Bellator will have an influx of international talent for its upcoming bantamweight tournament including DEEP and Shooto veteran Hiroshi “Iron” Nakamura.
Nakamura has been a mainstay on the Japanese fight scene for several years and has picked up some big wins along the way including victories over Masakazu Imanari and former WEC contender Yoshiro Maeda.
Now Nakamura will look to have the same success in America when he begins competing in Bellator in 2012.
“I always wanted to fight someone very technical, and in terms of MMA technique, I believe America is the best right now,” Nakamura said in an interview with MMAWeekly.com. “On top of this, Bellator already has so many strong fighters and when I look at their bantamweight roster, I can see the promotion can be a serious competition to UFC in the very near future, and that is why I wanted to challenge the world’s top fighters in Bellator.”
While the fighters that will challenge Nakamura are one thing, there’s also the pressure that comes along with fighting in the United States for the first time.
It’s no great secret that several top flight Japanese stars have traveled to the U.S. over the past several years with moderate success to show for it. Nakamura has seen others have limited success with a fair amount of failure mixed in, but he’s working right now on identifying where he needs to be great so that doesn’t happen to him.
“That is a very difficult question for me to answer because I haven’t fought in America yet, but one thing I can say is this, I think, sometime, the timing is off when it comes to a decision making in regards to what you need to do to win. You know, sometimes you need to go somewhere to learn something new, but just didn’t do it at the right time kinda thing,” said Nakamura.
“That is why, in order for me to produce a good result in America, I believe, I would have to identify what I am good at and what I am not good at, and comprehend all of that in a positive manner.”
Nakamura believes he is prepared for whatever Bellator throws at him in regards to an opening round match-up. He’s a confident fighter and that showed even before he officially landed in the deal.
See, Nakamura’s management team at Suckerpunch Entertainment had already negotiated a deal to have the Japanese bantamweight fight in Bellator in 2012, but he had made a prior commitment to compete one more time in DEEP.
Instead of dropping out of that fight, Nakamura took the fight anyway, knowing that a loss could result in him being removed from the Bellator bantamweight tournament. A confidence inspiring performance helped Nakamura get past Seiji Akao just this last weekend, and now he’s preparing for his new home at Bellator.
It’s that very attitude that gives Nakamura his edge. See he’s faced these kinds of odds before, but he’s a fighter that may bend, but he never breaks.
“I actually went through more than a few rough periods as a pro fighter. I couldn’t win till the third fight of the career, and I also went through three fights without a win in 2006 to 2007. But I never gave up and I continued to work harder. So I would like to the fans and fellow fighters to see, even a fighter like me, as long as you keep on trying, you could make it to the top league. And I would like everyone to feel something about that,” said Nakamura.
“For fans in America, well, I am sure my next fight is going to be an exciting fight, and I hope fans in America would enjoy and accept my fight style. I believe the tourney is scheduled to begin in March and I will be fully ready for my first fight in Bellator.”
Nakamura isn’t sure who his first fight will be against, but he knows it’s going to be a tough test no matter what. In the age where you’re only as good as your last fight, he’s excited to be a part of the tournament where he hopes to earn a shot at champion Zach Makovsky.
“They are all strong fighters,” said Nakamura. “Soon, I believe, Bellator’s bantamweight division would be in the same level as UFC’s bantamweight division.”