As he headed into his Japan Vale Tudo 3 fight with Will Campuzano on Oct. 5, former Dream bantamweight Hideo Tokoro was looking to raise his winning streak to three and use the fight to help him take a step back up into international competition.
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.
In what turned out to be one of the night’s most controversial moments, Tokoro lost the fight via split decision.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com via email, Tokoro discussed the loss, his ambitions to fight in the U.S. and return to the top of the bantamweight division.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Tokoro-san, before we talk about your recent fight, you had won back-to-back fights in Japan Vale Tudo over the last two years. Can you tell us about these wins and how you were feeling heading into your most recent fight?
Hideo Tokoro: I wanted and still want to build a strong streak so these last two wins were very satisfactory. And this Campuzano fight was especially an important one since he has been ranked high at flyweight where I would like to settle at and has fought in the WEC/UFC.
MMAWeekly.com: Decision aside, how do you feel about the way you performed against Campuzano in the fight?
Hideo Tokoro: I did my best against the top flyweight and would score myself high because I fought with my heart out and tried to finish Campuzano-san until the very end. I believe I pretty much dominated the 1st and the 2nd rounds. I gave the 3rd to him, though. He was better in that round with strikes, but we had pretty fun scrambles.
The fight itself was an exciting one, and fans loved the fight. Just that decision doesn’t sit well with me, my team, or a lot of people who watched the fight, as I hear and see on Internet and Twitter.
MMAWeekly.com: When you heard the announcement of a split decision in Campuzano’s favor, how shocked were you?
Hideo Tokoro: I was beyond disbelief and cannot put in words about how I felt. I dropped on my knees, and my team was shocked. I was still thinking it must have been a mistake after I went back to the locker room.
My team and I executed the fight plan well with scoring takedowns and doing aggressive groundwork and advancement throughout the fight because in a pre-fight meeting, we were told that judges would score significantly higher on groundwork like position advancement and work to finish than done in America. Not to mention that I was an aggressor, trying to control the fight. Campuzano-san was aggressive too, so that’s why the fight was very exciting and close. But again, I think I should have gotten the nod. I have a lot of respect for Campuzano-san and am very honored to have fought him in a way we did.
MMAWeekly.com: In your mind, can you think of any reasons the judges would vote in his favor in the fight?
Hideo Tokoro: No, I cannot. I got that fight.
MMAWeekly.com: We understand you are protesting the decision. Do you have any idea of when this protest will be heard and how likely it is to be changed?
Hideo Tokoro: I am hoping to get it accepted as soon as possible and move onto my next stage. I am certain that Shooto will do the right thing.
MMAWeekly.com: We were told you had planned to possibly come to the UFC should you have defeated Campuzano. Is this still a possibility or do you feel you will have to gain more victories before joining the UFC?
Hideo Tokoro: I’m ready to fight in the UFC! If they need a guy to entertain fans, say in December, I’ll be there! I feel very comfortable at flyweight. It’s my weight class. I know I can fight toe-to-toe with the UFC flyweights and beat them to climb up the ladder. I have beaten such UFC fighters as Darren Uyenoyama-san and Brad Picket-san in my career. I’m up there.
MMAWeekly.com: Thank you for your time, Tokoro-san. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers in closing?
Hideo Tokoro: I don’t normally express myself like this, but I am doing it now because I now know that expressing my feeling is the sign of strong heart and determination because that put myself in a position that forces me to prove what I say is true.
I also believe that my team is the best, so fighting in the UFC will prove how great my team is as well as my supporters, friends and family are. I would like to succeed in the best fight promotion in the world to repay those who have been with me throughout my ups and downs since September of 2000. Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to show the world my feelings and thoughts.