Though he was able to remain undefeated by picking up a unanimous decision victory over LaRue Burley at LFA 11 in May, welterweight James Nakashima feels the fight could have been more exciting.
Heading into the third round of the bout, Nakashima felt that due to Burley’s lack of aggression that he allowed the fight to go the distance rather than pick up the first finish of his pro career.
“I was expecting LaRue to come out and fight a little bit more,” Nakashima told MMAWeekly.com. “I don’t feel like he fought to win. I feel like he fought to survive. That’s how a lot of my opponents have been fighting me. I didn’t expect that from LaRue.
“When the third round came I took him down, he was happy sitting there not taking too much punishment – that’s where I strayed from my game plan – I wanted to elevate the fight and continue to beat him up, but I didn’t do that and I was really frustrated by that. I was too comfortable cruising on top to the victory.”
In a way, Nakashima’s success may have created the situation he’s found himself in. His dominating style shuts down his opponents so well that it doesn’t allow him to capitalize on mistakes if the opposition is unwilling to open themselves to making them.
“That’s one of the byproducts of me having seven decisions,” said Nakashima. “That’s not an excuse. I’ve got to be willing to understand that and elevate the fight even when (my opponents are) comfortable surviving. There are ways around that, things that I can do.”
For his next bout, Nakashima (7-0) challenges Derrick Krantz (20-9) for the LFA 170-pound championship of the main event of the promotion’s September 22 event in Bossier City, Louisiana.
“I know I can probably go out there against Krantz and get a sound, solid, victory being technical and being smart, but that’s not where I’m at anymore,” Nakashima said. “I’m trying to find a mixture between me and a Justin Gaethje style.
“(I want to) be more of a showman. Be more of a person that’s going to put people in the seats. That’s kind of not how I’ve been fighting. Ultimately at the end of the day, I want to continue inside and outside the cage and find that balance between myself and that Gaethje-style fighter I want to be.”
With an LFA title and a more entertaining fighting style, Nakashima can not only make his case to move up to the next level of his career, but become the kind of fighter that exists beyond just the sporting aspect of MMA.
“It’s a huge stepping stone to not only get into the UFC, but to be a champion, and not just be a champion but transcend this game like some of these people do year after year,” said Nakashima. “The way Chuck Liddell did back in his day, the way Ronda Rousey did a few years ago, and the way Conor McGregor is doing today – in a couple years I want to be saying that about myself.”