Five Questions with Shunichi Shimizu ahead of UFC Fight Night 34

After forty-six fights and a long stint with Japan-based ZST, Shunichi Shimizu will officially enter the UFC’s Bantamweight ranks on Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 34 card in Singapore.

The 28-year-old, of course, was recruited over the summer, along with a host of other Asian talents as part of the organization’s expansion in the Asian region.

While Shimizu’s name will understandably be unfamiliar to most North American folks, the Japanese vet’s record and resume speaks for itself, with a whopping tally of 28-8-10, and notable bouts with the likes of Motonobu Tezuka, Keisuke Fujiwara and Kohei Kuraoka among others.

It won’t be the first time that Shimizu linked up with fighters from Phuket Top Team either, having done so multiple times in the past in preparation for his fights in PANCRASE.

19 of his 28 victories have come via submission, befittingly highlighting his abilities on the canvas. The 28-year-old is brilliant in being able to fight off his back with a knack for sweeps and submissions. His takedowns are excellent too and his ability to seamlessly look for submission maneuvers is truly remarkable.

Kang (left) kicks off the main card on Saturday in match-up with Shimizu (right)

Kang (left) kicks off the main card on Saturday in match-up with Shimizu (right)

But his toughest challenge awaits on Saturday and those skills will be put to the test. He’s set to face South Korean starlet Kyung Ho Kang (11-7, 1 NC), who has to date made two appearances in the octagon.

And just like Shimizu, Kang loves the ground game more than anything else, with the majority of his victories coming by way of submission as well.

It’s customary to see two fighters with exquisite mat credentials keep the fight standing for three rounds, so we may perhaps witness a striking affair on fight night. While Kang looks to garner his first victory since 2012, Shimizu, in the meantime, will be heading into this one with his five-fight win streak in jeopardy.

Shimizu partook in five questions with Fight Sport Asia with regards to this weekend’s proceedings. Find out what he had to say (with the help of a translator) below leading up to fight night:

…on finally getting the opportunity to fight in the UFC:

“I’m a veteran and I’ve always been wanting to fight in the UFC. I think my experience will enable me to do pretty well.”

…on facing Kyung Ho Kang:

“Kang has fought with Andrew Leone who’s one of my friends, and he won. My understanding is that he’s a very good fighter, and because of that I’ve trained with Leone and the rest of the guys at Phuket Top Team during my training camp.”

…on whether both fighters’ grappling credentials will be cancelled out, perhaps leading to a striking contest:

“If Kang keeps it standing, I’ll keep it standing. If he wants to fight on the ground, then I’ll fight on the ground as well.”

…on what he hopes to achieve during his tenure with the largest MMA organization in the world:

“This is the stage I’ve always wanted to fight in, and I believe I can maximize my experience even further here. Ultimately, I want to become a champion too.”

…on what fans can expect to see from him on fight night, and what a win will do for him:

“Whether it’s in a ring or a cage, the fans can always expect an exciting fight from me. Right now, I’m not thinking about rankings. I’m going to take it step by step, one fight at a time. I want to focus on each challenge and win.”

***

The Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre will play host to UFC Fight Night 34 on Saturday night with an expected turn-out of 6000 people.

The line-up will be headlined by a Welterweight clash pitting former Strikeforce champ Tarec Saffiedine against Korean Top Team’s stand-out fighter, Hyun Gyu Lim.

The co-main event, meanwhile, features a Featherweight tilt between Japanese MMA staple Tatsuya Kawajiri, and the Blackzilians’ Sean Soriano.

As it stands, the UFC Fight Night 34 line-up includes:

MAIN CARD

  • Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
  • Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Sean Soriano
  • Luiz Dutra Jr. vs. Kiichi Kunimoto
  • Kyung Ho Kang vs. Shunichi Shimizu

PRELIMS

  • Will Chope vs. Max Holloway
  • Katsunori Kikuno vs. Quinn Mulhern
  • David Galera vs. Royston Wee
  • Tae Hyun Bang vs. Mairbek Taisumov
  • Dustin Kimura vs. Jon delos Reyes
  • Russell Doane vs. Leandro Issa

_______________________________________________________________________________

Thinesh John is a Singapore-based MMA journalist. You can check out some of his work over on MMASucka.com. Follow him (@ThineshJohnMMA), and be sure keep up with the latest Asian MMA news from FightSportAsia.com on Twitter (@FightSportAsia) and Facebook

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Categories: Featured, Interview, Japan, MMA, Phuket Top Team, UFC

Author:Thinesh John

20, Asian MMA nerd in Singapore.

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