‘I’m A Completely Different Fighter Now’ – Yuya Wakamatsu Aiming To Even The Score With Danny Kingad At ONE 165
After enduring some setbacks, Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu is looking forward to a new stage of his mixed martial arts career.
The Japanese knockout artist will rematch Danny “The King” Kingad on the massive ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru card this Sunday, January 28, and he’s feeling grateful for the opportunity to compete in front of his home fans.
Almost six years following their first meeting, #4-ranked flyweight MMA contender Wakamatsu and #2-ranked Kingad will duke it out in a key clash at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.
Now back on the winning track after snapping a two-fight losing streak with a TKO win over Xie Wei last time out, “Little Piranha” is thankful that he still gets to battle the top athletes in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
The 28-year-old veteran told onefc.com:
“I honestly feel fortunate to have made it this far. I could have been cut from the ONE roster after losing my first two fights in the promotion.
“After my recent two-fight skid, I mentioned to my coach that I was thinking about quitting for the first time in my career. But I just let myself cool down for a bit and got back to work.
“I was really relieved to beat Xie Wei in my last match. I felt that I had persevered and managed to survive after enduring a really rough patch in my career.”
Wakamatsu’s loss to Kingad was also his debut in ONE Championship. He fell to MMA great Demetrious Johnson in his next fight but then adapted his game and put together a stellar five-bout winning run that saw him challenge for the ONE Flyweight MMA World Title.
That difficult stretch put a lot of pressure on his return against Xie last July, but “Little Piranha” used the lessons he had learned and his overall evolution as a martial artist to bounce back emphatically:
“I think that I have grown tremendously as a fighter in so many different ways. I’m a completely different fighter now than I was when I first signed with ONE.
“Back then, the only thing I knew how to do was try to dominate my opponent in striking and try to knock him out. If I got taken down, I would try to get back up as soon as I could and keep the fight standing. In other words, I was very limited and one-dimensional.
“Since then, I have of course worked on my ground game to become a complete fighter – a complete fighter not only in terms of skill set, but also as a professional, with maturity and finesse in my approach to fighting.”
Wakamatsu Thinks He Has ‘Nailed Down’ Kingad’s Game Ahead Of Rematch
Yuya Wakamatsu shocked Danny Kingad with his heavy hands early in their first meeting, but he ultimately struggled with the Filipino’s grappling game en route to the decision loss.
Now feeling much more assured in the diversity of his own skill set, the Tribe Tokyo MMA representative believes he can level the score in their second clash.
That’s not because he’s underestimating Kingad – he rates his rival extremely highly – but because he’s smarter, more complete, and more prepared for their rematch.
“Kingad is truly a flawless fighter. He is not a top-flight fighter in ONE for no reason.
“I have been watching his fights closely and simulating his patterns of offense and defense so that I could anticipate and counter them with ease.
“I have nailed down his habits and tendencies, so I am confident that I will be ready for whatever he throws at me.”
Above all, Wakamatsu expects a grueling battle against his old foe that will thrill the fans in attendance and tuning in globally.
But with his renewed confidence, combined with an ever-improving MMA arsenal, Wakamatsu envisions a memorable victory inside the Ariake Arena.
“Kingad is a very skilled and tough opponent, so I think that this will be a back-and-forth, action-packed fight. The fans will see two top-flight flyweights collide. They will not be disappointed. Having said that, I am ready and aiming for a finish.
“I think that I am only coming into my own as a fighter, and there are bigger achievements and milestones ahead that are waiting for me.”