This Sunday, 13 October, the Pancrase Lightweight World Champion will face his counterpart from Shooto as part of a quartet of bouts that match the top athletes from Japan’s oldest mixed martial arts organizations in the Circle.
It will also be each athlete’s ONE Championship debut, and it will come in front of their compatriots in Tokyo, Japan’s historic Ryogoku Kokugikan, so Kume is fired up to put on a show with his trademark dynamic and explosive style.
However, though the 34-year-old judoka is a true veteran with 31 professional bouts on his record, his upcoming opponent has 30, and also specializes in “the gentle way,” so on paper, they are closely matched.
The collision could boil down to one moment on the feet or on the ground that “The Hawk” will have to be at his sharpest to capitalize on. He has anticipated that because he has first-hand knowledge of “Luxor’s” skills.
“I think Matsumoto is an all-round athlete. In striking, he can get the KO, and on the ground, he has good submission skills. Overall, he’s a high-level athlete,” he says.
“He is solid in all areas of the game, and looking at his fights, he has some comeback wins, so I think his heart is strong.
“Actually, we trained together quite some time ago – maybe five or six years back. From that experience, I realized how strong he was.”
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Though he has a lot of respect for his 36-year-old rival, Kume says he has not changed anything in particular about his training ahead of their encounter, other than ramping up his conditioning.
The reason, he explains, is his evolution as an athlete is an ongoing process of trying new things in the gym and incorporating them into his arsenal, regardless of who he faces.
That means his strategy is more introspective and built around his speed and slick movement, which may be pivotal during any exchanges on the ground, where Matsumoto is most dangerous.
“I don’t have a special plan for him, only that I’ll focus on my own strengths,” the man from Aichi offers.
“Even if it goes to the ground, I just have to be aware of my own movements. I don’t think he has any weak points.”
“The Hawk” is arguably more excited than most for the opportunity The Home Of Martial Arts has afforded Japan’s elite athletes by bringing them together on the global stage.
The Alive gym representative spent the formative years of his career in Shooto and went 11-2 from 2007 to 2011. His move to Pancrase and subsequent success there gives him the rare insight into, and respect for, both talent-rich worlds.
Now both organizations and their best competitors have a chance to shine at the biggest event in his sport’s history, Kume plans to make sure fans around the world see Japanese martial arts at its best.
“I’m really grateful to ONE, Pancrase, and Shooto for making this happen,” he adds.
“Everything is coming together for me in the lead-up. I’m going to show the fans a high-octane, fast-paced match.
“Although I’m the Pancrase Champion now, I was raised in Shooto. [Mixed martial arts] is a win-lose world, so if we as champions give solid performances, it’s great for the fans – but, of course, I want to give the Pancrase fans the win.
“The gratitude I have, and to face a great Shooto Champion, both give me motivation. On the day, if I can get even a little energy from the crowd, all I have to do is leave everything out in the Circle.”
Tokyo | CENTURY | ONE Championship’s 100th Live Event | Tickets: Purchase here
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.