They stand there in a circle. Laughing, pointing and whispering. The popular people truly do rule the roost in high school, and they have to problem in letting others know it.

Really, it’s a typical setting to what most people would expect in high schools all around the world. To a degree, it’s a little bit clichéd, almost like a bad teenage drama movie. It’s a part of life, though, and it’s something to which almost everybody can relate. The experiences that a lot of people go through whilst making that passage from adolescence to young adult can be priceless. Those experiences can shape who a person will go on to become in the later stages of their life.

Suzuki (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Suzuki (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Nobutatsu Suzuki learned a valuable lesson when he felt a yearning to be in that popular circle. It changed the course of his life forever.

“Just like everywhere else in the world, there are jocks in Japan. The strongest fighter[s] in high school always end up being more popular than those good in sports or studies,” Suzuki admitted in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I wanted to be that guy that was the most popular. I ended up getting beaten [in a fight] by a guy that did not look intimidating. After that, I opened the karate dojo door. I do not remember the name of the guy who defeated me, but I really appreciate him now.”

When taking up the discipline of karate, Suzuki didn’t necessarily intend to transition to mixed martial arts. It was his firsthand experience of witnessing fellow karate practitioners that garnered his keen interest in competing in the realm of MMA.

“When I was in Karate Tao, I saw that karate fighters who had more skills in karate lose fights in MMA and [they] were unable to muster up any offense,” Suzuki said. “When I saw that, I thought that one day I wanted to challenge myself and compete in MMA.”

After making his mixed martial arts debut at the age of 27 on the back of his passion for karate, Suzuki, now 36, never envisioned the path in which it lead him.

“Not at all,” he revealed. “I was an office worker before MMA, and I still have an office job in the day. My style is that I am always training my body with or without a fight, and when the fight comes, I will fight. I am very happy that my performances have led me to where I am today.”

Suzuki (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Suzuki (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Competing in just his second professional bout outside of his native Japan, Suzuki enters the championship outing with a great deal of national pride on his shoulders. It’s not the first time that Suzuki finds himself in front of a championship opportunity with ONE FC, however, and although his last bout was changed just days out and then later canceled on the eve of his big opportunity, there is no bitterness in the 13-fight veteran’s heart. He still wants to represent his country the best way that he knows how.

“I know it happens, so I did not let it affect me,” he explained. “I managed to catch the world-class show that ONE FC put on as a spectator, and it was amazing.

“I want to show to all the people that we deserve to compete for ONE FC’s welterweight title and prove we are the best in the world. It will be great for the karate community and provide me a new journey. I know that whenever I fight overseas, I am representing Japan, and [I] fight with no regrets and no fear.”

The quest to become popular led Suzuki to where he is today in his mixed martial arts journey. Capturing the inaugural ONE FC welterweight title will see that popularity finally reach great heights. Whilst those high school kids may have often used their popularity to bring sadness to others, Suzuki plans to use his to bring joy to a nation.

Nobutatsu would like to add, “I think most importantly, I want to thank ONE FC. To show my appreciation to ONE FC, I promise to show that I am a deserving champion.” 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.