(Originally posted on my blog!)
Takeya Mizugaki is a Japanese mixed martial artist currently fighting for the WEC. On August 18, at WEC 50, he fights Urijah Faber in Faber's first fight at Bantamweight. Mizugaki was the Shooto rookie of the year in 2003, and currently has a record of 14 wins and 4 losses, including wins over Jeff Curran and Rani Yahya. Big thanks to his manager Shu Hirata and Manto for making the interview happen. If you don't know who Shu Hirata is, he gave a fascinating interview to Dan Herbertson here for MMA Fighting where he discusses Japanese MMA and Japanese fighters very candidly and with sharp insight. And if you don't know about Manto, I pity the fool.
How do you feel about fighting Urijah Faber, former champ, in his first fight down at bantamweight?
He is a very tough opponent so its going to be a tough fight for me. But this is going to be his first fight at bantamweight, which means this he is going into unfamiliar territory so it's a big chance for me. And also, Urijah is a big name so it is an opportunity for me.
Western fighters often cut a lot of weight for fights and come in heavy on the day. Do you cut much weight?
I walk around at 72 kilo so I do cut around 10 kilo for the fight.
You made a lot of fans with your US debut against Miguel Torres. What are your favourite kinds of fights... the epic wars, or the quick victories?
I think it all depends on fight. There were fantastic fights [of mine] that went to decision and there were fights that ended in KO but were not necessarily so exciting. In terms of my fights, well, I would like to finish the fight with KO.
In Japan, it seems that winning or losing doesn't matter, but it's how much of a good performance you put on. In America, the focus is more on winning. How do you feel - do you want to win at all costs, or put on a good show for the fans?
That is a very difficult question. Of course, as a professional, it's very important for fighters to perform in a way that we can reach to the fans, however this is sports and this is competition. I think, put an effort to win the fight, is most important. So, I am thinking about winning first, then also, I am hoping to do an exciting fight.
How do you feel about Aoki Shinya's comments about Japan becoming a colony of the West... when you are working hard to fight in the USA?
I really don't know what Aoki meant by saying that but I think fight sport is an individual sport so I actually don't think too much about Japan or USA.
What do you think other Japanese fighters can do to have success outside of Japan?
I haven't achieved a success yet so I can't answer this question. When I became a champion, please ask me this again.
Where do you do the majority of your training - do you also train in the USA?
I train at my gym (Shooting Gym Hakkei), also at Reversal Gym headed by current Shooto champ Shuichirou Katsumura, and for wrestling, I go to Kiguchi Dojo. I haven't had a chance to train in America for a long term.
What are your (fighting) plans for the future?
As long as I can stay in the WEC I want to keep fighting for the WEC. I have no specific plan after retirement. If possible, I think, its not a bad idea to become F1 racer.
When you travel to America to fight, what do you miss most about Japan?
I wish there is a faster plane that shortens the travel time.
Japanese MMA - has the peak passed already, or can it get more and more popular?
I don't know so much about the business side of the MMA but as long as we can show good fights in a good way then the popularity should be back. If UFC or WEC comes to Japan, yes, I think that would revive the popularity of MMA.
Who do you think will win the World Cup in South Africa?
Yes I watch them all the time. I think Holland would win.
Do you read any manga? What is your favourite?
I like Dragon Ball ever since when I was a kid.
What's your favourite kan kohee (can coffee?)
I would have to say BOSS. Can you buy them in the States?
Any message to your fans?
It's going to be a tough fight but I want to capitalize on this opportunity so please give me support! The fans cheers and support boosts me up for sure.
Thanks to Takeya Mizugaki for taking the time to answer these questions for me. I can't wait for the fight. It's probably going to cause all barns in a one-mile radius to instantly set on fire. Osu!