Even though an injury kept Bellator middleweight Hisaki Kato from having the kind of output he wanted in 2017, he so far has been a win in his lone fight and raise his current winning streak to three victories in a row.
What does stand out in Kato’s win in January was the fact he was able to pick up a unanimous decision over Ralek Gracie, who carries a family lineage that made the bout more than just another victory.
“Before the fight and during the fight it was the same for me,” Kato told MMAWeekly.com. “I don’t care about the name. But after the fight it was a little bit different.
“Back in Japan I could feel that I did something that then people were really proud of. The Gracie family name is big in Japan. After that fight I could feel that, but before the fight and during the fight there was no difference.”
Kato’s current winning streak came after a stretch where he lost two of three bouts. One of the things that has helped get Kato back on track is taking the things he has learned from training abroad and applying them to his regular routine in his native Japan.
“I went to France to train with different partners, and I had a good experience there, but now I’m just training in Japan,” said Kato. “Now I know what I have to train on in Japan and what specific areas I have to improve. I’m good with the arrangement I have now.”
Kato (8-2) will look to add to his winning streak when he takes on Chidi Njokuani (17-5) in a main card 185-pound bout at Bellator 189 on Friday in Thackerville, Okla.
“I have to close the distance because he’s tall and really long,” Kato said of Njokuani. “He has a lot of wins because he’s really aware of his own reach. I have to be the one to set the distance.
“He’s coming up from welterweight, and I’m definitely punching more powerfully than welterweights, so I believe if I can land a few punches on him, I can make my game and try to go for the knockout.”
Though he is happy to be back from injury and fighting again, Kato’s mind for 2018 is occupied more on his personal life and an addition to his family.
“For now I’m just focusing on this fight,” said Kato. “For me in 2018 I am going to have a baby girl, so my focus after the fight is just the baby to come.”