by Mick Hammond
Throughout a fighter’s career there are inevitable times that they face a make-or-break situation that could push their career in one direction or another. For Kengo Ura, his upcoming bout at Rumble on the Rock on January 20th could be one of those times.
Currently with a pro record of 3-3, this member of Purebread Oyima and R1, Ura is at a crossroads. He’s always seemed in the past like a fighter that could breakthrough and make a serious run at contendership, but he’s been prone to bouts of inconsistency, which have robbed him of any momentum he builds.
Now even though his record may be even, he’s fought hard in his losses and never more was that evident than his pro debut against current UFC star Mike Swick at WEC 6 in 2003. In the fight Ura was getting the better of Swick for two rounds. He was able to use effective takedowns to and kept Swick on the ground, but was unable to finish Mike.
Heading into the third round it seemed as if Ura only had to stay consistent and he would take a decision victory, but he went to the well once too many times and got caught with a wicked knee as he was shooting in on Swick. Quickly Mike pounced on Ura as he fell back and finished the fight 31 seconds into the final round.
Kengo lost the fight but was impressive none the less and managed to take his next two fights for the Gladiator Challenge promotion in California. It appeared as if he could be on his way to becoming the next great fighter under trainer Rico Chiapparelli, but his momentum would be halted in his next bout.
Returning to the WEC in May of 2004, Ura was matched up against former Pride fighter Amir Rahnavardi at WEC 10. After fighting a brutal round of back and forth action, Ura was opened up by Amir’s assault, causing bleeding from various cuts around Kengo’s face. After an examination from doctors at cage side, it was decided that the fight couldn’t continue. Again Kengo had fought hard in the WEC but came up on the losing end.
Ura would then lose his second fight in a row against Lion’s Den up and comer Dan Molina at Valor Fighting via tough decision in July of last year. Ura would rebound however and just a couple weeks later for the same promotion take a quick submission victory from MMA vet Shannon Ritch, evening his record.
So now Ura returns to action for the first time in half a year at Rumble on the Rock against Mike Malone. Kengo has the skills to win this fight, however his tenacity can also be his undoing, such as in the Swick fight.
If he can mix up his various skills he is a very tough opponent for anyone to beat, Ura has strong stand up, wrestling, and submissions. Malone has also never been beyond the first round, whereas Kengo has, thus if Ura has a difficult time finishing off Mike, he could push it into the third round where his stamina could be the deciding factor.
This fight could be considered a must-win for Ura. If he loses he drops below .500 and a loss to a fighter like Malone, who is on a four-fight losing streak, it would make it difficult for people to take Ura seriously enough to make a run at higher competition. A win and Kengo might start making an impact and could get the attention of shows looking for tough new talent.
Either way this is the crossroads bout for Kengo Ura. He’s shown a lot of promise but also has had moments where he doesn’t live up to his potential. Now is the time for Kengo, he can either take hold of the reigns and move forward, or fall back and become one of those “could have been” fighters. It’s up to him to decide which he will be, and if he lives up to his potential, this just very well may be his breakout fight.