UFC 245: USMAN VS. COVINGTON takes place this Saturday, December 14 (Sunday, December 15 in
Japan) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, USA headlined by three championship fights.
Kamaru Usman goes for his first welterweight title defense against former interim titleholder and
No. 2 ranked contender Colby Covington. Featherweight champion Max Holloway looks to secure his
fourth title defense against No. 1 ranked contender Alexander Volkanovski. Women’s bantamweight
and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes defends her 135-pound title in a rematch against
former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie.
While UFC 245 is being held in Las Vegas, USA, three athletes on the card reminisce about a place on
the other side of the world – in Asia. Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber, and Viviane Araujo share their strong
connection to the country of Japan.
Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo will make his first bout in the bantamweight division
against No. 1 ranked contender Marlon Moraes. Aldo’s road to legend began in Japan’s Pancrase. Aldo
“One of my first fights was at Pancrase and I even dreamed of being the event’s champion one day,
but fate brought me to America. I have a lot of love for Japan, especially for the Japanese fans, who
are really passionate about fights. I’m really proud of my history there.
“Now, I think I’m a new man (at bantamweight). Eating well helped me a lot, gave me more energy
and incredible willpower. I only gained from this change. I am very happy today at this weight and
with my performances at the gym, so I look forward to going up to the Octagon and seeing what will
When No. 4 ranked bantamweight contender Petr Yan goes for the biggest win of his career against
No. 12 and UFC Hall of Fame inductee Urijah Faber, there will be a lot of Japanese pride on the line.
Faber has a long history with Japan and a deep relationship with many Japanese fighters. Faber said,
“My first experience in Japan was in college, with UFC Davis, I did an exchange. We took a team and
wrestled all the universities across the entire country. We’d have a competition, then we’d have
dinner and go drink beers and relax. It was awesome. I loved the culture. Ever since then, I’ve felt a
kinship with Japanese.
“In competition with Japanese fighters, I always know I’m in for a tough fight. They have heart and
great technique. My favorite experience was my grappling match with Sakuraba because he was my
favorite fighter. He had a wrestling background and a ‘fighting spirit’. So, being able to compete
against him was amazing.
“Teruto Ishihara, Tanaka, Namiki and a whole host of fighters have come through our program at
Team Alpha Male and became part of the team. And Teruto Ishihara’s interviews after fights were
“Now, this win (over Yan) puts me right there in title contention. I’ll be on a three-fight win streak
over the last four and a half years (laughs). Henry Cejudo is going to have a fight at 125 pounds first,
then I’ll be there ready and poised to grab the belt.”
Finally, Pancrase strawweight champion and now No. 6 ranked Viviane Araujo will challenge No. 2
ranked flyweight contender Jessica Eye to prove who will be a threat to the current champion. Araujo
“Fighting at such a traditional event like Pancrase – a big event in Japan where fans like MMA very
much and are very passionate about it – prepared me psychologically, it made my mind stronger. I
went through this experience calmly and today I am in the biggest MMA organization in the world.
My experience at Pancrase prepared me and made me confident to be fighting in the UFC.
“Japanese fans are very close to athletes, they take care of us and they love MMA. So I think my
favorite experience was the love from the fans.
“I’m very happy with the opportunity to fight an athlete as tough as Jessica Eye, number 2 in the
division. I trained with a teacher who follows the line of Ido Portal, McGregor’s coach, to work on my
footwork, striking and pace during the fight to always be one step ahead of Jessica. I know that with
a win I’ll get closer to a title fight, but I’m not in a hurry to fight for the belt right now.”
UFC 245 with three title fights and a card stacked with thrilling bouts takes place this Saturday,
December 14 (Sunday, December 15 in Asia).

About the Author

Jeremy Deschner
Black Belt in American Karate from the Texas Karate Institute. Now training in Brazilian Jiujitsu in Japan. Twitter: @mmajpn1 @jiujitsu_Jedi

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