For most American fans, the last time they saw Koji Oishi on a major MMA stage was when he, a then 28-year-old, faced Nick Diaz at UFC 53 in June 2005. Now, at 35, Oishi gets another chance at the big time when he faces Honorio Banario at One FC 9 on May 31 for the promotion’s featherweight title.
A welterweight when he fought in the UFC, the now 145-pound Oishi was asked how he has changed since his fight with Diaz.
“I have definitely improved a lot since then, both as a person as well as a fighter,” responded Oishi. “I am much more experienced now, so I approach each fight far more calm than I did back then.
“I have also honed and refined my craft and this version of me will definitely defeat the 2005 version easily.”
Coming into One FC, Oishi had won two in a row prior to drawing with Takumi Nakayama this past March in Pancrase.
“I did all my best at that fight,” said Oishi. “But I am overcoming my weak points after the fight and I feel that I have really been improving, especially for this training camp, and I am sure I’ll peak at the right time.”
When it comes to facing Banario, Oishi told MMAWeekly.com that the key to the fight could very well be equalizing his opponent’s physical advantages.
“I have to be prepared for Honorio’s reach,” Oishi said. “He has a sizable reach and I will need to work my way through that. I am certain that I can defeat him if I fight a smart fight.
“I am hell bent on taking that belt from him and becoming the new champion.”
And it is that drive to claim the title that could very well be what takes Oishi to the peak of his abilities at fight time.
“Banario is the current featherweight champion, but I am coming to dethrone him,” said Oishi. “I want to claim that belt and prove that our team Pancraseism is the best team in Asia. I am proud to fight for my team and I want to give my fans something to cheer about.
“Thank you for One FC for this opportunity and tune in on May 31 because I will put on a great show.”