FightSport Asia interviews UFC fighter Katsunori Kikuno

Katsunori Kikuno (20-5-3) is one of the most well-known, and exciting fighters to step foot outside of Asia.

Having fought his entire career in Japan, Kikuno now turns his attention to a new challenge when he makes his promotional debut in 2014.

DEEP’s former Lightweight Champion has fought a who’s who of the sport including names like Jutaro Nakao, Eddie Alvarez, Satoru Kitaoka, Daisuke Nakamura, and Gesias Cavalcante.

The Alliance-Square product has finished his last three fights by way of stoppage.

FightSport Asia caught up with the newly signed UFC fighter to discuss his recent signing and much more.

FSA:
First off Congratulations on getting signed by the UFC. 
What does it mean for you to finally showcase your skills to a wider audience?

Kikuno:
I started Kakutougi (martial arts) because I wanted to be strong.
And now, I am a professional, therefore, I want to be the number one.
There is no doubt that the current champion in the UFC is the world’s number one fighter. 
That’s why, my goal is to become UFC champion.
Luckily, I received an offer when I was feeling I reached to the level where I am confident about fighting in the UFC so I was thrilled when I heard about the offer.

FSA:
You started your Mixed Martial Arts career back in 2005. What got you into the sport?

Kikuno:
When I was 18 (in 2000) I watched PRIDE on TV then I decided to become a MMA fighter. But for five years, I trained at Kyokushin Karate, then at age 23 (in 2005) I joined Tsuyoshi “TK” Kosaka’s MMA gym.

FSA:
Your style of Kyokushin Karate is unique for MMA. Do you see this as being an advantage over your opponents?

Kikuno:
That five years of training at Kyokushin Karate hardened both my mind and soul, and that is my foundation but my current fight style was heavily influenced by Okinawa Kempo Karate I started about year and half ago.

Okingawa Kempo Karate is an old Karate so the base is structured with an extraordinarily idea so its very difficult to understand so its going to be hard to read. (for my opponent)

FSA:
What do you think about MMA’s growth in Asia? 

Kikuno:
I am extremely happy.
I want to fight in Asia shows as well.

FSA:
With the UFC going to Singapore at the turn of next year. Would you like to be part of that card?

Kikuno:
I just want to fight.
In terms of Singapore, there isn’t much time difference from Japan, therefore, so for my first fight outside Japan, I believe, its going to be bit easier.
Also, relatively easier for my fans in Japan to come to see my fight.

FSA:
You have fought at Lightweight (155 lbs) throughout your career, but is there any chance of seeing you dropping down in weight in the near future?

Kikuno:
If I go down a weight class then my opponents are going to be faster, and its not going to be easy for me to adjust my conditioning too.
I don’t think I would have an advantage just by going down a weight class.
But it doesn’t mean I am persistent fighting at lightweight division so if I can’t win then I would consider going to down to featherweight as well.

FSA:
You currently train out of Alliance-Square. Is there any prospects that we should be aware of coming out of your gym?

Kikuno:
Yuta Watanabe and Shingo Suzuki.
I belive Yuta is going to be DEEP champion soon.
And Shingo has an ability to win championship in Pancrase.

FSA:
Do you train with anyone specific for your fight camps?

Kikuno:
I train a lot with UFC fighter Maximo Blanco.
He has a very strong wrestling so we go through a very good training together.

FSA:
You’re regarded as one of the most exciting strikers to come out of Japan, but do you have any idols in the sport – past or present? 

Kikuno:
I don’t really have anyone in particular when it comes to my “ideal fighter”.
But I want to be a fighter that has an aura of a man with real sword.

FSA:
For anyone who hasn’t saw you fight. How would you summarize your style?

Kikuno:
Karate style.
But its not a Karate for competition its a Karate for Bujutsu (martial arts).
Its disciplined through “Kata”.
The foundation is completely different from modern Karate.

FSA:
Having fought both in the Ring & Cage. Do you have a preference?

Kikuno:
I prefer cage.
I can concentrate better in that “closed” environment.

FSA:
You have yet to fight outside of your native Japan. Do you see this as being a problem? 

Kikuno:
Because of the time difference and different environment, it will have a bit of effect but I am accepting everything.
I have fought with injury or under bad conditions in the past but in a philosophy of Bujutsu (martial arts), I must be able to protect myself anytime under any circumstance.

FSA:
Have you any goals in MMA? 

Kikuno:
To become UFC champion.
And also, fight till I feel fully satisfied.

FSA:
Can you talk us through your training routines?

Kikuno:
I do MMA sparring three times a week and Karate training almost every day.

FSA:
What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

Kikuno:
Spend time with family.
I like to read comic books on my spare time.

FSA:
Tell us what fans should expect from Katsunori Kikuno in the near future? 

Kikuno:
Change the common practice in MMA.

FSA:
Lastly would you like to thank anyone, or say anything to your fans?

Kikuno:
I truly appreciated an opportunity to fight in the UFC.
I also like to send my appreciations to all these people who has supported me, my sensei, training partners, sponsors, fans, everybody.
I am going to fully prepare so I can perform well in the upcoming fight.

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FightSport Asia would like to thank Katsunori Kikuno for given us his time.

We wish Kikuno good luck on his UFC debut, and look forward to seeing him inside the Octagon.

*Photos by DREAM & Ichiro Fujisato*

Stay tuned to FSA.

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Categories: Asian MMA, Featured, Interview, MMA, UFC

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7 Comments on “FightSport Asia interviews UFC fighter Katsunori Kikuno”

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