For the past year, Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu has been itching to get back inside the Circle.
This Friday, 6 November, the #4-ranked flyweight contender will finally get his wish when he faces South Korean phenom Kim Kyu Sung in a battle of knockout artists at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX Ⅱ, which was previously recorded in Singapore.
It’s a big moment for Wakamatsu, who last defeated former ONE World Title challenger “Ottogi” Dae Hwan Kim in October 2019. Since then, the 25-year-old Japanese star has worked on his physical abilities while discovering the world of parenthood.
“I’ve been training well during the pandemic, and I think I’ve improved,” the Tribe Tokyo MMA representative says. “I’ve been working on my speed, my power, how I use my body, all sorts of things.
“I had a baby last December, so I’ve been able to experience and learn more about life through training and raising my child. In that sense, I’ve grown up more than ever before.”
Flash???? to when Yuya Wakamatsu had Geje Eustaquio SHOOK ????
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, August 2, 2020
While Wakamatsu’s had plenty of time off in 2020, he had a very busy 2019.
First, he faced a monumental task against 12-time Flyweight World Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Even though he lost to the legend via submission, the talented Japanese athlete learned valuable lessons to carry forward.
This time, Wakamatsu will be matched up against a tall flyweight in Kim, who stands 179 centimeters, trains at Singaporean mega gym Evolve, and owns a 10-3 professional record.
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From what he’s seen of Kim, “Little Piranha” is impressed.
“He’s the tallest opponent I’ve ever fought,” the Japanese athlete offers. “He moves beautifully. He has beautiful form and striking – or beautiful, smart boxing, I should say. I get the impression that he’s very sharp.
“I saw that he’s not an easy opponent. He’s tall, and he’s going to put a lot of pressure on me.”
Still, Wakamatsu will carry plenty of confidence into Friday’s contest.
“I can say that I’m superior in all areas, except for the height,” he says.
“I heard that his ground game is good, but I also have strong ground skills. I am ready to take whatever he has. I know he is also studying me, but I want to move faster and stronger and show punches he’s never seen.”
There’s no doubt that fans can expect to see a variety of powerful punches from the Japanese striker, who is known for his aggressive mindset.
“The way I fight, it’s more of a battle between animal versus animal,” he says. “I don’t just aim to win. I aim to ‘hunt’ the opponent.”
With that game plan in mind, “Little Piranha” is hoping to push the action forward from the opening bell.
“The best-case scenario is I won’t let the opponent do anything and overpower him so much that he throws in the towel,” Wakamatsu says.
“I want to win by not letting him touch my body, and I want to break his motivation to fight. I want to make him think he can’t win no matter what he does and aim for a KO, where I see him falling with a disappointed look on his face.”
Wakamatsu is certainly focused on the task at hand, but he also knows a victory over Kim would be a huge step toward even bigger goals – namely, a shot at redemption against #2-ranked contender Danny “The King” Kingad and then a ONE Flyweight World Championship bout.
“I am not letting my guard down at all,” the Japanese star says.
“I’ve got some guys I want to beat, and I need a couple more wins to be in a World Title fight. I want to beat Kingad because I’ve lost against him once, and I want revenge.”
Finally, there’s some personal motivation fueling Wakamatsu, as the matchup with Kim will be his first bout since becoming a father.
“[My baby boy won’t] be able to understand by seeing it, but the video remains forever,” he says. “I want to show him my victory.”