In this official interview, Taichi Nakajima talks about his thorough training camp and excellent preparation for the young gun knockout artist, Yoshinori Horie, breaking down his style and alluding to the real possibility of a title match against Featherweight King of Pancrase, Isao Kobayashi, should he stop Horie on 23 August.
–In your last fight in February, you took the win over Boris Fedorov. Please give us your reflection on that bout.
“Looking back, my game plan went extremely well. It went so well that it played out exactly how I’d trained for it. Even I was a bit surprised. I was coming off two straight losses, so I wanted to win at all costs. I felt relieved to win and I was able to regain my confidence.”
–How are you feeling ahead of this fight with Yoshinori Horie?
“In the lead up to this fight with Horie I’ve put together a 10-week fight camp. I’ve been able to come in with the best training of my career. My preparation is complete.”
–Have you altered your training much in preparation for this?
“Of course. Things went well in my last fight, but I thought it still wasn’t enough to become champion. So, I thought about and learned the skills I need to finish the fight for this one.”
–What strengths do you want to show the fans in this fight?
“I don’t really want to say too much and show my hand before the fight, but I can say that I
have a secret weapon.”
–What do you expect from Horie in this fight?
“I thought Horie was a striker, but in his last fight, I realized he was very capable of
takedowns. I think he’ll mix his takedowns with his weapon – his punch.”
–In particular, where do you see his strengths?
“First and foremost, his in-and-out speed. He comes in fast, and everyone he’s beaten hasn’t been able to react to it. That’s what I have to be careful of his distance and speed.
–How about his weaknesses?
“I’ve been analyzing this carefully, so I don’t really want to say…what should I say…he has a few weak points. If I have to say, close-range – in-fighting – he’s weak. He has a karate background, so he fights from the outside. Horie is a very strong fighter, and I imagine he’ll be training that kind of thing. Actually, I don’t think it’s really a weak point, but if I have to say, his in-fighting could be weak.”
–Can you say anything about your strategy for his speed?
“Of course, I have a strategy. I’ve been training reflexes and eye coordination. And, I’ve been training with fighters who are faster than Horie, so as far as reacting to his speed, I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”
–How do you expect the fight will play out?
“Well, Horie is strong in the early stages, so I have to avoid his attacks. I think the first round will be the most dangerous, so I have to really focus and move properly.
“I have confidence in my stamina, so if I win it’ll be from the middle of the second round or later. That would be my ideal time to get the finish.”
–You are more experienced than Horie. Do you think that will play a part in this fight?
“I don’t really think experience is a strength. Some fighters with little experience can win with sheer force, so even with more experience, I don’t feel it’s a strength. Horie is an extremely strong fighter and I’ll absolutely be on high alert. I’m better than him in some areas, but experience isn’t one of them.”
–If you win this, you will challenge Isao Kobayashi for the Featherweight King of Pancrase
title. What is your impression of the Champion, Isao?
“Isao always takes solid wins. Without exception, he doesn’t get himself in danger, doesn’t take risks. He goes 100 percent for the win, so you need a proper strategy for him.”
–What should the fans expect from you this time round?
“I’ll show my improvements in speed, stamina, power, everything. I’ve reached the next level in my skill set and you’ll see the finer points of my takedown skills and how I apply them.”
Pancrase 317 will be available on YouTube.com
Pancrase 317, Tokyo, August 23rd
Yoshinori Horie vs. Taichi Nakajima (Featherweight)
Takashi Matsuoka vs. Koshi Matsumoto (Lightweight)
Ryuichi Miki vs. Yusuke Ogikubo (Flyweight)
Takeshi Kasugai vs. Toshinori Tsunemura (Bantamweight)
Issei Tamura vs. Yuki Takahashi (Featherweight)
Yuta Miyazawa vs. Hiroaki Iijima (Strawweight)
Kosuke Kindaichi vs. Tatsuya Tomozane (Lightweight)
Teppei Maeyama vs. Tatsuki Ozaki (Strawweight)
Tatsuhiko Iwamoto vs. Tatsuya Saito (Featherweight)
Rui Imamura vs. Suneo Tanaka (Bantamweight)
Aito Tanimura vs. Takuya Takahashi (Flyweight)
Nobuhisa Kudo vs. Osamu Miyakawa (Bantamweight)