Bellator 146: Hisaki Kato, The Time Is Now (Interview/Article)

Discussion in 'Cageside - MMA Discussion' started by MMABROdotcom, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. MMABROdotcom

    MMABROdotcom Active Member

    Oct 2, 2015
    Bellator 146: Hisaki Kato, The Time Is Now.



    Photo Credit: Bellator MMA

    When Hisaki “The Japanese Musketeer” Kato (5-1) steps foot into the Bellator cage Friday at Bellator 146 to fight Melvin “No Mercy” Manhoef (29-12-1), he will do so with the memory of the 129 dead and 352 wounded victims in the Paris terror attacks. As both a French and Japanese citizen, Kato was born in Paris and grew up in France before ultimately moving back to Japan as an adult. He continues to have strong ties to the city of Paris and its people where he recently completed his 8 week fight camp leading up to this bout and where his father was once a renowned Judo instructor (who died when Kato was just a small child). Given Kato’s unique background, it should come as no surprise that his fight moniker “The Japanese Musketeer” is a nickname given to him by his French trainer and pays homage to the dualistic nature of Kato as both a proud Japanese and French citizen. Growing up in France, Kato dabbled in Martial Arts as a youth but initially it was not his strongest passion:

    “Since I was a kid, my mom told me that my father came away for instructing judo in France, and I tried it too when I was younger but it was not my thing. So after that, I moved to different traditional style in karate and hapkido. I always loved marital arts, but after that I changed completely of sport.”

    The sport Kato changed to was handball. It was a sport he would go on to become an outstanding player in France before ultimately moving to Japan and competing for the Japanese national handball team. With nearly two decades of handball experience under his belt, Kato believes handball taught him how to use great power while not burning all of his energy, an ideal skill to have in MMA as a striker. For Kato however, the return to martial arts was always in the back of his mind:

    “In my mind I was sure I would one day return to the marital art even not like as a pro. Because I am in Japan I wanted to explore this part with martial spirit. That’s why after few years I join the Kudo Federation and from that point just to improve the kudo going to MMA gym and that prepared me to fight MMA and that was it.”
    Photo Credit: Bellator MMA
    In his first fight into his Bellator four fight contract, Kato established a name for himself early by knocking out Glory Kickboxing standout Joe Schilling in ferocious fashion via Superman Punch in the second round at Bellator 139. It’s a victory which would garner Kato significant media attention, appearing on ESPN’s Sporcenter Top 10 countdown and putting his performance in the running as a contender for MMA “Knockout of the Year”. With Melvin Manhoef however, Kato knows he is in for the fight of his life against an opponent whose popularity in Japan is immense:

    “Well yes, the thing is Melvin Manhoef is really, really famous in Japan too. So to have the fortune to fight with him is really big for me for the people in Japan. Because they always know him for the time he was fighting in Japan. I mean he is even more famous than Joe Schilling so it’s really a good thing for me. I am really glad I can fight with a really famous fighter like him.”
    Photo Credit: Hisaki Kato Twitter @HISAKIALIVE
    Despite what the critics say about Manhoef losing 3 of his last 6 fights and having his most recent knockout loss against Alexander Shlemenko overturned to a No Contest (PED use by Shlemenko), Kato still expects and has prepared in his training to face the best Melvin Manhoef on fight night:

    “I think he will be ready for this fight. Like even if he is thinking about stopping his career you really want to have a good finish. He will be really ready, and I’m not expecting having a less dangerous Manhoef than he used to be. I think he will be there at 100%.”

    “Maybe the weaknesses I will keep it for me. His good point is he is really quick and really aggressive and really explosive as we know. So that’s his strengths yes.”“I heard he was training with [Alexander] Gustafsson in training so definitely he is trying to improve his ground game. But, yea better on the striking part than the ground part. I’ll really have to be in the fight and feel his strength to know if it’s better to go on the ground or kicking and the striking. You know, its something you have to feel in the ring to know.”
    Photo Credit: Bellator MMA
    Prior to his spectacular victory against Joe Schilling, Kato himself lost his HEAT Middleweight title via TKO in Japan and knows that sometimes it is the losses (like Manhoef has experienced as of late) which teach you the most and allow you to come back stronger as a fighter:

    “Yes, of course it was a good opportunity to learn. It is important to lose sometimes. Maybe sometimes you learn more by losing a fight than winning all the time. And for me, it was a good thing. At that time [of his first loss], I was really feeling that it was time for me to leave Japan, and have some more serious training camp in France with bigger guys. It was really a turning point for me.”

    At 33 years of age, Kato feels despite only having 6 professional MMA fights to date his long background in Kudo Karate has prepared him for the success he has been enjoying recently inside the Bellator cage:

    “Yes, because before that I was fighting in kind of karate style in Japan. It’s a real tough sport too with one day tournament like you have to fight 5 times [to] 6 times a day. So, it was tough too you know even if its different rules. I’m not really young now so yea of course I’m glad it’s quick because I’m not thinking of being in the game for like 10 more years."

    For Kato, the grueling 8 weeks away from his family in Japan to train in Paris serve as his motivation heading into this fight:

    “I have a family I want to make proud. I am training hard every day to improve so all these here things give me like the confidence to do great things.”
    While Kato is firmly focused on Mahoef on November 20th, when presented with the question of what it would mean to bring a future Bellator Middleweight title back to Japan, Kato stated the following:

    “Oh, It would be really great. Japanese fighter hasn’t been really good on the American ground. So, yea I would be really glad if I could bring that to Japan, but you know its one step after another and first one is by winning in Melvin Manhoef. And after that I will see what Bellator give to me next opponent. The final thing if I can have a belt and bring that to Japan of course that would be really big, and I would be really proud to do this.”

    Best of luck Kato and thank you for your time. Thank you also to Bellator’s CJ Tuttle and Adam at Spike TV.

    Katos’s take:
    The monetary aspect of fighting: “I could earn a bit more money, but I will never be rich with the fight. It’s a really dangerous strategy to hope on that you know. I prefer to build something in reality. Fighting money is a good bonus, but if you just count on it and you don’t make it you will be in bad position and your family too. I am still keeping thinking that I will never be rich from fighting. If it happened, well, that very good, and I would be happy but if it doesn’t happen I don’t how you say that in English but in France we say you don’t put all the eggs in the same box. That’s what I am trying to do.”

    On visualization: “I’m doing a lot of training like you close your eyes and just try to go inside you and visualize everything, the fight, and relax. This kind of training, I’m just doing it when I have time you know. You don’t need a lot of time to do that. Just like 10 or 15 minutes.”

    His hobbies: “Hobbies, you know I like watching movies, reading. I like Marine sport a lot. I like to go to the beach and have a good swim, and I like diving too.”
    Getting to know Hisaki Kato's Kudo Karate background (Video):
  2. Buff Bagginz


    Nov 13, 2015
    This is a good fight!

    Both fighters hit like freight trains. I'm Gna have to give the edge to Kato. His use of angles could give Manhoef problems. Someone is getting slept for sure.
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