Next Sunday, 13 October, the Shooto Flyweight World Champion will compete as part of a showcase of the best Japanese mixed martial arts talent when he faces Pancrase Strawweight World Champion Daichi Kitakata.
The 32-year-old is more excited for this match-up than usual because he feels fresher than he has done since he first arrived in ONE Championship.
Saruta had three bouts in just four months when he arrived on the global stage, which meant he never fully recovered after his first two grueling contests against elite opponents, which lasted 40 minutes combined.
“My last performance was far from my best because I felt so tired from my [busy] fight schedule,” says Saruta.
“After my last fight, I took a long rest and tried to heal all my injuries.”
Now, he feels energized for his return, but he knows it will not be easy to defeat Kitakata.
The 28-year-old from Osaka has lost just one of his last 10 bouts, and he can win by knockout, submission, or by going full-tilt for 15 minutes to earn a decision.
“Daichi Kitakata is the Pancrase World Champion, and he is one of the top Japanese fighters,” says “The Ninja.”
“I think he is an all-rounder, but he has heavy striking power, which I will need to be most careful of.”
- How Daichi Kitakata Discovered Martial Arts And Conquered Japan
- Shoko Sato Hopes Win Will Elevate Him Into The Bantamweight Elite
- How To Watch ONE: CENTURY PART II – Aung La N Sang Vs. Vera
However, the Wajutsu Keishukai Hearts representative has hit heights that his upcoming opponent can only aspire to.
Saruta defeated former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex Silva, and current divisional king Joshua Pacio to win the gold in his first two bouts in The Home Of Martial Arts, and he believes that seasoning will help him to put on a show in the Circle.
“My biggest advantage is my experience – I’ve already had three fights in ONE,” he says.
“I will dominate all aspects of the match – standing and on the ground – and I will finish this fight by KO or submission!”
“The Ninja” is particularly motivated to win at this event because he finally has the chance to compete in the world’s largest martial arts organization in his hometown.
He missed out on ONE’s inaugural Japanese card six months ago, so he was delighted to get the call to appear at the Ryogoku Kokugikan – especially now it will host a two-card event that will be the biggest in martial arts history.
Fired up, Saruta expects to take the first step toward regaining ONE Championship gold.
“I’m so happy to fight in Tokyo where I live! I want to show my best performance in front of the Japanese fans who always support me,“ he says.
“First, I will win this fight and help to make this event a huge success. Then, I’ll [earn another shot] at the ONE Strawweight World Title and bring the belt back to Japan again.”