Yukinori Ogasawara (15-4-4) just made his first appearance in ONE Super Series a few months ago, but a sizzling highlight-reel knockout has quickly transformed him into one of the league’s most exciting flyweight talents yet.
In June, the WBC Japan Muay Thai Champion made his promotional debut against WKA European Champion Rui Botelho at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau, and in the waning moments of the second round, he unleashed a jolting spinning back elbow that crumpled his rival to canvas.
Not only did Ogasawara get the victory, but his spectacular finish was named one of the top five knockouts of 2018’s second quarter — making him the only ONE Super Series competitor to achieve the honor.
The dramatic knockout came as a big payoff to a gamble in which he accepted a relatively short notice bout offer that, as he says, came “unexpectedly out of the blue.”
Despite initially mulling over whether or not to accept the match, Ogasawara quickly shifted his focus to the excitement of embracing this abrupt challenge – and it could not have ended any better.
More impressively, the marvelous finish was part of his plan all along.
“I actually practiced that spinning back elbow in training for the fight,” the 26-year-old Tokyo, Japan resident states. “I trusted my trainers, and did what they told me.”
A spinning back elbow KO gives Yukinori Ogasawara the victory over Rui Botelho at 2:54 of the second round!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App 👉 http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, June 23, 2018
The flawless execution of the strategy notwithstanding, Ogasawara reflects on the match as just another step on his path towards coming into his own as a martial artist.
He recognizes areas in his game where can improve, and acknowledges he could have been crisper in his performance.
“I am happy about the outcome of the fight, but seeing how I performed in the second round, I could have lost had the fight gone to decision,” he states, all while running a post-mortem on the bout, and identifying where he went astray.
“Looking back, I could have been more aggressive, because I was not letting my hands and feet go.
“Also, my pace was tepid, and I ceded ground to my opponent in the second round, so my movement could have been sharper.”
On Saturday, 8 September, Ogasawara will look to be more aggressive, and even sharper in his second promotional appearance.
With the flyweight contest just a few weeks away, the rising Japanese superstar is not fretting about the lingering hype from the spectacular finish in his last match. Instead, he is focused on addressing the cracks in his armor.
“There are two things I have been working on relentlessly in my training,” the Crosspoint Kichijoji representative explains.
“One is to learn to utilize my reach better since I have been unsuccessful in doing so in my [previous fights]. The second is to fight with controlled aggression.”
“Early in my career, I went out guns blazing in every fight, but paid the price by eating counters, and leaving myself open. Since then, I have tended to go on the defensive, and struggle to pull the trigger in fights. I want to change that, and strike the right balance between aggression and defense.”
In his upcoming opponent, the Tokyo-based athlete sees a perfect litmus test for the latest enhancements to his game.
Hamech, who competes out of Lyon, France, is two-time Muay Thai World Champion. Known for his speed and power, the 25-year-old knockout artist brings much more veteran experience into the flyweight clash.
That, however, does not bother Ogasawara at all.
“I do not think Hamech offers anything I have not seen. I need to be ready for his fast hands, but otherwise I do not think he is superior to me in any respect,” the Japanese competitor says.
“I think he and I are stylistically similar, so I am looking to prevail over him with the improvement I have been making in my game.”
Having competed exclusively in Japan prior to his ONE debut in June, Ogasawara sees this upcoming contest against Hamech as a critical step in establishing his name among the best Muay Thai and kickboxing athletes in the world.
Should he defeat the Frenchman in highlight-reel fashion at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON, his popularity will undoubtedly rise.
Also, he hopes a victory will lead to bigger matches so he can continue to showcase the thrilling skills that have transformed him into one of ONE Super Series most exciting flyweights.
“I would love to participate in a tournament, or any other opportunity ONE gives me to climb up the ladder in the organization,” he says.
“However, more than anything, I want to put on fights that would elevate my name value among the kickboxing fans around the world.”
Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast