Japanese grappling stand out Shinji Sasaki takes on Korean MMA pioneer Kim Chang-Hyun at ROAD FC 21 on February 1, 2015.
It will essentially be two of the most noted grapplers in their respective countries finally meeting in the cage. Sasaki has been a Shooto mainstay with a long roster of opponents he’s finished with chokes. His opponent is nicknamed “Arm Bar”, so one can see where this fight is leading.
Looking at their recent records would not do justice to the talents Sasaki and Kim both possess. Sasaki is coming off a Draw in a knock-down-drag-out war with Daisuke Nakamura, grappler extraordinaire. Before that, he stood in front of the aptly-monikered “Tyson” Nobumitsu Osawa for two crazy rounds before eating a punch near the bell. And at the Pancrase 20th Anniversary event, Sasaki raged a thrilling grappling battle with Bogdan Cristea that ended with him seeing down side of the decision.
Sasaki still competes actively in grappling competitions, and once was set up to face Nick Diaz in California way back in 2017. Diaz was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for marijuana following his submission victory over Pride Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi at Pride 33. Subsequently, the California State Athletic Commission upheld the suspension and the match fell through.
Sasaki’s record now stands at a respectable 13-8-3. Ahead of his ROAD FC debut, the BURST representative from Hiroshima spoke with Asia MMA on his opponent, MMA in Korea and Japan, and his grappling acumen.
Asia MMA: Have you watched ROAD FC before? What do you think about the promotion?
Sasaki: I have watched it on the internet. I think that the excitement and atmosphere of the place is very nice.
Asia MMA: Both you and your opponent have had lengthy careers in your own countries. Now that you are coming to Korea to compete, what is your opinion of Korean MMA?
Sasaki: I think the speed of the growth in strength of the players is great. I think MMA in Korea is surging and it will only get stronger.
Asia MMA: What is your opinion of Kim Chang-Hyun? Have you seen his grappling skills?
Sasaki: I have watched videos of his fights several times. He is aggressive, my feeling is that he is also strong. I think he’s a great player.
Asia MMA: You have a very aggressive style. How would you describe it?
Sasaki: I think my style is awkward and clumsy, kind of funny.
Asia MMA: You still compete in BJJ. What do you think about the new style of professional grappling events like Metamoris?
Sasaki: If I happened to get a chance to compete there, I would want to do it.
Asia MMA: As your next match is a grappler versus grappler fight, you have the background for it. However, have you been making any changes in your training?
Sasaki: For this match we’re talking about, I have been specifically practicing for it. I have been training with all the students in the gym.
Asia MMA: What is your favorite technique?
Sasaki: The triangle choke!
Asia MMA: Out of all your opponents, who was the most difficult, and why?
Sasaki: Daisuke “Amazon” Sugie. He had such a strong heart.
Asia MMA: Are there any MMA fighters you admire?
Sasaki: Yes, I admire Megumi Fujii and Sato Rumina.
Asia MMA: What is your opinion of the state of Japanese MMA?
Sasaki: I want more exciting MMA throughout Japan, and I want MMA to infiltrate the country!
Asia MMA: What are your own goals for the year 2015?
Sasaki: I want to have more matches and win!