Hiromasa Ougikubo

Photo via fightersonlymag.com

Hiromasa Ougikubo Talks Grand Prix Victories on NYE at Rizin 33

Hiromasa Ougikubo bested Naoki Inoue and Kai Asakura to capture the Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix championship. These bouts transpired on December 30th, 2021 with Rizin 33 at Saitama Super Arena.

I spoke with Ougikubo after this remarkable accomplishment and excerpts from our chat are below.

Hiromasa Ougikubo

How Ougikubo is doing following this momentous night

“Thank you, Dylan. Thank you for having me. I feel great today. Ever since that fight, I’ve been doing interviews. I’ve been doing celebration parties every day since…Yes, every day.”

Getting engaged after proposing to his girlfriend on the Rizin NYE card

“Thank you very much…So I’ve already had this planned out, even before the Grand Prix started. Before my first fight of the Grand Prix. So the grand plan was to win this whole tournament and then propose to my girlfriend.”

The methodology backstage maintaining oneself between the first and second fights in a one-night tournament

“When I was heading into the fight against (Naoki) Inoue, I put everything into that fight. So I didn’t really think of how to plan myself for the finals. There was no strategy going into the semifinals. The plan was to give my all for that fight. So after the win, I honestly was burnt out. I was satisfied with the win and the finals were about eight hours after that fight.”

“So it was a constant battle between myself. To satisfy myself, which is telling me that it’s okay. I’ve done it like it’s over. And my other self, trying to push myself to get myself prepared for finals that are going to happen eight hours from now. So going into the semifinals, I was going to think about what to do for the finals after I win. So there was really no strategy and after the fight, it was a constant battle between myself.”

Rizin 33

Garnering two underdog victories to capture the Rizin bantamweight grand prix title

“So there were several fighters who were actually doing pre-fight analysis for the Asakura versus Inoue finals. Even before the fight. So all that stuff, you know, it definitely helped me. It gave me power, right. It motivated me to win it even more. But I didn’t want to spend too much time and effort worrying about what other people say. So I have isolated myself from social media for about a month before the fight. So that I can stay focused and have a clear mindset.”

Avenging a previous loss in the finals to Kai Asakura and the feelings associated with that

“It wasn’t more about making the numbers even. But my plan heading into this event was to beat (Naoki) Inoue and meet (Kai) Asakura in the finals. Then beating Asakura and redeeming myself. That would be my story. So that’s the vision I had heading into this fight. And I do think that that vision definitely helped with my performance.”

If the Grand Prix title holds supreme value or if challenging for that belt Kyoji Horiguchi has and garnering that will be the ultimate capstone

“So obviously winning the Grand Prix, that moment was something very special. I was extremely happy about it. But at the same time, I also saw an image of Horiguchi in my mind as I was celebrating. So I think for me, the most important thing is to redeem myself by beating Kyoji Horiguchi. That’s the most valuable thing for me right now. That’s gonna be my next goal.”

Rizin

Fighting for Shooto as well as Vale Tudo Japan and the rich traditions those promotions have

“Yes, I definitely do feel grateful and fortunate to be in the mix of this Japanese MMA history. Because I’ve watched Pride growing up and that’s the reason why I decided to become a professional fighter. And that’s the reason why I am here right now. But as I turned pro, all the big shows were not there. They were defunct. So I was fighting in Shooto. I couldn’t help but to think that maybe I’m just going to end my career here.”

“I’m going to get buried without the big exposure and without being able to fight in a big crowd. And that’s what I was thinking as I was fighting as a professional. So you know, I’m very happy that my career lasted long enough. So that me fighting on New Year’s Eve on the big stage in front of a huge crowd and live on terrestrial television and getting all this exposure. You know, I can’t help but feel fortunate that my career lasted long to make it to where it is today.”

Ougikubo thinking about hanging them up several times and what ultimately keeps bringing him back to competing each time

“I think, to say it in one word, it’s the sense of being mortified. To a point where you can’t end here. The sense of disappointment being mortified after defeat is I guess the main reason that I kept on coming back…In the way you put it, I think you’re right. In order to be happy, you need to win. Finishing with a loss is never something that you can overcome. So the only way to overcome your loss is to beat that person. So I think yes, the sense of victory is in a way correct.”

Rizin FF

What Hiromasa Ougikubo does outside of fighting to find happiness

“As far as a hobby goes, I like to play the guitar and sing. So that’s a hobby but you know, when I think about happiness, the moment I feel happy is when I’m spending time with my family. Just that peaceful time with the family. After a win. That’s where I find the most peace and joy in myself. Obviously, even if I’m spending time with my family the same peaceful time, it’s not the same after a loss. So I think that’s where I feel the most joy and happiness in my life.”

Hiromasa Ougikubo playing guitar and if he plays in a band

“I’m not in a band or anything. I just play by myself. But there’s this one particular singer that I admire. And actually, I use his song for my walk-out music as well. But me playing the guitar, singing his songs, pretending to be him is what I enjoy doing. His name is Takuro Yoshida.”

Parting thoughts for Hiromasa Ougikubo

“There’s one thing I want written, Dylan, please. It’s one sentence. Take that UFC. Did you see that?”

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