Reigning Featherweight King of Pancrase Champion Isao Kobayashi made his return to action since successfully defending his title against Kyle Aguon in October 2019. In this official interview, he reflects on his “Pancrase 316” main event non-title bout against Akira Okada, who holds the number five rank in the division above.
Tell us how you feel now after the fight.
“I feel relieved to get the win. Before the fight I said that naturally I would win, and I went in looking for the finish, but I couldn’t quite get it, and it went to a decision. So, I want to get back to training so that I can get a solid finish next time.”
With social distancing and the five-month hiatus, did Studio Coast feel any different?
“I wasn’t really aware of it. There was still an audience there in support, so I didn’t feel anything that different.”
How do you feel physically?
“I’ve no big damage, so I just have to reflect on the fight and gradually get back to training.”
Talk us through the through the flow of the fight itself.
“I thought he would keep a closer distance from the start, but he felt quite far. I was keeping an eye out in case he came rushing in like he often does. So, the start was me looking for openings in Akira’s attacks and defense.”
Did you feel in any danger during the fight?
“I had to concentrate especially on his one-punch power shots and he dropped to featherweight for this, so I had to be aware of how much power and speed coming forward he’d have. Yeah, he was powerful.”
Did you think his weight cut was not so tough?
“Well, he was in good shape at the weigh ins, and smaller than usual but on fight day I was assuming he’d come in a lot bigger. I wasn’t really surprised.”
Overall, did he fight as you had expected him to?
“Yes, he pretty much came at me as I’d expected, so I thought it went well. When you look back on a fight you realize you could’ve done this or that, but overall I thought I did well.”
What was your takeaway from the fight?
“I did realize that it’s important to get the finish as I look ahead from here. I was looking for the finish, but he kept getting away, so I felt that was where I was lacking.”
When would you like to fight next?
“Well, I don’t have any big injuries, so I’ll see how I feel and get back to training. It’s difficult to tell how the MMA industry is going for now, so if not this autumn, then winter is fine.”
Who would you like to face?
“There’s no one in particular, but I’ll be ready to negotiate when whoever comes up in talks. I think if it’s someone aggressive it’ll be a fun fight. With that kind of fighter, I’ll be more aggressive. My next challenger will be the winner of [Taichi] Nakajima and [Yoshinori] Horie, so I’ll be keeping my eyes on that.”
*On August 23, 2020, Taichi Nakajima and Yoshinori Horie will compete at “Pancrase 317” to decide the number one King of Pancrase Featherweight contender spot.
What can we expect from you next time?
“I want to give a completely decisive performance that everyone can enjoy watching.”