Barely four months after his 2019 ONE Championship debut, Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada has his eyes set on the future.
But first, on Friday, 6 December, at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sawada will face South Africa’s Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane as The Home Of Martial Arts stages its final live event of the year.
In August at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD, the Singapore-based Japanese athlete made a statement in his ONE debut.
Sawada finished his Indonesian opponent Aziz “The Krauser” Calim in just 69 seconds with a rear-naked choke.
“Dragon Boy” traveled back to his hometown to celebrate with loved ones, and he believes their joy has given him the motivation to outdo his previous performance.
“During my last match, my parents flew down to Singapore, while my brother and sister stayed behind in Japan to watch me,” Sawada said.
“My siblings were so happy and they cried when I won the fight. It’s the best feeling in the world knowing I made my family proud, and I will do anything to bring it home for them again.”
But the 24-year-old knew that in order to secure another win, his time with family had to be cut short so he could focus on training.
“I started training soon after my last fight because my body was still in good condition, post-fight,” he said.
“I strive to ensure that I always take care of my body, be it in a fight or training, so that I can be ready to compete anywhere, anytime.”
Hunting for the finish will always be a priority for the Japanese hero, but “Dragon Boy” is confident he can showcase other areas of his game when he takes on Masunyane this Friday.
“I always have the same goal, and that’s to finish my opponent in the shortest time possible,” he said.
“However, I’m not solely focused on one method. Even though it will be challenging, I will do my best to finish him and aim for a KO.”
Sawada has researched his opponent and knows what to expect against “Little Giant.” But he trusts his team at Evolve and the plans they have designed to disrupt Masunyane’s aggressive style.
“He’s at the top of his game in the strawweight class, physically, and also in terms of his wrestling ability,” he said.
“I’m training with the Evolve Fight Team alongside partners like BJJ World Champion Alex Silva and [wrestling champion] Eko Saputra.
“We have studied Masunyane’s style of fighting, and we have worked on how to counter each attack and how to overthrow him based on the game plans we’ve observed.”
Sawada has grand plans for 2020 and beyond, but for now, the strawweight is focused on his opponent this Friday.
“I want to fight for the World Title and with other top athletes who will help me to reach this goal,” he said.
“My fight with Masunyane will be action-packed from start to finish. It is definitely one to watch, and I’m going to put on a good show.”
For one last time this year, ONE Championship returns to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS at the Axiata Arena on 6 December.
The preliminary card starts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the ONE Super App at 6:00pm Singapore Standard Time (SGT).
To watch the main card, tune-in to Toggle at 8:30pm SGT. Also, Channel 5 will cut to the live broadcast at 10:00pm SGT.
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