He may not be the Bellator bantamweight champion, but Masakatsu Ueda may enter the promotion on day one as the most highly decorated fighter in the promotion.
Ueda sits in many circles as a top ten bantamweight and has picked up wins over notables like Akitoshi Tamura, Rumina Sato, and Bellator bantamweight tournament winner Eduardo Dantas.
With that amount of praise also comes a fair amount of pressure on day one, stepping into the Bellator tournament, not to mention Ueda still has one more fight he has to get through before he actually goes to Bellator in 2012.
Yep, that’s right, Ueda had a contractual obligation to Shooto in Japan prior to signing the deal with Bellator, so he still has to get through a fight on Jan. 8 before heading to Bellator’s latest bantamweight tournament.
According to Ueda’s manager, Shu Hirata of Suckerpunch Entertainment, Bellator knew about his fighter’s commitment to Shooto, but he’s confident that he’ll come out successful and then head to the bantamweight tournament.
“When we started to communicate with Bellator in November, Masakatsu’s fight on Jan. 8 was already confirmed, so this is the fight he just has to do to fulfill his contract obligation with Shooto,” said Hirata.
Ueda understands that the expectations are high on him being victorious, so he plans on nothing less than doing his best.
Beyond the pressure just to win that fight in Shooto, Ueda also carries the flag of being an established top ten level bantamweight into the tournament. That automatically puts a target on his head on day one, but he’s ready for anything that Bellator throws at him.
“I actually don’t feel pressure at all because I always consider myself as a challenger, so I am just going to try my best.” Ueda said. “I have been competing in Shooto for all these years, and I respect everyone I fought in Shooto, so I am going to carry that pride with me to fight in Bellator.”
The season six Bellator bantamweight tournament is once again stacked with talent. Former Olympian Alexis Vila is back, as well as former WEC competitor Wagnney Fabiano, and a slew of top notch talent to fill out the eight-man bracket.
Ueda expects nothing but the best from whomever he faces in the first round, and he plans to show that respect all the way until he faces them in the cage.
“I think every fighters in Bellator are world-class, top fighters, therefore I want to challenge these fighters. I want to test my skill against top fighters. That is all I am thinking right now,” Ueda stated.
His mission is clear and now he just has to go out and execute it.
“To become Bellator champion, I am going to have to beat everybody in the tourney,” said Ueda. “So I just have to try my best.”