: Did you think that would happen? Your Japanese fans would come to Korea to watch you, but now you have Korean fans too. How do you feel about them?
Kume: I didn’t think the Korean fans would take to me like they do. But now I am so happy that Korean fans actually cheer me on in the arena when I’m fighting.