James Nakashima's Striking Sharpened By A Legend For Manila Clash

American James Nakashima fires off a left hand against Raimond Magomedaliev during their meeting at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS.

With an undefeated record and a dominant win in the bag from his ONE Championship debut, James Nakashima has some big goals ahead of his next match-up.

This Friday, 12 April at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR, the American will take on Luis “Sapo” Santos in a welterweight contest that could have a massive impact at the top of their division.

The rewards for victory could be significant, but the 30-year-old knows he will have to overcome the biggest challenge of his career from the Brazilian to earn them.

James Nakashima stays undefeated as he grinds out a unanimous decision win over Raimond Magomedaliev!

James Nakashima stays undefeated as he grinds out a unanimous decision win over Raimond Magomedaliev!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App 👉 http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast

Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, November 23, 2018

Ahead of this pivotal encounter in Manila, Philippines, Nakashima broke down how he will be better prepared than ever, what he expects he will have to do to win, and what could be in his future if he emerges with his hand raised.

ONE Championship: How did you enjoy your first experience with ONE Championship?

James Nakashima: It was cool. It was a really good experience to fight Raimond Magomedaliev and also to see that Filipino culture as well. That traveling is going to be a really cool part of my career.

It was a really big show, especially with Brandon Vera since he’s been in Filipino movies and is the World Champion. The lightweight belt was also up for grabs. It seems like fighting is part of Filipino culture. It was a packed house and it was fun.

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ONE: Outside of the actual contest, what was the best part of that initial experience?

JN: I fought on the same card as Armen Petrosyan. His brother Giorgio was out there with him, and I met them throughout the week.

We set it up so I could come out [to Italy] and train with them. I went out there and spent all of January with them. Giorgio is somebody I’ve watched my entire career because he’s a leftie and he’s one of the best, so he helped me out a lot.

It went really well. I’m actually going to go back out there after this fight for a couple of weeks. It was a really good opportunity.

ONE: How much did you striking improve by working with those guys for a month?

JN: I didn’t know exactly how it would go. I talked to Giorgio a couple of times during fight week, and he doesn’t speak that much English, but we talked on Instagram and I told him I would be out there.

It went really well. He had me work grappling with some of his mixed martial artists, and in exchange, he gave me a lot of attention. We were sparring, and he was giving me some of his good kickboxers to spar as well.

He was always watching me when I was shadow boxing and hitting the bag. It went above and beyond what I thought it would be.

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ONE: This time you are facing Luis Santos, who is one of the most accomplished guys in the division. How do you feel you match up with him?

JN: I think it’s a good match-up. I wanted to fight Zebaztian Kadestam, but when they told me I got Santos, I just knew I had to do what I had to do. I’d like to fight for the belt next.

I think he’s really experienced, but he’s fought his last few guys in the same exact way. He can be a very patient fighter – he circles a lot, he likes to throw heavy kicks and move.

I think that sometimes leaves him vulnerable. I think that’s what happened in the Tyler Maguire fight. In the Kadestam fight, I think he was winning that fight, and Kadestam just kept coming, and he eventually got to him with those knees.

ONE: Do you feel like your style will give him a lot of problems?

JN: That’s what I was banking on in that last fight – just a combination of grappling, striking, and just wearing him out.

Santos is a guy who moves a lot and really tries to pick his shots, so I’ve got to make sure my pressure is effective. Otherwise, I won’t be getting the right kind of pressure I need on him.

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ONE: Are you looking at this match-up as a chance to earn a shot at the ONE Welterweight World Title?

JN: Yes, especially if I can get a finish. I think that would be a big statement.

ONE: Have you been impressed by what you’ve seen out of Zebaztian Kadestam?

JN: I like watching him fight. He’s really physical and he’s very resilient.

I’ve seen him down in a couple of fights now. It doesn’t matter what round, he’s still there, he’s always coming forward. He’s a big kid, too.

ONE: By the end of 2019, do you believe you will be the ONE Welterweight World Champion?

JN: I’m just completely focused on Santos right now, and I’m grateful to be healthy.

If I can stay healthy, all I need is just time, and I’ll be there. I’ll get to where I need to be.

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