For any title challenger, going into a fight where your opponent has not lost a fight in over three and a half years can be an overwhelming prospect. Add to the mix that the current titleholder is also considered one of the best in the world to compete in their weight division. Now, there’s an underdog tale that is just waiting to be written.

Ueda (top) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Ueda (top) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

On May 2, in Pasay City, Philippines, at ONE FC: Rise of Heroes, the stage is set for Japan’s Masakatsu Ueda to shock the world. As he faces the biggest opportunity of his career since capturing the Shooto featherweight championship over six years ago, Ueda looks back on that experience as he finds himself in a very familiar situation.

“When I fought So Tazawa in Shooto [on] March 16, 2007, I thought I was going to lose because of the injuries that I had before the fight,” Ueda recalled to The MMA Corner. “I did everything I could in the ring and tried to get beyond my limit and finally won the fight.”

Since making his professional debut in 2005, Ueda has competed in a total of 22 bouts, most of which were contested in his native Japan. Although he is nearing almost 10 years of being involved in mixed martial arts, Ueda can still recollect exactly what it felt like to be undertaking competition for the very first time, albeit his most nerve-wrecking experience wasn’t when he donned mixed martial arts gloves for the first time.

“I remember that I was really anxious in my first fight,” Ueda admitted. “I fought [Norifumi ‘Kid’] Yamamoto at a college wrestling group match. I was really happy that I could make a contribution for my team. I think there were [lots of] opportunities [after the fight].

“MMA has been growing rapidly and an increasing number of player[s], and now we have a lot of promising young fighters. I was doing wrestling before MMA. I used to watch MMA fights and loved it. Then I took it on as a career.”

Ueda earned his shot at Bibiano Fernandes’ bantamweight title by notching up three straight victories in the ONE FC cage in the promotion’s bantamweight grand prix, which was used to determine who would get a shot at the championship belt. Fernandes, who is a top-ranked bantamweight, offers a new challenge that Ueda is eager to take on.

Ueda (L) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Ueda (L) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

“I was really happy, and it made me want to become the champ,” he exclaimed. “It will be an honor. I will fight with the strong heart. Fans can expect a real exciting fight.”

It may be perceived that Ueda has the odds stacked against him as he enters the ONE FC cage on May 2. The fact remains, though, that just as the overused and clichéd saying goes, “It’s MMA, and anything can happen.” After tasting title success before in his career, Ueda knows what it takes to become a champion. When he is given the chance against Fernandes, you can be sure that the veteran will make the most of his time inside the cage.

Masakatsu would like to thank TEAM HALEO, Yohei Suzuki, his team, his family and everyone who is supporting him. “I want to show everyone the belt,” he adds. He would also like to thank ONE FC for the opportunities: “They are very nice people, who keep supporting me, and they keep me passionate about fighting and winning.” Follow ONEFC on Twitter: @ONEFCMMA