It’s been over three years since Takeya Mizugaki fought at home in Japan, but this is a different kind of homecoming for the UFC veteran.
See, for all the time he fought in Japan, Mizugaki never got the chance to fight in Pride or even Dream before he got the call to come to the WEC in 2009. So for the chance to fight in the UFC Octagon in front of his home crowd, it’s truly something special.
For all the excitement brewing inside Mizugaki, he knows he needs to channel it all into his training and preparation to defeat Chris Cariaso at UFC 144.
Fighting in Japan is great. Winning in Japan is even better.
“I wanted to fight earlier, but now it’s okay because it’s great to be able to fight in front of people who has been supporting me. Everyone is happy I am fighting on this card, so that is good. I am pumped about that, but also at the same time, I am approaching this fight in the same manner as any of the previous fights I did in the Octagon. It’s one of the UFC fights I need to win to step up,” Mizugaki told MMAWeekly.com from Japan.
Mizugaki’s manager, Shu Hirata, who has been by his side for many years, knows that this fight in Japan is different for his fighter.
He not only gets the chance to fight in front of his home fans, but he has the opportunity to do so in the UFC, the biggest stage in the MMA world.
“Takeya never fought for a ‘major league’ MMA promotion in Japan, so I think he is more known in the U.S. than here in Japan. Therefore, I believe the pressure is more on fighters like (Takanori) Gomi, Kid Yamamoto and (Yoshihiro) Akiyama,” said Hirata.
“Besides I have never seen Takeya getting nervous before the fight. He’s got this strong heart that can be ready to fight in few minutes.”
While Mizugaki insists that this is just like any other fight in his career, where he hopes the UFC show does great things is helping to revive the MMA scene in Japan.
Over the last several years with Pride going away and financial struggles with promotions like Dream, Sengoku, and kickboxing powerhouse K-1, Japan needs a boost and Mizugaki believes the UFC will be able to do that.
“Well, the Japanese MMA has declined over the last few years, so I am hoping this UFC show would add something positive to the industry,” Mizugaki stated.
One thing that can be guaranteed is that Mizugaki will do his part to put on a great show.
Known for his exciting style and ability to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the sport, Mizugaki is ready for the challenge that Chris Cariaso presents, and he’s hopeful to chalk up another win in the UFC.
“He is aggressive and I am aggressive,” said Mizugaki. “So it will be a good match.”