Goiti Yamauchi takes on the undefeated Chris Gonzalez at Bellator 263. The lightweight contest transpires on Saturday, July 31st, and emanates from The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The promotional stalwart at 155 pounds recently had a conversation with me ahead of this bout. Excerpts from that chat with Goiti Yamauchi can be found below.
Welcoming a kid into the world in January 2022
“Thank you so much. I’m very happy. Thank you.”
Facing an undefeated individual in Chris Gonzalez
“I think it’s a pretty interesting matchup. Chris is a good fighter. You know, the best grappler will win the fight. He’s got the wrestling. I’ve got the grappling. I got the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We’ll see who’s the strongest. Who’s the last man standing.”
The excitement surrounding the jiu-jitsu player versus wrestler tendril to the Gonzalez fight
“Yeah, I think he’s a good wrestler. I think he thinks that he is going to outwrestle me. I can’t wait. Cannot wait to let him down. Because I’m super prepared and I’m super confident in my skills. What I believe is my jiu-jitsu, it’s much stronger than anything he can do. So let’s do it.”
How does it feel to be fighting for live fans at The Forum in Inglewood, California?
“I’ve been there a couple of years, three years ago. So I’m very happy because I love that place. I love California, I love Los Angeles. This is a huge show. A huge event, big place. I was missing the public, people watching us. Very, very excited and very happy to be part of this big card. So I’m just expecting the best version of myself.”
The polarizing nature of his last fight losing a controversial split decision to Dan Moret
“I feel that I won the fight. Like I said, I would love to fight him again. To finish him. This time it wouldn’t be in the judges’ hands. I know I won the fight. Just want to move on. I asked for the rematch. They said that,’ it’s not up to me. Because we have to follow some protocols, some rankings’. So I don’t know if he wants to run it back again. But like I said, it doesn’t matter. It’s just about running for the title and it’s about to move on. Fight for my goals, because I know I won the fight.”
Big John sounding off on the judges after Dan Moret is awarded a split decision win over Goiti Yamauchi
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) April 10, 2021
Being a Bellator stalwart and thoughts on the integration of rankings in the promotion
“I don’t think rankings matter too much. Not just in Bellator but other big organizations, in Boxing. A good fight is not made with the numbers of the rankings, a good fight you make with the styles. Styles make fights. So, as long as you put them in front of the champion. It doesn’t matter, the numbers of the rankings. I’m more interested in styles. That makes fights.”
Being the all-time leader in submission wins within Bellator MMA
“Well, this is one of the biggest accomplishments that I have. Especially because I’m representing the martial arts. I’m representing the Gracie family. It’s because of them that I started to fight. So being one of the best grapplers in the world means a lot to me. Means the world to me because I’m not just representing my art and my expression. But I’m representing the whole country, the whole grappling and Jiu-Jitsu community. And I love it, people know me because of my ground game. That’s amazing. That’s really good. I love it.”
Being only 28 years old, fighting with Bellator MMA since 2013, and the mutual growth between Goiti Yamauchi as well as the promotion through that timeline
“I was talking about that these days with my team. Yes, it has almost been one decade in the promotion. So it’s a lot, not just for my professional career but there’s a lot in my personal life. That I’ve been learning a lot these years. I feel like Bellator is almost like my home. A lot of gratitude for all the staff and the people who are inside Bellator. Because if I’m here today, it’s because of them. So I’m really happy to represent the company. All I want is to give my best, put on a show, and make them proud of my performance.”
Some goals Goiti Yamauchi would like to actualize into reality within Bellator MMA
“Well this is not a particular goal, because I think the main and the only goal in this business is to win the fight. Win the fight and get the belt. So this is my dream. I think I’m in the right time, right period of my life. That I’m preparing myself, preparing my mind, my body. I’m getting to my prime and I think life prepared me to be a world champion pretty soon. So, this remains being the main goal. This is what I fight for.”
What Goiti Yamauchi does to galvanize his mental and emotional resolve
“I think life itself prepared me for it. Emotionally and mentally. I think the adjustments that you’re going to do when as a professional, it’s not much about your physical categories. It’s about your mental and emotional approach. So the life itself taught me a lot about how to face my internal demons. Since the very first day in America, fighting for Bellator was tough. There was not only one experience in Bellator that was easy. It’s always a mental test. It’s not just because of the weight cut, not just because of the fire that I’ll be facing.”
“But just because of the contest. It’s always too hard. But it paid off. Bellator is kind of part of it. Because I live my life for all these moments. I know just three or two times of the year, it’s going to be the most important days of my year. So I prepare myself for all these tough days. I can tell you, I’m way better than I used to be. Because now I’m not a kid. I’ve grown a lot, not just physically but especially mentally. So I think I’m a little tougher than I used to be.”
Parting thoughts for Goiti Yamauchi
“I think that’s it, that’s all. The rest I will put on the show July 31. There is not much to say. I have a lot to show but not much to say.”
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.