In June, Kato made his debut for Bellator Kickboxing by defeating Joe Schilling via second round KO, and prior to that, he got his MMA career back on track with a first round TKO of Yuta Watanabe Rizin FF 1 in April.
“I really wanted to do that (Watanabe) fight because it was in Japan, and when I was younger I used to watch Pride on TV, so it was really exciting to fight with the same rules: a 10-minute first round and soccer kicks,” Kato told MMAWeekly.com. “It was really exciting and I did well, so it was a good experience.”
Coming off the loss to Manhoef last year, Kato did make some changes to his training routine, but not because of the defeat itself, but because he feels he always has to make alterations in order to keep moving forward.
“I did my first fight in Bellator after only five fights, so I had to make some adjustments really quickly,” said Kato. “I won the first one with Schilling, but lost the second one to Melvin Manhoef, so every time I’m trying to make big adjustments to be a lot stronger for the next fight.
“After every fight, win or lose, I try to adjust and try to have a better camp. I try to change the way I’m training to improve. If you do training all the same, you won’t improve, that’s what I believe. So every time I’m changing a lot of things.”
Kato (6-2) will seek to keep his winning ways going when he faces AJ Matthews (8-5) in a main card 185-pound bout at Bellator 162 on Friday in Memphis, Tenn.
“We’re both strikers,” Kato said. “(Matthews is) more like kickboxing and Muay Thai striker. I’m more from the Karate style from my base. We’re both going to try to do the striking part, I think, so I think it’s going to be about distance fighting.
“Of course I respect all fighters, everybody’s different, but after being hit by Melvin Manhoef, I’m pretty sure I have good experience about getting hit. Of course I’m not worried, I’m never worried – because you just need one moment, one second, to win a fight – you just have to focus.”
Now that he’s back in MMA, Kato is eager to keep active and work his way towards a middleweight title shot in the near future.
“Actually even after the last fight, I tried to fight earlier than this coming fight, but it didn’t happen,” he said. “This time again, if I’m not injured, my plan was to fight four times this year, so I’d like to fight one more fight this year. I think I’m one or two fights from the title.”
(Photo Courtesy of Bellator MMA)