In making his first trip to America to fight in June, HEAT veteran Hisaki Kato not only won, but did so in impressive fashion, picking up a second-round knockout over Joe Schilling at Bellator 139.
“It was a good performance because it ended with a knockout and I’m not injured,” Kato told MMAWeekly.com. “Those are the two biggest points: not being injured and having a great victory. Everything went good.”
Kato’s superman-punch finish helped him win over a crowd that prior to his match may have had little to no knowledge of him beforehand.
“It was really impressive to come to America and fight for Bellator in front of this audience and having it broadcast on TV,” said Kato. “It’s really big and good motivation to fight for this organization.
“I guess a lot of people who came to the fight expected Joe to win, but after the fight and after I won, the people were fair with me and applauded. They were really kind to me after the fight, so it was a good experience.”
Kato (5-1) returns at Bellator 146 on Friday in Thackerville, Okla., to face his most experienced opposition yet in the guise of Melvin Manhoef (29-12-1) in a featured middleweight bout.
“I’m feeling even more prepared this time,” said Kato. “I’m stronger, faster, and I’m really confident. After a big knockout, everybody is going to expect something big, and that could be pressure, but for me, I just want to win and have my best performance.
“(Manhoef is) really explosive and strong. I have to feel him in front of me to know what I can do. I think I can win.”
With a win on Nov. 20, Kato feels that he could place himself in the position to potentially fight for the Bellator middleweight title in 2016.
“If I win, it will be very big for my career and me,” he said. “I would be proud to win such a great fight. It could be my ticket for a title match maybe.
“I’m sure it’s going to be an explosive fight. I said it the first time (against Schilling) and I meant it, and I mean it this time too.”