‘Trying To Move Forward’ – Yuya Wakamatsu Opens Up About Losing Skid And Shift In Mindset

Yuya Wakamatsu throws a kick on Woo Sung Hoon at ONE 163

Former ONE Flyweight World Title challenger Yuya Wakamatsu is determined to end the toughest stretch of his 21-fight professional MMA career – and he knows it begins with strengthening his mindset.

“Little Piranha” is now in the final preparations for his pivotal showdown with #5-ranked contender Xie Wei at ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov on Prime Video in North American primetime on July 14.

When he makes the walk to the iconic ring at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, Wakamatsu will be looking to end his two-fight losing skid and re-establish himself among the division’s elite.

It hasn’t been easy for the Japanese star, who most recently suffered a crushing first-round TKO defeat against dynamic striker Woo Sung Hoon at ONE 163 last November.

That loss, he tells ONEFC.com, was so devastating that it brought him to the brink of retirement. Looking back, Wakamatsu recalled the negative thoughts he experienced in the wake of that setback:

“What have I been doing all this time? Within myself, it was like, ‘What is it?’ I felt like I don’t want to do this anymore. Losing so easily, it’s like, ‘What am I doing?’

“Honestly, for the first time, I told my coach, ‘I want to quit,’ and it was really frustrating.”

From pain, though, comes growth.

Losing forced Wakamatsu to re-evaluate his mentality. And after some self-reflection, he realized that he allowed his anxiety – something he’s struggled with since childhood – to get the best of him that night.

Moving forward, the 28-year-old won’t let his mental issues define him, and he’s on a mission to set a new pattern on July 14:

“I’m a really anxious person, and I’ve been like that since I was little. I have a strong sense of caution, and it has been there since I was little, too. But now, I have to break out of that shell. It’s difficult, and I’m thinking about various things. It’s a mess, but I’m trying to move forward.”

‘Change Is Constant’ – Wakamatsu Focusing On Daily Improvement

As he picks up the pieces from his recent losing skid and aims to climb back to the top of ONE’s stacked flyweight MMA division, Yuya Wakamatsu has heard plenty of questions about how he’ll right the ship and return to winning ways.

But win or lose, Wakamatsu says he’s always evolving as both an athlete and a person:

“Change is constant in every fight. We’re not living in a time where things stay the same. So, there have been various changes in mindset, fighting style, and thinking. I feel like a lot has changed.”

Just like his mental game, “Little Piranha” has continued to develop his physical skills as a mixed martial artist.

Through it all, his daily focus and full effort devoted to training have never wavered:

“Of course, there have been various changes in what I do. How I practice, how I do pad work, those change and improve naturally. But the core remains the same – giving my all every day until I die.”

But while he’s taken the time to reflect on his competitive mindset, Wakamatsu believes the key to performing well is actually not thinking about the benefits of winning or the costs of losing.

Instead, he remains completely focused on the task at hand – beating Xie Wei at ONE Fight Night 12.

Wakamatsu added:

“If I think things like ‘I lost last time’ or ‘I have been on a winning streak, so I must win next,’ those thoughts will inevitably hinder me. So, it’s like being empty and just doing it. Just defeating the opponent. That’s it, giving it my all.”

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