Ikuhisa Minowa returns to Korea at ROAD FC 15 to face Park Jung-Gyo. In this exclusive interview, the legend discusses MMA in Asia, life after fighting, and keeping his heart in the game.
MMA-in-ASIA: You are a very interesting and entertaining fighter with a long and active career. How do you keep the spirit to keep fighting?
Minowa: I just want to get victory for my fans, and make them happy. I do this all because of my fans.
MMA-in-ASIA: When you look back over the fights you’ve been in, what comes to mind as your favorite, or most memorable?
Minowa: All my fights remain in my heart. But the most recent fight I can say that I thought was interesting was with Sokoudjou. I think about that fight a lot.
MMA-in-ASIA: How long does it take you to prepare for a fight?
Minowa: About two months.
MMA-in-ASIA: What kind of training are you doing now?
Minowa: I try all different types of training, all different styles.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have a favorite, or anything you’ve been gravitating towards recently?
Minowa: Not really, I like to do everything equally. I think my skills are all about the same level so I enjoy training in every way.
MMA-in-ASIA: Have you ever considered changing your shorts color?
Minowa: Ah, no. It’s always the same. I have a black one and a white one, but I still don’t change!
MMA-in-ASIA: You’ve seen the popularity of MMA in Japan decline during your active time in Japan. Do you think with UFC and WSOF holding shows in Japan, that there will be a resurgence?
Minowa: I think that if Japanese fighters aren’t on these events, they’ll be useless. But if they put some Japanese fighters on the card, then I think the popularity of MMA has a chance to go back up.
MMA-in-ASIA: When you look at Korean MMA and Korean fighters, what is your opinion?
Minowa: I think the popularity of MMA in Korea itself is very stable, and even going up. Within the few past years I’ve watched it, I think the fighters have improved a lot. They are very strong.
MMA-in-ASIA: What would you say is important for young MMA fighters to know?
Minowa: They shouldn’t rush. They should pick up MMA slowly, and do it at their own pace.
MMA-in-ASIA: Has there ever been a time in your career, during the ups and downs, that you’ve lost heart in fighting?
Minowa: There have been a few times.
MMA-in-ASIA: How have you regained purpose?
Minowa: I have to be calm.
MMA-in-ASIA: How do you become calm?
Minowa: Relax. I like to be with nature, and go hiking.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have any other pursuits outside of MMA?
Minowa: I like to go shopping with my family, go to the market, go traveling, basically spend time with my family.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you ever contemplate the end of your career?
Minowa: I’m always a fighter. But I am thinking about it sometimes.
MMA-in-ASIA: What does life after MMA look like for you?
Minowa: I’m thinking about it over and over, but I can’t grasp what I would do. I still have the heart for MMA. So it’s difficult to think of what I might actually be doing instead of this.
MMA-in-ASIA: Would you say that you are defined by being a fighter?
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you watch MMA?
Minowa: Yes, sometimes I do.
MMA-in-ASIA: Are there any fighters you find interesting these days?
Minowa: Well, to be honest I really only watch it for fun, I don’t watch it to follow fighters specifically. I just watch enjoy watching their techniques, see what other fighters are doing.
MMA-in-ASIA: What are your thoughts on the trend of fighting for points, not finishing – in other words, not Minowaman style?
Minowa: Since the level is so high in international MMA these days, there’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s just a natural progression in the sport.
MMA-in-ASIA: Who have been your sparring partners and where have you been training most?
Minowa: Yanagisawa Ryushi, and some other Pancrase gym fighters.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have anyone you’d like to thank?
Minowa: My family, friends, and my fans.