Juntaro Ushiku tests skills with Yutaka Saito in a sequel bout with the featherweight championship up for grabs at Rizin 35. This emanates from Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan on April 17th.
I spoke with Ushiku ahead of this title defense and excerpts from our chat are below.
Defending his DEEP title last time out
“So I was dealing with some injuries at the time. But the thing is, I had some obligations with DEEP. I had to fulfill my obligations and I had to be a man of my word. So despite not being 100% prepared, I went in there and did the best I could. I prepared the best I could under the given situation. So I was heading into that fight with that kind of situation.”
If any gameplan amendments have happened for the rematch with Yutaka Saito
“I can’t really give out all the details. But yes, I’ve been working on some different things. Me and my team, we’ve been discussing what Saito could probably bring differently to the table. I believe that this fight is gonna end up being a different fight from the first fight. That’s how I think. Me and my team also think that Saito is going to be bringing a different game plan. I’ve been working on some different things. So I expect this fight to be something totally different.”
Using the growth of his martial arts to inspire many
“When I decided to become a professional fighter, I grew up and I was given lots of inspiration, courage, and strength from fighters. By watching the fighters fight on television. So I’ve always wanted to become that person to be able to inspire young kids. If I could be some kind of a role model to inspire kids to become better. So back when I started, Rizin didn’t exist. So I was doing my best as I could at the time with the given environment.”
“But now that Rizin is here and now that I’m fighting in Rizin, I really do feel that I’m extra motivated to be able to be that role model. To be able to deliver, inspire, and give strength to those people who watch my fights.”
If Ushiku will come out riding his motorcycle for his ring entrance at Rizin 35
“It’s something that I’m very interested in and it’s something that I would love to do someday. But I still have to gather up my courage to ask Rizin about the idea. I haven’t done it yet.”
If a couple of title defenses could galvanize the motorcycle cause
“I will definitely use that motivation. So that I can earn leverage to talk to Rizin about my walkouts or ride outs.”
Parting thoughts for Juntaro Ushiku
“Thank you everybody, for your support. I assure you that the next fight is going to be a totally different fight from the first fight. Want to show that Rizin has a great fighter named Juntaro Ushiku. I really want you guys to see that. I really want you to see the entire event and my fight. So please, please wait for it. Stay tuned. Thank you.”
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.