photo 1 of 52
TRAINING: I don't really change my training schedule because of the opponent. I train striking, grappling, MMA, and physical strength. All well-balanced, and I’m getting stronger every day.
When and why did you start training for fighting? In 1997, I went to see the K-1 GP at the Tokyo Dome. The ticket I bought was the cheapest, all the way in the back, farthest from the ring. From there, I watched Ernest Hoost vs Francisco Filho and even from where I was, far away from the ring, I still felt this tremendous sense of tension. Then, I thought to myself, "wow, kakutougi (combat sports) is awesome". Then, I wanted to do kakutougi too.
What ranks and titles have you held? Shooto 155-pound champion
Do you have any heroes? Hayato "Mach" Sakurai and Kazushi Sakuraba. Those two have been my heroes from a long time ago.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? When I signed that UFC contract I was so excited that I couldn't sleep well that night.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I graduated from Chuo Gakuin University.
What was your job before you started fighting? I started MMA after high school so I really never held a full-time job. Well, let’s correct this. I have always been a full-time pro MMA fighter. Does this sound good? (Laughs)
Specific accomplishments in amateur competition? I played baseball in elementary school and junior high school. In high school I did track and field (800 meter run). I had no prior kakutougi experience. But in amateur Shooto I did win the Amateur Shooto Eastern Japan Open tournament at 155 lbs (1999)
Specific accomplishments in pro competition? Won Rookie of the Year in Shooto, 2002, and won Shooto 155 lbs world title in 2004.
Favorite grappling technique: Ground and pound
Favorite striking technique: Ground and pound