In this official interview, featherweight Yoshinori Horie gives his thoughts on his return to Pancrase in February of this year following being cut from the UFC roster after just one loss. He shares his thoughts and predictions on the opponent, Taichi Nakajima, and acknowledges the implications of a title match against Featherweight King of Pancrase, Isao Kobayashi, should he emerge victorious on 23 August.
-Did you feel any particular pressure coming back to Pancrase in February this year and facing Yojiro Uchimura?
“I’d just fought in the UFC, so I was in a state of disbelief and struggled to get motivated. I didn’t feel any pressure at all, and it was not good that I couldn’t fire myself up.”
–Your UFC contract was cut after just one fight. You must’ve felt frustrated about that.
“Yes, when I first heard that I was released, I was extremely shocked. I know that it was my bad for losing, but honestly, I was very shocked.”
–How was your UFC debut experience?
“I thought that the UFC really is the supreme promotion. Everything leading up to the fight, the food, and everything they do to set the fighters up to give their best performance was amazing. And, of course in the cage the atmosphere was great and I realized they are the best promotion in the world. I’ve been released, but I definitely want to go back, get my revenge, and aim for the championship title.”
–Please give us your thoughts ahead of this match against Taichi Nakajima at Pancrase 317.
“This time the fight feeling is back, and I’m in a solid frame of mind. Honestly, I think there’s a difference in level, but I want to be thorough in bringing out my strengths in the match. “[Taichi Nakajima] has a lot of experience, so I reckon he’ll make good use of that, but I can
predict roughly how he’s going to come out so I’ll be ready for him.”
–Do you feel some momentum after your last win?
“I went through the Neo Blood Tournament with momentum, but at that time I was using pure force. From now on I have to think about, for example, if I get the title match it’ll be five five-minute rounds, so I’m training for that. Of course, I’m going in with momentum, but I’ve gained experience and I’m now more aware of controlling my pace and movement.”
–How have you been preparing for this fight?
“I haven’t really made any big changes – training as normal – but I have been training a game
plan for how he’s going to fight.”
–What strengths do you plan to show in this fight?
“I want to show my striking. I haven’t been able to show that recently – winning by KO – so I want to finish it by KO.”
–How do you think Taichi Nakajima will approach this fight?
“He has very a good balance of striking, grappling, and groundwork. Especially, I have the impression that he’ll look to close the distance, get a throw, and keep the top position. He’s good at controlling the pace and he has stamina. I know he’s had fights that have gone the distance and he’s won solid decisions, so I think his stamina and persistence are his strengths.”
–What do you feel his weaknesses are?
“I think for me if I use my striking I probably won’t have a problem. I’m confident that he won’t take me down, so it’s all about using my striking to expose his weakness I think. I have to reduce the amount of time in the grappling range. Even if there’s a scramble, I can’t get caught up in his game. I have to completely stop his attempts at control. The hole in his game is striking, as I said. If I use that, there won’t be a problem.”
–How do you see the fight playing out?
“I have to be careful about going in too forcefully for the KO and losing stamina, but I’m definitely looking for a strong finish.”
–If you win this, you will get a title shot. What’s your impression of Featherweight King of Pancrase, Isao Kobayashi?
“Isao also has good pace control, and he’s fought many five-round fights, so I know he has stamina. He has good striking and ground game balance.”
–Finally, what can the fans expect from you this time?
“It’s been a while, so you’re going to see me take the KO!”
Pancrase 317 will be live on YouTube.com on August 23rd, Japan Time!
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)