Tsuyoshi Sudario

Photo via Sudario's Sherdog page

Tsuyoshi Sudario on Rizin 31 win and focus on a 2021 NYE bout

Tsuyoshi Sudario finished Lawdlain Saint Ilme with a resounding left hook in the first round of their Rizin 31 contest. This main card heavyweight affair transpired at Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan on October 24th.

I spoke with Tsuyoshi Sudario after this emphatic win. Excerpts from our chat are below.

Tsuyoshi Sudario

When Sudario began taking his MMA training to the United States

“At first, I trained in Hawaii then Vegas. Over the course of two weeks back in April. I had a great time, I learned a lot, but it was just not long enough. After that, I fought at the Tokyo Dome in June and lost. So I pretty much told (Nobuyuki) Sakakibara-san that I need more time to train in the States. And I got some time off. I have planned this training camp to stay in the States for two months. So this was all pre-planned.”


The lessons learned from his Shoma Shibisai bout; the first time tasting a loss as a professional MMA fighter

“So I definitely learned from that fight a lot. Ultimately I lost by the choke. But even from the standup, I didn’t do too much standup sparring before the fight. I couldn’t do it. Because I didn’t have too many partners. So I wasn’t too sure about where to place myself in terms of the stand-up, the distance. It hadn’t clicked yet. My distance in the standup. He was big and he had a longer reach than I did. At the time I had no footwork because I didn’t know the distance on how to strike. So that totally showed in the fight. That was one of my biggest concerns heading into the fight.”

“Is that I didn’t spar enough with bigger opponents. So after that fight, going to the States, I did a lot of sparring. In my last fight, a lot of people told me that my footwork was much better. And that’s one of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that when you fight bigger opponents, you’ve got to stay outside not to get hit. You have to utilize your footwork to get in and out. And that’s one of the things that I’ve worked very hard on in the States. I would listen to what Ray Sefo would be teaching other fighters. Just kind of steal what Ray said and I tried it on my own during sparring and it worked out for me.”

Rizin Fighting Federation

Tsuyoshi Sudario continued, “So because of this loss, I knew exactly what I needed to work on. And I was able to focus on that aspect during my training camp in the States. So I’m pretty happy about that. And also I lost by a choke but that was just totally a lack of situation practice on the ground. So in San Diego, all I did was a bunch of grappling and jiu-jitsu. Morning practice and evening practice. So all I did was grappling in San Diego. I’m pretty confident that I think I can put myself in any kind of situation and still feel somewhat comfortable. So those are the main two things that I learned from the loss. Things that I’ve worked on in the States.”

Working at Xtreme Couture with guys like Ray Sefo, Francis Ngannou, and Tim Johnson. Plus, that space being the premier heavyweight gym on the planet

“In terms of (Francis) Ngannou, he was an exceptional specimen to say the least. His power, his physical strength was amazing. But more so, I was blown away on his endurance. How he could maintain that strength and power. Go on and on and on without getting tired. That was the biggest thing that I was blown away with.”


“When we do MMA sparring, he obviously hits really hard. But he was also very technical on the ground. Once he gets you on the ground, it amazed me how good he was at not letting me get back up. Just putting yourself in that situation and knowing that you’re working with the best, it definitely gives you confidence. Then once you start to get used to it after a few weeks. I started getting used to the pressure, getting used to it, trying to figure out how to do stuff to get out of a bad situation. As time passed, I could definitely feel myself getting used to them and feeling the process. As for Tim Johnson, I was amazed with his grappling and wrestling technique.”

Rizin 31

Tsuyoshi Sudario continued, “He was very agile for his size. Obviously, he was beating me up in the beginning. But as time goes on and as I got used to it, I started being able to kind of hold my own against Tim Johnson too. I think through the connection I made at the Couture gym, I also visited Drysdale gym. Was able to spar a lot with Bruno Cappelozza. Who just won the PFL tournament. So with that being said, the environment is so good for me. For heavyweights, there’s so many people to work with and learn from. So it’s great.”

If Rizin has the most comprehensive, multifaceted ruleset on the planet for mixed martial arts

“The fewer restrictions, the more chances that it gives you of getting hurt. But it goes the other way around as well. And I do believe that many of the US fighters that I encounter and talk to in the States, they all look at Rizin as Pride 2.0. And it’s something about that brand, Japan, and the rulesets that fascinate a lot of the competitors to this day. There’s still a lot of fighters who want to fight in Japan under those rulesets. For me, the fewer restrictions the easier for me. So I don’t really have to think about the rules during the fight. So it’s better. It works better for me.”

Rizin FF

If there is a focus to get a spot on that New Year’s Eve card

“I’m already working out. I’m planning to fight on the New Year’s Eve card. So he’s already working out. Assuming that he’s on the New Year’s Eve card.”

Parting thoughts for Tsuyoshi Sudario

“So I’ve just started. My plan is to keep on evolving, getting better and better. And I really want to show you my progress throughout my career. For those who’ve been watching me from the beginning, I hope you enjoy my progress. I promise that I will show you something new. I will show you things that you want to see during my fights. So I truly appreciate your support. And please continue. Thank you.”

author avatar
Dylan Bowker
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.