Japanese grappler Hayato Suzuki has his sights set on a shot at the ONE Strawweight World Title, and he believes victory in Jakarta could be the final push he needs to earn that opportunity.
Suzuki will take on Pongsiri Mitsatit at ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday, 17 November, and the 32-year-old says victory is a must if he is to fulfil his hopes of becoming a World Champion.
“I am facing fear more than excitement,” he admits.
“Every time, I am fighting against fear, but to become champion, I just have to move forward. If I win against fear, then I beat my opponent, and that’s when it feels exciting.”
Suzuki’s career in ONE Championship has certainly been impressive. He has gone 4-1 in his first five bouts with the organisation, and he holds a first-round submission win over the current ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio.
His most recent performance saw him defeat Robin Catalan via second-round rear-naked choke submission at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES.
“Basically, as usual, I went for the takedown, secured a position and ground control, and finished with my favourite back choke,” he explains.
“I was able to execute what everyone was expecting from me – a good takedown with a good submission, which is my favourite game.
“If I lost, I knew my chance of getting a title shot would slip away, so I had to win.”
Now, just six weeks removed from that win, Suzuki returns to ONE Championship action against Mitsatit, who has legitimate title aspirations of his own, having finished eight of his nine career victories.
“Pongsiri is a good striker. He also has a great record so If I win, no doubt I should be the next one in line to challenge for the belt,” Suzuki says.
“[I expect to win] by first-round rear-naked choke submission, but maybe the fight will end with my big punch. We’ll see.”
A decisive win for Suzuki could pitch the Japanese contender into a title bout rematch with Pacio, who he finished by submission on his ONE debut back in August 2017.
And with the organization set to hold its first event in Tokyo, Japan in March 2019, Suzuki would love nothing more than to challenge for the ONE Strawweight Title in his hometown.
“I definitely would like to have a title match in my hometown. All my fans can cheer for me, and I would like to repay them by winning big in Japan,” he says.
“Hey Joshua, you lost against me, so if you don’t get a rematch, you won’t feel good, right? If you don’t win against me, I don’t think you can call yourself a true champion, right?
“Let’s fight in March in Japan. We both improved in one year, so let’s collide.”