This Friday, 2 August Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima will enter the Mall Of Asia Arena with an unbeaten slate in The Home Of Martial Arts, and a diverse array of skills that could end the Vietnamese-Australian’s reign with the gold.
Here are three reasons why the hard-hitting Japanese star will pose a major challenge to Nguyen in Manila, Philippines.
“Moushigo” started his martial arts journey in Kyokushin karate and earned a black belt in the striking art. When he transitioned to mixed martial arts, he knew he had to diversify his stand-up arsenal, so he trained in boxing and Muay Thai.
His integration of techniques from different styles has given him a unique striking blend, which will be difficult for the reigning World Champion to figure out.
Matsushima uses boxing style feints to look for openings, and that gives him the ability to dart in with fast kicks and punches, or plant his feet to deliver thudding low kicks and his more powerful hooks.
The 26-year-old from Yokohama can also throw spinning kicks in the blink of an eye – something he does often enough that opponents have to be wary of the threat, yet infrequently enough for it to be unpredictable.
The Japanese star’s ability to combine striking styles would not be half as effective without his knockout threat, which comes from more than just raw power.
His debut stoppage win over former ONE World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov was a masterclass in timing and accuracy. His step-back right hook was not thrown with the most velocity, but it landed on the button and against his rival’s own momentum.
“Moushigo” can also sit on his punches and throw heavy leather in either hand. He has dispatched previous opponents with head kicks and slams, so every limb spells potential danger.
Six KO wins in 11 career victories are clear evidence of the danger he poses to “The Situ-Asian.”
The Pancrase ISM Yokohama representative stayed clear of danger and dominated the knockout artist by wrestling throughout all three rounds.
A quick takedown on Gafurov showed a glimpse of what “Moushigo” had in his locker, but against Kwon, he was relentless with driving double-leg takedowns and crushing upper-body clinch work to make sure his rival’s back stayed on the mat for long periods across three rounds.
Though he leaves few opportunities for an escape, the 26-year-old is quick to attack with knees and punches when his opponents try to work back up to their feet, so Nguyen must also be wary when he tries to scramble away from his upcoming opponent’s clutches.
All of this means there is no obvious area where the featherweight kingpin can search for some respite, as the motivated challenger will do his best to maintain non-stop pressure in his quest to become World Champion.