James Nakashima is quiet and reflective, but that should not be mistaken for timidness. His nonstop pressure inside the Circle has shown ONE Championship fans that he’s a fearless mixed martial artist.
The former ONE Welterweight World Title challenger has since moved down to lightweight, and he’ll return to action against Dagestani phenom Saygid Izagakhmaev at ONE: HEAVY HITTERS next Friday, 14 January.
That bout will give Nakashima a chance to bounce back from two tough outings against former ONE World Champions, and he’s made changes to his lifestyle that he hopes will establish himself as a major factor in the new weight class.
Before you watch him compete, here are nine things you didn’t know about the 33-year-old American.
#1 He’s A Big Dave Matthews Fan
Nakashima has an eclectic taste in music with favorites in nearly every genre, but the musical stylings of Dave Matthews Band stand out for the Illinois native.
“For the last year or so, I’ve been listening to a lot of Dave Matthews’ album ‘Crash.’ Also, ‘Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95,’ Nakashima says.
#2 Fans Really Fire Him Up
Although music is an important part of life for the Arizona resident, a live martial arts event already includes all the ambiance he needs.
“I remember the first few ONE shows in the Philippines. It was such a madhouse in the Philippines, and the crowd was so loud in the locker room. It just seemed like they were right on top of us in the locker room,” he recalls.
“I kind of just embraced all that. I love that scene. You didn’t really need any music there.”
#3 He Stays Active With His Family
Nakashima spends as much time as he can outdoors, which sees him enjoy a wide breadth of activities with those closest to him.
“[My family has] like two skateboards, two sets of rollerblades, a couple of bikes, and we go all out. And we have a dog too,” the MMA Lab representative says.
“We like riding bikes and rollerblading. It’s pretty cool. It’s a lot of fun. We do that on Friday and Saturday nights, usually.”
#4 Game Night At The Nakashimas
Nakashima may love an active lifestyle in nature, but he can also enjoy a night in with friends or family – especially if some cards or a board game are involved.
“We got this just pretty cool game called Tetris Link. It’s like real-life Tetris with actual pieces, and you put them down this tube, like in Connect Four, but you can’t have any spaces,” he says.
“My daughter can play, and she’s 4. We usually have people over on Fridays and Saturday nights to just hang out for a couple of hours, and we usually play board games. It’s fun.”
#5 He Recently Revamped His Diet
After his last outing inside the Circle, Nakashima saw the need to change up his eating habits. He brought in a specialist and is enjoying the health benefits as he attempts to make a run in the lightweight division.
“I’ve been working hard with this nutritionist for the last year, ever since that [Shinya] Aoki fight. I’m doing it right and have been super disciplined. I feel better,” the American says.
“She works with me on the stuff that I like, and I’m pretty much a Mediterranean guy. I just eat a lot of fish and eggs. Beef is a treat to me.”
#6 Shares Knowledge To Aid His Mother
Nakashima is not selfish with his learnings. He also uses the information of diet and exercise to help his family be at their best. And that’s most important for the woman who raised him to be the man he is today.
“My mom is a diabetic and a two-time breast cancer survivor, so her diet stuff is really important,” Nakashima says.
“We’ve always just worked together, and I’ve learned a lot from this new nutritionist. So I just tell her what I’ve learned.”
#7 Gives Back To His Community
The American knows the importance of helping others and tries to be a positive force in the community. For example, he and his family have prepared meal packs for the less fortunate and delivered them in person.
“I’d make my lentil soup, and we’d make them peanut butter sandwiches, and add a bottle of water and a cookie. And we would go to a gas station or this local park where they’re at and just go out and talk to them,” Nakashima says.
“I’d like to get back out there and do that and be more consistent with that.”
#8 He Leads by Example
Nakashima is certainly not content to sit back. Instead, the MMA Lab star wants to be an active role model for his daughter and fans.
“I try to lead by example, and I try to live with a little bit of class and then do the right things,” he says.
“I start with my family, and from there, maybe I could reach out to a little bit of my community like I was doing. I feel like it’s so hard to make change with even more than just your family, and I think leading by example is a quick way to do it.”
#9 Skiing Is … Not For Him
For all of his abilities, Nakashima is not one for the slopes, but that isn’t because he’s never strapped on his boots and grabbed a pair of skis.
The mixed martial artist once laid fresh tracks down a mountain – only to discover it was not one of his great talents.
“It was really hard and painful,” he says.
I fell a lot. I didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to just go as fast as you can down the mountains. So that’s what I was doing and was falling really hard. It was crazy.”