“I will put on a grinding, ugly, exciting fight full of masculinity”
“I’m not the guy who has the 1 punch knockout power nor do I have the pretty poster boy looks, but I can put on an inspiring, masculine exciting fight like Don Frye vs Takayama.”
Q) This will be your RIZIN debut, let us know how you are feeling.
I) I’m excited that I’ve finally made it to the big stage, and I’m eager to see how I can do in the new stage.
Q) What are your impressions about RIZIN?
I) I think it is an amazing platform where MMA is seen on television, just like the times when I was still an amateur. RIZIN seems to be putting a lot of effort in its production, so it’s even better and a stage of my dream.
Q) How long ago were you competing as an amateur?
I) My first amateur fight was 11 to 12 years ago.
Q) Does that mean that when you became a professional fighter, the big stage no longer existed?
I) That is correct. I made my professional debut when the big promotions did not exist. So I didn’t even think about competing in such a platform.
Q) So the opportunity landed in your lap when you held the title
Q) You are entering the highly anticipated Bantamweight tournament representing Shooto. What are our thoughts about that?
I) When the announcement was made about the Bantamweight GP, I had a hunch that I might get the call since I was the Shooto Champion.
Q) Your hunch was correct
I) I will be representing Shooto and that’s one thing, but I really want people to know who I am. I want to fight like I always do, and force people to recognize my name and face.
Q) You want to sell your name Keita Ishibashi
I) Yes, I want people to watch me lol
Q) Being ambitious is a great thing. Do you want to be the center of attention?
I) Sure why not. I know that I am at the bottom of the list when it comes to name recognition when you have the names like Horiguchi, and Tokoro, even Otsuka, who is actually the same age as me fought several times in DREAM. But like I said during the press conference, I want to prove all doubters wrong. People may not know me or have low hopes for me, but I want people to change their opinion after the tournament is finished.
Q) All eyes on me, right? You have the nickname as the “Fierce fighting king”, does that mean you have the confidence that you can put on an exciting fight more than anybody?
I) Yes. I only go forward, I just cannot stop being aggressive. I will never put on a boring fight, I just can’t.
Q) You can’t put on a boring fight, you can only put on an exciting fight.
Q) Your confidence is quite delightful! But the opponent plays a major factor on if the fight turns out to be exciting or not. What are your thoughts about your opponent Khalid Taha?
I) I haven’t looked into his fights yet, but he has got a perfect 10-1 record with 6 TKO finishes and some submission wins. He’s young and looks physically fit, there is no reason to think that this fighter won’t come forward. There is only one thing I can do, so I think this will be a very exciting fight.
Q) So you already smell a fierce battle ahead… Taha is from German and relatively unknown. He definitely seems like a, up and comer according to RIZIN staff.
I) I’ve never fought international competition.
Q) So this will be your first fight against a non-Japanese fighter?
I) Yes, so I’m eager to test myself to see if I can take on this opponent with a perfect record. I can’t wait to find out where I stand by fighting an international fighter who’s fought many international battles and has won all of them.
Q) So this fight will be a good benchmark for you. You sit there with your Shooto Pacific rim Champion belt representing Shooto. Do you feel any pressure with all of that on your shoulders?
I) I don’t feel much pressure at all. I’m actually very motivated to show everybody how tough Shooto Champions are. This belt gives me the confidence I need.
Q) The Shooto belt sustains your confidence. Mr. Sakakibara and Mr. Takada had mentioned that this GP was built around Horiguchi. What are your thoughts on that?
I) I think Horiguchi deserves to be the center of attention for the GP. I actually fought Horiguchi in for my 2nd professional fight and got my butt whipped, ended up with a broken orbital bone.
Q) Whoa!! I did not know that.
I) So one of my motivations are to climb up the bracket to show him that I’m a completely different fighter. I’m not sure if he remembers, but I have an itch to get redemption.
Q) So this tournament has a big meaning to you in many ways. When was that fight?
I) It was my 2nd professional fight so it was 8 years ago.
Q) If this fight happens, it would be nice to see 2 different fighters go at it.
I) Yes, I would like to make that happen.
Q) Do you have any other participants who catch your attention?
I) Not all the participants have been announced yet, but I think a fight against Tokoro would be an extremely fun fight. We kind of share the same movement on the ground, so I’m positive that we can put on a non-stop action packed fight.
Q) I see. There are many fighters out there who are tough, but put on a lack lusting performance. But you are different and sound extremely confident that you can put on an exciting fight.
I) Yes, I’m not the guy who has the 1 punch knockout power nor do I have the pretty poster boy looks, but I can put on an inspiring, masculine exciting fight like Don Frye vs Takayama.
Q) That is a unique way to describe a fight lol
I) I think you all will be on your feet when I fight.
Q) We will look forward for it! Lastly, what can the fans expect from you?
I) I am called the“Fierce fighting king” for a reason. Once that bell rings, I only know how to go full throttle until the fight ends. Make sure you don’t blink and watch my fight until the very end.