‘I Was Able To Overcome Myself’ – Wakamatsu Says Mental Coach Helped Him Bounce Back Against Xie
Former ONE Flyweight MMA World Title challenger Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu got back into the win column with a spectacular first-round stoppage of Xie Wei last Friday at ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov on Prime Video.
After losing his previous two bouts, the 28-year-old knew he needed to put on a stellar performance at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. He did just that, quickly dragging the Chinese athlete to the canvas before brutalizing him with ground strikes to earn the TKO victory.
Naturally, Wakamatsu was pleased to return to winning ways against #5-ranked contender Xie. Even better, he’s thrilled to have conquered his mental demons.
He told the media after his victory:
“I’m really happy that I was able to win this fight, but more than that, I was able to overcome myself.”
Leading up to his pivotal matchup with Xie, Wakamatsu admitted that back-to-back stoppage losses had taken a major toll on him.
But with the help of a psychologist, “Little Piranha” is feeling back on track:
“After the last fight, I got a mental trainer, so it’s not only about technique. I was also focusing on my mentality, how I think, my mental strengths, and also my strategy. That’s what I changed from the last fight.”
With his mind now in the right place, the Japanese knockout artist is primed and ready to make another run at the flyweight MMA gold.
As for his ideal opponent, he’s eyeing a man who defeated him back in 2019 – reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion and MMA GOAT Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Wakamatsu answered bluntly when asked who he’d like to face next:
“One guy, DJ. I want to fight him because I believe I will win that fight. Right now, I’m ready.”
Wakamatsu Focused On Ground Game Ahead Of Clash With Xie
Knowing the importance of his matchup at ONE Fight Night 12, Yuya Wakamatsu prepared for every possibility against Xie Wei.
With thunderous power in his hands and a high career knockout rate, the Japanese star aimed to score a KO on the feet. At the same time, Wakamatsu believed he would hold an advantage on the ground, and he tailored his game plan accordingly:
“I had a lot of plans for this fight, but I focused on my step-in and step-out. Also, the strong punch because I have a really strong right hand. Plus, I tried to pressure my opponent and I was planning to land some takedowns, but Xie Wei has great takedown defense.”
Despite his foe’s strong defense, Wakamatsu was ultimately able to bring the fight to the mat, where he utterly dominated the Chinese fighter with ground-and-pound strikes, forcing the referee to stop the bout after just two minutes of action.
And while he was awarded the TKO, “Little Piranha” says he hoped to secure a submission – which would have been the first of his MMA career:
“I did train grappling for this fight, but I actually was planning to do a back choke, a rear-naked choke.”