Daichi Takenaka Aims To Showcase New Tricks In Flyweight Debut

Daichi Takenaka in his corner before his match begins at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.

After a strong run in the bantamweight division, Daichi Takenaka is moving down a weight class with his eyes on Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes’ coveted ONE Flyweight World Championship belt.

The Japanese Mixed Martial Arts Champion performed admirably in the bantamweight ranks, defeating the likes of former ONE Bantamweight World Title challengers Leandro “Brodinho” Issa and “Ottogi” Dae Hwan Kim.

Despite hanging tough with those elite athletes, Takenaka believed flyweight would better suit his body. And after making the switch, he’s ready to test his mettle against the best fighters in the division.

The Osaka native’s first test will come in the form of an “East Vs. West” showdown against Brazilian Mixed Martial Arts Champion Ivanildo “Monstrinho” Delfino in the co-main event of ONE: UNBREAKABLE II, which airs from Singapore this Friday, 29 January.

Takenaka will turn 30 on event day, and he would love nothing more than to earn his 13th professional victory and hand the South American athlete just his second career loss.

Ahead of his exciting showdown in Singapore, the Japanese grappler spoke to ONEFC.com about his move down to flyweight, his detailed thoughts on Delfino, his interesting goals for 2021, and much more.

Will Daichi Takenaka knock out Ivanildo Delfino at ONE: UNBREAKABLE II on Friday?

Will Daichi Takenaka knock out Ivanildo Delfino at ONE: UNBREAKABLE II on Friday? #ONEUnbreakable2

Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, January 25, 2021

ONE Championship: In your most recent bout in November 2019, you competed at bantamweight. What prompted the move down to flyweight?

Daichi Takenaka: I originally started at bantamweight, but I decided to drop down to flyweight after that fight [against Yusup Saadulaev]. From January to February of 2020, I was losing weight.

I was trying to see if I could lose weight and move to flyweight properly. I was trying to see if I could take a fight [at flyweight]. That was in January. From there, I received another bout offer from ONE Championship in April, but the fight was postponed due to COVID-19.

ONE: Did you already have a feeling that you could compete in the flyweight division at that time?

DT: Even when I was fighting at bantamweight, I was thinking that in regards to the weigh-in system in ONE, I would be better suited as a flyweight. I felt that I could definitely lose weight.

ONE: What skills have you been working on during the past year?

DT: I’ve been working on my striking skills for the past year, mainly. I started boxing and kickboxing, and I’ve polished my striking skills. I thought about it when I was competing, but I thought that if I developed my striking ability more, I could fight based on my striking.

When I’m sparring, my training partners and cornerman tell me that my punches are getting faster, and I feel that the punching speed is getting faster.

ONE: How did you feel when you received the bout offer to fight Ivanildo Delfino?

DT: The offer came when I thought that I wouldn’t have any more bouts for a while. So I was like, “Thank God! Finally, I can fight!”

Daichi Takenaka lands a perfect right hand to the face at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.

ONE: What was your initial impression of Delfino?

DT: I was like, “Oh, that Brazilian guy that [Tatsumitsu] Wada fought [at ONE: FIRE & FURY in January 2020].”

When I saw that bout, I thought he was eerie. I wondered if he had some hidden weapon. In the end, there was nothing, and it went to a decision, even though there seemed to be something.

ONE: You said “eerie.” Does that mean you don’t think Delfino performed to his full potential against Wada?

DT: That’s what I thought a little bit. He had a pretty good fight record, and I think he won a lot via submission, but I wondered if his performance in the bout against Wada was by the real Delfino. He didn’t show much urgency to aim for the knockout or go for the takedown, which was eerie.

ONE: How did you perceive your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses after watching that video?

DT: I didn’t know what he was capable of, so I guess that’s why I said “eerie.” If you know what your opponent is skilled at, it is easier to make a strategy even if the opponent is strong. That’s why I don’t prepare countermeasures and just try to show what I am good at.

For the moment, I’ve been practicing grappling twice a week, and I’ve been practicing striking and mixed martial arts. I will try to use my striking skills a lot, such as left middle kicks and punches.

Daichi Takenaka cracks Yusup Saadulaev with a cross

ONE: What kind of fight do you think this will be?

DT: I think I’ve been developing my boxing pretty seriously, so I think I’ll win by KO with punches or by rear-naked choke.

In the first round, I want to damage him with many strikes, and either in the second or third round, I want to KO him with strikes or submit him.

My training buddies and cornerman say that judging only from Delfino’s bout against Wada, I should be able to finish him. I think I need to win, at the very least.

ONE: Tell us why fans have to watch this bout.

DT: This is my first flyweight bout, so I hope they watch and see if I can perform properly at flyweight. I’ve also been working on my punches, so I want people to pay attention to that as well.

This is my first fight after dropping a weight class, and I’m going to give a performance that will make people think that Daichi Takenaka can aim for the top, so please root for me.

ONE: What are your goals for 2021?

DT: To win all my bouts this year. If I get a bout offer, I will just appreciate it. But if I can tell the ideal scenario, I want to do about three fights. I want to compete against some of the top-ranked fighters.

As for my personal life, I am thinking of becoming a member of Costco. I heard that they sell delicious beef tongue there. I’ve been thinking about getting a membership for years, but I want to become a member this year, finally.

Japanese MMA fighter Daichi Takenaka is awarded his winner's medal at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.

Read more: Full Card Revealed For ONE: UNBREAKABLE II

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