Shojin Miki expects to be unrecognizable against Cleveland Mclean at Combat Night: Orlando on Saturday, July 24.
It will be his first fight since changing camps to Hawaii Elite MMA in February 2020. Close to two years away from the cage, “Mini Margarito” is ready to showcase his improvements inside the The Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida.
“I looked at some of my old videos, I wouldn’t say I was disgusted, but I was really put off by the things I was doing and the things I had noticed that I would never even think about anymore,” Miki said.
“I feel like I was only tapping into maybe like 50 percent of my potential before training with them and now I feel like I’m at 80 to 90 percent.”
Shojin Miki found new home at Hawaii Elite MMA
Miki is currently .500 at 6-6. He suffered four of his losses to former or current UFC fighters. In fact, Miki currently trains with Tyson Nam and Martin Day at Hawaii Elite, both who handed Miki losses earlier in his career.
His transition to the new gym started when Nam invited Miki to be a main sparring partner for one of his upcoming UFC bouts. Miki opted to stay.
Along with training alongside UFC talent, Russel Doane, an eight-time UFC veteran, is one of the head coaches at the gym.
The Hawaiian expects a turnaround in his career after being unable to string wins together since 2017. Miki made the decision to surround himself with more experience to help kickoff a resurgence of his career.
“I was pretty much backyard training for a good bunch of my pro fights,” Miki said. “So actually get into a gym and get consistency with training partners and liked minds, who really want to move forward and get their careers going, it’s really motivating.”
Miki only started backyard training for his last few fights. To this day, Miki still works with some of his old training partners and coach.
“They are like family to me and they helped me through wins and losses the same,” Miki said. “I don’t feel like that’s what made me lose fights, but I just never knew what more I could gain by going somewhere with a solid schedule until now.”
Different from before
Miki will be paying out of pocket to fly him and his new coaches to Florida. It is the first fight in his career where he will be fighting outside of either Hawaii or Japan.
The flyweight was originally scheduled to fight Mclean at Combat Nights near the end of last year, but the Hawaii native opted out when his son was born this past December. He will finally face Mclean seven months later.
Mclean is on a two-fight win streak, most recently finishing Miki’s teammate Federico Vento via second-round TKO at Combat Night 21 in April. Although “Baby Beast Mode” has 23 professional bouts to his name, Miki is confident he’s fought higher competition.
According to Miki, Mclean is judging him based on his last fight from two years ago. Miki suffered a first-round TKO at Klyotaka Shimizu at a Shooto event in November 2019.
Miki is confident in his claim of being better than his .500 record.
“He’s going to see a different person, a different attitude, a different vibe, so he can think what he wants,” Miki said. “I don’t see anywhere that I am going to have trouble honestly.”
Better than the record shows
A consistent theme throughout Miki’s career is he finds ways to finish fights. Whether training at a gym or on his own, he ended all six of his victories before the final bell.
His confidence to put opponents away is only increasing since improving at Hawaii Elite over the last year. Making an impressive run at 125 pounds and being signed by a bigger promotion is a priority for him.
Miki is the first to admit he lacked in areas of MMA. He said he would earn a first-round finish if he fought the version of himself from a year ago.
He claims to be a new fighter, but expects a similar result.
“I expect it to be a tough fight, I don’t expect to knock him out in the first round, but I would like to get the finish because I’d like to keep my finishing rate at a constant,” Miki said. “I’ve proven I’m better than what my record shows.”
Connor Northrup once covered municipal meetings and promised himself never again. He is now combining his passion for Mixed Martial Arts and reporting all into one.