Kazushi Miyamoto collides with Tsuyoshi Sudario in a heavyweight affair set for Rizin 27. The MMA card takes place at Nippongaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan.
This event goes down on Sunday, March 21st with Miyamoto versus Sudario being featured fairly high on the main card.
Miyamoto spoke with me ahead of this fight and passages from our conversation can be found below.
I’m kind of curious as to the general timeline for how this MMA debut came together.
Did Rizin kind of reach out to you or was this something you kind of reached out to them with? Decided to challenge yourself? Was this something you always wanted to do? How did the timeline work out for the MMA debut here?
“So, this year marks my 20th anniversary as a professional wrestler. Throughout my career, I’ve accomplished most of my childhood dreams as a professional. I played the role as the son of Great Muta. Did The Steiner Brothers, Road Warriors, you know. Everything that I dreamed of as a kid, I have pretty much made it happen. When I look back at my career, there’s one thing that I haven’t done yet which was to challenge myself in MMA. So, I wanted to make my MMA debut on my 20th anniversary. So I started training and targeting into fighting in an MMA organization. Last summer, that’s when I started.”
How long has Kazushi Miyamoto been aware of mixed martial arts?
“So, my direct coach when I was getting into this industry was Kendo Kashin. So pretty much from the beginning early days of my career, I was aware of MMA. I knew about MMA. I have been training MMA.”
What does the training camp look like ahead of this bout?
“Kazushi Gumi which is put on the internet, that’s the name of my independent promoter. My promotion, as a pro wrestling promotion… I cross-train with several gyms and with several fighters.”
Such a great lineage of pro wrestlers crossing over into MMA and also vice versa. I’m noticing that some of Kazushi’s former opponents and tag team partners have done the same. Certain individuals like Alexander Otsuka, Masakatsu Funaki.
Has he maybe talked to some of his older pro wrestling compatriots who have already done the crossover just to anticipate what might be to come there?
“Kendo Kashin, also known as Tokimitsu Ishizawa. He’s been contacting me and he’s been giving me a lot of advice on MMA.”
Miyamoto vs Sudario
On a very localized level I’m noticing that one of the former opponents of Sudario, Dylan James is someone that has been a past opponent there in a pro wrestling kind of context.
So has there been any contact with Dylan James in terms of the direct specifics as it relates to fighting Sudario?
“So (James) Raideen (aka Dylan James), he’s been a longtime rival of mine. A good friend of mine, one of my best friends I would have to say. We were actually speaking about fighting again. Probably right now around last year. But Dylan took the fight against the Sudario. He lost against Sudario. So I have that feeling where I want to go in there to redeem my friend’s loss. Avenge my friend’s loss and that emotion is somewhere peeking in.”
That’s an intriguing component to this fight that I wasn’t admittedly privy to prior to hearing that.
But in terms of Sudario and what he brings to the table stylistically, he’s an imposing former sumo wrestler. Now 2-0 in MMA with a couple of pretty emphatic first-round finishes.
What are the thoughts on just Sudario and his skillset overall as a martial artist?
“Yeah, so I honestly don’t see any resemblance of him being a sumo wrestler. I think that Sudario is a young, talented, big, and strong fighter. He’s a legitimate heavyweight.”
A very adept, fluid kind of striker. Definitely doesn’t have that Sumo kind of approach…Kazushi Miyamoto’s debut effort in MMA but it seems like based on what he was saying he’s been training in martial arts for quite a while.
Obviously, there’s the mixing of disciplines but what would Kazushi say his base style is? Is he predominantly a boxer or a wrestler? How would he characterize his base style, I suppose?
“It’s very hard for me to answer that question in terms of what kind of style I bring. I don’t really have an answer to that. But if I had to answer, I would just say it’s my original style.”
What’s the general picture of this whole thing is in the sense of is this a one-off, sort of a fight?
Are there aspirations to compete in multiple mixed martial arts bouts? What’s the timeline like in that regard?
“So, obviously this is my first time challenging this MMA sport. So right now I’m just gonna give it all I have. Give it all I have and see where it takes me. I’m not really thinking ahead of this fight, as of now.”
Pro Wrestling and MMA concurrently?
“I think depending how the fight goes and depending how I feel, you know there’s a big possibility of me continuing to compete in both aspects.”
Well that would be fun to see. Certainly a talented professional wrestler in a lot of regards. Well established with All Japan Pro Wrestling, Zero-1.
But also on a North American level with Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor. I was also seeing he wrestled certain people like CM Punk and AJ Styles over the years.
I’m kind of wondering if there’s any following of the North American pro wrestling scene at all there for Kazushi Miyamoto?
“So my honest answer would be ‘yes’. I would love to go back to the States, North American market. But obviously, times are tough right now with the whole COVID situation. The whole pandemic. But once this is all settled, if there’s an opportunity I’d definitely like to go back there on the circuit. Meet my former rivals. Compete against them once again and I want to show them a new me. Especially after making my MMA debut. Challenging to a new sport. I would definitely like to fight them again.”
I was kind of curious too with Sudario making the comments prior to this one about how he’d wanted an opponent that wasn’t a professional wrestler.
It seemed like per my conversation with him he seemed kind of, I guess, initially disappointed by the matchup with it being another professional wrestler.
Do you take that as a slight at all or is that just inconsequential?
“I think that he’s free to talk. He can say whatever he feels like. But it all comes down to the performance in the ring. So he can do all the talking. And he can say what he wants. But if he can’t speak inside the ring, it’s gonna make him look stupid.”
Parting thoughts for Kazushi Miyamoto
“Hi, my name is Kazushi Miyamoto. I come from a place called Fukushima in Japan. Fukushima is where a disaster happened 10 years ago. And there is still to this date, people who cannot go back to their homes and still without houses. So I want to go in there and put on a performance, where I can give them hope. Give them dreams and inspire them to continue. To continue to move on positive with life.”
“So I’m gonna do my best. I’m gonna try to give everybody hope. And once the COVID situation is done, I really want to go back to the United States and perform in front of all you North American fans as well. So please root for me.”
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.