Eto Kimihiro (14-4-2) is beaming with confidence.
The Japanese wrestling veteran was sensational in his last bout at ONE Warrior Series 2, and he expects to repeat the feat on Thursday, 11 October.
He is scheduled to face JD “Deadshot” Fairtex Hardwick (4-1) in a lightweight main-event clash at ONE Warrior Series 3, which takes place in Singapore.
“I have a huge advantage in my ground game,” the 29-year-old says. “Once it goes to the ground, I will dominate him, and he will not have a single chance to fight back.”
Following a successful five-year run on the Japanese mixed martial arts scene, Kimihiro joined Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series.
After a tough match-up with “Crazy Dog” Dae Sung Park at the inaugural show in March, he bounced back with a statement-making performance in July.
He utilized his grappling skills to perfection, as he demolished his compatriot Yusaku Inoue and submitted him via arm-triangle choke in the second round.
“I focused on using the best cards in my hands to win, which are wrestling and grappling,” he says.
Now that he has his swagger back, Kimihiro has turned his attention to Hardwick.
“Deadshot,” who represents the world-famous Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya, Thailand, has enjoyed a remarkable experience in the developmental league.
The 30-year-old American submitted Zhibo Lu via arm-triangle choke at the first event and followed that up with a first-round armbar submission of Enkhtaivan Davaabayar in July.
Despite those stoppage victories, the Tokyo, Japan resident is unfazed by his adversary’s talent.
“He seems to have grappling skills to submit his opponents, but his striking doesn’t seem like a threat to me,” Kimihiro offers.
“I am better than him in both grappling and striking, so the important thing for me is to stick to the game plan.”
In preparation of this contest, Kimihiro is training primarily at Wajutsu Keishukai HEARTS, and participating in some quality sparring sessions at PANCRASEism Yokohama, and Koji Ando’s Never Quit MMA & Fitness Gym.
After all his intensive training, the Japanese competitor believes he will achieve another dominant victory.
“Ideally, I will pound him out or submit him,” he predicts. “I plan to get a big win in Singapore, and then enjoy the town after the show.”
That, however, is just his short-term objective.
Kimihiro’s long-term ambitions are to win a USD$100,000 contract and the spot on the main ONE Championship roster that comes with it, and eventually, contend for the ONE Lightweight World Title.
“My biggest goal is to get as much overseas fight experience as I can, so I can evolve as an athlete,” he explains.
“Of course, if I evolve, the contract with ONE will follow. I believe ONE is the biggest promotion in the world, so I will prove myself in ONE Warrior Series, prove that I am qualified, and aim for the belt in ONE.”