Features

How Tatsumitsu Wada Has Proved His Warrior Spirit Against The Odds

August 01, 2019

Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada has proved he does not know the meaning of the word ‘quit’ throughout his mixed martial arts career.

The Japanese flyweight – who will face Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson this Friday, 2 August – struggled through a losing streak against bigger opponents that would have been demoralizing for many men, but that did not stop him.

Now, 10 years later, and with a ton of success behind him, he has the chance to make history in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinals at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.

Before he enters the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, discover how the 30-year-old battled the odds to become a World Champion.

Out Of His Shell

A lifetime of martial arts has prepared Japanese warrior Tatsumitsu Wada for his toughest challenge yet Demetrious Johnson! Can he bring home the win on 2 August?

A lifetime of martial arts has prepared Japanese warrior Tatsumitsu Wada for his toughest challenge yet Demetrious Johnson! Can he bring home the win on 2 August? : Manila | 2 August | 5PM | ONE: DAWN OF HEROES: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/oneheroes19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter

Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, July 21, 2019

Wada was born in the Yamanashi prefecture of Japan, and he admits he was quiet when he was young.

“I was definitely an introvert when I was a child,” he says.

“The shyness I had as a kid still hasn’t completely gone away. I’m still a bit shy when it comes to meeting someone for the first time.”

However, he started to come out of his shell when he began to practice martial arts.

Wada got his feet wet in traditional Japanese disciplines, but they laid the foundations for his future career.

“I got into mixed martial arts because my dad did karate, and I eventually started doing Kyokushin karate as well because of him,” explains “The Sweeper.”

“Then, I did Judo throughout my time at high school. After I began martial arts, I started to gain some confidence and slowly turned into a very lively child.”

Martial arts

What strategies should Tatsumitsu Wada use against "Mighty Mouse" to claim a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix finals spot on 2 August?

What strategies should Tatsumitsu Wada use against "Mighty Mouse" to claim a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix finals spot on 2 August?: Manila | 2 August | 5PM | ONE: DAWN OF HEROES: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/oneheroes19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter

Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, July 24, 2019

As he got older, Wada decided he wanted to do more than just practice these distinct arts.

“When I was in my last year of high school – discussing university and career options with my school counselor – mixed martial arts came to mind as something I’d like to pursue,” he says.

“That’s when I decided I wanted to have a career as a pro fighter, and from then on, my focus was on becoming a pro fighter.”

After high school, “The Sweeper” moved to Tokyo to join the renowned Yoshida Dojo, and after several amateur bouts, he became a professional. 

His graduation to the pro ranks was not as easy as just making the decision to do so, however. He had to earn it.

“There was a tournament, that if you won, you became a pro fighter, and I won that tournament in the Kanto region,” he explains.

“After that, I went to the nationals, and I lost the first fight there. But, fortunately, because of what I showed during the fight, I was able to go pro.”

Warrior Spirit

Demetrious Johnson vs. Tatsumitsu Wada

Demetrious Johnson vs. Tatsumitsu Wada Will "Mighty Mouse" be able to cement his martial arts legacy or will "The Sweeper" shock the world?: Manila | 2 August | 5PM | ONE: DAWN OF HEROES: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/oneheroes19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter

Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, July 31, 2019

“The Sweeper” quickly found out that life in the professional ranks is not easy when he started out in 2008.

He competed mostly in the DEEP organization, but because it did not have his natural flyweight division, his first 18 bouts were up at bantamweight. What’s more, his first five opponents had a combined record of 33-13-9.

It is no surprise that he lost his first five match-ups, but he never got discouraged.

“I didn’t pay attention to the fact that my opponent would be bigger than me. I just fought,” he says.

“Although I lost four times after my debut, I remained positive. It didn’t cross my mind to give up just because I lost, because more than anything, I was passionate about, and enjoyed doing, mixed martial arts.

“Although I lost a lot while I was in the bantamweight class, for any opponent that beat me, I just thought, ‘I’ll get them next time,’ and focused on training.”

Facing larger rivals forced Wada to focus on technique, and it paid off. He made it all the way to a shot at the DEEP Bantamweight World Title.

Although he was not successful in his challenge, he soon got the chance to drop a division. Enormous success followed as he went 11-1 at flyweight, won the flyweight belt, and defended it twice. That earned him the chance to step up to ONE Championship.

The Next Step

Demetrious Johnson and Tatsumitsu Wada face the media at the ONE DAWN OF HEROES pre-event press conference

Martial arts has given the 30-year-old from Tokyo a lot – a career that allows him to provide for his baby daughter who was born just days after his last match in April, and many valuable lessons about how he should live his life.

“Doing mixed martial arts and being in a karate dojo has taught me to use respectful language to people above me, as well as to my coaches and teachers. That’s something that has been useful, even outside of mixed martial arts,” Wada says.

“I’m honestly not sure what changed within me, but with all the training I had done since I started mixed martial arts, I began to think that it’s important to continue something because you love it.

“I think that’s why I’m able to grow and learn as well. I think I’ve come this far because of continuous training.”

Now he can do what he wants on the biggest stage, against a legend of his sport, and in front of thousands of fans in Manila this Friday.

A win would take him to the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix final at ONE: CENTURY in his native Tokyo and the chance to become the number one contender for the ONE Flyweight World Championship, but he is focused on what is right in front of him for now.

“Grand Prix aside, I would be satisfied if I beat Demetrious Johnson. That’s my ultimate goal. After that, I’d focus on my next fight,” adds “The Sweeper.”

“World Title matches are important to me. Of course, I’m participating in ONE because a part of me wants to become World Champion, but, I feel more value in defeating Demetrious Johnson.”

Manila | 2 August | 7PM | DAWN OF HEROES | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes19