With ONE: Grits and Glory drawing near, one cannot help but wonder what goes into the mind of the fighters as they prepare themselves for battle. Fortunately, the opportunity to interview one of the main event fighters has presented to us here at MMAMotion. We interview former strawweight champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito (12-1) to ask him questions of varying subjects, including his thoughts on once again facing Alex “Little Rock” Silva (7-1) with the title on the line.
Gregory Dorvil: What did you love about the culture of MMA when you were growing up?
Yoshitaka Naito: There were plenty of exciting action that I have never seen and the atmosphere at the venue was great. I seemed like both athletes and fans were having a good time together.
GD: You mention that you liked Sakuraba when he performed in MMA, because of his use of strategy. What made that strategy the most appealing to you out of, say, teeth-gritting brawling?
YN: Sakuraba won against the best fighters by a submission that no one has ever seen so it was mind blowing and it fascinating me.
GD: Do you still read manga, if so what titles do you currently read. Are there any manga characters that resonate with you today, or is Nobita still your top favorite?
YN: I still read comics. I’m currently into this coming called ‘Golden Kamui.’ It’s a bit scary but it has lots of nature in it so I like it. Nobita is always my favorite character.
GD: How would you describe your fighter spirit, that which fuels you and guides you in every fight?
YN: I don’t know if I have the fighters spirit but I always try to show everything that I got in every bout.
That is what I was taught from hero’s in comic books.
GD: What culture, attidues, or values do you think ONE FC or its roster brings to the world of MMA?
YN: ONE has the best athletes in their roster and is expanding the possibility of the fighters.
GD: Do you approach the MMA world from a classic warrior’s perspective or business perspective? Or a little of both?
YN: I try to approach in both classic warrior’s perspective or business perspective. If both perspective match, I want the organization to gather the best fighters and also succeed in business and be sustainable.
GD: How different do you think the culture of MMA is today as opposed to what it was when you first watched Sakabura, or even when you joined MMA in your adult years?
YN: I feel MMA is expanding to the world and everyone is aware of the sports.
GD: You mentioned in your biography promo video that fear is what motivates you in your training and in your fights. What is it that you fear, even when you were champion, and how does it affect your fighter spirit, if at all?
YN: One win and one loss can dramatically change your life. It’s a thankful thing but scary at the same time. Fierce never went away even after I became champion but a tough situation is always a chance.
GD: When you became champion, was that your only goal, or one goal of many?
YN: I want become a person who is appropriate to be a champion. Someone who behaves and can be a role model.
GD: What was the reception with your friends and family like after receiving it?
YN: Everyone was happy about me becoming champion and celebrated.
GD: What did you want to accomplish once you attained the status of a champion, either legacy-wise or business wise?
YN: Money is important, but I was proud that I become champion in an organization big as ONE.
GD: What was your thought process before the fight with Silva, as you studied him, in terms of fighting prowess and mentality?
YN: I knew Alex was good so I was expecting an exciting fight against him.
GD: During the fight, in between rounds, what did you gauge from his skills, his mentality?
YN: I felt spirit from him during the fight but dont remember much because I was totally focussed.
GD: Where is your mind coming into the rematch with Silva?
YN: Same opponent but the big difference is that I dont have a belt to protect. This I will take it as a positive thing and challenge aggressively.
GD: If you win the belt, what are your future plans? Continuation?
YN: I’m only thinking about becoming a champion again at the moment so I will think about the future after get back my belt.
GD: Do you see any fighters within your division or the divisions above that you would like to fight?
YN: I want to fight against someone like Gian! [Gian is the bully character in Doraemon].