Kato was able to take advantage of his familiar surroundings to put together a 64-second TKO of Yuta Watanabe in his first fight in Japan in over a year.
“It’s a lot easier for me to prepare to fight in my own country,” Kato told MMAWeekly.com. “There’s no jet lag. You know the food. You know everything. So it was quite easy to get ready for that fight. It was in my hometown, so six hours after the fight, I was in my (own) home again. So it was really easy for all these reasons.”
While Kato is happy he was able to rebound with a win, he wasn’t trying to force something to happen against Watanabe in order to prove himself after the loss to Manhoef.
“It was important to me to have a win after the loss to Melvin, but I was not really desperate after the loss,” Kato said. “I was not like ‘I need to win to be back on track’, I just wanted to do a good performance, and that’s what I did. I had no injuries and I’m ready to fight again.”
Kato will make his return to Bellator on June 24 in St. Louis, Missouri, in a rematch of sorts against the fighter he last beat in the promotion, Joe Schilling. This time, however, the bout will be under kickboxing rules instead of MMA.
“For this time I trained specifically in kickboxing because the rules and gloves are different, so you have to get used to that,” said Kato. “With boxing gloves, you have different ways to protect yourself and to move and to use your footwork. I changed a lot of things for this fight.”
Kato believes he’ll still have his knockout ability, and will be able to implement his style in the kickboxing ring as he would in an MMA cage.
“I think I will have to use different timing, different timing and different attack combinations,” he said. “So it’s going to be quite different. But I still have to use my strong points, even if this is a kickboxing fight (rather than an MMA fight).
“I think I can have the knockout again. Of course, not in the same way, but I’m quite confident in the new skills I have and the combinations I have, so I think I have my chances.”
Regardless of the outcome of his bout with Schilling on June 24, Kato feels his future is in MMA and will look to focus on returning to that sport to close out his year.
“For now, I have no other plan for kickboxing. I never think that I could be an elite kickboxer,” Kato said. “This opportunity came, so I took it. For my next six months, I think my future will be more in MMA fights.”