Whilst the flyweight division is relatively new to the UFC and the majority of mainstream mixed martial arts fans, there are fighters who have made a career out of competing at the lower range of the weight spectrum. Promotion’s throughout the world had utilized the 125-pound weight limit for upwards of 10 years before the division made its debut on television for the masses to witness.

Yasuhiro Urushitani is one fighter who spent the early days of his mixed martial arts journey competing in the flyweight division. The former Shooto bantamweight (123-pound) champion now has his eyes set on winning another piece of gold.

Urushitani (R) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Urushitani (R) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

“I want to become ONE FC flyweight champion,” Urushitani exclaimed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “There is a collection of the world’s rising flyweights in the ONE FC flyweight division, and I want to show that I am still the best. I have dedicated my life to mixed martial arts, but I do not really pay attention to where I am ranked. My only focus is to continue to win fights.”

Since kicking off his career in 2001, Urushitani has witnessed the sport of mixed martial arts change dramatically. More countries are embracing the sport. In particular, the sport is quickly becoming much more accessible for fans in the vastly populated Asia Pacific region. Urushitani has had the opportunity to travel to countries around the world that he may not have seen had it not been for his career in MMA. However, where the flyweight fights makes no difference to him.

“MMA is becoming a huge sport globally,” he admitted. “It is unbelievable that MMA is on free-to-air television in so many countries around the world.

“I never [would] have thought [traveling to fight] could happen, and I’m glad I have this opportunity. However, where I fight does not change my mentality and mindset, as I am there to compete and put on a show and I don’t really have time to take in the surroundings.”

A lot of things can lead a person to follow the dream of becoming a professional fighter. Some follow a path of progression from various other disciplines of combat sports. Some have a competitive edge that needs to be fed. Others find it as an escape from the reality that they are living. For some, though, it’s the innate desire and the allure of what the sport is about that will lead them to putting on those gloves for the very first time.

Urushitani (L) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Urushitani (L) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

“Just the adrenaline,” Urushitani admitted. “It is always nerve-racking, but more so when I stepped into the ring for the first time. I get to fight and make money. It seemed like the best of both worlds. I [would] probably be working an office job [without MMA].”

Urushitani makes his return to the ONE FC cage on March 14 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he is poised to face off with Adriano Moraes. Having fought for ONE FC once before and coming away with a split decision victory, he is eager to impress with his return in front of thousands of fans.

“It is huge. ONE FC is the biggest MMA promotion in Asia, and their events are always sold out,” he explained. “Getting the opportunity to compete against great opponents in front of 20,000 fans is a blessing, and I am glad ONE FC has given me this opportunity.”

Urushitani has competed in three times more fights than Moraes. Moraes is also 10 years his junior, and Urushitani is confident that his experience will give him the upper hand heading into their March 14 bout.

“I think it will play a factor. My opponent is young and less experienced, and [he] will not have seen some of my techniques before,” Urushitani suggested. “The experience also helps me stay calm before the fight, and I will use that to my advantage. I always come ready to put on a show and give my best.”

Urushitani competed in the first-ever flyweight bout in the UFC. He is still ranked among the top 125-pound fighters in the world, and he steps into the ONE FC cage now sporting a two-fight winning streak. With aspirations to once again have a major title in his hands, he will do whatever it takes to get his win. For years, Urushitani has been flying high. Now it comes time for him to land at the top of the ONE FC flyweight division.

Yasuhiro would like to thank his teammates who have helped him get ready for his ONE FC bout. He adds, “They are the real heroes, and I want to do them proud”. Follow Urushitani on Twitter: @urushitani76 and follow ONE FC on Twitter: @ONEFCMMA

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.