I spoke with Hamasaki prior to this title defense. Excerpts from our chat are below.
Past career rematches and if the competitive familiarity in the sequel bout is a help or a hindrance
“In terms of rematches, this fight is a little different than my previous ones like (Seo Hee) Ham and (Emi) Fujino. Because they were rematches after years and years of still developing. I didn’t really look at it as like a rematch. It’s like different fighters fighting different fighters. Kanna Asakura was a bit different, but this one is more of an intermediate direct rematch. So there’s not too much that both of us could change.”
“So, in terms of that aspect, it’s a little different than other rematches that I’ve done. I feel that I wasn’t able to show any of my strong points, my good points during the last fight. She’ll probably be feeling that she’ll be facing a different fighter. Because she’ll be seeing the stuff that I wasn’t able to show in my last fight.”
The redemptive component to this Izawa bout being run back
“The mentality is definitely different. Because I don’t want to lose to the same opponent twice and this is something that I’ve never experienced before. Being able to fight somebody who I have lost to. So that itself is very exciting for me. That thought itself is very new, it’s refreshing. It’s very motivating. It’s an awkward situation because I still hold the belt and I will be defending my belt against somebody who I just lost to. So it’s kind of awkward.”
“I’m very grateful to be given this opportunity. To be able to experience the emotions going through a fight camp and everything leading up to the fight. So I’m just very excited to see what I can do and very motivated to get redemption. On an opponent I previously lost to.”
A possible Izawa rubber match if Hamasaki gets the ideal outcome and tournament rumors
“If that happens, if I successfully defend my belt against her. There is a rumor about a Super Atomweight tournament Grand Prix happening this year. So maybe the rubber match may happen a lot quicker than anticipated.”
Idolizing Megumi Fujii and Hamasaki now being a mentor herself to a whole host of young fighters
“So I’ve come all this way of simply chasing Fujii-san’s back. I’ve been wanting to become her and it’s already been nine years since she’s retired. But I’m still not at her level. I’m still not there of who she once was. So I think it’s my obligation to become somebody like her. I feel like I need to become somebody like her. Want to be somebody like her. I do feel like that every day. I think I need to become a role model to the younger generation. Like how Fujii-san was to me.”
Parting thoughts for Ayaka Hamasaki
“I would like to send a message to the people who support me. I’ve been able to come all this way through everybody’s support. That last loss made me recognize how many people support me. How many people cheered for me. So I’m here because of you. I really want everyone to watch me redeem myself and get my revenge. So please watch my fight.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.