Dealing with hand injuries cost welterweight up and comer James Nakashima a lot of his year in 2016. Still, Nakashima managed to pick up two wins on the year and remain undefeated thus far in his pro career.
“The (Brad) Darrington fight I was happy with that fight for the most part,” Nakashima told MMAWeekly.com. “I think I showed him a little bit too much respect and could have gotten the finish.
“The Desmond Hill fight I feel like I got exposed a little bit. It was a different style match-up than I had in the last couple (fights). Des was a stand-up fighter with a lot better ground game than I had been anticipating. I took a lot from that fight, including being more patient.”
In the bout with Hill, Nakashima feels he got away from one of the base tenants he set for himself after his first pro fight, which has prompted some change in the following six months.
“My first fight was against a really good amateur boxer named Victor McCullough, and I wrestled him the whole time, and after that fight I made a pact to myself that I’d least go 50/50 stand-up and on the ground,” said Nakashima. “I did that up until that last fight (with Hill).
“Des was a little more patient and a little more believing in his stand-up than I was, so that’s an adjustment I’ve made going into this next fight.”
Nakashima (6-0) returns for his first bout of 2017 when he takes on LaRue Burley (7-2) in a main card 170-pound bout on Friday in Phoenix at LFA 11.
“LaRue is a wrestler killer,” Nakashima said. “He’s beaten some big time wrestlers like Bubba Jenkins and TJ Hepburn. My MMA game goes far beyond my wrestling. Aside my last fight against Des, I’ve been growing in every single area: standing up, on the ground, in the clinch, against the cage – I’m the most complete fighter that I know.
“I can’t compare myself to his other opponents. I’m a different cat. I think that if I go out there and do the things that I need to do and make the adjustments from my last fight and just focus on me, the fight will go the way I want it to go.”
While the urge may be to push Nakashima as far and as fast as can be due to his marketability and promise, he’s more interested in his bout at LFA 11 at this point, and whatever happens afterwards will take care of itself.
“I’m solely focused on this fight,” said Nakashima. “I’m solely focused on LaRue.
“I believe if I go out and execute the things I’m capable of; my strategy, my techniques, my attitude; I think I’m as complete a welterweight as there is in the world. I really believe in my game. When my time comes, my time comes, but my focus is LFA 11 in Phoenix against LaRue this Friday and getting the job done.”