With Lessons Learned, Akihiro Fujisawa Is Ready For Redemption

After a difficult 2019, Akihiro “Superjap” Fujisawa is hoping to make a big splash in 2020.

He won’t have to wait long for an opportunity, as he’ll face Thai knockout artist Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit in a mixed martial arts contest at ONE: NO SURRENDER Ⅱ on Friday, 14 August.

The 40-year-old Fujisawa is a Tokyo native who emerged as a star in Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, and shortly after beating Sandeep Gurungvand at the developmental league’s inaugural show in March 2018, he graduated and earned a main roster spot in ONE Championship.

“Superjap” initially compiled a spotless mixed martial arts record of 5-0-1 along with a 100 percent finishing rate, but things went sour beginning in April 2019. Since then, he has suffered three consecutive losses.

Undeterred, the Yorky MMA product is staying positive and plans to use the lessons he learned in those defeats.

“It was simply a frustrating experience,” he says.

“After all, it’s a contact sport. Sometimes we have a good time, and sometimes we have a bad one, and I had a bad one last year. It’s no use crying over what has happened already, and I learned a lot from it. To look back, I think the year 2019 was a year of learning.”

On the other side, Mitsatit is just 24 years old, but he has already racked up a 10-5 record in mixed martial arts after going an impressive 72-17 in Muay Thai.

Fujisawa knows he’ll be facing a talented opponent, but he is also confident in his own abilities.

“His background is Muay Thai, so I think he is good at striking,” the Japanese veteran says.

“I think it is best to take him down, control the ground game, and submit him. If I cannot do that, I have various options. When it comes to mixed martial arts, I think I have more skills in my toolbox than him.

“He might have a longer career in Muay Thai, but I’ve had a longer career in mixed martial arts. I began my martial arts training from mixed martial arts, and this is my 16th year.”

Japanese mixed martial artist Akihiro Fujisawa

For this bout, Fujisawa will also have the support of a new head coach – former ONE athlete Nicholas Lee.

He actually began training under Lee right before his last fight at ONE: MASTERS OF FATE in November, but the late switch did not give him much time to nail down a new game plan.

“I was testing new things, so I was not able to perform as I wanted,” Fujisawa admits.

Now, “Superjap” has officially changed his affiliation to Lee’s Bangkok gym, Yorky MMA. That move has given him an ideal environment to prepare for his upcoming battle.

“I received advice [from Lee] that I need to fix my weak points and practice daily. He makes detailed and concrete strategies,” the Japanese fighter says.

“If I want to win where all the top athletes from the world gather, I need to upgrade myself mentally and physically. My coach pointed out what I could not discover by myself and we worked together to correct that. I want to put into practice what I worked on last year.”

Japanese mixed martial artist Akihiro Fujisawa takes top position

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic forced gyms to close in Thailand. But Fujisawa was still able to maintain his fitness.

“I cooked my meals, and as a result, I didn’t eat anything extra and lost weight. It was ideal for conditioning my body,” he explains.

“Although the gym was closed, I was running, and I also did bodyweight training and shadowboxing. I was active, so [when I returned to the gym] I didn’t notice that much of a change.

“It was good to take the time to review my strengths and weaknesses. I re-examined what I was not able to notice in my daily routine at the gym. I focused on moving as I imagined. I tried to build up physical strength.”

Japanese mixed martial artist Akihiro Fujisawa

With his new head coach, the lessons learned from recent losses, and his strong physical condition, Fujisawa believes he will showcase a better version of himself on the global stage this Friday.

“I want to win in an impressive way so that I can carry on my journey to cheer up the world,” he says.

“In Thailand, many people are stressed out due to the pandemic, including Japanese residents. I want to cheer those people up.”

Read more: Pongsiri Mitsatit Primed To Bounce Back Against Fujisawa

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