TOKYO (TR) – Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) stalwart Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu grew up as a kid with boundless energy, which often resulted to him getting into trouble and mischief in his village. This was until a friend of his suggested to him take up MMA.
“When I was a kid, I used to get into a lot of trouble,” Wakamatsu said. “My classmate suggested that I divert that energy into mixed martial arts and from there I started watching a lot of videos about MMA.”
Born in the rural city of Satsumasendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture, the fighter had difficulty finding a place for him to learn and train mixed martial arts. So he made a difficult decision to leave his family and move to Tokyo to pursue his craft.
“I was born and raised in Kagoshima which is a very rural place,” Wakamatsu said. “It’s very different from Tokyo and there was nowhere for me to train mixed martial arts there, that is why I came to Tokyo and joined Tribe gym. It was the beginning of my journey in mixed martial arts.”
The former Pancrase champion is set to face American Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in a quarter-final bout of the highly-anticipated ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix at the event “A New Era,” which takes place at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan on March 31.
Performing in front of his countrymen, Wakamatsu says he receives an extra jolt of motivation to perform at his best.
“Since the match against Demetrious Johnson is held in my home country of Japan, I feel that I have the advantage,” Wakamatsu said. “I just need to do my best against him.”
Greatest flyweight talent
Wakamatsu will have his plate full against the 12-time Flyweight World Champion, but remains unnerved knowing that a win against a man who many consider the greatest flyweight talent to ever lace them up would open up more doors for him.
“Demetrious Johnson is the best fighter in the world, and this is a huge chance for a guy like me who does not own World Title belts,” Wakamatsu said.
From a trouble-maker as a kid to a respectable mixed martial artist, Wakamatsu is thankful for the opportunity he has been given and can’t wait to prove himself at “A New Era.”
“I was just a carpenter in Kagoshima long ago, and now I am going up against a World Champion,” Wakamatsu concluded. “I think this is fate and a miracle can happen.”