James Nakashima Is Targeting The ONE Welterweight Belt

James Nakashima may be making his ONE Championship debut at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS, but he expects to leave the Mall Of Asia Arena as a contender for the welterweight belt.

The 30-year old American comes into his bout against Raimond Magomedaliev with an undefeated record and a wealth of athletic experience.

Before he transitioned to mixed martial arts, Nakashima was a national champion wrestler in junior college after first hitting the mats when he was just 7 years old.

Since making his pro debut in 2015, Nakashima has rattled off nine straight wins, which took him to the LFA Welterweight Title, so he feels he is ready to step up and make his name in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

“Right time, right place,” Nakashima says. “ONE was the best option for me. It’s definitely time to move on.”

Nakashima will step into his debut contest with a tremendous foundation in wrestling, but he is so much more than just a grappler.

He explains that he has thrown himself in at the deep end in his professional match-ups to accelerate his striking progress. The best way he could get comfortable on the feet was to abandon his ground game and learn on the job.

“I really have tried to build myself to become a well-rounded fighter,” Nakashima says.

“I’ve forced myself to stand up since my pro debut. I stand up, I take my lumps, and then when I need to take it to the ground, I take it to the ground.

“I feel like it has helped me grow. I just feel like I really have tried to be a complete martial artist.”

Although he has competed out of his comfort zone, he has swept the boards with the judges in all but one of his professional contests. His relentless, grinding style has been too much for all of his opponents to handle.

Nakashima will definitely need to showcase all of those skills in his debut because Magomedaliev will present him with the toughest challenge of his career.

The Russian welterweight also has a perfect record with finishes in four of his five professional bouts, including a stunning 17-second knockout in his most recent performance.

“He’s a sambo world champion. He’s a kung-fu world champion,” Nakashima explains.

“He’s Khabib [Nurmagomedov’s] training partner. He’s 5-0, and the guy that he knocked out in 17-seconds had 26 fights. I think he’s the real deal.”

While he took this opportunity on short notice, Nakashima says he has been ready to show the world what he can do on the global stage for martial arts for quite some time.

Nakashima lives by the philosophy that if he stays ready, he never has to get ready, and he was well prepared when the call came to compete at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS.

“Once I got signed, I told my manager I’m ready to go,” Nakashima says.

“I was down there training every single day. After my [last] fight, I’m really hungry to get back in there.”

The product of the MMA Lab in Arizona, USA, has long-term plans to have the ONE Welterweight World Title wrapped around his waist, but for now, he is focused on the man in front of him this Friday, 23 November.

“I keep [the belt] in my mind, but I’m not worried about that right now,” Nakashima says.

“Right now I’m just thinking about Raimond. This is a big fight for me. I’m totally focused on this fight. After this fight, we’ll figure out what the next step brings us.

“There is no other goal. I want to be a World Champion in ONE.”